Open Letter to Pierce County re SMP

Testimony to Pierce Co Council



The Shoreline Management Plan under consideration presents a number of important issues and choices:

Most importantly, the DOE has chosen to make this council and the office of planning and land services its partner in a scheme to increase its regulation and control of water resources in Pierce Co as it engages in similar actions on a local basis statewide.

While the Department of Ecology shares power with local governments under the SMA, that authority is limited to disapproval of shoreline master programs and suggested modifications.


As recently as 2013, the legislature passed HB 1113 declaring that it is critically important the information used by the Dept of Ecology to inform public policy on issues of water quality and shorelands proposals be of the highest scientific quality and integrity, and that failure to provide an index of records invoked in support of significant agency actions is a violation of the Public Records Act under RCW34.05.272.

In spite of these legislative efforts, the Department of Ecology has abandoned science in favor of an activist agenda supported by scientific fraud, and advanced by intimidation and duress.

It also appears that this council has chosen not to solicit the opinions of either property rights experts, nor professional hydrologists in the course of its deliberations.  Rather, it accepts language that the Department of Ecology has made up for itself, when it allows terms like “no net loss of ecological functions” as a substitute for the use of “best available science”. Indeed, it seems  that the department of ecology itself is incapable of defining “ecological functions” and categorizing them, or defining if these  are even currently existing functions.


If the Council, and Planning and Land Services were sincerely interested doing its best to protect the rights of citizens, it would have taken steps at the outset to inform the broader public of the issues and implication of proposed actions that might make property more expensive to own, less valuable to keep and use,  and more difficult and complicated to buy or sell.

This proposal has been years in the making and solicitations for community comment have been late in coming and vital input from concerned citizens has been limited, inviting speculation as to whether any testimony heard between now and April 22 will alter what appears to be a predetermined outcome.


I have been told repeatedly, that the county is under threat of legal action by DOE if an acceptable Shoreline Plan is not adopted.  Whether that is the case or not, no lawsuits have been advanced by DOE to date, and in point of fact, the only legal actions that have arisen, are from citizen groups  opposed to Shoreline plans adopted by local authorities.


In closing, I would caution members of the council that your approach to this issue may carry with it the risk of statutory violations, including the unreasonable use of police power, which may ultimately constitute a regulatory taking.  These are consequences that are in your power to avoid and I strongly recommend that you act to do so.

Eric Kuester

March 4, 2014