Aug. 26, 2019: The Klahanie area annexation to Sammamish in 2015 caused road projects in the legacy parts of the city to be delayed, despite promises from then-Mayor Tom Vance and then-City Manager Ben Yazici there would be no adverse impacts.
Then-Mayor Tom Vance and then-City Manager promised no ill affects on legacy Sammamish from Klahanie annexation.
Acting public works director Cheryl Paston confirmed at the City Council’s Aug. 20 meeting what Sammamish Comment feared and reported in 2015: the Klahanie annexation would divert money from key projects to fulfill a Christmas list of promises made by Vance, Yazici, council members Don Gerend and Ramiro Valderrama to entice Klahanie residents to vote to annex to Sammamish.
As the current city council debates over projects listings on the Transportation Improvement Plan—notably the Sahalee Way project—the 2015 council led by Vance and Yazici’s administration manipulated the TIP then to claim sharply reduced costs for a major Klahanie road project while simultaneously shifting monies from other road projects in legacy Sammamish.
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.
A new traffic concurrency plan for Sammamish appears unlikely to meet the Sammamish City Council target date to lift the building moratorium in July, despite six months of staff and consultant work and expenditures of about $375,000. (Read more.)
Concurrency is a state law requirement to “prohibit development approval if the development causes the level of service on a locally owned transportation facility to decline below the standards adopted”, unless “transportation improvements or strategies to accommodate the impacts of development are made concurrent with the development “. The law allows development to proceed if “a financial commitment is in place to complete the improvements or strategies within six years.” (see RCW 36.70A.070, and a clean indented version)
Accordingly, cities are required to set a level of service standard for their roads, measure traffic and forecast future impact of development on traffic.
In response to residents’ frustration over traffic congestion in Sammamish, City Council has enacted a moratorium and directed staff to revise the city’s concurrency system to focus on drivers’ experience. Continue reading →