People working to bring Spokane into compliance with the Growth Management Act can forget it, as far as GOP candidate for governor Ellen Craswell is concerned.
Her rival, Democrat Gary Locke, would keep their noses to the grindstone. Spokane is embroiled in the Growth Management Act planning process, which requires communities to plan where growth will occur in the future and where it won’t.
The state law is controversial.
Developers by and large hate it, and some local officials say it usurps their authority.
Craswell wants to dump the law. “I would repeal the Growth Management Act. Any land-use planning should be done at the local level by elected officials, not by appointed bureaucrats,” she said.
Locke supports the state land-use planning act, which he says helps communities avoid sprawl. He would make minor changes to the law, giving more deference to local land-use decisions.
Steve Wells, who oversees statewide implementation of the law, says the state doesn’t usurp local authority.
While the state lays down broad planning goals under the act, it’s up to city and county officials to determine how to meet them.
The law requires counties and cities to jointly determine where growth should occur over the next 20 years, and which local governments will serve which areas.
In Spokane, the first steps in that process are under way.
A steering committee is working to complete maps by the end of the year that outline where growth should occur.
The boundaries will delineate where urban services such as water and sewers will be provided.
The Growth Management Act was adopted by the state Legislature in 1990. It was implemented out of concern that Washington’s farms, open space, and wilderness would be paved without better growth planning.
The law is also intended to reduce the cost of growth, by concentrating planned development in areas where services such as utilities, sewerage and water are provided. Otherwise, communities pay the stiff cost of providing them.
But few see the Growth Management Act as a dollars and cents issue, and in the governor’s race it’s no different.
Craswell doesn’t talk about the cost of growth. She defends private property rights, and says the free market and local officials should determine where growth occurs.
Locke, the King County executive, has talked little about the Growth Management Act in his race, focusing instead on education and other issues.
Craswell’s opposition to the act is consistent with her overall anti-government stance.
If she can’t repeal the act, Craswell says she wants to strip the regional state growth management hearing boards of their power to overrule local decisions.