“Although low-to middle-income residents are most affected by zoning and land use decisions in their neighborhoods, they are rarely given real power in the city planning process. Instead, city planning departments and developers rig the process so that their interests are served, at the expense of local residents. The problem is, most times, residents don’t know they’re getting played.
‘Throughout the city, community groups tend to be seduced by what city planning claims is an open process,’ said Tom Angotti, director of the Hunter College Center for Community Planning and Development. ‘The truth of the matter is, a lot of communities don’t know zoning. [Information] is filtered through planners who have a stake in the game, which is to get the zoning through.’
“‘[City Planning] approaches a community to do a zoning study, and many community board people say, okay, let’s do a study. But the blueprint is already laid out; the formula is already clear,’ Angotti said. ‘The City Planning Department has already had a discussion with developers who know the pattern. So they have already moved in and bought land. Property owners have already been alerted to the possibility to an upzoning. So there is a tremendous up-value of the land, and [all these players] can make a killing,'” quoting Zara Nasir, Truthout.
This sounds exactly what happened in Yelm with the mega Thurston Highlands and Tahoma Terra developments, which eventually went bankrupt. The city did not have all of the water rights, yet the city approved the plats anyway – done deal. Except JZ Knight challenged the City of Yelm on the water rights issue, as she was/is a senior water rights holder, potentially adversely affected being downstream of the Yelm developments. She won in the WA Supreme Court.
Had she not been successful, the blueprint was “already laid out” and residents didn’t “know they were getting played.”
Though Knight won, the developers defaulted, the city had to seize a citizens water rights, leaving Yelm fleeced with unpaid taxes and fees in the 100s of thousands of dollars.