By Scott Hamilton
Sammamish Comment will continue publishing past Dec. 31, but on a limited basis.
In August 2016, I announced that my wife and I moved to Bainbridge Island after 20 years in Sammamish and that I would continue publishing Sammamish Comment through 2017, at which time I intended to discontinue the effort.
Not being a resident of Sammamish any longer meant I was somewhat removed from events. Although I obviously remained in contact with established relationships, and created some new ones, being absent on a day-to-day basis made it challenging for what was already an endeavor that is pursued in my free time.
My work schedule, at a time when I should be retiring, has gone the other direction. I’m busier than ever and traveling more.
But events emerged that I just can’t give up serving the City I’ve been serving in one way or another since 1997, when I filed my first land use appeal, prior to incorporation.
Some major issues emerged this year, notably about traffic concurrency. This subject is where I made my bones in Sammamish. It was traffic concurrency manipulation by King County that I appealed (and won), proving that King County was rigging the system to approve projects.
This year, citizen Miki Mullor exposed traffic concurrency manipulation in Sammamish. Through Sammamish Comment, I publicized this. The pressure (along with other factors) prompted an in-depth review of the City’s concurrency and, ultimately, an emergency building moratorium that is designed to give the City time to fix the problems. The intent is to lift the moratorium next year.
So, this issue continues well into 2018.
The Town Center became a focus of the moratorium and an inexplicable, ill-advised target of Council Member Ramiro Valderamma, who claimed the moratorium wasn’t about concurrency—from his perspective, it was about storm water management.
As noted in this story on The Comment, how Valderrama could suggest the moratorium wasn’t about concurrency is an alternate-universe of the facts. The Resolution adopting the moratorium was explicit.
Development of the balance of the Town Center not already approved is caught up in the moratorium. I’ll have some commentary on this in a new post this week.
Road projects—and how to pay for them
Sammamish has road deficits, which is also related to concurrency. Two projects, Issaquah-Fall City Road and Issaquah-Pine Lake Road, alone have costs exceeding $100m. These are only the tip of the iceberg.
How is Sammamish going to pay for these and another $100m in projects it’s identified remains a mystery. The current City Council continued to kick the can down the road when it declined to raise taxes for the inevitable. Given the tax fatigue from Seattle, King County and Sound Transit tax hikes, the sentiment not to raise more taxes is understandable. But it’s ignoring reality.
The new City Council, which is seated Jan. 2, will face this issue. Since each of the four new Council Members-elect are on record opposing new taxes, the dilemma is obvious. These same four also supported, at various levels, new projects and programs unrelated to roads—but didn’t say how these will be paid for. This is a story to cover.
Miserable excuse for a paper
Sammamish residents can’t depend on the Issaquah/Sammamish Reporter to cover the issues. “Sammamish” doesn’t even belong in the name. This remains a miserable excuse for a paper purporting to cover Sammamish. Concurrency has yet to receive any but a refutation of a problem after Mullor first surfaced the issue and the moratorium has had superficial coverage.
Sammamish Comment continues
Therefore, Sammamish Comment will continue, but on a limited basis. I simply don’t have the time to do much more. I’ll focus on transportation and budget issues. When an in-depth, investigative report is warranted, I’ll do this.
I asked a couple of local activists if they wanted to take over The Comment, but the answer was “no,” they didn’t feel up to the task or didn’t have the time or weren’t willing to take the “bullets” that inevitably come when controversial issues are tackled. Given that the former communications manager made a concerted effort to specifically discredit me and The Comment, I can appreciate the latter feeling.
I wish I could do more and I could use help from gutsy citizens willing to step up. But as it is, The Comment continues but it won’t be as frequent as 2017.