Legislative update

In a final act of “failure to communicate” the legislature passed and the Governor signed a budget that covered a $9 billion dollar short fall by using $5 billion in one time stimulus money and making major cuts in programs directly serving the people of the state.

There was no significant reduction in “politically essential” program funding and no meaningful reduction in the size of government. The end result will be a continuation of the current $9 billion deficit plus an additional $5 to $7 billion dollar deficit at the start of the next biennium in 2011.

How any Legislator that supported the budget can face his or her constituents with a straight face is beyond me. Between the two Washingtons, we are now the proud owners of a debt structure
that makes Fannie Mae look like an economic and banking brain trust.

I noticed in the paper today that DOE does not have the funding necessary to clean up our highways and byways but they certainly have the funds to write new regulations.

The “cap and trade” legislation was considered just a bit too politically risky by the legislators who have to stand for office every two years or who have to deal with irate taxpayers on a daily basis. Unfortunately the Governor who has none of those immediate concerns, put on the mantle of greatness (she must have borrowed or had a personal copy made of during her recent visit to the other Washington) and took matters into her own hands.

By Executive Order (they used to be known as Royal Decrees before 1776), GG created the very structure that was included in “cap and trade” that the people’s representatives refused to adopt. Between the mandates for reduced car driving miles, increased auto efficiency, increased reliance on the unproven technologies of wind and solar power (as primary energy sources for a state), and the continued refusal to allow expansion of carbon based fuel use, we can reasonably anticipate a major negative impact on the economy of the state.

The constant demand for more “green jobs” is being met by either changing the nomenclature associated with existing technical and professional endeavors or by forcing more people into cutting lawns for a living.

There is one clear winner in the last legislative session and that is the environmental lobby. The people of the state have once again been traded off for the funding and support offered by the environmental lobbyists and their apparent endless stream of public and private grant funding to push into campaign coffers. I wonder how many people actually realize that they are paying for those campaign contributions in a variety of ways. I guess when we finally get to the point at which cars are no longer allowed on the roads, all homes are shared apartments, and “power hours” are the norm a few more people might become concerned. Hard to tell.

Here in Kitsap

Interim Rural Forest rules are back on the top of the Commissioners agenda. Developing a process to fleece property owners of the economic benefit of their property while appearing as both benevolent to the needs of those owners and concerned about the best interests of the community has been a continuing magic act for the past 20 years.

Commissioner Garrido (you remember her – the one with the PhD in Planning) spilled the beans when she allowed that her biggest concern was making sure that we “saved” the land for future generations. Commissioner Bauer was not much better in his concerns about preserving the natural areas. What the whole bunch of them have missed, as have their predecessors, is that they do not own the property; someone else does.

The Commissioners have no actual authority to dictate to owners that in order to use some portion of the property they must agree to leave the majority of the property unused in perpetuity. The zoning as it now exists is 1 in 20. If I own 80 acres in a square and want to build 4 houses at the interior junction of the parcels, I am allowed to do so without condition on the remainder of the property.

If I own 1,000 acres and want to parcel it out in 20 acre sections that are long and narrow so I can build a number of homes in close proximity one to the other, why should the Commissioners care. If, however, the actual goal is to “preserve” forest land that the county does not own at no cost to the county, that would explain the dilemma that the Commissioners constantly face.

Perhaps if the Commissioners could find a valid basis for the entire program, they might have greater success in finding a solution. It really is hard to develop a solution if you are unable to define the problem or (as in this case) if a real problem does not exist. Perhaps the Commissioners should just back off to the default “it’s not our property to use” position and simply declare victory in simple zoning. Don’t hold your breath.

The most probable outcome will be either the property under IRF rules will be parceled and sold off and then developed or, keeping with the SKIA example, annexed into existing cities and developed.

Jack Hamilton
gradiver@wavecable.com

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