Letters to the Editor

DDES treats applicants unfairly | Letter to the Editor

I found the opinion article by Greg Wessel (“Take it from a comedian: Building permits are no laughing matter,” July 6) both self-serving and dishonest. Self-serving since he is employed by DDES. Dishonest for what he avoids mentioning with regard to the permit process and dealing with DDES. The title “Department of Development and Environmental Services” is dishonest as this department could hardly be described as a “service,” more like an over-reaching bureaucracy disconnected from what the private sector would consider “service.” DDES holds hostage the permit process and uses the power of the police state to squeeze as much money from the client as possible; hardly a service, more like legalized extortion. 

Building codes and permitting should help to ensure public safety and allow a community to grow and prosper. DDES uses permitting to deter growth, and DDES is not reasonable in its billing structure or review time. People avoid dealing with DDES because of the unreasonable cost and time delays involved. The lack of enforceable timeframes is the impetus for delays becoming de facto permit denials. Case in point: It took 10 years to get a permit for the cohousing project on Bank Road, whereas ancient Greeks built the Parthenon in less than nine.

There are septic issues on the Island, as he pointed out. However, the author fails to mention that in the past, proven alternative systems, which could have helped alleviate these problems, have routinely been refused permits. And while he rues on about how much our septic systems are polluting Puget Sound, he fails to mention that for years King County has dumped one million gallons of sewage into the Sound on an annual basis.  

It is a tragedy that DDES holds the permit process hostage, and we have become individually and as a community prisoners of their bureaucratic process. If this community is to remain viable and prosper, we need to remove the wrongheaded extremes in administrative compliance, which the DDES subculture personifies.


— Arthur Rack



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