June 2010 Meeting Summary

 King County Strategic Planning

By Peter Rimbos, Corresponding Secretary

On Monday, June 7, the Greater Maple Valley Unincorporated Area Council held its regular monthly meeting. Several major topics discussed were: (1) Ravensdale Park; (2) Municipal League; (3) King County Strategic Planning; (4) Fire District & EMS, and (5) Black Diamond MPDs.

Your Area Council serves as an all-volunteer, locally elected advisory body to the King County Council representing all rural unincorporated area residents living in the Tahoma School District.

Ravensdale Park

TJ Davis, King County Parks Community Partnership Grants (CPG) Coordinator, along with Matt Miller of the local group, Rural Ravensdale, provided a review of plans for Ravensdale Park. Mr. davis described the overall 3-phase plan for the park. Phase One, which includes a synthetic soccer field conversion, upgrading baseball diamond infield, installing a community meadow, and new buffer plantings will begin early next year. Phase Two, which includes  additional soccer and ballfields, is planned for 5 -10 years out. A Phase Three would address exterior renovation to the Gracie Hansen building.

The CPG Program identifies and supports community‐based organizations; empowers community‐based partners to plan; develops and invests in new recreation facilities on public land; and makes grant awards to community partners. Mr. Davis applauded the many local groups and individuals who helped in the planning to improve their Ravensdale Park.

Municipal League

John Jensen of the Municipal League of King County discussed their mission to promote government that is open, effective, and accountable. The Municipal League is a volunteer-driven, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization which tries to improve the caliber of public officials and the quality of public decisions by interviewing and rating candidates based on effectiveness, knowledge, involvement, and character. The Municipal League recently celebrated its 100-year anniversary.

Candidate questionnaires for the upcoming Primary Elections were due on May 28. Those will be reviewed, interviews conducted, and references checked by Municipal League members. Candidate ratings will be released on July 19 with results published in a Voters Guide for the public. Area Council member Beverly Tonda vouched for the meticulous and open process used by the Municipal League as she herself went through it last year as a candidate for the KIng County Council. Click here for more information on the Municipal League and how to become active in their work.

King County Strategic Planning

Michael Johnson, Performance Management manager in the King County Executive’s Office  described the Strategic Plan, 2010-2014: Working Together for One King County. The five-year plan was released on March 8. It was created with input from King County residents, staff, and elected officials. Mr. Johnson stated It will be a key tool in King County Executive Dow Constantine’s efforts to reform county government. The plan must be adopted by the King County Council, which will provide its own process for review and more opportunities for public feedback.

For the public, this plan is meant to: (1) Communicate the county’s vision and show our intended direction and emphasis over the next five years; (2) Reflect your ideas and suggestions for services that are important or need improvement; (3) Signify our commitment to customer satisfaction; and (4) Serve as a baseline to show progress and allow you to hold us accountable for our actions and principles over time.

The following immediate priorities are the blueprint for the first year in implementing the Countywide Strategic Plan: (1) Set standards and expectations for the immediate improvement of customer service; (2) Build lasting regional partnerships; (3) Stabilize the long-term structural budget problem by clearly defining King County services levels and giving voters choices; (4) Build a culture of performance; and (5) Empower our workforce and work together as One King County.

Mr. Johnson described both King County’s regional and local roles. King County’s local responsibilities are shifting more heavily to the rural areas as urban unincorporated areas annex to cities. Meanwhile, King County’s role as a regional provider of services, such as transit and criminal justice, has grown more complex and costly as the region has grown. These changes have had significant impacts on both King County’s revenue streams and service delivery.

Several Area Council members, while voicing agreement with the goals and implementation of the Strategic Plan, were concerned that it has to flow down to King County code, ordinances, Comprehensive Planing, and Countywide Planning Policies to be effective in protecting Rural Area citizens from the deleterious effects of adjacent urban sprawl in the incorporated areas. This article’s author expressed particular concern to Mr. Johnson with the major impacts which will be felt on local King County roads and all Rural Area citizens should the Yarrow Bay-proposed ~20,000-person Master Planned Developments be approved by the Black Diamond City Council (see below).More information can be found here.

Fire District & EMS

Deputy Chief Matt Cowan of Maple Valley Fire & Life Safety (MVF&LS), along with Fire Commissioner Mike Scott ,gave a summary of locally provided Emergency Medical Services and fees.  MVF&LS provides quality, cost-effective emergency services for the preservation of life and property for Fire District #43 residents.

The municipal services provided by MVF&LS are: Emergency Medical Services (EMS); Basic Life Support (BLS) to include transport services; Fire Prevention/Public Education; Fire Investigation; Fire Suppression (vehicle, residential and commercial); Wildland Fire Fighting; Hazardous Materials Response-Operations; and Technical Rescue/Special Operations.

Because the availability of private ambulance services has continued to decrease, the Board of Fire Commissioners authorized the increase in the amount of BLS transport aide cars to four to ensure thast patients are transported to area hospitals in a timely fashion. Chief Cowan explained that to help offset the increased costs of transporting patients MVF&LS charges a fee which is covered by the patient’s medical health insurance for district residents.

Chief Cowan emphasized that no patient will be denied transport service due to an inability to pay the transport fee. He also stated there is no fee for calling 9-1-1. Chief Cowan can be reached at 425-433-2125. More information is available here.

Proposed Master-Planned Developments in Black Diamond

On May 10 and 17 the Hearing Examiner Phil Obrechts recommended approval of the Yarrow Bay-proposed Master Planned Development (MPD) Applications (Permit) in Black Diamond. While recommending approval, the Hearing Examiner (HE) also recommended several conditions on the applications. These included: (1) Transportation–development and validation of a new traffic model, route and intersection analyses using the new model, and the resulting identification of needed mitigations; (2) Construction Noise–additional study and mitigation (unfortunately, there is no way to “soundproof” a home against 90 dB noise levels expected); and (3) Fiscal Impacts–additional analyses to address the projected annual and overall shortfalls in jobs created and revenue generated. To voice Area Council  concerns, Chair Steve Hiester, testified on these and other issues during the HE’s MPD Application Hearings. Individual Area Council members testified as private citizens as well.

The Black Diamond City Council, which will make the final decision to accept, modify, or reject them, has scheduled Closed-Record Public Hearings on the MPD Applications to start Monday, June 21, at 7 PM at the Black Diamond Elementary School. Members of the public who originally provided testimony in the MPD Hearings before the Hearing Examiner will be allowed to testify before the Black Diamond City Council. However, since these are “closed-record” hearings, no new evidence can be presented. These Public Hearings are open to all members of the public.

At recent Black Diamond City Council members of the public have repeatedly requested the rules of conduct (time limits, number of sessions, topics allowed, etc.) for Public Testimony be discussed, but city attorneys have invoked a “quasi-judicial” cloud surrounding the City Council. This effectively has barred any discussion of such rules before the Public Hearings actually start–even discussion amongst City Council members themselves!

Specific Area Council concerns remain the impacts of urban development both directly and indirectly on the Rural Area and its citizens. Members of the public can check the City of Black Diamond web site for hearing dates: http://www.ci.blackdiamond.wa.us/.

King County Code Review

The Area Council’s Growth Management Committee Chair Peter Rimbos and Transportation Committee Chair Gordon Moorman described their committees’ joint effort to review King County Code (KCC) to address potential Rural Area impacts from large urban developments. This was precipitated by the recently completed set of Hearings on the Yarrow Bay-proposed 6,000-home Master Planned Developments in Black Diamond.

The objective of the effort is to provide specific KCC change recommendations to the King County Executive and King County Council “to protect the Rural Area from massive urban development and its “overflow” (intentional or not).” As part of their effort, the committees have reviewed applicable KC Comprehensive Plan provisions and the state’s Revised Codes of Washington (RCWs).

The committees have already met jointly four times and have completed an initial review of applicable KCC Titles including: 9–Surface Water Management; 13–Water & Sewer Systems; 14–Roads & Bridges;   20–Planning; and 21A–Zoning. Specific areas have been identified that either need better clarity, stronger language, or more emphasis and execution.

The joint committees’ effort will be completed in July. Final recommendations and supporting rationale will be reviewed by the full Area Council at the July 12 monthly meeting. Area Council recommendations will be presented to the King County Executive, King County Council, and the King County Code Committee later in the summer to coincide with the County’s annual budget cycle and planning efforts. Click here for more information.

Joint UAC Forum

The Area Council agreed to host the Annual Joint Unincorporated Area Council Forum. This forum brings together all the King County Executive, all UAC chairs, heads of King County Departments, and citizens to discuss both common and unique issues faced by the UACs and their citizens.

A location in the local area will be sought for what most likely will be a late July/early August evening. Forum date, time, and location will be announced in the coming weeks in local papers and on the Area Council web site. All Rural Area residents are invited to attend and participate.