Gated communities in Enumclaw raises concerns and thwarts goals | Letter to the Editor

The Enumclaw Planning Commission will soon make a recommendation to the City Council that they adopt some proposed changes to the Enumclaw Comprehensive Plan. They have put a lot of thought and effort into this document, and are to be complimented for taking on the difficult task of integrating the wishes of a community having diverse viewpoints with Washington's Growth Management Act.

  • Friday, June 10, 2016 5:30pm
  • Opinion

The Enumclaw Planning Commission will soon make a recommendation to the City Council that they adopt some proposed changes to the Enumclaw Comprehensive Plan. They have put a lot of thought and effort into this document, and are to be complimented for taking on the difficult task of integrating the wishes of a community having diverse viewpoints with Washington’s Growth Management Act.

I am particularly impressed with the plan for transportation, including sections that promote connectivity among neighborhoods and the downtown core with a network of trails and sidewalks. These infrastructure developments make the town inviting to residents, visitors, and new homeowners.

The one area of concern I have with the plan is with the gated developments. Here are the issues I see:

1. Gated developments appear to thwart the goal of connecting the community.

In fact, they isolate rather than connect. Insiders have their own neighborhoods, recreational facilities and parks. Outsiders must route themselves around these enclaves to travel about the city.

2. Required three-car garages and minimum house and lot sizes obviously target only high-income buyers and thwart the goal of a mixed community.

A number of enclosed, homogeneous complexes is not a mixed community.

3. Enumclaw is a unique town with a unique history. One of the city policies that has fostered interaction among diverse neighbors is the “No private streets” ordinance.

It was enacted for a purpose. Obviously, that policy will have to be abandoned if gated developments are permitted.

4. As part of the city’s plan for connectivity, it has a grid system for its streets. A patchwork of gated developments will wreak havoc with the grid.

5. A market-driven approach is the antithesis of a plan.

A plan is a method of creating a preferred future, based upon the desires of the townspeople. The market-driven approach takes Enumclaw in directions based on what happens to be selling at a particular time but leaves permanent structural changes.

The proposed Comprehensive Plan dealing with gated developments assumes that the kind of new housing the city promotes should be market driven. That high-end buyers (the stated target group of this section) willing to live this far from upper-level employment would be seeking a housing tract, gated or not, is a questionable assumption. But even if they would, that is not the point. We should be creating the kind of town we want, not one they want. We can choose to be an open or closed community, and others who would be happy with our plan would be welcome to move here.

I am very supportive of the proposed revisions to the Enumclaw Comprehensive Plan but would suggest deleting the section on gated communities. There might be others who agree. Nearly all of the comments to the Planning Commission so far have been from real estate salespeople and out-of-town developers, who are supportive. Unfortunately, most of our citizens are unaware of this significant policy change and how it will alter the community. If you think closed developments, with a requirement for three-car garages, large houses and prescribed landscaping, are not what we want the future of Enumclaw to look like, you might want to contact the members of the City Council, who have the final word. To email all Council members at once, use the address: CouncilMembers@ci.enumclaw.wa.us

John Anderson

Enumclaw

More in Opinion

Supreme Court resets the playing field

The ruling on the Masterpiece Bakery v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case wasn’t a win for the right or a loss for the left; it’s a chance to do things right the second time around.

Supreme Court ruling shows sanity, moderation

The 14th Amendment equal protection clause does not negate the First Amendment religious freedom clause.

Initiative signatures are the new greenbacks

As of Wednesday, June 6, petitions for four statewide initiatives were getting circulated.

Public record battle brings in a mediator

A taskforce is also being put together, but it’s not clear who will be on it.

One almond latte, if you please | Wally’s World

There was a time in the distant past when a friend and… Continue reading

Eyman risking retirement funds on car tab initiative

Will the $500,000 investment be enough to get the initiative on a ballot?

U.S. isn’t the only nation flirting with trade wars

There’s another brewing between Alberta and British Columbia.

I wish I could stay in Enumclaw | Guest Columnist

There is a kindness and decency and desire to be a community in Enumclaw.

We live in frightening times

Our country is being torn apart from limb to limb, coast to coast.

Voting habits tied to feelings of security

The dangers of authoritarianism are a far greater threat to the nation than seeing rising racial equality and religious diversity brought about by immigration.

Gun rights advocates won the battle, but may lose the war

NRA leaders will need to decide if it’s worth putting resources into a fight in a Left Coast state versus investing in efforts to keep Republicans in control of Congress to prevent ideas like this initiative from becoming federal law.

Trump not accomplishing as much as supporters think

This is in response to Craig Chilton’s letter claiming Trump’s presidency is not a mistake because of all of his “accomplishments,” 81 signed pieces of legislation.