Shoreline task force hears from potential opponents

Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners has fired a warning shot across the bow of the 20-member task force working to update the Kitsap County Shoreline Master Program.

The group this week focused their efforts on reviewing the Kitsap County Shoreline Inventory and Characterization, a document that describes physical and biological conditions of the shoreline, along with existing land uses and man-made structures.

As I report in a story in today’s Kitsap Sun, Karl Duff, the immediate past president of KAPO, essentially warned the task force that they run the risk of becoming a pawn of the county and that KAPO will sue if the process continues on its present course.

I haven’t yet spoken to any of the task force members about this, but some of their reactions during the meeting showed that they have no intention of being intimidated by KAPO.

KAPO’s strategy Thursday night, as it has been for years, is to argue that Kitsap County planners and the Washington Department of Ecology do not have the scientific evidence to justify the kind of shoreline regulations that have been adopted or are being proposed. Such rules relate to shoreline buffers and construction of bulkheads, docks and other man-made features.

I’m not sure when the task force intends to discuss the ecology of shorelines and the effects of shoreline alterations, but KAPO members seem eager to engage in a game of dueling science. It might be helpful for the committee to hear about the studies that have been done and confront the assumptions being made. (Please have everyone leave the bluster and posturing outside the room.)

One of the most serious questions that needs attention is how this committee — and our society as a whole — ought to react to scientific uncertainty. It’s a balancing act that demands careful thought.

Extreme property-rights advocates argue that nobody should restrict the use of their land without overwhelming scientific evidence or other clear justifications to support restrictions. Extreme conservationists, on the other hand, argue that nobody should remove pieces of the ecosystem until they fully understand the effects of their actions. Neither position is tenable.

If the task force hoped that their effort would remain outside the realm of politics, KAPO members set them straight Thursday night.

The following is from an article written by KAPO President Tim Matthes in the latest KAPO newsletter, “The Sentry”:

“Shoreline property owners will be offered the opportunity to become more involved in the Shorelines Master Plan (SMP) update process. In the coming weeks you will be contacted to help design battle plans against the apparent agendas of Kitsap County and the Washington State Department of Ecology on shorelines issues.

“Up to this point we have been giving Kitsap County time to show us what they intend to do on the SMP update. KAPO leadership believes that the time has come to take a more proactive position on the SMP update. There is power in numbers and we can become a formidable group if we work together.

“An educated number of waterfront property owners banding together with common goals, and ready to attend the county’s meetings should have the greatest impact on the SMP update process. After all, the new SMP will add many new regulations and restrictions on what you will be allowed to do on your private waterfront property.”

While I’m at it, I want to mention that the Department of Ecology has published a new “Citizen Guide to Shoreline Master Programs.” It includes a slide show presented to Hood Canal EcoNet and a video of the presentation put together for Kitsap County’s task force by Ecology’s Geoff Tallent and Joe Burcar. (You may view that video in the player below.)

2 thoughts on “Shoreline task force hears from potential opponents

  1. Shame on KAPO!

    It’s offensive and arrogant of KAPO to imply that the volunteers committing their time and energy on the shoreline task force are unable to evaluate and decide things for themselves. Further KAPO representatives’ attempt to intimidate the group with the threat of a lawsuit to sends the message that if they don’t get what they want they are prepared to dismiss all the task force’s efforts and contributions in favor of letting a judge decide.

    What does Mathes mean when he writes, “An educated number of waterfront property owners banding together with common goals, and ready to attend the county’s meetings should have the greatest impact on the SMP update process.” Seems like he’s saying the task force members don’t have the “right education” to do what they are being asked to do.

  2. One person’s opinion:

    Thank you for responding to Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners (KAPO) position on the Shoreline Master Plan (SMP). There are two sides to every position. The extremes of these sides eventually come closer together but each side must be offered the same right to speak. I think you are missing the point. Many of our members want the rights to use their property freely, just like you. They want to live in their homes, just like you. They want to pass their homes to their children, just like you. They want to OWN their homes unencumbered, just like you. But there is a problem. How should we address the shorelines? Waterfront owners would much rather not pay for huge costs to erect a bulkhead, they would rather not pay huge tax burdens and they would rather not pay huge costs to protect their right to own property. Bulkheads have been erected to save the land from erosion by ferries, tankers pleasure boats, tugs and so on. To return the shorelines to a natural state you would have to eliminate all commerce on our waterways. (unless via canoe) The waterside of the bulkhead has never been addresses by the Department of Ecology (DoE). Maybe it needs to be addressed before we move farther along with the SMP? Property owners typically are the best stewards of their property. They have a vested interest. If the water is polluted, void of sea life, smelly or full of trash, values drop. I do not just think but believe that DoE and waterfront owners can come together with something reasonable if both sides can be at the table. This will affect approximatley 8,000 parcels (homes & land). I support KAPO”S right to voice an opinion just like you.

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