Kitsap Shoreline Master Program Revision

from the Kitsap County Real Estate Market Blog by Prowse & Company.

Keeping everyone happy with the latest revision to the Shoreline Master Program may be challenging. The subject is technical and difficult for homeowners to understand. The policies do not easily translate into the perceived benefits to society, and waterfront homeowners may feel unfairly burdened. As in much of national politics, communities are having to choose between freedom and equality — two of the cornerstones of our government and way of life. 

As required by the Shoreline Management Act of 1971, Kitsap County is in the process of updating its Shoreline Master Program. Communities within the County are also producing updates (info here on Poulsbo’s update, info here for Bainbridge Island, info here for Bremerton). It has been 10 years since the last update, and the County is required to submit a revised plan for approval by the Department of Ecology in 2012. The process appears behind schedule compared to the original timeline. The County Web site describes the main purposes of the plan:

  • Encourage reasonable and orderly development of shorelines, with an emphasis on water-dependent and related uses that control pollution and prevent damage to the natural environment.
  • Protect the natural character of Washington shorelines, the land, vegetation, wildlife, and shoreline environment.
  • Promote public access and provide opportunities to enjoy views and recreational activities in shoreline areas. 

In June, the Kitsap County Commissioners approved the 415+ page Shoreline Inventory and Characterization document. This document is thick with the jargon and terminology of experts and academics in the field of ecology. For instance, the nearshore assessment unit prioritization recommendations map in appendix C appears to categorize much of Liberty Bay, Port Orchard Bay, Dyes Inlet, and Bremerton waterfront areas as “Enhance, Create”. The management options for areas designated “Enhance, Create” in Chapter 4 include recommendations such as, “Promote establishment of marine riparian vegetation including large trees by requiring a vegetation conservation plan for activities impacting marine riparian vegetation.” What activities might trigger that such a requirement be placed upon a homeowner? How much would it cost to prepare and implement such a plan? 

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