Public discussion over King County development codes set for May 26 on Vashon

King County’s rural economic strategies coordinator will visit Vashon for a conversation with Islanders next week about the county’s development codes and whether they should be changed.

After hearing from Islanders and other rural King County residents, Julia Larson will make recommendations to King County Executive Dow Constantine about potential code changes.

“I’m spearheading the effort to look at if our codes are really working for the rural economy,” Larson said. “I’m hoping to get a good cross-section of different parts of the community and find out what their concerns are and what they’d like to see happen.”

A major issue facing Vashon’s farmers and home-based business owners is the need for multiple dwellings on one parcel to house farm interns, said Merrilee Runyan, a member of Vashon Island Growers’ Association, which is helping organize the event with Larson and Islanders.

Other issues include the regulations on rainwater and graywater catchment systems and the kitchen certification required to make “value-added” items, like jam or pie, at home.

“The code ought to facilitate reasonable rural business needs,” Runyan said. “How could things be a little simpler so people can actually make a living? ... I think this is a unique opportunity with somebody from the county who has the capacity to make these recommendations, and she genuinely wants to hear what we want to say.”

Next Wednesday’s gathering is a chance, Larson and Runyan said, for Islanders to better understand county codes — what they allow as well as what is not allowed.

“Some people probably have assumptions that they have to do things a certain way,” Runyan said. “This is a chance to find out what the code really says and doesn’t say.”

Larson said she’s looking forward to hearing Islanders’ ideas on what changes the King County Code may need. No changes are guaranteed, she said, but she’s interested in making the codes work for residents and changing them as needed.

“We want to find out from rural residents what codes to change,” Larson said. “I’m hoping it’s a good, two-way communication and a very open positive meeting, and we can get some quality input into this process so we can do something that benefits our residents.”

Community conversation

Have a conversation with Julia Larson, King County’s rural economic strategies coordinator, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 26, at the Chautauqua Elementary School multipurpose room.

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