August 19, 2002
Too much "green" influence
Two items on the King County Council's growth management committee's July 16 agenda underscore the influence of "green" environmentalists on our land use regulations.
One proposed ordinance would allow lot clustering in agricultural and forest zones. However, land use in the resultant remaining large land tracts was controversial. Designating the tract as open space would mean, under county law, "don't touch" and a complete and recorded prohibition against agricultural or forest use. Whereas designating it for ag or forest use would mean a forever-working-farm or forever-working-forest under a management plan required to be recorded against the land title. This county-required management-from-the-grave illustrates the complete inflexibility of current county government and a disregard of future conditions requiring possibly changed uses.
The other issue involves county policy and code barriers preventing the fair treatment of rural residents that include requiring rural preservation while allowing practically unhampered urban development. One example is the proposed Tri-County 65/10 requirement whereby rural landowners, but not urban landowners, would be required to record 65 percent of their land as untouchable open space tracts to benefit fish.
As the June 25th London Times put it - the Seattle Times would never print such an article - "The green lobby is one of the most prominent forces of pessimism in today's world." The article points out that while some environmentalists are motivated by sincere concerns, others are driven by a desire to regulate, meddle and interfere with free human choice; and some groups and individuals exploit fears to justify their research and campaign budgets.
It will be a miracle if King County's new study can be done without the influence of the environmentalists, both within and outside of county government, who manage land use here.
Maxine Keesling, Woodinville