Opinion

PSRC’s ‘vision’ shortsighted for Kitsap residents

Sound Off is a public forum. Articles are selected from letters to the editor or may be written specifically for this feature. Today, Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners (KAPO) president Karl Duff argues the Puget Sound Regional Council’s agenda may make sense for Seattle residents, but not for Kitsap County.

Contrary to the Interlocal Agreement under which Kitsap County agreed to join the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC), and contrary to earlier policy drafts, PSRC has now made environmental concerns — real or imagined — the cornerstone of Vision 2040, the organization’s operating manifesto.

PSRC provides virtually no strategic discussion or planning policy not directly tied to environmental “concerns” or objectives.

This elevation of environment above all other Growth Management Act goals, without clear explanation and substantiation, is a significant departure from the basic guidance of GMA and thereby places all of Vision 2040 in question.

By subordinating all other considerations to that of environment, PSRC has willfully skewed the basis for policies and eliminated reasonable consideration of matters such as (1) housing affordability; (2) real economic growth; (3) reasonable land use planning; and, (4) private property rights.

Environmental issues as set forth by Vision 2040 are not appropriate to Kitsap County. Its hydrological considerations, for example, are based on mountain snow pack and rivers as the primary water source. Vision 2040 addresses migrating river channels when we have no real rivers or migrating channels in Kitsap County.

PSRC’s model neglects the importance of precipitation directly on land areas and aquifer recharge as Kitsap County’s primary source of water. The model is more concerned with the restoration of habitat for fish than for preservation of water supplies for people.

Vision 2040 also addresses “Human Impacts to Ecosystem Conditions” and finds nearly every possible use of land or resources by humans to be harmful.

Human activity, for example, is identified as detrimental to air quality and incorrectly cited as cause of climate change.

Logging activity, a major source of income for the area at one time and the primary source of state funds for education, is regarded as harmful, notwithstanding that forests are renewable resources and that logging industry practices today are a far cry from those of 50 years ago.

As nearly everyone knows, Kitsap is now heavily forested in areas virtually clear-cut 100 years ago.

Vision 2040 further indicates that competing water uses are harmful. The plan asserts that domestic and agricultural use decreases the quantity of water in rivers and streams and lowers water quality.

There is no recognition that most streams in Kitsap are really relief valves for overfull aquifers and that our potable water quality has little to do with stream flow.

Vision 2040 also finds water–dependent uses and developed shorelines to be harmful. Yet in Kitsap, unlike the East Puget Sound PSRC counties, our major employers and underlying economy are dominated by water-dependent activities requiring shoreline development.

It is hard to have major naval facilities, for example, without direct access to water.

It is also most difficult to envision a naval shipyard or a major submarine support facility without extensive shoreline development.

Is PSRC only considering Elliot Bay or the shorelines of Lake Union, the Ship Canal and the other shorelines of Seattle?

It would be hard to imagine either Seattle or Kitsap of today without their shoreline development, ferry systems and military bases. It is also a bit absurd to seriously consider the waterfront lifeblood of Kitsap County as “harmful.”

Alleviation of detrimental environmental human impact to be implemented through Vision 2040 includes replacing diesel vehicles (the same vehicles touted by environmentalists just a few years ago as the solution to automobile emissions), better energy alternatives such as wind and solar (remember environmentalists made hydroelectric power a non-renewable resource), restoration of shorelines and other habitat.

All such “restoration” actions lie outside the scope of the Growth Management Act.

What’s more, a restoration baseline is not provided. What is being promoted is elimination of the automobile in favor of walking, bicycles, and mass transit.

How this utopia is to support humans who need to work for a living and live in harmony with the environment is not addressed.

It is difficult to persuade environmentalists that many of their views are wrong-headed. Only this past spring, a state bill to require all Hood Canal septic systems be replaced was only narrowly defeated, pending completion of a University of Washington scientific study of the matter.

That study, reported last month, concluded that the nitrogen problem causing periodic fish kills in Hood Canal is a multi-generational problem extending back at least 90 years due to natural — i.e., not human — causes.

Most of us who live in Kitsap County do so in large part because of the environment — because we want to. We are capable of sound stewardship of our land. How may we benefit from an East Puget Sound bureaucracy making our policies for us? We should ultimately discover as our founding fathers did that ultimate quality of life is determined by whether or not we are able to enjoy our liberty as free citizens rather than as serfs of unelected, unaccountable political appointees.

PSRC does not understand Kitsap’s unique economic, geographic, water-dependent and environmental conditions. How can such errors be corrected?

Kitsap has only 4 percent of the PSRC population vote. The basic environmental precepts of Vision 2040 are to turn Kitsap “back” to nature at the expense of all else.

Again, is that really beneficial to our residents?

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