A tsunami in Sammamish – unless we act

Guest Op-Ed 
By Kent Treen 
Sammamish City Council Member  

Kent Treen

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. 

Why? 

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.

Continue reading

Valderrama cites fake facts in Town Center moratorium flip-flop

Ramiro Valderrama

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.

This simply wasn’t true.

Continue reading

Sammamish Disaster Preparedness Fair Oct. 15

City_of_SammamishSammamish will hold its annual Disaster Preparedness Fair Saturday, October 15, at City Hall from 9am to 3pm.

Details can be found here: Sammamish Disaster Preparedness Fair.

Several private and civic organizations will have displays in the Council Chambers and in the Courtyard, providing information residents need to survive disasters.

The principal focus is on earthquake preparedness, but other emergencies—such as downed power lines that can be dangerous—have been addressed in the past.

The City is the host but didn’t participate last year with a table of its own. It will this year.

Sammamish also was slow to participate in the Cascadia Rising emergency disaster drill last June, finally signing up after Sammamish Comment began asking questions about the City’s preparedness.

Since then, the new City Council (effective Jan. 1) and new City Manager (effective March 1) have undertaken numerous steps to bring the City to a state of preparedness.

Continue reading

Drinking water contamination traced to EF&R, Issaquah says

A legal battle may be brewing between Issaquah and Eastside Fire & Rescue over damages to Issaquah drinking wells from highly toxic chemicals the city’s consultants say originated with the EF&R.

Issaquah has a conflict of interest and the City of Sammamish may also if Issaquah seeks damages from EF&R.

Two wells that provide drinking water for Issaquah residents were shut down briefly this summer from contamination of PFOS and PFOA, two toxic chemicals detected in the wells. The levels of toxicity were above Environmental Protection Agency standards.

Issaquah rushed to spend at least $1m to lease a filtering system to cleanse the water. The wells have been reactivated. Additional costs for consulting services continue.

Sammamish Plateau Water detected the chemicals at levels well below the EPA standards in nearby wells after conducting its own tests and hiring a consultant to assist.

Issaquah issued a press release yesterday in which it said the city and EF&R are working together to “further investigate potential sources of these PFCs.”

The city is cash-strapped and will likely make a claim against EF&R, Sammamish Comment is told.

Two members of the Issaquah City Council are on the board of EF&R, establishing a conflict of interest if Issaquah makes a claim for damages.

Two Sammamish city council members are on the EF&R board and a third is on the EF&R finance committee. Sammamish gets its fire service from EF&R, with taxpayers paying for this service. Sammamish City Council members thus could also be put into a position of a conflict of interest.

With two members of the EF&R board in a clear conflict of interest and two more in a potential conflict, the seven member fire board could be deprived of a quorum to decide how to settle any claim.

The Issaquah Press release:

Continue reading

New water wars burbling in Sammamish

The water wars between the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District and Issaquah were entertaining. Despite the City of Sammamish watching this war, and becoming involved as an interested party, Sammamish city officials couldn’t resist approaching the Northeast Sammamish Sewer and Water District to invite a “discussion” about assuming the district.

To keep the players straight, here are the references we’ll use going forward:

Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District: “Plateau”.

City of Issaquah: “Issaquah”.

City of Sammamish: “City”.

Northeast Sammamish Sewer and Water District: “Northeast”.

Citizens for Sammamish: “C4S”.

Northeast went tilt over the City’s overture. Obviously having watched what was going on between Plateau and Issaquah, and the latter’s hostile takeover attempt of part of the Plateau’s assets and district, Northeast was paranoid. Not only did officials reject any call for “friendly” discussions, they fired up their customers, who flooded the City with emails and protests. Furthermore, Northeast budgeted $600,000 to defend the district against any attempt by the City to take over the district.

City officials seemed bewildered by Northeast’s reaction. We aren’t planning any move to assume Northeast, City officials protested. We just wanted to sit down and discuss the possibilities. A couple of City newsletters devoted a great deal of space to injured innocence.

Having watched the Plateau-Issaquah water wars (and participated in some of the negotiations to bring the wars to an end), I find it astounding that the City was so ham-handed in its timing to approach Northeast and even raise the issue when Plateau and Issaquah seemed headed for armageddon. Repeating, having become involved in talks as a neutral participant, so-to-speak, to resolve the dispute between Plateau and Issaquah, how could the City not understand the sensitivities of even raising the topic at that time with Northeast? It’s mind-boggling.

Continue reading