I was disappointed that Herald writer Brian Kelly’s recent series on Snohomish County’s growth planning didn’t provide the proper context for his readers on the issues he raises.
County officials are mandated by the state Growth Management Act to direct growth into urban areas and engage in the planning process that is currently underway.
The reason our Legislature adopted the GMA was to address the very issues Kelly raises – as we grow, how do we keep pace with the services and maintain the quality of life that all residents have come to expect, including transportation, parks and clean water?
Growth is going to happen, whether we like it or not. I’ve read that more than 70 percent of future jobs will come from existing businesses and more than 50 percent of our population growth is our own kids. The question is, will we be adequately prepared to handle it? That is why the county is now considering three alternatives for managing growth. It’s what the growth planning process mandated by GMA is all about.
Kelly also failed to point out any of the benefits of the GMA. Apart from forcing us to plan for growth, the law very clearly aims to protect the environment. First and foremost, under GMA, the tradeoff for growing more densely in urban areas is the ability to preserve rural lands for all to enjoy. What a wonderful benefit to be able to protect our valuable, pristine lands from sprawl! But Kelly didn’t tell his readers this.
GMA is not a perfect law, but I believe we are fortunate to have it in place.