Top 10 stories of 2015 in Sammamish

Sammamish Comment LogoHere are the Top 10 stories in Sammamish for 2015, as measured by readership on Sammamish Comment:

  1. Sammamish scrambles to join multi-state Cascadia Rising earthquake drill. This drill, set for next June, involves British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and Northern California. State, local, federal and provincial agencies are participating. Training is already underway. Sammamish Comment discovered the City of Sammamish skipped signing up (and later, skipped participating in its own Disaster Preparedness event at City Hall). After The Comment began making inquiries, City officials hastily told the relevant parties the City will participate after all.
  2. The City’s stealth campaign against Citizens for Sammamish, leader Shedd. CFS and its chairman Harry Shedd lobbied the City Council for more than a year to adopt an ordinance granting the right of initiative and referendum to Sammamish voters. Fearful of an abuse of the system, a la Tim Eyman, and by “big money,” the City Council refused to adopt an ordinance. Shedd was prepared to start a petition drive, when the Council at its retreat last January agreed to put an Advisory Vote on the ballot in April. The Council officially took a neutral position, but certain members of the Council, aided by the City Administration, undertook a secret campaign against the Vote and to kick CFS out of the Boys and Girls Club and Fire Station 82 (on north 228th Ave.), where CFS held meetings. The Advisory Vote passed by 10 points, 55%-45%. On a 5-1 vote (with one absent), the Council honored the citizens’ vote. The power of I&R took effect in October.
  3. Who’s who in the City Council election. 2015 was an election year for City Council. Three seats were up, and six candidates filed. This was The Comment’s third-most read story of the year.
  4. Complacency, willful ignorance, Council in-fighting mark Sammamish muffing lake trail issues. King County’s development of the northern end of the East Lake Sammamish Trail hurt the environment and ran roughshod over property owners, who had been complaining to the City for more than a year. It was only after Sammamish Comment exposed events in an 18-page investigative report that the City Council and Staff sprang to action. It was too late to go back and do more than band-aid work on the north end, but the County had an application for the Southern end of the trail development. Holding the County’s feet to the fire and negotiating, the City thought it had agreements with the County for more flexibility to avoid problems similar to the north end. City officials truly tried. The County appealed anyway, and the first of the hearings began on Dec. 16. The County also appealed to the State Shoreline Hearings Board. Some homeowners also appealed over questions about valid titles. While direct readership ranks this as the fourth most read story on The Comment, the pass-on rate was the highest in this blog’s history. Ranked this way, this story would have been No. 1.
  5. Election night results: Valderrama, Malchow and Hornish win by wide margins. This was the bitterest election since the first Council race in 1999. Incumbent Mayor Tom Vance was defeated by Tom Hornish. Former Mayor Mark Cross, an ally of Vance and Deputy Mayor Kathy Huckabay, also was defeated, by Christie Malchow. Ramiro Valderrama had token opposition and won reelection by the widest margin in City history.
  6. Intelligent Transportation System needs a refresher course. Known by the acronym ITS, this “smart” system measures traffic the length of 228th Ave. and works the traffic lights accordingly. Initial reaction was poor. Drivers complained of sitting through several cycles waiting for left turn green arrows or long times on cross streets waiting for green, even when there was little or no traffic. The City’s public works director promised reprogramming. As of Dec. 29, The Comment still observes the problems described herein. If there’s been a refresher course, the pupil flunked.
  7. City blocks environmental report in land use appeal. Appellants in the Kempton Downs subdivision in the southern end of the City hired a consultant to prepare an environmental report. Turns out through miscommunication, the consultant also did work for Sammamish on unrelated environmental issues. The City Attorney conflicted out the consultant, requiring the appellants to scramble to find new environmental experts. The appeal was heard by the Hearing Examiner during and after the election; the decision is due Jan. 21. The precincts involved voted 80%-90% for Valderrama, Malchow and Hornish over Vance and Cross. It’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature.
  8. County to City, citizens on East Lake Sammamish Trail: Drop Dead. Part of the process in a development application is public comment. When the County was going through the process for its application of the southern end of ELST, citizens and the City filed comments. When the so-called 60% design came out, the comments were almost universally ignored. Irate City officials threatened to deny the permit application, incensed their comments didn’t even show up in the County’s matrix. The County claimed the comments were lost. Two more designs were created by the County as City officials demanded more changes. The County nonetheless appealed the permit conditions.
  9. Hank Klein drops out of the City Council race. Parks commissioner Hank Klein was a last minute candidate, filing against Valderrama. Two months later, he decided to drop out of the race for “personal reasons.” It was too late to remove his name from the ballot, resulting in token opposition to Valderrama. Valderrama campaigned as if he had active opposition. He won with about 83% of the vote.
  10. Closing thoughts on the Sammamish election. As noted, the 2015 City Council election was the bitterest since 1999. The Comment on October 30, days before the election, provided closing thoughts about why changes were needed.


4 thoughts on “Top 10 stories of 2015 in Sammamish

  1. Scott, many, many thanks for all of your time and interest in keeping us informed on Sammamish issues this past year. You have truly made a difference in our lives. In my eyes, you are a true patriot.

    • Bob – I couldn’t agree more. Scott’s efforts in getting out the truth and keeping us informed with his critical analyses is much appreciated by this Sammamish citizen also as I am sure it is by many others. Scott, you definitely have made a difference – – – Muchas gracias!
      All the best to everyone for a wonderful 2016. May we all have good health and prosperity, and find an expanding neighborliness and improving environment in our fair City.

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