In a wild and chaotic meeting Tuesday, dealing with the city manager’s position, concurrency and development the Town Center, it became clear the business of Sammamish is done behind closed doors and that developers’ influence is running strong.
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.”
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.
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.
The Sammamish City Council faces a complex set of issues interconnecting the Town Center and efforts to revise its traffic concurrency policies.
At stake is whether the Town Center proceeds per the 2009 plan adopted by the Planning Commission and City Council or, as some desire, the plan is reopened with the goal of down-sizing it.
Reopening the plan also allows the possibility of some advocating an up—zoning of the TC.
The city is under a building moratorium adopted last October. The council and staff want to lift the moratorium in July, but controversy over how to proceed with revisions for concurrency casts doubt over whether revisions may be ready by then.