Opinion

Kitsap leaders naive or blind to PSRC threat

Sound Off is a public forum. Articles are selected from letters to the editor or may be written specifically for this feature. Today, Port Orchard resident Karl Duff, president of the Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners, criticizes Kitsap leaders for their willingness to align the county with the Puget Sound Regional Council.

Most should now know that South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel is the only commissioner who had the gumption to vote against ratification of the Puget Sound Regional Council’s (PSRC’s) VISION 2040, taking us to the next step of regional government.

Central Kitsap Commissioner Josh Brown voted for it, and North Kitsap Commissioner Steve Bauer was absent from the vote — whether by accident or design, we don’t know.

Evidence is mounting that Brown is not working effectively for Kitsap County. Bauer, although he has publicly stated his awareness that something is wrong, seems uncertain as to what it is, claiming it is merely Kitsap County’s failure to do its homework.

On May 9, Brown was quoted in the Port Orchard Independent at a Conservation Voters forum that he opposed the NASCAR track facility because “the legislation they wanted to pass would have taken the land-use authority away from the county.”

Yet his vote on April 24 has provided the only affirmative Kitsap commissioner vote on VISION 2040. It’s as though he doesn’t know that what he fears is precisely what VISION 2040 does (or will soon do) to Kitsap’s land-use authority.

Nor does he recognize that is PSRC’s purpose.

The April PSRC Resolution made it clear that Kitsap County has now consented to PSRC’s “integrated regional approach to growth management, the environment, the economy and transportation.”

PSRC’s original scope of effort was to focus on regional transportation. Now there has been a sharp change in order and emphasis in the above words.

To capture a bit more of the scheme of things, this resolution also provides PSRC authority to ensure “multi-county planning policies and related goals satisfy the requirements for regional guidelines under state law” and to make amendments to the PSRC “Regional Growth Strategy” prior to counties setting GMA targets, and to alter as necessary “implementations and measures” contained in VISON 2040

Brown (and former Commissioner Bill Mahan, as well) have naively accepted false PSRC assurances these policies are only for “guidance to the counties.”

Unless they know much more than they are telling the public, they are in for a surprise.

Action is already underway to establish complete four-county regional government. On June 3, the Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners (KAPO) announced to the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council (made up of our elected municipal and county officials) that we hold a copy of an internal PSRC correspondence citing its dialogue with lawmakers for this legislation.

Why in the world would any Kitsap resident (or commissioner) want such a thing? Why would any of us vote to place Kitsap under the governance of east-side King, Snohomish and Pierce counties, which hold 96 percent of the influence in the PSRC?

In a projected popular vote of the four counties for regional government, how could Kitsap’s vote have any influence on the outcome? The same would be true on any future features of self governance.

It’s not as though Brown was alone. In fact, nearly all the other Kitsap representatives also voted yes. Angel had the only no vote.

To further illustrate Brown’s confused thinking, consider his additional statement, “We don’t want to be the next Seattle or Bellevue.”

How does he expect to accomplish Kitsap’s goals under rule by Snohomish, King and Pierce counties?

Isn’t now the time to get out?

Brown also erroneously asserted that VISION 2040 was required by law under the Growth Management Act. Does he really understand what is going on?

I’ll bet a steak dinner Josh Brown did not significantly consult with any of the Kitsap taxing districts (schools, sewer, water, port, etc.) before he decided his vote.

As stated, Bauer recognizes something is wrong between Kitsap and PSRC and currently attributes it to incomplete KRCC and county staffing.

His city of Portland experience with the Trail Blazers’ owners also justifiably conditioned him to be skeptical of NASCAR’s exaggerations of Kitsap projected revenues from the NASCAR facility. (Never mind the 350-day use of those park and recreational facilities Kitsap could have enjoyed.)

Where he officially stands on VISION 2040 is unknown.

Nevertheless, Bauer’s public pronouncements have some credibility, while Brown’s do not.

We should also consider PSRC’s attitude itself. On March 27, when Snohomish County made a motion to amend VISION 2040 (to remove “contained communities” from PSRC jurisdiction), PSRC Executive Committee alternate member Richard Dole responded to Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon that “making any changes would be an insult to all the hard work our staff has done.”

Later, on May 8, PSRC’s/KRCC’s Dale Rudolph stated that PSRC had successfully “quashed” Kitsap’s concerns over VISION 2040.

Does this all give a warm feeling to Kitsap residents? Is this what we want?

Where is our voice to our mayors, council members and commissioners?

We’ve been warned. We will get what we deserve.

KAPO is currently fact-finding regarding several other PSRC crucial issues, and we will report the results publicly.

These topics include how two major east-side cities are reputedly released from full participation in PSRC.

If these facts are confirmed, it will demonstrate that Kitsap doesn’t have to participate in all of PSRC’s activities to enjoy federal PSRC transportation funding.

This is the only reason cited thus far as to possible benefit for staying in PSRC.

Why can’t Kitsap do its homework and follow such leads as this? Is this rocket science or can’t we think for ourselves?

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