Some thoughts on proposed revisions to Kitsap’s Countywide Planning Policies

by Bob Benze, Director, Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners

The single most glaring deficiency of the Countywide Planning Policies is their failure to even mention the protection of property rights – let alone provide a section in the document on how this would be accomplished.

Both Vision 2040 and Transportation 2040, which are driving the policy revision, acknowledge that protecting property rights is one of the non-prioritized goals of the GMA.  The need to protect property rights is also required by the SMA.

Yet the county has somehow completely overlooked this legal requirement.  It is this blatant bias that causes the document to lack any sense of fairness or credibility.

The public should be outraged that the planning policies are written as if the government itself owned the private property that they feel so free to restrict and stringently control – saying how it can be used, or if it can be used at all.

There is no indication that they understand the constitutional principles of the right of legal ownership or the financial implications, not only on the owners, but on the economy as a whole, when ownership rights are compromised without justification.

(One of the reasons that China’s economy is skyrocketing, is their amendment to their property rights laws, which allows people to accumulate financial equity through the ownership of real property.)

This restriction and regulation of property then leads to its scarcity for development – in turn leading to the impact on affordable housing and the arguments so eloquently expressed by Mike Gustavson on why mortgages don’t work when the median price of homes exceeds approximately three times the median family incomes.

And the arguments for using smart growth principles for moving people out of the rural areas are specious at best – as simple zoning has historically been quite effective in preserving Kitsap’s character – and even this approach today is far too complex and overdone.

The emphasis on Vision 2040 and Transportation 2040 has been covered by KAPO in some detail.

The emphasis on trails, bicycle-friendly, and pedestrian-friendly urban communities ignores the reality of Kitsap County, where much of the population is rural and people don’t really want to live in Bremerton or Silverdale.

The reality is that people need to be able to use their automobiles to easily get where they want to go when they want to go.  Traffic “calming” isn’t high on almost anyone’s list.  Poor designs, like Silverdale’s “Malfunction Junction” and Highway 303’s HOV lanes should be an embarrassment to government.

The idea of tolling major arterials to control traffic volume and raise revenue, if put to a vote, would go down in flames.

The new sections on page 18 for Protection of Air Quality by reducing the level of toxins, fine particles, and greenhouse gasses; and Protection of Water Quality by reducing the amount of toxins and pathogens are particularly inappropriate for this document.

The idea that land use planning is needed to obtain satisfactory air quality and water quality ignores the fact that existing laws, such as the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act (including the Western Washington Stormwater Manual) already control water and air quality, and they have been very successful in achieving their goals.

Indeed, as KAPO has shown in its technical comments on the SMP and Critical Areas updates, the county can produce almost no true scientific justification for these kinds of statements.

Emphasizing locally grown food is curious, as little land in Kitsap is zoned agricultural.  What would be the benefit?

Locally grown food is almost always more expensive than that found in the supermarkets, and the selection is limited, particularly in the winter.  Free markets have been extremely successful in providing a tremendous variety of foods at reasonable prices.

Trying to justify controls to force people to minimize consumption of food produced elsewhere, based on eliminating CO2 from truck exhaust, is a fantasy – as is the claim that anthropogenic CO2 is causing global warming (again see our comments on T2040).

I don’t think that most of our government officials really think that policies that prevent growth in rural areas apply to them – and the County won’t be believable on this subject until our commissioners move from their rural homes to an urban community.

The idea of using land use planning policies to produce living wage employment opportunities is a farce.  States that have no smart growth policies are attracting the best employers.  It should be obvious that getting rid of these planning policies would be the best approach to attracting good jobs.

As always, the market will decide this issue, not some government planner bureaucrat – just as the market should be allowed the freedom to decide the mix, location, and price of housing types available for purchase.

Paragraph 4.h on page 21 is particular nonsense – “Promote solar, wind, tidal, wave generation, and other renewable energy…”

Not only are most of these extraordinarily costly – resulting in huge increases in power bills, things like wind power require almost 100% rolling backup from conventional power sources – not to mention the thump-thump-thump noise, the bird-killing blades, and the visual eyesore.

Does anyone in Port Orchard even use their brains to think about this stuff before they write it down – or is it just fashionable to parrot the latest activist talking points?

Isn’t it time to get out of the PSRC?

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