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Puget Sound Governance bill, if passed, could be one of the worst yet for private property rights

January 25, 2007

Keep your eyes on the big Puget Sound Governance bill--SB 5372.

It gives authority to a governor-appointed Council, to create a new overarching PLAN ( the legislation contains no clear sideboards) for the whole Puget Sound Watershed.  For one instance, People for Puget Sound wants the plan to include the King County CAO (65/10:  65% natural set aside/10% max impervious surface).  Any county legislative authority that does not "conform" its actions (adopt 65/10?) to the plan is out of compliance and loses various (and important) forms of funding. 

Once you dig into this thing (attached), you find it’s something major . . . and something decidedly unfriendly to anyone who lives and works in the rural areas of the Puget Sound watershed.

SB 5372, Creating the Puget Sound Partnership, along with the companion HB 1374, does far more than simply create a new state agency and all that means.  It also snatches a great chunk of governance powers from the counties and municipalities that happen to lie within the Puget Sound watershed.  It also contains provisions that will really put the screws to landowners and water users.

For instance, if an entity . . . say a county, just for argument’s sake . . . doesn’t conform with a provision of the agency’s “action agenda”, the entity can lose substantial amounts of state funding.

There’s an abundance of hammers and teeth in this bill, and a lot of them fall directly on upland property owners.  One of the explicit goals is . . .

A healthy Puget Sound where freshwater, estuary, nearshore, marine, and upland habitats are protected, restored, and sustained;

Let’s translate, shall we?  . . . habitats are protected (not used, buffers will be huge), restored (to what?) and sustained (supported by truckloads of taxpayer dollars).

The leadership of this new agency would be all appointees.  The Puget Sound Action Team would be abolished, and all of its employees, equipment, and work products would become part of the new agency.

The bill contains an emergency clause, which means that if passed, it will become our reality on July 1, 2007.

So download the bills, study them, find out what we might be able to support, and more importantly, what we simply cannot accept, and write down our thoughts.  After that part is done, it’s time to start writing our state legislators, our county commissioners or councilors, PUD commissioners, port commissioners, city council members, and any other elected officials available to inform them of our concerns.  Our elected officials need to understand that if they value their authority, they had better defend it now, before these bills come to a vote.  Waiting until afterward will be far too late.

Let’s make this one the chunk too big to chew.

Here are the links to the bill and the report:

Senate Bill 5372

Senate Bill 5372 Report



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