On Friday August 5, Alan Beam and I had the first opportunity to review the “Reasonable measures” that are the subject of today’s scheduled public hearing. We understand that these measures are ones that have gone through some negotiation process involving County staff, the appellants of the Buildable Lands Analysis Report and the “Developer Council” as part of the Home Builders Association. Other than perhaps a courtesy review by the Realtors and the one Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners (KAPO) received this past Friday, there is no evidence of public input prior to this public hearing. The “open house” held this afternoon cannot count for the kind of “broad dissemination of proposals and alternatives, opportunity for written comments, public meetings after effective notice, provision for open discussion, communication programs, information services, and consideration of and response to public comment ………. ” required by RCW 36.70A.140. Therefore, Kitsap County has failed to comply with the Growth Management Act’s requirements for public participation.
We believe also the County has failed to take advantage of the experience and expertise resident in the citizens of the County to craft workable “reasonable measures.” Neither the Buildable Lands Analysis Report appellants or the Growth Management Hearings Board members represent or can represent the residents of Kitsap County. Without citizen input, there is no way for the Board of Commissioners to adequately represent the citizens who elected them and without a “broad dissemination of information” about what the Board is set to adopt, there is no effective way for the Board to get feedback from the citizens.
Clearly KAPO does not represent all of the citizens of Kitsap County, but we do represent quite a number of property owners in our membership. As an organization that has been actively involved in the development of comprehensive plans and ordinances for the past sixteen years we wish to object first to the process by which the “reasonable measures” have been crafted and to object specifically to the following measures in the list of fourteen (14):
Measure 10 – Transfer of Development Rights, Measure 11 (Rural Legacy Lots – Footnote No. 39) and Measure 12 – Maximum urban lot size. Further we question the “so-called commitments) for Measures 2 – Reduced regulatory fees in UGA; Measure 3 – Tax incentives for infill and redevelopment; Measure 7 – Infrastructure investment in UGA; and Measure 10 – Transfer of Development Rights.
Regarding KAPO’s objection to the three measures mentioned above, we believe these violate the constitutional rights to the use of an owner’s property (as they see fit not what other people think or what the government might want). If there is public interest in restricting the use of a lot or parcel, then the County is obligated to buy the property. If such purchase is not part of the proposal (and it appears not to be) then a court challenge will be necessary- especially if these measures turn into code requirements. Transfer of development rights is included among the three, because the proposal is ill defined and a thus an assessment of constitutional compliance is still in question.
Regarding the “so-call commitments” denoted along with the reasonable measures as included in the list with that tag, there is no way to judge whether or not such measures can be made workable. It is up to the County to define a realistic “commitment” it can abide. And if there is no “buy in” by the land owners and developers by whatever the County proffers, the measure or measures are as worthless as the paper they are printed on.
Depending on the actual measures the County may adopt, it is likely there will be appeals going forward to the Hearings Board and/or Court. Even if there are no further appeals, it is likely that all of the fourteen (14) Measures as now drafted will fail to provide any incentive or even a mandate for UGA infill in urban areas. Why you ask? The answer is simple and clear. The State Department of Ecology is adopting new storm water system design regulations (that we demonstrably do not need) that will make the expense of developing property almost prohibitive. If there is no relief from these new requirements set to go into effect in January of 2017, one of two things will happen, either the “new growth” will occur in Rural areas or none of the growth targets can be met county-wide.
The implications of how the DOE storm water design regulations will affect Kitsap County is an issue that should be addressed prior to the crafting of any “reasonable measures.” Thus, this public hearing and the sixty (60) day rush to satisfy the Buildable Lands Analysis Report appellants and/or the Growth Management Hearings Board is premature at best or an exercise in futility.