Approve SMP – now

January 25, 2013 

The City of Olympia should adopt the latest version of its Shoreline Management Program. The city is already almost two years late in filing the plan with the state Department of Ecology and has been debating the issue for about three years.

It’s time for the City Council to vote and send the plan to Ecology .

The current version of the SMP looks a lot like the draft proposed by city staff a long time ago, and it fulfills the intent of the Shoreline Management Act, which is to achieve no net ecological loss to the city’s existing waterfront areas.

Unfortunately, a misguided planning commission spent two years misinterpreting the SMA, and attempted to impose inappropriate restrictions that would have restored Budd Inlet to some prior decade of development. The planning commission version would likely have been rejected by Ecology and in fact was drafted in spite of warnings from the regulating agency.

The City Council took the SMP back from the planning commission last summer and has now spent several months listening to comments from citizens, property owners and stakeholders. Based on that input, staff has revised the SMP into its current form.

The council was right to undo the work of the planning commission, and the council has done a good job balancing competing interests. Everyone should feel they had a fair hearing. But the process can’t go on forever. Mayor Stephen Buxbaum has urged expediency, and council and planning commission have gone above and beyond to hear all the interested parties multiple times.

The City Council should now cut off debate and approve the current version of the SMP. Spending more time on the plan would be a disservice to the process and simply extends the faults of the outdated plan.

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