Town Center: East vs West

Recent letters in The Sammamish Review (Jan. 13, 2010) and The Sammamish Reporter (Jan. 15) by John Galvin saying he isn’t proposing adding 210,000 commercial space and 144 residential units to his Southeast Quadrant in the Town Center, instead proposing to shift it from other quadrants, is highly revealing.

First, it demonstrates that his long campaign is about him and not about what’s best for the Town Center landowners and the City of Sammamish. He suggests taking zoning from other landowners who are counting on decisions made by the City over five years. These landowners depend on the financial benefits from these upzonings. Galvin proposes taking this away from these citizens for his own benefit. I imagine that the Westside landowners will find this revelation distressing.

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3 newbies join Planning Commission

Three new people joined the Sammamish Planning Commission after being appointed Jan. 19 by the City Council. This article in The Sammamish Review provides details.

After the City Council, this is the most important body authorized in state law for cities. All land use policies and proposals must first go through the Planning Commission. Environmental policies start here.

The seven members are all unpaid volunteers who donate and dedicate their time. It is a thankless job–often without thanks from the very City Council that appoints them–and their recommendations frequently become targets from citizens and council members alike.

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The big issues in 2010

Sammamish faces several big issues this year that will be important for citizens to follow. Among them, in no particular order:

The Budget: Sammamish is a property tax-based community. Revenue diversification is needed (which is what the Town Center is about–see below). Because of the global economic meltdown beginning in September 2008, which dried up the housing market, a major source of revenues for the City declined significantly: permit and impact fees. Although markets appear to be slowly improving, it will be some time before revenues recover. The City Council will have some hard choices to make on expenditures and potentially….

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New Era Begins

A new era begins with the seating of three new members to the City Council.

Tom Odell replaces Jack Barry, a 10-year member of the Council whom Odell defeated decisively in the November election; John James won equally decisively over Erica Tiliacos in his second try, this time for an open Council seat; and ex-TV personality John Curley easily defeated Tom Vance for another open seat.

Incumbents still control the Council, however. Ten-year veteran Don Gerend swamped token opposition to be reelected. Nancy Whitten, Mark Cross and Michele Petitti remain and all are up for election in 2011.

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Conflict of interest at City Hall

The last 18 months was rife with conflict of interest at City Hall. Maybe this year will be better.

It started with a proposal by the City staff to identify an area called “the Notch” as a potential annexation area (PAA) for the City’s Comprehensive Plan. This is 44 acres surrounded on two sides by Trossachs in the far southeast part of the City, one side by High Country and fronted by Duthie Hill Road. The Urban Growth Boundary Line (UGB) follows Duthie Hill Road but carves out this 44 acres–the Notch–for reasons that made no sense when it happened.

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Two-Year Mayor

Since inception, the Sammamish City Council has selected its mayor and deputy mayor for one-year terms. Now it appears that the city has been out of compliance with state law the entire time. Law calls for two year mayoral terms.

Here is a story from The Sammamish Review that after 10 years, the City is finally going to comply with the law.

Here is a story from The Sammamish Reporter about the politicking that went on.

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Sammamish Comment Returns

After a three year hiatus, Sammamish Comment returns.

Please see “About” and “Disclaimer” for information About The Comment and Disclaimers for affiliations.

With a new City Council following the 2009 November election, in which three new faces (John Curley, John James and Tom Odell) out of seven join the council, and some key issues coming forward in 2010, insight and commentary will be useful for the citizens.