County Trying to Eliminate Public Participation

Testimony of  Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners, Jackie Rossworn, Executive Director at the Public Hearing 23 May 2011 Kitsap County Shoreline Inventory and Characterization Report

May 23, 2011

To:  KitsapCountyCommissioners:
Rob Gelder, District 1; Charlotte Garrido, District 2; Josh Brown, District 3

Subject: SMP Inventory and Characterization Report vs Public Participation

In our honest opinion we believe the public hearing on this report is a hostile and deliberate attempt to exclude the public from the shoreline update process and is intended to establish a procedure that will minimize and gradually eliminate public involvement (except for a chosen few)  in the development of county government regulations and policies.

The Draft Report is 600+ pages.  It is on the county’s website and citizens can also buy an electronic copy (CD) for $5.  It is hard to read this document on a computer screen. There is one hard copy available for review at DCD during business hours ~ 10am-5pm Monday through Thursday.  DCD is closed Fridays so the hard copy is not available evenings, Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays.

It is hard to peruse such a lengthy document on line and how does one prepare thoughtful type written comment to correspond with draft elements that are contained in the document without making extensive hand written notes from the computer screen?

Making a hard copy is out of the question for most of us.  My small home use printer would choke on the task.  Expecting a private citizen to have a commercial printer make a copy with its colored graphs and charts is not reasonable.

How can the public participate in a meaningful way when government buries them in volumes and volumes of material?  Draft ordinances that are much too long to read and understand by the average person. And that is not the end of it.  After these ordinances and policies are passed, they are enhanced, expanded, reinterpreted and complicated by staff who is expected to apply them.

James Madison, the father of our U.S. Constitution foresaw this happening:

It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of  their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a  rule, which is little known, and less fixed?”

The county must find a way to simplify this process so that the public can participate as partners with their government in establishing the rules we all must live by.

Jackie Rossworn, Executive Director
Kitsap Allianceof Property Owners

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