Final Draft Jefferson County SMP available

The Planning Commission has finished their work on their Draft SMP, and now the document is heading into the next round, which is to be edited by the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), and seek the next round of comments from the public by Sept 8th. This deeply flawed document, compromised at many environmental levels by members of the planning committee who have vested economic interests in the outcome (both aquaculture and supposed “environmental” supporting  homeowners on the shoreline), is neither fish nor fowl. Much of the work done by the able staffers, consultants, STAC and SPAC volunteers has been diluted beyond worth. There will be little positive outcome to the environment from this document, only more of the same destruction of habitat and wildlife. Add to that the fact that the county does little if nothing in the way of enforcement, and my only reaction is, let’s pass it since this is as good as well get from this group of commissioners, and see whether the Board of County Commissioners,  or Ecology, will help modify this document to actually get protections in for the environment. Thanks to Jill Silver and others for helping me focus some of my earlier comments on this post so that my intent was more clear.

Update: 8/6/2009 – This thread and the comments that followed it publication, were made all the more relevent to me tonight. My wife and I saw ‘Food Inc’.  I think it’s enormously important that commissioners, and citizens who are concerned about the environmental (and legal) effects of large scale agribusiness, see this film. While only some kinds of aquaculture (fish farming comes to mind)  are starting to resemble the land based food delivery systems documented in this film, the chilling impacts of the corporations on the debate is an all too familar chorus to the comments that follow this article.
The Planning Commission Final Draft SMP Recommendation is now available:
· Online –

· Review Copy – At our DCD Front Desk, County Library & Bookmobile, Clallam Library in Forks

· Hard Copy – Pick-up at our DCD Front Desk

· Digital Copy available upon request

DCD will submit a final staff recommendation to the Board of County Commissioners on August 17.  The Board will open public comment on the PC Final Draft SMP August 19 and a public hearing will close public comment on September 8.

7 Responses

  1. Nice to see that Pierce County residents are so interested in Jefferson County and Puget Sound. I’m sure you feel that the residents of Jefferson Co. would be much better off if we lived in an overdeveloped sespool like you have down there.

    Laura, Puget Sounds shorelines were privatized within a few years after Washington became a state. And shellfish farmers have worked tirelessly on the preservation of the sound. We have to have a clean and functioning sound in order to operate. That’s why NOAA and USF&W found “not likely to affect” and “no take” in their latest biological opinions on shellfish aquaculture in Wasington state.

    Curt – you need to become aquanted with state law and the difference between a legislative decisions and quasi-judicial decisions as it pertains to conflict of interest.

    To suggest that I am corrupt shows a lack of connection to the county and the process we used and your willingness to make unsubstantiated claims purely for effect. Just like Sarah Palin and her “death panels” in reference to the health care debate. This disrespectful attitude of perpetrating lies that has no place in civil society.

  2. A major concern of mine is that the science based focus of two years of meetings by a cross section of technical people schooled on the latest information on shoreline protection (the STAC committee) was negated by the Planning Committee members, without any real debate, nor offering any science to counter the committee’s input.

    • Al,
      You are making assumptions on our use of science that is uninformed and untrue. I’m not sure what you are referencing but there was significant debate. And the science supporting our decisions was well documented.

  3. Peter;

    Your wife is the executive director of the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association and you are also a dues paying member, right? You are a geoduck farmer with plans to expand operations, or at least you have shellfish industry associates that have plans to expand operations. Correct?

    Given the above, your claim to not have any economic interests in the outcome of the SMP is rather hard to believe. Your accusations of bias or libel seem hypocritical to me.

    The definition of a ‘conflict of interest’ can be defined as any situation in which an individual is in a position to exploit a professional or official capacity in some way for their personal or corporate benefit.

    Corruption, when applied to officers, trustees, etc., alludes to any pecuniary considerations when there shouldn’t be any.

    The Jefferson County SMP draft is obviously hard biased toward aquaculture. Some of what is written is inconsistent with the SMA and the public trust. I’ll send my comments to Jefferson County.

  4. Members of our Coalition residing in Jefferson County are grateful for Al’s willingness to speak the truth about the lobbying taking place regarding the Shoreline Master Plan update. Mr. Downey’s mention of a libel suit is a threat all too common by those representing the aquaculture interests that are looking forward to expanding without restraint in Jefferson County waters. Citizens can look forward to the aquaculture industry replacing native species/habitat with their planted commodities and dictating where citizens can walk, swim, boat or just even enjoy the natural character of the shoreline that will be replaced with nets, grow bags, racks, 40,000 PVC tubes in each acre, long lines stretched between bouys and 30 x 30 ft rafts with hanging aquaculture. It is a fact that Mr. Downey’s wife is the leader of the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association that is actively promoting shellfish expansion throughout the Northwest and Mr. Downey is an active participant and shellfish grower. Allowing the aquaculture industry to privatize Puget Sound shorelines is against the law in the Shoreline Management Act and the Public Trust Doctrine. We do hope that that the next level of County leaders will look at the Shoreline Master Plan update and require the same protections on the tidelands as they need on the uplands to protect this Puget Sound treasure. If Mr. Downey would like an open debate, our Coalition To Protect Puget Sound Habitat would also be willing to participate so “the rest of the story” is out in the open.

  5. Al,
    Your take on the current Planning Commission SMP displays both your ignorance of the document and your bias, Your statement that it is “compromised at many environmental levels by members of the planning committee who have vested economic interests in the outcome (both aquaculture and supposed “environmental” supporting homeowners on the shoreline” is bordering on libel.

    The aquaculture statement is obviously directed at me and is in fact without any basis. While I do have a geoduck farm (which you have been invited to tour numerous times so that you might have some understanding about local farmer you choose to blast) I do not have any economic interest in the outcome of the SMP. My farm is already established and, as with all existing uses and developments, will not be subject to these new requirements. I have also disclosed my business interests at practically every meeting.

    Your representation of the preliminary draft SMP as the product of the STAC and SPAC process ignores both the lack of consensus at the SPAC and the major revisions to the document made by DCD staff and Ecology after the STAC and SPAC process was complete. The reality is the PDSMP is not the document that was approved by the STAC and SPAC.

    I would welcome the chance to debate you either privately or publically on the Planning Commission draft. I welcome the chance to defend the Planning Commissions position and show that the new SMP provides even greater true environmental protections than the staff draft while creating greater clarity and flexibility.


    • Well, I have only one bias, and that’s to see the restoration of the Sound, Canal and Straits to far better condition than we currently are seeing. The distance that our waterways have crashed from their peaks just prior to European involvement in the late 1800’s is depressing. While I fully understand that we cannot return to that point in time, the current state of these bodies of water and shoreline is only a shadow of that baseline. It’s getting worse, not better, by virtually all scientific indicators that I’ve read. Less fish, less eelgrass, less shorebirds,less habitat, less non industrialized or developed shoreline, declining shellfish reproduction rates, etc. And we, the writers of these documents like the SMP, continually seem willing to set the baseline closer and closer to today’s pathetic state.

      I watched numerous times as the changes to this document made by someone on this committee (they weren’t being written by a divine hand) happened “behind closed doors” and then were rolled out (and captured on audio at your meetings) as somehow based on compromise on behalf of economic interests (read homeowners belief that they would be severely impacted, industries like yours that believed that you would be severely, read economically impacted). I had members of the committee talk to me off the record about why the changes were being made, so I understand a bit of where I speak on this topic. To deny that this was not the motive behind the changes is just simply disingenuous. Obviously, economic issues have to be part of this debate. But the manipulation of the science being presented by the STAC by members of the PC and what could only at best be characterized as misinformed citizens (the kind that assume that any change to the laws will wipe out the shellfish industry for example), looked like pure political hardball. If anyone thinks that we are going to restore the health of the shorelines, and the fish, by this kind of hardball, they are just rather naive.

      Your characterization of the lack of consensus of the SPAC is another example of trying to rewrite history. You were often the only person standing for your opinion in the meetings that I attended. The fact that you chair the committee, and also sat on the advisory committee, and stand to profit by the outcome was viewed by more than one participant as not only borderline ethically appropriate, but not constructive, given your combative nature. I witnessed this myself numerous times.

      I’ll be glad to talk to you either privately or publicly about this issue. Whether my opinion, and this blog is a forum for opinions, I will remind you, borders on libelous or not, has not much support in the courts of this country. I certainly did not call you out by name in the posting, nor any other member of the committee. That I don’t approve of the outcome and output of your committee is simply my opinion, and others are entitled to their own.

      The fact that law is often compromised by economic entities is just a fact of life in a democracy (and probably all systems). That’s what lobbying is all about, as Robin should be able to tell you. To call out that it is happening, is simply what freedom of press and freedom of opinion is all about. I stand by my opinion that economic interests, like shellfish, homeowners, real estate developers and others, significantly impacted the environmental protections that the document originally had, and rendered it a shadow of that draft.

      I will also remind you that I have written publicly in a letter to the editor of the Leader, that we should go ahead and take it forward to the next level. So I have stated support for the work you did, as far as it goes, because I don’t believe we stand a chance to get a better environmental document out of your committee, and perhaps at the next level more rational and less impacted individuals can help steer this back to real protection, rather than lip service.

Comments are closed.