Guest Op-Ed By Kent Treen Sammamish City Council Member
The debate about the negative impacts of development mostly focuses on what we all see and experience, like the pain of traffic, overcrowded schools, and the loss of trees and wildlife. But development triggers a more powerful force, that unless properly mitigated, can be the most destructive of all: stormwater.
When development does not handle its stormwater properly, its runoff will cause permanent damage to our creeks, our endangered kokanee salmon, our drinking water, our lakes and to our neighbors living downhill (just ask the residents in the Tamarack neighborhood).
To my shock and disbelief, I learned recently that in 2013 the City Council relaxed the strict storm water regulations that were in place for the Town Center development.
As the public record shows, they put the financial interests of development in the Town Center ahead of our environment, explicitly for the developers’ financial gain.
Sammamish city staff, in a move reminiscent of the Variances-R-Us approach to development in 2015, ignored city code in approving a critical step of development between September 2019 and January 2020.
City staff issued 11 traffic concurrency certificates for various development projects, even though Sahalee Way is failing concurrency. Staff decided to interpret the code to allow more development to continue, even if those developments caused more cars to use the failing Sahalee Way.
When doing so, staff ignored other portions of the code. Staff also did not ask the Sammamish City Council to clarify the code.
A much anticipated ruling by the Growth Management Hearing Board rejects former Mayor Don Gerend claims that the new concurrency rules were illegal. But the GMHB faults the City on procedural errors. The Board gave the City until October 30 to correct the errors.
The Board’s decision caps a two year long struggle between the majority City Council and supporters of the Town Center project over the new concurrency rules.
In response to the ruling, the City Council enacted an immediate development moratorium to give the City time to address these procedural issues.
Sammamish staff took deliberate steps to keep a meeting with county officials secret in order to avoid public records requests, Sammamish Comment discovered.
The meeting involved discussion to set growth targets for Sammamish.
Staff-to-staff meetings aren’t typically public. They aren’t announced on government websites, meeting notices aren’t issued and the public isn’t invited to attend. But it’s highly unusual that a government takes steps to keep the meeting secret from public records.
Sammamish did just that over a meeting last month. Calendar entries for Sammamish staffers didn’t list the purpose of the meeting. A voice mail specifically detailed the motive to avoid public records requests.
Ironically, The Comment obtained the entries and voice mail under a public records request and was nevertheless able to piece together the purpose of the meeting and the motive for hiding it.