On Oct. 7 the King County Council will vote on the adult beverage ordinance. If passed, it opens the Sammamish Valley Rural Area (RA) neighborhoods and important farmland buffer areas to permanent commercial development, irrevocably damaging the valley.
The 1990s Growth Management Act (GMA) set aside specific areas for farmland, watersheds and rural neighborhoods to be protected from commercial development. The urban growth areas (cities) were designed for commercial development.
Over the last decade the Woodinville adult beverage tourism industry has grown dramatically, to about 130 businesses today. The vast majority are operating legally. Unfortunately, a handful decided to locate their adult beverage commercial retail outlets in the RA, where they are not allowed. The ordinance not only rewards these violators but opens further RA land to development.
Numerous negative side effects such as public health and safety issues already exist because the violators operate in the RA where commercial infrastructure — such as sewer hookup, parking lots, left-turn lanes, sidewalks and lighting — does not exist. Nor will it.
Land speculation puts farmland purchase and lease prices out of reach for farmers. Environmental degradation from upslope toxic runoff already threatens farms.
All these negative impacts will only increase with passage of the ordinance.
Ironically, there is plenty of space inside the urban growth area for additional beverage retail outlets, rendering the need for damaging expansion into the RA completely unnecessary.
The ordinance skirts well-established GMA processes that allow citizens to plan for responsible development and undermines the work and taxpayer dollars spent to save our prime farmland. It rewards a handful of violators and speculators at the expense of all other constituencies. It will cause irreparable damage to the valley’s farmland, watershed and wildlife.
Learn more and weigh in at GoFoSV.org.
Executive director, Friends of Sammamish Valley