MAY 5, 1997

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Opinion

Public has never been part of process

growth management Growth has moved into the forefront of issues these days. Its incredible rate on the Eastside has energized concern over its costs and impacts on our quality of life.
   In 1991, the Growth Management Act was passed to protect the public from greedy developers and politicians whose only concern is profit and power. The act was not perfect, but its basic protection of rural areas, and direction of growth to already urbanized areas, were designed to protect the taxpayer from being harnessed with the responsibility of building new roads, schools, and infrastructure.
   You see, developers have learned that building a city is immensely more profitable than building smaller projects within urban areas, and local governments have learned that giving those permits to their biggest supporters is very good for their careers in politics. How does the public fit into the process? We don't!
   County governments justify their decisions in favoring growth by saying the public had their opportunity to speak during "public hearings." During weeks of these hearings on Blakely Ridge and Northridge, proposed for eastern Redmond, there was near unanimous opposition to the projects fast-tracked for Novelty Hill. Citizen after citizen took issue with county and developer findings they based on flawed or contrived facts.
   Did any of it matter? No.
   On nearly every issue, the developers' experts were right, and we were wrong. We were left frustrated and betrayed, but no one can say we weren't given a chance to speak. Sadly, I'm here to tell you, that no one in King County government was ever interested in what we said.

Michael Costello, Redmond