By Lois Krafsky-Perry
Citizen Review Online - www.citizenreviewonline.org

Clallam County, WA - 7/9/01 -: “Private property rights are the backbone of America,” announced Bob Forde of Sequim, to a small group of people, who had assembled on July 9 at the Clallam County Courthouse. He had come to turn in the signatures gathered on an initiative to repeal the county's Critical Areas Code before the deadline.  

As chair of the committee to repeal the Critical Areas Code (CAC), Forde ceremoniously handed over  3,781 signatures to Patty Rosand of the auditor’s office in Port Angeles, WA. The number gathered was well over the 3,176 required signatures to place  the issue on the November ballot. At that time, a greater number of citizens will be given the opportunity to decide whether they want to repeal the code, which was voted in by the county commissioners over a year ago.

Forde states there are some questions that are confusing to most people. Many of them are asking, 'Why are we repealing the CAC and what would you replace it with?' The assumption that the Growth Management Act (GMA) has mandated the local code is also a misconception.  "The GMA mandates 'a' Code, but not 'this' Code," said Forde.

“This Critical Areas Code is wholly created by the county,” offered Forde. He stated that there are 39 counties in the state of Washington. If there are 55,000 or more residents in a county then each of those counties must generate their own code. Ironically, Clallam County could have opted out when the GMA first required critical areas codes, but the county commissioners at that time decided to create an "interim" code. Now, Clallam County has the most stringent Code in the state, and is being touted as the "model" for the rest of the state.

The existing Code has been amended several times, and each time, it gets harder on landowners, Forde stated.  "A good example is the requirement for 50-foot buffers on each side of seasonal creeks," he said, "which totals 100 feet of property that becomes virtually unusable by the owner - that's the equivalent of the depth of a standard size city lot!"  The seasonal creek rule, which is defined in the Code as "type 5" streams, allows that the seasonal creeks must be 500 feet in length; however, these are dry most of the year.

The Sequim businessman announced that many citizens have expressed the hope of repealing the GMA, which "mandates" the Critical Areas Code. “It is anti-environmental,  promotes high density areas and discourages free choice of living in rural areas,“ he said.  "Why would we invite an onerous code like this [CAC] simply because the parent [GMA] law is a bad law? It is a bad piece of legislation,” Forde declared.  

Forde is concerned about the fate of some of the people who are having first-hand experience with the consequences of this Code. “It doesn’t work!  If anyone doubts that, get hold of Andy Nesbitt, Mike Brown, or Jerry Levesque and listen to their horror stories, “ Forde remarked.

A new generation of young people took to the streets during this drive as they gathered signatures, while explaining their concerns to their peers. Old and young, rich, poor, landowners and renters all want a voice in the future of this county, Forde said. They believe that placing the repeal to the CAC on the November ballot is a good step to protect the peninsula’s future.

Forde stated, “There is no theory in what we are doing, as there is with the CAC, which is built on theory and bad science. Our actions are built on experience and first-hand knowledge.”  

He expressed thanks to everyone who worked so hard for this signature drive. “We have overcome a barricade on the beach, but the battle is just beginning," affirmed Forde.

“What do we want to ask the citizens of Clallam County to do? Vote yes on Initiative 6,” requested Forde.