Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Are We Up To Code?

County laws are created by Ordinance. Ordinances are adopted by the Board of Commissioners after a Public Hearing and are published in an organized form known as the "County Code."

The above is from the County's website, and, being that the County is gearing up their new Charter Review Commission, I thought it might be interesting to see what's in the existing County Code, and see how well it matches up to the reality we all know. Following are some excerpts from the Clallam County Code...I have underlined pieces that seemed to be significant...

31.04.030 Port Angeles Planning Area – 2014 Vision Statement.
We envision the Port Angeles Region as Clallam County’s economic center,...
The Port Angeles Region has undergone significant change in the 20 years that have passed since the first Growth Management comprehensive plan was adopted in 1995. This plan led to a successful partnership of public, tribal and private interest groups which worked cooperatively to build a diversified, sound regional economy, managed growth to preserve resources and community character and maintained the County’s high quality of life.
Businesses which provide regional services have been grouped at convenient locations at major intersections within the urban growth area and conform to visually pleasing landscape and building design standards.
Cruise ships and high speed passenger ferries now regularly stop in Port Angeles with visitors connecting to various points of interest in the County.
where the urban area of Port Angeles is a cultural, educational and growth center,...
The urban area of Port Angeles provides a mixture of employment, residential, commercial, cultural and recreational opportunities. Peninsula College is now a four-year institution offering advanced degrees. Much of the new development and redevelopment which occurred after 1995 took place within the existing urban center of Port Angeles where infrastructure was in place or could be easily extended. Today, there is still ample room for development within that original urban growth area. Port Angeles is the ultimate supplier of services within the urban growth area.

a transportation hub,...
Port Angeles is linked to all other urban growth areas in the County by an efficient transit system. The County-wide transit system operates a high speed electric bus in the “transit priority” lane of Highway 101. Many electric cars now are used for local trips.
The new Port Angeles Parkway provides an alternate east side, cross town route for local access to Port Angeles. The airport has become the center for commuter, visitor and freight shipment with convenient connections to transit, ferry and freight haulers. Within the Port Angeles urban growth area, neighborhood population centers are linked to the Olympic Discovery Trail via multiple feeder trails and paths for efficient nonmotorized transportation options for reaching work or for recreation.
with a population that respects the beauty and function of the natural environment,...
Twenty (20) years of work in education and environmental restoration have resulted in the development of a strong sense of stewardship towards the Port Angeles watershed and its environmental resources by all watershed residents. Critical areas are protected and environmental enhancement projects have restored many acres of wetlands and miles of streams to salmon runs. Water is clean and abundant due to conservation efforts. Careful stewardship has ensured the conservation of our land, air, water and energy resources for future generations.

a good place to live,...
The Port Angeles region is known for its livable neighborhoods which express their own unique character. They are all noted for their quality of life, pedestrian orientation and superior design. Many residential areas have been separated from the hustle and bustle of commercial activities near Highway 101 by allowing public uses such as schools, parks and public golf courses as commercial to residential buffers. Commercial businesses in these neighborhoods provide goods and services to neighborhood residents and some have residences located on upper stories.

The Highway 101 corridor is now a tree lined boulevard with landscaped medians as it passes through the urban area and businesses all along this corridor have upgraded their landscaping and physical appearance. Most high density, low cost housing has been infilled into single-family neighborhoods located just off Highway 101 in urban growth areas where easy access to transit and job opportunities is available. Well designed and landscaped manufactured home parks and multifamily developments provide an attractive low cost living environment. Visitors to our area note the distinct open space boundaries between neighborhoods which make use of the steep sided creek ravines which are left in the natural state.
where we work together,...
The Port Angeles region enjoys a healthy and stable economy, emphasizing diversity in the range of goods produced and services provided. Businesses continue to locate in our County because of the high quality of life, provision of business infrastructure, the emphasis on superior schools, and the ability of a tightly knit community to provide a safe living environment for all.
The business community also recognizes that the predictability brought about by the management of growth and the creation of effective public/tribal/private partnerships has fostered a relationship of trust between residents, business interests and governments. This trust has benefited the overall economic development of the County. Problems identified by residents and the business community are clearly articulated in the Plan and solutions have been proposed with clear sources of funding identified. Residents and business interests trust their local governments to follow through on solutions because the Plans and promises made to manage growth in 1995 have been followed and changes to the original plan occur as a result of demonstrated community need. Relationships with tribal governments have improved as the community embraces its cultural diversity.
Change is accepted and proceeds in an orderly fashion based on the growth management plan.
...It seems to me that our "leaders" spend a lot of time trying not to protect our water, trying not to manage growth, and trying not to acknowledge our failing schools - among other things. It also seems like when they are roused to at least go through the motions of doing something, their efforts are too often misguided or DOA. (See DOA "beautification" trees that were proposed above.)

But what do you think? Does the sunny picture painted in the County Code match your experience of life here? Do you think our City Councils and County Commissions really mean it when they approve language like you see here? Do they really want to work to create the blissful community described? Or is this just boilerplate feel-good language that they can point to and say, "See? We've got a vision!" Does language like this inspire you, or make you more cynical? Does it make you want to get involved with things like the Charter Review, or does it make you want to lock your door and close the blinds?


  1. The above quote is from the 1995 GMA Comprehensive Plan document which was created by a committee of 67 people who volunteered 15 months of their time to create a vision of what things SHOULD look like 20 years later (in 2014). Why would anyone think a committee would propose a vison (Comprehensive Plan) of the future that wasn't "sunny". Have we met all the goals listed here? No. Does that mean it was wasted effort by all those people? Also No. The county's Department of Community Development is gearing up to plan for the next 20 years right now (the required 2015 update to the Comprehensive Plan), maybe some of your readers will volunteer to be on that committee?

    1. Maybe there is no need to form a committee to develop a vision for the required 2015 Comp Plan update. Instead, honor the 15 months of work done by the previous committee and roll-over their original language into the 2015 Plan. This should be accompanied by a statement to the effect that: "We failed to achieve this vision by 2014 years, but re-dedicate our efforts toward doing so by 2034."
      Seriously, why would anyone want to volunteer their time to update the "Vision" when such efforts are viewed by elected officials as only a fluff piece or window dressing?
      If some of the visionaries from 1993-94 are still around, then let's find them and support them in campaigns for public office --- including (or maybe especially) for Community Development Director.

    2. From the text posted above:

      "Change is accepted and proceeds in an orderly fashion based on the growth management plan."

      Ha ha ha ha ha!

      Change here is fought tooth and nail. Nothing is orderly. And we curse the GMA.

      To steal/paraphrase a title of an old Leslie Nielsen movie: Clallam County: Dead and Loving It!

    3. Anonymous 10:54AM: I'll agree with you so far as why would anyone want to volunteer their time to, essentially, reinvent the wheel?

      We have a document that, in theory, sounds pretty good. What we need now is for said document to be put into practice. That's something we haven't seen a real effort behind. Of the three County Commissioners, only Doherty is worth anything. The other two are lazy windbags.

    4. What we need to do is develop a way to get these environuts to keep moving out of the area so we can get our local economy working again. Can we please put that into a plan somewhere?

    5. The so-called leadership has been able to hide what they do (or more accurately, don't do) with the help of the PDN for the last how ever many years. Now, they can't hide. CK and Port O Call are asking questions, and publishing articles that show what's going on.

      Now let's see what happens, when they can't hide any more!

    6. Sue seems to, or wants to forget Harborworks. Perhaps she thinks that was a creation of "environuts"? Perhaps all the developers of commercial, industrial, retail and residential projects that were contacted by the HarborWorks team, that ALL refused to get involved in Port Angeles were all "environuts",

      Maybe Susan thinks the Chamber of Commerce, which has been given over $3 million from the City to create jobs in Port Angeles over the last 10 years, are all "environuts"?

      And on, and on, and on.

      Credibility really does mean something.

    7. The apologists for the status quo will cynically point out that all the big money giveaways here DID create jobs, even if it was just a few and/or was for a short time. I mean, gee, Jeff Lincoln had to do his grocery shopping here, right, so Port Angeles saw SOME sort of economic benefit from all those tax dollars spent...

  2. It's very, very difficult to have any faith in any of these purportedly public review processes that the city or the county does. How many times have we trooped off to a meeting (or a whole series of meetings) and done our civic duty, only to see our efforts sidelined, if not outright maligned.

    Think of all the efforts that went into the city and the county's shoreline master plan reviews and redos recently. Huge amounts of public input and concern get boiled down and reduced to a few feel good platitudes to try and pretend they care about protecting the environment. Meanwhile, county commissioners fume against protecting the Dungeness water AND support putting a sewer line over the river.

    There's so much madness here, so yes, these things do tend to make one cynical over time. No matter the process used, those doing the processing never seem to change, so the outcome is always the same: Nothing.

  3. Sunny projections like the ones you have quoted here do this area a real disservice. Of course it's good to have goals, and visions for the future, but they must be at least slightly realistic to be at all useful or effective or possible. The items here are examples of totally unrealistic happy visions that set the bar way too high.

    The fact is that we are a remote, sparsely populated rural county. This limits our choices for growth and economic development in many ways. Our continued embrace of the shrinking resource extraction industries has yet to be challenged - which only leads us (well, our elected officials) to chase after that ever smaller piece of industrial/forestry pie. Meanwhile, truly positive potential growth areas - like tourism, like organic food production - still get little or no support from those in charge, other than lip service like some of what you've pulled out here.

    Our demographics are changing. Our schools are shrinking and struggling. We're still very old, and very white. Our infrastructure gets shortchanged for short term "fun" projects. Platitudes and pie in the sky visions of Clallam County as a paradise on earth hurt more than they help. We need people involved with things like the Charter Review who are intelligent, aware of current and projected demographic and economic trends, and who aren't afraid to keep their feet planted in some form of reality. Otherwise we end up with crap like the above - happy talk that sounds like it was written by the Chamber of Commerce.

    1. To your point about the embrace of dying industries here...Think about all the talk, time, effort and money that local politicians put towards salivating over "family wage industrial jobs." Think about how many ways these same people have bent over backwards to enable and facilitate these "industrial jobs." Then look at that chart CK provide, the one that shows the asking prices for industrial land here. (It's the first one, way up top.) After all that, here we are in 2014, and these properties are going for the same as they were in 2006 - only it actually looks like it's a little less. Nearly a decade later, and we haven't even held steady - even with an infusion of political support, cheap workers, and a working port right here.

      Game over.

  4. Assuming that the language quoted was written in 1994-95, it seems to me that the authors expressed quite a few progressive values and aspirations. What became of those visionaries? We need them to return and take charge!

    1. No, we need the people who supposedly serve US to do THEIR jobs and implement things like this when they sign off on them.

      When they fail to do that, then WE need to run for office, kick them out, and do it right. Short of that, happy happy documents like this will simply fill some space on a shelf (or computer disc) somewhere.

      The place described in this code sounds pretty nice, but it sure doesn't sound like Clallam County. What have the County Commissioners actually DONE to make these words come to life? From where I sit, it seems like they've done as little as possible.

      In closing, let's remember this is an election year.

    2. What became of those visionaries? I'll tell you what became of them. When they saw that this place was moving backwards instead of forward, they moved away.

  5. There's a great deal of cynicism about documents like this locally, and with good reason. You key out one near the end of your posting:

    "Residents and business interests trust their local governments to follow through on solutions because the Plans and promises made to manage growth in 1995 have been followed and changes to the original plan occur as a result of demonstrated community need."

    How many times have our local leaders done something that there was no demonstrable need for? How many times have they had the people tell them what their needs were, only to be ignored?

    If documents like this are jokes or failures, it's because our elected leaders, the very people who are supposed to implement these things, allow them to be. The people did their part; we're still waiting for our leaders to do theirs.

    1. You've hit the nail on the head. Meanwhile, the people here are tired of banging their heads against the wall. And here we are, at best, right where we were when this document was drafted. No progress, and any change that has occurred was likely to be negative. Remember how NOAA turned Port Angeles down flat due to it lacking "quality of life"? They got it. We're still getting it.

  6. Let me answer the question you pose in your headline - are we up to code?

    No, we are not. And we are slowly slipping further and further behind. Most of the world is living in the 21st century. Clallam County is still struggling to reconcile itself with the late 20th century.

  7. "Port Angeles is the ultimate supplier of services within the urban growth area."

    If Port Angeles is the ultimate, no wonder we're struggling.

  8. When I moved here in 1993, it WAS a very different place. WE had cute, local shops downtown, regular festivals and events (downtown), and things felt pretty good. However, my house was NOT BUILT TO CODE (even the codes in force back then) and no permits had been taken out, and no one seemed to care. I had real estate papers that SAID everything was to code, but I had little recourse as I found out over the years, that it was total and utter nonsense (welcome to the Real Estate conspiracy). City hall was of little use for much of anything. I found out that the same people had been elected to the city council for years. I also found that there were many people in town regularly fleecing everyone and anyone deemed an "outsider". More than once my car (before I'd swapped out the CA plates) was spit on..sometimes when I was in it. I was even told, to my face, "why don't you go back to where you came from?" Meanwhile, the church groups started coming by, and the grammar school teacher of my son (public school, mind you) told him he was going to hell because we weren't church people (she made all the kids pray in class on more than one occasion). When I went to the principal about my concerns and my interactions (he flew by private plane from a different county every day) he laughed and said, "Its Port Angeles...when in Rome, do as the Romans do".
    This document was clearly written in a language best called HAPPY HORSE SHIT. This town is nuts. Always has been, clearly, always will be.
    I've found that as long as I keep to myself and don't interact with the townsfolk things are fine. To other people I describe this place as Green Acres meets Deliverance.

    1. Just a quick note to say...I love your (totally on the mark) Green Acres meets Deliverance description. Just for the record though, it's got to be at least 51% Deliverance, versus maybe 47% Green Acres. The other two percent is made up of biomass particles and Barb Frederick.

  9. Having sat on any number of commissions, committees and boards over the years, I know well how staff guides the development of the language of these types of documents. Who doesn't want a nice future, or outcome?

    As Anon 9:11 says, when the document was written, things were very different in the area. What I take away from reading what was aspired to, then, is how much things went in a completely different direction. How much things have degenerated and declined since that document was written.

    And, we get back to the first posts on this blog. Identifying those people that changed the course of Port Angeles, and turned it into a place that a select few can personally benefit from the public money they can find ways to create projects or reasons for.

    There is a song from a few decades ago that had the lyrics " Who are the men who run this land with such a thoughless hand? What are their names, and on what streets do they live? I'd like to ride right over, and give them a piece of my mind..."

  10. What we must do is recruit progressive candidates for the up coming elections. Get behind these candidates and work for them. Please put forth the names of those whom you think are willing and able to run for city council. We will get behind them. We will raise money for them. We will put signs in yards. We will knock on doors and spread the word. We must move into all out political street fighting. Leave no door un knocked. This is a small town. We can get the word out. We just need the candidates. You know who is available. Let us know and we will make the approach. Only 6 months to take back the town from the greed heads and idiots.

    1. Here's your problem or barrier, Dale...To use your terms, the greed heads and idiots have been running this place for so long that a lot of the non-greed heads and idiots have already moved away. Progressive people generally progress onto someplace nicer than this.

      Of the people who are left, whether they be left or right, a majority seem to be spineless after years of receiving and/or witnessing the abuse and bullying dished out by the greed heads and idiots who run this place.

      In other words, your potential pool of viable candidates is very small, and continues to shrink. Meanwhile, the greed heads and idiots, in an era of declining resources of all sorts, will fight harder than ever to maintain their position at the top of the shit heap they've built here.

      And that is really the problem. Even if you get someone willing to fight, and who gets to the top of that hill, it's still just a big pile of shit - because that's what the greed heads, idiots, vampires and sociopaths who run this town have created.

    2. Mr. Wilson, while I don't necessarily disagree with your assessment of what's wrong here, I don't know that I agree that there are all these good, willing candidates out there. We've all seen the smears directed at Max and Brad. We've all seen the dead wood float right to the top. We all saw those three unopposed races last time - four, really, because Peter Ripley was never going to win. The guy who did win that race is a fake progressive. We've got a recycled mayor, who was no great shakes the first time around. And on and on.

      Good luck with your efforts, I really do mean that. But keep your expectations low, very low. That way they will be more in step with the hopes and vision of most people here.

    3. I think Dale introduces a new element into the mix that hasn't been here, before. There are around 18,000 residents in Port Angeles, and he is able to reach them without the filters of the PDN or KONP. He isn't beholden to the same old crap that has resulted in what has happened before.

      Yes, as things were before, why bother? And as we saw, anybody with half a brain didn't.

      Now we have all the issues that both Dale, CK and others here have brought forward. Things the PDN never covered, and the general public never heard.

      It CAN be different this time.

    4. 2 or 3 decent people out of 18,000 doesn't sound impossible.

  11. 20 years ago in Clallam County, we had a steady influx of retirees moving into the area. The growth projections were robust and positive. The average retiree moving from a city in California could sell their home and buy a comparable home for half the price. The recession of 2000 - 2002 created problems for people wanting to retire and relocate. The growth rate in Clallam County slowed. The Great Recession of 2007 -2008 slammed the brakes on growth in Clallam County. People were not able to either sell their homes, or for that matter, retire. It is only now, 5 years later, that we begin to see a flow of people moving back into Sequim and Port Angeles. To a great extent, the economy in Port Angeles is still suffering from the Great Recession. The incompetence and lack of vision that we see across the board ( City Council, City Manager and Nathan, Downtown Association, Chamber, etc) has extended the economic downturn beyond what is happening at the national level. Nothing short of an organized and focused movement will change the current direction our leaders are taking us . . . which is basically nowhere.

    1. Our product is nowhere. We are the capitol of nowhere. Right here in "the center of it all."

    2. what would a focused and organized movement look like? Informing the people and getting dialogue started is a good first step, finding like-minded candidates to run locally is another .....what else can we do?

    3. Wendy, having a community wide forum like this, and like Port O Call fosters is an essential first step. As you can see from comments here, there are still people who see no hope in even trying to make things better. That seems to assume things can't ever change, when we know the only "constant" IS change.

      With an ongoing dialogue, and in depth examination of issues affecting the community, people can see there ARE intelligent people who have a clue, instead of the frustrating BS we see from current leadership. We can see that there are others who care about the future of the community. We can see that there ARE specific problems, or problem people in specific positions, and we can unify in a goal to work to accomplish.

      Be patient. It is already happening.

    4. CK you needn't publish this, your call (obviously);

      PA Unearthed really does really add something.
      But,if you want to continue gaining a footing, then consider staying clear of Port O Call and the dingy Editor guy Wilson, he's just not credible.
      Credibility is the key.
      First, Port O Call writers can't write, second, Wilson won't admit it when he knows he screwed up - making him look even less credible, and three, Port O Calls editorial commentary is so unrealistic even their own business advertisement market shuns aligning their business names him.

      Supporting PortOCall's radical and just plain silly viewpoint(s) will only drag Unearthed down.

      Port O Call adds nothing to intelligently credible critical commentary.

    5. Your concern is noted, and appreciated. Offering other ideas of how to get the word out would also be, if you have any suggestions.

    6. Classic "Divide and Conquer" tactic.

      Unearthed is great and all, but it only reaches those that want it. Kinda like preaching to the converted, and all. No offense, CK.

      Port O Call has stirred things up in Port Angeles because it gets mailed out to addresses. People who otherwise wouldn't subscribe or buy the paper get to have a copy, and get exposed to things they may not be aware of.

      Has Wilson pissed off a segment in Port Angeles? It sure looks like it, and that means he is being successful. You wonder why you get people trying to discredit him, here? How else can they shut him down?

      I'm not so much defending Wilson or Port O Call, as much as polinting out this classic " Divide and Conquer" attempt.

    7. Getting the word out (the truth?) and stirring people into action without scaring off potential political candidates will be a fine line.
      And we need lots of candidates!
      Think about what the criticism landscape looks like here today to someone who may be interested in running for real change and who might actually make a difference.

      What I'm getting at is a persons fear of entering the ring, of even trying when it also means serious exposure to erroneous, unsubstantiated, mean spirited rantings (PA Online) and to irresponsible, exaggerated reporting/editorializing and even blatant lies (POC).

      Keep it in your face honest, but keep it real, keep it serious and stay clear of sounding goofy by linking up with goofballs.

      PA Online and POC are just as bad as PDN. Think about it.

    8. I have to agree, PA Online is foul and Port of Call is like reading the old Enquirer. Please, do keep it honest and yet it their face.

  12. Hey, I just got tipped off to this blog and wanted to say it's really good.

    The PDN has run these articles about how the charter review is coming up, but they don't include any examples of what already exists, like you do here. You take it out of the abstract, which is really useful.

    Which, having said that, though, don't get the idea I want to spend my time trying out for the charter review effort. Life is frustrating enough without getting involved with local politics. Like others here have said better than I can, let them try to really do what they already have written down before they start rebooting it all.

    1. It is nice to have a source of info, however small, that has nothing to do with Paul Gottlieb or Todd Ortloff or Tom Harper. Keep kicking, Kicker.

  13. Careful stewardship? Future generations? Who do they think they're fooling with this BS?

    With the rearview mirror mentality of the people in charge, they seem like they're more concerned about past generations than future ones. Well, except for the ones that will start sliding out of the cemetery soon enough...Gimme a break! Future generations my ass.

  14. You know, it might be both instructive AND fun to go to a Commissioner's meeting or two and take advantage of the public comment period to ask them how well they've done at making the language above come to pass. Kind of put the charter review BS process in perspective for them - and with an audience. I mean, what could they possibly say?

    Have they helped "build a diversified, sound regional economy"?

    Does Jim McEntire really support the notion that "Water is clean and abundant due to conservation efforts"?

    Have they raised their voices advocating "the emphasis on superior schools"?

    Broadly speaking, has ANY of them "fostered a relationship of trust between residents, business interests and governments"?

    You could go on and on. Love to hear what they say in response, if anything.