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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Battle Over Growth in Sammamish

Today's Seattle Times has this story on the builders vs. city battle going on in Sammamish.

Since incorporating in 1999, [Sammamish] city officials have scrambled to stem the tide of new housing projects by passing growth moratoriums. The last one expired in August and was replaced by a new "growth metering" ordinance — the first of its kind in the state — that would allow 840 new housing units in the next two years, with larger developments phased in over time.
It's a sensible plan, I think, to try to maintain a steady pace of growth over the long term, rather than allowing a huge explosion in the short term. Of course the builders care about a huge explosion of profit in the here and now—before the bubble bursts.
The thirst to build in Sammamish has left a nagging question hanging over city officials: What is the scope of their power to plan for new development?
Developers say Sammamish is unfairly shutting them out and argue that such restrictions lead to long-term repercussions. The growth-metering ordinance is based on a lottery system; developers have until Oct. 14 to submit applications to win a shot at the 420 lots available this year. At the end of October, the city will hold a drawing.

"Growth metering is irresponsibly anti-growth," said Tim Attebery, lobbyist for the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties, which filed the lawsuit. "You're artificially denying supply."
Then again, if you think about it that way, artificially keeping supply low only serves to push prices further up, which would extend the bubble. So basically it's a no-win either way.

(Sonia Krishnan, Seattle Times, 09.28.2005)

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