The Growth Management Act, 'Smart Growth' Transportation & 'Sustainability'

1/31/03 - State Senate looks at bills to revise GMA - WA State Farm Bureau

12/25/02 - Mt. Vernon, WA - GMA affects rural counties most; initiatives send message

12/14/02 - OPINION The voice of the Eastside: Balance is the key to quality of life in growing region

12/12/02 - Walla Walla, WA Editorial: County must end dispute over GMA

12/6/02 - GMA: Development: Lopez Village looks for options

11/27/02 - Orcas Island, WA: GMA: Commissioners clash over legal counsel

11/22/02 - County loses in growth management case - Thurston County court ruling could limit local governments' ability to extend basic services to rural areas In a move that could restrict local governments' flexibility to expand basic services, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Thurston County's plan to extend a sewer line into a rural area north of Olympia violated Washington's growth management law....The Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board overruled the county, saying the sewer line wasn't absolutely necessary to address the problem. The Court of Appeals and now the state Supreme Court agreed, rejecting the county's bid for a looser definition of "necessary." "A more restrictive definition of 'necessary' is consistent with the legislature's intent in enacting the GMA to protect the rural character of an area," Chief Justice Gerry Alexander wrote for the majority. The decision pleased both the local residents and advocates for strict enforcement of the Growth Management Act, which sought to reduce suburban sprawl by requiring dense development in urban areas and restricting rural areas to one house per 5 acres.The case drew attention from interest groups on both ends of the land-use debate. The group 1,000 Friends of Washington, one of the Growth Management Act's most ardent defenders, sided with the landowners. "When you run sewer lines, urbanization inevitably follows," said Tim Trohimovich, the organization's project director. "Olympia doesn't need that land in the urban growth area. It'll be sprawl." The Building Industry Association of Washington, which chafes at the law's restrictions on homebuilding, called the threat of sprawl a red herring. "It kind of handcuffs cities and counties from planning responsibly to protect the citizens," said Kris Tefft, the BIAW's legal counsel, who said the 4-inch pipe proposed by the county wasn't big enough to support much development anyway. "The specter of urbanization which really seemed to scare the majority of the court was really a red herring."

11/16/02 - San Juan County, WA: Committee says county should abandon GMA

10/30/02 - Island County - Growth management bill tops $1 million - Commissioners threaten lawsuit against Growth Hearings Board, say decisions are 'arbitrary and contrary' to will of the citizens

10/28/02 - Thurston County - Rural life, city life: Course of development up for review Urban Growth Areas: Where should cities grow?; Many jurisdictions in process of reviewing urban development plans "They make the plan on paper, they spend thousands of dollars ... and then they have a public hearing," Buckner said. "Is that citizen input?" Buckner asked. Lacey Principal Planner David Burns said he understands the frustration, adding residents are fighting a series of losing battles as long as they're part of the UGA. One of the ironies of state law, he said, is that it requires public comment while at the same time leaving cities little leeway within UGAs. "Jurisdictions don't have a lot of choice in developing (within) growth boundaries. They have to do that," he said. The state Growth Management Act dictates reduced sprawl, which means cities and their growth areas are required to accommodate denser development.

10/2/02 - Initiative 6 goes to appeals court: Citizens claim right under Constitution has been sidestepped by unelected board
Citizens' right to vote and participate in their own governance, along with the question as to whether an unelected appointed state hearings board can effectively make laws for counties were the two main issues brought before the Washington State Appeals Court on Sept. 4.

Bob Forde, speaking for himself and the 3,800 people who signed Initiative 6 - Repeal of the Clallam County Critical Areas Ordinance, spoke for five minutes before the State Appeals Court to plead his case which had earlier been submitted by legal briefs. He told the judges that he had always thought that government by the consent of ordinary citizens is the cornerstone of American democracy, as guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, and the Washington State Constitution.

"I don't remember voting for members of any Growth Management Hearings Board(GHB), but
learn that they have been given power to invalidate our local laws," Forde stated. "I understand that the Hearings Boards issue orders to my elected leaders eliminating policy options that were adopted with widespread citizen participation and support," he continued.

"I remember when the GMA was sold as 'bottom-up' planning," Forde explained. "Everyone now recognizes that for the lie it was." He said he wouldn't like, but could accept "top-down" planning, since at least policy set by the state legislature would be subject to citizen control.

"The GMA has evolved into 'middle-out' planning, with the 'middle' occupied by non-elected GHB members," Forde stated. The loss is a "voters' loss", for the "ballot box is meaningless if elected leaders are powerless to work the voters' will," he continued. "Extinction of initiative/referendum rights is the final nail in the voters' coffin."

8/29/02 - Growth fight brewing in Snohomish County
Republican members of the Snohomish County Council have driven a wedge between the county and its cities by passing their own version of a 10-year development report, some city leaders said. Washington's Growth Management Act (GMA) required the county to draw the boundaries in 1992. Snohomish County Tomorrow's version of the report would leave population predictions and available land about the same, meaning boundaries would be difficult to change in the next 10 years.

8/26/02 - Stormwater Management Plan White Paper

According to DOE, new federal regulations under the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act, as well as state regulations under the Growth Management Act (GMA), made it necessary to expand the area and scope of the stormwater manual. Now, Clallam County is reviewing the DOE’s Model Stormwater Management Manual (2001) with the strong possibility of incorporating it into a new ordinance or amending an existing one. The model plan would affect every property in the county that had plans for building new or additional structures, including housing, roads, patios, and barns, to name a few.

The model plan calls for highly restrictive building permits, with inspections, monitoring and enforcement each playing a part. Not only would the property owner’s right to use his property to his own highest and best use be restrained, but the cost to the property owner, taxpayer and the county itself would be enormous, as this paper will show.

The plan is a voluntary one – one that is not required by law, and even if it were, would probably not be enforceable due to budget restraints at the state level, according to DOE’s Ed O’Brien, one of the writers of the model plan. The plan far exceeds the national minimum requirements.[2]

The plan is experimental. The results have not been tested with sound science to determine if they will accomplish the goals.[3] In fact, according to one report, the observations spanning a wide variety of streams showed an “absence of observed instability”. [4] “Models” are used as the means of determining the effects of impervious area and clearing.[5] Models can be skewed to obtain whatever results one wishes, like polling.

6/5/02 - Seattle Times Editorial - Take a look at what the growth boundary under the GMA created
The average asking price of such houses, inflated by a bumper crop of mini-mansions, is currently $492,266.

There is something going on here, and it is not what was advertised. The thing advertised was called growth management. The idea was a line to rein in "sprawl." Outside the line would be farms and woods. No intense building allowed. Inside the line would be urban land, with sewers, roads and schools. Here, builders could build with minimal hassle. Lots would have to be smaller, and people would have to be packed together a bit more. But the land would be used more efficiently and the countryside would remain green.

Many will say, "That's good. That's what we wanted." It is what they wanted. But will they take responsibility for $400,000 houses? For growth spilling over into Pierce and Snohomish counties, with long commutes back to King County? For hundreds of thousands of people who would like to buy but can afford only to rent? For the windfall gains to land owners?

"Progressives" are supposed to be looking out for the little guy. This is their policy. Let them explain how it helps the little guy. They may make themselves feel better by making a big noise about a handful of government apartments for the poor, but at the same time, their own policy is pushing up the price of all housing, for rich, poor and in-between.

5/20/02 - Growth Management: County's comp plan withstands legal appeal - An appeals court finds no error by Kitsap County in drafting the 1998 document. Kitsap County's comprehensive plan, adopted in 1998, has been upheld by the Washington State Court of Appeals The 1998 plan was Kitsap County's third attempt to comply with the Growth Management Act after plans drafted in 1994 and 1996 were rejected by the Central Puget Sound Growth Hearings Board.

4/27/2002 - Clallam County - Initiative 6 presses forward in the courts to defend constitutional government -
GMA-related local ordinance repeal stopped before going to voters

4/18/02 - Stevens County - Emergency moratorium causes uproar - Ability to plat to 10 acres won’t apply to potential Resource Lands

Commissioners held a public hearing on a proposed moratorium on the creation of parcels under 10 acres—a decision also delayed until April 16. That would be a partial fix for the 20-acre moratorium that was indirectly instituted when the Eastern Washington Growth Management Hearings Board declared the county’s platting titles out of compliance with the Growth Management Act, which the county opted into in 1993. Until the issue is resolved, the Board’s order of "invalidity" has effectively shut down all platting (the subdivision of lands) that resulted in lots under 20 acres until the issue is resolved. Lots over 20 acres are not subject to county oversight.

Local realtor Dave Sitler is no fan of the GMA in the first place, though he’s worked with the county on portions of it. He calls the moratorium on private lands a "land grab." "It’s the biggest land grab, property rights thievery in the history of Stevens County," Sitler said. "It’s worse than anything I’ve ever seen. I can’t even believe they’re considering this. It’s flat-out stealing, stealing your property rights. That’s all it is. There’s no compensation for (your land)." Local realtor Kelly Davis Davis is one of many who contends that the GMA is geared toward the west side of the state, which, at this point, he said, he’d "just love to see slip into the Pacific. "Just because the people in Seattle live in a concrete and asphalt jungle, they want our part of the state stifled and everything to stay the same," he said. "They’re reducing our ability to grow and prosper. Adverse terrain, wetlands, et cetera, already prevent a tremendous amount of private land from being developed."

4/7/02 - Skagit County Trying to comply with GMA: Planning staff’s workload is keeping citizens on hold
Tom Karsh has a list of things to do. There are 68 items on that list. None of them is quick or easy to do. All of the items are things that someone wants done. The Legislature and courts have mandated dozens of tasks to bring the county in compliance with the state’s Growth Management Act....

2/27/02 - Walla Walla - Property owners question rules on GMA
Official says he wishes the county had never agreed to participate in the Growth Management Act.

If Walla Walla County Commissioner Dave Carey could go back 12 years and change his vote, this week's public hearings on proposed development regulations might never have happened. The hearings held Monday and Tuesday to obtain comment on regulations intended to enforce comprehensive planning under the state Growth Management Act generated more questions than comment. ``I have to apologize to you for what I've done,'' Carey said. ``It just tears my heart'' when people come before the commission and are told they cannot manage their land as they see fit under the new laws, he told six landowners who attended Tuesday's session...

2/8/02 - House passes bill to help job creation in rural counties
"The Growth Management Act focused on curtailing sprawl in the state's fast-growing urban areas, and the needs and unique circumstances of rural communities and rural businesses weren't t taken into account," said Buck, R-Joyce. "Expansion by existing businesses in small towns has been stymied by the rules, and we've lost opportunities to attract new business investment. "Small, independent businesses are the economic backbone of rural counties, and this refinement of the GMA will benefit both new and expanding businesses," he said. "We believe the bill will help protect existing jobs, and by making rural areas more appealing to potential employers, bring new job opportunities to the Peninsula and other areas of rural Washington." (The bill failed.)

2/4/02 - Lewis County, WA - Public voices concerns at GMA hearing - Sounding off: Land division and road upgrades among issues addressed at four-hour hearing

1/24/02 - Shelton County GMA action is Postponed - Proposed buffers would be similar to those in Clallam County

1/24/02 - Mason County - Locke 'friendly' but firm on GMA compliance in meeting with Mason county commissioner Commissioners were holding a public hearing on a proposed moratorium on the creation of parcels under 10 acres—a decision also delayed until April 16. That would be a partial fix for the 20-acre moratorium that was indirectly instituted when the Eastern Washington Growth Management Hearings Board declared the county’s platting titles out of compliance with the Growth Management Act, which the county opted into in 1993. Until the issue is resolved, the Board’s order of "invalidity" has effectively shut down all platting (the subdivision of lands) that resulted in lots under 20 acres until the issue is resolved. Lots over 20 acres are not subject to county oversight.

1/16/02 - EFF to unveil study on Growth Management Act
A new study being released reveals that Washington's decade-old Growth Management Act (GMA) is a case of good
intentions gone awry.The study contrasts the original good intentions of the Act - affordable housing, efficient transportation, citizen involvement, etc. - against its actual implementation, concluding that it has instead harmed workers, businesses and local economies. EFF will offer recommendations for reform. "Our findings show that the Growth Management Act is not achieving its original goals," said Corrie White, the study's author. "Implementing the Act is not only undermining business viability, compliance is costing counties hundreds and even millions of dollars at a time when they can ill afford it."

1/10/02 - Mason County - Commissioners will talk with governor on growth management issues - Say a 'vocal minority' is driving the issues, expresses concerns about sanctions due to 'noncompliance' with GMA

11/8/02 - MASON COUNTY EYES NEW TAX FUNDING - Looks at increasing real estate excise tax
Any county that plans under GMA may impose an additional excise tax on each sale of real property at a rate not to exceed 0.25 percent of the selling price, Budget Director Tone Siegler said. This additional tax is known as REET 2 in A Revenue Guide for Washington Counties.


June 2001 - Locke, Democrats holding farmers hostage, say GOP leaders
State Reps. Joyce Mulliken, R-Ephrata, and Tom Mielke, R-Battle Ground, today warned that Gov. Gary Locke and Democrat leaders in the state House and Senate had taken Washington's agricultural community hostage. Mulliken and Mielke asked for an immediate vote in the House on legislation to exempt agriculture from the onerous new shoreline regulations and a GMA extension that would include Clark County.

Dec. 2001 - GMA costs homeowners thousands of dollars, says new report - WASHINGTON HOMEBUYERS PAYING THOUSANDS MORE FOR HOUSES BECAUSE OF GROWTH MANAGEMENT ACT - Law is responsible for 26 percent of the increase in state's housing prices since 1995

7/9/01 - Avalance of signatures puts Critical Areas Code repeal on the ballot -
The existing Code has been amended several times, and each time, it gets harder on landowners, Forde stated. "A good example is the requirement for 50-foot buffers on each side of seasonal creeks," he said, "which totals 100 feet of property that becomes virtually unusable by the owner - that's the equivalent of the depth of a standard size city lot!" The seasonal creek rule, which is defined in the Code as "type 5" streams, allows that the seasonal creeks must be 500 feet in length; however, these are dry most of the year.

The Sequim businessman announced that many citizens have expressed the hope of repealing the GMA, which "mandates" the Critical Areas Code. “It is anti-environmental, promotes high density areas and discourages free choice of living in rural areas,“ he said. "Why would we invite an onerous code like this [CAC] simply because the parent [GMA] law is a bad law? It is a bad piece of legislation,” Forde declared.

Forde is concerned about the fate of some of the people who are having first-hand experience with the consequences of this Code. “It doesn’t work! If anyone doubts that, get hold of Andy Nesbitt, Mike Brown, or Jerry Levesque and listen to their horror stories, “ Forde remarked.


6/22/01 - Growth Management vs. Quality of Life By Martha M. Ireland
Luncheon speaker Richard Ford, a primary architect of the state Growth Management Act [GMA], opened his remarks by saying, "I know how to make problems, but solve none of them." He repeatedly boasted of that skill throughout his speech.

At that time, Ford was chair of the King County Executive's Task Force on County Finances and of the State Growth Strategies Commission. He described himself as a 200-dollar-an-hour Seattle attorney.

What "quality of life" was Ford advocating for you under the GMA?

"Reduce expectations," Ford told county officials. He suggested "rural service like back in the '50s or even the '30s or get a new revenue source."

Simply put, the GMA undermined traditional county finances so you deserve poor roads, reduced police and fire protection, few parks, and no social service programs targeting prevention or juvenile rehabilitation.

People who want what the GMA considers to be "urban services" should live on Queen Anne Hill, as Ford does, he declared.

Now comes Mr. Derdowski to assist the Jefferson County land preservation organization, People for a Livable Community, in promoting the GMA on the Peninsula.

Jan. 7, 2001 - Clallam County - State orders tougher land-use rules - Panel says Clallam must scrap reduced buffer zones, write new regulations
The temporary regulations follow a state Growth Hearings Board decision ordering Clallam County to scrap reduced buffer zones in its Critical Areas Ordi­nance. The hearings board decision, announced Tuesday, said the reduced distances do not comply with the state Growth Management Act (GMA). The board ordered county planning staff to write new rules within 180 days.


The 'Smart Growth' Fraud - by Dr. Michael S. Coffman

11/6/02 - Smart Growth hurts poor people, minorities, says Community Planning Expert Wendell Cox in Bremerton talk

4/6/02 - 'Smart growth' plan's perils -Scant attention has been paid to legislation currently working its way through Congress that would institute a $250 million grant program to federalize no-growth (euphemistically called "smart growth") regulations nationwide. The result would be devastating for small property investors, both urban and rural. "The Community Character Act" - Senate Bill 975, House Bill 1433 - would require local governments to implement land management plans using model "smart growth" statutes provided in a 2,000-page "Legislative Guidebook" developed during the Clinton Administration by the American Planning Association, a no-growth trade organization, with almost $2 million in HUD grant money.

1999 - Alabama's upcoming lost of rights under guise of "smart growth"
We also began to hear about "urban sprawl" and occasionally "Smart Growth". Cities across the country began to notice this "crisis" and implement plans to restrict growth and control sprawl.

Portland, Oregon is one of the test cases where it now costs 10 times more to purchase a home than before this panic reaction set in. Soon other places began to follow suit and now we have several big cities "controlling" growth. All of these places using "smart growth" methods to restrict use of "resources" such as land and water.

July 2002 - Forfeiting the American Dream - The HUD-Funded Smart Growth Guidebook's Attack on Homeownership The Guidebook blatantly recommends model "takings" legislation that would subvert property rights and help states and localities "improve" land use and design "better" communities.

Based on so-called smart growth principles, the Guidebook's proposals seek to counter urban sprawl by forcing residential development into denser communities and by restricting land use and housing styles. But the APA legislative guide goes further than other "smart growth" public policies; it recommends a broader application of the principle of "amortization of non-conforming uses" to force homeowners to change their property in ways that fit the new schemes. Those who do not comply must forfeit their property without compensation.

11/25/02 - Minorities Impacted by Smart Growth Policies - For several decades, environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club, have advocated the use of "Smart Growth" policies in urban areas in order to prevent urban sprawl and extensive automobile usage. A recent study of urban areas that have implemented these polices shows that not only do the policies fail to achieve their stated results, but that they unfairly impact minorities and the poor when it comes to home ownership.

6/25/03 - Brave old world - At a recent conference, advocates of walkable cities and quaint small-town architecture plot to take over America - Boston Globe


8/2/03 - Ortem - "Telling the Truth about Metro, Light Rail, and Density"

8/3/03 - Brookings report: Many lower-income commuters need cars for commuting

Short summary on Planetizen:

The Long Journey to Work: A Federal Transportation Policy for Working Families:


"In recent years, new sources of federal funds have helped agencies initiate transit services aimed at moving low-income adults into the labor market. By contrast, policymakershave paid far less attention to increasing automobile access among the poor. Given the strong connection between cars and employment outcomes, auto ownership programs may be one of the more promising options and one worthy of expansion."

"... Congress acknowledged that transit is not a practical or cost-effective solution for all low-income households. Therefore, policymakers also proposed and adopted other programs to assist poor families with car ownership."