Letter to the Editor: People should pay taxes for public land they are using

Thursday, July 28, 2011

To the Editor:

Current politics in Lake Forest Park seem to revolve around the issues of opposition to new taxes and the need for budget cuts. But there are sources of revenues in LFP that could be tapped without raising tax rates, specifically properties for which taxes are not now being collected. I am referring to encroachments on public lands by adjacent property owners. There are significant public land areas that have been encroached upon by private property owners, including the construction of buildings on public properties for private use. 

The most egregious examples of this practice are along the Burke Gilman Trail in LFP. Some of these encroachments have various degrees of documentation of permission from King County over the years, but to my knowledge, none of the encroachers has paid taxes on the land they have appropriated or on the structures they have built on public land. 

The amount of lost revenue that could be recovered is significant in our present budget crisis. So, I propose that LFP join with King County to charge fees equivalent to the taxes owed for land areas and structures that encroach on public lands. LFP residents enjoy fine living close to major economic centers, but we all have to pay for the services that the City provides. I and all other LFP residents pay property tax proportionate to the land and structures we occupy; why shouldn’t the encroachers on public land do the same? Why should they be allowed to freeload?

Will the candidates for LFP Mayor and Council pledge to support a partnership with the County to recover revenues from these untaxed land uses? What about the LFP Gov Watch group: Will they support a fair and equitable recovery of revenues from those who have encroached on public lands or do they insist on cuts only?

Stuart Strand
Lake Forest Park


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