Tag Archives: Rep. Jan Angel

Shoreline conflict and confusion have not yet abated

When it comes to environmental protections for shorelines, local critical areas ordinances continue to be a source of controversy.

The latest development involves a letter from state Rep. Jan Angel asking the state departments of Ecology and Commerce to quit giving legal guidance to local agencies. See my story in today’s Kitsap Sun.

It seems clear from court decisions and legislative actions that the Shoreline Management Act will provide long-term regulations for properties within 200 feet of the shoreline. This law — unlike the Growth Management Act that spawned critical areas ordinances — requires local shoreline plans to be approved by the Washington Department of Ecology.

But the immediate conflict involves what regulations should apply until local shoreline master programs are updated, a process under way for most Puget Sound cities and counties.

The practical aspects are that critical areas ordinances, updated within the past few years, generally include more restrictive regulations, such as larger buffers, in comparison to shoreline plans, most of which were drafted in the 1970s with updates that vary by jurisdiction.

Legally, the issues become complicated. Angel’s position appears to be that court rulings direct local governments to fall back to rules listed in the shoreline master programs until new shoreline plans are approved. Read her letter to Interim Ecology Director Polly Zehm (PDF 172 kb).

Ecology’s position seems to be that local governments should not throw out rules developed in their critical areas ordinances until the shoreline plans are updated.

I should point out that Brian Hodges, an attorney with Pacific Legal Foundation, maintains that Kitsap County would be putting itself at legal risk if county officials continue to process shoreline applications under the Kitsap County Critical Areas Ordinance. Hodges was the prevailing attorney in a lawsuit brought by Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners. County officials say they will appeal the ruling to the Washington State Supreme Court.

As for Ecology’s updated “guidance,” the reasoning goes as follows. See Ecology’s Web site for the complete analysis.
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