With summer wrapping up, the council heads into its busiest time of the year. The county executive will soon deliver his proposed budget and the normal cycle of bills in committee and full council tends to increase. We also have several items of particular interest to the Key Peninsula:
Council Comes to District 7 Sept. 11
The Pierce County Charter requires that the council have an evening, in-district meeting in each of the council districts. While I get the chance to talk with you all more regularly, this is an opportunity for the full council to hear about your priorities and needs.
I intentionally schedule our in-district meetings for budget time to ensure the needs of the peninsulas are fresh in the memory of council members when I advocate for those issues in the budget. In past years, we’ve heard from residents that additional deputies, traffic safety improvements and better access to broadband were priorities and that helped me round up the votes to pass amendments on those issues.
While we don’t have the agenda set, in the past we’ve also had brief presentations by the county executive, the mayor of Gig Harbor and various community groups.
The meeting will be Tuesday, Sept. 11, at 6 p.m. at the Peninsula High School auditorium.
Shoreline Master Program Update
You may recall that we were finally able to make changes to the SMP three years ago. The current shoreline regulations were passed in the 1970s, long before most of the current science on protecting Puget Sound was available.
So what’s the hang-up?
The state’s Shoreline Management Act gives dual authority over SMPs to the respective local governments and the state Department of Ecology. Basically, Ecology gets a veto over our plan. While we were able to negotiate favorable outcomes for most of the disagreements, Ecology continues to order us to remove restrictions on aquaculture—specifically, geoduck farms.
The community development committee will see the proposed changes Sept.17 with a final version currently scheduled for Oct. 2.
As most of you aware, address changes went into effect on the KP April 1. For most, this simply meant replacing the KPN with NW and the KPS with SW. We also used this opportunity to correct a few hundred misaddressed properties.
Things did not go quite according to plan despite the best efforts of county staff. Most of the addressing systems for banks, utilities and other services rely on data provided by the Washington State Department of Licensing. We had been told that they were ready to implement the necessary changes. Unfortunately, we were not told they would be performed by a third-party vendor that actually provides the service. That vendor took much longer to make the necessary changes.
The good news is that it appears the update is now complete and you should be able to make the address changes with your service providers. You still have plenty of time though. The post office will continue to deliver to your old address until next April. However, you will want to make the change to your driver’s license now. It’s free and you can do it online.
The remaining hurdle is Google, which controls the data for most wayfinding applications. After reaching all the way to our congressional delegation, we finally got a positive response. While I don’t have an ETA yet on completion, we are told they are working on an update that will finally make navigation a bit easier on the Key Peninsula.
Again, my apologies for the complications. The changes were necessary to be compliant with the new federally mandated Next Generation 911 service that our first responders and people in need of help will benefit greatly from.
Open Pierce County
I promised that we would make county government more transparent, so I’m so excited to introduce you to our newly launched website. “Open Pierce County” is the county’s latest in a series of projects designed to increase transparency and accountability.
First to launch was an easy-to-use online public records request portal, next a convenient site to track public nuisance complaints.
The Open Pierce County initiative has launched three segments on Pierce County’s website. The newest, “Open Performance,” focuses on the degree to which the county is accomplishing its goals related to three main priorities: vibrant communities, entrepreneurial climate and effective government.
Other portions of the Open Pierce County site are “Open Budget,” a guided view through complex financial information and “Open Data,” where individuals can view datasets, metadata and create their own filters and charts from the data.
Check it out at open.piercecountywa.gov and let me know what you think.
Derek Young represents the 7th District, including the Key Peninsula, on the Pierce County Council.