Letter: Langley needs thoughtful growth planning


I am writing in support of Dean Enell’s letter (July 16) to the editor regarding the director of planning position and its importance to the “planning” of Whidbey Island.

This is not a letter refuting the integrity of the newly appointed director. There is a difference between efficiency and expediency and thoughtful planning and growth preparedness strategies. They are two very different approaches.

Previous planning directors chose to pursue an elimination of urban growth areas in Island County based on pressures from developers, maybe some state officials, and no-growthers represented by private and quasi-public self interest groups, rather than a policy of growth readiness. The UGA was developed for the state by Professor Gary Pivo, University of Washington, urban design and planning chair. Its intent is simple: to protect rural lands by encouraging or directing growth toward existing centers where needed infrastructure services are or can be made available. Permitting people from California, Bellevue, etc. to build 4,000- to 15,000-square homes on five and ten acres in rural areas is not growth management — but a suburbanization of the island. Good for some realtors and bad for the overall environment.

And in order to provide for affordable (small and dense) and work force housing (same), you need land that can be flexible for density with design (clustering, conservation design, etc.). Yet there are folks on the Langley City Council who worked judiciously to eliminate the UGA in Langley because they did not want more growth, period. Instead, the previous county planners used gross housing data to assess Langley’s housing needs for years — and how did that turn out? The bottom line according to this archaic planning states “X number of square feet exists in Langley to accommodate Y projected housing units,” without regard to whether that square footage is in a single family lot (expensive and no density increase) or a larger lot (non-existent or limited) to accommodate some density. Phony numbers. All nonsense and the result of what I call Langley the community of non-expert experts.

Here is your choice: Let the mega mansions expand and dominate this “rural” paradise or get real and do some real serious visioning and planning. We don’t need any more bookkeepers. We need visionaries.

Ron Kasprisin