Our mission is to protect the habitat of Puget Sound tidelands from the underregulated expansion of new and intensive shellfish aquaculture methods. These methods were never anticipated when the Shoreline Management Act was passed. They are transforming the natural tideland ecosystems in Puget Sound and are resulting in a fractured shoreline habitat. In South Puget Sound much of this has been done with few if any meaningful shoreline permits and with limited public input. It is exactly what the Shoreline Management Act was intended to prevent.

Get involved and contact your elected officials to let them you do not support aquaculture's industrial transformation of Puget Sound's tidelands.

Governor Inslee:

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

It's Just Beginning: Mason County Tideland Owner Complains of Higher Valuations - Thank Taylor Shellfish and Mason County's Shoreline Master Program

[Update: The individual complaining of her tideland parcel increasing in value should have said 2,600 percent, not 26,000 percent. The appraised value increase from $1,600 to ~$43,000. In comparison, Taylor Shellfish's parcel in Hammersley Inlet which has been a commercial geoduck operation for over a decade only increased in value from $1,230 to ~$4,000. It is not clear why a parcel with a commercial operation increased so little in comparison to a parcel on which the owner has only expressed interest in starting a farm, and is in an area which the Department of Health closes during heavy rainfall.]


Be careful what you wish for. 
Because now you've got it
and now you can pay for it.
$43,000* [corrected] because Taylor Shellfish
convinced the county to include in its SMP update
that the majority of tidelands owned are presumed
to be for commercial shellfish operations.

This commercial tideland parcel is worth far more than $1,600 and should pay far more than $17/year in taxes. You wanted it, you got it.
The Mason County Assessor's office has received a complaint of tidelands valued at what the owner claims is "an increase of 26,000* percent." [In fact, the increase was 2,600%.]  Another parcel owned by the same person is claimed to have "increased 64,000 percent." Assuming those numbers are correct [the former was not], the former ~4 acres of tidelands (seen in the map above) increased in value to $43,000 [corrected]. Unreasonable? Not if you intend on commercially growing geoduck, a multi-million dollar return every 5 years, or even oysters. Even if you simply own tidelands as "open space" with no intention of ever commercially growing shellfish on them, the county may think otherwise.

Upland property owners get to pay
to support shellfish growers.
Then listen to them complain
when their tideland tax parcels
are assessed at their true value.

Shellfish Protection Districts: Upland taxpayers pay so shellfish growers are able to grow shellfish in public waters on tidelands undervalued by any standard.
Both tideland parcels are owned in McLane Cove, off of Pickering Passage, which was declared a Shellfish Protection District (SPD) by Mason County in July of 2016. Notes from a meeting held in February of 2016 state this property owner noted her family was a "past commercial shellfish grower." Notes from that same meeting note her interest in growing shellfish, with Jim Hayes of Hood Canal Oyster Company doing the growing. There is no question the intent is for these tidelands to be put to commercial use, that they were used in the past for commercial use, but that is exactly what this tideland owner complains about - the Assessor's Office determining their true value if a commercial shellfish operation is taking place, or may take place. And, as noted above, even if she hadn't played her hand in February of 2016, because of Taylor Shellfish's involvement in the SMP update, virtually all tidelands may be considered as "commercial" and assessed/taxed as such.

Which tidelands are commercial? 
Taylor Shellfish has defined that
through their involvement 
in the Shoreline Master Program update.
All Bush Callow tidelands are commercial
as well as all tidelands which are "fallow"
including those in McLane Cove.

The tideland grab in Mason County.
As Mason County's Shoreline Master Program update evolved, it became obvious the primary driver in its development was the shellfish industry's desire to expand as much as possible with as little oversight as possible. Representatives from Arcadia Point Seafood and Taylor Shellfish were instrumental in drafting regulations - or lack thereof - which resulted in virtually all tidelands in Mason County being considered "existing shellfish operations." As such, no permits were needed and unlike upland barbecues, any structure related to aquaculture were allowed.  Those sold as Bush Callow tidelands had to be shown to be "abandoned" in order to fall out of the "existing" category. The remaining tidelands simply needed to be shown as being"fallow", a loose definition which virtually anyone could claim. Including the County Assessor. Coupled with not caring about "structures" used for aquaculture, it was the largest land grab obtained through the twisting of the Shoreline Management Act ever seen. And the Department of Ecology simply sat back, went along for the ride, and approved it.

Get involved. If you're not, what has occurred in Mason County will occur in any SMP update or amended update.
The Department of Ecology accepting the shellfish industry's definition of "existing" operations in Mason County will not stay in Mason County. Any shoreline county can now have tidelands defined as Mason County did, creating something from nothing. Then county residents can listen to tideland owners whose tidelands are re-assessed as a commercial operation complain about it. Taylor Shellfish is involved. It's why their tidelands are assessed so low. Others whose aren't should consider that.

Email the Department of Revenue's Marilyn O'Connell: lyno@dor.wa.gov
Tell her that it's time for tidelands with commercial shellfish operations to taxes based on the true value of their tidelands, not the current undervalued numbers. The Department of Revenue can tell county assessors to do so. 

Politics pays - Taxes on Taylor Shellfish
11 acres growing geoduck? 
$28 in 2017.

No comments:

Post a Comment