Opinion

County has capacity to accommodate growth

growth capacity The urban "island" proposed for the rural area between Redmond and Duvall was recently declared illegal by the state hearing board to adjudicate growth management disputes.
    The county had intended to allow developers to build two new cities called Blakely Ridge and Northridge on this site. Growth boosters will now argue that eliminating this illegal urban "island" will require the urban growth area to expand elsewhere.
    This type of fearmongering is not supported by the county's own recently updated inventory of land capacity.
    In a November 1995 report, the King County Land Capacity Task Force found that the unincorporated areas, both urban and rural, could accommodate an additional 80,119 dwelling units (DUs).
    As urban projects, Blakely and Northridge had proposed developing 3,700 DUs. If they develop as rural projects, they might get around 400 rural 5-acre lots. This would decrease the overall capacity for growth in the unicorporated area to 76,819 DUs.
    Now compare the above capacity to the expected growth. For the period 1992-2012, the county is planning to accommodate 45,000 new DUs in the entire unincorporated area. (Cities are planning to accommodate the remainder of King County's growth in that period.)
    Even after eliminating the illegal urban "island," the county's own data shows that the existing urban and rural unincorporated areas still have the capacity to accommodate 171% of the allocated growth through the year 2012. No expansions to the urban growth area are needed.
    The genesis of the Blakely Ridge and Northridge urban "island" was a backroom political promise made by former county executive Tim Hill, who is long gone from the scene.
    The county council should do the decent thing, admit they made a mistake, and divorce themselves from these white elephant projects.

Joseph Elfelt, President, Friends of the Law, Redmond