Testimony of Glen Jurges on the Kitsap county SMP

Honorable Commissioners Brown, Garrido and Gelder,

I am the President of Enetai Community located in East Bremerton representing 19 shoreline property owners which include the Croxton House (The first mayor of Bremerton) and the Bremer Estate (Currently owned by the Ben Cheney Foundation).  My home is located on the old Colman Mill Site and Shipyard that burned down in 1870.

Increasing the shoreline buffer to 100 feet is an undue burden on all the Enetai Beach property owners to solve the pollution problem they did NOT create.  We strongly oppose increasing the buffer beyond the existing 35 feet.  The Enetai Beach homes were constructed in accordance with Kitsap County Building Permits beginning in 1901 until 1964.  Any bulkhead installed was in accordance with the regulations at the time.  No homes have been built since 1964, however, several have been remolded in accordance with current regulations at the time.

Some of the homes were located 35 feet from high water plus a 15 foot setback while others were situated further back depending on the particular lot configuration. The 100 feet shoreline buffer means all homes along Enetai Beach will be “grandfathered” as conforming structures.  However, there is no provision that ensures they will not be reclassified as a non-conforming structure in the future.

The proposed 100 foot shoreline buffer is based on an unproven theory of “best available science” has never been adequately explained or subjected to an unbiased peer review by the scientific community. These “experts” have NOT shown the 35 foot buffer is inadequate or increasing it will reduce the pollutants entering Puget Sound or protect the shoreline marine habitat.

Applying the 100 foot buffer to all urban, semi-rural and rural shorelines in Kitsap County without support from the scientific community it is one size fits all” government decision making which is irresponsible and puts an unfair burden on shoreline property owners.

In the last 20 years the Enetai Beach property owners have seen a huge reduction in the amount and type of debris washing up on our beaches. Years ago it was common to find partially filled paint cans, medical waste, occasional oil and a lot of general garbage. Today, it is very unusual to find anything except an occasional plastic bottle. The shoreline property owners have been and will continue to be excellent stewards of their property.

The efforts by many property owners and government agencies in the last 20 years through education, repairing failing septic systems, improved management practices, enforcement of existing regulations, restrictions on wetlands, stormwater collecting facilities resulted in improving the water quality of many Kitsap County water bodies.

Although these improvements do not receive the media attention as the major sewage or oil spills they have shown to be effective. The Kitsap Sun dated 31 May 2011 reported the success of the Bremerton Water Treatment improvements by stating “Water-quality tests showed the waterways were cleaner than ever before.

The effort proved so successful that some shellfish beds in Dyes Inlet, which had been closed for nearly 40 years, which were reopened to commercial harvesting, which continues today.” The undisputable results from several creditable sources state Puget Sound is getting cleaner without increasing the shoreline buffers.

The State of the Sound Report released by the Governor’s Office on January 18, 2005 concluded “Stormwater runoff is a leading pollution problem in the region”. The largest source of pollutants flowing into Puget Sound comes from dozens of creeks and streams collecting untreated stormwater runoff. In addition, thousands of gallons of untreated sewage are routinely discharged directly into Puget Sound during heavy rains due to equipment failures or facilities not designed for these higher flow rates.

When viewed as a whole, the runoff from private shoreline properties is miniscule compared to the other much larger sources from stormwater pollutants and untreated sewage. Even when these events occur from time to time it appears Puget Sound is cleaner than ever before.

Again, we strongly oppose increasing the shoreline buffer for the following reasons:

  1. It will NOT solve the pollution problem but will severely limit property rights and decrease property values.
  2. It has NOT been shown the 35 foot buffer is inadequate or increasing it to 100 feet will reduce the pollutants entering Puget Sound or will protect the shoreline marine habitat.
  3. Land use policies must be based on scientific principles not wishful thinking, political pressure or subjective opinions. RCW 90.58.100(1) states “that local governments must use a systematic interdisciplinary approach that integrates the natural and social sciences and the environmental design arts; they must consult with federal, state, regional, or local agencies having any specialized expertise with respect to any environmental impact; conduct necessary research; and utilize all available information regarding hydrology, geography, topography, ecology, economics, and other pertinent data.”
  4. The “experts” have never explained the “best available science” or subjected it to an unbiased peer review by the scientific community. WAC 173-26-201(2)(a) states “that local governments shall identify and assemble the most current, accurate, and complete scientific and technical information available that is applicable to the issues of concern; and base master program provisions on an analysis incorporating this information.” The Kitsap Sun dated May 29, 2011 reported the Suquamish Tribe finished a nine-year study of the near shore of Bainbridge Island in addition to other nooks of Puget Sound”.  Has this study been incorporated in the “best available science” to determine if the shoreline buffer should be greater than 35 feet?
  5. Applying the 100 foot “one size fits all” buffer to all urban, semi-rural and rural shorelines, unless supported by the scientific community, is irresponsible government.
  6. “No Net Loss” has NOT been defined, a baseline date established or quantified the methods for measuring water quality changes.
  7. “Best Available Science” has NOT shown that increasing the buffers from 35 feet to 100 feet justifies “taking of private property”. RCW 90.58.100 states “The Shoreline Management Act says that shoreline modifications is to be expected and requires a balance between property rights and ecological protection.”
  8. SB 5451 – 2011-12 concerning shoreline structures adds a new section to chapter 90.58 RCW.  Section 2.(1)(a) may include “Residential structure and appurtenant structures that were legally established and are used for a conforming use, but do not meet standards for the following are to be considered a conforming structure: Setbacks, buffers, or yards; area; bulk; height; or density; and (b) Redevelopment, expansion, change with the class of occupancy, or replacement structure if it is consistent with the master program, including requirements for no net loss of shoreline ecological function”.  Therefore, a structure legally established or vested on or before the effective date of a master program must be considered a conforming structure.
  9. When a property owner wants to make any normal improvements or maintenance within the buffer it will require a DCD permit which could include mitigation, additional costs for a professional assessment and/or a variety of other constraints if it is perceived as a “net loss” of ecological function.

We strongly urge you to retain the 35 foot shoreline buffer. You know the right decision is based on creditable science which has not been presented, so do the right thing.

Respectfully,
Glen Jurges
President of Enetai Beach Community

P.S.  If you approve the 100 foot buffer on all shoreline property owners you should immediately direct DCD to implement the same “best available science” and establish buffers on ALL Kitsap County properties bordering any conveyance, whether private or county, that allows stormwater runoff to eventually reach Puget Sound Waters.  This process should be relatively easy considering all the time and effort spent justifying the 100 foot shoreline buffer.  So do the right thing and require ALL property owners contribute some of their property to help control stormwater runoff from entering Puget Sound.

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