Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for the ‘Land Use’ Category

State wants public comment on pocket gopher recovery plan

by Matt Rosenberg February 12th, 2013

Some 6,000 years ago in what became Oregon, volcanic Mount Mazama erupted. That carved out Crater Lake, from around where later originated Thomomys mazama, or the Mazama pocket gopher. It thrived in western Oregon, western Washington and northern California. But the advance of man has spelled trouble for this five-and-a-half-inch long, prominently-incisored rodent – which helps wildflowers grow and provides shelter for salamanders and Western Toads. By year’s end the U.S. government may designate four of its subspecies as officially threatened in Washington. The state has already listed it as threatened, in 2006, and recently released a draft recovery plan upon which public comment can be submitted through April 19.

South King County votes to decide on new schools, more

by Matt Rosenberg November 6th, 2012

Among local ballot measures likely to be decided tonight in suburban King County are a major annexation proposal in Renton, funding for new high schools in Federal Way and Auburn, a new fire station for Mercer Island, and a possibly a new form of governance for Black Diamond, where a development-related feud has grown between the current mayor and city council.

UPDATE, 11/6/12, 8:30 p.m.: Systemic change didn’t fare well in our five tracked local ballot measures, with proposals for a new form of governance in Black Diamond, and a major annexation to Renton both losing, with unofficial final numbers in. But more routine proposals for increased spending to build new schools or other civic structures appear to have won with broad support in Auburn, Federal Way, and Mercer Island. Update, 9:57 p.m. 11/7/12: Three-quarters of King County ballots overall are counted now. Latest numbers below, courtesy of King County elections.

Proposition 1 in Renton would have led to annexation to the city of the 1,857-acre West Hill region currently part of unincorporated King County. 11/6/12, 8:30 p.m. update – 55% No, 45 % Yes. 11/6/12, 9:22 p.m. update: Paul Berry, a 43-year West Hill resident who co-wrote the Voter’s Pamphlet statement in opposition to annexation said of the results, “People of the community didn’t buy the general and vague promises” annexation would bring improvements. For any future measure annexing West Hill to Renton to pass, several things would have to happen, Berry said. Strong, smart regional approaches to providing police and fire service would need to implemented; plans for upscale development, more sidewalks and urban density softened, and city codes tweaked to be less restrictive on allowing chickens and multiple pets. West Hill contains six neighborhoods, and would have comprised about 15 percent of Renton’s population if annexed. (Map of annexation area).

Proposition 1 in Auburn authorizes School District 408 to levy excess property taxes to fund $110 million in borrowing via bonds over 20 years, to finance construction of a new Auburn High School, and improvements to the high school’s Performing Arts Center and Automotive Technology building. 8:30 p.m. update – 59% Yes, 41% No.

Proposition 1 in Federal Way School District 210 green-lights a six-year, $60 million capital levy to pay for replacing Federal Way High School, plus renovation of 19 elementary school playgrounds, and a new district-wide security camera system. The added cost in each of the six years for school district property owners would be 92 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation. 11/6/12, 8:30 p.m. update – 57% Yes, 43% No.

Proposition 1 in Black Diamond would have OKd a change in the way the city is governed, from the current Mayor-Council form of government to a Council-Manager system. If it had been approved, a new city manager reporting to the council, would have become the chief executive of the city and the office of the mayor, who currently serves as the city’s CEO, would have ben abolished. A planned Yarrow Bay Company development of 6,000 new homes planned for the small city of about 4,160 residents has contributed to a sharp political divide between some members of the current council and mayor Rebecca Olness. But the measure appears to have fallen far short. 11/6/12, 8:30 p.m. update – 59% No, 41% Yes. 11/6/12, 9:40 p.m. update: Olness said, “I’m elated the people of Black Diamond have voiced their support for growth. We need to grow in order to survive,” to boost the local tax base and attract retail essentials such as a major grocery store. The Yarrow Bay development will unfold gradually over the next 20 to 25 years Olness said, with the first several hundred homes built in 2014.

Proposition 1 in Mercer Island will finance a $5.2 million bond issue for a replacement fire station in the South End, through a lift of the state-mandated local tax levy increase lid of 1 percent per year. If the majority of “yes” votes holds, property owners will pay another 86 cents to $1.51 per $1,000 assessed valuation each year, with the rate differing by year, over nine years. 11/6/12, 8:30 p.m. update – 56% Yes, 44% No.


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Puget Sound Partnership looks in mirror, not pleased

by Matt Rosenberg October 15th, 2012

State audits have critiqued the Puget Sound Partnership for lax management, and a federal watchdog group tied it to alleged ethical missteps by a powerful Washington Congressman. But in a newly-released bi-annual “State of the Sound” assessment, the organization appears to giving itself a bracing dose of “tough love.” A summary memo on the new report from the state agency spearheading efforts to restore the health of Puget Sound says that on six key indicators of success, progress toward 2020 goals isn’t occurring. Progress is mixed on another five, evident on two, and unclear on another eight because goals haven’t been set or data isn’t yet available. The trouble spots are marine water quality, cleanliness of swimming beaches, growth of eelgrass, and stock of Chinook salmon, herring and Orca whales. The memo was released quietly and online late last week by the Partnership’s Ecosystem Coordination board as part of a document packet for its October 18 meeting in Shelton, Mason County. The full report was to be posted online later today at the partnership’s web site.

Chicken liberation hearing Thurs. night in Lake Forest Park

by Matt Rosenberg May 10th, 2012

Behold the versatile egg. How much better, some say, to harvest eggs from your own backyard than in polystyrene or cardboard packages from the grocery store. As interest grows in urban agriculture and locally-sourced foods, it’s not only in overtly green cities such as Seattle that governments are being asked to help pave the way back to a simpler time. Some suburban communities that were once rural are returning to their roots. And so at its regularly scheduled meeting Thursday May 10 the Lake Forest Park City Council will hold a public hearing on a long-in-the-works proposed ordinance to make it easier for local residents to keep chickens on their properties. At approximately 7:30, half an hour in to the council meeting, the hearing is scheduled on the measure to amend to the Lake Forest Park Municipal Code in response to “an increase in citizen demand for backyard chickens and the need to streamline the process associated with regulating this activity,” according to a city staff memo attached to the ordinance.

“Donut Hole” sale could bring more growth to Maple Valley

by Melissa Steffan August 5th, 2011

The “Donut Hole” is up for sale. And if King County sells it, the City of Maple Valley could become 156.5 acres larger by the end of the year and gain housing and jobs.

It is a somewhat tricky proposition, though. If King County can successfully relocate the regional roads maintenance facility on a land parcel it owns called “the Donut Hole” at 228th Avenue S.E. and S.E. 272nd Street, then new development there could bring more housing, jobs, or both to the City of Maple Valley. Energized by the county’s recent call for qualified developers of the 156.5-acre spread, the city council will hold a public hearing for pre-annexation zoning at its August 22 meeting. The city could annex the property whether or not it is redeveloped, but it must allow the county to keep the roads facility there if a planned new location at the site of the current Cascade Shooting Facilities in Ravensdale does not garner required environmental permits.

Complicating the situation is whether or not developers can step forward, with feasible, well-financed proposals for the Donut Hole. If the King County cannot sell the property, it may have less reason to bear the expense of vacating the land and relocating the roads facility.

Enumclaw finalizes $900,000 public-private funding package for new multi-use sports field

by Kyle Kim July 18th, 2011

SUMMARY: The city of Enumclaw passed an ordinance last week to accept a $300,000 state grant that completes a public-private funding package for a $900,000 project at the Enumclaw Expo Center complex, where a poorly-draining and deteriorated natural turf football field at Pete’s Pool will be replaced with a multi-purpose artificial turf surface. The Recreation and Conservation Office of Washington State awarded the grant conditioned on a double-match amount being raised from other sources. Your Enumclaw Area Stadium (YEAS), the non-profit group in charge of fundraising for the project, has secured the necessary matching funds for the RCO grant, city public works director Chris Searcy said. Slightly more than half, or $325,000 of the $600,000 match required for the RCO grant came via previous grants from the National Football League and King County. The remaining $275,000 of the double-match funding comes from cash donations ($175,000) and in-kind donations of labor, construction equipment and materials ($100,000) Searcy said. The majority of the project’s construction started July 6 and is expected to be finished by August.