July 31, 2000
Amendment process favors the big guys
As usual in King County, the current comprehensive plan amendment process is favoring the big guys. Ron Sims' executive staff, particularly, wants to tie up and down zone the little guy while loop holing the big guy.
As in a proposed amendment to re-zone about 40 acres of usually-sacred rural-zoned land to industrial zoning as compensation to Seattle International Raceway (SIR) who has 40 acres of industrial zoning that are unusable due to wetlands and stream restrictions. This is known as SIR's "zoning swap" and I doubt it's available to any little guys.
And then there's the recent news item about Port Blakely's "refusing to give up three-fourths of its (Treemont) investment by down zoning," which is reminiscent of an earlier similar statement by Weyerhauser regarding one of its huge developments. Unlike its treatment of small landowners who have been down zoned without compensation from one-home-per-acre to one-home-per-5-10 acres (and down to one-per-20-acres still under consideration), King County pays strict attention to big-guy desires.
Because King County has included millions of square feet of commercial, retail and industrial development within the master-plan developments located in the rural areas, it was amazing to hear Council Member Louise Miller at a comp plan amendments' meeting rail against allowing an enlarged scope of economic activities to rural residents. (They are currently limited to services to local residents, farm/forest-related activities, and arts/crafts/recreation for tourists.) Said Ms. Miller, "We cannot intrude urban uses into rural areas where roads are so inadequate. . ."
What is it about the big guys that somehow results in their mammoth projects slipping through on those same inadequate roads?
Maxine Keesling, Woodinville