Voter approval of King County Charter Amendment No. 4 will strengthen the public process for protecting beloved open space, timberland and scenic vistas.

VOTERS can provide enhanced protection for 156,000 acres of high conservation value properties with approval of King County Charter Amendment No. 4.

King County already owns or is the steward for cherished open space, timberland, working forests and scenic vistas worthy of extra care and cautious oversight for future generations.

This is not a request to acquire more land or spend a penny of tax dollars. The amendment tightens the requirements for adding or removing property from an existing inventory by requiring a supermajority vote of the council, seven of nine affirmative votes.

The measure was placed on the ballot by a unanimous Metropolitan King County Council. Such was the universal, bipartisan appeal of the proposed change to the county charter.

As noted in the ballot statement in support of the amendment: “These irreplaceable properties include treasures such as Cougar and Taylor Mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, wildlife, and salmon habitat.” No statement was submitted in opposition to more protection for these special places.

Enforcing conservation protections on land held by the county can be a complicated, messy process that works backward to the terms and conditions of the sources of the land.

This charter amendment creates a transparent, public process that requires notices, hearings and findings of fact to explain why conditions justify a change in protected status, then a vote of the County Council.

A supporting ordinance identifies 96 properties as the baseline list from which the County Council would work. Land to be added or deleted from the list would go through the new process and stand the test of a supermajority council vote. An early idea to submit all changes to a public vote was discarded.

This open-space amendment received the overwhelming endorsement of the citizens on the charter review commission, and a 9-0 vote by the County Council. King County Charter Amendment No. 4 is worthy of strong support from voters.