WBD Ordinance 2022-0147
Supporting a balance between our wineries, breweries & distilleries, farmland and natural resources
I envision a rural King County that can thrive environmentally and economically, without compromising on protecting our environment as we grow our rural economy. The King County Council and many residents across the county are engaging in important and challenging conversations about how this complex dynamic plays out in our county related to wineries, breweries and distilleries (WBDs) in unincorporated King County.
What's the issue?
The most recent product of these conversations was King County Ordinance 19030, which was adopted in December 2019. Then, members of the preservation community disagreed with specific elements of the ordinance and brought it before the Growth Management Hearing Board (GMHB), which found King County out of compliance with the Growth Management Act (GMA) in January 2022. The GMHB then invalidated Ordinance 19030 and required that King County come into compliance by July 1st 2022. King County disagrees with this finding and has appealed, but in the meantime, failure to come into compliance would leave King County at risk of being ineligible for critical state grant funding.
What’s the solution?
After taking office, I learned that our Washington State Growth Management Act (GMA), requires that the County creates balanced Comprehensive Plan policies which encourage both conservation of our natural resources as well as support for rural economic development. I then quickly got up to speed with a now thorough understanding of the history and current issues surrounding preservation, farmlands and WBDs. After holding over 50 conversations with interested individuals, businesses and organizations, I found that this issue required a thoughtful and intentional response. Therefore, I proposed ordinance 2022-0147/2022-0148 to strike a workable balance between the interests of preservation, farmland, agrotourism and support of rural jobs, ultimately hoping to resolve this years-long challenging issue in our County.
I’m putting forward something that has the values and goals of everyone involved to chart us forward and promote a positive future for all in our County. With this in mind, we are grateful that as a result of our conversations we’ve received a letter of support for this ordinance from the King County Agriculture Commission which cited strong farm protections. We are also grateful for testimony from fish experts that this ordinance does nothing to harm fish habitat.
What does ordinance 2022-0147/2022-0148 include?
This new ordinance includes: a prohibition of WBDs in our A Zone (Agricultural Zone) to protect critical farmland; a 1000’ buffer between WBDs to ensure protection of our rural character; required documentation based on existing federal reporting requirements ensuring that 80% of gross sales are from what is produced onsite; establishment of a clear, enforceable standard that 3 stages of production occur onsite, with two of the three being “active stages”; an option for producing WBDs that are in compliance with prior ordinances to continue to operate through a Conditional Use Permit (CUP)
If this new ordinance does not pass, it will be very likely that up to 90% of the producing WBDs, that are in compliance with prior ordinances and located within the Enumclaw and Sammamish Valley area, will have to close – with little recourse.
What’s next and how can You help?
We are having our final hearing on this ordinance on Tuesday, June 21st at 1PM, and then have our final vote to hopefully pass the ordinance on Tuesday, June 28th at 1PM. Join us online or in person at King County Council on Tuesday, June 21st at 1:00PM and take two minutes to share your support of ordinance 0147 for a balanced approach toward preservation, farmland, agrotourism and rural economic vitality, while allowing our existing, producing WBDs, that have been in compliance all along, to continue to stay in business. Thank you for engaging in this important issue!
In addition, please email your King County councilmembers and ask them to vote yes on Ordinance 2022-0147. Their emails are as follows: Claudia.Balducci@kingcounty.gov; Reagan.Dunn@kingcounty.gov; Pete.Vonreichbauer@kingcounty.gov; Joe.McDermott@kingcounty.gov; Rod.Dembowski@kingcounty.gov; Girmay.Zahilay@kingcounty.gov; Dave.Upthegrove@kingcounty.gov; Jeanne.Kohl-Welles@kingcounty.gov.
If you have questions or would like to discuss this further, please reach out via email to Sarah.Perry@kingcounty.gov or give us a call at 206-477-1003.