Second Sammamish council member says focus growth in Town Center, dodges property rights issues

By Scott Hamilton

A second Sammamish city council member went on record, declaring that

Jason Ritchie
Jason Ritchie

future growth should “focus” on the Town Center.

Jason Ritchie Tuesday joined Member Pam Stuart in calling for future growth to go to the Town Center.

As Sanmamsih Comment wrote Oct. 22, suggesting that future development be directed to the Town Center raises a host of questions.

The Comment posed these to Ritchie. He wrote back, “I’m happy with my statement as is. Nothing more to add at this point. I’ll be working with my fellow council members and their positions to find compromise and a path forward.” Continue reading “Second Sammamish council member says focus growth in Town Center, dodges property rights issues”

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”

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”

Just how cozy is the city with STCA?

Editorial

Kellie-Stickney-cropped-221x300
Kellie Stickney Communications Manager

Just how cozy is Town Center developer STCA with the Sammamish city administration?

Sammamish Comment has been reporting aspects of the relationship between the developer, administration and certain members of the city council for more than a year.

Now, The Comment discovered that the city administration collaborated with STCA to promote their project using taxpayer money at the same time the new concurrency model was being developed by the city.

This casts an appearance of a conflict of interest because a realistic concurrency system may block new development under certain circumstances, including the Town Center. STCA is the largest developer of the Town Center.  

The council included the Town Center in the moratorium so it will be subject to the new concurrency.

It is our view that it is improper for city staff to collaborate with STCA and at the same time develop a concurrency model that may block it.  

Indeed, on February 28, Kendra Breiland, the city’s concurrency consultant, met in Bellevue with STCA for “coordination.”  

Continue reading “Just how cozy is the city with STCA?”

It’s about transparency

Editorial

It’s about transparency.

On Tuesday, Sammamish Comment published a post about Council Member Ramiro Valderrama and City Manager Lyman Howard sending an email to staff, with a CC to the city attorney, to talk about a Developers Agreement with STCA, the principal developer of the Town Center.

City Manager Lyman Howard labeled the email Attorney Client Privilege, even though it was addressed to his assistant and only copied to the city attorney and even though it did not ask for legal advice.

Labeling the email Attorney Client Privilege had but one purpose: to keep the email from being produced in a Public Records Request.

The City Council, then in power in November 2017, was not copied on the email.

After The Comment revealed this email and drew the obvious conclusions, Valderrama, typically, tried to cover his tracks.

Continue reading “It’s about transparency”

Valderrama, Howard sought a Developer Agreement with STCA without council authorization

Sammamish City Council Member Ramiro Valderrama and City Manager Lyman Howard last year wanted to negotiate a Developer Agreement with Town Center developer STCA, without the required council approval, Sammamish Comment learned.

Ramiro Valderrama

The revelation is in an email (click to read it) dated Nov. 21, 2017, that the city manager designated “attorney client privileged.” The email was recently determined to be not privileged and released in a public records request.

The email was addressed to another city employee and cc’d to the city attorney and a second city employee. Howard’s labeling the email attorney-client privilege is intended to bar the email from public disclosure.

Continue reading “Valderrama, Howard sought a Developer Agreement with STCA without council authorization”