Intervention badly needed for Sammamish city council

By Scott Hamilton, Editor

Editor’s Note: This column was drafted the week before last. The plan was to publish once the final traffic concurrency and building moratorium votes were taken, anticipated in November. But this weekend, Council Member Pam Stuart launched a highly personal, accusatory attack on Mayor Christie Malchow on Facebook. Stuart brought into the attack indirect reference to Malchow’s children, a political verboten that goes to the presidency of the United states. Thus, I made the decision to publish this column today.

The Sammamish city council badly needs an intervention. Residents have serious cause for concern with the dysfunctional, bitterly split ruling body.

The divisions and in-fighting are the worst seen since before incorporation.

Initially, the council split into two factions: The “new V-3” (Ramiro Valderrama, Jason Ritchie and Pam Stuart, odd bedfellows if there ever were any) and the “M-4” (Christie Malchow, Tom Hornish, Chris Ross and Karen Moran).

Ritchie coined the terms. (The old V-3 were Valderrama, Malchow and Hornish. The latter two split with Valderrama over his 180 degree flip-flops on environmental and development issues and his persistent distortion of facts and outright falsehoods he makes to advance his positions.)

For a while, even this split broke down. It became 2-2-3. Malchow and Hornish remained staunch allies. Moran and Ross became unpredictable votes, flip-flopping on the same issue between the M-2 and the V-3. The V-3 by-and-large remain a solid voting bloc.

More recently, the 4-3 split reemerged. The infighting is worse than ever. It’s not clear that it won’t get worse. Continue reading “Intervention badly needed for Sammamish city council”

Stuart supported upzoning, with conditions, she told Master Builders Assn.

Sammamish Council Member Pam Stuart told the Master Builders Assn. before the 2017 city council election that she supported upzoning for higher density.

Sammamish Council Member Pam Stuart

In a questionnaire the MBA sent to candidates throughout the region, Stuart—who was making her first run for political office—said she would not “advocate” for upzoning, however.

The retrospective is relevant today because Stuart last week claimed high density development is environmentally friendly. Her position fails to take into account the realities of land use zoning, downzoning, “takings” and political opposition.

The MBA ultimately supported Stuart in her election. This support became a point of contention with Stuart’s opponent, John Robinson, in the council race last year. Continue reading “Stuart supported upzoning, with conditions, she told Master Builders Assn.”

Stuart’s faux environmentalism

Editorial

Sammamish City Council Member Pam Stuart ran for office in 2017 vowing to protect the environment.

Council Member Pam Stuart
Council Member Pam Stuart

Instead, she is using a claim of environmental protection to support her vote for lifting the building moratorium on the Town Center and as a proponent for higher density.

At the Oct. 16 council meeting, Stuart argued that lifting the moratorium is environmentally friendly because concentrating growth in one area protects other areas in Sammamish from building.

This shows an appalling ignorance of Sammamish’s land use zoning, the history of the development of the Comprehensive Planning to limit growth, political realities and impacts on property owners.

Either that, or Stuart just is using “environmental protection” as a faux excuse to open the development door to STCA, the principal developer waiting to get the green light to file permit applications to build the Town Center.

Or it could well be both.

Continue reading “Stuart’s faux environmentalism”

Public pressure on city council keeps the moratorium on the Town Center

Karen Moran
Karen Moran

Sammamish residents took to email, social media and showed up in person at the Oct. 16 council meeting to tell council to keep the moratorium on the Town Center and not to exempt anyone from the new development regulations.

On a split 4/3 vote, the  council voted to keep the moratorium. The vote on the development regulations has been postponed.

Continue reading “Public pressure on city council keeps the moratorium on the Town Center”

City council ready to prop up development of hundreds of new homes

By Miki Mullor
Deputy Editor

A day after staff revealed the last data on the new concurrency rules, a split Sammamish city council took action to save development of hundreds, potentially thousands, of new homes, from what looks like an inevitable shut down of growth in Sammamish due to lack of road capacity.

Continue reading “City council ready to prop up development of hundreds of new homes”

Moratorium effectively lifted; late night emergency dimension regulations adopted

The Sammamish City Council last night effectively lifted the year-long building moratorium, with some conditions for the Town Center.

In a surprise action, city council also adopted an emergency development regulations that will impact the neighborhood character of new development, adding restrictions to projects that aren’t already vested.

Continue reading “Moratorium effectively lifted; late night emergency dimension regulations adopted”

Emails reveal secret meetings involving Fehr & Peers, the city’s traffic concurrency consultant

Kendra Breiland
Kendra Breiland, Fehr & Peers

Recent emails discovered on Fehr & Peers servers, obtained through a public records request, reveal separate, secret meetings between Kendra Breiland from Fehr & Peers, former City Manager Lyman Howard and Town Center developer STCA.

“This is confidential correspondence from the City Manager’s office,” wrote former Deputy City Manager Jessi Bon to Breiland in an email dated July 22, 2017. “We would like to meet with you on Thursday at on off-site location. At this time it will just be myself and the City Manager. The other staff are not aware of this meeting, so again, please keep this confidential.”

Meetings between developers and government officials are common. What is uncommon–and suspicious–are meetings that are labeled confidential and specifically excluding staff under a request for confidentiality.

A contractor’s emails are subject to the State Public Records Act under certain circumstances, which applied in this case. The complete email exchange is here

Continue reading “Emails reveal secret meetings involving Fehr & Peers, the city’s traffic concurrency consultant”