Land Zoning Change Considered, Possibly Opening Door to More Development in North Bend, Snoqualmie

The topic of development in the Snoqualmie Valley is often a contentious one, as the once predominantly rural area has become home to [sub]urban sprawl over the past two decades.

But just how does that development happen? What opens the door?  One word: zoning.

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

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

It all comes down to urban zoning. In King County, zoning is what opens the door to future development. In particular – urban zoning and the addition to the county’s Urban Growth Area.

King County Updating 2016 Comprehensive Plan

Every four years, King County reviews its Comprehensive Plan, which can change land parcel zoning across the county. For the 2016 Comprehensive Plan, King County is considering changing the zoning of eight land parcels in North Bend at I-90 exit 32, near the Snoqualmie River and including Cascade Golf Course.  The County says three corners of the exit 32 area are already in its Urban Growth Area

In Snoqualmie, land parcels north of the I-90 / SR 18 interchange are once again being considered for an urban re-zone. The City of Snoqualmie has tried twice before to have this zoning changed to make way for retail development in order to solve a retail leakage problem city officials say exists.

Currently, the North Bend and Snoqualmie land parcels are part of a county UGA land use study/review, which will look at the specific land and environmental constraints of each property to determine if the land is suitable for urban zoning and potential development. If the zoning changes, it would be 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.

According to the King County Executive’s Office (KCEO) Office of Performance, Strategy and Budget, the request to review the land zoning, and the potential change to urban, came through the King County Council. The KCEO was not aware of the intent for the land if the urban designation was granted. The county says the final say on that would come from the city if and/or when the land was annexed, but said typically residential housing occurs.

Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson explained that anyone wanting an amendment to the King County Comprehensive Plan had to submit that request to the county by April 30th on what is called a “docket.” Larson said in April he worked with King County Council Members Dembowski and Lambert to get the I-90/SR 18 land parcels on the docket and that the owner of the North Bend land was also in council chambers with a similar request for that property.

In mid July, a letter was sent to residents living within 500 feet of the North Bend land parcels stating, “Through the summer, staff at the Department of Permitting and Environmental Review, in consultation with the King County Executive’s Office, will be analyzing information and developing recommendations on these area studies.”

After the studies are completed, a Public Review Draft of proposed changes to the 2016 King County Comprehensive Plan will available in November. Some zoning changes may be recommended and some may not.

At that time, public meetings will be held and the residents can comment on the proposed changes that made it through the land use studies. The King County Council is expected to review and adopt the updates in spring 2016.

King County says one key part to the whole process is that people can give input, both now and when the Review Draft becomes public.  Residents living near land parcels being considered for the zoning changes can contact Josh Johnson with questions or comments at

More information on the 2016 King County Comprehensive Plan can be found HERE.

land studies
King County Comprehensive Plan UGA Land Use Studies. Snoqualmie land parcels are area 11 and North Bend land parcels are area 12.



Comments are closed.


  • This is a good article alerting local residents in advance of possible land use changes allowing their voice to be heard before any zoning changes and possible construction begins. Many times, opinions, gripes, and articles are voiced in hind sight too late after changes are official an legalized.

  • Living Snoqualmie