By Scott Hamilton
July 30, 2019: Former Mayor Don Gerend has remained silent over his ownership or vested interest in property since filing a petition last week seeking to overturn Sammamish’s revise traffic concurrency ordinance, adopted two months ago.
Gerend, who served with distinction on the city council for 19 years, spoke as a citizen opposing the new concurrency standard as too restrictive. The petition was filed with the Growth Management Hearings Board.
The language in the petition outlining his Standing to file it raised pointed questions in social media and in reader comments in Sammamish Comment about whether he has a financial interest in the Sammamish Town Center, development of which currently is the only project unable to meet concurrency on Sahalee Way. Sahalee Way is the road for which a “volume-to-capacity” ratio of 1.1 was adopted.
In establishing his Standing, his lawyer wrote in the petition:
“Mr. Gerend owns and/or has a vested and cognizable legal interest in property within the City of Sammamish that is directly affected and prejudiced by, has interests as a result of their property ownership which the City was required to take into account and as a former Councilmember re-elected four times and Mayor of the City has actively been engaged in the City’s ongoing long range planning both within the City and regionally under PSRC, all of which would be adversely impacted by the Ordinance.
“As a resident and participant in the City’s transportation concurrency process, the City was obligated to consider his interests when it engaged in the challenged action. Petitioner is likely to incur injury due to Ordinance No. 02019-484 unless this Board issues a decision which redresses that injury.”
His lawyer is Duana Koloušková, a partner in Johns Monroe Mitsunaga Koloušková PLLC of Bellevue, a firm that often represents the Master Builders Association and developers in land use appeals. She is also a member of the Board of Directors for the MBA.
The law firm has represented several developers who build in Sammamish, including Murray Franklyn and its affiliate Pacific Properties, Polygon Northwest and Conner Homes.
Ownership and Vested Interest
This is the phrase that created a major uproar on Facebook:
“Mr. Gerend owns and/or has a vested and cognizable legal interest in property within the City of Sammamish that is directly affected and prejudiced by, has interests as a result of their property ownership which the City was required to take into account….”
Gerend’s residence is on Pine Lake in the South end of the city and well away from Sahalee. He is not subdividing the property nor has he made any development application to the city associated with this property.
Readers on Facebook and The Comment wonder if Gerend’s ownership and vested interest, therefore, is connected to the Sammamish Town Center, which cannot meet the traffic concurrency standard for Sahalee Way.
Gerend, who occasionally writes on Facebook, has been silent in the wake of these questions. He is on vacation out of the country.
Sammamish Comment asked Gerend whether he has a financial or vested interest in Town Center properties, or has a Memorandum of Understanding or Letter of Intent for such interest, or whether any developer in the Town Center is funding his petition or pledged to reimburse his legal fees.
Gerend replied, “I am disappointed if social media is ‘hammering’ me. When I return I will be more accessible.
“I’m sure after all of these years, you can report in a credible fashion regarding my unselfish dedication to Sammamish, the Region, the State and Federal government in all municipal issues.”
But Gerend did not answer the questions in his reply above.
Sahalee Way and concurrency
Under traffic concurrency testing, the modeling estimates how much traffic will travel in multiple directions each day. Sahalee Way receives a portion of the Town Center traffic. Under the concurrency standard in the modeling, if too much traffic (“volume”) is sent to a road (the “capacity”), there must be road improvements or mitigation, or the v/c fails and the project can’t move ahead.
The v/c ratio of 1.1 for Sahalee means 110% of the road’s capacity may be achieved before failure. Any new development is added to existing traffic (“background” traffic) before testing the pass-fail impact.
Before incorporation, under King County jurisdiction, a v/c ratio of 1.1 was applied to the entire area that is now Sammamish.