Relief for Rural Property Owners in Clark County is Slipping Away

Rural Landscape

In 1990 the state of Washington passed the Growth Management Act (GMA). The GMA requires state and local governments to manage Washington’s growth by identifying and protecting critical areas and natural resource lands, designating urban growth areas, preparing comprehensive plans and implementing them through capital investments and development regulations. The requirements and implementation of the GMA, were driven by those who wanted more urban density and less urban sprawl.

Those who implemented the GMA in Clark County collectively shared this vision of density and sprawl. This point of view should influence land use planning, however its overemphasis placed severe limitations and obstacles on how Clark County’s rural land owners could use their lands. There is often a mitigation process for those adversely affected by such changes in public planning, but there was no such mechanism here. Worse, it seems the politicians and bureaucrats let the affected parties spend large sums of money and personal energy to attempt some sort of mitigation. In fact over the years since the GMA was put into effect there have been over 100 appeal attempts to have the GMA Hearings Board, politicians, and county staff consider relief ideas for the county rural land owners. But the high-density ideologues weren’t interested. Even after the rural land owners won five out of five court cases related to this matter, the county – largely driven by ideological staff – ignored the actions they were required to take. (See statement on the problems with bureaucratic staff).

This overt disinterest from the politicians changed in 2015. Clark County Commissioners Madore and Mielke became involved and worked with the rural land owners to develop proposed changes to the Clark County comprehensive plan for mitigating these 20 year-old issues. This plan is called Alternate-4 (Alt-4), as it’s the fourth plan option. However the new majority on the Clark County Council are speaking openly about killing Alt-4. As has reported, this new majority is on a fast track to reverse the actions of the previous council which have been making county government less intrusive and arrogant, and more efficient and responsive to citizens. (See Rocky start with new Clark County Council).

The Clark County Council meeting to discuss and vote on this matter is set for Feb. 16th, at 10am at the County Public Service Center on 1300 Franklin St. in Vancouver. Leading up to this meeting is a town hall meeting, sponsored by Clark County Citizens United (CCCU), in which citizens can comment on the matter and hear more details. This meeting is on Feb. 12th at 7pm at Hockinson High School, 16819 NE 159th St, Brush Prairie. writes about promoting wise and ethical local government. We also write about topics that tie to fundamental liberties for citizens. This article is written with concerns about the arrogance of the ideological driven politicians and even more so the Clark County ‘staff’. We leave it to our readers to determine the merits in Alt-4.

This article shows only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ about the county government overreach and citizen abuse that occurred. Over the next month we will write about the full story of this land use saga and the aggressive and willful abuse by unelected bureaucrats to rural land owners.

Background information on Alternative-4:

  1. Facebook page for Citizen United Group who support Alternate-4:
  2. Battle Ground Reflector article:
  3. Clark County information: