By Miki Mullor
120 days after appointing David Rudat as the City’s Interim City Manager, the Sammamish City Council voted 5-2 to hire Rudat Tuesday evening as the new permanent City Manager. Council members Pam Stuart and Jason Ritchie voted against.
In February, when he was first hired as an Interim City Manager, Mayor Karen Moran described Rudat as the “most qualified manager we have ever seen”:
Rudat brings over 40 years of experience in leadership in several cities in California, including 10 years as the City Manager of the City of Orange. He was first considered for the Interim City Manager role in Sammamish in 2018 after former-City Manager Lyman Howard was fired. The Council eventually selected Larry Patterson for the role and Rudat became the Interim City Manager of the City of Alameda in California.
Rudat is the first City Manager in Sammamish with experience managing a large and complex city.
During his 120 days in Sammamish, while managing the City during a pandemic, Rudat earned the respect of staff: “I think Dave [Rudat] is a good choice. He is a good city manager”, said City Clerk Melonie Anderson, the city’s longest tenure employee who is retiring this month. A retired staff member said on Facebook that she heard from staff members Rudat is a “great leader”.
The next few months will be busy and critical for the future for the City. The Gerend lawsuit has set a tight deadline to amend the comprehensive plan by late October to include the new concurrency rule of Volume to Capacity (V/C). The City Council may also have to deal with the bigger question on how and when to grow given the recently completed Transportation Master Plan (TMP) and a Sahalee Way traffic study that show that even investing hundreds of millions of dollars will not alleviate traffic congestion, unless King County improves state highway 202.
Rudat hired renowned Growth Management Act (GMA) attorney Peter Eglick to assist the City in the process. Rudat will also need to rebuild a new leadership team to assist him with managing the city: a deputy city manager, a director of public works and a director of parks and recreation.
This is also a budget year that has to be updated and approved every two years. While the City’s revenues are not expected to be impacted negatively by the Covid-19 pandemic, the City’s budget is due for adjustments given an operating deficit it has carried since 2017.
Tougher on STCA
In what is perceived as a change of tone, since Rudat started as the Interim City Manager, staff has been holding STCA, the Town Center developer, to high standards during the permit process of Town Center Phase 1, a 400 home project STCA applied for last year.
STCA has assumed deviations from the City’s development code will be granted and such assumptions are reflected in their permit application. The City has a long history of granting exemptions, deviations and variances to developers. (see our 2015 story: City’s Newsletter on growth distorts the facts; Variances-R-Us)
However, in its June 3 response to STCA’s permit application, staff cautioned the developer such approval cannot be assumed: “City consideration of discretionary approvals to deviate from these core Code standards and adopted Town Center Plan and Infrastructure Plan, would require a full exploration and understanding of the resulting range of impacts, which the current Phase I application materials do not provide. “
Staff also rejected STCA’s request for a 90-day extension to their permit application deadline and only granted a two weeks extension instead.
Such responses to a developer were unheard of in the City of Sammamish and are credited to Rudat’s efforts to change the culture at City Hall.
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