Northwest NEWS

August 16, 1999


Big guys vs. little guys

   The cities-county Growth Management Planning Council (GMPC) and the King County Council together are working towards eliminating building-permit eligibility for thousands of existing legally-created lots in the unincorporated rural area.

   While King County Councilman Chris Vance is vehemently opposed, saying it would be grossly unfair to small lot owners who've run the expensive and overwhelming county land-division gamut, Councilman Larry Phillips and Brian Derdowski strongly favor elimination in order to "preserve rural character."

   Larry said permitting homes to be built on existing lots smaller than current zoning would result in "no rural area," completely ignoring the thousands of acres of rural open space from downzoning, sensitive area designations, and fish habitat buyout.

   He also ignores that designated forest land with 80-acre minimum lot sizes comprises 59% of county land, while the designated rural area comprises only 15%. (Larry and Brian also don't recognize that traditional rural character has already changed in King County from low-income affordability to affordability only to the wealthy.)

   Since the 1970s, rural lot owners have been promised that downzonings would not affect building permits for "grandfathered" smaller lots that could meet health department and building setback requirements. Current adopted GMPC and county council policies support those promises.

   Even now the big-guy developers' little lots are still going forward in the rural areas, including the master-plan developments and such as the 51 less-than-acre lots just now being developed in the heart of the Bear Creek salmon area.

   The cities-dominated GMPC vote and the Democrats-plus-Brian Derdowski vote on the County Council would mean value wipeout for thousands of little-guy owners of suddenly ungrandfathered rural lots smaller than current zoning.

   This November, Democrats Cynthia Sullivan, Larry Phillips, Greg Nickels, and Larry Gossett, all from Seattle, plus Brian Derdowski from District 12, are up for election. Ascertain how they intend to vote on regulations affecting little-guy lots and vote accordingly--and persuade your Seattle friends and relatives to vote accordingly.

Maxine Keesling, Woodinville