Northwest NEWS

October 16, 2000


Businesses are already paying more than their way

The Woodinville Planning Commission is contemplating recommending to the City Council the imposition of parks impact fees for new businesses.
   The charges are to be based on the number of business's parking stalls, with the highest per-stall amount to be levied in the Tourist District Overlay (TDO) area around the wineries. (The planners' theory is that business visitors and employees use the city parks to the point of having to help pay for the parks.)
   Since the TDO businesses provide picnic facilities for their own employees and sometimes for the public, and since the Sammamish River Trail and the Little League ballfields are regional King County facilities for which Woodinville cannot impose fees, and since the TDO businesses are required to provide 5 percent more open space for public benefit than the city's other business areas, plus provide public trails on private property, there is no justification for the imposition of any TDO parks impact fees at all, let alone the highest in the city.
   Further, state law does not allow impact fees to be charged for existing deficiencies.
   There is a huge existing parking deficiency in the TDO when Ste. Michelle and/or the City have special events, and the city has suggested businesses should allow overflow event parking in their private parking lots.
   It's ironic and galling that the measure for parks impacts is the number of parking stalls a new TDO business has.
   The more parking stalls, the higher the impact fees to be charged.
   At one of the planning commission hearings, a winery spokesman suggested that if the city continues to ask for evermore costly extractions in return for obtaining city permits, they could well move out. Their business is national, not local, and there are good and less-expensive options available elsewhere.
   Woodinville approaches being too greedy by putting parks impact fees in the TDO area where businesses already are more than paying their way.
   Maxine Keesling, Woodinville