Posted by: sweeneyblog | January 15, 2014

Sen. Doug Ericksen Tries to Limit Futurewise Efforts

Capital Beat

Weekly Legislative Coverage

For the 2014 session, I will be providing weekly updates on your state legislature thanks to the generous support of donors like you.

Of the many bills Sen. Doug Ericksen has introduced so far this session (yes, we will be getting to all of them), there is one that is so narrowly focused, it might as well have been addressed directly to Futurewise. SB 5983 limits the ability of the Growth Management Hearings Board from hearing petitions relating to exempt (small) wells.

Why is this a stab at Futurewise?  The crack legal team with Whatcom Futurewise (Eric Hirst, David Stalheim, Laura Brakke and Wendy Harris) just beat the county in court over that very issue.

When explaining the Growth Management Act, I usually use the metaphor of a teacher and a student. The Growth Management Act says that every student  (county) has to do their homework (create a legally sound plan for how their county will grow). For decades, Whatcom County has refused to do their homework (get in compliance with the Growth Management Act), and has allowed developers to build willy-nilly all throughout our farmland. Futurewise, the smarty-pants in the back of the classroom, has been jumping up and down tattling on Whatcom County, reminding the teacher (the Growth Management Hearings Board) that Whatcom hasn’t done their homework.

Sen. Doug Ericksen

Sen. Doug Ericksen

This legislation removes one of the main homework assignments. In essence, Sen. Ericksen is saying, you can’t tattle on us about this because this doesn’t count. Will this actually roll back the decision made on Dec. 2nd in Futurewise’s favor? I don’t think so, but it could affect future challenges.

So what are the real world impacts of this change? The challenge was over the use of small exempt water wells. Basically, a developer would sidestep a whole host of water rights issues by just drilling a series of small wells (“a six pack”) to provide for a subdivision. The problem was everyone began doing that, resulting in a huge drain on the groundwater supply which affected rural access to water. The eloquent Jean Melious goes into depth on some of these issues on her blog here and here.

The bill has been referred to the Agriculture Committee. It has drawn four other co-sponsors and Rep. Vincent Buys has introduced a companion bill in the House (you will remember that Buys managed to get one piece of legislation passed last year, a bill relating to rural wells). The committee is overseen by conservative Democrat Brian Hatfield who represents Aberdeen and Grays Harbor County, so it will probably get a hearing at least.

Stay tuned later this week for more legislative coverage. Also, thank you to Bellingham Herald reporter Ralph Schwartz who said, “Sweeney is a seasoned observer of all things political and a fun read, from a partisan-Democrat perspective.” Thank you for the link. As for partisanship, I aim for total transparency. I’m a proud Democrat, but not a blind one. I’ve been critical of Democrats in the past and will be in the future.

Check in tomorrow for my article about the fight for the heart and soul of the Washington State Democratic Party.
Read more here:

Responses

  1. ALERT: Teabaggger meeting on this issue Thursday, Jan. 16th @ The Rome Grange, 2821 Mt. Baker Hwy, Bellingham, WA, at 7:00pm.

    • Please attend and become informed.

  2. Ah, the B’ham Herald/Sweeney Axis!

  3. Wait we are an Axis now? does that make us Germany? Japan? Italy?

  4. No, Devlin. These countries are all allies. W redefined the Axis. You are North Korea, Iran and (post Saddam?) Iraq.

    As for your brother, any “proud Democrat” is indeed a blind Democrat,. And, that comment is intended to awake Riley and the party, not to condemn it. TPP?????–an acronym for Totally Plutocratic Party !!!!

  5. Riley,
    Usually, you don’t play loose with facts, but you wrote this: “…and Wendy Harris) just beat the county in court over that very issue.”

    Your own link takes the reader to the FDO, which was not issued by any court, but by the growth Management Hearings Board, whose bias and abuse of Whatcom County property owners is the impetus for this bill.

    The petitioners have found a useful tool in the hearings board, and have used it to create catastrophic economic mischief and to wreak financial havoc on rural property owners. Their actions discourage responsible, long-term investment in property in Whatcom County. The resulting reductions in property values will transfer property tax obligations to other taxpayers.

    Who benefits?

  6. Riley,
    You write “The crack legal team with Whatcom Futurewise (Eric Hirst, David Stalheim, Laura Brakke and Wendy Harris)”.

    Actually, those are the plaintiffs, and the actual legal team, that is, plaintiff’s counsel (Jean Melious) fell in the crack in your sentence.

    Abe Jacobson

    • Jean actually replied on my facebook to that very point: Thanks, Riley, and thanks, Kate. I do need to note that Futurewise is represented by its own extraordinarily capable lawyer; I represent local citizens. We asked the County to protect its water resources — quality and quantity — in the Rural area. The Hearings Board found that it has not done so in a number of respects. I hope that the County can do a little better, moving forward.

  7. So Riley,
    You took my comment down. The last person who did that was Jean Melious, on her blog, but, in any case, I’d appreciate an explanation from you for this censorship.
    Neither of my comments was off-topic or abusive, in my opinion, and the plaintiffs have still not beaten the county in court.

  8. For those of you who missed my post, here it is: “Riley,
    Usually, you don’t play loose with facts, but you wrote this: “…and Wendy Harris) just beat the county in court over that very issue.”

    Your own link takes the reader to the FDO, which was not issued by any court, but by the growth Management Hearings Board, whose bias and abuse of Whatcom County property owners is the impetus for this bill.

    The petitioners have found a useful tool in the hearings board, and have used it to create catastrophic economic mischief and to wreak financial havoc on rural property owners. Their actions discourage responsible, long-term investment in property in Whatcom County. The resulting reductions in property values will transfer property tax obligations to other taxpayers.

    Who benefits?”

    Enjoy!

    • Dave, I didn’t take any comment down but I did see something popped up in my spam filter a day ago. I just hadn’t checked it in a while. Your comment is here.

      • My comment was posted on your blog here: http://sweeneypolitics.com/2014/01/15/sen-doug-ericksen-tries-to-limit-futurewise-efforts/#comment-9618
        Today, it was gone. I did a cut and paste from the archived page and reposted it.
        I don’t mean to be paranoid. I just want to generate a little heat on your blog, because usually the comments are from, um, sycophants.
        Jus’ sayin’. ;-)

      • I promise you, I check the spam filter pretty often but it has been a busy couple of days and I’m sorry it got caught up there. Thank you for pointing it out :)

  9. Ms Melious wrote, ” I represent local citizens. We asked the County to protect its water resources — quality and quantity — in the Rural area. The Hearings Board found that it has not done so in a number of respects. I hope that the County can do a little better, moving forward.”

    To Ms. Melious: With respect, you could have done this with a letter. The implicit threat of an appeal by your clients to the GMHB contained in it would have moved the county significantly.

    Instead, you chose to file an appeal, with all of the costs the arise from it to the County. I don’t think you have the interests of the citizens of
    Whatcom County in mind at all. Those who are concerned about the costs to the county of defense should critically examine your actions, in my opinion.

    Certainly you know that there is a process for water resource planning in place under other state statutes governing the process, a process that GMA does not replace. That process will continue, even after your appeal is history.

  10. […] has signed on to the same effort by Rep. Overstreet and Sen. Ericksen to curtail Futurewise’s future legal cases over the Growth Management Act (HB2288). He also […]

  11. […] already covered Ericksen’s efforts to block Futurewise’s court cases over exempt wells (SB5983), but he also proposed a bill that would allow certain raspberry farms to […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 331 other followers

%d bloggers like this: