Are rural landowners losing property rights?

King County rural taxpayers should closely follow what's going on now at the County Council.

Currently up for adoption is the so-called traffic concurrency map, under which rural landowners can't divide and sell off their extra land due to being within the red blob that covers almost the entire rural area. (Red-blobbed landowners are prohibited from receiving the traffic concurrency certificates necessary for subdivision or short-platting.) The traffic concurrency map trumps the official King County zoning map.

At the June 3 council hearing, King County Executive Ron Sims' representative emphasized how ruinous to rural character it would be if the existing 17,000 rural-area legal land parcels were allowed to divide and sell.

What she really said was that the carefully thought-out rural-density zoning categories adopted via the county's comprehensive planning process are a huge mistake.

But instead of correcting that mistake and disallowing land divisions by amending the comprehensive plan and changing the zoning map after public notice and public hearings, the county merely nullifies adopted zoning by adopting an obscure traffic map.

In addition to the obscure traffic map there is an obscure comp-plan policy saying there shall be no rural-area road improvements to address traffic congestion.

So what has Executive Sims further suggested? That, since our rural road taxes can't be spent on new rural roads or capacity increases for existing rural roads, we should divert our rural road taxes to paying for public parks.

Ron Sims and the urbanites on the County Council not only wish to lock up privately-owned rural open space for the enjoyment of city dwellers, they also wish to see the locked-up rural landowners' taxes go to support public parks as well. What a rip-off.

Maxine Keesling


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