In a 4/3 split vote, Sammamish City Council voted to officially oppose Sen. Palumbo’s bill to mandate upzoning in areas within the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB).
Council member Chris Ross said:
“I am very strongly against ceding control over our community… to allow the state to take over our planning and treating an urban rural suburb [Sammamish] the same as core urban city like Seattle is completely irresponsible”.
We reported earlier in the week on Palumbo’s push to mandate upzoning cities to a minimum of 6 units per acres and require high density development within ¼ mile from parks and schools. The story generated strong negative reaction to the bill from residents on social media .
On Tuesday night Mayor Christie Malchow, Deputy Mayor Karen Moran and Council Members Tom Hornish and Chris Ross strongly opposed the bill and voted to adopt the following as the City’s formal position:
1. The City opposes removal of local control over its land use decisions. The City suggests revising the draft to incentivize – rather than mandate – minimum density.
2. The blanket application of standards and lack of flexibility does not take into account the unique situations that exist in each city.
a. As one of the most recently incorporated cities in Washington (1999), Sammamish is still updating a backlog of rural infrastructure inherited from King County. Upzoning large portions of Sammamish could exacerbate infrastructure deficiencies.
b. Sammamish is home to many environmentally sensitive areas (erosion and landslide hazards, wetlands, lakes and rivers). Current zoning rules were developed with these areas in mind. Blanket application of denser zoning does not consider the potential harm to sensitive areas.
3. It is unclear why Section 2 of this version ties the denser housing requirements to parks, as they are often located in environmentally sensitive areas with limited infrastructure and limited access to transit.
4. Limiting the number of parking spaces per unit may work in more urban areas; however, Sammamish residents have very limited access to transit and rely heavily on personal transportation to get around. Reducing spaces will likely result in these residents parking in less favorable locations than in a designated parking facility.
Council Members Ramiro Valderrama, Jason Ritchie and Pam Stuart voted against the motion, even though just a few days ago during a committee meeting both Stuart and Ritchie voiced opposition to the senate bill.
The council concluded with a vote to change the title of the action from “feedback” to “city position” – that was passed 7-0.
A video clip of the voting:
The entire discussion of the motion that preceded this vote, almost 15 mins long, starts here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLdLHguZ1Z4&t=10374s