Better planning needed

 

The Friends of Leavenworth affirm the cautionary tale of “Killing the Goose that Lays the Golden Eggs” that Bill Forhan mentioned in his August 29th editorial. Our concern is that growing our tourism industry over and above what our infrastructure can handle will end up squashing that Goose under the feet of the crowds. The Friends of Leavenworth group is not advocating for eliminating tourism or stopping all growth in the community. Rather, we are asking for the impacts of projects to be properly analyzed and appropriate mitigation undertaken concurrent with that development. In fact, the City of Leavenworth is legally bound to this objective since the Washington Administrative Code requires that “adequate facilities are available when the impacts of development occur, or within a specified time thereafter.” (WAC 365-196-840 1(b)). Growth that fails to mitigate for its impacts on infrastructure and natural resources will destroy the qualities that make Leavenworth a successful destination spot, as well as a desirable community for its residents. Unfortunately, the city’s policies and practices are not always consistent with the state’s requirements. It is ironic that the city is spending thousands of dollars on yet another parking study while approving the building of a large new Bierstube (beer hall) downtown that seats 300 patrons with no parking for their patrons or workers, or financial contribution for offsite parking. If developers don’t pay for their impacts, guess who the costs eventually fall to? The City and its taxpayers. We are not the only tourist destination that is struggling to reconcile the benefits of tourism with the impacts of development. The term “overtourism” has been coined to capture the global phenomena of tourists overwhelming a community and degrading not only the tourist experience but the quality of life for residents. There is a tipping point at which increasing tourism yields diminished returns for everyone. Friends of Leavenworth is calling for the City to establish a Commission of Tourism to address the inconsistencies in City policies and to create a forum for a dialogue among businesses that benefit from tourism, the valley residents and city officials. We agree with Bill Forhan that better planning for tourism is needed. 

Alan Hunt

Friends of Leavenworth

 

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