While many letters to The Sammamish Review and comments to the Sammamish City Council have recently focused on the Lake Sammamish Trail from Inglewood Hill north to the Redmond city limits, residents south of Inglewood Hill to the Issaquah city limits are next on the trail “improvement” list.
Residents have until Oct. 29 to comment to the City and the County on plans to extend the 18 ft wide extreme makeover this distance. Trees will be destroyed in the name of building this “improvement” to city, county and federal standards. (Eighteen feet is the width of a land-and-a half of East Lake Sammamish Parkway.)
The City and the County have it within discretion to make small adjustments to standards. In most cases, aligning the trail slightly toward ELSP will save trees adjacent the west side of the trail. I spoke with a county official who said this would encroach on the wetlands. In walking the trail end-to-end, most “wetlands” are nothing more than drainage ditches, and in any event in most cases these ditches may be moved slightly toward ELSP.
Finally, the trade off between wetland and trees ignores the environmental benefits of trees: capturing stormwater runoff, stabilizing slopes and protecting the lake. They also help cool temperatures. My car’s thermometer shows as much as a 5 degree difference on hot days from the Safeway complex to my neighborhood, which is surrounded by cedar trees.
Residents need to flood the City and County with comments. Unfortunately, too many members of our city council appear uninterested in public opinion (as letter writers and the Oct. 8 editorial suggest). It took Councilmember Ramiro Valderrama months to get the city to put the north end on the agenda and to do something about the rape-and-scrape destruction of a thousand trees (by one count) on the north end of the trail. The County ran rough-shod over objections and pleas to be selective and careful.
The emergency tree ordinance just passed by the Council this week isn’t sufficient to prevent a similar slaughter on the south end of the project, Valderrama told me last night.
Public comments to the application by October 29 and public comment to the City Council is necessary. But in the end, appeals of the city permit and the shoreline management permit may be the only alternatives.