By Miki Mullor
The Sammamish City Council made several significant decisions on Tuesday during a special city council meeting.
- The Sammamish Farmers Market is cancelled.
- The “Fourth on the Plateau” Fourth of July celebration is cancelled.
- The “Party on the Plateau” celebration (formerly “Sammamish Nights”) is cancelled.
- Renowned attorney Peter Eglick is hired to replace former City Attorney Kim Pratt on the Gerend case.
All city events cancelled this year
Citing the Covid-19 health risk to the community, the City Council cancelled all major City events scheduled for the the rest of the year.
Sammamish will not be holding the beloved 4th of July celebration, Fourth on the Plateau, that draws thousands of residents each year to Sammamish Commons. City Council members unanimously agreed there is no way the City can safely conduct the event without risking public health.
The Sammamish Farmers Market was also cancelled over the same health concern by a 5-2 vote, with Council Member Jason Ritchie and Pam Stuart opposing.
Stuart and Ritchie wanted to make a decision on the market on a month-by-month basis, citing that Governor Inslee’s “Stay at home” order deems farmers markets essential business. Stuart said the Governor’s order allows operation of farmers markets if social distancing guidelines can be met.
The rest of the Council cited health concerns and whether the City will be sending the wrong message to the public if it decides to not cancel the Farmers Market altogether.
The Party on the Plateau, formerly known as Sammamish Nights, which normally is held in August to celebrate the City’s birthday, was unanimously cancelled. The Council also unanimously cancelled all other smaller events scheduled for the summer, including the concerts in Pine Lake Park.
“Super Lawyer” hired to handle the Gerend case
Also decided, by a 5-2 vote, was the appointment of renowned attorney Peter Eglick to take over the Gerend case. Stuart and Ritchie opposed.
Eglick was hired last week by Interim City Manager David Rudat to advise staff on Growth Management Act (GMA) issues, development regulations and land use.
Eglick, who is one of the most experienced attorneys in the state on the GMA, development and environmental law, has a long history of representing different types of parties, including cities, citizen groups and homeowners associations. Notably, Eglick has no developers on his list of representative clients.
This comes only two months after we reported how the City listened to Gerend on his choice for who will represent the City in the litigation he’s pursuing against it:
Since then, the City Council hired David Rudat as its new Interim City Manager.
Last week, Rudat selected Eglick to advise staff on the GMA and development law.
Now, the City Council majority, with a 5-2 vote, signaled confidence in Rudat’s decision by voting to expand Eglick’s role to oversee the Gerend case. Stuart and Ritchie opposed.
This will also be the first time the City will be receiving legal advice from a different attorney other than Kenyon Dissend, the Issaquah-based law firm that has been serving as the city’s City Attorney since incorporation.
(Technically speaking, the Madrona Law Group is presenting the City on the Gerend case, but this firm was formed by half of Kenyon Dissend attorneys who left the firm in November 2019).
Eglick and Gerend’s attorney, Duana Kolouskova, last faced each other in 2013 in a case involving a D.R. Horton plans to develop 300 single family homes and 200 apartments on an 80 acres lot. In that case, Eglick defended the City Council’s decision to reject the development and won in both Superior Court and the Court of Appeals.
On their website, Eglick’s firm states that “engaging our firm is a confirmation to others that the client’s interests merit careful consideration.”
What’s next in the Gerend case
The first stage of the Gerend case will conclude on April 20, when the Growth Management Hearing Board will issue a ruling on the matter.
The Growth Management Hearing Board is a quasi judicial body selected by the Governor to hear petitions over cities actions within the confines of the GMA. The board members are former politicians and are limited to only consider the public record of City Council – no witnesses or investigations are allowed.
The board’s decision is appealable to the Superior Court, where the process follows the normal judicial process of a state court.
There could be three possible outcomes:
The board could decide to side with Gerend and to invalidate the concurrency ordinance the council enacted. This would mean the work the Council has done since May 2018 will be nulled. The City may appeal the decision which will delay the invalidation until the appeal process concludes.
The board could decide to reject Gerend’s petition altogether – which Gerend may appeal to the Superior Court.
The third option is a finding of non-compliance, which the board discussed during the hearing. Non-compliance could mean that the board finds that City Council’s actions were legal but incomplete.
For example, because the new concurrency rules recognized Sahalee Way is failing, the City must take some form of action to address the failure. Such action could mean improving the roads or relaxing the concurrency standards. It could also mean reevaluation of the amount of development allowed or deferral of development until such time in the future when roads are adequate to handle the development.
Sammamish is the first city in the Puget Sound area (and possibly in the entire state) that is facing a question over the future of growth within its borders because of inadequate infrastructure.
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