Concurrency approval, lifting building moratorium now targeted for September

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.

Karen Moran

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.


9 thoughts on “Concurrency approval, lifting building moratorium now targeted for September

  1. Scott, Thanks for all your work on exposing the truth about what has been going on at City Hall.

    Steve & Ellen Martin

  2. Thanks to Deputy Mayor Moran for providing a path to a concurrency model that at least attempts to comprehensively address traffic. And thanks to Mayor Malchow, Councilmember Ross and Councilmember Hornish for supporting her motion.

    I believe the purpose of concurrency is not to “fix traffic problems” as some seem to believe. It is to control the pace of development to match available infrastructure, even to the extent of stopping development if transportation infrastructure doesn’t meet the comprehensive plan policies. That’s where Sammamish finds itself today after years of approving development with inadequate concurrency policies. Before the largest development ever seen in Sammamish is allowed to move forward, the least we should expect from the City government is to apply the best available requirements to mitigate impacts on traffic.

    Former Councilmember Tom Odell said it best last night in his testimony. The decisions being made today will have a long term effect on the city, just as decisions made 10 years ago are having major impacts today. Although there is tremendous pressure by one developer to see the end of the moratorium, the new concurrency rules need to stand the test of time for those of us who plan to live in Sammamish for many years to come. In the long term view, if it takes a few extra months to get the best possible result, then so be it.

    I don’t think we need to have unanimity on the Council, or even consensus. We need each councilmember to stand up for what they believe and be transparent about their motives (not political), and let the majority rule. There was far too much grandstanding last night, with lengthy political speeches trying to sway opinion rather than simply stating their position and calling for the question.

    Ultimately the vote reflected the majority of residents and I thank councilmembers Moran, Hornish, Malchow and Ross for listening.

    • “There was far too much grandstanding last night, with lengthy political speeches trying to sway opinion rather than simply stating their position and calling for the question.”

      No kidding. It was a very sad display.

    • Very well said, Debbie. The grandstanding by certain council members, and trying to sway the council by saying “look at the faces in the gallery, they want you to vote my way”, was disgusting.

  3. Thanks for your brief and well thought out article, Scott. Although, according to some in the city staff, you can’t really trust what you read in the Comment.

  4. Again , incompetence is King – no clue how build a city just giving out permits to collect cash to look good. What about the infrastructure? Water supply, traffic flow, etc. No wonder most American towns look like the people on drugs or drunks designed them. Just going for the money. The council has no solid plans as they operate under the logo- The GOOD, The BAD and the UGLY. Yikes.

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

  5. Pingback: Sammamish city council descends into dysfunction, paralysis | Sammamish Comment

  6. What is going on in these meetings? Why do I get the feeling that half the council has some interest in seeing “Our Plateaupia” to grow out of hand and the other half feel strongly there is some reason not to do so, or at least see that the planning is done and executed properly. Is money somehow playing a role in this debate.

    When’s and where is the next meeting, [Edited as a violation of Reader Comment rules.]

  7. I admit I am probably not the brightest light in the harbor, specially when it comes to civic planning. Can I ask some questions though so that I better understand this issue.

    So…. I like Sammamish just like it is. No further development in terms of housing. Low income or not.

    Who owns the land on which further construction is being considered. I assume it is privately held.

    Who decides if the landowners in question can build what they want? I presume this is at the heart of this issue being debated by the city council. BTW, what is concurrency?

    Given that increasing housing and other development will require additional infrastructure, who pays for that? Indeed, who determines specifically what infrastructure will be required and what is the model they use to determine that?

    Why is the city council having so much difficulty over this issue?

    It’s crowded enough up here in Plateaupia. Why do we need any further development anyway?

    I need to understand all this because my estimated forthcoming property taxes are approaching the point where we can’t afford to live in the same house for which we paid less than $100K 30 years ago. Somebody out there seems to be telling us we are no longer worthy of the community.

    If you think the City Council is dysfunctional now, just wait until I run for a position.

    There must be something that me and a lot of other neighbors simply don’t understand what’s going on… So, will somebody explain all of this in 8th grade language what the fuss is all about?

    So, what’s next on the agenda? Paving over Pine Lake?

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