What Is The Problem You Are Trying to Solve?

Testimony #2 of Mike Gustavson at the Public Hearing 23 May 2011 Kitsap County Shoreline Inventory and Characterization Report.

The document before you appears to be a measure of perceived human created “ugliness” of bulkheads and piers.

Again, what’s the problem you’re trying to solve?

Could the problem in fact be the relationship between the creatures that live on the upland shore to the creatures that live in the sea?  Also, water quality entering Puget Sound.

The document before you was developed without looking at the biological interdependence of the sea and shore creatures.  It turns out the salt water environment is toxic to virtually all shore bound creatures, and the salt water creatures cannot live on land.

There is a failure to identify any shore bound creatures who are year around resident in Kitsap County that have a primary dependence on the salt chuck.  This is as opposed to opportunity dependence.  For instance, eagles, a non-endangered species, forage just fine around rivers and lakes.  Having the convenience of a saltwater lunch does not constitute primary association.  Sampling data consistently shows salmon smolts, once in salt water, no longer eat land generated bugs.

Precisely which creatures routinely pass through the salt water to dry shore interface, and precisely where do they live?

Could it be we’re once again trying our best to invent a problem, where in fact there is no problem?  If you cannot identify shore dwelling creatures that have a primary association with the salt water environment and identify where they exist, there is no problem.  At best, the problem exists only in very specific locations, which must be first identified by Dept. of Ecology.

If the concern is toxic loading of Puget Sound, one should look at the recently released Department of Ecology study “Toxics in Surface Runoff to Puget Sound”.  As Chris Dunagan of the Kitsap Sun stated, the study showed dramatically less toxicity than previously estimated.  The majority of toxics is in streams and stormwater flows coming from developed areas, including residential.  Rarely are the toxics found in forested areas.  Our most highly developed areas with the greatest toxic load are inside Urban Growth Areas and cities, precisely the objective of the Growth Management Act.  More and more, the data is showing higher density is the real culprit in environmental degradation.

Shoreline Inventory and Characterization Public Hearing                           5/23/11

Michael Gustavson

I remind you of a bit of history.

During update of Kitsap County’s Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO), Kitsap County’s Department of Community Development’s position was the existing 35 foot setback for structures was perfectly adequate.  No proof of harm to the contrary was offered.

Two organizations, without offering specific local proof of harm, objected in their appeal to the Growth Management Hearings Board.

The Growth Board remanded the CAO back to Kitsap County to resolve the buffer issue.  Board of County Commissioner member Chris Endresson moved to incorporate a 100 foot buffer “To avoid tangling with the Growth Management Hearings Board”.  No specific proof of harm was offered.  Patty Lent, on the record, stated that while there was no scientific proof of the need for the 100 foot buffer, in five years, when the Shoreline Master Plan was to be updated, the science would be in place.

I reminded Mr. Joe Buckar from the State Department of Ecology of these statements and told him the State DOE owed the citizens of Kitsap County the names of creatures that live along the upland shore that are salt water dependent, and where they are located.  His response to me was there is no funding to develop that science.

The document before you identifies long reaches of shoreline, identifying them as having consistent features.  This is not the case.  In the NAU along which I live, there is both high and low bank, a road abutting the shore that is below sea level at extreme high tide and some yard areas of salt water flooding.  The stretch is armored for most of it’s length.  Every lot is built out.

No proof of harm is identified.

Each parcel in our county is unique, especially along the shore.  Our county needs to develop a set of justified shoreline criteria that can be applied to specific parcels as building permits are requested.

Existing structures and bulkheads are all grandfathered, which was re-emphasized in this year’s session of the Legislature.  New bulkheads must be constructed at or above the high water mark.

Kitsap County is still in litigation over the 100 foot buffers established in the Critical Areas Ordinance revision of five years ago, at great expense.  Legal action is planned if the County again attempts to institute shoreline buffers with no local species-specific proof of harm. How do you want to spend the tax payers money?

The City of Des Moines is standing up to Department of Ecology’s shoreline buffer approach.  I would hope you would have the courage they are exhibiting.

As County Commissions, you need to decide whom you’re representing; the citizens of Kitsap County or the Department of Community Development and State Department of Ecology staffs, whose objective to many of us is to protect and expand their jobs.  As shown by State Department of Ecology’s stiff objections in the current Legislative session, to use of peer reviewed science, environmental concerns run a distant second place.  They exhibit no regard for property rights.

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