The Edwards Agency

Opinion

The price of a rezone

rezoning What's the going price to buy support for a project in King County despite strong community opposition?
   Since 1994, Happy Valley Associates, now renamed Salmon Valley Associates (nice touch), along with partners and other principals who support building a mall east of Redmond in rural Happy Valley, have given nearly $15,000 to several members of the council and the Executive in a continuing campaign to commercialize the rural area despite repeated defeats in the past.
   They've thrown money at Gary Locke's run for governor and even Chris Vance's run for the state Superintendent of Public Instruction. It is common knowledge that Vance is the developer's strongest ally on the council, and we have seen how he uses his position as chair of the Growth Management Committee to push developer interests, such as the strongly opposed Blakely Ridge and Northridge mega-developments.
   Chris Vance says the location of Happy Valley makes it inevitably commercial. Is that his belief about Novelty Hill as well, where he's working to destroy our rural neighborhoods and put in a new city the size of Woodinville? Is there any rural area he and the other pro-developer members of the council don't believe is inevitably urban?
   It's really quite unfair. Developers are pushing for projects while funding campaigns of council members who don't represent our districts or live here, but who have a vote to destroy them. Now a new ethics code has been presented to the county to address these unethical practices. How strongly does Chris Vance oppose it? Just guess!

Steve O'Donnell, President, Coalition for the Public Trust