In going over staff reports for the Comprehensive Plan Amendments I find that one of the criteria being used to judge compliance with Kitsap County’s Comprehensive Plan is the Countywide Planning Policies. A point I tried to make when I completed each of my several Site Specific Comprehensive Plan Amendment applications was that these policies could not be used to judge compliance with the County’s Comprehensive Plan unless there had been a prior action to include these same policies – particularly the amendments to those policies adopted by the Board of County Commissioners in the fall of 2011, in Kitsap County’s Comprehensive Plan.
Please understand the issue is not whether Kitsap County adopted the Countywide Planning Policies as they did that according to my memory in 1998 with the then latest revisions occurring on November 19, 2007. The further revisions, i.e. the 2010 / 2011 amendments in October / November of 2011. No, the issue is……. did Kitsap County ever take action to include the the CPPs in the County’s Comprehensive Plan document? And specifically my question is where is the evidence that Kitsap County amended its Comprehensive Plan to include those 2011 CPPs amendments?
I have followed Kitsap County’s Plan adoption and Plan amendment process fairly closely since 1978 and have been involved particularly as a member of the public during the entire course of GMA planning. Some things may have escaped my notice, but one issue I have tracked is the Countywide Planning Policies. I have made comment about them on several occasions and at least tried to discover whether or not Kitsap County or any of the Cities were going to include the CPPs in their comprehensive plans (by amendment). So far I have been unable to document that the County or any of the Cities incorporated the CPPs or any of the revisions in their respective comprehensive plans. For quite a few years I have been critical of Kitsap County’s Comprehensive Plan and process (for many reasons) due to the fact the CPPs have not been included in (by amendment to) its Comprehensive Plan. My reading of GMA (RCW 36.70A.210) leads me to the conclusion that if the CPPs are to guide specific land use decisions, such policies must be included in and not be separate from the Comprehensive Plan.
The last time Kitsap County made any amendments to its Comprehensive Plan was in December of 2010. Even if the prior 2007 CPPs revisions had been included in that action, the amendments could not have been because they were not approved until October / November of 2011. Note the 2006 Plan amendments that came back to Kitsap County on remand did not have CPPs and no action was taken when addressing the remand issues to also include the 2011 CPPs in the final action on the 2006 Plan amendments.
So again I ask, by what comprehensive plan amendment action did Kitsap County include the CPPs or any of the amendments? The mere fact that Kitsap County along with the Cites may have adopted those policies is not the issue. By definition the CPPs are “framework policies” adopted with the purpose of providing guidance to member jurisdictions (of KRCC) in the preparation of their respective comprehensive plans. If such policies are to provide specific guidance to implementing ordinances, such policies must be included in the comprehensive plans.
You may remember that both Jack Hamilton and I provided extensive critique of the 2010 / 2011 proposed revisions to the CPPs. In short, the policies are poorly worded, not policies at all, filled with meaningless platitudes and at best offer poor guidance to any jurisdiction adopting them. The policies are so bad, Kitsap County’s elected officials and staff should be embarrassed to admit either recommending them for adoption or that they adopted them. Of course Kitsap County ignored our critique and made not one single change in the policies to reflect any of our criticism and there was not one single response to either of our critique’s or any portion there of. A significant fact worthy of note here is that there are 118 times when so called policies are worded such that they are “mandates.” Mandates are not policy! They are in fact prescriptive and therefore belong in an ordinance not a policy statement.
Jack and I tried to appeal the CPPs 2011 amendments to the Growth Management Hearing’s Board and were told by that Board that citizens like us did not have standing to make such an appeal. Further they instructed us that we could appeal such policies if they were included in Kitsap County’s Comprehensive Plan. The Board did not opine as to whether an appeal could be made if the County used those policies (without including them in its comprehensive plan) to make decisions about what actions make the County’s Plan compliant with the CPPs.
If the answer to the question I posed at the beginning of this e-mail is that there was no action taken by Kitsap County to include the CPPs in its Comprehensive Plan, then such policies cannot be used to judge what is compliant with its adopted Plan. If the argument is that any change to the Plan must be compliant with the CPPs, then the apparent fact is the CPPs have been included within the plan by reference and thus they are now subject to appeal. In either case I object to their use to judge individual Site Specific Comprehensive Plan Amendment requests. My concern also goes to the issue of how the County in good conscience can use any of these policies even as a “framework” for preparing its Comprehensive Plan, they are absolutely terrible.
William Palmer President Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners