Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Farm Bureau almost alone in pushing I-933

Initiative 933, the "pay or waive" developers' initiative that will be on the general election ballot in November, is so controversial that many groups once expected to support it have either declared themselves neutral or are just staying out:
Eleven years ago Washington's homebuilders, real-estate agents and big timber companies teamed up with the state Farm Bureau to supply most of the money and muscle behind a property-rights initiative that voters ultimately rejected.

A similar measure, Initiative 933, has qualified for the November ballot. This time, though, the Farm Bureau is pretty much running the show alone.

Its powerful allies from 1995 either are sitting on the fence, decided to remain neutral or have embraced Initiative 933 only half-heartedly.

The state's leading developers are providing scant backing for a measure opponents label a "developers' initiative."
They all have their reasons: the BIAW, of course, is busy trying to pack the state Supreme Court. The Realtors and Master Builders say their members are divided or the initiative itself is poorly drafted. But perhaps there is something else:
Western Washington University political scientist Todd Donovan says those organizations' minimal involvement in the I-933 campaign may signal they have made their peace, to some extent, with the land-use and environmental laws that pushed them into the property-rights camp a decade ago.

"The Growth Management Act has been around a long time," Donovan says. "It's the status quo now."
And, surprisingly, the same goes for the timber industry:
In 1995 Simpson Timber, Plum Creek and Longview Fibre — all owners of large expanses of Washington timberland — were among the top 10 donors to Referendum 48. This time they're neutral.


Much has changed since 1995, he said: The industry has agreed to rules that limit logging along streams and elsewhere, in part because it recognized federal endangered-species regulations could trump anything the state did.

"We've come to the conclusion that we can live with the regulatory environment in which we're working now," Wilkerson said.
Most of the resources for the Yes on I-933 campaign will have to be provided by the Farm Bureau or Howard Rich, the out of state, right wing real estate mogul who has supplied hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding for signature gathering.

I-933 is probably the most dangerous initiative on the November ballot, assuming I-917 does not qualify. It's dangerous because in one fell swoop it neutralizes or eliminates most of the Evergreen State's growth management or anti-sprawl regulations. That's why a broad coalition, including Futurewise, PCC Natural Markets, the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, League of Women Voters, and Permanent Defense has formed to fight it.

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