Responsible Development in the Sammamish Valley

The future of the Sammamish Valley is not about Wine Tourism vs Farming. It’s about Responsible Development vs Irresponsible Development.

Friends of Sammamish Valley stands firmly on the side of Responsible Development, with these core tenets…

  • Locate drinking establishments and other commercial activities that require urban infrastructure (sewer, parking, sidewalks, storm drains, etc) in the plentiful Urban Areas in and around the Valley which have those commercial services in place.

  • Preserve and protect agricultural activities in the Valley’s Agricultural Production District (APD) farmlands and adjacent Rural Areas, as specified by the State of Washington Growth Management Act.

FoSV has been wrongly characterized by some of the handful of Code Violators as being anti-small business and trying to stifle commercial innovation in the Valley. A quick scan of FoSV’s business and organizational endorsements reveals that actually many small businesses in the Valley support FoSV. We want businesses to thrive, but to do so in a responsible way: play by the rules; prevent severe damage to the Valley ecosystem; and don’t give one set of businesses an unfair advantage over another.

Let’s break that down in more detail…

  • Play by the rules. We are talking about a small handful of Code Violators who have been operating outside the existing code regulations for years – and who are trying to do an end run around the normal rezoning process with the proposed Beverage Ordinance. Their vision for commercial development of the Valley clearly articulates where they stand on the farms and rural residential neighborhoods. Antique stores? Delicatessens? Conference centers? Passenger trains?

  • Prevent environmental damage. The proposed Beverage Ordinance will cause permanent destruction to our natural environment throughout King County, especially in the Sammamish Valley. The Ordinance would open up protected Rural Areas to commercial development, threatening farmland, native animal habitats, watersheds, and salmon migration. The degradation of the Valley also threatens to destroy the rural ambience that is a huge draw for wine tourism.

  • Compete on a level playing field. The Code Violators have an unfair advantage over the 90%+ of their wine industry competitors in the Valley and surrounding area because the Violators are able to operate on rural and agricultural land at much lower costs and with much less regulatory oversight. And this doesn’t even address the disadvantages heaped upon the farmers operating legally in the Valley who must deal with toxic runoff and skyrocketing land costs due to speculation.

Again, we’re talking about 7 drinking establishments operating illegally on Rural Area land in the Valley. All they need to do is relocate over an acceptable timeframe to a nearby location in the Urban Areas, which already have in place the necessary commercial zoning and infrastructure, and where there is plenty of room.

FoSV has proposed a version of the Beverage Ordinance that we feel strikes the right balance between preserving the unique rural character of the Sammamish Valley and protecting the farmland, while also promoting responsible development.