Beverage Ordinance Proposal


A proposal before the King County Council, Ordinance #2018-0241, Responding to the King County Sammamish Valley Wine and Beverage Studywould open up a broad swath of rural land to urban use retail and commercial businesses in areas that are meant to be protected.  


The map above (Demonstration Project Overlay B) and below (Demonstration Project Overlay A) show the area along the east side of Redmond-Woodinville Rd between NE 124th St to the south and the Woodinville Tourist District to the north, which would be opened to urban, commercial use remote tasting rooms and event centers. 

The underlying language in the Ordinance also contains numerous loopholes that would allow drinking establishments and event centers to function as wineries throughout the county, even when little or no product is produced on-site.

Why You Should Be Worried About The Ordinance

There are numerous arguments for why commercial development should not be allowed in the Sammamish Valley along Redmond-Woodinville Rd. Commercial development would:

  • Overwhelm already crowded rural roads. Traffic is already unbearable. Redmond-Woodinville Rd will not be widened due to lack of funding, as well as right-of-way, terrain, and environmental issues. This was confirmed in the Sammamish Valley Wine and Beverage Study released in April 2018.

  • Convert landscaped and open space areas to parking lots.

  • Exceed the capacity of septic systems. The rural area is not connected to sewer hookup, and businesses that bring in large numbers of customers on a regular basis quickly exceed the capacity of septic systems.

  • Create pedestrian safety issues along a 2-lane, unlit rural road with no sidewalks.

  • Create visual clutter with commercial signs.

  • Flood farmlands with storm water runoff.

  • Encourage land speculation which prices out farmers and other agricultural uses.

  • Prioritize the interests of a few illegal business operators over the legitimate interests of thousands of residents and voters who have chosen a rural lifestyle.

  • Reduce the open, rural nature of the Valley which also benefits urban residents in nearby cities with growing urban density.

  • Reward a handful of illegal business operators over the interests of hundreds of legally operating businesses.

  • Be counterproductive to the wine tourism industry that relies on the bucolic nature of the rural valley and farmlands to draw tourists.

  • Set a dangerous precedent for allowing urban growth in the Rural Area, which could create a domino effect throughout the valley and into other rural areas across the state. Bars and event centers are retail, drive-up, commercial development. Once one type of retail development gets a foothold, it quickly expands to other types of commercial development. Lack of code enforcement in the Sammamish Valley has already encouraged one such operator, who has opened a coffee shop and antiques store, and is storing heavy construction equipment on agriculture land within the APD on the west side of Redmond-Woodinville Rd. Allowing any type of commercial development in any part of the Rural Area is how urban sprawl starts. A good example is the once-pastoral Kent Valley that has turned into the miles and miles of urban sprawl you see today.

  • Violate numerous state and local regulations including the long-standing Washington State Growth Management Act, King County Comprehensive Plan, King County SO-120: Agricultural Production Buffer SDO, and King County Code 21A.55 Zoning: Demonstration Projects.

  • Fail to meet the goals of the King County Action Report dated April 26, 2018 - Sammamish Valley Wine and Beverage Study.

The deceptively named "Demonstration Project" Overlays in the Ordinance are really permanent. They reward a handful of existing code violators and legalize additional urban use development in the Rural Area. The Overlays are essentially a sneaky, backdoor way to bring commercial development onto rural lands without following state and county mandated processes to expand the Urban Area, and are a de facto realignment of Woodinville and Redmond’s Urban Growth Boundaries (click here for Land Use Basics). 

Even with the right process, expansion of the Urban Area is not warranted because the County would need to demonstrate that there is insufficient capacity within the existing Urban Growth Areas to accommodate the proposed development. The Woodinville Urban Area (City Center and Tourist District) has plenty of retail and commercial space available, with more than adequate room for additional drinking establishments and event centers, thus expanding the Urban Area is not warranted.