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King County Executive
Dow Constantine


Executive Constantine’s plan will ensure all King County residents have access to open spaces

Summary

Executive Constantine is proposing legislation that embraces recommendations put forward by the community-led Open Space Equity Cabinet and the Conservation Futures Advisory Committee to provide more access to open space in communities with the greatest needs.

Story

Executive Dow Constantine today announced a legislative package to the King County Council that will ensure King County prioritizes new investments in parks, forests, and other natural resources in communities that have the least access to greenspace.

One quarter of King County residents — about 500,000 people — do not live within easy access to a publicly-owned park, greenspace, or trail.

“The Open Space Equity Cabinet I convened last year delivered exactly what our region needs: A clear plan to ensure that everyone who calls King County home has easy access to greenspace,” said Executive Constantine. “Here – in the most beautiful part of this great nation – we will make open spaces open to all.”

The legislative package is based on recommendations from the Open Space Equity Cabinet that Executive Constantine convened last year to ensure that all King County residents have easy access to open space, including communities that have historically been underserved.The 21-member Open Space Equity Cabinet worked closely with the Conservation Futures Tax Advisory Committee, which recommended which land conservation projects should be funded in 2020.

The county is using its Conservation Futures Tax levy open space funding source to create new greenspace in communities with the greatest disparities. These communities are primarily located in South King County.

Executive Constantine’s Land Conservation Initiative – which the King County Council approved in 2018 – made it possible for the county and cities to protect open spaces that have the highest conservation value within next 30 years, before the opportunity is lost due to population growth and development pressure.

By borrowing against future conservation futures tax revenue, the county and cities can rapidly accelerate the amount of greenspace, forest, farmland, and habitat they can protect now and do so with minimal impact to taxpayers.

About 23 percent of the conservation funding provided by the county over the next several years would be generated by the King County Parks Levy if voters renew it during the August election.

The legislation is based recommendations of the Open Space Equity Cabinet and the Conservation Futures Tax Advisory Committee:

  • Explicitly integrates equity and social justice principles and practices into the Conservation Futures Tax levy grant program, which is the primary funding source for conservation efforts by the county and cities.
  • Modernizes processes for the Conservation Futures Tax and remove antiquated language in the King County Code.
  • Makes the process for cities receiving conservation funds more efficient.
  • Accelerates the pace of open space protection by exercising new bonding capacity for the Conservation Futures Tax that are ready to close in the near future.

Relevant links


Quotes

The Open Space Equity Cabinet I convened last year delivered exactly what our region needs: A clear plan to ensure that everyone who calls King County home has easy access to greenspace. Here – in the most beautiful part of this great nation – we will make open spaces open to all.

Dow Constantine, King County Executive

The Open Space Equity Cabinet truly embodies the spirit of community. Together, we have developed a path forward to begin to address critical open space needs and health disparities within our communities.

Lylianna Allala, Co-Chair of the King County Open Space Equity Cabinet

The Open Space Equity cabinet work is building a formula for transformational change across communities in King County that gets us closer to living up to our region’s legacy of seven generations of sustainability.

De’Sean Quinn, Co-Chair of the King County Open Space Equity Cabinet

Too often, those who do not have the ability to volunteer or take time out from work or family, are disengaged from policy and resource decisions. The Open Space Equity Cabinet has created more inclusive engagement through changes in policy which will result in more equitable investment in underserved parts of King County.

Tony To, Executive Director of HomeSight and member of the Open Space Equity Cabinet

The work of the Open Space Equity Cabinet is another way to teach our institutions how communities of color are necessary and relevant voices if we truly seek inclusion of others. Utilize our report as an opportunity to think bold, act respectively and learn from the wisdom of communities.

Sili Savusa, Executive Director, White Center Community Development Association and member of the Open Space Equity Cabinet

The commitment to accelerate the pace of land conservation is key. Whether it is farmland, parks in underserved neighborhoods, trails or conservation properties, they are all becoming more expensive and scarce.

Terry Lavender, Chair of the Conservation Futures Tax Advisory Committee

For more information, contact:

Chad Lewis, Executive Office, 206-263-1250


King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

Read the Executive's biography