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.
“Gerend, who served with distinction on the city council for 19 years, spoke as a citizen opposing the new concurrency standard as too restrictive. ”
Served *whom* with distinction? Himself? His developer pals? Certainly not the citizens of Sammamish. This city had a building moratorium when we moved here, he was among those responsible for removing it. He was a developer disguised as “citizen” and played a major role in destroying Sammamish with over building the last 19 years.
Calling himself a “citizen” opposing the new concurrency standard as too restrictive is clearly misleading and duplicitous. What ordinary citizen in his/her right mind would want MORE traffic in Sammamish?
This man has no shame. I’m thoroughly disgusted with him.
@Jane: Gerend served the citizens with distinction. That he was a developer (but not in Sammamish) was well known, as were his policy leanings and advocacy of property rights. I disagreed with him on many, many policies, but has respect for him.
The questions arising from his “Standing” pleading are legitimate and need answers. That he could easily have done so in his email reply to our query but didn’t raises and reinforces the questions.
Citizen Jane, why be so harsh on Gerend?
To answer your question, he at one time served with Nancy Whitten, Mark Cross, Kathy Huckabay, Lee Feligne, Michelle Pettiti, and Jack Barry. This was the council that passed the TC plan. Most of these council people were more closely aligned with Scott Hamilton than Don Gerend. Why not blame Scott, he served on ALL of the planning for the city and had full control from PAB, TC committee, chair of Planning committee. Why not blame all the citizens that failed to show up for all of the years of planning? And your comment that the city had a building moratorium is extremely troublesome……it is probably the root of the entire issue – you can not keep a moratorium for eternity.
@Rutt: Why not blame Scott, he served on ALL of the planning for the city and had full control from PAB, TC committee, chair of Planning committee.
Mike, this is a false statement. I never had “full control from the PAB, TCommittee, chair of planning committee.” There were 17 people on the PAB. There were a couple of TC committees, and I came in as a replacement for Karen Moran on one of them when she had to leave to deal with a family illness (as you know from the Facebook exchange), but was one of several on this group. I was never chairman of the Planning Commission.
I didn’t serve on “ALL” of the planning for the city. I was not a member of the first planning commission. I went off the commission in December 2009.
Despite your inference that the city council did what I wanted (which is a preposterous inference), the council–including those you cite–approved commercial and apartments/condos East of 228th, whereas the TC committee and planning commission wanted only single family there and all the multi-family/commercial clustered West of 228th; the Commission recommended 500,000 sf of commercial and Gerend advocated for 700,000 before settling on 600,000; 50 foot setbacks along 228th was recommended for treed buffers to avoid Aurora Avenue and this was scrapped by the council, giving you Met Market on the West at the sidewalk and the development in the SE Quadrant to the sidewalk; Northwest style design standards were adopted by the planning commission–look at what you have today.
Yup, I sure “controlled” ALL the planning.
Don Gerend has given more time and service to the City of Sammamish than any other person involved with its governance history and has a stellar reputation. The comments attacking him on the SC blog are unfounded and show ignorance. Especially irritating are those who comment without personal identity (anonymous). They, in my opinion, are cowards and why their comments are even posted by SC shows poor judgment on the part of Sammamish Comment or are such comments authored by Sammamish Comment?
Finally, I (others often question the same as well) have one question of the Sammamish Comment articles author, Hamilton. Why are you involved anymore in the blog that is specifically related to Sammamish? Is it true you no longer live in or near Sammamish?
@KSogge: Don was afforded the opportunity to clear up the questions over his “Standing” declaration. He could have:
1. Said, “No, I don’t have any interest of any kind in the Town Center”; or
2. “Yes, but after I left office.”
Either would have silenced the critics on Facebook and on Sammamish Comment’s reader posts. Had he provided these responses, I am sure you would have had no trouble with the reporting or the fact I wrote this from Bainbridge Island.
He could also have addressed whether any developer is funding his legal fees or agreed to reimburse them. He did not do so. Instead, he said he was on vacation and I could write “credibly” about his years of service.
Don was his own messenger. He made the situation worse.
I announced in The Comment in August 2016 that I moved to Bainbridge island; no secret there. This is also on the “About” page, had you bothered to read it. I have been asked to remain on the Editorial Board in each of the last two years.
Your allegation that the reader comments are authored by Sammamish Comment is, well, crap.
I note on Facebook you don’t object to non-Sammamish residents writing nor doing so with fake screen names as long as they agree with you….
You don’t live here and you should no longer be on the Editorial Board. That is pretty simple.
Anonymous comments – I don’t know who authored them? Anonymous comments should not be allowed in any case. Especially when they are personal attacks. If people can’t put their name on a comment then off to the trash they go. The fact that Sammamish Comment screens every submitted comment means YOU decide who get to comment and who does not. Anonymity has no place here, full transparency = hinesty.
On Facebook I have no idea who is a non-Sammamish resident or who is fake. So that comment by you is, well, crap.
You don’t know what you are talking about.
Do you have a problem with the free press? Are you afraid of people being informed? Nearly every article in Sammamish Comment is accompanied by public record requests and video recordings so readers can hear and see from themselves. Why don’t you want people to stay informed? Democracy dies in darkness. I know that’s not what you want, right?
Sammamish Comment is not the “press”. It is not a NEWS organization, just a simple opinion blog.
That’s just your…opinion.
My address is in the phone book, you have a problem with me call me or come see me. Your post, in my opinion is bull[****].
Somebody overpaid their lawyer. The first paragraph is one long, disjointed sentence with unconnected, dangling phrases. Although, if the petition was intended to cloud the issue it certainly did its job.
Don Gerund made a statement to the Sammamish Front-Page, the second only news outlet focusing on Sammamish local issues.
Don Gerend has not answered:
1. If he has a letter of intent or a memorandum of understanding to purchase something in the town center.
2. If any developer is funding his legal fees or agreed to reimburse his legal fees.
The source of the animosity directed toward Don Gerend should be pretty obvious by now. It stems primarily, I think, from an objective assessment of his “service” to the community, which, in the cold light of history, seems a lot more self-serving — an assessment undistorted by the subjective nature of interpersonal relationships. And yes, it’s true that Mr. Gerend was up front about his personal financial interests, yet, in its infinite wisdom, the electorate elevated him to public office anyway. Looking around at other office holders at every level of government, one might reasonably conclude that the electorate has gotten exactly the government it deserves; this by no means makes it GOOD government. Maybe we’ll learn something from this experience, but I’m not holding my breath.
The cynicism and greed so evident in Mr. Gerend’s current suit against all the citizens of Sammamish (for which the City government is the nominal proxy) should make the true nature of this plaintiff clear; his remaining supporters are either uninformed or have interests well-aligned with Mr. Gerend’s.