Sammamish Valley Agricultural Production District
The Sammamish Valley is physically, legally and philosophically on the
frontier between urban and rural development. In an era when development so
frequently runs roughshod over our nations landscape and communities, the
valley compliments the vision of a far-sighted citizenry who, decades ago,
saw the oncoming tide of thoughtless sprawl. They believed that they could
learn from history and not repeat others mistakes. Accordingly, they left
us this legacy of long-term land use planning, as well as the tools to carry
it through. It is now up to us to determine what legacy we will leave. Few
communities around the nation have what we have in this respect. It is our
responsibility to not squander it.
The 1979 Farmland Preservation Bond Program was the first impetus to protect dwindling farmland in King county. It was approved by the citizens of King County, who voted to tax themselves in order to protect farmland from non-agricultural development. It has been followed by provisions in the state GMA, embodied in our county Comprehensive Plan in the form of APDs.
The following are a selection of some of the points to be made in defining our perspectives on agriculture in the Sammamish Valley. While some of this is focused locally, most of it is applicable on a state-wide basis.
Agriculture is thriving in the valley.
- Virtually all farmland in the APD is in active agricultural use, except where the land is owned by speculators who disallow it. The Muller property is an example of a farm that was active until it was purchased by a soccer club, which has since disallowed any farming activities.
- Buyers and tenants are lined up to farm whenever an opportunity presents itsself. One prominant example is the South 47 Farm, which laid fallow for decades while the previous owners unsuccessfully attempted to change its designation from agriculture to commercial. It was recently purchased from them by a farming group and has been restored to active agriculture.
The farmland in the Sammamish Valley contains some of the richest soils in our state.
- Combined with the climate and proximity to markets, the Sammamish Valley is an excellent location for agricultural business.
- Across the USA and the world, the richest agricultural land is tends to be lost to urbanization in spite of growing population and demand for food.
Our communities benefit from having local farm products and activities in our midst.
- Designated agricultural land comprises only 3% of the land area in King County.
- There is a growing demand for fresh and organically grown food on our tables.
- Local farms provide our citizens educational and first hand experience opportunities.
- Ag lands contribute to a refreshing green belt effect bordering our urban/rural boundaries.
- Loss of agriculture near urban areas has a triggering effect for high density development. Once land is converted to non-ag use, including sports fields, it is lost to ag uses forever.
Agricultural businesses require and deserve long-term stability in land use designations.
- Successful farming requires much more than simply plowing some dirt and throwing out some seeds. Like most industries, it requires considerable investment of time, money and organization over many years to be successful. - Farmers will be disinclined to make these investments while threatened by the spector of changes in land use designations that would render their business unviable.
Supporting agricultural use requires policies that promote land sale and tax valuations which are consistent with the economics of agricultural business. - If our APD lands are designated for any uses other than agriculture, including sports facilities, their prices will be much higher than can be supported by agriculture.
- The relatively low price for land within the APDs is a primary reason they have been targeted by the soccer clubs.