Northwest NEWS

December 21, 1998


Ordinance vote follows party lines

On Dec. 14, the full King County Council took an astonishing vote that split right down party lines: 7 Republicans FOR and 6 Democrats AGAINST.

   The astonishment was in the subject of the ordinance. King County Executive Ron Sims' Department of Development and Environmental Services (DDES) will now have to assemble brochures outlining all of the steps and costs an applicant may encounter during the permitting process, including all studies potentially required for obtaining permits to build decks, add rooms, cut a tree, etc.

   DDES must also prepare sample scenarios to give applicants an idea as to what similar permit applications in the past have entailed. Upon request by an applicant, DDES will provide more particularized materials to illustrate the most likely studies and costs, as well as a worst-case scenario to illustrate the most extreme circumstances.

   Since the literature will state that fees are subject to change without notice and that the County will not be bound by disclosures, it's hard to see why the Democrats are against informing the unknowing little guy.

   Sponsoring Republican Councilman Kent Pullen said there are too many applicants stuck in an expensive, time-consuming process they never would have begun had they known the costs and pitfalls in advance. Fortunately, the other six Republicans agreed with him.

   It's interesting to note that the fight against the ordinance was led by Councilman Larry Gossett from Seattle's District 10. Effectively, he guided the DDES director to say that while Executive Branch employees agree with the ordinance philosophy, they don't want to HAVE to do those things because of a Council-adopted law.

   Since I've been trying for weeks to ascertain from DDES how much on-site time and travel time at $120/hour is typically needed to determine permit requirements for cutting a hazardous tree, I can testify that without the impetus of law, DDES is not easy to get such information from.

Maxine Keesling, Woodinville