rally to overturn Critical Areas Code
Lois Krafsky-Perry for Citizen Review Online
Port Angeles, WA
– 4/24/01 - Clallam County community members were anxious to
share their stories about the Critical Areas Code (CAC) and
how it’s affecting them as approximately 100 citizens joined
together at the Port Angeles City Center. The forum was titled
“The Critical Areas Code and How It Affects You.
The CAC is an ordinance “mandated” by the state
Growth Management Act. Clallam
County’s version of the ordinance is among the most
restrictive in the state – so much so that many local
citizens are feeling the effect of it in restrictions in the
use of their property and high fees and fines to comply with
A group of citizens
formed the Committee to Repeal the Critical Areas Code, and
have been gaining impetus as they have held informational
forums around the county. The organization is growing, as more
and more taxpayers become frustrated and angry with
unconscionable restrictions on their private property.
Forde, chair of the committee, began the forum by offering an
overview of the Code and why it needs to be repealed. He
explained that the Code is extensive and complicated – that
even county staff (Department of Community Development) who
wrote the Code (and are also charged with administering and
enforcing it) have problems interpreting it.
The critical areas maps, according to county staff, are
inaccurate and incomplete.
The Code – which covers approximately 55% of
unincorporated Clallam County – calls for compliance whether
or not the environment is actually in danger of being harmed,
according to Forde, who cited a case that went before the
said Forde, can run as high as $25,000 – with proponents
wanting to get them increased to $100,000.
Code Enforcement Officers are on county staff pursuing
noncompliance, and a number of people in the audience
testified as to how they had been hurt financially and by loss
of the use of portions of their land as a result.
zones required on either side of waters – from rivers to
seasonal runoffs – mean that no activity at all can take
place on that portion of the owner’s property.
The courts have ruled in Washington state, however,
that unless the entire property is taken, it’s not
considered a “taking”, and they will not be compensated
for the loss of that portion of their property – yet they
still have to pay taxes on it.
stated that one county commissioner had proudly stated that
“our Critical Areas Code will be used as a ‘model’ for
the rest of the state.”
read from the State Constitution: “Article I, Section
I of the Washington State Constitution states “All political
power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their
just powers from the CONSENT OF THE GOVERNED, and are
established to PROTECT AND MAINTAIN INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS.”
Clallam County is a “home rule
charter” state, which is the county constitution.
“the first power reserved to the people is the
Committee to Repeal has begun the initiative process by filing
through the proper channel.
The initiative has been given the title “Initiative
No. 6 – Critical Areas Code Repeal”. In its reasoning section, the initiative states: “We
believe the Clallam County Critical Areas Code is contrary to
wise environmental practices, that it creates dangerous high
densities on our lands, and artificially restricts the best
use of land. We
believe that the Critical Areas Code as written is far too
complex, leaving far too much room for broad interpretation.
We believe the ambiguities in the Code subject the
people to burdensome control, and may also cause law-abiding
citizens to unintentionally violate the law as interpreted by
also pointed out that the Code is unconstitutional in that it
contains more than one subject (he counted seven), which is
contrary to both the state and county constitutions, which
state that an ordinance can only contain one subject.
4,000 signatures must be turned in by July 9, 2001 to place
Initiative #6 on the November ballot.
Forde, a Sequim
resident, invited all the attendees to ask questions or make
comments if they desired.
“We invite anyone who is in favor of the Code to
speak,” he said.
Parker Stoops of
Joyce, Kip McKeever of Sequim, and Mike Brown of Port Angeles
told their individual stories of how they have been affected
by local government bureaucracy. Many others in the audience
Lou Huber of Port
Angeles reminded the citizens that no one could enter their
property without presenting a warrant. Some had complained
that people identifying themselves as county officials had
entered their land making demands regarding their private
property. It was determined that those non-elected county
officials were breaking the law, as they violated the rights
of the citizenry.
Buffers was one of the main topics as many people are
affected by 50 foot buffers on both sides of streams on their
property. Re-classification of their property with buffer
sizes changing upset many people as they discussed their
The Washington State Growth Management
Act has called for certain counties to create “a Critical
Areas Code”. There is no stipulation as to the terms and requirements of
the Code; in fact, one county wrote its code so that it just
barely incorporated the bare minimum that was required, Forde
concluded. “Where will it end?” he queried.
“We must take action now to stop this insanity!
This law is unconstitutional.
Will you help us repeal the Critical Areas Code?
It’s a beginning toward returning the power to the
people, instead of unelected bureaucrats apparently answerable
to no one!”
Bob Forde can be reached at 360-681-6955,
days or 360-681-3023, eves.