Position 3: Karen Moran Questionnaire

Karen Moran

Name:  Karen Moran

Position sought: #3

Primary Questionnaire in Sammamish Comment

Questionnaire for General Election from Sammamish Friends

Questions to All Candidates

Traffic and Transportation

After your Primary Questionnaire was returned, the City Council on July 10 had a presentation from Staff and Consultants about “Concurrency 101.” What are your take-aways from this presentation?

Our traffic ordinances have changed dramatically from the intent of the original.  It was stated years ago that our roads needed to be built with flexible design standards and with capacity in mind.   Since then we have seen segment averaging, lowered Level of Service, and capacity added for things such as trails, curb width, width of sidewalk etc.  This has left us in gridlock.

What, if anything, do you see a need to fix?

A complete review is needed.  We need to be building roads for capacity, safety and traffic flow.  We need to partner with our surrounding jurisdictions, Metro and other multimodal, businesses and our residents to decide what we want, the level we want, and how to move forward.  Time is money.  The longer we wait the more it is going to cost.  We cannot continue to “kick this down the road.”  It is working against our quality of life.

At the July 18 City Council meeting, the Council declared traffic to be the “No. 1 priority for Sammamish” and voted to have this as the first topic on the agenda for the foreseeable future. Do you agree or disagree with these actions, and why?

I couldn’t agree more.  This topic is #1 with our residents.  It needs to be #1 with our council and city manager.  Past and current council members state that we are years behind in building our roads.  We must move forward.  Keeping it a “first topic” shows residents that you hear what they are saying and shows what is being done to accomplish the goal.

Environment

There is a proposal to create a “tree canopy” for Sammamish that involves reducing the tree retention requirements from 35% to a level to be determined (but no less than 25%). The difference would then be planted in neighborhoods, with the types of trees being agreed upon by the neighborhoods. Do you believe this to be a good, neutral or bad proposal and why?

I do not support this nor do I believe it is the direction our residents want.  Sammamish is plagued with surface water problems. Removing healthy grown trees reduces water absorption, adding to our surface water problems.  In addition, a healthy tree canopy benefits from a variety of species and ages of trees.  Please note:  The Urban Forestry Management plan currently adopted does not call for any reductions.

If you do not believe so, what would you propose instead?

The city should be sponsoring programs to plant trees on an annual basis.  It should not be a onetime Band Aid, but an ongoing effort.  Our efforts to preserve trees needs to take into account their value in terms of ground/surface water absorption, sturdiness, and contribution to tree canopy.

Accountability

During 2015, it was revealed that Staff acknowledged in a Land Use Appeal that they don’t always follow code. During the July 10 City Council meeting, the Staff and Consultants acknowledged they have not followed policy on certain transportation issues. Under the City Manager form of government that governs Sammamish, the City Council cannot “reach down” to staff level. How would you hold staff accountable for failing to follow code and policy?

By law, city staff accountability falls solely on the shoulders of the City Manager. In our form of government, the City Manager is solely responsible for all staff.  The Council’s job is to hire a city manager that will implement the Council’s policies. In the event that the City Manager does not perform as expected, the Council must hold him or her accountable.

Community Feedback and Communication

Community feedback comes in many forms: emails to the City Council and staff; appearances during Public Comment and Public Hearings; Letters to the Editor; Virtual Town Halls; Social Media; and the periodic City-sponsored community survey.

The City’s Communications Manager was dismissive of social media as a feedback resource. He stated that he: “consistently made the case to the City Council and senior staff that social media feedback does not provide an accurate view of the community’s perspective. Noting that contented residents are unlikely to jump on the ‘Save Sammamish’ Facebook page, [and] suggested that everyone should pay more attention to the results of [the] random, statistically valid community survey.”

 Please state your views of community feedback, the most important avenues and the value (or not) of social media as a gauge of feedback.

All feedback has value.  We now live in a time when social media is powerful, and inputs from that medium certainly need to be given consideration. Public meetings, surveys, letters ALL give valuable input.

What do you believe the City can do to better communicate with citizens?

A weekly online newsletter.

An annual weekend of community outreach by our council members and staff, making contact with citizens in individual neighborhoods. Perhaps this effort could be coordinated with the “Mayor’s month of concern.”   I think council members would benefit greatly by reaching out to our residents rather than waiting for them to come to city hall.

Do you believe the City is “hearing” resident concerns and properly addressing them?

In my direct contact with residents, one of the things I hear most often is the obvious disconnect between the residents and city hall.   People feel like they are not being heard, and that the direction our city has taken has been in a dramatically different direction than the goals we had when we incorporated.

Affordable Housing

Most of you stated concern over affordable housing in Sammamish. The recent 2017 Housing Affordability Response Team (HART) Recommendations report from the Affordable Housing Advisory board proposes several directions for policy at the local level. Which of these regulatory changes and policies would you support at the local level? Which would you be opposed to?  

Support

Providing education for the development community, elected officials, planners and public on how to address affordable housing issues.

Providing state funding for plans and zoning that encourage a diversity of housing choices and types – e.g., affordable housing, cottage housing, accessory dwelling units and mixed usage development.

Provide incentives to local governments to meet affordable housing goals.

Opposed:

Expanding SEPA exemptions to apply to subdivisions where an EIS has already been done.

Giving Categorical exemptions for projects in areas within urban growth areas that are designated by local jurisdictions for mixed use, higher density, access to public service.

Raising Revenue

All candidates have stated that they’re opposed to raising taxes to cover the revenue gap that is forecasted for Sammamish, and you’ve all proposed different ways to raise revenue for the city. What do you recommend as your top revenue raising ideas and how much incremental revenue do you estimate for each?

Increased revenue brought in from new business.  The mixed usage we have designated in town center allows us to encourage the addition of restaurants, boutiques, and other businesses that fit the character of our community.

Pay close attention to our City taxes, which were designated Road taxes under King County.  As we change our concurrency methodology, we need to keep our fees in line in anticipation of increased traffic from new growth and determine who should pay for the additional growth.  I firmly believe growth should pay for growth.

User fee structure for non-residents.  This should be examined and non-residents should pay higher fees.

 Revisiting your July Questionnaire

Since you answered our Primary Election Questionnaire July 7, you have had the chance to campaign, talk with citizens, see the Candidates Forum and see emerging issues (principally surrounding traffic). This is your opportunity to return to your July answers to revise or change any of them. If you do not wish to make any changes, do nothing. If you want to revise your previous answer, copy-and-paste the question(s) here and insert your new answer(s) after the question.

[No change—Editor.]

Why me?

Why should Sammamish citizens vote for you over your opponent?

I have been a resident advocate since before ever filing for incorporation.  We became a city to decide our own land use, build roads and control our own finances.  Today we are still fighting this fight.  We need to get back to what our residents’ priorities have been and do it well.  My experience can make this happen.  I know our ordinances and regulations and what is needed to correct them to put them back on course.  My financial background can also be helpful to keep the city running, without new taxes, while accomplishing this goal.

Candidate-Specific Questionnaire

Elected Positions                                                                        

One of the current City Council members has taken note of your plans to retain your seat on the Sammamish Plateau Water Commission if you are elected to the Sammamish City Council, and believes there are inherent conflicts of interest in holding the two positions simultaneously. Will you resign or retain your seat on the Water Commission if you are elected to the City Council?

I have repeatedly stated that I would be resigning my seat as Water Commissioner were I elected to Council.  The reasoning is very simple.  I take great pride in the time I put into a position.  There simply is not enough time to do a good job on both and our residents deserve my full attention on whichever I am seated.

If you retain your seat, how will you deal with the conflicts of interest and demand for your time?

N/A

You have stated that “transparency in government is a must.” How do you propose Sammamish City government increase transparency? Any specific areas you’d shine a light on?

The public should have access to the information upon which the Council makes its decisions. Detailed budget information should be made available, to the department level.  The public needs easy access to traffic, environmental and other study information that the City contracts. This transparency not only provides accountability, but also provides insight into the Council’s decision-making process

As a member of the King County Emergency Management Advisory Committee, do you have concerns about Sammamish’s emergency preparedness? If so, how would you address those concerns?

This topic is front and center in light of recent tragedies worldwide. We are fortunate in Sammamish to have begun a strong commitment to Certified Emergency and Risk Management presence.  Emergency preparedness in Sammamish has come a long way in recent years.  It is imperative that the City continue to provide resources to maintain and improve our readiness.   We still have plenty to learn from county and state groups to continue to improve our own city program.

You are endorsed by the Affordable Housing Council of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish counties. What policies or actions do you believe will provide profitable outcomes for developers/builders while increasing affordable housing in Sammamish AND address Sammamish citizens’ concerns about growth?

We need to work together with the builders and programs such as ARCH to meet the goals we have already defined in our comprehensive plan.  Incentives could be as simple as redefining fee structures to encourage desirable types of housing, and capitalizing on publicly owned and dedicated properties, to facilitate ARCH housing and Habitat for Humanity.

Sammamish is, only now, seeing the positive impacts of such policies.  We need to allow the current incentives to developers to settle in, then reassess, and if needed, possibly add more.  I would not support any changes until this has happened.

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