20 years in Sammamish

I was cleaning out some old photos the other day and came across one that is perhaps as representative as any of how Sammamish changed in the last 20 years.

SE8th Sammamish 19960002

SE 8th St. east of Skyline High School at the bottom of the hill, left, in 1996. Compare SE 8th to today. Right, that winter in a rare, heavy snow.

I moved here in May 1996, from Dallas. I had come home for lunch one day and found a huge, open field behind my house marked by surveyors. I decided then and there to move away from what looked like planned development. Having been to the Seattle area and the San Juan Islands a short time before, I decided to move here for a lifestyle change.

I chose what was then unincorporated King County because it was near mountains and water, and in the winter, snow (at least then, this was true). I chose SE 8th St. because it was a small country road with few houses.

Little did I know.

Some time after I moved into 23410 SE 8th St., at the bottom of the hill east of Skyline High School, I learned King County was processing applications for what at the time was 1,500 homes to the east. SE 8th was to become a three lane road–an arterial in road-building parlance. The entire Plateau was designated an Urban Growth Area (UGA), inside the far eastern edge of the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB), where growth would be directed from designated rural areas. A year or two later, I learned that the Plateau was under consideration to become a “receiving” area for Transfer Development Rights (TDRs) for those sold in the North Bend area.

I approached King County to ask that traffic calming be installed on SE 8th as it was developed to slow traffic that inevitably would pick up speed down the hill and accelerate up the hill–on either side of my house–as cars went west to 228th Ave. King County told me to no, it didn’t do that with arterials.

It was then that I filed my first appeal, against a project called the Greens at Beaver Crest. All I wanted was traffic calming. The County said no. This bull-headed position would lead to big changes for the County, for what would become Sammamish, and for me.

After the appeal was filed on Greens at Beaver Crest, the developer, Murray Franklyn, obtained the County approval for a companion project, which I also appealed. One day after these appeals were filed, I came home to find a book of documents on my doorstep. Someone whom I did not know, Tom Harmon, had dropped off information about appealing development at King County. It was through Harmon that I became acquainted with a civic group called SHOUT, Sammamish Home Owners United Together. SHOUT was led by David Irons Sr. and his family. It was dedicated to stopping growth on the Plateau, a utopian goal but one that was destined to failure because of state laws and property rights. Still, SHOUT would succeed in slowing growth a bit–but in its calls for a building moratorium and incorporation, spurred developers to file as many applications for development as possible to vest to County code and get projects started before a moratorium might be implemented.

These appeals would proceed for nearly 18 months. The principal issues were traffic, though there were some environmental issues involved as well. The traffic issues were the Achilles heel of the County’s project approvals.

By Scott Hamilton

A subsequent post will detail the traffic issues and how King County manipulated the “black box.” Periodically I will post reminiscences and history of Sammamish in the 20 years that I’ve been here. These are from my perspective and not intended to be completely objective recollections. Nonetheless, these historical musings may be of interest.

6 thoughts on “20 years in Sammamish

  1. I moved here in 1979 asking the real estate agent to locate me no more than 30 minutes from the PACCAR plant in Renton. My wife and I immediately joined a group called the Friends of the Plateau dedicated to having the plateau be outside the urban boundary of the growth management laws being passed at that time. Other member I remember were the Lynette’s now in the middle of the city center, the Bells, whose home is now the center of big rock park, and the lady that owned the goat farm which is now turning into a huge development.
    FOP lost that battle and the plateau was included in the urban development. It was pretty obvious from that point what was going to happen and it did.
    I don’t begrudges the 47,000 people who moved here after me the right to be here and I enjoy most all of them. I accept the traffic that came with it and believe it’s going to be continually modified to be better. Although I’m not sure about this latest Traffic synchronization software.

    PS I can still get to Renton in 30 minutes but I have to leave the house at 6 AM not 8 AM as in the old days. Thank God I’m retired.

  2. How ironic that the Irons are now looking at selling their property to Murray Franklin. Where currently 3 houses stand, could soon be 17 houses.

  3. Pingback: History of Sammamish resumes today | Sammamish Comment

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