Issue: The Growth Management Act has reduced local control over land use and zoning decisions. State mandates and Special Interest and Environmental Groups are currently dictating unfair and onerous land use regulations. We must regain local control in order to have a say in the future of our communities.
Discussion: The Growth Management Act (GMA) was originally billed as a locally controlled planning program. However, in the past nineteen (19) years communities have witnessed the reduction or removal of local control over land use and zoning decisions. The Legislative findings contained in the GMA state, in part:
"It is in the public interest that citizens, communities, local governments, and the private sector cooperate and coordinate with one another in comprehensive land use planning." RCW 36.70A.010
Yet, it is the special interest groups, environmental groups and State Agencies which often dictate local land use law.
Part of the GMA created the Growth Management Hearings Boards. These Boards are appointed by the Governor and hear appeals to local land use plans and development regulations. Decisions made by this appointed Board have cost local governments millions of dollars. The Growth Management Hearings Boards must have their power and authority reduced or eliminated in order to regain local control.
Solutions: If appointed to serve as the 15th District Representative, I will work to dramatically change the Growth Management Act to mold it into the tool it was originally meant to be and not the weapon it has become. Amending the GMA to strengthen local government's ability to be flexible in the balancing of the thirteen (13) goals to best fit their jurisdiction is but one example of changes I would seek.
In addition, I will seek changes in the functions and powers of the Growth Management Act Hearings Boards to include only mediation and not allow them to be judge and jury of locally approved land use and zoning laws. Limiting the GMA Hearings Boards jurisdiction to procedural issues or their function to mediation will greatly enhance local control. Whether or not a local jurisdiction has met the minimum requirements of the Act should be decided by an elected judge, not an unelected, Governor appointed board that has no accountability to the public.