Opinion: Evidence needed for county code changes

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The Board of County Commissioners opined in the “My Turn Column” that the current regulations for code enforcement are not working. They cited as examples some the worst cases of attempted code enforcement that have dragged on for months, years and even decades. There was a lot left out in their “opinion,” such as “the reasons why” these cases defy code enforcement and whether they are code, enforcement process related or because the individuals involved were or are just plain defiant.

Also not mentioned was the fact that similar, but more egregious version of the ordinance was first proposed in 2011. That “draft proposal” made it through the Planning Commission public hearing process and came to the Board of Commissioners for adoption. Concerns raised by the Kitsap Realtors, The Home Builders, the Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners and others, caused the Board to send it back to staff for redraft.

Like the 2011 version, ordinance issued in March was cause for alarm. A second revised draft was made available this time to the “stakeholders” in July of this year along with a slide presentation presumably showing the need for the proposed Title 5 Ordinance. Both the revised ordinance and the slide show are flawed for reasons too numerous to recount here, but the written critique by various stakeholders can be made available for all who might be interested.

Rising to the top of our concerns is the lack of documentation of the need for changing the system of how Kitsap County processes code compliance cases. For at least six months now, a request was made of the County to provide documentation of the extent of the problem as well as the reasons why some cases were resolved in an amicable fashion and others dragged on for an extended period of time. In order to satisfy the concerns of stakeholders, it would be necessary to compile the data from at least a five to ten year period of time to determine whether the problems identified are ordinance or process related. The County’s slide presentation did not contain the data required. A witness to that fact is in a nine page critique of contents of each slide in their presentation provided to the County in early August.

Regarding the “Lean Process improvements,” they have only occurred this year and there has not been enough time lapsed to evaluate the results within the context of the existing regulations. They need to be tested before the County continues with the arguments of a supposed need for a new ordinance.

Contrary to the innuendo of the Board of Commissioner’s comments regarding the responsibilities of property owners, it is easy to demonstrate that the overwhelming majority of property owners are indeed the best stewards of the land even though there are a few people who choose to disregard laws. At the core of the property owner’s concerns is the impact of regulations, especially those that are not needed, that erode those constitutionally guaranteed rights.

William Palmer, President Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners

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