Urban Growth Area Expansion Update

“Growth” – A 6-letter word that will get your mouth washed out with soap if used around the Growth Management Hearings Board or certain activist organizations such as Futurewise or the Spokane County Neighborhood Alliance. Unfortunately, we also have to add to that list the Washington Department of Commerce and the Department of Transportation, which are really just standing in as proxies for Gov. Jay ‘Cap & Trade’ Inslee.

As you know, back in September 2013, Gov. Inslee directed his Commerce and Transportation department heads to challenge the Spokane County Urban Growth Boundary expansion. You can read the post I made about that here.

On Nov 26, 2013, the Eastern WA Growth Management Hearings Board tossed out the UGA update approved by Spokane’s Commissioners last summer after several years of work on the issue. So why specifically did they rule this way? [You can read the entire Order Here] It was largely a technicality – citing a revised population growth estimation that went without a public hearing. According to the documents, the board found that on July 18, 2013 after the public comment period had ended, the County increased its estimated population projection by 7,571, making the final revised number –  121,112.

The understanding now is that all the County has to do to fix the mistake is to go back and hold a new public hearing with regard to the slight tweak in population projection and then again approve the boundary expansion. In addition, the County can file an appeal to overturn the ruling. Both options are on the table and may be pursued by our County Commissioners.

Consider reaching out to the County Commissioners and give them support as they make this decision:

  • Phone: (509) 477-2265
  • Commissioner Todd Mielke – tmielke@spokanecounty.org
  • Commissioner Al French – afrench@spokanecounty.org
  • Commissioner Shelly O’Quinn – soquinn@spokanecounty.org

According to Daniel Walters at the Inlander, “640 lots, across six different properties countywide” have vested and can now move forward with development no matter the outcome of the challenge. Despite anti-growth activists calling this a loophole, it’s a really a common-sense tool to ensure predictability for all of the parties involved.

You can expect in either 2014 or 2015 that a strong assault on current vesting laws will be made back in Olympia. All the more important to have legislators back there willing to stand up for our property rights.




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(SPOKANE, Wash.) – Last week, the Board of Directors of the Spokane Home Builders Association (SHBA) voted unanimously to early-endorse several incumbent candidates for re-election in 2014. They join Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich who already received the Association’s endorsement earlier this year.

“Our region is truly blessed to have so many hard working elected leaders fighting to make government smarter, less intrusive, and more efficiently sized,” said Michael Cathcart, SHBA Government Affairs Director. “Included among those our board selected for early-endorsements are two local leaders likely to see high profile re-election campaigns next year: Senator Michael Baumgartner and County Commissioner Al French.”

Sen. Michael Baumgartner, Vice-Chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, has been an ardent advocate for smarter, reform-minded policies that eliminate unnecessary government mandates and ensure a more prosperous economic environment for Washington State. His leadership has helped to promote cooperation among the diverse members of the Majority Coalition Caucus (MCC), and has provided a needed Spokane/Eastern Washington perspective within the bi-partisan group.

“Our small businesses and the home building industry very much need to see Sen. Baumgartner re-elected and the principles of the MCC continue to lead the Senate,” said Deacon Band, SHBA President. “The common sense reforms championed by Sen. Baumgartner and the MCC are necessary to continue enhancing our business environment.”

Commissioner French has long been a strong proponent of pro-growth policies such as expanding the Urban Growth Area boundary where needed and making permitting an easier and less expensive ordeal, demonstrating his intimate understanding that a strong economic environment and a robust housing industry are dependent upon each other.

“Al French brings with him a reservoir of knowledge, years of experience, and a terrific track record on property rights, small business, and economic issues,” said Joel White, SHBA Executive Director. “He is clearly the best choice to serve another four years as Spokane County Commissioner.”

The following candidates received early-endorsements from the Spokane Home Builders Association:

Michael Baumgartner – State Senator, 6th District; Rob Chase – Treasurer, Spokane County; Susan Fagan – State Representative, 9th District; Al French – Commissioner, Spokane County; Jeff Holy – State Representative, 6th District; Ozzie Knezovich – Sheriff, Spokane County (endorsed earlier this year); Joel Kretz – State Representative, 7th District; Kevin Parker – State Representative, 6th District; Cathy McMorris Rodgers – Congress, 5th Congressional Dist.; Joe Schmick – State Representative, 9th District; Matt Shea – State Representative, 4th District ; Shelly Short – State Representative, 7th District;

Not all races were considered in this slate of early-endorsements. Additional endorsements will be approved in the coming months.