The building moratorium in Sammamish won’t be lifted next week.
In a sometimes-heated meeting, the city council on a 4-3 vote adopted an amendment offered by Deputy Mayor Karen Moran to add some capacity-based measurements to the Level of Service concurrency model previously approved.
The absence of road capacity measurements means some key road segments without stop signs or stop lights aren’t measured.
These include East Lake Sammamish Parkway north of Inglewood Hill Road to the Redmond city limits; 244th north of NE 8th to the city limits; and long stretches of Sahalee Way.
All are heavily congested during rush hour and would likely fail concurrency tests.
Facing time, recess
Staff and consultants need to integrate Moran’s suggestion into the modeling, a process that will take enough time that next week’s target of lifting the building moratorium will pass.
Next week is the council’s last meeting in July. The council historically takes August off and several members have vacations planned, some out of the country.
This takes the prospect of finalizing the concurrency model, and the moratorium, to September. The legal deadline for either lifting or extending the moratorium is in October; a moratorium must either be renewed or lifted in six-month increments. It can be modified of lifted before the legal deadline.
What’s the benefit?
Council Member Pam Stuart asked Moran what the benefit of adding the capacity element to the model. Moran struggled to articulate an answer, finally saying she was looking for a model that could provide unity among the council, which has been split over transportation issues for the past year.
It was evident unity wasn’t going to happen with or without Moran’s amendment.
Council member Jason Ritchie praised Moran’s motive and suggestion but favored a two-step approach: adopt the LOS model now and follow up before the end of the year with the capacity addition.
Member Ramiro Valderrama opposed the amendment, sometimes emotionally arguing that adding East Lake Sammamish Parkway would guarantee failure of modeling in the future.
ELSP, he said, would always fail because of back-ups from the choke point in Redmond and ELSP and SR 202.
Sahalee Way traffic would fail, he said, because the city council last year paused any improvements (for cost-benefit questions) and because of the intersection back-up at SR202. He did not address 244th.
Member Tom Hornish opposed delaying implementing the capacity element separately from LOS, arguing concurrency needed to be fixed at one time rather than a two-step process.
Members Chris Ross and Mayor Christie Malchow agreed.
The result: a 4-3 vote in favor of Moran’s amendment and a de facto push-out of lifting the building moratorium to at least September.