A months-long investigation by Sammamish Comment that includes email interviews with staff and public records requests reveal city staff opposition to restoring a stringent stormwater standard in the Town Center area.
Staff opposes the former standard because the soil in the Town Center makes it “infeasible” to implement.
In public, staff said the standard or an equivalent to it, is in place.
In private meetings with council members, staff admitted it was eliminated and opposed restoring it.
STCA’s Phase I 400 homes permit’s stormwater section was approved although the developer said it is not implementing it because “it is not feasible”.
The City does not know the impact of the currently enacted and relaxed standards on the creeks and downstream homes.
City Manager David Rudat on The Comment’s investigation: “a take down”.
A moratorium on development is coming to Northern Sammamish, unless King County commits to fund short- and long-term improvement to the sewage infrastructure.
A moratorium on sewer connections will impact not only future development but also permitted development that has not yet been connected to sewer.
In December, we reported that the Sammamish Water and Sewer district is out of capacity to handle sewer for development on an irregular line roughly north of SE 8th St., including the Town Center development site.
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.
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 Council Member Ramiro Valderrama, citing what turns out to be a series of unsubstantiated claims, executed a pirouette on his previous vote supporting a moratorium including the Town Center—and went splat.
The Town Center was exempted from the moratorium at the Nov. 21 meeting by a 4-3 vote, with Valderrama, Mayor Bob Keller and Council Members Don Gerend and Kathy Huckabay voting to lift it.
Valderrama said his vote always was about storm water management for the Town Center. In voting to exempt the Town Center, Valderrama claimed the emergency moratorium was not about traffic concurrency.