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Port Gamble S'Klallam says additional infrastructure would be required for Fully Contained Communities; public hearing Jan. 27

Port Gamble S’Klallam is expressing concern over proposed revisions to the Countywide Planning Policy presented by the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council (KRCC).

On Dec. 7, the coordinating council put the document up for public comment through Jan. 28. A public hearing on the matter is scheduled for Jan. 27, 5-8 p.m., at the Norm Dicks Government Center in Bremerton.

Port Gamble S’Klallam is most worried about proposed revisions that would allow so-called Fully Contained Communities in Kitsap County. The theory behind the model of Fully Contained Communities is that it provides all the requirements and amenities for living in a self-sufficient community. Schools, shopping, housing, employment, and recreation are provided within walking and biking distance, thereby reducing reliance on automobile traffic and other off-site impacts.

“It’s a interesting idea, but it simply doesn’t work,” Port Gamble S’Klallam Business Development Director Noel Higa said in a press release. “There have been attempts to build Fully Contained Communities in western Washington. Every single one of these — and most around the country — have failed.

“Taking a closer look at these unsuccessful developments, reasons for their failure are apparent: employment opportunities are lacking and for the jobs that do emerge, there’s a disconnect between the skill set of the affluent residents and the low wages offered. It is a fallacy that any pre-fabricated community can be ‘fully contained’.”

A Fully Contained Community, or FCC, has been proposed for the townsite of Port Gamble as a part of the North Kitsap Legacy Project. Port Gamble S’Klallam has been a vocal opponent of the project, as have other groups and individuals.

Higa said Port Gamble S’Klallam is also concerned about the county funds that will be diverted to support a city growing up out of the middle of a rural area. Additional infrastructure — new roads, sewers, water sources, and resources of the like — will have to be created and maintained.

“Study after study reinforces the fact that infrastructure money is best spent in existing urban areas. Bremerton, Silverdale, Kingston, Poulsbo and Port Orchard could all use those dollars to make life better for their citizens," Higa said. "It’s far more efficient to make improvements to those already existing areas than to create one out of thin air.”

Considering the currently proposed definition of an FCC as outlined in the Countywide Planning Policy, Port Gamble S'Klallam's analysis of Kitsap County indicates that, in addition to Port Gamble and the North Kitsap Legacy Project, there are five other areas that would qualify for the creation of an FCC: Manchester, Suquamish, Indianola, Keyport, and Hansville. Depending on interpretations of the revisions, Seaback and Camp Union might also qualify.

The proposed revisions would also allow a National Historic Town amendment to the Comprehensive Plan to be approved. Port Gamble is the only community in Kitsap County that would meet the definition of a National Historic Town and the amendment would allow for wider expansion and greater housing/urban density.

“If these revisions are allowed to pass, the landscape of Kitsap County will fundamentally change in the years to come. Not only will new, unsustainable cities be encouraged, but there will be fewer public funds to support the urban areas that currently exist,” said Higa.

The proposed revisions to the Countrywide Planning Policy can be downloaded at http://www.kitsapregionalcouncil.org/countywide_planning.php

Comments can be be sent by e-mail to Vicky@KitsapRegionalCouncil.org.

The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, originally known as the Nux Sklai Yem or Strong People, are descendants of the Salish people who have been well-established in the Puget Sound basin and surrounding areas since 2400 B.C. In the late 1930s, the Port Gamble S’Klallam reservation, located on the northern tip of the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington State, was established. Many of the tribe’s members, who total about 1,000, still live there today.

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