County OKs communications tower at Klahanie Park

December 14, 2010

Clearwire has been granted a building permit to install a 60-foot communications tower inside Klahanie Park.

The wireless broadband provider has proposed three antennae and a microwave dish for the tower. The project is to adjoin the south side of the existing building inside the park. Plans call for the completed equipment and pole to be placed inside a fenced enclosure. Read more

King County cuts wait times for building permits

November 9, 2010

The long waits for King County environmental and building permits should shrink, because the county permitting agency has adopted a more user-friendly policy.

Beginning Oct. 18, the county Department of Development and Environmental Services started to provide same-day or “over the counter” reviews for many permit types.

The “over-the-counter” permits include small residential remodels, tenant improvements to commercial spaces, building additions, decks, seismic retrofits and others. Complex development proposals still require appointments.

Customers still have the option to make appointments.

“It doesn’t make sense for someone who needs a quick oil change to have to wait in line behind someone who needs their engine rebuilt,” County Executive Dow Constantine said in a news release.

The permitting agency offered walk-in permit services in the past, but in the late 1990s the department shifted to the appointment system due to a building boom.

Department Director John Starbard said the existing lower volume of permit applications and a smaller customer base due to annexations and incorporations allowed the return to a walk-in system for many permit types.

King County plans to cut waits for building permits

September 27, 2010

NEW — 8 a.m. Sept. 27, 2010

The long waits for King County environmental and building permits should shrink next month, as the county permitting agency adopts a more user-friendly policy.

Beginning Oct. 18, the county Department of Development and Environmental Services will provide same-day or “over the counter” reviews for many permit types.

The “over-the-counter” permits include small residential remodels, tenant improvements to commercial spaces, building additions, decks, seismic retrofits and others. Complex development proposals still require appointments.

Other customers will still have the option to make appointments.

Read more

Rural residents raise concerns about public safety cutbacks

August 3, 2010

County Executive Dow Constantine trekked east to Hobart — and into the sometimes-tenuous relationship between county government and rural King County residents — for a forum last week.

Constantine said unincorporated-area and rural residents stand to bear the brunt of looming cuts to county services, including King County Sheriff’s Office deputy layoffs and cutbacks to the county court system.

Contributed King County Executive Dow Constantine (left) addresses rural residents and the presidents of the six unincorporated area councils, including Four Creeks leader Tom Carpenter (far right), at a July 26 forum.

“There is significant disconnect between the cost of doing business and the dollars available,” he said during the July 26 meeting at Hobart Community Church. “We’re scrounging and scrapping to find ways to protect the quality of life for 2 million people in this county.”

Inside the overheated church, Constantine heard from leaders of the six unincorporated area councils — citizen groups elected by residents in regions as disparate as Vashon Island and rural Maple Valley. The unincorporated county is home to about 340,000 of the 1.9 million county residents.

The group includes Four Creeks, home to about 14,000 residents in a swath stretched between Issaquah and Renton. The area encompasses Maple Hills, May Valley, Mirrormont and other communities south of Issaquah city limits.

Read more

Few changes to capital facilities plan

June 22, 2010

Each year, Issaquah School District officials must submit their Six-Year Capital Facilities Plan to county officials for review.

The plan includes how much the district will spend in coming years to build and open new school buildings, as well as how much it will charge developers to build housing within its boundaries.

The plan is amended each year to uphold stipulations in the county’s code and the state’s Growth Management Act. The county’s Department of Development and Environmental Services reviews it and makes suggestions about the plans. After the plans are reviewed and the numbers are checked, department officials write an ordinance, which is approved by King County Council members during their budgeting process in November.

This year, there aren’t any significant changes from last year, Jacob Kuper, the chief executive officer of finance and operations, said.

The district, like last year, is not requesting impact fees from developers building multifamily projects, because they don’t have a significant enough amount of school age children to justify them, Kuper said.

Read more

County Council confirms ex-Newcastle city manager as permitting agency chief

May 4, 2010

King County Council members confirmed former Newcastle City Manager John Starbard to lead the county agency responsible for building and land-use permits.

Officials said they hope Starbard can change the Department of Development and Environmental Services — a department Councilman Reagan Dunn described as “the worst-run agency in county government” until now.

The agency issues building and land-use permits for properties in unincorporated King County, enforces county building and land-use codes, issues business licenses and staffs the King County Fire Marshal Division.

County Executive Dow Constantine appointed Starbard to the post March 1, the same day Starbard started at the agency. The appointment required confirmation from the council.

The council discussed the appointment and questioned Starbard at a committee meeting last week, and then sent the confirmation to the full council for approval. The council OK’d the appointment May 3.

Read more

County plans switch to flat-fee rates for permits

May 4, 2010

King County Executive Dow Constantine wants to remake the way the county permitting agency does business. The executive called for a new rate structure for the agency — and a switch from unpopular hourly fees to fixed fees — as well as a new unit to handle permitting in rural King County.

Constantine unveiled a reform package for the Department of Development and Environmental Services last week.

He proposed the updated rate structure to make the permitting process more predictable for customers, and to offer incentives for employees. The executive ordered the permitting agency to develop financial projections in order for the flat-fee structure to be included in the 2011 budget. King County Council members will adopt the budget by late fall. Under the reform package, the existing rate structure will remain in place for the rest of the year. Constantine also proposed creating a Rural Land Use and Permitting Unit by next year.

Read more

County offers free earthquake retrofit permits

April 20, 2010

Some unincorporated King County residents may qualify for free home earthquake retrofit permits if their home has a wood-frame construction, lightweight roof and a reinforced concrete foundation. Other criteria call for the home to be situated on a relatively level lot and two stories or less in height. Find the complete criteria for a free permit at www.kingcounty.gov/property/permits.

Contact Paula Adams at 206-296-6682 to learn more about earthquake retrofit permits.

Free permits can usually be issued over the counter if residents submit a complete application. Homes that do not meet criteria can also receive a permit, but the process takes more time and the applicant must pay permit-review fees.

“I hope more people will take advantage of this important program,” department Director John Starbard said in a news release. “Our region dealt with the impacts of the Nisqually earthquake in 2001 and, although that event was not of the same magnitude as more recent international earthquake disasters, modern building codes minimized the physical and economic damage of the 2001 quake for the benefit of the entire region.”

King County offers free earthquake retrofit permits

April 13, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. April 13, 2010

Some unincorporated King County residents might qualify for free home earthquake retrofit permits.

Residents qualify for a free permit if their home has a wood-frame construction, lightweight roof and a reinforced concrete foundation. Other criteria call for the home to be situated on a relatively level lot and two stories or less in height. Find the complete criteria for a free permit here.

Contact Public information and Records Officer Paula Adams at 206-296-6682 to learn more about earthquake retrofit permits.

Read more

Former Newcastle city manager will oversee county permitting agency

March 16, 2010

John Starbard

John Starbard — the former Newcastle city manager fired by the City Council in January — will spearhead the effort to reform the way King County handles building and land-use permits.

County Executive Dow Constantine appointed Starbard as director of the Department of Development and Environmental Services six weeks after the Newcastle council abruptly terminated his contract without cause. The executive praised Starbard for efforts to upgrade Coal Creek Parkway and remake downtown Newcastle into a pedestrian-friendly destination.

But officials cited issues with the relationship between Starbard and other organizations and residents. Before the council fired Starbard during a Jan. 12 meeting, Newcastle Deputy Mayor Steve Buri said the relationships had “been damaged beyond repair.” Read more

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