Webster’s dictionary definition of stealing includes; (1) To take the property of another; (2) To take or appropriate without right or leave; (3) To take without permission. It is difficult, nay impossible, to make excuses for the Democrat majority on the King County Council for their recent draconian “CAO” ordinance expansion.
Their actions are especially egregious because the state of Washington’s Growth Management Act is used as an excuse – even though the GMA states unequivocally that property shall not to be taken without just compensation. The fact that their action is radically un-American and that the direct result will be the opposite from their intent seems impossible for these left-of-center politicians, pandering to the voters in the big city, to understand. It is also very evident that the new CAO, even if it were ethical, is not needed – because we, the citizens in the Upper Valley, continue to do an outstanding job of preservation on our own.
Kathy and I moved back to the Valley and the family farm 29 years ago and have been deeply and personally involved in the future of the Valley. The initial controls from “Big Brother” created a minimum lot size in our area of five acres (which Kathy and I thought was fair) but this was followed year after year by additional restrictions on land use that artificially inflated the value of Valley property. This artificial inflation has been very hard on families whose intent is to protect their property and keep the land safe. As taxes have ballooned, many families and older members of society have been forced off of their property. Further, King County has artificially priced many of our children (and their teachers) out of the Valley. The end result of these forced land sales is, of course, more development. This economic fact of life seems to escape the left-of-center (dare we say socialistic?) Democrat majority.
I grew up in Seattle. I know how those living in the rabbit warren feel about East King County. This is their playground and they don’t want us messing with it – even though we purchased the property and pay the ever-escalating artificially inflated taxes.
But even if it were ethical, the CAO expansion is clearly unwarranted. Here are a few of the reasons why this is so. We have protected Meadowbrook Farm and a large portion of Tollgate Farm between the cities of North Bend and Snoqualmie. The huge Mountain Meadows farm’s development rights have been purchased – as have the development rights to most of the 100,000-acre Snoqualmie Tree Farm recently sold by Weyerhaeuser. We have the exceptional Three-Forks Natural Area along the Snoqualmie River bridging Meadowbrook Farm to the magnificent Mount Si Preservation Area. Recent negotiations have curtailed development around the Falls – although years ago, it was a motion before the Snoqualmie Planning Commission that disallowed Weyerhaeuser from building any structure on the Ridge that could be seen from the Falls viewing platform.
Forty-eight percent of the land for Snoqualmie Ridge Phase I (including the golf course) is open space. All of Rattlesnake Ridge above the power lines is protected from development. Snoqualmie Point – where the old Snoqualmie Winery resided – is now mostly protected. And of course, there is the 97,000-acre Cedar River Watershed on our doorstep. We locals have very effectively partnered with the Mountains to Sound Greenway, Trust for Public Land, King County Open Space, the state of Washington, etc., to preserve our green Valley for future generations.
But the most important factor in keeping the Valley green continues to be the attitude of the owners and stewards of the land. We are proud of our Valley and work hard to protect it. We pay the artificially inflated taxes because we know that if we sell – houses will replace pasture and woodlot. But the incompetence and arrogance of the King County Council Democrat majority is making it more and more difficult.
To illustrate: our son, Dr. Bret Battey, could not afford to inherit our farm. On his academic income, he could not afford the artificially inflated taxes. We cannot split off a piece of the family farm small enough for Bret to afford because of the five-acre limit we originally felt was such a good idea. As retirees, Kathy and I simply do not know how much longer we can afford to live in the Valley that we love so deeply and has sheltered and nurtured our family through five generations.
Clearly, the King County Democrat majority on the King County Council is stealing from, abusing and destroying the dreams of the very citizens who are effectively preserving our Valley. In addition, their new draconian CAO will trigger another upward spiral of artificially inflated taxes – forcing more citizens to sell their land.
Write letters, sign petitions and let these thieves know how you feel – and don’t leave the King County executive out of your information loop. He is promoting and condoning this unethical and counter-productive behavior.