April 11, 2018 | Cle Elum ~Edited 3/23/19
Wildland Urban Interface Code:
On April 3rd I attended the County hearing on the Wildland Urban Interface Code (WUI). This code imposes additional restriction on County lands and citizens for both control of fire sources as well as protection of life and property from fire within our county.
My issue is how our commissioners have implemented yet another restriction on land use. A County Commissioners first and foremost job is to protect the citizens of our county; this includes protections from the very government they preside over.
Within the WUI code are fire related zones; IR1 thru IR3 with the former representing the most stringent and restrictive. At our commissioner’s direction, the upper county was blanketed with the most severe zone (IR1) setting standards that many will not be able to meet. Within the hearing, it was suggested that codes are guidelines to standards setting minimum performance levels for the building community; this was contested by our commissioners with statements that codes are the law of the land and must be adhered to.
This position is blatantly wrong as no code will cover every application but is to provide guidance. In the case of the WUI code, you can easily find a mixture of IR2 and IR3 fire zones within the lower county but similar properties in the upper county are tagged with the most restrictive zoning.
This is another example of our elected officials imposing unrealistic applications that the citizens they serve must deal with. Fire and its impacts are not issues to be taken lightly but regulations must be tempered and balanced in applications. If a blanket zoning is the best way for introducing added regulations then the least restrictive application must be the starting point in lieu of the most restrictive. Once a minimum standard is set, additional conditions can be administered to address site specific issues.
Until regulators clearly understand impacts and analyze costs to benefits, the WIU code should be set aside. The implementation of this code as it is being applied at this time should be stopped until the citizens can weigh in on long term benefits as opposed to impacts and our elected commissioners need to realize their responsibility to the citizens that have elected them.
Kittitas County Sentinel
If you believe in the basic premise that the democratic process gives you the government you deserve, then our Kittitas County Government will only be as good as the citizens it serves. Constant oversight and support is a duty of all of us and constant vigilance will keep our county government considering the best alternatives for our communities and protect us from becoming yoked by local and regional special interest influences and political and financial behemoths from Puget Sound.