Kitsap County v. Cent. Puget Sound Growth Mgmt. Hearings Bd., Court of Appeals Div. II, Case No. 35267-2 (May 30, 2007)*

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

* This post is published here under the Creative Commons License.  The post was authored by Keith Ganey and originally published to his blog at  Ganey is a 2008 graduate of the University of Washington School of Law.

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Kitsap County must take a different approach to meeting its growth-within-the-UGA target, but it has until 2008 to revise its UGAs.


UGA Updates

UGAs are required to be revised every ten years, while comprehensive plans must be updated every seven. Since Kitsap County did not designate its UGAs until 1998, it was not required to revise those designations when it updated the rest of the comprehensive plan in 2004.

Plan/Outcome Inconsistencies

When Kitsap County first adopted its comprehensive plan, it set an ambitious target of placing 83% of its growth within its UGAs. Kitsap was not required to set such an ambitious agenda; the GMA does not require specific outcomes. Nevertheless, once Kitsap County included this target in its plan, the county became bound to reach this outcome.

In the one study completed since the adoption of the comprehensive plan, a majority of building permits were issued in rural areas.

Reasonable Measures to Realize Plan

Kitsap’s proposed plan of action to address the amount of building occurring outside UGAs was simply to wait. While the court dismissed non-action as a viable strategy, and is probably right to do so, the evidence in Pierce County suggests that giving the UGAs time to take effect makes a substantial difference. Kitsap’s problem is that 83% is at the upper extreme of a passive strategy’s success.

The court agreed with Futurewise that leaving policies unchanged should be assumed to leave results unchanged. The court’s decision not to give great weight to vested building rights is interesting, but unlikely to cause long term problems now that the most vested rights have run their course.


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