This is the “Sammamish Comment.” So why am I spending so much time on a water fight between Issaquah and the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District and the proposed annexation by Issaquah of Klahanie?
Because of the impacts on Sammamish, which could be profound.
The water fight and the annexation are the crescendo of long-running disputes between Sammamish and Issaquah, in which Issaquah has basically stiff-armed Sammamish at nearly every turn–most notably years-long efforts to adjust the financial contributions of the many partners in the Eastside Fire and Rescue (EFR) service.
Sammamish, by assessed value of the homes and land, pays the largest share into EFR. But Issaquah generates more calls. By Sammamish’s analysis, Issaquah should be paying about $500,000 a year more than it is based on the actual calls.
Issaquah refuses to adjust. Relations between Sammamish and Issaquah have reached a breaking point. Sammamish will decide soon whether to withdraw from EFR and form its own fire department or possibly even an alliance with Redmond.
Sammamish might close “Klahanie” fire station
Sammamish has warned that if Klahanie annexes to Issaquah, Station 83, more commonly known as the Klahanie fire station–which is owned by Sammamish and located at SE 32nd and Issaquah-Pine Lake Road–may be closed. Issaquah, according to our information from Sammamish, has already told our leaders it won’t buy the station.
This didn’t stop the Issaquah police chief from telling Klahanie residents that he could co-locate a police sub-station at the Klahanie fire station, a comment that came as a surprise to Sammamish officials.
Issaquah’s arrogance over EFR matters–and the continued unfair financial burden Sammamish taxpayers have because of Issaquah–is an issue unto itself but it’s also tied to the Klahanie annexation.
3/10s vs 3.7
Another reason annexation matters to Sammamish is that only 3/10th of Issaquah is contiguous to Klahanie but 3.7 miles of Sammamish is contiguous. Control over Issaquah-Pine Like Road, maintenance and improvements is an issue. So is what happens to Duthie Hill Road and Issaquah-Fall City roads. The latter two were supposed to be improved by King County a decade ago, but typically they weren’t. Sammamish residents in Trossachs, Aldarra and adjacent subdivisions are affected by the lack of improvements. From Sammamish’s perspective, our city council needs to have control because Issaquah, like the county, won’t do anything, or so the theory goes. (Whether Sammamish taxpayers want to take on the financial burden of $20m-$30m to improve these roads is a separate policy decision.)
Sammamish has formally take a position with the Boundary Review Board opposing annexation to Issaquah. So everything about the annexation is worthy of discussion in Sammamish Comment.
And then there is the dispute between Issaquah and the Sammamish Water District. I’ve already written a lot about this, and there will be more in the coming days. But from our city’s perspective, it comes succinctly down to this:
- Issaquah wants to resume injecting stormwater into a facility that failed in the past to prevent pollutants from contaminating an aquifer providing drinking water to 80% of our city (including where I live).
- Issaquah refuses to make technological improvements to this facility.
- Issaquah refused an offer by the Water District to co-fund improvements.
- Issaquah refuses to discuss this with Sammamish, the Water District or the public despite calls for public meetings to do so.
- Issaquah wants to engage in a hostile takeover of the 7% of the Water District that lies within Issaquah, including the three wells and aquifer that supply 40%-50% of the drinking water to the entire District, including Sammamish (and Klahanie).
- Dismemberment of the District in a hostile takeover is a detriment to the 93% of us who don’t reside in Issaquah.
- Dismemberment would mean higher water and sewer rates for the remainder of the District, and we’d have to get water from different sources.
Issaquah cannot be trusted to work cooperatively with Sammamish–this has been proved with the EFR issue, and on other more esoteric “inside baseball” issues. Issaquah officials have stiff-armed our City Council over and over.
This is why I’m spending so much time on the water war and on annexation.