Development: Growth law facts 'mangled'
July 3, 2008 · Updated 10:08 PM
I'm responding to the letter from Mr Larry Ogle of Enumclaw (News-Times, June 19) in which he insists that development is the best fate for the Krueger Farm. It is sad to see how many facts have been mis-stated and mangled.
He begins by claiming that the Growth Management Act (GMA) has created an artificial shortage of building sites. Sorry, statistics from all Puget Sound counties contradict that claim. Housing starts continue at just about the same rate they've been for the last decade.
He claims that GMA's purpose was to preserve scenery. Well, no. The purpose of GMA was and continues to be to maintain liveable communities with the infrastructure to support them, while protecting functional native plant and animal communities outside of urban growth areas. Mr. Ogle evidently never learned that humans can not survive in a vacuum. Without leaving space for all those other species, we too will die out. We have not yet learned to mass-manufacture oxygen, which even Mr. Ogle is probably breathing at this very moment. The trees he so despises are performing that ecological service. Whack the trees, whack your air supply. And that's just one example.
Mr. Ogle repeats the old canard about increased development producing increased property tax revenue. True to a point. Beyond that point is the increase in government services required by the new development. A study done in Washington state, consistent with many other studies, concludes that it costs a whopping $83,000 in development impacts for every new single family dwelling. This covers the cost of such things as sewer and water systems, roads, parks, schools, hospitals, police, libraries, fire protection, public transit -- all those services not required by trees or deer but very much a part of suburban paradise. One reason GMA requires housing to be clustered in urban growth areas is to provide all those services more efficiently.
Palo Alto, Calif., some 25 years ago found it a better value to buy the last piece of developable real estate in the city and turn it into a park than to allow its development and have to pay for the subsequent infrastructure. I firmly believe Coupeville is in exactly the same position. Every house developed at Krueger Farm will cost the current residents of Coupeville increased taxes which far outweigh the projected revenue. Don't believe me? Ask Island County Tax Assessor Tom Baenen.
None of this addresses the current inequities in administration of the Conservation Futures Fund. That's a whole other story.