The count is in: Citizens' critical areas code repeal initiative is headed for the ballot

Citizen Review Online

Clallam County, WA - July 19, 2001:  Sufficient signatures have been gathered and validated by the Clallam County Auditor's Office to place the Initiative to Repeal the Critical Areas Code (Initiative No. 6) on the ballot in November - a victory for property rights activists.

The initiative was turned in at the Clallam County Courthouse on July 9th by Bob Forde, a local citizen who spearheaded the drive to gather the 3,000-plus signatures required to place the issue on the ballot for the public to decide.  He turned in close to 4,000 signatures, but after discarding illegible, non-registered voters and non-Clallam County residents' signatures, there were still more than enough signatures to qualify.  

The next step will be to appear before the county commissioners, who will decide either to accept the repeal or reject it - in which case, it should be headed to the ballot box in November. The commissioners have another option: to generate their own counter-initiative, which would also go to the voters. Bob Forde turns in signatures on July 9 at the Clallam County Courthouse.

The initiative idea began as a result of Forde's assisting his brother-in-law, Jerry Levesque, in a battle with the county over the placement of a trailer on Levesque's land to help out a disabled, unemployed veteran.  The property was deemed a "critical area" by the county staff, and Levesque was instructed to remove the trailer and return the property to "pre-human disturbance" condition , which would have involved spending thousands of dollars to remove soil and plant "native" plants.  Levesque refused; and requested Forde's assistance in reviewing the Critical Areas Code to see what recourse he could take.

After appearing before the Hearings Commissioner to no avail, and speaking with other landowners who were experiencing costly and time-consuming problems with the same Code, Forde took the matter one step further.  He researched the Growth Management Act (GMA), which purportedly "mandated" the Critical Areas Code, to learn that "a" critical areas code was required, but not "this" particular one.

The state, in creating their GMA, has very cleverly crafted the Act to insulate the state against lawsuits by directing the 39 individuals counties that qualify, to create their own CAC, said Forde.  Some counties within the state operate under a Home Rule Charter (county constitution) which reserve the right of initiative to the people concerning county ordinances, he explained.  "This is not a state ordinance, as some have suggested," said Forde. "This ordinance was generated by the county, and is therefore, subject to repeal by the citizens of the county."

"This Code is convoluted, extraordinarily harsh on property owners, and subject to interpretation and enforcement by unelected, unaccountable staff", Forde stated. He explained that a main concept of the code is to reduce the rights of people to live where they'd like to live, or prefer to live - that is, rural living - and promoting high density urban living.  "This idea harms the environment rather than helping it, as the planners would have you believe, and eliminates individual choice".


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