Even as Sammamish residents scream over traffic congestion, exacerbated over what proved to be fraudulent implementation of a traffic concurrency model intended to be sure the roads can handle growth, efforts are underway to sharply up-size the Town Center.
The Town Center was approved to have 600,000sf of commercial/retail/office space and 2,000 residential units. Transfer Development Rights (TDRs) already boosted the residential units a few hundred above the 2,000.
The Environmental Impact Study (EIS) studied impacts up to 700,000sf and 3,000 units. Anything above this would require a Supplement EIS, Kamuron Gurol, the Community Development Director, said at the time.
The development company, STCA, is working with staff to propose hiking the Town Center by as much as 250,000sf and up to 1,500 more residential units.
STCA is currently developing the Town Center west of 228th Ave.
Significantly more traffic
The changes proposed range from 150,000sf of commercial to 250,000sf and from 1,000 to 1,500 residential units.
The traffic generated by commercial/office/retail space depends on what the use is.
Residential development generates traffic of about 10 trips per day for single-family homes and seven per day for multi-family.
STCA, in a document obtained through a public records request and made available to Sammamish Comment, claims 150,000-200,000sf of office space is needed in Sammamish. It also claims 75,000-100,000sf is required for a hotel and 75,000-100,000sf is needed for an assisted living campus.
This leaves Sammamish 150,000-250,000sf short, STCA claims in the draft document dated last September.
Without knowing the precise breakdown of commercial uses if and when development begins, or the mix of residential housing, it’s impossible to forecast the traffic impacts. But clearly it would be in the thousands of daily trips on roads that already are stressed.
STCA’s draft proposal is only for West of 228th. Construction is underway for projects on the east side of 228th, but these are projects are being developed by other companies.
Comp Plan Change, EIS required
The low-end commercial addition exceeded the current EIS. The low-end residential units—1,000—also exceed the 3,000 units on which the EIS is based because Sammamish acquired TDRs from King County and placed them within the Town Center, exceeding the 2,000 units planned for development. Anything over 700,000sf of commercial and 3,000 residential units requires a Supplemental EIS.
This is an arduous and often lengthy process, subject to public input and potential appeal.
Proposed changes would require changes to the Comprehensive Plan. This may be considered annually. A “Docket Request” is needed and is submitted, in Sammamish’s case, in September. The Planning Commission must review the requests and make recommendations to the City Council. The Council may accept, reject or overrule the Commission recommendations. If the Council green-lights the Docket Requests, a process begins that also includes public input. This, too, may be arduous. Comp Plan changes aren’t typically subject to appeal.
Paul Stickney, a resident who owns property in the Town Center, advocates reopening the Town Center plan to as many as 8,000 residential units. He is not affiliated with STCA.
Documents made available to Sammamish Comment dating to September reveal that STCA already has met with some or all of the Council Members. Emails show positive reception from Ramiro Valderrama and Jason Ritchie.
“I appreciate the time you took to meet with the individual council members to review the plans for the town center in Sammamish,” Ritchie wrote in a Feb. 15 email. “I hope you know that I’m a strong supporter. I know time is critical. If you are available, I’d like to meet with you to discuss possible steps forward. Please let me know your availability.”
Other Council Members are said to have favorable impressions.
Lifting the moratorium
The City Council is expected to consider lifting the building moratorium in the coming weeks. The Town Center is currently included in the moratorium, for development not already vested.
The citizen group Save Sammamish meets at 7pm tonight at the Klahanie Fire Station (the one by the round-about by Sunny Hill School on Issaquah-Pine Lake Road). This will be discussed.