County Recommends NO Urban Growth Area Expansion in North Bend, Snoqualmie; No Fall City Business District Expansion

Each time King County updates its Comprehensive Plan, a door is opened to possible development in rural [zoned] areas of the county, including the Snoqualmie Valley.

Around the Valley the topic, or the “D Word”, is contentious: Development.  And at the heart of the matter is zoning.

In King County a zoning change can take a piece of land once labeled “rural” and give it a new title – “urban.” Once that change happens, that land is added to the King County Urban Growth Area (UGA).

With that piece of the puzzle complete, cities can then choose to annex that UGA land into their city limits. Once that occurs, that particular city controls the specific type of urban zoning for that newly added land – like residential or commercial.

Those zoning changes happen when the King County opens up its Comprehensive Plan for updates, which is happening now.  The Public Review Draft of the 2016 Comp Plan was released in November.

Both North Bend and Snoqualmie had land under consideration/study for that key rural-to-urban zoning change: land near the I-90/SR 18 interchange in Snoqualmie and land near exit 32 in North Bend.

Snoqualmie Expansion Request

The City of Snoqualmie tried a third time to change the zoning on land just north of the busy 90/18 interchange to increase its retail offerings for residents – and once again the county is recommending no UGA expansion.

According to the Draft 2016 King County Comprehensive Plan, the City of Snoqualmie has sufficient buildable land capacity to accommodate forecasted job growth through at least 2031 and there is ample countywide capacity to meet both employment and residential growth targets of the city.

Basically, the county feels the city has enough commercial land capacity to meet residents’ needs and feels there are businesses in nearby towns to also meet those needs.

Snoqualmie land (outlined in red) studied for UGA expansion near the 90/18 interchange.
Snoqualmie land studied for UGA expansion near the 90/18 interchange.


North Bend Expansion Request

Some North Bend land owners were also requesting the county consider rezoning fourteen land parcels (nearly 100 acres) at I-90 exit 32, near the Snoqualmie River and including Cascade Golf Course. Three corners of the exit 32 area are already in the county’s Urban Growth Area.

The majority of the land studied over the summer is in the floodway and floodplain, with the main area located outside the floodplain being the golf course.

Even with an email from the North Bend City Administrator supporting the rezoning request and asking that the issue be included in the Comprehensive Plan update scope of work, the recommendation was to deny the UGA expansion at this time, but “consider a Four-to-One proposal should the property owner(s) apply.”

According to the draft comprehensive plan, a final decision had not been made as to whether all of the property owners involved would coordinate on a crucial Four-to-One proposal. Zoning changes are subject the 4-to-1 development program, meaning for every one acre of land added to the UGA for development, four acres would be added to King County’s dedicated, permanent open space system.

Even if this land is added to the UGA in the future, per the 4-to-1 development guidelines, only about 20 acres could actually be developed and the rest would be designated open space.

North Bend land studied (in red) for UGA expansion at I-90 exit 32.
North Bend land studied (in red) for UGA expansion at I-90 exit 32.


Fall City Business District Expansion Request

Also under consideration in the Comprehensive Plan was an expansion of the Fall City Business District Boundaries.

Although the county is recommending no expansion at this time, stating “the expansion is premature as not decisions have been made regarding a needed wastewater treatment facility or alternative treatment method,” King County did state that it will re-evaluate the expansion with the community once a wastewater treatment analysis is completed. That analysis will assess the feasibility of developing a new wastewater treatment system for Fall City.

Upcoming Community Meeting 

King County has scheduled four community meetings to share and listen to community comments regarding the 2016 Draft Comprehensive Plan.

One of those meetings will happen in the Snoqualmie Valley on Wednesday, December 2, 2015 –  at the Fall City Fire Station, 4301 334th Place SE in Fall City from 6:30PM  to 8:30PM.




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  • Several people have noticed that, in order to find relatively competitive pricing and choice, one must leave Snoqualmie and head west…….to Issaquah and to Bellevue. Guess King County wants to keep it that way. Increased businesses in Snoqualmie could help pay any tax increases in the future……guess King County would rather homeowners absorbed them!!!!!!

  • I think the majority of people who moved to Snoqualmie from a larger city, love the fact that Snoqualmie is unique in that there aren’t huge big box stores and tons of fast food restaurants, billboards, etc., that one might find in a busier and less desirable city. I for one do not mind driving to North Bend or Issaquah to do my larger shopping trips. All the charm and character that Snoqaulmie has would quickly disappear once mega strip malls move in along with all the extra traffic that comes along with that.

  • And I think, the majority of people who moved to Snoqualmie from a larger city, wish that there was just a bit more to the city than “charm and character””! After all, Snoqualmie isn’t Bennington, Vermont!! I know I do……and so do so many of my friends and acquaintances on the Ridge!!!! No one is talking “”tons of fast food restaurants”, nor are they talking “huge big box stores”!! But, increased competition would offer better prices…..ridiculous price for gas at the Shell Station and higher prices at IGA in Snoqualmie and QFC in North Bend! I think part of the problem is the traffic, too, but it’s because we DO have to get on i90!!!……..and, as long as residents of Snoqualmie are forced to get on i90 and schlep to Issaquah or North Bend for everything they need, those communities will benefit from our tax dollars and we will be left with paying the bill!!!!!

  • Missed this when it happened.

    Not interested in a McDonalds and big box stores. But very interested in being able to live in my own town instead of having to go to Issaquah and North Bend for everything. The little bit of retail land we have is so expensive that people interested in opening businesses have a hard time justifying the risk. Snoqualmie’s development should not be held hostage to the Regional Planning Commission and the King County offices. Do we even have meaningful representation in these governing bodies? It always looks to me like theyre populated by people whose interests conflict with our own.

  • The congestion in Bellevue , Issaquah and the rest of the Eastside is why I moved to the valley in 2001. It’s beautiful here. It takes 15-20 minutes to get to all the stores anyone needs in Issaquah. Whenever urban development is expanded, strip malls and big box stores go in, not mom and pop shops. The big stores put all the little shops out of business. People will drive from E. WA to shop here and our roads will be packed. Keep our valley beautiful. I guess if you want to expand on the ridge, I don’t mind as much, but please don’t turn the valley into another Issaquah.

  • Living Snoqualmie