By Rhea Miller
Washington state’s Department of Commerce has published a guide called “The Growth Management Civilian-Military Compatibility Guide.”
The guidebook is part of a master strategy laid out by a consulting group the Spectrum Group, whose leadership is comprised of retired military, regarding growth management issues in Washington state. In a December 2016 report to the commerce department, the guidebook laid out what is needed to attract more military activity to Washington state. The report and follow-up work was funded, in part, by a grant from the Department of Defense Department of Economic Adjustment.
This guidebook impacts communities beyond the actual location of the military base. Military operations may take place anywhere within reach of the base, impacting those communities outside of the actual military base’s location. These communities also need to have a voice regarding these impacts, including much of San Juan, Skagit, Clallam and Jefferson counties. To date, most of these communities don’t even know of the existence of this guide.
Based on this guide, recent bills introduced to the Washington Legislature, and so far defeated, have been written to put the military in charge of land use planning, overriding any input from citizens about what they want in their communities. There would be no process to hold the military accountable to the citizens for the impact of its operations. There would be no process for resolvithe ng incompatibility between military operations and public health, economy or environment. In essence, it would give the military a blank check to determine civilian land use however it sees fit.
Giving up the right of the local governments and their citizens to plan for their needs over to the military to support “present and future” military missions constitutes a seizure of land use rights by the federal government, and is an inverse condemnation of public and private property. Such actions are prohibited by Article 1, Section 18 of the Washington State Constitution, and by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.
Promotion of the guidebook will encourage local communities to adopt the processes and recommendations in order to “enhance the desirability of increased military activity, thus adding jobs and improving the local economy.” There is no independent confirmation that this would be true. In fact, an independent economic study from South Whidbey contradicts this statement. Rather, this guidebook actually weakens our local economy by giving military commerce a higher priority than any other kind of commerce in the state. Economies based on agritourism, environmental tourism, education, local infrastructures, etc., are actually adversely affected by military expansion. What Washington needs is a sustainable economy based on a variety of jobs including tech, education, agriculture, tourism, outdoor recreation and small manufacturing.
Let the Washington state Department of Commerce and the Office of the Governor know what you think of this guidebook. We can appreciate and support the military without having to give up our rights as U.S. citizens.
Visit https://www.commerce.wa.gov/serving-communities/growth-management/growth-management-topics/military-base-land-use/ to read the document and https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CompatibilityInputForm to comment.