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County reduces hours of permitting office on Vashon

King County's Department of Development and Environmental Services, facing a decline in revenue, will significantly reduce the hours of its field office at Courthouse Square on Vashon.

The small office has been open once a week for four hours. It will now be open one day a month for two hours — the second Monday of the month from 10 a.m. to noon.

Paula Adams, a spokeswoman for DDES, said the agency has had to cut the hours at its Vashon office — the only field office it operates — due to a shortfall in revenue. The agency receives its funding from permit fees; but with the recession continuing, fewer county residents are building or remodeling their homes, she said.

"We're self-supporting, so our staffing levels fluctuate with ... development activity, and it's down due to this economic slowdown," Adams said. "We just don't have the staffing resources we previously had."

The Vashon office is staffed by Greg Wessel, an Islander who works for DDES as an environmental scientist. Jean Bosch, a real estate agent and the head of the Vashon-Maury Island Community Council, said she thinks his reduced hours will be difficult for Islanders.

"He's been such an incredible resource. And he's so responsive," she said. "I have no idea how many take advantage of his presence, but the people I talk to are certainly grateful he's here."

Wessel could not be reached for comment.

Adams said she wants to hear from Vashon residents and determine what needs, if any, are unmet on the Island due to Wessel's reduced hours.

"We want to be sensitive to the residents over there and what they need," she said. "With our budget and staff resources being down as far as they are, we're trying to have our finger on the pulse as much as we can out there."

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