Opinion

PSRC’s Vision 2040 fails to recognize Kitsap’s realities

This is the third in a series of articles dealing with Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) Vision 2040, a region-wide, long-range land use planning policy. The review is being provided by Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners to address the underlying question “Is vision 2040 beneficial to Kitsap?”

In previous articles we have addressed the overall goals of Vision 2040 and clearly identified the overarching environmental goals now placed on the development of Vision 2040 policies. While the environment is the most important factor in the overall strategy, transportation has also now become evident as the major “tool” for implementation of that strategy.

The first hint of what is to come is the opening statement, “Development patterns of the last half of the 20th century often separated people from jobs, focused on accommodating the automobile, and altered critical ecosystems.”

The applicability of this statement to Kitsap County is limited, inasmuch as impact of “critical ecosystems” has been negligible, and development of our county’s transportation infrastructure has been largely the result of the federal government employment market because it reflects both the choices we made regarding our individual freedom. PSRC’s failure to recognize Kitsap’s realities and to make any effort to accommodate that leads Vision 2040 away from benefit to Kitsap.

Keeping in mind that “region” refers to the greater King, Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap County area, these are some of the development “policies” (DP’s) established by Vision 2040:

(DP-4) “Accommodate the region’s growth first and foremost in urban growth areas.” (DP-4) (Goal) The region will direct growth and development to a limited number of designated regional growth centers.”

(DP-7) “Give funding priority — both for transportation infrastructure and for economic development — to support designated regional growth centers consistent with the regional vision.” (DP-16) “Direct commercial, retail, and community services that serve rural residents into neighboring cities and existing activity areas to prevent the conversion of rural land to commercial use.” (Goal) The region will permanently sustain the ecological functions, resource value, lifestyle, and character of rural lands for future generations by limiting the types and intensities of development in rural areas.”

(DP-27) “Maintain the viability of long term permanent rural lands by avoiding the construction of new highways and major roads in rural areas.”

(DP-46) “Develop and implement design guidelines to encourage construction of healthy buildings and facilities to promote healthy people.”

(DP-56) “Tailor concurrency programs for centers and other subareas to encourage development that can be supported by transit.”

The sum total impact of these and other goals and policies is to force development into fixed boundary urban growth areas while making current rural areas fixed in nature and essentially off limits for development. A specific impact on Kitsap is that Silverdale, a designated “regional growth center,” will have to accommodate approximately 16,500 new residents and 14,000 new jobs. Realistically that would require about 7,500 new housing units in the 1-mile square “center” of Silverdale. While the 14,000 jobs would be most welcome it is not clear how the employers would also fit in the center and where they would come from. In the end, based on the policies of Vision 2040, the Silverdale we know today will be gone and in its place we will have a new version of the major housing suburbs of Seattle. Interestingly, the cost of the infrastructure for the County controlled urban areas would be borne to a large extent by the rural residents of the county (more than 50 percent of county residents) while that same group of taxpayers would receive little direct benefit from the improvements, and in some cases be specifically excluded from similar benefits in rural areas.

Under Vision 2040, PSRC controls the distribution of federal and state transportation funding to the four county area of King, Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap Counties. These funds are available for use as a hammer to force compliance with the policies of Vision 2040. The message from PSRC seems clear “Do it as we direct or funding will not be available.” This is a clear example of how PSRC has taken power to direct the development of Kitsap County according to their east-side Puget Sound orientation, with almost no real representation by Kitsap citizens.

Recall that Kitsap County has only 4 percent of the vote, based on population.

Again the question we are trying to answer — “Is the impact of Vision 2040 beneficial to Kitsap County?”

Karl Duff is the president of the Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners.

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