Thanks to Malchow

Editorial

Mayor Malchow

It was with regret we learned of the decision by Mayor Christie Malchow to pass on seeking reelection to a second term as Sammamish city council member.

Malchow accomplished more in one term than many council members have in multiple terms.

She didn’t hesitate to take on highly controversial issues. Once she did, her tenacity in solving the issue was awe inspiring.

Discovering concurrency flaws

In her second year on the council, Malchow—along with council member Tom Hornish and then-council member Tom Odell—began diving into the city’s traffic concurrency modeling. This is the “black box” that measures whether new growth will overwhelm roads. Aided by information revealed by citizen Miki Mullor (who subsequently became editor of Sammamish Comment), the three became convinced that the modeling had been rigged so no development ever failed concurrency and thus prohibited to continue.

Malchow went so far as to measure lane and shoulder widths, proving data in the model exaggerated capacity. What other council members over the years  would have thought  to do this?

The result: after nearly two years of debate, often bitter and which severely fractured the council, Sammamish has a new model that more accurately measures the traffic impact of growth. Development now faces stringent testing rather than pencil-whipping approval.

Changing culture in city hall

As mayor, Malchow and her allies on the council challenged the culture of the city manager form of government that has been in place since incorporation in 1999.

Over the years, the city manager and staff sometimes came to set policy, rather than implementing policy adopted by the council. In a painful transition, the city council approved the departure of one city manager, the hiring of an interim manager and just this month selected a permanent city manager who should take office next month.

As with any entrenchment, this process has been slow, painful and controversial. But changes were overdue and they came under Malchow’s term as mayor.

Development regulations

The Highcroft development on the corner 228th Ave. SE and SE 20th St. symbolizes for many residents the wrong direction development has taken. Malchow led the recent push to adopt new development regulations to improve the neighborhood character of new development with stronger emphasis on lot size, setbacks (space between homes) and prohibition on mass land grading.

Malchow fought for greater tree retention rules, stronger environmental protection and a host of other citizen-oriented issues. She especially fought special interests, which sometimes put her at odds with a minority on the council.

She became a target of developers and others, an unpleasant aspect that comes with the job when you choose to put the interests of the vast majority of residents above that of special interests.

Thanks for Malchow

As Malchow winds up her fourth year in office, she has a few goals left to accomplish, as she outlined in her announcement.

Sammamish residents owe Malchow thanks for her dogged determination, her refusal to bow to harsh, targeted criticism and her commitment to the citizens of this city.

Her presence on the council will be missed.

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13 thoughts on “Thanks to Malchow”

  1. Thanks for what? What have been her major accomplishments? The city is still in a stage of confusion.

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  2. What issue was solved? She tied the City up in chasing its tail for a year, spending a ridiculous amount of funds to find the perfect concurrency model. She has been a divisive force on the council which is illustrated by the reference in the editorial to her allies on council. That isn’t how a Council should work. The most effective have council members with differing views, they don’t all agree but through dialogue find solutions or ways to enhance community. The mayor’s role is to facilitate and unite, Malchow was unable, maybe by choice, to do so. She was so concerned with “winning” that she was supportive of Hornish phoning in his attendance from Southern California. What other council would be ok with this? Sammamish has tremendous opportunity to shape its future but it will need to tackle tough decisions. Hoping for a more functional and effective council.

    1. The issue solved was a fraudulent concurrency model that allowed development without the needed infrastructure, negatively impacting the residents. The current model is far from perfect as Lyman & Co managed to keep the Intersection LOS in it fraudulent. In doing so, Malchow had to endure attacks from Town Center property owners, developers and their agents. That takes courage and values.

    2. While I appreciate Catherine Freudenberg’s “differing view,” I cannot find Catherine’s comment other than divisive in itself. Christie has been a “feet on the ground” servant of the Sammamish community, measuring road widths, observing water surface drainage issues caused by irresponsible Sammamish land clearing approvals, previously ignored by our elected council. Most importantly, Christie listened and kept an open mind. I do agree that Mayor Malchow was concerned with “winning ” — for her team, the people of Sammamish. We are in a better place.

      Thanks, Miki. Your well-written editorial for well-earned, job well-done to Mayor Malchow.

      1. Mr. Tuttle, I respect your opinion. I guess we have different visions for our council members. The City hires experts to provide recommendations based on the task assigned by staff and council. While I agree that there were issues that needed to be addressed, it was the way in which it was handled that I didn’t care for. There wasn’t anything that was produced that should have taken a yeat to accomplish and I’m not convinced that the concurrency changes are going to do exactly what everyone hopes. Guess we shall see. Fairly certain everyone will be discussing next year’s tax bill and how bad the traffic is when next year rolls around. I can only hope the council will continue their work on improved transit.

      2. As we documented in May, Lyman and co were exclusively responsible for “running the clock” on the concurrency project and not following council direction. Your criticism of mayor Malchow is misdirected.

    3. Sorry Catherine Freudenberg but I completely disagree with your characterization of Mayor Malchow. Many of us think Christie Malchow is the best mayor we’ve ever had, hands down! It isn’t the mayor who is divisive, it’s those 3 councilmembers Stuart, Ritchie and Valderrama who are constantly trying to implement their own agendas at the expense of the current residents of Sammamish who are divisive and self-serving.

      The concurrency report as presented by Lyman Howard was totally flawed and I’m thankful to our mayor for willing to take a closer look and attempt to rectify the situation. Traffic is already so bad in downtown with 3 schools in the area plus the library and the Y, to add thousands more apartments and a bus depot is just ASININE! We need to draw traffic *away* from the city center, not towards it.

      Mayor Malchow has my utmost respect. She works her tail off for this community, for hardly any pay. I am asking everyone I know to write and urge her to reconsider and run again. Sammamish needs her now more than ever, as well as councilmember Tom Hornish. They are the two pillars of the Sammamish City Council. I am so thankful for their service to this community, as I am thankful to Miki Mullor for maintaining this website to keep us informed of what’s going on in Sammamish.

      1. Having attended or watched the council meetings, my perspective based on what I saw and the responses I received our different from yours. I prefer my council members to live full time in the City and I don’t believe any of the issues have been solved. I think Mayor Malchow worked hard but not necessarily in the best interest of the City. Perhaps well intended, I don’t know; but Sammamish needs a City center, it needs improved traffic flow or it will be wall to wall houses for the surrounding business districts and that will include multi family. If that happens, we’ll continue to see insufficient transit solutions and growing traffic. We’ll see how much constituents are willing to pay to improve infrastructure to benefit commuters from neighboring cities so they can use Sammamish for a thoroughfare. I think we can both agree there are plenty of problems to solve. I saw enough behavior this past year that gave me cause for concern, hence my opinion.

  3. We need to convince Mayor Malchow to run again. She is the best mayor Sammamish has ever had since we moved here 15 years ago. The 4-3 alliance we have now is an extremely thin margin, and the next 2 people who have signed up to run for council are both pro maximum development without regards to traffic.

    Rituja Indapure joined the planning committee after losing to Chris Ross and helped come up with that horrible development plan that wants to add thousands of new homes to Sammamish without once mentioning traffic impact.

    Meanwhile, Karen McNight is a realtor whose goal is to make sure the developers get to finish building their thousands of units in the Town Center. After Don Gerend, the last thing we need is another fox guarding the hen house. I’m appalled that people nowadays could be so shameless in serving their own agenda when running for public office. Karen McNightmare must not be elected or Sammamish is toast within 2 years.

    We need to convince Mayor Malchow and Tom Hornish to run again, Sammamish needs them now more than ever! Everyone please, write to them and urge them to run again.

  4. Having attended or watched the council meetings, my perspective based on what I saw and the responses I received our different from yours. I prefer my council members to live full time in the City and I don’t believe any of the issues have been solved. I think Mayor Malchow worked hard but not necessarily in the best interest of the City. Perhaps well intended, I don’t know; but Sammamish needs a City center, it needs improved traffic flow or it will be wall to wall houses for the surrounding business districts and that will include multi family. If that happens, we’ll continue to see insufficient transit solutions and growing traffic. We’ll see how much constituents are willing to pay to improve infrastructure to benefit commuters from neighboring cities so they can use Sammamish for a thoroughfare. I think we can both agree there are plenty of problems to solve. I saw enough behavior this past year that gave me cause for concern, hence my opinion. 0

    1. I strongly disagree. Sammamish does not need a Town Center. Not only will the Town Center not improve traffic flow, but it will worsen traffic by drawing even more traffic into the downtown area. You could argue that we need a Park n’ Ride for people on the North end, but that must be north of the Safeway/Trader Joe’s shopping complex, perhaps near Sahalee. The downtown area is already so congested during rush hours with 3 high schools already in the area, plus the Y, City Hall and Library, the last thing we need is to draw more traffic into it, with 228th having zero capacity to expand.

      Adding more apartments and a bus depot in downtown will also bring more transients into the area, including drug addicts. Everytime I go to downtown Issaquah, I see more and more homeless. The only reason we don’t have more in Sammamish is because there is no transit bringing them up here, and no bus depot or big covered parking lots for them to camp out, shoot up and defecate in. There are 3 high schools in the area, it will not be safer for our kids to bring more transients into area. Safety of our children must come first.

      Why do we want to draw commuters from neighboring cities? That is the last thing we need. People need to realize that Sammamish is completely landlocked. We have two major “choke points” that restrict our access to get on/off the freeway north and south. We can’t leave the plateau except to go through Issaquah or Redmond. Until those 2 choke points are addressed, like being transformed into 6 lane roads, all additional building in Sammamish must be curtailed. There is already a huge development of condos+retail in Issaquah Highlands, with easy freeway access, why do we need to build another just like it? The Seattle Times reported recently that there is an over supply of condos and apartments in King County, esp. on the East Side, vacancy rate is up and rent is down, why do we need to build more?

      If we build out the Town Center, the traffic will get so bad eventually the only people who will go shop there are people who can walk there. People who live on the South and North end will end up shopping in Issaquah or Redmond to avoid the congestion downtown. We used to get our pizza from Papa Murphy’s on 228th every Friday for dinner. Now the traffic’s gotten so bad we stopped going. If the Y gets any more crowded (it already has 4 to 5 times more members than projected), it will become unusable to many, but we will all still be on the hook to subsidize it through our taxes.

      Mayor Malchow and council members Tom Hornish, Karen Moran and Chris Ross consistently voted selflessly, with the interest of the public in mind. They are not the ones with the personal agendas. It is the other 3 council members who consistently voted against public interest who have their own agendas. I am disgusted by them and pray that they all get voted out in the next election.

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