Public pressure on city council keeps the moratorium on the Town Center

Karen Moran
Karen Moran

Sammamish residents took to email, social media and showed up in person at the Oct. 16 council meeting to tell council to keep the moratorium on the Town Center and not to exempt anyone from the new development regulations.

On a split 4/3 vote, the  council voted to keep the moratorium. The vote on the development regulations has been postponed.

Packed meeting

An usual number of residents packed city hall for the  meeting.

Following a call to action on social media, dozens of residents came to city hall to voice their frustration with traffic and over-development.  Public Comment, which usually wraps up in less than 30 minutes, took an hour and 45 minutes as one after another resident told the council to keep the moratorium on the Town Center and not exempt any projects from the new development regulations.

In the few days before the meeting, council members received dozens of emails from residents asking them to keep the moratorium on the Town Center. Others used social media to identify the different positions of council members. A petition signed by more than  1,000 residents also demanded to keep the moratorium. One council member told Sammamish Comment that hearing from residents who never before spoke in public had a high impact on a few members of the council.

 

Ritchie moves to lift moratorium

Council Member Jason Ritchie made a motion to lift the moratorium because he thought

Jason Ritchie
Jason Ritchie

it’s time to move forward on the Town Center.

Council Member Tom Hornish said that the real issue is whether the council supports the developers at the expense of the citizens’ quality of life or supports the citizens’ quality of life at the expense of the developers.

Council Member Chris Ross, referring to the Town Center project, said that Sammamish has never unloaded so much high density in such a short period of time, so he said “we need to be thoughtful since Sammamish has no major freeways or direct access to mass transportation.”

Council Member Pam Stuart said she supports the Town Center because high density development, like the Town Center, is better to the environment than single family homes. Stuart did not address how the Town Center will prevent the single family homes development she calls “bad development” from continuing.

Pam Stuart
Pam Stuart

Effectively, the Town Center adds a net new 2,200 or more dwelling units to the city’s growth– not a single unit in the Town Center comes at the expense of a single family home anywhere in the city.  

Stuart also said that Sound Transit is willing to build a transit center in the city and the location for that is the Town Center.  

As part of ST3, and unrelated to the Town Center, Sound Transit is planning a park and ride facility in the city’s far north end.  Staff told The Comment there is no new information regarding Sound Transit’s intentions.  The Comment reached out to Sound Transit for comments but received no response.

Council Member Ramiro Valderrama said that he supported lifting the moratorium because the council already implemented new concurrency rules and that the city has an MOU (Memorandum Of Understanding ) with STCA, the Town Center developer.  Staff told The Comment an MOU is still under discussions with STCA and has not been finalized yet.

Concurrency work not finished

Mayor Christie Malchow said that moratorium was enacted because of traffic and that

Malchow
Mayor Malchow

the council has not finished the work on concurrency. The council was still debating concurrency rules the very same meeting.

At the end, a split city council reversed course and kept the moratorium on the Town Center:

Malchow, Moran, Hornish and Ross voted to keep the moratorium.

Stuart, Ritchie and Valderrama voted to lift the moratorium.

 

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