State officials show no stomach to enforce GMA
A recent decision by the Growth Management Hearings Board is a troubling omen to all those who support the State's Growth Management Act.
After remanding King County to delete the Novelty Hill UPDs, Northridge and Blakely Ridge, or change them to Fully Contained Communities (FCCs), the board has ruled that procedurally, King County has met their obligations by simply "renaming" the projects.
Without any changes to the plans to conform them to the stricter FCC requirements under GMA, the board chose not to examine the substantive issues associated with the FCC change as required by law. These projects were designed under criteria established for Urban Planned Developments, and the criteria for FCCs under state law requires extensive changes to the projects to bring them into compliance. The developers have made no such changes--none.
The King County Council approved Blakely Ridge last December, "before" it was renamed an FCC and "after" the state had remanded them to delete it as a UPD. Using a loophole in state law, that project was "vested," and citizens have been forced to file a lawsuit to stop it.
Now, with the State Board's hesitance to rule on the substance of the FCC designation, people throughout the state are left to wonder if any of our elected officials have the stomach to enforce the GMA. Despite its success 86% of the time in resolving conflicts that would otherwise end up in court, the GMA is much easier to blame than the counties that choose to ignore it.
Michael Costello, Redmond