City manager says Mullor inaccurate, “deeply offensive” with concurrency study

Miki Mullor

The Sammamish city manager cherry-picked three or four slides out of more than 90 to point to errors to discredit the concurrency study by citizen Miki Mullor.

But Lyman Howard didn’t address a key issue Mullor pointed out: that the City is using mostly 2012 traffic data, with a sprinkling of 2014 traffic counts, for its concurrency analysis.

Mullor’s concurrency study claimed the City is manipulating data in order to approve development.

Howard accused Mullor of political motives, though he withdrew his candidacy for City Council before releasing the study.

He said Mullor’s study was based on inaccurate information, using old traffic numbers as the concurrency base—but he ignored the City’s practice of using five year old data for its concurrency testing.

Howard called Mullor’s accusations inaccurate and “deeply offensive.”

Mullor, who was in the audience during the meeting, did not respond to the criticism.

Howard suggests a deep dive into the issues at the July 10 City Council meeting when the Transportation Master Plan will be presented.

Council Member Tom Hornish said that even after a year-and-a-half, there are elements of the Growth Management Act he doesn’t understand. Hornish noted that the Act is about “management,” not being mandated to take growth.

Member Christie Malchow pointed to the AM/PM measurement period and a decision to use the PM peak period rather than either the AM or PM periods, whichever is worse.

Member Kathy Huckabay said that previous Councils made policy decisions that affect when roads are improved.

Member Tom Odell said he is disturbed about the use of 2012/14 data and the AM/PM peak data issue needs to be revisited.

No discussion of a building moratorium occurred.

12 thoughts on “City manager says Mullor inaccurate, “deeply offensive” with concurrency study

  1. I have railed against the city for a lot of things… but it is hard to take a Powerpoint slide seriously when it’s littered with images of crying babies and shots of Emperor Palpatine, implying some kind of conspiracy. If I were a teacher, and someone presented that in my class, I’d have flunked them straight away for lack of professionalism. So, why should we as citizens take something like that seriously, let alone base a building moratorium off of it?

    Mr. Mullor is not a licensed engineer based on my search of the DOL’s website, so he is not a traffic expert in the eyes of the law. He is certainly entitled to his opinion, but the city should not be making a decision that impacts residents like a moratorium based on the research of an amateur. Mr. Mullor’s track record isn’t exactly stellar, either, having been sued by Microsoft in the past for having lied on his employment application.

    My initial questions for Mr. Mullor:

    – What training in traffic engineering does he have that should give the citizens of Sammamish the confidence necessary that his conclusions are correct? Has he run the numbers by a licensed, civil PE in transportation?
    – Did he ask the city why the numbers worked out the way they did, or did he just make the public records request and draw his own conclusions?
    – What evidence does Mr. Mullor have that individual city staff members want to push a pro-growth agenda? Numbers not adding up aren’t good enough to prove intent – you need emails or other communication demonstrating this. There certainly was evidence of this under Yazici, who was very pro-developer and scratched backs with those guys. But I see little evidence of that being the case under Lyman Howard.

    • To Concerned Citizen and others: I obviously reviewed Mullor’s PPT carefully before writing about it. While I agree (and told him so) that some of the illustrations didn’t add anything and in fact probably detracted from the presentation, given my own history with concurrency, both as an appellant and on city commissions, I found his findings troubling and worthy of the the attention I gave it.

      To me the most troubling is the use of five year old data by the city. Notice that Howard did not address this issue.

      • I’d like Lyman to address that issue too… but Mr. Mullor has a number of questions to answer as well. Did he give the opportunity to Mr. Howard, Mr. Leniszewski, and Mr. Zagars to address this before putting together a “gotcha” PPT deck? Did he talk to any Councilmembers about this and did they do any due diligence on their own to investigate?

        If he did not give the city a chance to answer these accusations, that’s irresponsible and only inflames an already tenuous situation where citizens are ticked off at the city for growth. Now you have a bunch of people on Facebook further angered over data that’s already been shown to be flawed in at least three different respects by the city manager. This isn’t fair to the citizens, it’s not fair to the staff, and we shouldn’t be basing city policy off of it.

        People rail about staff incompetence all the time. Some of it is justified. But let’s say the city went ahead with a moratorium based on this data, which again has been shown to be flawed, has not been verified by a professional traffic engineer, and which staff has not been given a chance to respond to. Would you want to work in that kind of environment? I sure as hell would not. Good on the Council for not jumping to conclusions before all facts are in order.

        I like that we have a watchdog group in CFS but they lose credibility with stunts like this.

    • I’ve been living here 10+ years and it is far and away the most informative presentation on Sammamish traffic I’ve seen.

      I recall reading the August 2016 quote related to the GMA (highlighted in Mullor presentation) and it didn’t feel quite right, so I appreciate a perspective that coherently challenges the narrow perspective that a clamp down on growth isn’t an available option.

      I encourage all community members to read the Mullor presentation. It has motivated me to send the following to the City Council.

      City Council Members:
      I am greatly concerned about the traffic situation and the potential lack of oversight on some of the allegations raised in the Mullor presentation titled “Sammamish Traffic – How the city manipulated us – debunking the ‘GMA’ myth”, particularly the notion of utilizing old data to drive decisions. The focus should be looking forward and acting in an efficient manner to fix anything that is broken.
      1) Make traffic our highest priority
      2) Establish a moratorium until we fix concurrency testing (which should become a very high priority); some possible suggestions-
      a. Raise LOS to “C” or better
      b. Measure both AM and PM and factor in whichever is worse
      c. Use the most current data in concurrency tests and refresh frequently given the rapid change in development (e.g. – every 6 months)
      d. Incorporate other metrics that impact driver experience into concurrency framework (e.g. – driving times)
      4) Do whatever else is needed – some ideas to consider
      a. Work harder with King County, Redmond, Issaquah, etc.
      b. Consider hiring more independent experts
      i. Neutral parties to help evaluate any issues (like the ones raised in Mullor presentation) that are detrimental to traffic
      ii. Hire an outside engineer to measure traffic

  2. There is no question but that the city and its staff have, for whatever reason, consistently fudged the traffic concurrency numbers to allow more development against the wishes of the vast majority of residents.

    I too have been tracking and mapping all of the applications, pending projects, and notices in the Southeast 4th Corridor running west from 228th to 212th. The city has been deliberately leaving off at least 224 units from the development Maps that are being displayed on its website and to the public, even after being notified of the (charitably) error. The number of daily car trips just from the units in the pipeline will completely overwhelm the ability of these small surface streets — that are to be choked with numerous small roundabouts — to move traffic either with any type of flow or safely. In other words: concurrency failure.

    If any of those that are being qued up (yet a possible additional 100+ units crammed into the SE 4th corridor) get granted, the quality of life precipitously plummets into gridlock. Then, we residents get hit with not only all of the impacts but also with more taxes to fix the mess that the developers leave behind after pocketing huge profits…. I am happy to share my data.

  3. Someone mentioned it was VE Day incorrectly. It was D-Day. More than that it was about the time France was getting ready to surrender in 1940.Until May 24,the British public were informed the BEF was victorious in France and then the last week of May it was announced the BEF were encircled at Dunkirk and needed a ‘Miracle of Deliverance.’ We couldn’t care more ore less about the accuracy or inaccuracies of Mullor & Co, the situation on the ground always helps provide a sound judgement and is infinitely the wiser in counsel. Mr Lyman Howard spent an immense amount of time to factually prove the study wrong. That’s not the point. On the ground, the situation is definitely boiling over….It’s like Gen Gamelin informing PM Reynaud ‘All is well’, according to plan’ when they were losing dangerously, the Germans having cut through Sedan and the Meuse and dividing the Republic into 3 definite portions.
    Look at the situation on the ground, stop looking at paper, models and figures.

    The roundabout to be built along Iss Fall City Rd may not help at all, it’s the Volume of traffic that needs to be checked.

    One could always have a transit center at the bottom of the hill, near the 76 gas station, where we could park our cars and climb on to buses and sing, ‘over the Hills and far away…through Flanders, Portugal and Spain and travel through Iss Fall City Rd/Iss Pine lake Rd to reach home’. Each home may be allowed one car to reach home the rest of the family, mother child and all get onto the buses.

  4. The bottom line is the city council doesn’t care if we citizens are fed up with the traffic around the Plateau. The don’t care about trees(separate issue, but same people and similar decision process). Just look around at all the clear cutting they have allowed by big developers. They only care about potential property taxes and those who will line their coffers.

    Any dummy knows the traffic around here is a problem and adding apartment complexes and retail space around Sammamish Center will have grave traffic and other congestion consequences. Even simple fixes, like allowing traffic lights on 228th to change from red to green when vehicles are waiting at the lights would be very beneficial. It now takes 10 minutes to go to QFC or to Skyline HS because one must sit at several traffic lights to fulfill some time requirement before the lights change to allow you to progress. All the while not a single vehicle drove past in the direction the traffic lights were green. If our city council is so dense that they cannot see this potential solution to some of the traffic issues and then initiate change and carry out that solution, then they aren’t qualified to lead this city.

  5. Pingback: City Council, in rebuke of Administration, staff, consultants, votes in-depth review of traffic | Sammamish Comment

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