On January 3, the Growth Management Hearing Board (GMHB) passed down a Final Decision and Order reaffirming its invalidation of the controversial Adult Beverage Ordinance (ABO). This is great news for our community and for all of unincorporated King County- from here to the Enumclaw Plateau.

The ABO, sponsored by former King County councilmember Kathy Lambert, was a blatant attempt to open our rural areas, including protected farmlands, to urban retail development.

The impetus for the ABO was the lack of zoning code enforcement by King County, which allowed a handful of illegal businesses to persist in the Sammamish Valley, just outside the City of Woodinville borders. Instead of supporting effective law enforcement, County policy-makers were swayed by speculative development interests who pushed to change the zoning codes, effectively rewarding the violators by legalizing them. Ms. Lambert, whose disdain for rural zoning is no secret, was happy to lead the charge.

These few cozy-yet-illegal wine and beer bars may at first seem innocuous. But if they had been “legitimized" by the ABO, a far-reaching precedent would have been set and encouraged further lawless activities.

Hundreds of citizens, businesses and civic groups stood before the King County Council urging them to reject the ABO. Unfortunately, it was passed with a split decision in late 2019. Citizen-funded legal challenges quickly ensued and, with telling rapidity, the GMHB invalidated the ABO in early 2020. The GMHB rarely acts so quickly, nor does it typically outright invalidate a governmental action as it did with the ABO.

Unfortunately, King County decided to defend the ABO. This resulted in two years of expensive legal wrangling which did nothing to change the fact that the ABO violates our land-use laws in numerous ways.

The question remains: Where will things go from here?

We are cautiously optimistic. One reason for this is that we have a new representative on the King County Council. Sarah Perry stands in stark contrast to her predecessor by expressing strong support for honoring our growth management policies.

It is our hope that King County will now acknowledge the ABO was a mistake and stop defending it. Then we can work together on a new ordinance that updates previous codes while complying with King County’s Planning Policies under the Growth Management Act.

Michael Tanksley

Hollywood Hill Association


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