Interviewee: Peter Katich

Role: Senior Planner for the City of Gig Harbor, Washington

Date of Interview: December 5, 2014

Collection: Preserving the Working Waterfront

Click on the link below to view the interview.

Peter Katich Interview

Abstract: Peter Katich, Senior Planner for the City of Gig Harbor, Washington was interviewed to document the city's experience with the establishment of a historic working waterfront shoreline district through its Shoreline Master Program. Mr. Katich discusses the community's efforts to balance traditional waterfront uses with new development demands. He also highlights the city's use of its shoreline management plan and local zoning ordinances to preserve 17 historic net sheds.

Transcript: My name is Anthony Peter Katich. I'm a Croatian Italian American and a member of a fourth generation Croatan fishing family. I'm the first member of our family that is not a full-time commercial fisherman. I've had a career in the field of land use planning for 37 years. Well the City of Gig Harbor is ideally situated in Southern Puget Sound in Washington State in a very sheltered harbor that from the mid-1800s when the first Croatian immigrants arrived here was identified and recognized as a place that could support the maritime trades, commercial fishing and boat-building.

There are 17 historic net sheds remaining within Gig Harbor and those net sheds were really the center of all the activity that occurred within the harbor historically in the old days when this town was dominated by commercial fishing. the net sheds were used for drying the nets, you know keeping them out of the weather and storing gear and other things related to the boats. And they were built from the earliest days that fishing started here, probably the last ones were built in the early '60s. And so when I first arrived in 2008 the Mayor and the Historic Preservation Coordinator Lita Dawn Stanton met with me and––and they explained to me their view of the net sheds and how important they felt they were and how a number of them were in a dilapidated state and a few others had already been converted to other types of uses. And they were interested through the shoreline master program update of finding a way to allow for adaptive reuse of the net shed structures.

A Shoreline Master Program is really a shoreline focused comprehensive plan, zoning code, and development permit process all rolled into one document. And the State of Washington Shoreline Management Act, I believe is unique in the United States in terms of its scope and how it operates. And it really is done I partnership between the State and Local Government with the permit process being operated by Local Government and then the requirements for the process being established by the State and then with some of the permitting requirements, also subject to State approval. And so it was through that Inventory and Characterization that we've started to focus hey we've got six historic net sheds in this one segment. We have Eddon Boat in the same area. And so we started to divide up our shoreline areas into different environmental designations. We have six of them and the Historic Working Waterfront kind of came out of that process, a recognition that hey here's six net sheds; there's seventeen total in the City but six of them are within these fourteen parcels. Eddon Boat, the historic Eddon Boat anchors one end; the other end is anchored by a parcel that already is being used for commercial fishing and has a historic net shed on it. And there's five other net sheds within the same fourteen parcels. And so this seems to be a fairly unique land use pattern within the City and one that could potentially be rolled into a special designation to recognize that.

And one of the I think strong points of the State of Shoreline Management Act is while it's somewhat rigid in terms of the requirements that it has for the creation of a master program it also recognizes that each of these 260 jurisdictions that are subject to it have their own unique qualities. And so there needs to be some flexibility in there for each of these communities to kind of create a self––a tailored approach to address their own individual needs and the character of the community. Well so in Gig Harbor with these net sheds it really provided the perfect opportunity to create a separate set of regulations that addressed the preservation and adaptive reuse.

And so we, the City, believe that it would be better to allow their adaptive reuse and maintain that historic form than lose that all together. You know it really takes a public private partnership in order to make something like this work and you need to have strong––strong leadership from your governmental entity in order to have it happen.

This collection is part of an effort to document oral histories that focus on the application of specific tools for sustaining working waterfronts across the country. To learn more about the Preserving the Working Waterfront Oral History project, click here.