Position 7: Pam Stuart Questionnaire

Pam Stuart

Name:                  Pam Stuart

Position sought: #7

Primary Questionnaire from 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?

Key take-aways:

  • What the modeling process does and does not account for
  • Model was built for afternoon (PM) traffic only
  • Current council not all aware that level of service was set by, and can be changed by, the council as well as how to define failure.

It also highlighted that if we determine that we are failing concurrency, we are obligated to create a plan to bring traffic back into compliance.

Finally, meetings should be run more efficiently. Spending hours publicly reading through a 96-page presentation is not efficient and does not encourage community participation.

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

Based on the concerns and feedback from the thousands of households I’ve visited, residents are concerned about growth and worsening traffic. Because of the impacts to our community and the reactive nature of the residents’ concerns over growth and traffic, I feel strongly that public education is critical. I believe the city needs to be more transparent about what growth is currently underway, what growth is planned, and how this growth will impact traffic. The council should present options, 1. No improvements, 2. Some improvements, 3. Many improvements with impacts and costs then seek public feedback to inform the plan.

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 agree that traffic is a top priority. After knocking on over 3,000 doors, I have learned this concern is nearly universal. I would, however, like to see the council create a detailed plan to address growth and traffic and review its progress, when real updates are available, publicly at council meetings. I believe this vote was symbolic and our citizens need real solutions.

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?

The city is in the process of assessing current conditions and seeking recommendations. No reduction in retention should be considered, especially without data to inform such a decision. If anything, we should strive to maintain retention standards and, potentially, increase the ordinances around clustering and barriers — in addition to replanting efforts.

While traffic is the number one item on the agenda, council members should be listening to residents who are equally concerned about the loss of trees in Sammamish. Tree loss negatively affects the character of our city, our health, and the environment.

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

The council and two commissions “expressed a desire to gain a better understanding of the status of the tree canopy and how it can be improved…” (from City Council Agenda Bill #11, September 5, 2017). The council should rely on expert input to inform policy.

I propose we analyze the results of the study, when available, and create comprehensive policy to set the bar high. I think we can all agree we want Sammamish to have an exceptional urban forest. Our city’s character is defined by Sammamish’s natural beauty.   Mature tree growth is central to our healthy and appealing environment.

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?

The council/city manager form of government is designed for the council to hold the city manager accountable. The city council should derive standard metrics to help inform them on matters related to staff activities and how well policy aligns with the reality of city staff’s decisions, actions, and effectiveness. Expectations should be clearly defined for the city manager and others on following policy, how to request an exception, and consequences if policy or process are not followed.

For example, a report on the number and type of variances granted will inform the council on compliance and effectiveness of the ordinances.

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.

A well-informed resident base is critical to closing the gaps between governance and the public.  Open, two-way communication with the community will help the city meet the needs of the people and inform priorities and budgets.

More communication channels will mean more residents can be reached. I believe we should take advantage of the rise in social media; however, it should not be given more weight than other channels as there are citizens who do not rely on social media, which can also act as an echo chamber to simply amplify opinions from small or select groups of people.

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

I applaud the city for working to improve communications. I would like to see changes to the website to improve search functionality and make documents easier to find. I would also like to see more outreach to neighborhoods, schools, and other organizations, meeting people where they already look for important information. I also think that providing summaries of council meetings would be helpful. Many residents don’t have 3, 5, or 7 hours to attend or watch meetings, but would appreciate learning about discussions and decisions.

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

I hear many folks say they don’t feel heard. I find they also don’t understand the priorities or the rationale for council decisions.   I reiterate my push for more public education and information to bridge the gap between the residents and the council.

Our residents want to invest in our community and ensure we intelligently address the issues created by rapid growth such as reducing traffic, how to maintain our city’s character and environment, and how the city is working with the school districts to ensure new schools and/or space is provided in overcrowded schools.

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?  

Of the many recommendations in this report, the standouts to me are providing funding to local governments to plan housing at every level, standardizing buildable land requirements and reports, education and outreach on why we need affordable housing and how to develop it, finding ways to apply new technologies in building code to reduce costs and improve sustainability, and providing dependable funding including for maintenance of the housing developments.

Areas of concern include easing of environmental protections and requiring and/or enforcing that locally approved development attain a minimum density. More details are needed here to ensure no negative consequences.

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?

The “gap” is projected to be 5-7 years out and this gap has been projected that far out for several budget cycles.

If we do need more revenue for capital improvements, the city should explore a bond. With interest rates still at historic lows, we could fund projects today and save money given the relatively high inflation rate on construction projects. Also, ongoing franchise fees are used in many cities to pay for public right-of-way and property easement areas within the City and offset operating costs rather than the one-time fee we have now.

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 changes-Editor.]

Why me?

Why should Sammamish citizens vote for you over your opponent?

With education in both engineering and economics and 25 years of professional experience, I have an ideal combination of knowledge, skills, and experiences to provide the technical guidance and financial planning and oversight needed from the council.

Ultimately, it will be up to the voters to decide who shares their values.

Those Voters seeking a new council member focused on responsible and sustainable growth; focused on our children, families, and seniors — ensuring they have the tools needed to thrive; and a council member who is committed to fiscal responsibility, can confidently cast their vote for me.

Candidate-Specific Questionnaire

Non-Partisanship

The Sammamish City Council is a non-partisan position. All of the endorsement you list on your Web site that are not in the rotating section are Democrats and Democratic organizations. Several of your campaign contributions are from current or former Democratic elected officials or candidates. Why haven’t you reached out to Republicans in a bipartisan manner consistent with the non-partisan nature of the City Council office?

This position and the issues facing the Council are nonpartisan; however, I think it’s important to be transparent no matter what office one seeks, and I have been asked my party affiliation at many doors. I am registered Democrat.

I am committed to setting policy based on the council’s research and the facts – to support the best interests of Sammamish and its residents. I believe that if we can focus on solving problems, rather than drawing hard lines, we can work together to improve lives and protect our environment.

I have endorsements from nonpartisan organizations and have spoken to Republicans, including Dino Rossi.  I did not, however, ask for endorsements during those conversations.

Growth

Your website says you pledge to “Create a sustainable growth plan that focuses on balancing development with infrastructure improvements and environmental protections.” Isn’t that what the Comprehensive Plan does? What do you specifically have in mind?

A sustainable growth plan means three things. A plan that:

  • Specifically lays out how we will handle sustained growth for the foreseeable future
  • Sustains our quality of life through investments in our infrastructure and services
  • Sustains the environment to the highest standards

The Comprehensive Plan lays out goals, but I believe we need to take that a step further with detailed policy and plans to ensure that, as our city grows over the coming years, we protect our character, build community, and protect the environment and our natural resources.

Traffic

Your website says you pledge to “Reduce traffic to, from, and through the city by increasing our transportation options.” Given repeated Metro and Sound Transit plans to reduce service to Sammamish, how do you plan to fulfill this pledge?

I’ve listened to the people and am committed to resolving our traffic issues through all available options including public transit, public-private partnerships and funding, adopting new technologies, and implementing needed road improvements.

Sound Transit, Metro, and King County Council offer a variety of programs but require us to prioritize and provide staff to implement these programs. I am committed to providing the necessary resources.

As the Eastside prepares for light rail stations, we need park and rides, requests for specific services to conveniently connect our residents to the rail, increased frequency of service, and total trip time reduction.

Given Sammamish’s continued growth, how would you reduce traffic that comes with growth?

I am committed to investing in all available and viable transportation options that can provide for the varying needs of our residents. We also need to pace our growth with these investments in our infrastructure and implementation of transportation alternatives. On City Council, I will be looking at where developers can mitigate their projects’ traffic impacts, as well as advocating for more transportation options to and from Sammamish. I will also seek alternatives from King County and ensure Sammamish gets its fair share of transportation dollars and projects.

2 thoughts on “Position 7: Pam Stuart Questionnaire

  1. Pingback: Recapping City Council candidate information for Nov. 7 election | Sammamish Comment

  2. Pingback: Final weekend before Nov. 7 City Council election | Sammamish Comment

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