August 22, 2006
King County Council ignores concurrency again
If anyone still believes that King County cares about supporting growth with roads, yesterday's approval of Redmond Ridge East should drive the last nail in that thinking. If anyone still thinks that this county council cares about hearing examiner recommendations to deny development, or that they might be concerned with the ongoing wrongdoing by KCDOT to cheat for developers, the decision should quickly erase that too.
Yesterday's approval of Redmond Ridge East, on an 8-1 vote, is the clearest evidence to date that King County's land use machine is controlled by big developers like Quadrant, and that anything is okay when it comes to actions to help developers like Quadrant get projects approved; even if it means millions in unfunded road impacts and gridlock for citizens.
With more than 1500 homes yet to be constructed within the long-approved Trilogy, road congestion has blossomed into miles of AM and PM commute traffic along Novelty Hill Road. But with the county's traditional "bait and switch" approach to its Capital Improvment Program, this 14 year-old CIP items is still unplanned, unfunded, and unapproved. But that doesn't matter to a county that would and has literally been alleged to have broken laws to help this developer get 800 more homes approved.
With DOT whistleblowers suing the county over wrongdoing and retaliation, and hundreds of millions of dollars in road impacts buried and passed onto future taxpayers to address, the Council's approval of Redmond Ridge East, in the face of hearing examiner Stafford Smith's recommendation to deny the project and rescind it concurrency certificate, is the final proof that there is nothing this government will not do for Quadrant.
The King County Council clearly felt more than comfortable ignoring the examiner's finding once there were no appellents left with standing to sue. Never mind what was the right thing to do, huh?
And with its allies in the Seattle Times and King County Journal giving this outrageous violation of the public trust cover, most people will continue to ask, "why aren't our roads being improved to support growth?" For those watching this fiasco, the answer is obvious.
Posted by mjcostello at August 22, 2006
11:55 AM | Email This
1. I don't doubt any of this, and wonder if you could spend some time explaining HOW the developers are getting their way, when we know the county permit folks can be stingy on approvals if they want to be?? There's something stinky in all this, isn't there? Please tell us what you know about how the influence is being peddled.
How they get their way, or why they get their way? The "how" is by land use agencies that are funded by permit fees doing whatever is necessary to help them get those permits. Not even standards, policies, laws, or the numbers get in the way of that.
If you're asking why some get favored treatment and others don't? Part of it is the amount of campaign support they'll give politicians like Sims. A company like Weyerhaeuser carries a lot of clout and brings a lot of growth industry support with it.
Another is the land that a large development like Redmond Ridge or Trilogy will set aside in exchange for approval.
Finally, one of the biggest drivers is affordable housing. Little builders can't and don't want to build it because they don't make money doing it. So when a big boy like Quadrant comes along and agrees to build hundreds of units of affordable housing (apartments, condos, townhouses, etc.), the county will just about do anything for them to make it happen. Without affordable housing, the folks that work all those low paying jobs just wouldn't be there to work the Subway Sandwich and Curves establishments.
The unfortunate thing is that the "affordable housing" really isn't all that affordable. It certainly isn't more space for the buck.
Myself, I'd rather see the direct subsidies to promote affordable housing than the total collapse of government integrity and honesty to achieve the same goal.
And regardless of the motives, approving growth without the necessary infrastructure is a nightmare waiting to happen. We're about to live that nightmare here with 1,500+ homes yet to be built in Trilogy and another 800 in Redmond Ridge East.
But I would like to thank the rest of the county for the eventual financial support that the county will be extorting from you to help us with this crisis. I figure $100 million will get it started.