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Published on Friday, January 31, 2014

Cultural resources public records act exemptions

In the course of our discussions around SEPA streamlining in the last few years, there have been concerns about ensuring appropriate protection of cultural and archaeological resources.

One opportunity that cities have to ensure that protection is a data-sharing agreement with the state Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation which provides access to a predictive model of areas in our communities with a high likelihood of archaeological resources. Because this tool is populated by sensitive information provided by several tribes in the State, the data sharing agreement requires that we not disclose certain information that comes from the tool.

Several cities have expressed that they are unable to utilize this tool because of concerns that the Public Records Act only provides a disclosure exemption for known archaeological sites, while this tool provides a “predicted site.” Rep. Ortiz-Self (D-Mukilteo) has introduced HB 2724 which is meant to clarify and extend the exemption to address this problem.

We believe this will address these concerns and hopefully free up more cities to use this tool. Please provide any feedback to Carl Schroeder.