“Common Sense Sammamish” omits vital information

I’ve been critical of the City of Sammamish for omitting risk information from the data provided the public over the proposed public-private Community Center with the YMCA.

My household received a mailer October 15 from Common Sense Sammamish. The mailer is a campaign against the Community Center and while it identifies the website, there is no information about who is behind the mailer, or who is funding it.

There is a phone number on the website that answers with Columbia Fitness Center. Cy Oskoui is the CEO of the two Columbia Fitness Centers in Sammamish and he, along with two others, wrote the opposition statement in the Voters Guide.

We believe voters have a right to know this connection to the mailer, just as they have a right to know the risk factors that the City should have disclosed.

It is unclear whether the mailer violates election laws for disclosure and whether financial and registration filings with the State are required. We couldn’t find any when we searched the Public Disclosure Commission website. We have inquired of the PDC about this.

Update: Hank and The Frame Guy (see Comments) were able to find the PDC filings. From experience, the search engine is sort of hit-and-miss, and thanks to both for finding the information.

The mailer does not reveal the Top 5 contributors (or in this case, the only one) as required by law, but since Oskoui is not a professional, this error and omission may be considered “technical.”

Nonetheless, I think it important that voters know the connection between “Common Sense Sammamish” and Oskoui, the CEO of the two Sammamish fitness centers, who will be directly impacted by the Y-Sammamish center.

Columbia Fitness in Issaquah closed some time ago and the lease for the one in Saffron (across from the Safeway complex) expires in 2015. I recently rejoined this one (at a monthly individual cost that is $4 less than the price proposed by the Y, by the way) and it’s not well populated when I go. This, of course, raises the question of just how well it’s doing anyway and whether the Y might be an excuse to close it when the lease expires. (“Enquiring minds want to know.”)

As for the flier’s claim jobs will be lost: well, yes and no. Columbia (and perhaps Pine Lake Fitness Center) jobs might be lost. But one presumes these may be offset by the Y, so it could be a wash.

11 thoughts on ““Common Sense Sammamish” omits vital information

  1. Hi Scott,

    If you look at “Common Sense Sammamish” on the PDC website, you’ll find that Cy is the only listed contributor and that he has already invested $15,000 in his “No” campaign.


    • When I searched the PDC website, it came back “No Results,” but the search engine doesn’t always work well. Thanks, Hank, and Frame Guy, for finding the info.

  2. As much as I want a pool facility for my family I don’t want one if I have to deal with the YMCA and still pay significant use fees. Why bother spend $25M of our tax dollars and then make me pay a high use fee and let the YMCA get to manage and operate it? I’ve never been to a YMCA facility that was well managed and maintained. I’m voting NO for those reasons only…and not because Columbia Fitness will have competition. Competition is healthy…maybe their facility and membership fees will improve with competition.

  3. I’m going to use round numbers to make this simple (my numbers are off by a few dollars). For a family membership at Columbia Fitness at Saffron, it is $100 a month. For a family membership at Pine Lake Club, it is $200 a month. The proposed community center would cost a family $100 a month … or $20 a day for day use. You can’t compare the $100 at Columbia Fitness to the $100 at the community center because Columbia Fitness doesn’t have nearly the same facilities. You can compare the $200 Pine Lake Club membership to the community center because the facilities are similar. A family would save about $100 a month with the community center membership. Also, a Sammamish family doesn’t have to choose the monthly membership option … a daily fee is available.

    Also, we shouldn’t forget the infrastructure that comes with the community center; loop road and 300 stall parking garage. Both those are desperately needed on the commons property.

  4. How would you like it if the city got involved in whatever business you are employed in by giving money, lots of money, to a competitor so they could undercut your business and you lost your job or worse yet, your business. Would you think that fair? I doubt it.

  5. For me, there is a total difference between the Community Center and the Pine Lake Club. The Pine Lake Club is exclusive, a gated community if you will. There is a high barrier to entry and doesn’t serve the community in the same way that a Community Center would. For example, I see 3 high schools in Sammamish that can use the Community Center public pool for their swimming programs. I also know we have youths in the community that are unable to play on basketball teams because those teams aren’t formed due to limited public gym space in the community. Why does the city invest in parks and ball fields in those parks? I see the Community Center as a park; it’s just another playing field for the public to use. Just as the league Leagues on the plateau must pay to “rent” the field space, users of the community center must pay rent to use the facilities. Whether the Community Center is built or not, the Pine Lake Club will exist. Both facilities serve different demographics. Yes, there is some demographic overlap, but Sammamish continues to grow and there is room for both.

    • Wishful thinking. If the Pine Lake Club only looses 20% of it’s members, it will become unprofitable. If the Pine Lake Club stays in business, the Y won’t have enough business to be profitable. Demographics show, and the Y agrees, that only about 10% of the population will use these types of facilities.
      The Y has not indicated that the pools will be available to the high schools, even when asked.

      • But that’s the point I made with regards to the Y having ANY involvement. I don’t want them managing ANYTHING that is paid for by our tax dollars. The high schools should be able to use the pool, period. On the Pine Lake Club…and all fitness clubs for that matter, always oversell memberships to make the money they want/need, knowing full well only a small number actually will use the facility on a regular basis. For a community facility, membership usage isn’t much of an issue because profit isn’t required. The library was in a similar situation…though there wasn’t an organization like the Y involved. My point is many people complained about the spend…yet looking back it was a fantastic investment and usage of the library has significantly improved. Ok… maybe this isn’t an apples to apples comparison since the City didn’t have quite the same financial stake with the library as is the case with the Community Center.

  6. I guess I don’t understand why having the Y manage the facility is a problem? Isn’t managing facilities like this part of their business? I would say they are more qualified to manage it than the city of Sammamish. Since this is a city owned facility and not a Y owned facility, I’m sure the city will have some “say” in regards to how the building is used: i.e. reserved pool time for the high schools. If you look “big picture,” this proposed facility is much more than a health club. It will be a “community center,” part of the overall commons. The building, parking garage and loop road are infrastructure investments in our community.

    • It is a no bid contract. Another developer offered to build a community center with his own money if the city would provide the land. The city sees no $ return on investment and only has the downside. If the center is not successful the Y can pull out. At least that was part of the most recent negotiations. The center itself is about 20,000 sq ft (1/3 larger) than the facility the Y would have chosen to put in for a community our size.

      Incidentally, the Pine lake club has a great community feel.

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