Northwest NEWS

April 24, 2000

Editorial

Council turns away from responsibility

   What if developers could submit their master development plats to King County and no one even looked at them, but simply recorded them, allowing the developer to do whatever they wanted? Does this sound ridiculous?

   Well, after a project wins "preliminary" plat approval, that's exactly what's happening in King County.

   In King County, the standard practice has been for the council chair to simply "sign" the development master plat without a council review or vote of any kind prior to recording it. Instead, the Council has delegated the authority to review plats to the "executive branch" bureaucrats at DDES, where decisions are left to unaccountable planners who answer only to developers on a daily basis.

   But guess what? State law requires the "legislative branch" of local governments to vote on and approve a "written finding of fact" that specifies that "they" have determined that all conditions of preliminary plats have been met. They are the "check" on the bureaucrats at DDES to bring accountability to their decision-making. But the council has abandoned that responsibility, leaving major land use decisions to planners that citizens cannot challenge.

   So what does this mean? It means that after a developer wins his "preliminary" plat approval, no one outside DDES is analyzing these plats prior to the council rubber-stamping them. The King County Council is guilty of blatantly failing to perform its duty under state law and the planners at DDES have been put in the impossible position of balancing fairness with unaccountable bias towards developers.

Michael Costello, Redmond