By Scott Hamilton
Founder, Sammamish Comment
The Sammamish City Council held its last meeting of 2018 yesterday, ending the most contentious and divisive year I’ve seen since the incorporation vote in 1998.
The city council, administration and staff has been consumed by traffic concurrency, the resulting building moratorium and related development regulations all year—really, since October 2017, when the moratorium was adopted to give the government time to sort out the concurrency issues.
These issues consumed the city nearly to the exclusion of all else.
Resolution pleased nobody
Resolution of these issues in the end pleased nobody. As a rule of thumb, this generally means the outcomes were probably about the best that could be achieved under very difficult circumstances.
Now, it’s time to get back to basics.
- The city council once again kicked the can down the road on its budget. Mayor Christie Malchow and Council Member Pam Stuart were correct in November when they supported a 1% increase in Sammamish property taxes because the roads and stormwater projects are underfunded. The council members who voted against this tiny increase simply aren’t being realistic.
- The Transportation Master Plan took a backseat to the concurrency fight. This needs top priority. Given the concurrency debacle, who will lead this effort?
- Stormwater management remains a major issue. The Tamarack subdivision’s problems have been neglected for 12 years. It’s time to step up on this.
- The YMCA’s finances—with this non-profit organization siphoning $1.4m a year out of Sammamish—needs immediate attention.
- Getting more bus service to Sammamish is critical. Pursuing a park and ride in the Town Center without more bus service is symbolic—and a waste of effort. The horse needs to come before the cart.
- Schools capacity: schools are now facing increase class size – at least at LWSD, shortage of capacity is coming.
- 2019 Elections: Who will run ? Who will run again? The 2017 elections turned out to be unpredictable, with implications for the future of the city. 2019 elections may be more important with three strong leaders facing re-election or retirement. Will some of the council’s previously retired members run again?
Fresh approach for Sammamish Comment, too
These are just a few of the issues.
It’s time for a fresh approach to Sammamish Comment, too.
Long time readers will remember I announced in August 2016 that I moved to Bainbridge Island. I intended to close The Comment by the end of 2017, a year of city council elections. With the collapse of the Sammamish Review and no coverage by the Issaquah/Sammamish Reporter, despite the latter’s name, The Comment became the only source for election news. It published candidate questionnaires, covered candidate forums and made endorsements. Readership was the highest in history.
But then concurrency and the moratorium happened. Once again, The Comment was the only source of news.
As with the city council, staff and administration, The Comment became consumed by concurrency, the moratorium and development regulations.
As with the city, these issues are now over and it’s time for The Comment to move onto other things as well.
For me, this means retiring from The Comment. Sharp eyes will note that my byline title says “Founder,” not “Editor.”
Miki Mullor, who has been deputy editor for the past year, becomes editor.
Mullor doggedly exposed and pursued the traffic concurrency model that was crafted in a way that no proposed development ever failed.
Sammamish was created due to King County’s targeting Sammamish for uncontrolled growth, in part on a traffic concurrency model that was manipulated to ensure “pass” in a pass-fail test.
Mullor revealed that the city did the same thing.
Editorial Board created
In a plan that we’ve been discussing for six months, we’ve reached out an have recruited an Editorial Board. Some will also become contributors to the posts.
With the help of the Editorial Board, we will keep The Comment a source of truthful news and analysis of what’s happening in city hall. Local government is the form of government with the most influence on lives of its constituents.
We’re pleased to announce the following people have agreed to become part of the Editorial Board:
Ken Gamblin – A Sammamish resident since 2015, Gamblin publishes a neighborhood magazine featuring Sammamish-centric stories and local businesses. He is also a local activist, and one of the administrators of the “Save Sammamish” Facebook group.
Scott Hamilton – Hamilton founded Sammamish Comment in 2003 to fill a void in reporting in Sammamish that existed from the newspapers that at the time.
Hamilton is a career journalist and an aviation consultant. He moved to pre-incorporation Sammamish in 1996. He became involved in traffic concurrency and land use actions when he appealed three projects approved by King County, and prevailed in each. He served on the Planning Advisory Board in 2001-2003, which wrote the city’s first Comprehensive Plan, and on the Planning Commission 2004-2009, which wrote the Town Center plan.
Hamilton moved from Sammamish in August 2016, maintaining his position as Editor of Sammamish Comment until December 2018, when he was succeeded and assumed the position as Founder and member of the newly created Editorial Board
Sharon Steinbis – A Sammamish resident since 1985, Sharon is a biologist and environmental activist. She is co-chair of Sammamish Community Wildlife Habitat group. She formed the Stormwater Stewards to restore stormwater ponds as wildlife and pollinator habitat and she is a member of the Sammamish Plant Stewards, who contribute to restoration efforts in Sammamish parks and salvage native plants from the bulldozer.
Paul Stickney – Born and raised in Southern California. Graduated University of Montana (Missoula) School of Forestry with a Bachelor of Science in Resource Conservation. He is a market expert residential real estate broker since 1977.
Stickney moved to the Eastside in 1990 and to Sammamish in 2013. He’s been involved with Sammamish since its incorporation, but especially so the last five years, having attended virtually every City Council and Planning Commission meeting.
Debbie Treen – Debbie and her husband, Kent, moved to Sammamish in 2010 where they are restoring their backyard wildlife sanctuary using native plants. Previously she worked with environmental groups and the Washington State Legislature to enact the Growth Management Act (GMA) in 1990. Her activism led her to serve as a Bothell council-member for 6 years and mayor for two.
Celia Wu – A Sammamish resident since 2004, Wu is a media executive by profession. Wu referees on the soccer field and basketball courts the competitive youth and high school levels. Wu holds a BA from Hampshire College and is a candidate for a masters degree from the University of Missouri Graduate School of Journalism.