June 2008 Meeting Summary
Area Council Meeting Highlights
By Peter Rimbos, Corresponding Secretary
The Greater Maple Valley Area Council held its regular monthly meeting on Monday, June 2, with 11 members present, 3 members absent, and 2 positions open. The following items were addressed:
1) Stormwater Management and Flood Control;
2) Cedar Hills Regional Landfill Plans; and
3) Proposed Ravensdale Park Plans
The Area Council serves as an all-volunteer, locally elected advisory body to the King County Council and represents all rural unincorporated area residents living in the Tahoma School District.
Stormwater Management and Flood Control
Joanna Richey, Assistant Director of the Water & Land Resources Division (WLRD) of the King County Department of Natural Resources & Parks (DNRP), provided an informative presentation on stormwater management and flood control strategies. Stormwater results from rain falling on hard/impervious surfaces or impacted soils. Runoff, primarily due to forest clearing and/or development, and thus carrying pollutants, goes directly into our streams, rivers, lakes, and wetlands, as well as Puget Sound. Where development has not impaired the natural processes, rainfall simply infiltrates into the soil and replenishes our aquifers and stream flows.
Stormwater is considered managed as a local problem under state law, therefore here in King County the County manages stromwater for its unincorporated areas, while incorporated cities manage their own stormwater. Coordination is required through stormwater permits.
The WLRD provides four stormwater services:
1) Regulations using the Surface Water Design Manual;
2) Best Management Practices that are applied to source control and drainage problems;
3) Capital Projects to repair damage caused by uncontrollable weather events and to install pollutant treatment facilities; and
4) Engineering studies and monitoring to identify/prioritize problems and perform water quality audits.
Under state law, King County levies a stormwater management fee on all developed land in the unincorporated areas to provide the stormwater services mentioned earlier. Single-family residences each pay a fee of $111/yr, commercial lands pay a variable fee based on the amount of impervious surfaces, and forested lands pay no fee. King County cities levy their own stormwater management fees. In all, King County’s Stormwater Management Program collects and disburses ~$20M/yr in the unincorporated areas. Once contemplated annexations take place, thus shrinking the unincorporated areas, this total will reduce to ~$11M/yr to cover all the remaining unincorporated areas. For potential property tax discounts or to call in drainage complaints, please call (206) 296-6501.
Flooding is considered a “regional” problem and as such counties manage flood control under state jurisdiction. Since 1990 King County has been declared a federal disaster area eight times due to flood events. Predicted warmer winters due to climate change will exacerbate flooding in the future.
King County provides the following services to manages flooding:
1) Regulations to prohibit development in flood-prone areas (cities have similar regulations);
2) Levees and their maintenance;
3) Home Elevations or Flood Buyouts;
4) Flood Warning/Emergency Response; and
5) Engineering Studies and Monitoring on large rivers.
In April 2007 the King County Council established a Flood Control Zone District (FCZD to protect public health and safety, regional economic centers, public and private properties, and transportation corridors. The King County Flood Hazard Management Plan, adopted January 2007, proposes needed fixes to our aging system of 500 levees. The King County Council governs the FCZD with input from an Advisory Committee that consists of 10 permanent seats for major cities and 5 rotating seats that include representatives from smaller cities such as Maple Valley and the unincorporated area councils (UACs). Former Area Council chair, Dick Bonewits, currently serves in the rotating UAC seat.
To fund the services provided by the FCZD King County will start this year to collect a property tax levy of $0.10 per $1000 of assessed valuation or ~$35 to 40/yr for a typical residence. A sub-regional fund (10% of the annual levy) will be dedicated exclusively for smaller cities and unincorporated areas. The FCZD has decided that all its services will be implemented through the WLRD. For further information please see the King County site on flood control.
Cedar Hills Regional Landfill Capacity
Former long-time Area Council member Bill Beck provided a summary of landfill capacity options currently under discussion by King County. Bill mentioned that the landfill has been scheduled to close around 2016. In preparation for this the County originally was planning for rail export of waste to Eastern Washington or Oregon as the most cost-effective option, since emerging technologies that offered other alternatives would not be ready.
However, Mr. Beck mentioned that a study mandated by the King County Council recommended a further investigation of extending the life of Cedar Hills to allow these emerging technologies to mature. Some methods being contemplated to extend the life of the landfill include reducing buffers along with mitigation of noise, revisiting already capped areas that have settled, opening additional pits by relocating current operations, and increasing recycling.
One potential advantage to extending the life of Cedar Hills is that it's costs are lower than waste export and the County General Fund derives ~$8 million a year from renting Cedar Hills to the Solid Waste Division. Solid Waste Division funds are an Enterprise Fund, derived from tipping fees; it has been determined that since Cedar Hills belongs to King County, not the Solid Waste Division, this rent and transfer of funds is legal.
Tours of the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill may be arranged by calling the King County Solid Waste Division at: (206) 296-4490.
Proposed Ravensdale Park Plans
The Area Council has been following proposed changes to Ravensdale Park since King County Parks presented their proposal in the Spring of 2007 for a “Regional Sports Complex.” Gordon Moorman, an Area Council member from the Ravensdale Community Area, has been intimately involved in planning meetings, public gatherings, and plan details to ensure local community input is used in any proposed plans.
The Area Council and local stakeholder groups have actively participated with King County Parks to achieve a neighborhood friendly plan. The group has successfully designed a park that maintains a connection to the rural community with a future cultural center and community meadow while selectively adding 2 fields and upgrading others to meet the need of sports groups with rural players. This has been a cooperative effort through community action partnering with King County Parks. The Area Council applauded these actions and especially offered its appreciation to the following local groups and their representatives: Citizens for Rural Ravensdale (Joann Hegeman & Matt Miller); Friends of Rock Creek Valley (joan burlingame); Cedar River Baseball Council (Rob Nist); and Maple Valley Youth Soccer Association (Scott Serpa).
The final plan will be submitted to King County DDES later this year for the formal permitting process. All of the technical questions originally asked by the Area Council will be answered during the permitting process. Specifically those questions are environmental impact, traffic impact, and storm water drainage.
Proposed plans for Ravensdale Park can be found on this website.