It’s time for all good folks to come to the aid of their land, their water, their air, and all beings that call this rock home. At our Ground Hog Day 2020 meeting, OCA announced that we will not abide any more years of climate inaction and adopted this set of principles as our 2020 Climate Platform, free to all political and community leaders who care to use it.
On 7/5/17 OCA sent the following statement to the Clallam County Planning Commission concerning the Shoreline Master Program, updating our earlier comments on the previous draft of the SMP:
My name is Robert Vreeland. I am a member of the executive committee with the Olympic Climate Action group which has more than 600 members in Clallam County. We believe that one of the goals of the Shoreline Master Program (SMP) should be to inform Clallam County residents of potential climate change impacts. This goal, pg. 1-18, was in an earlier draft but has been removed from the current draft. The earlier draft Goal #13 stated “To protect people and property from adverse impacts related to climate change and to promote resiliency in responding to climate change impacts.”
At its recent meeting Olympic Climate Action agreed that in order to manage risk and liability, the County’s SMP should fully acknowledge the imminent potential for sea level rise. Acknowledgement of climate change impact projections is particularly important to residents owning properties along low lying shorelines, Shoreline Residential – Intensive and Marine Waterfront Designations. Some of these properties (e.g. 3 Crabs and Diamond Point) may be exposed to sea level rise and storm surge inundation by as early as 2030, based on projections in the Climate Change Preparedness Plan for the North Olympic Peninsula, Sept. 2015 (see http://www.noprcd.org/about2). Given the existing technical studies and maps showing severe threats to dozens if not hundreds of low-elevation shoreline properties, often within 10-15 years, OCA believes County citizens could be financially liable for property losses to homeowners as well as home buyers if these risks aren’t clearly indicated in the most relevant County-wide planning document used to guide development and land use decisions.
The 2017 Draft SMP presently contains policies and a regulation regarding climate change and/or sea level rise and storm surge for: Restoration (pg. 3-32), Transportation (pg. 3-36), Buffers (pg. 6-1) and Regulations – General, 14 Shoreline stabilization (pg. 4-23). We believe it is imperative that similar policies or regulations be incorporated for residential shoreline properties < 200 feet deep measured from the Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM) landward, given these properties have the smallest buffers for Minor New Development, 50 feet. It may be appropriate to have similar policies/regulations for Shoreline Residential – Intensive and Marine Waterfront, Minor New Development on lots > 200 feet deep (75-foot buffers), as well as Major New Development and Shoreline Residential – Conservancy Minor New Development < 200 feet deep (100-foot buffer), if these properties are low-lying and could be potentially subject to sea level rise and storm surge in the near future.
Furthermore, “hard” shoreline armoring such as rip rap and sea walls, even if mitigated, will impact the neighboring properties, coastal sedimentation system, and nearshore ecology, and these risks need to be acknowledged in the SMP. At the Clallam County Planning Commission meeting of 6/21/17, the consultant for Clallam County on the SMP mentioned that there are approximately 83 parcels in the 3 Crabs and Diamond Point areas that could be permitted to install hard armoring to protect their properties.
On January 17, 2017, Resolution #02-17 was finalized after OCA appealed to the City Council for action following up on the climate adaptation plan. Here is a paraphrase of that resolution:
“It is incumbent on all local government agencies on the Olympic Peninsula to prepare for natural disasters, sea level rise and potential emergencies related to climate change. In 2015 representatives of the City of Port Angeles participated in a regional effort to consider climate change impacts on the Northern Olympic Peninsula.
“In 2016, with input from OCA and dozens of jurisdictions, agencies, businesses and residents across the Northern Olympic Peninsula, the City adopted a new Comprehensive Plan that includes 18 new policies around climate change and adaptation to sea level rise. Areas of the new policies include climatic impact on land use, conservation, capital facilities, and economic development.
“The City should utilize the Climatic Change Preparedness Plan in attracting businesses, to demonstrate a proactive approach to climatic change inthe area.
“The City affirms its dedication to planning for climate change and for the needs of our community as we face these changes. Its planning will be founded on the Comprehensive Plan. The City will support a regional, co-operative approach and it directs City staff to ensure that new development, both public and private, take into account and proactively mitigate changing environmental effects.”
A consortium led by the North Olympic Peninsula Resource Conservation and Development Council, including Olympic Climate Action in Clallam County and the Local 2020 Climate Action Group in east Jefferson County, has been awarded a $152,000 grant from the National Estuary Program’s Watershed Protection & Restoration Fund, administered by the the WA State Dept. of Ecology. The project, pending finalization of a contract, will consult extensively with local stakeholders and scientific experts to produce a study summarizing expected climate impacts and adaptation needs for the North Olympic Peninsula, and then reach out to the public and local governments about changes to land use plans that would help to protect people and resources.
OCA has developed a slide presentation describing:
- What residents can expect as climate change takes hold on the North Olympic Peninsula.
- What our state and local decision makers are doing to address climate change.
- What more can be done to reduce the impacts and prepare for the effects.
This presentation is available to all groups on the North Peninsula; contact us for details.