Testimony of Bob Benze To the Kitsap County Planning Commission On June 5, 2012

Good evening. My name is Bob Benze and I reside in Silverdale. I am testifying on behalf of the Kitsap Alliance.

Article I, Section 1 of our state constitution states: “All political power is inherent in the people and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed and are established to protect and maintain individual rights.

It does not say governments are established to protect public rights or environmental rights. Instead, government’s primary function is to protect individual rights, including the right to property.

Our federal constitution suggests property rights are a Bundle of Rights: including the right to possess, to exclude others, and to dispose of your property as you desire, without excessive government interference.

When government decides to take some of the Bundle of Rights, they have reduced the value of the bundle held by the property owner. It was intended that such takings should be limited, justified, and compensated.

The proposed SMP update clearly takes private property rights for pubic use without adequate justification or compensation. For example, the imposition of large buffers on all private shoreline parcels without legal or scientific basis.

Indeed, no one has been able to provide peer reviewed science showing that single-family residences are incompatible with the saltwater shoreline. To the contrary, the literature shows that the saltwater habitat in Puget Sound is as healthy in front of shoreline residences as it is in front of undeveloped shoreline, clearly showing that large buffers are unnecessary.

But some people in government don’t really seem to care about the science or the law – when it conflicts with a belief system that holds that people are not compatible with the environment and that it is government’s higher responsibility to protect the rights of the environment.

This SMP update is a classic example. Instead of doing what The Shoreline Management Act intended, which is to responsibly manage development — the update instead appears intended to bring shoreline development to a screeching halt and then, over time, to restore the shoreline to its natural condition.

I ask you, is this draconian update actually being done with the “consent of the governed”? Do you have evidence that the public supports such stringent measures that take away their property rights without any real justification? We believe most shoreline owners are unaware and will be furious when they realize what this ordinance actually does to their property.

I would suggest that you take these concerns seriously as our state constitution also says: “Whenever an attempt is made to take private property for a use alleged to be public, the question whether the contemplated use be really public shall be a judicial question, and determined as such, without regard to any legislative assertion that the use is public.”


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