CAO a huge travesty for Kitsap County

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 Bill Bambrick laments Kitsap County’s adoption of a draft Critical Areas Ordinance.

I am a home owner and a member of the Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners, so I’m understandably as concerned as any other property owner about property rights — which are among the most fundamental rights protected by our Constitution.

An outrage was perpetrated on us by our Board of Commissioners on Dec. 1. They voted, 2-1, to adopt the revised second draft of the Critical Areas Ordinance, a very controversial and hotly disputed document that will, now that it is adopted, effectively “take” some 15 percent of the county land away from use by its rightful owners.

Our commissioners did this by revising the rules for what are called “buffers” around four different kinds of environmentally protected wetlands, which include everything from swamps and creeks to Sound frontage.

South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel was the lone dissenting vote against the measure. Both Chris Endresen, of North Kitsap, and Patty Lent, of Central Kitsap, voted for it.

Since it was being framed and sold as an environmental issue, it is not difficult to see why the liberals up north would be clamoring for it, and Endresen was essentially following their urgings.

The problem is with Lent’s supporting the CAO, a measure she had always been critical of previously.

Lent’s support of the measure was especially vexatious to me, because I had labored hard to support her run to oust “Smart Growth” advocate Tim Botkin in the last election.

Given the strong link between the CAO and Smart Growth objectives, it was clear that Lent had abandoned her position against Botkin’s principles. But this is not the first time Lent has bailed on her election promises.

I supported her as a woman who would run our county like a business. This is a strange way indeed to conduct the county’s business.

Which raises the question of how our county is governed once more. I have campaigned in several guest columns over the past few years to get Home Rule for Kitsap.

One of the options under Home Rule could be to replace the three county commissioners with a county executive and a legislative council, like several other local counties, including the big three.

A five- or seven-member legislative council might have a better chance of arriving at a decision in favor of its property owners, since they would all be duty-bound to follow the desires of their electorate.

“Lent has let her supporters down for the last time,” said Port Orchard resident Kris Danielson, in a recent Port Orchard Independent guest opinion. Kris expressed extreme displeasure at Lent’s deciding vote on the CAO, which climaxed “three years of doing the exact opposite of what she promised.”

At the Dec. 19 county commissioners meeting, KAPO executive director Vivian Henderson expressed disappointment over the process and the proceedings, stating: “I wanted to witness this act of thievery first-hand. I wanted to watch you commit this act of stealing our land. This is a sad day for property owners.”

Former State Rep. Lois McMahon voiced her displeasure by “donating” two bags of dirt from her own property.

Jean Sherard, of Poulsbo, stated: “There is no way these restrictions are going to work in a democratic society,” suggesting that property owners will find a way around them.

“Smart Growth” has caused property values to double in recent years, observed Silverdale resident and real estate professional Jean Bradford. She predicted another doubling in prices because of the passage of the CAO.

This may be seen as good news by some anticipating a home sale, until the sobering thought registers upon them that they will have to buy another home at the new higher prices.

Lary Coppola, a member of the Kitsap County Planning Commission — which had been tasked to review, take public testimony and make recommendations on the CAO second draft — declared in print that the version just passed by the commissioners was “fatally flawed,” in that it produced “an unacceptable document completely ignoring public input,” and even ignored “any of the input or suggestions made by the Planning Commission.”

He accused the Department of Community Development (DCD) staff of adopting a “We know best” attitude that permitted them to ignore outside comments. He termed the CAO an “unprecedented, constitutionally questionable, gun-to-your-head private property theft.”

Strong words, but Lary is a knowledgeable citizen with a great depth of experience.

In my own letter to the commissioners, I made the following comments:

“The political process never ceases to amaze me. How any collection of presumably intelligent (and extremely well-paid) people could create such a mess is beyond me. My hat is off to you, Jan Angel, for your valiant efforts to stem this tide. You others have my scorn. In your eagerness to copy the disgraceful actions of King County, you have betrayed the property owners across our county. Perhaps you have forgotten that property owners are all voters?

“There is one fact you seemed to have missed: there is no such thing as ‘Best Available Science.’ Science needs no adjectives. If it doesn’t fit within conventional scientific reasoning and knowledge, it isn’t science and has no business being used as justification for taking away the property rights of citizens.

“Thankfully, you are open to further consideration. Perhaps in time you will see the light. I shall continue to watch for that. Follow Jan Angel’s lead. She knows.”

Each of the commissioners was sufficiently concerned to answer my letter. I won’t burden you with their replies. That they have done this injustice is sufficient comment.

We must hold their feet to the fire and see to it that this outrage does not go without redress.

Let us make this our New Year’s resolve. How could we do otherwise for our children and grandchildren?

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