Misleading on the Town Center, again

My post below on the Town Center, with a link to a Sammamish Review story, prompted a long response from John Galvin.

There you go again, Johnny, misstating facts throughout your tirade. There are so many errors and omissions that it’s hard to know where to begin. I’ll suffice it to the following.

The Town Center plan evolved from work and review performed by the Planning Advisory Board (PAB), the Special Study Area Task Force, the Town Center Committee, the Park Board, the Park Bond Advisory Committee and two Planning Commissions. There were many, many public meetings and workshops involving scores of citizens. There were about 100 citizens involved these seven formal committees and commissions, of which I was just a single voice. The idea that I was solely responsible for the plan is preposterous.

The PAB’s work in drafting the Comprehensive Plan included two major alternatives. One was called the Village Concept in which commercial/retail centers were suggested at various locations throughout the city, including at what ultimately became the Town Center. Another was the Corridor Concept, which provided commercial the entire length of 228th from the existing Pine Lake Center to the Sammamish Highland Center.

At a public meeting attended by 200 citizens, the public roundly rejected either concept. This citizen input was key to what happened next.

The PAB was prepared to wrap up its work with focus on the “town center” its last piece of business. The 2001-2003 City Council and City Manager were anxious to complete the Comp Plan in record time (18 months vs the typically 36) and directed the PAB to stop work before completing the final element of the “town center.” To comply with this direct order from the Council and state requirements, the PAB provisionally zoned the “town center” R-4 residential.

At the City Council’s direction, a Special Study Area Task Force was then formed and the formal Town Center process began.

As process proceeded, the above-named committees reviewed various elements and the recommendations emerged into the final plan that was sent to two City Councils.

All work output from the above-named groups was recommendations. Two City Councils over the multi-year process made the final decisions.

To summarize to this point: hundreds of citizens were involved from the populace at large. About 100 citizens were appointed by the Council to seven committees and commissions. Two City Councils reviewed the recommendations and had the final decision.

Johnny’s advocacy was in the small minority throughout the process. I don’t begrudge his advocacy, but it was clear what he proposed is not what the citizens wanted nor what the seven committees and commissions concluded was the best course.

Johnny is persistent if nothing else. He proposed a “Docket Request” for a comprehensive plan amendment calling for a broad upsizing of the Town Center to a scale that would allow his “proportionate” share of 300,000 sf in the SE Quadrant, where he lives. The math equated to increasing commercial from 600,000 sf to 1.2 million sf, the size of Redmond Town Center. The City Council (a third one) rejected this on a 5-2 vote.

Not to be deterred, Galvin ran for City Council last year in the August primary, with his vision of the Town Center one of his key platforms. 75% of the citizens casting ballots in this race voted for his two opponents. This is a massive landslide rejection of his views.

Still undeterred, Galvin then supported candidates in two other races who made the Town Center key elements of their campaigns, supporting Galvin’s vision. One received only 43% of the vote and the other a mere 32%, landslide rejection once more of Galvin’s pave-it-over vision.

Finally, there is the annual survey done by the City in which only 1% said a Town Center is important to them.

Johnny’s persistence is admirable. But citizens of Sammamish have spoken. They don’t support his views.

Galvin also argues that policies developed for the Town Center are too restrictive, and places the responsibility entirely on me. Of course, this too is preposterous since I was only one of 100 voices on the seven committees and commissions.

But what Johnny doesn’t know is that in January 2012 I submitted a long memo to the City staff outlining proposals for Small Business Incentives (which would have helped Ace Hardware develop in the Town Center) and Enterprise Zones that in the Town Center and elsewhere in the City involving incentives for commercial development. I suggested relaxing the requirements for parking garages and affordable housing in the Town Center.

These proposals were put on the shelf by the City Manager and the City Council’s Economic Development Committee (EDC), and that’s where they sit today. The Planning Commission received a copy, but nothing happened there. The Sammamish Review received a copy but never wrote anything up.

The City Manager opposed any changes to the Town Center plan. The EDC had other priorities.

If I were as all-powerful as Johnny suggests, I could have snapped my fingers and made these changes. But I get ignored by the City as much as the next guy.

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