Northwest NEWS

September 13, 1999


Residents need to know about new ordinances

   A few years ago the then-president of the Washington State Farm Bureau said that commercial farming is heavily dependent on hobby farming as an important market for hay, grain, seed, and stocking plants, as well as fellow-supporters of commercial services such as veterinarians and agriculture suppliers.

   So, when King County exempts existing commercial farming, but not hobby farming from its proposed new cleaning and grading (C&G) rules, it's hurting the commercial farming it professes to support--to say nothing of the fact that hobby farms are important suppliers of popular Saturday markets.

   The new C&G proposal from King County Executive Ron Sims effectively mandates untouchable brush and trees across rural King County, with the chief weapon being a requirement that any clearing of an acre or more will require "flow control facilities" for on-site detention of stormwater.

   In 1995, the county published a chart showing $14,553 as the cost of such facilities for quarter-acre lots with a house. On top of the flow control facility cost are the costs of required professional studies and county permit fees and inspection costs at $120/hour, with the county figuring two hours as the minimum inspection time, including travel, for a permit to cut one hazardous tree.

   Since only Microsoft millionaires will be able to afford to clear land, are the new C&G requirements the means for locking up even flat, dry land as the untouchable open space desired by King County? We're already prohibited from altering sensitive areas and their buffers, so the new C&G rules will complete King County's total control of private land.

   Affected landowners are not turning out for Mr. Sims' hearings on the 100 pages of the proposed C&G ordinance, possibly because they don't know about it. Also coming up from Mr. Sims are 185 pages of a new Sensitive Areas Ordinance.

   There is a standing offer from Mr. Sims' Department of Development and Environmental Services to hold neighborhood hearings for groups that desire them. If rural landowners wish such an evening hearing, e-mail Property Rights Alliance president Ted Cowan at, or call me at 425-483-8523, and maybe we can set up a combined meeting on both ordinances.

Maxine Keesling, Woodinville