Lake Trail issues remain misunderstood; let’s clear them up

Commentary

Reading comments on this blog about the latest East Lake Sammamish Trail events, prompted by a mass email campaign generated by the Cascade Bicycle Club, displays a real lack of understanding about the issues involved.

The emails created by the Club don’t surprise me: all they care about is bicycling and Sammamish Mapnothing else. Some of their members don’t even follow the Rules of the Road while biking on streets, let alone respect the unique issues involved in developing the ELST. Their self-centered myopia is long-standing.

The Club strikes me as particularly hypocritical because most of the time, the bicyclists prefer the streets and roads to the trails.

But the comments from some of those who live in Sammamish and who otherwise are concerned about local development surprise me. Many use the ELST and should see first hand some of the issues involved.

Let’s look at these unique issues.

Continue reading “Lake Trail issues remain misunderstood; let’s clear them up”

Sammamish’s trek to court over Land Use Appeals, other issues; cost to taxpayers stonewalled

The City of Sammamish has gone to court 28 times in the last 10 years on matters other than routine operational reasons. Half were for Land Use Petition (development) (LUP) appeals from Hearing Examiner decisions, a review of court records reveals.

In addition, the City wound up in Court over development of the East Lake Sammamish Trail for what’s called an Administrative Law Review, three times over Public Records and twice by parties seeking injunctions against the City.

The City also is a defendant in a damages lawsuit by developer William Buchan, which is also the plaintiff in one of the LUPs. Both are for the proposed development of Chestnut Estates West, west of 212th Ave. SE and SE 8th St.

The review of records in King County Superior Court this week revealed numerous other court actions relating to City requests to condemn land (usually for road rights of way) and Quit Claim deeds. These are routine cases related to the normal operation of the City.

The court cases do not include recent actions before the state Shorelines Hearing Board on appeals by King County and the Sammamish Homeowners group over a Hearing Examiner’s decision regarding development of the East Lake Sammamish Trail.

Continue reading “Sammamish’s trek to court over Land Use Appeals, other issues; cost to taxpayers stonewalled”

Grounds for appeals of developments

  • A previous column described some of the changes in Sammamish over the 20 years I’ve lived here, ending with appeals I filed over some development along SE 8th Today’s post takes up where that left off.

When I filed appeals of the Greens of Beaver Crest and a companion development, I knew little of what I was doing. I only knew I wanted some traffic calming on SE 8th, where I lived at the time, and King County said no. (This was before Sammamish incorporated.)

Tom Harmon, a citizen activist and a member of SHOUT, a citizens group, dropped off a manual of sorts about how to pursue appeals. I also began attending the public hearings of another appeal of a development along SE 228th by a resident, James Jordan, to learn about the process and evidentiary rules and requirements.

Still another appeal, over traffic issues that were at the heart of my appeal, had been filed a resident, Craig Dickison, and adjudicated by the King County Hearing Examiner.

The appeals were all denied, although the decision on Dickison’s appeal had been a close call. This decision became the one to follow for the Greens.

Citizens lose

One of the early takeaways from these appeals above was that citizens lose appeals. It was very, very rare that they win.

Under the law, Examiners give great weight or deference to the presumed expertise of those government employees making the decisions to grant approval of developments. Appellants have the burden of proof to demonstrate the decisions were in error.

When I talk about appellants as citizens, I should note that developers have the right to appeal as well. They sometimes do, objecting to conditions imposed by the government’s staff. We’ve seen this most recently in King County’s appeal of Sammamish staff conditions for development of the south leg of the East Lake Sammamish Trail. The County largely prevailed, while a homeowner’s group, SHO, did not in its appeal of the same ELST permit.

We also saw the developer appeal the Chestnut West development permit. Citizens won their appeals; the developer lost.

Continue reading “Grounds for appeals of developments”

Breaking news: Examiner denies SHO appeal on ELST; Gives split decision on County appeal

The Sammamish Hearing Examiner denied the appeal by the Sammamish Homeowners over the City’s granting of a permit for development of the East Lake Sammamish Trail.

The Examiner granted some of the appeal issues filed by King County over a host of conditions the City set, but denied others. Still others were settled in negotiations between the City and the County, the most important providing for the preservation of far more trees than the County originally was proposing.

A third homeowners’ appeal was settled between the County and the appellants.

Continue reading “Breaking news: Examiner denies SHO appeal on ELST; Gives split decision on County appeal”

Precinct-by-precinct analysis of Sammamish City Council election

A precinct-by-precinct analysis of the Nov. 3 Sammamish City Council election demonstrates that development concerns and a muffed plan for the Sahalee Way road projects helped lead the way to victory for Christie Malchow and Tom Hornish over Mark Cross and Tom Vance.

Ramiro Valderrama faced only token opposition, and therefore Sammamish Comment hasn’t spent a lot of time analyzing his race against Hank Klein. Klein dropped out of the race too late to take his name off the ballot. He didn’t campaign or raise money.

Here’s what The Comment’s analysis found:

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What’s next for Sammamish: balance of 2015 and in 2016

Although votes are still being counted and the election results won’t be certified until Nov. 24, Christie Malchow and Tom Hornish have been elected to the Sammamish City Council; their Election Night margins were too great for Mark Cross and Tom Vance to overcome. Their vote tallies have only increased each day additional votes have been tabulated.

So the questions become, What’s next? What’s next for the balance of 2015 in what is now a lame duck period of the City Council, and What’s next in 2016?

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How Sammamish veterans lost their City Council races

  • Note: This is 11 pages when printed.
Nov 4 results
Click on image to enlarge.

How did two veterans of Sammamish public service lose their bids for election to the City Council in the Nov. 3 election to two unknown newcomers to the City?

They lost through a combination of miscalculation, arrogance, the split of traditional coalitions, angry opposition, tenacious newcomers and a one-term Council Member who wasn’t about to cower in the face of determined opposition.

They also had an unwitting helping hand from their own Deputy Mayor, whose obsessions galvanized the opposition to upset her allies.

This is the inside story of how Mayor Tom Vance lost to two-year resident Tom Hornish and how former Mayor and Council Member Mark Cross lost a comeback bid to a feisty young Mom in tennis shoes, Christie Malchow, invoking remembrances of another tennis shoe Mom campaign in Washington long before Malchow moved here.

Continue reading “How Sammamish veterans lost their City Council races”