Dan Evans has a problem: He wants to build a house on a five-acre, $127,250 parcel of land in western Washington's Jefferson County, but a county zoning ordinance says a new house needs 10 acres.
"I am a fourth-generation
landowner in Jefferson County and find it sad that a stroke of the
pen could prevent me from building a summer home for my children
and grandchildren," Evans wrote to county commissioners.
Just another landowner griping about obnoxious
regulations? Not quite. Evans is a former U.S. senator who also
served as governor from 1983 to 1989; the zoning ordinance is a
mandate of the 1990 Growth Management Act, a law Evans has long
supported as a necessary tool to control growth. But Evans now
wants the legislature to change the act "with a goal of
predictability and certainty for those who seek to build new
homes," reports the Seattle
The irony of Evans' situation
is not lost on the Building Industry Association of Washington,
which has long opposed Washington's tough law. "I don't think that
he ever suffered the indignity of being on the receiving end of a
regulation before," said executive director Tom McCabe. "Now that
he has, he wants to change the regulations."
Supporters of the law say commissioners are
partly to blame; they've resisted the act ever since it passed in
1990, and only imposed a temporary zoning ordinance after
developers flooded the county with building permits to beat the
"We're two or three
years behind schedule, so there is no clear coherent land-use
policy in place," said Robert Greenway of the Jefferson County
Planning Commission. "If we had a decent density policy in place,
there could be all sorts of possibilities for exceptions."
Evans, who opposed a property-rights initiative
defeated by voters in 1994, maintains there is no conflict between
his political philosophy and his attitude toward the zoning