Testimony of Michael Gustavson To the Kitsap County Planning Commission On June 5, 2012

What is the problem you’re intending to solve?

At the outset, we were told the purpose of updating the Shoreline Management Plan was to improve the water quality of Puget Sound.

Issues suggested by Department of Ecology (DOE) and Kitsap County Department of Community Development (DCD) as adversely impacting Puget Sound included bulkheads, piers, water runoff through “natural vegetation” and “beach nourishment” from “feeder bluffs”.

Eel grass is found as frequently in front of bulkheaded properties as where no bulkheads are located. New bulkheads must be installed above the high water mark, making new construction a non-issue. Divers show eel grass is found even more commonly under piers. The number of piers found between Kitsap County and the Pacific Ocean number perhaps a dozen. No evidence has been provided that piers impede salmon passage.

Although I requested it of Mr. Joe Burcar (DOE) no endangered or threatened creatures nor their shoreline dependent habitat locations have been identified, so shoreline unique habitat requirements appear to not exist.

The vast majority of polluted surface water runoff comes from roads and parking lots, yet this impact is not addressed in the shoreline plan. Millions of gallons of raw sewage are dumped into Puget Sound annually from sewage line ruptures, yet much concern is focused on a few failed septic drain fields, which are routinely located and corrected by Health District beach surveys. In the case of my neighbor, alleged septic failures turn out to be runoff from Canadian Geese and other wildlife excrement.

Raw dirt is found beneath brush, so water reaching the surface cascades unimpeded to the shore. Grass is a much better filter of surface runoff than brush, yet this plan prohibits a shoreline lawn.

What purpose is served by the restrictions placed on view clearing and “no touch” buffers, except to make shoreline parcels less desirable?

When the State’s own data and the review of over 4,000 peer reviewed scientific papers were presented, showing each of the DOE and DCD concerns was a red herring and having no measurable impact, Kitsap County changed direction and stated the Washington Administrative Code also included requirements for habitat and “Esthetics”.

The proposed shoreline buffers will so severely restrict the usefulness of shoreline parcels, that little incentive will exist to request building permits. Most of the parcels on the shoreline currently are developed. Many of these homes are older, but will not be replaced. This only creates deteriorating “esthetics”.

Department of Community Development is, by County Ordinance, to be self-supporting, funded by building permit fees. Waterfront properties historically have been the highest value parcels. This ordinance further destroys this revenue source.

Beginning with the buffer and housing restrictions instituted by Kitsap County’s Critical Areas Ordinance and continuing with the draft before you, assessed values on the shoreline have fallen roughly twice as far as parcels elsewhere in the County. To make up the difference, upland taxes have increased proportionately.

Is it any wonder Kitsap County’s tax revenues continue to fall short of requirements?

Again, what is the problem we’re trying to solve?

The right approach is to un-write these restrictions and return to the 35 foot building setback throughout Kitsap County. Unless actual proof of harm is provided, restrictive regulations only do harm, either to the environment or to the fiscal health of our county


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