Council Schedule Highlights Week of December 17th, 2018

This Tuesday will be the final Council business for 2018. In doing so we say goodbye to two of our term-limited members, Rick Talbert and Dan Roach. We also prepare to welcome new members Marty Campbell and Dave Morell.

That should not be read to mean I plan on taking a lot of time off. I’m going to be spending the quiet time around the office prepping for the next year. While Pierce County business tends to slowly build up at the beginning of the year, I’ll again be chairing the Washington State Association of Counties legislative efforts this year and this is the most important session we’ve had in years. That means lots of meetings with our Pierce County delegation and then time spent down in Olympia.

Despite this being our last week of the year, it’s an unusually packed agenda with several of my bills. I’m not quite sure how that happened but here we are. Let’s go…

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

3:00pm Council Meeting

This meeting will be broadcast live and replayed on channel 22 (Comcast and Click! Network) and on channel 20 (Rainier Connect) Electronic meeting material can be accessed at http://www.piercecountywa.org/councilcommittees. Video archives are available at www.piercecountytv.org

Proposal №2018–95, Administrative Shoreline Review — Land Use Advisory Commissions
Sponsored by: Councilmember Derek Young

Although I think we probably have the votes to pass this, after meeting with department staff to discuss their concerns, I’ll be asking that final be put off until sometime early next year to see if we can discuss their needs.

The issue is that historically, our local land use advisory commissions (LUACs) have had the chance to make recommendation to the Hearings Examiner on most permit applications on the shoreline. In an effort to streamline permit processing, staff recommend administrative approval for all but the biggest permits — those receiving a Determination of Significance.

That would mean that docks, piers, and even upland commercial projects would be approved by department staff. This seemed like a reasonable request to me and it was included recent Shoreline Master Program update.

Unfortunately it also had an unintended consequence. Since the LUACs currently make recommendation only to the Hearings Examiner, that change cut them completely out of the process. On the peninsulas, shoreline permits have been a substantial amount of the business before the LUACs and an important part of the culture in our area.

This bill would restore most of those functions to the LUAC to make recommendation to department staff.

Proposal №2018–96, Development Moratoria Piers and Docks Gig Harbor Peninsula
Sponsored by: Councilmember Derek Young

This bill would declare a moratorium on docks and piers in the tidelands adjacent to the conservancy shoreline environment and direct staff to work with the Department of Ecology to consider new rules for those tidelands.

For some background, the conservancy zones are shown in green on this map.

The areas we’re referring to are in green on the Gig Harbor Peninsula as well as Raft and Fox Islands.

Since the early 2000’s, the Gig Harbor Community Plan has said that docks and piers should generally be prohibited adjacent to the conservation zones. During our 10 year comprehensive plan update in 2015, staff was making a number of technical changes to the community plans. Because there were hundreds of pages to review in a short period of time, members of the Peninsula Advisory Commission were concerned they were missing something important. Staff assured us that there was nothing of substance being changed.

Unfortunately that wasn’t the case and this provision had been removed without anybody noticing.

Staff’s argument is that it was a regulation rather than policy, so it belonged in the Shoreline Master Program. That’s all well and good but we had just passed the update to the SMP as well. Not to worry, it had to come back for final passage after the Department of Ecology approved our changes and made recommendations of their own.

You can probably guess where this is going.

While Ecology understood my concern, they said that because the issue hadn’t gone through the process, they couldn’t support making the change at this point, but they would support the work to do a future amendment to the SMP.

So, here we are, ready to direct staff to begin the work of reinstating a provision that has existed for almost two decades but since this may take months there will be a gap allowing docks and piers go on currently undisturbed tidelands in critical habitat. As a result, I’m proposing a moratorium to prevent new permits from being issued during the interim.

We need people to speak up as the the Master Builder’s Association is opposing and reaching out to members. Click on this link to see the legislation and comment directly.

Proposal No. R2018–167, Safe Routes to School
Sponsored by: Councilmembers Derek Young and Connie Ladenburg

A few years back the Council created the Safe Routes to School program to emphasize installation of sidewalks near schools in the urban unincorporated areas (cities are responsible for sidewalks within their jurisdiction). For some reason Peninsula School District was left out.

While most of the urban unincorporated area is further east in Parkland, Spanaway, South Hill, and Fredrickson, we have schools in and immediately adjacent to the urban area in Gig Harbor. This would add those schools to the program and direct staff to work with PSD to identify priority corridors.

Proposal No. R2018–168s, Conservation Futures Priorities 2019
Sponsored by: Councilmembers Derek Young and Connie Ladenburg

The Conservation Futures program supports acquisition and some site development of projects for agricultural and habitat preservation. There are times when these dual purposes are complimentary, but sometimes can come into conflict. I’ve long sought to find a way to make sure both goals are met, but unfortunately have been unable to get staff to support that process.

Additionally, the Conservation District (similarly named but unaffiliated with this fund) has successfully obtained a grant $8 million from USDA to protect threatened farmland in the Puyallup, White, and Nisqually watersheds. With a 50% match we can acquire a lot of development rights and property to make sure farming is a viable business.

Unfortunately this is the last two year cycle we have and I want to make sure that we maximize, to the extent possible, the amount of that grant we can spend. That means making farmland a priority this cycle.

While the Council ultimately has say over what applications are awarded funding, I have never been a fan of that politically driven process and want to respect the recommendations of the Citizens Advisory Board. That’s the reason I want to indicate a priority and trust the scoring the submit to Council.

It’s also important that we receive applications and that means removing as many of the deed restrictions staff have tried to place on farmland in the past and proven to be an obstacle to closing. To put it another way, we need to send a clear signal to project proponents that we want their applications and they won’t be wasting their time.

To be clear, there will still be millions available for habitat protection and restoration as well as parks in the urban areas even if we max out the grant. This is also just for one cycle.

We’ve already lost thousands of acres of some of the best farmland in the world to development because of decisions made by previous councils. I will not let opportunity to reverse that direction slip by if I can help it.

My Weekly Calendar

Last year we got a request for my forward looking calendar. Rather than have staff waste their time on public record requests, I decided to publish screenshots. If you have questions, feel free to call. Keep in mind, my schedule isn’t static. Things will get added, deleted, changed, etc. There are conflicts that I have to pick between. But if people want to see where I’m at and who I meet with, that’s fine by me.

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Pierce County Councilmember. Serving Gig Harbor, Fox Island, Key Peninsula, Ruston, and parts of North and West Tacoma.

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Derek Young

Derek Young

Pierce County Councilmember. Serving Gig Harbor, Fox Island, Key Peninsula, Ruston, and parts of North and West Tacoma.

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