Kitsap County Planning Commission activity report

by Mike Gustavson, Director, Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners

Planning Commission/ Board of County Commissioners Joint Meeting May 4, 2009

Lou Fortano opened the meeting by summarizing distinct concerns of various Planning Commission members that our efforts were a waste of time and of no consequence.

Fred Depee suggested enforcement of the 12 unpermitted Accessory Dwelling Units and bringing boundary line adjustments up for review by DCD is a waste of time. Don’t fix what isn’t broken. It seems the BoCC isn’t too interested in spending staff time on batting inconsequential gnats.

Several Planning Commission members would like to get a BoCC briefing of the direction they would like to go on topics before we get far into the work.

John Taylor requested we assess merits of the County Code. It’s important that we determine if the Code is achieving its intended purpose. BoCC indicated that not doing that probably cost the County the loss of SKIA to Bremerton.

Linda Paralez suggested the Planning Commission might better spend some of our time providing conceptual input to Staff, rather than all of our time reviewing Staff’s preliminary documents.

Charlotte Garrido emphasized identification of industries that would fit in Kitsap today and in the future and taking advantage of the Kitsap Economic Development Council’s recent 18 month
study. She wanted to give a boost to housing construction, energy reduction, electric vehicles, use of natural resources and growing more food locally, trails and getting people out of cars.

I tried to explain that Smart Growth isn’t cheap. Until recently, 8,000 homes (new and used) were sold annually, with median home prices at $265,000. Now that bank loans require 20% down and 28% of income qualifying toward principle, interest, taxes and insurance, median priced homes must be no higher than 3.0 times Kitsap’s median income of $60,000. That means median priced homes must come down $85,000 to a new median price of $180,000.

The additional $85,000 amounts to an additional $509/month on a 30 year, 6% mortgage.

The cost of smart growth for Kitsap is:

$509 x 12 months = $6,108/year x 8,000 homes sold per year = $48,864,000

$48,864,000 x 6 past years of houses sold under these regulations = $293,184,000 excess mortgage cost being paid annually out of Kitsap homeowner’s pockets

This is discretionary money that could have been used for new car payments, vacations or whatever.

Since each dollar created circulates through an average of seven purchases:

$293,184,000 x 7 times each dollar turns over = $2,052,288,000 in retail sales lost to Kitsap County x 0.1% Kitsap County General Fund portion of sales tax = $2,052,288 County sales tax revenue lost annually just due to the cost of “permission to build” regulations.

Additionally, the “Cost of permission to build” of $85,000, added to the $60,000 cost of a typical lot under the current regulations, leaves only $35,000 remaining for cost of construction. As you can see, few houses will be built for $35,000 each. Under current bank lending practices, construction will not recover until the cost of lots is reduced through reduced regulation.

The BOCC would like to pursue Rural Commercial/Industrial zoning to attract more rural businesses.

Not many people testify to the Planning Commission. John Taylor again suggested the Planning Commission return to daytime work study sessions and hold night meetings for public hearings.

I suggested when the vehicle mileage tax becomes reality at either or both the State and Federal levels, the incentive for a homeowner to burn brush will dissolve into tossing cuttings in the County ditches or in the bay, at great cost to the County to clean up.

I noted that 3½ years after the Critical Areas Ordinance was signed, GIS still does not display the CAO buffers or wildlife corridors. I questioned how the County can process a building permit without this key information.

I asked if the environmental regulations were written just to satisfy grant application parameters? 83% of the people living inside Urban Growth Areas maximizes transportation grant dollars. Is actual science being ignored to achieve maximum funding?xxxIt seemed to be a productive meeting.

Planning Commission Meeting May 19, 2009

Patty Charnas gave the Planning Commission a one hour presentation on the Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) update.

It appeared to be heavily influenced by Department of Ecology dogma. Restoration of the shoreline appeared to be a significant goal, although no supporting science was offered.

A “blue ribbon committee” of stakeholders is to be formed. I asked if shoreline property owners and property rights organizations might be included. Stay tuned.

Larry Keaton said he would like to resolve the science issues early – within the next six months.

I suggested there are significant legal precedents that need to be addressed.

Mike Gustavson


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