With the possibility that the City of Long Beach will annex the Seaview Urban Growth Area one of the questions will be: What sets Seaview apart?
To me, what defines Seaview foremost is our community strength. We also limit vacation rentals, enjoy quiet, peaceful, historic neighborhoods and sense of place, and have a small, defined commercial zone. It is not a touristy area and has a rural feel.
If Seaview (Pacific County) joins the City of Long Beach there will be differences in our current costs to help support the City. Taxes, utilities, zoning changes, shoreline and wetland rules, fire district, building setbacks, and ambulance service are just some of the things that might change. Long Beach currently has 21 different zones for a city of less than 1,000 acres. Taxes and services will affect us in the near future; regulatory changes could occur within a year or two.
Long Beach has indicated that Seaview could “just stay the same” but I wonder. A small city like Long Beach cannot run part of its city with one set of rules for the north and another for the south. It doesn’t make fiscal sense and is not fair to its citizens. In addition, the Growth Management Act (which both the city and county follow) requires jurisdictions aim for cohesive government to cut waste and to protect rural areas. The general rule is that you can’t annex if you can’t show need.
One question I hear a lot: What will happen to the dunes? This broad swath of land known as the Seaview dunes is basically undeveloped and provides an element of protection for Seaview residents against winter storms and rogue waves. This magnificent area is treasured in Seaview, and of value to all Washingtonians as it is one of the largest blocks of accessible, unspoiled duneland on the Washington coast. In shoreline regulatory language, it is a Shoreline of Statewide Significance.
The Seaview Urban Growth Area (about 263 acres) forms a north/south corridor on both sides of 101 and is limited by its western boundary. This boundary has some regulatory functions — like division of property and limits of sewer. Measurement from the western edge of the UGA to the Seaview Building Setback Line is estimated to be approximately 900 feet; most of those areas are wetlands. From the BSL it is another 1,000 feet westward to Mean High Tide. These interdunal wetlands are critical for the collection of freshwater, the containing of stormwater, and for replenishing our natural aquifer. All interdunal wetlands in the state west of the 1889 line, a demarkation of the beach at statehood and running north-south, are considered hydrologically connected to the Pacific Ocean. This means is that they are considered “associated” wetlands to the Pacific and therefore come under the purview of the Shoreline Management Act. Wetlands and buffers are regulated through the Pacific County Critical Areas Ordinance. This area west of the Seaview UGA is estimated to be 260 acres in size.
The 1889 line in Seaview currently determines roughly the limits of the historical westerly development in Seaview. Ownership of the dunes is both private and public and there has been much debate (and legal maneuvering) about whether they should be developed, like Long Beach, and what that might look like.
The city says that with annexation the UGA line will not essentially change. But if Seaview is annexed, and with the UGA line technically gone, what happens to the regulatory functions of that border? Once Seaview becomes “south" Long Beach, eastern Seaview (and eastward county lands) will be jurisdictionally separated from their western shore half. Will Pacific County have the propensity or the capacity to manage those dunes once they are isolated? My concern is that Long Beach will be poised to take over this role.
How has the city managed its duneland so far? How well does it protect wetlands? Long Beach’s economy is very tourist/merchant-driven. Is the city’s approach to environmental protection blunted by development pressures?
I am not convinced that annexation is good for us. I'm very uneasy as to the future of the dunes. Annexation will benefit the city coffers and perhaps a few homeowners in Seaview. But I fear we will lose more than what we might gain.
ANN SKELTON LeFORS