Opinion

Property rights continue to be eroded

n your article on Dec. 17 titled "Concerns raised over land ordinance" by Ben Cape, you quoted Harry Reinert of DDES as saying, "We haven't had an update to the Sensitive Areas ordinance since 1990." That statement is incorrect. In November 1994 the King County Council passed KCC section 21A.24.275, which stated "No structure shall be allowed which would be at risk due to channel relocation or stream meander until the promulgation of a public rule." That imposed a five-year moratorium on building near streams or rivers in unincorporated King County.

In November of 1999, the County Council passed the public rules as KCC 21A-24-275 through 21A-24-282. The title of those rules is "Sensitive Areas: Alterations Within Channel Migration Areas," also known as "Laterally migrating rivers regulations (LMR)." These rules created a "severe" and a "moderate" buffer area adjacent to rivers and streams and imposed severe and moderate rules regulating any activities in these areas. These boundaries are based on "historical data" and have no basis in geological fact. In other words, it is "science fiction."

Now the CAO proposes to increase those buffers and restrictions. The CAO starts its buffers not at the river (or stream), but at the already established LMR buffers. Some of those buffers extend over 200 feet from the river. The CAO would extend them up to another 165 feet.

Even worse, these ordinances (SAO/CAO), which affect land use in unincorporated King County, are passed by representatives of the incorporated areas (Seattle, Bellevue, Sammamish, etc.), but they do not apply to them. When a river passes a political boundary the rules change. On one side of the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River (in the city of North Bend's jurisdiction) the rules are different that the other (unincorporated King County).

Regardless of what residents of the affected areas say, they will have these rules imposed on them.

Mr. Reinert also states, "A lot of things have changed." What has changed and will continue to change is the "erosion" of our individual property rights. The "DDES director discretion" exception to the rules will always allow the "wealthy and politically connected" to avoid these restrictions. The SAO/CAO start out scientifically flawed and end up arbitrarily enforced by DDES.

If these areas are so "critical," why then doesn't the government exercise its right of "eminent domain" and acquire all the lands (regardless of political boundaries) in the state legally, by buying them? Well, of course it would cost a lot of money and lose a lot of real estate tax base.

Mike Aiken

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