Friday, February 29, 2008

An Idea For SKIA

The South Kitsap Industrial Area (SKIA) was initially created to become the main location of new jobs in Kitsap County, with a projected build-out of about 9,000 jobs over a 20-year period. However, it was doomed from the very start by the planning rules environmentalists were able to politically ram through — amounting to what is in essence a "Poison Pill" that made development prohibitively expensive. They got to have it both ways — being able to publicly posture that they support economic development, while assuring it could never happen.

What was so absolutely hypocritical about all this, is not only their actions at the time, but that when NASCAR was proposed for that area, these same environmentalists whined that we would be giving up the land designated for our future job growth. Meanwhile, nothing has happened there in the six or so years SKIA has been in existence because they successfully chased away NASCAR, and the planning rules that prevent any kind of development remain in place.

With all that aside, the main questions that keep cropping up concern who will eventually annex SKIA — also meaning who will provide the necessary infrastructure, and how will it be paid for?

So here's a proposal... Why not create some kind of quasi-jurisdictional management structure for the area? If the cities of Bremerton and Port Orchard — both of which have expressed interest in annexation — but neither of which have the money to provide the needed infrastructure; Kitsap County, which is in the same financial boat; and the Port, which lies dead center geographically; all joined together as a whole, there could be a coordinated way to develop that area for job growth. Because of the proximity of the sewer line from Mason County, perhaps they would be interested in partnering as well.

A lot of time has been spent trying to determine who should/could be able to annex SKIA. Although the Port owns a lot of the land, some of the private property owners that own the remainder are hoping to cut a deal for the infrastructure by trying to play the two cities against each other. That would stop, and the project could start moving forward with some new thinking and an actual coordinated economic development plan. All the jurisdictions involved could pool their resources toward creating development rules that protect the environment, but actually pencil for development, instead of the current rules which basically pay lip service to job creation but assure development remains prohibitively expensive.

Drawing up an equitable interlocutory agreement between all entities so each one has responsibilities, but also share in the benefits, should not be all that difficult. The community as a whole should benefit first and foremost from job the creation, and the governments involved would be able to generate additional revenues not available now.

Just a thought... I'd be very interested in your feedback.


  1. I doubt you could get each set of government employees to give up the dream of having all the new "revenue stream" from SKIA development.

    But, if they could agree to share in some way, rather than try to get it all (and end up with nothing), an interlocal agreement would be the way to go, I suppose.

    Rather than try to develop the infrastructure first, wouldn't it be better to have the ability to act quickly once a new business in SKIA is identified?

    If the money were available and the major planning hurdles were overcome, then the "welcome mat" would be out.

    Right now, I get the impression that no one could promise quick action to any prospective new business. The resources aren't apparently identified, and the fights over permits and planning haven't been done. (Can most of the fights be done before identifying a new business and the specific development to accommodate it?)

    Would an interlocal agreement make the resources available? I wonder if the two cities and the county together could come up with the money needed without going to the voters with some proposal.

    If the money can only be obtained by going to the voters, then the interlocal agreement and the fights over development plans would still not get you ready to act quickly.

  2. The reason all three government bodies, Kitsap County, City of Bremerton and City of Port Orchard, want SKIA within their jurisdiction is "tax revenue". See SKIA as an existing source of revenue and future sustainable source of revenue. All the SKIA partners want is someone to help them finance the infrastructure to make SKIA a reality. I would suggest you need to convene the affected parties in your office to explore how your ideas could help before positions are set in concrete.