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King County
Executive Office

Ron Sims, King County Executive 701 Fifth Ave. Suite 3210 Seattle, WA 98104 Phone: 206-296-4040 Fax: 206-296-0194 TTY Relay: 711
Image: King County Exeutive Ron Sims, News Release

July 7, 2008

King County Executive Ron Sims statement on Appeals Court ruling on Critical Areas Regulations clearing limits

We are very disappointed with the court’s ruling on the clearing limits included in King County's Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO) regulations, which indicated that the county’s 65-percent standard for maintaining current vegetation on every project should be evaluated on an individual basis.

It’s important to note that the court did not strike down the entire CAO and did not dispute the science underlying the clearing limits. However the ruling fails to recognize that these clearing limits help recharge groundwater used by rural property owners for their drinking water and protects rural property owners against flood risks.

Maintaining forest cover is also a key strategy in protecting Puget Sound. The Puget Sound Partnership has identified reducing stormwater runoff as one of the key elements of Puget Sound recovery. So this task will be even more difficult if the Court’s decision is allowed to stand.

We are still researching what today’s decision means for King County residents and government. We will work with our attorneys to carefully review the decision and determine our next steps.

One possible unintended consequence to this decision is that some property owners may face higher restrictions than those currently in place.

Since the Court of Appeals decision does not take effect immediately, the county’s existing regulations will remain in effect while we decide whether to seek review by the Washington State Supreme Court.

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  Updated: March 17, 2010