Submitted by Claudia Riiff Finseth.
A remarkable thing happened in the early 2000s under the Growth Management Act. A grassroots committee of residents, community association members, school board members, the environmental and business communities and the fire district created the Parkland-Spanaway-Midland Communities Plan.
The process was guided by Project Lead Sean Gaffney, of Pierce County Planning and Land Services. It was voted into law by the Pierce County Council in 2002.
You’ve likely never heard of the Communities Plan. The County has never done much to get the word out on it. Which is a shame, because the Plan was not only created by your neighbors in a real democratic process, but it is the main document which protects your primary investment: your home and property.
Since we are unincorporated, we have no mayor, no city charter, no city council to look out for our interests. What we have is the PSM Communities Plan, overseen, enforced and implemented by the PSM Land Use Advisory Commission (LUAC).
A lot of us don’t know about our LUAC, either. Made up of volunteer fellow-residents, it hears proposals from developers who want to build in the area. The LUAC guards us against runaway or inappropriate development, which happened a lot before we had the Communities Plan, as can be seen along Pacific and Portland Avenues. This makes some developers mad, and some have worked to destroy the plan over time.
A crucial element of the Communities Plan is protection of our beautiful natural environment: waterways, greenspace and trees.
For instance, the Plan set these Natural Environment Policy Goals [p97]:
“Ensure the natural resources, systems, beauty, and the resulting livability of the Parkland-Spanaway-Midland region are protected, enhanced, and maintained for current and future generations of residents.
Ensure the conservation of all elements of the natural environment, including but not limited to the Clover-Chambers Creek aquifer, floodplains, lakes and streams . . . surface water, high groundwater, wetlands, fish and wildlife habitat . . .
Restore and enhance those environmental resources and systems which are degraded so as to improve the livability of the Parkland-Spanaway-Midland region . . .”
Aren’t those all great goals? Who of us here doesn’t love to see the eagles, osprey and herons; the glint of water in our lakes and streams; the Garry oak canopy against the sky? These are the things of livability.
These things enhance our property values, protecting our most important investments.
They also help protect our drinking water as stated in the Plan [p95]:
“Aquatic ecosystems are supported in part by the level of water quality. Pollution and sedimentation caused from human actions and land development activities decreases water quality, thereby reducing the overall function of the aquatic environment. Inappropriate activities also have the potential to contaminate groundwater supplies, which provide potable water supply to the majority of the plan area.”
Potable water is our drinking water, essential to sustain life.
All of this seriously begs the question of the wisdom of siting any kind high density development on the Spanaway Wetlands, as County Executive, Bruce Dammeier, wants to do.
When he could place his Executive Priority project, his tiny home village for the chronically homeless, on any large tract of open land in the county—or even divide it into smaller villages and have each of our twenty-some cities, towns and unincorporated areas take responsibility for helping the people in one small village—he wants to use the Spanaway Wetlands.
This violates the goals of our Communities Plan, which, on page 96 states: “Preserving the wetland areas that remain within the communities is a priority . . . .”
The Executive’s plan would bring a whopping 50,000 cubic yards of fill onto the Spanaway Wetland, pave it over, and bring in hundreds of people. We have asked Dammeier not do this, but he pushes forward.
Could it be that he wants to gut the PSM Communities Plan?
We should all be greatly concerned. If we lose the Communities Plan, we lose the only document specifically protecting Parkland, Spanaway and Midland.
Join the community at the LUAC meeting next Wednesday, November 15th, at 6:30 at Sprinker Recreation Center at C Street and Military Road to support your people’s Plan and the Spanaway Wetlands.