City-YMCA deal was sole-source, no-bid contract, no Requests for Proposals issued

By Scott Hamilton

Analysis

Sept. 16, 2019: The agreement between Sammamish and the YMCA for the latter to run the community center was the result of a sole-source, no-bid contract.

No Request for Proposals was issued that would compete management of the center.

The contract between Sammamish and the YMCA was a sole-source, no-bid arrangement. No Requests for Proposals were issued. A Sammamish businessman wanted to bid. City of Sammamish photo.

An offer by a Sammamish health club owner to submit a bid that would return 15% of the gross receipts to the city didn’t even get a hearing.

One of the leading advocates throughout the years for the YMCA was a city council member who also sat on the YMCA board, a clear conflict of interest that was ignore by the city administration and a successive series of city councils. (This member was off the council in 2012-13, when the votes were held.)

The YMCA was fundamentally the only entity supported by the city for nearly a decade before a contract was negotiated.

These lie at the roots of the current controversial examination of the city’s management contract with the YMCA that sees the agency siphoning off $1.4m a year to the Greater Seattle YMCA rather than keeping the money in Sammamish or sharing the profits with the city’s general fund.

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Staff confirms Klahanie annexation’s adverse affects on other road projects

Aug. 26, 2019: The Klahanie area annexation to Sammamish in 2015 caused road projects in the legacy parts of the city to be delayed, despite promises from then-Mayor Tom Vance and then-City Manager Ben Yazici there would be no adverse impacts.

Then-Mayor Tom Vance and then-City Manager promised no ill affects on legacy Sammamish from Klahanie annexation.

Acting public works director Cheryl Paston confirmed at the City Council’s Aug. 20 meeting what Sammamish Comment feared and reported in 2015: the Klahanie annexation would divert money from key projects to fulfill a Christmas list of promises made by Vance, Yazici, council members Don Gerend and Ramiro Valderrama to entice Klahanie residents to vote to annex to Sammamish.

As the current city council debates over projects listings on the Transportation Improvement Plan—notably the Sahalee Way project—the 2015 council led by Vance and Yazici’s administration manipulated the TIP then to claim sharply reduced costs for a major Klahanie road project while simultaneously shifting monies from other road projects in legacy Sammamish.

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How the Town Center plan happened

By Scott Hamilton

Commentary

Aug. 22, 2019: There is a lack of knowledge about how the Sammamish Town Center Plan unfolded and what it is today.

Here is how it happened.

Sammamish became a city in 1999. One of the first orders of business was to create the Comprehensive Plan. The first city council appointed 17 citizens to what was called the Planning Advisory Board (PAB) to draft a plan.

The PAB had a cross-section of Sammamish residents: environmentalists, developers, real estate agents, business people and people simply interested in serving. I was on the PAB.

The PAB worked over 18 months on all elements except one: the area that became the Town Center.

The PAB was directed by that first city council to wrap up its work just as we got to the center of town. Whereas nearly all new cities took three years to complete its first Comp Plan, that city council and the city manager at the time, Ben Yazici, wanted it done in record time.

The center of town was set aside for its own process—which took from 2001 to the end of 2009.

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STCA wanted to upzone by 42%-68% in 2017

Aug. 20, 2019: STCA, developer of much of the Sammamish Town Center, and city staff pondered dramatic upzoning in 2017.

The idea would have added 250,000 sf to the 600,000 sf of commercial already approved and 1,500 more residential units to the 2,200 approved.

The ideas never made it to the public domain for debate nor to a Docket Request stage to amend the Comprehensive Plan. The 2017 city council quietly, and out of public view, killed the idea before it reached the public or the stage of a formal request.

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Gerend wanted larger, taller Town Center

Aug. 20, 2019: Former Sammamish Mayor Don Gerend, who is trying to overturn the city’s traffic concurrency standard adopted in May, favored a much larger commercial area of the Town Center than was approved when he was a sitting council member.

Don Gerend

Throughout the debates of the Town Center plan and standards, Gerend consistently argued for 700,000 sf of commercial/office/retail space against the 500,000 sf recommended by the Planning Commission.

Gerend also made half-hearted attempts to eliminate the Commission’s recommendation of a 70 foot cap on buildings. This would have restricted buildings to five stories of residential over one story of commercial space, a concept similar to development in areas of downtown Redmond.

After Gerend retired from the council in December 2017, he proposed as a private citizen eliminating the height restriction entirely in a so-called Docket Request. This is an annual process to amend the Comprehensive Plan, of which the Town Center plan is a part.

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Gerend silent over ownership, vested interest claimed in action against city

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.

Don Gerend

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.

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Valderrama now supports Sahalee Way project he once called lipstick on a hippo

By Scott Hamilton

Commentary

July 29, 2019: The Sahalee Way project Sammamish City Council Member Ramiro Valderrama now advocates approving is the same ones he labeled “lipstick on a pig” and “lipstick on a hippo” in January 2017.

Ramiro Valderrama

Valderrama opposed the 2015 plan, comparing with a proposed set of projects for East Lake Sammamish Parkway in 2011 that he labeled the “most wasteful project in the city’s history.”

In posts on Facebook last week, Valderrama falsely claimed he supported the Sahalee Way project but only after a Transportation Management Plan was prepared.

Valderrama made his remarks on a Facebook thread commenting about the petition filed by former Mayor Don Gerend seeking to overturn a traffic concurrency adopted two months ago.

Development of the next phase of the Sammamish Town Center cannot pass the concurrency standard on Sahalee Way.

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