Northwest NEWS

November 1, 1999

Editorial

Landowners need affordable permits

   A North Bend resident at the King County Council's budget hearing in Bellevue said rural landowners often don't apply for county permits because they take so long, they're so extortionately expensive, and landowners feel they aren't getting value received for ever-increasing taxes paid.

   Budget documents from the Bellevue hearing reveal that it's proposed to increase permit base fees by 50% when permits involve sensitive areas (most do nowadays), and to increase permit fees 5% this January and another 5% the following January. The North Bend speaker wondered aloud whether this is to circumvent having a public vote on those increases if I-695 passes, and whether those automatic increases, which far exceed the inflation rate, would be canceled if I-695 fails. (Wanna bet there's no cancellation?)

   The department and Environmental Services (DDES) charges fees of $120/hour on top of base fees, with environmental requirements. Reviews for as little as a kitchen remodeling permit for a house on a parcel with even one small damp area nearly always result in the landowner having to record land-lockup open space that benefits the public, not the landowner. There's no incentive for DDES to cap regulations or cure inefficiency or hire qualified new staff because make-work and inefficiency add up to more income for DDES.

   Tell your King County Council member that applicants for permits should pay a reasonable base fee, with the benefiting public picking up the rest. DDES needs limits, and landowners need affordable permits.

Maxine Keesling, Woodinville