Northwest NEWS

July 6, 1998

Editorial

New fraud uncovered

   King County is finally responding to our allegations that they fraudulently analyzed the traffic impacts for Blakely Ridge and Redmond Ridge (formerly named Northridge,) but the King County traffic planners are still cheating to show that these two projects passed the traffic concurrency tests in 1995.
  
   At the direction of County Executive Ron Sims, the traffic department has done an informational use re-run of the 1995 traffic concurrency tests at our request. And once again the projects have 'apparently' passed the tests, but by the slightest of margins this time. In fact, if any other mistakes or fraud are exposed in the new analysis, the projects will certainly fail the tests the next time.
  
   Well, we had to look no further than the re-run itself to find new fraud this time.
  
   One of our earlier allegations was that the county had artificially reduced the number of car trips generated from the two developments and that this 'mistake' had contributed to the errors in the first tests in 1995. After this was explained to the county executive, he directed the planners to make the correction and re-run the tests. They made the fix and supposedly re-ran tests with the same results.
  
   First of all, this was only one of our documented errors in their original analysis, but just this one correction brought the analysis to the brink of failure according to the county, but it still barely passed.The truth is that this one correction alone pushed the tests to failure because the planners cheated again to make it work.This time, the planners made a little adjustment; they fudged some more numbers - for the non-development trips to make the tests work this time. They apparently didn't think we would notice; they must really think we're stupid.
  
   While the total inbound and outbound trips attributed to the developments increased with this correction by more than 1,660 trips, the county found a way to minimize that huge increase's impact on their re-run. What they did was simply to reduce the non-development trips so as to pass the tests. They just pushed more cars off of Novelty Hill Road assuming that the majority of the cars using Novelty Hill Road today, would find other ways over the hill. They didn't explain where they would go, though.
  
   Compared to the 1995 tests, the non-development traffic was reduced for the re-run by more than 1,320 trips, nearly offsetting the increases. With a net increase of just 340 car trips, the traffic concurrency tests were as close to failure as they could be without actually failing. But add the 1,320 trips that the planners mysteriously removed from the re-run and Blakely Ridge and Redmond Ridge this time and they fail the tests badly.
  
   Add the fact that the county has used an incredibly inflated traffic capacity of Novelty Hill Road in these calculations, and it becomes obvious that these projects should have failed the tests by a long shot three years ago and that traffic concurrency certificates should have never been issued for the projects. We 'know' that they are going to cause devastation to the traffic situation here and are planned to push massive amounts of commute traffic currently using Novelty Hill Road onto alternative roads, such as the Woodinville/Duvall Road and the Redmond/Fall City Road.
  
   Fixing the problems they create will also place an incredible financial burden on the taxpayer of King County to correct the situation. And all so two developers don't have to pay for the road improvements their new cities demand.
  
   And most importantly, remember that if these projects had failed these tests in 1995 - as they should have - they never could have been approved. In fact, they couldn't even have entered the permitting process.
  
   We await Quadrant President Steve Dennis' rebuttal to our analysis. Let him explain why we are "wrong, wrong, wrong," as he loves to say about our efforts to stop his new city in 'our' neighborhood.
  
   What we are waiting for is someone not owned or afraid of the development machine who will step up and defend the public interest in this matter. We are waiting to see if County Executive Ron Sims may be that person.
   Michael Costello, Redmond