‘Cell out’ is more like “Drop the Ball”

‘Cell out’ is more like “Drop the Ball”

A letter in the Sammamish Reporter, “Cell Out” (Aug. 19) is in the ball park but misses the mark in its criticism of the Sammamish City Council for screwing up the cell tower issues.

One of the first ordinances the first City Council (1999-2001) took up was cell towers. The inherited King County ordinance was deficient. I arranged to bring in a cell tower permitting expert who told the Council about co-location, camouflage, height issues and all the ABCs of how to construct an ordinance that would have prevented the problems that emerged in 2008-2009 in Trossachs and Tibbett’s Station.

Take a read of this previous post, which goes into more detail, including pictures.

Imagine my surprise when in 2009, as a member of the Planning Commission, the Trossachs issue compelled the City Council to send the ordinance to the Commission for re-work and I learned that the permitting expert’s recommendations to the 1999-2001 Council were largely absent. The Commission asked the staff for a number of things to fix the ordinance, but the staff couldn’t find the time to comply with the requests due to workload and a lack of resources (yet another example of how Council policies from 1999 through 2009 sacrificed staff-and-quality for public relations employee-head count-to-population comparisons, but this is another subject). The Commission was put in the position of making cosmetic changes that fell short of its objectives to send revisions to the 2009 Council.

Now, in 2010, the Commission and hard-pressed staff had to revisit and rework the ordinance yet again. And what does the Council do? Schedule a tour to listen to how loud is 45db (the sound of cell tower equipment at ground level). What a colossal waste of time, for the staff and Commission, and for the Council which has better things to do. All because the 1999-2001 City Council didn’t listen and get it right. (And Don Gerend was on the first Council.)

By the way, normal conversation is 50db.

“Bias, extremism” and the city staff

The Sammamish Reporter had an article August 13 entitled “Accusations of bias, extremism made against city,” in which the staff, “in a remarkably personal attack,” was accused of environmental extremism and bias in enforcing the Critical Areas Ordinance.

While I don’t agree with the characterizations, the underlying issue of over-zealous interpretation of the ordinance is only the tip of the iceberg. But not for reasons of the critics cited in the article.

The staff is sincere and tries to do a good job. But it is short-staffed, overworked and sometimes ill-advised by others in efforts to do its job.

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Schools should help pay for pool

The Redmond City Council proposed to our City Council that they join and create a new taxing district to build a swimming pool. The details are in this Sammamish Review article.

Let’s see: new taxes for a park district. May Don Gerend wants to increase the Real Estate Excise Tax by one-quarter percent; and the City will likely need to impose a utility tax to either balance the budget in a few years or pay for its contribution to the Town Center infrastructure.

Here’s an idea: why not have the Lake Washington and Issaquah School districts and the Eastside Catholic High School contribute to the capital costs and on-going maintenance of a pool? Their students need an Olympic size pool for swim team competition. They now have to rent facilities outside the city and drive to get there.

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Teen center and procrastination

Jake Lynch of the Sammamish Reporter has this lengthy commentary about the Sammamish Recreation Center in the April 23 issue. For being relatively new to the community, Lynch was pretty good on nailing some of the issues. But being new, he doesn’t know the broader history.

This is one of those topics for which a successive series of City Councils should be embarrassed by its procrastination and disservice to our City’s teens and the Sammamish Youth Board.

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Historical signs for the Lake Trail

I was walking on the East Sammamish Lake Trail recently, on the section north of Inglewood Hill Road. This is one of the prettier sections, being heavily wooded in many spots. It crosses many creeks and it struck me that none of the creeks is marked.

How interesting it would be if the creeks were identified by a sign. This, then, begot additional thoughts that the trail should have historical signs at several locations. For example:

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Knocking down barricades

One of the most controversial issues that has faced the City Council since before Sammamish was incorporated is whether to remove barricades in neighborhoods throughout the City to improve traffic connections.

This was a major campaign issue in the 1999 City Council election and again in the 2009 election. More people have turned out for this than any other issue.

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Housing in the Commons? Not a good idea

The City Council on March 2 discussed a Planning Commission recommendation to change the 2008 adopted Town Center Plan to exclude 240 housing units from the “D” zone (which is the Sammamish Commons civic center and park) and instead disperse these among the A, B and C zones in the rest of the Town Center.

Some Council members want to retain the original Council decision of 2008 to allocate these 240 units on the Kellman property. This is the old mansion immediately west of the new Library. The Kellman mansion has been vacant since the City bought it, and it’s becoming rundown and is uninhabitable without major work.

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