Northwest NEWS

October 19, 1998


What is it going to be, phony choices or the truth?

   With only 3% of King County preserved for agriculture, why do people expect us to believe that agriculture is preventing the creation of soccer fields. Why should we be asked to make false choices to minimize the amount of unpaved land left in King County.
   A recent letter stated that King County has been portrayed as being the same as New York City. I do not claim to know all the land uses in New York City, but I do know that less than half of King County is urban, and even less is actually in a city. Rather than trying to emulate New York City, we should be trying to protect agriculture and create new parks.
   If there is no other land left for sports fields but agricultural land, then we are in far more trouble than we realize. Sports fields can be built on almost any buildable land. If no buildable land remains in King County, where will we place the schools, hospitals and affordable housing? If this is correct, we should forget about soccer fields as there are far more critical needs that must be built on the farm land. Although there are those who want us to believe that land is in short supply, a lot of building is still going on and more is planned.
   The letter writer is correct about much of the land in and around the Sammamish Valley being urban and suburban. The golf course is in the urban part.
   The only reason the rural part of the Sammamish Valley has not been urbanized is that it is protected by the agricultural designation. We can not tell the land owners that their land is limited to agriculture if we want to argue that we do not need the land for agriculture. If we want to build soccer fields on this land, all we need to do is to remove the agricultural designation. But when we remove that designation, the land won't be reserved only for soccer fields.
   The politicians will make it available for the same development that you see on the other side of Redmond's golf course and in the city of Woodinville.
   We will certainly have some more soccer fields, but they will be surrounded by apartments, condos and tilt-up concrete warehouses. Is that the legacy we wish to leave?
   All around this great country of ours we are losing agricultural land at the rate of 1 million acres a year. Whether we want to save agriculture in this county is certainly a matter open to debate. Let's just be sure we know what we are really talking about.
   Steven Gallagher, Woodinville