PSRC listened to and ignored our concerns

The hubris of the Puget Sound Regional Council was on full display for Kitsap County residents attending the group’s public meeting last week in Port Orchard. As were all the reasons the county needs to ends its participation in PSRC immediately.

About 80 Kitsap residents showed up for the meeting in the commissioners’ chambers, and many of those on hand professed some affiliation with the Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners — which is to say they have strong feelings on the subjects of property rights and Kitsap County’s involvement in a quasi-governmental agency whose leadership and mission is heavily skewed toward King County’s interests rather than Kitsap’s.

Following the meeting, PSRC Director of Growth Management Planning Norman Abbott dismissed the spirited objections and criticisms raised by the attendees, saying they represented a minority opinion. His assessment was shared by by Poulsbo City Councilman 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.”

Actually, it would make you believe the residents of Kitsap County would prefer to have a strong voice in shaping the strategies that directly affect them rather than abdicating their responsibility to an organization in which they only have 3 percent of the say.

More to the point, we’re flabbergasted that PSRC’s director — and apparently some here in Kitsap County — could be so dismissive of the views expressed at a meeting sponsored by the organization at the request of the Kitsap County commissioners.

The gathering was well-publicized and those who opted to attend were obviously passionate about the matters at hand. And they expressed their views. How is that different in any meaningful way from the results of an election held in our representative democracy?

You give people a chance to participate, and when they do you accept the results. You don’t discount them based on your own biases and preconceptions about what you believe they should think.

PSRC came to Kitsap County ostensibly to find out what residents here want. But when our opinions didn’t coincide with those held by the leaders of the organization and its cadre of local supporters, we were blown off.

If this is any indication of the esteem with which Kitsap County is viewed within the hallowed walls of the PSRC, perhaps it would be better not to participate at all.

That seems to be the opinion of South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel — the only county commissioner who attended Tuesday’s meeting. She later said she would vote to resign from the PSRC and share planning strategies with other rural counties that have more in common with Kitsap.

In order for this to happen, however, she will need to convince at least one of her fellow commissioners to support such a move.

Both Central Kitsap Commissioner Josh Brown and North Kitsap’s Steve Bauer professed to be open to withdrawing from the organization, but only if they could be shown doing so would make more sense than continuing membership.

We’ll give Angel’s colleagues the benefit of the doubt and assume they were sincere in this expression. The only mystery to us is how they could hear the accounts of how the Kitsap meeting attendees were snubbed and not already have concluded it’s our continued affiliation with PSRC, not the idea of withdrawing from it, that makes no sense.

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