Woodinville: Rural, Urban or Suburban?

How do you characterize our community? Lawmakers’ definition has a direct impact on growth in Woodinville.


Woodinville has changed greatly since the Woodin Family first built their homestead in 1871. There are sidewalks along NE 175th Street, family-friendly businesses have replaced Goodtime Charley’s topless-dance club. The downtown has been developed, with redevelopment on the horizon. Woodinville has , , , a new (outside the city limits on NE Woodinville-Duvall Road), a Tourist District and the usual services needed for modern life.

Looking at Woodinville today, it seems to be a mix of urban, suburban and rural. Larry Lewis, a columnist on Shoreline-Lake Forest Park Patch, wrote last week about what constitutes suburbia (). In that article he wrote:

Mark Hinshaw wrote in Crosscut “It occurs to me that the very term “suburb” may have outlived its usefulness. In an earlier era, when large, mature cities were surrounded by expansive subdivisions and shopping malls, this might have reflected a definite distinction. In those times, “bedroom suburbs” lived up their name as nighttime havens of mostly white families, often with a stay-at-home mother and a commuting father. Those were your grandfather’s suburbs.”

King County views the City of Woodinville as urban and unincorporated Woodinville as rural. So, 17 parcels of land along 140th Place NE, many that are fully developed (, , ), are on unincorporated land and considered rural by the county, which will not change the Urban Growth Boundary to allow the city to annex that land (story to come). Where a property lands on the county’s Comprehensive Plan (which is currently under review by the county council) determines things like whether sidewalks or bike lanes may be added to a neighborhood.

So, how do you characterize Woodinville, urban, suburban or rural? 

Braunzie March 10, 2012 at 04:34 AM
Woodinville can do a better job of determining their identity. Your article is well taken.
Annie Archer (Editor) March 10, 2012 at 04:54 AM
Thanks Braunzie, I'll be doing more stories in the subject in the coming weeks. In an area such as Woodinville, where you have one large community but part is city and part is unincorporated, there are competing government forces determining how development will occur, and the people living here are usually the last ones to be asked about what should be done.
Kim Weers March 10, 2012 at 04:55 PM
I think of the city as "Urban" and the unincorporated as "Rural", and I hope the area will remain that way. I believe that people who have moved here in the last 30 years (I've been here much longer) came mostly for the availability of nearby outdoor activities, opportunities to enjoy gardens, farms, forests, and yet be within reach of more urbanized cities. It would be nice to contain "Suburban" sprawl, keep the central retail area as as easy place for shoppers, let the "Historic District" be just that, and maintain the original character of Woodinville as much as possible.
Annie Archer (Editor) March 10, 2012 at 05:13 PM
I agree Kim, that a good portion of unincop Woodinville is rural, but what about the Cottage Lake area? Is that rural or suburban? I've been talking with the county and it's fascinating to what they consider rural "character" and that definition leads, at times, to a lack of basic services in some rural areas of the county (not so much here in Woodinville). I'm waiting to hear back from officials as to the legal definition of urban, suburban and rural.
Annie Archer (Editor) March 10, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Hey Kim, do you have any photos of downtown in past decades? The Water District's photos didn't scan well.
Joan Stoneking March 10, 2012 at 06:30 PM
I think it would us readers to know the actual definition of urban, suburban and rural. We are a mix here in Woodinville and it seems the push is to make us a high density city. I live next to the Wood Trails proposed development that has been fought over for 5 years and Phoenix is back at it again. As it stands, my house alone will face approximately 7 of theirs. More noise, cars, pollution, etc. Is this urban, suburban or rural? Right now it is just a very heavily wooded hillside - looks very rural to me! But we are 2 miles from downtown and considered "city". This development will in effect be an "island" of high density housing.- not conducive to the character we all value in Woodinville and why all of us DID NOT choose Bellevue, etc. to move to.
Annie Archer (Editor) March 10, 2012 at 06:53 PM
That area, and the proposed development, is a great example of why these definitions are so important. I'm hoping the county gets back to me on Monday, I'll post a story on the answer as soon as they do. Also, Tuesday's 7 p.m. council meeting has that new development on the agenda, I'll be posting a story on it on Monday.
@Gina Guajardo March 12, 2012 at 11:28 PM
I love the mixed charachter of Woodinville and think that it should remain that way, with an urban core and a mix of suburban and rural areas. Driving on the 156th and then 75th street through the Wellington neighborhood you feel like you are far in the country with the convenience of a somewhat vibrant downtown 5 minutes away. Thare are not many areas like that anymore, and in the future that would make us even more unique and valuable. I hope the councilmembers will agree with me.
Annie Archer (Editor) March 13, 2012 at 12:14 AM
Gina, I have a story posting tomorrow at 9 am on a proposed development in just the area of Wellington you're talking about that would add an additional 24 houses on much smaller lots than what has been there historically.
Sue R March 13, 2012 at 03:53 AM
Gina, I wouldn't worry about the councilmembers agreeing with your views. All 3 winners- Rubstello, Aspen and Hageman- ran on a platform for protecting the rural R1 character of Wellington as you may recall. Their answers to campaign questions for growth and zoning questions are archived right here on the Woodinville Patch site for your review.
Greg Fazzio March 13, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Sue R: In theory you would be correct, but the reality of their voting record thus far has not matched their promises. In fact, Hageman refused to vote at all on the temporary moratorium regarding single family residential exceeding base zone density, citing some lame excuse about fearing for his family and being personally sued. The whole scene was rather pathetic. And Rubstello voted the opposite of how he voted as a planning commissioner, opposing the moratorium. Local real estate developers funded their campaigns and they are now beholden to those interests. If you assume they'll do the right thing and protect the individual character of all Woodinville neighborhoods as they promised, you do so at your own peril. If you care about preserving the rural feel of our city, then you must attend tonight's council meeting and join in solidarity with your neighbors. Clear cutting hillsides and installing high density development is NOT the answer. Remember, if the developer can build more units they'll make more money- it's that simple. Once the project is done, they move on to the next city and we are left with more traffic, more noise and more pressure on our already inadequate infrastructure. For a quick summary on how we got to this point please read Annie Archer's article in today's Patch regarding the public hearing at tonight's council meeting. Thank you.
Sue R March 13, 2012 at 11:53 PM
Thank you Greg. Politicians nowadays seem to all be cut from the same cloth. They make promises during elections to get themselves elected that they do not keep. It is very unnerving to think that people in our own neighborhoods do this against their very own neighbors. I will be there tonight to show my disgust with their selfish behavior.
Greg Fazzio March 14, 2012 at 01:18 AM
I'll be there as well. Thanks for your support!


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