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PSRC gets frosty reception

Public testimony taken at a Port Orchard meeting of the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) Tuesday night overwhelmingly favored Kitsap County disassociation from the regional advisory council, but PRSC representatives said the testimony was one sided.

“We want our planning to be done locally so people can be part of the process,” said Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners Executive Director Vivian Henderson. ”They can’t be part of a process that meets once a month at 10 a.m. on a Thursday and has a public hearing in Kitsap County once or twice a year.”

About 80 people attended the meeting Tuesday night in the commissioners’ chambers of the county administration building. Most of those testifying opposed the PRSC, and a plurality of those were affiliated with KAPO.

After the meeting PSRC Director of Growth Management Planning Norman Abbott said that the negative sentiment toward his organization represented a minority opinion. This was seconded by Poulsbo City Councilor Dale Rudolph, who moderated the session. "Planning helps to preserve rural life," he said. “Listening to some of this testimony would make you believe the opposite.”

The meeting took place after a request by all three Kitsap County Commissioners, but South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel was the only board member to attend.

“I don’t understand this kind of a system that brings a plan to the people that doesn’t make a difference,” Angel said. She walked away from the microphone and then returned, saying “I’m elected to represent the people and I don’t know how to do it.”

Angel said she would vote to resign from the PSRC and affiliate planning strategies with other counties that have more in common with Kitsap. In order for this to happen she would need to convince at least one of her colleagues to agree with this strategy.

Neither North Kitsap Commissioner Steve Bauer nor Central Kitsap Commissioner Josh Brown attended the meeting due to other commitments. And neither said that resigning from PSRC is out of the question.

Bauer, who said later he wished he could have attended, said he was not inclined to leave the PSRC but said he would listen to Angel’s opinions on the matter.

“I am open to having a substantive discussion about what we should do next,” he said.

Brown also said he would consider Angel’s request, but noted that significant transportation funds are allocated to Kitsap County through the PSRC.

“It may be appropriate that we affiliate with other counties,” Brown said. “But I haven’t seen any evidence that Jefferson or Mason Counties want to form an alliance. If Jan wants us to do something like that she is going to have to do her homework and determine how it would work.”

Some of the testimony was emotional, such as that from Dick Brown of Port Orchard: “We don’t need you here and we don’t want you here. As you move further into Socialism we don’t want to go with you. We want our county commissioners to vote to get out. Or they can allow us to vote to get out. Or they can get out.”

Other opponents were more reasoned but no less vehement.

“Kitsap County can withdraw from PSRD with only six months notice from our county commissioners,” said Karl Duff of Port Orchard. “The ideas behind ‘smart growth’ and socialized planning have no standing outside of North Korea, Cuba and American universities. Visiting Russians look at us with blank stares, wondering why we have not learned the lessons of the Soviet Union.”

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