Northwest NEWS

March 20, 2000

Editorial

Attacks are pure propaganda

   The Building Industry Association of Washington has launched an attack on growth management by releasing an ad campaign blaming the GMA for a lack of affordable housing.

   Two ad releases, a full-page ad some time ago in the Seattle P-I, and another that appeared in the P-I and the Times last month, urge the public to tell Governor Locke to reform the GMA and make housing ownership a reality for everyone. The ads feature testimonials from people in the Central Puget Sound region, like this: "Our grandchildren are in their late twenties and there is no way they can entertain buying a home they can afford. Please make the reforms necessary so we can allow our children and grandchildren the same opportunities we had." The BIAW then follows up by blaming the Growth Management Act and urging citizens to call for its reassessment.

   Myth #1: Housing is unaffordable because of Growth Management.

   The main reasons why housing prices in our region have soared are because: (1) our economy has seen unprecedented growth over the last decade (it's the economy!); and (2) our state and our region's quality of life have created highly desirable places to live. The ad claims that real estate prices have soared because of the GMA, but in fact, prices have not soared in all GMA counties, only those where the economy has driven up housing costs.

   Myth #2: The GMA has forced housing costs to skyrocket in Washington.

   There is no study which says that the GMA makes housing unaffordable. In fact, the state's most recent analysis showed that prices rose in 22 of the 28 counties planning under GMA, but rose in all counties not planning under GMA. Moreover, a comparison of housing prices throughout Western states shows no correlation in rising housing costs between those that have growth management laws and those which do not.

   Myth #3: The GMA mandates numerous unnecessary fees and regulations that drive up the costs of housing.

   This appeared in bold type in the ad. The previous ad listed a "source" for this study, a builder in Clark County who estimated the cost of regulations on one single-family home. To set the record straight, the GMA does not mandate any specific fees on anyone. Cities and counties are allowed to assess impact fees which cover only a small fraction of the cost of serving new developments. Taxpayers are forced to pay the rest of the costs of new growth. The Growth Management Act saves taxpayers money by not forcing them to serve the high cost of suburban development further and further away from existing services.

   I'm sending you this letter because I find these types of attacks by greedy and well-moneyed developers abhorrent and distasteful to people like me, who depend upon the sensibilities of government to uphold the GMA for the environment and good people of Snoqualmie Valley. I suspect that the attacks stem from a recent decision to remand the Novelty Hill (rather, Quadrant/Weyerhaeuser) UPDs back to the GMA for long-awaited and much-deserved scrutiny.

   These attacks are pure propaganda, spewed forth by those who would have our beautiful Snoqualmie Valley and designated rural areas east of Avondale paved. It's sickening.

Jon & Robyn Waite, Duvall