For the second time, staff from the City’s Public Works department promotes official statements that contradict the public record.
Back in August, the City was forced to issue a rare retraction after a traffic planner in the Public Works department said in an email that was widely published that “there was no manipulation of data to favor any type of development.” The City claimed the email was taken out of context.
Now, another Public Works staffer has publicly disputed Council Member Kent Treen’s bombshell conclusion, in his guest op-ed, that in 2013 the City relaxed a critical stormwater standard in the Town Center to ease development costs and that in 2016 that standard was dismantled altogether.
Treen’s effort to restore the old standard in a special legislation has been stalled by staff.
The public record shows that staff’s public dispute of Treen is inconsistent with City’s own past positions on the issue.
For two weeks,The Sammamish Comment attempted to interview staff on the issue to address the inconsistency. Staff, who were very quick to dispute Treen in public, now are unable to find time to answer questions by email on the issue.
Sammamish yesterday refuted allegations by former city employee Sarah Hawes Kimsey that Sammamish Comment reporting about concurrency traffic modeling was inaccurate.
Jeff Elekes, the public works director, wrote Kimsey asking for a correction to her blog in which she used an email from Transportation Planner Doug McIntyre to assert Sammamish Comment and Miki Mullor lied about how the city’s transportation model had been manipulated up to 2017 and beyond.
“…[Y]ou re-printed an email from a Transportation Planner on my team, Doug McIntyre,” Elekes wrote. “Both Doug and I are were very surprised to learn how his email to you was used and promoted in your blog.”
Elekes said, essentially, that Kimsey mischaracterized the traffic audit as a traffic modeling analysis to conclude there had been no manipulation in the past.
“However, I can confirm that Sammamish’s traffic modeling data under previous administrations has been manipulated in the past in favor of development,” Elekes wrote. “This has all been clearly documented through discovery and analysis. I am writing you now to set the record straight and give you the facts, which I expect you will use to correct your blog post.”
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.