Notes regarding Department of Ecology Guidance for 2007-2009
Shoreline Master Program Update Grants.
by Karl M. Duff, Immediate Past President, KAPO
This DOE guidance specifies plans for which Kitsap County seeks grant money for preparation of the SMP update. It has aspects which may be beyond legal scope of an SMP update, as well as some administrative sequences that appear out of order.
The document calls for five phases over three years. Despite “visioning” process the first year, public hearing is not provided until the third year, “at least 60 days” prior to adoption. Yet all recommendations for second and third year action (decisions, policies, regulations and strategies) are all established prior to the end of the first year. This appears to foreclose any meaningful public process.
The “Complete Shoreline Inventory” called for in Phase 1 requires information regarding wetlands, aquifer recharge areas, fish and wildlife conservation areas, geologically hazardous areas, and frequently flooded areas as defined in RCW 36.70A, the Growth Management Act. Hence scope of effort required to qualify for grant funding essentially overlays that of the Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO). This appears to be excessive scope. It also appears that DOE feels no constraints on SMA’s limitation of jurisdiction to 200 feet from the shoreline
The same section calls for definition of sites for “ecological restoration”, special interest such as “priority habitats” and information on regulations in shoreline and adjacent areas provided in the CAO, etc.
“Impact analysis” is not provided until phase 4 in the third year. It is probable that “impact” is being used here by ecologists bereft of either science or motivations for constitutional protections of property. Although possibly suitable for scientific assessment of ecological impact (subject to available and applicable science), it is certainly far too late in the process to satisfactorily assess impact on personal property rights. This should rather be accomplished in conjunction with “recommendations” being generated at the end of the first year.
The words “marine habitat” never appear. Rather called for are wide scale terrestrial studies, including “larger drainage areas, geology, soils, topography, climate, vegetation and drainage patterns”, with justification as to how they may be relevant to the shoreline. Yet shorelines are to maintain “form and function”. The authors possibly cannot relate science to marine environment and are left primarily with terrestrial ecology on their minds.
Phase 2 calls for addressing the “special requirements of shorelines of statewide significance”, when 100 % of Kitsap shorelines are in this category.
Policies and regulations “shall, at a minimum identify ‘Dimensional Standards’, meaning buffers, setbacks, density, etc., and ‘modification activity standards’. These imply “one size fits all” restrictions (i.e.,taxation requirements) rather than site specific mitigation determinations.
CONCLUSIONS: Some of these issues may require following DOE guidance beyond SMA regulations. These need to be resolved at once with the County. In addition, substantive public participation and timely private property “impact” needs to be properly incorporated in the schedule.