Tag Archives: shoreline planning

Shoreline task force will help revise regulations

All the pieces are nearly in place for Kitsap County residents and planners to begin examining the ecosystem at the edge of the waters encircling the Kitsap Peninsula.

Beyond beauty, shoreline environments contain vital ecosystems. (Click to enlarge)
Kitsap Sun photo

Oh, yes, lakes and a few streams are part of the picture.

Kitsap County commissioners last night appointed a 20-member citizen task force to take a central role in the planning effort. For the first time in county history, regulations will be based on ecosystem values. See the story I wrote for today’s Kitsap Sun listing the members.

Similar planning efforts are under way in Kitsap’s cities as well as various communities throughout the Puget Sound region. I wrote a story for the Kitsap Sun Feb. 27 regarding the effort for our cities.

In the past, shoreline regulations were based on existing land uses. Buffers — including the current 100-foot buffer for rural areas — were uniform throughout the entire county. Previous rules never took into consideration the particular types of shoreline or their ecological values. For example, an estuary with a highly productive marsh and a stream running through it was treated exactly the same as a rocky outcropping pounded by waves.
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Shorelines battle starts to stir behind the scenes

<i>Hood Canal and the Olympic Mountains from a home on Kitsap County\'s shoreline.</i><br><small>Photo courtesy of Dr. Dale Ireland</small>
Hood Canal and the Olympic Mountains from a home on Kitsap County's shoreline.
Photo courtesy of Dr. Dale Ireland

Planning the future of Puget Sound’s shorelines is under way or soon will be under way among most local governments in Puget Sound.

Some counties have completed the work because of early funding by the Legislature (King and Pierce) and some because they pushed ahead on their own (Whatcom). Some counties started early but have faced delays (Snohomish and Jefferson).

Kitsap County planners started early but focused their efforts on an “inventory” of existing conditions along the entire shoreline. That inventory, which includes prospects for habitat restoration, could be a major tool in the update of Kitsap’s Shoreline Master Program.

Do I need to remind anyone how contentious this issue is likely to become in counties with substantial shorelines?

In Kitsap County, both property rights advocates and environmental groups have already announced that they are getting ready for a fight.

Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners came out recently with guns ablazing: “Kitsap County is getting ready to update its shorelines master program,” KAPO President Tim Matthes says in a postcard to shoreline owners. “You will find very little in the news informing property owners of changes.”

That’s an interesting comment, considering that I have already written two stories before the process even starts. I can tell you now that there will be plenty to write about when this issue begins to boil.

The card also states, “County staff wants to treat every inch of shoreline as ‘critical area.’ They want to prohibit bulkheads, ban docks, force you to replace your gardens with ‘native’ plantings and control what kind of trees you plant, trim or remove.”

I’ll let others respond to those specifics if they wish, but clearly this message is designed to lead the charge into battle.

KAPO is not the only side getting ready for a fight, however. Beth Wilson of Kitsap Conservation Voters recently informed the county commissioners rather forcefully during a recent “Meet the Commissioners” forum that shoreline planning could be the most important issue of the year among the local environmental community.

While Kitsap County planners prepare for two years of work on the Shoreline Master Program, cities in Kitsap County are getting ready for updates as well. There was talk at one time of strong collaboration between the county and the cities, but it appears that jurisdictions are starting to drift apart. It remains unclear whether any kind of coordination will take place.

Kitsap County Planning Commission was briefed on the upcoming planning effort a couple of weeks ago (see Kitsap Sun story, May 20). The county commissioners discussed the same information today.

Some of the key ideas include:
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