Opinion

County prioritizes rich and influential

On Jan. 7, after the recent major snow event that left so many drivers (unwilling to risk their vehicles to fate) stranded at home because of icy, unplowed roads, I learned once again how services are prioritized in King County in favor of the rich and influential.

I live in Wilderness Rim, a community of approximately 600 modest homes normally accessed from the Cedar Falls Road near North Bend. This is a community of working people, to be differentiated from an adjacent newer development named "The Uplands," where fewer than 45 very rich and well-connected millionaires abide. The Uplands affords its leisure patrons panoramic views of Snoqualmie Valley, Mount Si and the surrounding Cascades. Homes built in the Uplands often exceed a million dollars and are on estates of roughly five and 10 acres. Uplands homes are often serviced by their own private groundskeepers. Several of these homes have separate servant quarters.

The Uplands community is accessed from a country road that begins in the Lower Valley at I-90 and adjoins Wilderness Rim at the other end. The Uplands people have tried unsuccessfully to deny access of Wilderness Rim residents to this country road on several occasions. It seems to be a class issue. They don't like Wilderness Rim residents using "their road."

After the recent snowstorm, the Uplands enjoyed snow removal services by the county on a priority basis, and at the expense of residents in Wilderness Rim. The Uplands road was plowed from the freeway at the I-90 intersection in North Bend to its rear entrance in Wilderness Rim, where the snowplows stopped. The County Road Department informed me this was requested by the sheriff's office and the fire department for "safety reasons," to allow access for emergency vehicles.

Obviously, this makes no sense.

More people live in Wilderness Rim, where the roads on the upper loop remain unplowed. A true "emergency access" would connect the Cedar Falls Road, Wilderness Rim and the Uplands, affording access from two directions and thereby servicing more residents.

I pointed this out to the county road managers, the sheriff's office and to a community action writer at a local newspaper. We all did the bureaucratic shuffle and resolved nothing. The connecting roads remain, at this writing, unplowed and barely passable. My neighbors and I remain unhappy and are further convinced that power and money enjoy taxpayer services unavailable to working people in equal measure.

Where do we go from here? You tell me.

Kurt Higgins

North Bend

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