July 3, 2008 · Updated 12:41 PM
"Washington state's Growth Management Act is 10 years old. Some people believe it's been such a huge pain to implement that we should throw it out, the sooner the better. We think not.The Growth Management Act is the law designed to control the vigorous population growth that has rolled into our region in recent years. While no law can stem the tide of that growth, the legislators who wrote and passed the GMA in 1990 - a bipartisan group - believed it could contain that growth into clustered areas.The goal of the act, quite simply, was to maintain Washington's beauty as much as possible while inevitable population growth occurs. We've all seen communities where beauty has been sacrificed on the altar of commerce, with strip malls and housing tracts plopped in pristine fields. While development is often beneficial to a community, in some instances it is not. It makes sense in Washington state, where the natural beauty is so much a part of our daily lives, that we do all we can to maintain the character of our region. Few people want a Northwest duplication of Southern California.The political fallout of the Growth Management Act seems to come from the combination of two terms - management and government. Many people think government is just about the worst institution to try to manage the development of our region. It puts government in a position to determine the ultimate use of a piece of land. When a private property owner suddenly finds the value of his parcel driven downward by a change in government zoning laws, that creates a politically volatile atmosphere.Some of that volatility has been on display in our local commissioner chambers over the last decade. There's no denying the GMA has been a thorn in the side of Island County. Whether that thorn has constituted cruel and unusual punishment, or whether it has been the only thing maintaining the bloom of Whidbey Island's rural character - that's a point open to political debate.One thing that cannot be denied is that the measure has cost this county real cash to implement. It has also cost some Whidbey Island land owners real cash by limiting the development potential of their property. Perhaps it is time, on this 10th anniversary of the Growth Management Act, to review what about it is working and what isn't. However, the ultimate goal of the GMA - to maintain Washington's beauty as much as possible while population growth occurs - is a worthy one. For that reason, the law deserves to stay on the books.Goodbye Kow KornerMany Whidbey Island residents are mourning the passing of Kow Korner, which closes for good Friday. While some people are inclined to see this as one more sign of Oak Harbor's decline, some perspective is probably in order. Kow Korner is closing because owner Herb Williams, who opened the burger joint in 1959, is ready for a much-earned retirement. Alaska Federal Credit Union bought the property as a site to build it's new headquarters. While it may be unfortunate to see a local landmark like Kow Korner close its doors for good, that's life, and that's capitalism."