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September 8, 1997

Opinion

Let's see what King County's been up to this summer:

  1. Spending millions for passive open space/fish habitat. (Thousands of acres are being permanently removed from the tax rolls and from people use.)
  
   2. Acquiring the historic Cottage Lake Blueberry Farm for $560,000 under a fish habitat spending program that doesn't allow farming.
  
   3. Scheming how best to extract, without a vote of the people, regional funding for further acquisition and restoration of fish habitat while, with few exceptions, turning over flooding costs to local jurisdictions. (Proposals include extending surface water management drainage fees countywide, instituting a countywide wastewater management fee on top of the drainage ffes, and raising the King Conservation District parcel charge from $1.25 to the maximum $5, with the extra revenue diverted from farms to fish.)
  
   4. Proposing to exclude from paying drainage fees/non-profit groups that "educate" the public on the importance of water quality and fish.
  
   5. Holding up drainage ditch flood-debris cleaning permits past the farmers' work season while staff weighs "the potential danger to fish and low-grade wetlands." (Those permits cost $600 plus $95/hour for staff review time, according to a recent Seattle Times article.)
  
   6. Reimposing unincorporated area school impact fees whereby someone building on the county side of a street pays thousands of dollars to the school district while on the city side of the street there is no impact fee because the city chose not to impose the fee.
  
   7. Proposing to make landowners with 2.5-acre rural zoning buy development rights from other rural landowners in order to utilize that zoning. (Even though the '97 Legislature passed legislation allowing infill in established rural neighborhoods at the predominant existing density, meaning horse acres in places such as Hollywood Hill.)
  
   8. Proposing athletic fields on "cheap" ag lands in the Sammamish valley.
  
   9. Voted to force urban-lot clustering with 75% dedicated open space in which pasture clearing is not allowed, on the west side of horsey Hollywood Hill, to "protect" nearby ag lands.
  
   10. Replaced specific property development limitations with Special District overlays, with wider applications than the original limitations.
  
   11. Deciding whether to devote limited Boeing Field expansion space to executives' private jets or to jobs-producing cargo carriers. (Seems a no-brainer for the cargo carriers??)
  
   On top of the foregoing, the Port of Seattle, supported by our county taxes, voted to spend $300,00 to study creating a new stream to bring salmon from Elliot Bay to Seattle's Queen Anne and Magnolia neighborhoods, to promote salmon appreciation by city people. Just to BEGIN stream construction is estimated at $5 million. (We need new people on the Port commission to join with Commissioner Gary Grant who voted "no," saying that transportation, not fisheries, is the Port's business.)
  
   Judge for yourselves. Do our elected officials have their priorities straight?
  
   Maxine Keesling