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Issue Position: Growth Management Act: Critical Areas

Issue Position

Location: Unknown

Issue: The Growth Management Act requires all jurisdictions in Washington State to adopt development regulations which protect critical areas. These regulations are generally expensive to implement, overly burdensome on property owners and usually result in an unconstitutional taking of private property without compensation.

Discussion: When the Legislature passed the Growth Management Act (Title 36.70A RCW) it mandated that every county and city in the state adopt development regulations to protect critical areas as defined under the Act.

Designated critical areas include:
Frequently Flooded Areas;
Critical Aquifer Recharge Area;
Geologically Hazardous Areas; and
Fish and Wildlife Habitat Conservation Areas.

Although many of the designated critical areas can be and are provided protection under other existing laws, State Agencies, Environmental Groups and Special Interest Groups have sued many jurisdictions in order to get measures adopted which are not supported by sound science.

State and local agencies have designated inadvertent, artificially created "wetlands" as regulatory wetlands. Much of the 15th District is characterized as having a desert climate and in many cases, "wetlands" located in upland areas would not exist but for irrigation practices.

As an example, Mr. Don Young, who lives in the 15th District, received a violation notice from Yakima County for "filling" and "destroying" a wetland. Mr. Young attempted to work with County Officials to demonstrate the "wetland" was actually irrigation runoff, but County Officials continued to dispute that fact.

Their solution, fence off the "wetland" area, reseed it and install an irrigation system to ensure re-growth occurred. In the end, I was able to assist Mr. Young in resolving the issue and the County compensated him for his time.
Solutions: If appointed as the 15th District Representative, I will work to strengthen private property rights and seek compensation for landowners who've had their property rights taken from them. I will work to seek passage of legislation which requires all governmental agencies to perform a Private Property Rights Takings Analysis before passage of any new laws, regulations, rules, or policies.

It's particularly important to differentiate between natural and artificially influenced wetlands. I will work to strengthen the definition of regulatory wetlands to exclude any and all wetlands artificially created or influenced by irrigation water, its use, delivery, and return flows.

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