- From tonight’s City Council meeting:
- City Staff and County Staff are meeting this week.
- The City Council wants the County to come to the March 3 council meeting to explain themselves.
- The City Council is hopping mad at the County. Member Ramiro Valderrama wants a discussion about withdrawing the Trail from the Inter Local Agreement (ILA) with the County, but this effort failed to muster a majority because it’s unknown what unintended consequences could be. This subject could be revisited if the March 3 County Come-to-Jesus meeting is unsatisfactory.
- Deputy Mayor Kathy Huckabay wants to give the County the “benefit of the doubt” over the “communications” issue. (!!!)
- Member Tom Odell, who had met with County officials about the North end troubles and came away cautiously optimistic, has “had it.”
- When the video tape of the meeting is posted on the City web site in about three or four days, the discussion at the top of the meeting (including a staff report) is worth watching. It takes about an hour. Then skip ahead to public comment for my remarks.
Now for my commentary today.
It’s not often I am gobsmacked by government, but one should never under estimate the incompetence of King County.
The County issued its design plans for that portion of the East Lake Sammamish Trail that runs from 33rd St (the 7-11) to the Issaquah City Limits, and it’s the identical design to the North end that has caused so much controversy.
Please see my post of Sunday, County to City, citizens: Drop Dead, for context.
I emailed the City Feb. 15 about the design. What I got back pretty much summed up the County’s position by this clip from the Paul Newman movie, Cool Hand Luke.
In an email Feb. 16 to me (subject as always to Public Records disclosure), Laura Philpot, assistant City Manager, advised:
We (city staff) are aware that the 90% plans released by the County do not address the City’s comments submitted at the 60% stage of the project. Our City Manager, Ben Yazici, and myself met with the Director of Parks for King County, Kevin Brown, on January 30 to express our concerns about a lack of response to our comments thus far. Mr. Brown shared the fact that they are working on addressing our comments; even now that the 90% have been released. He shared there was a breakdown in their internal communication and the design team did not receive our letter in a timely manner, but they are still committed to being more flexible. Mr. Brown and I have a more detailed follow up meeting scheduled later this week to review their progress. We will not be accepting the transfer of the permit from King County until such time our comments have been responded to.
I emailed Brown afterwards:
Following the issuance of the 90% design and tree retention plan for ELST Section 2A, I noted that the plans continue to call for an 18 ft wide trail and removal of up to 65% of the trees along this section.
I contacted the City of Sammamish and in part received the following (public records-eligible) reply from Laura Philpot of the city:
Our City Manager, Ben Yazici, and myself met with the Director of Parks for King County, Kevin Brown, on January 30 to express our concerns about a lack of response to our comments thus far. Mr. Brown shared the fact that they are working on addressing our comments; even now that the 90% have been released. He shared there was a breakdown in their internal communication and the design team did not receive our letter in a timely manner….
This raises the obvious question of whether any of the other public comments, including my own, were shared with the design team. Were all comments not communicated to the design team due to an “internal communications error”?
The excuse of an “internal communications error” defies belief. The Oct. 29 deadline for public comments, and the city’s interest were hardly a secret to the County and the design team. Common sense dictates that someone would have asked about them—if there was any real interest in considering them.
The lack of any design revisions to accommodate sensitive areas, to save more trees, etc., only solidifies the perception that (1) King County doesn’t give a darn about citizen comments per the “Comment Period,” (2) is so inflexible and adamant about deviating from a semi-truck-capable trail design that it’s willing to sacrifice the environment and neighborhood concerns in the process.
Given the high profile controversy over the Section 1 issues, the County’s 90% design of Section 2A demonstrates an appalling lack of sensitivity over the issues previously raised to the county. It is precisely this sort of thing that gives the county a bad name.
So that there is “no error of communications,” the underlying question stands:
What happened to all the other comments (including my own) that were submitted by the Oct. 29 Public Comment period deadline?
As yet I have not received an answer from Brown.