After six years, Chestnut Estates West appeals appear to be nearing end

After six years, the fight over approval of the Chestnut Estates West plat off 212th Ave. and SE 8th St. appears to be over.

The Washington Appellate Court denied an appeal by developer Buchan over a Hearing Examiner ruling that Sammamish erred in allowing Buchan to swap out “tract K,” permanent open space that was part of the first Chestnut Estates plat approval.

Buchan years later applied for approved for the West plat at the end of SE 8th in the original plat. But Buchan needed to swap tract K to another location in order to build a bridge and connect to the original plat.

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Lake Trail overhangs Sammamish politics for 20 years

  • This is about 10 pages when printed.

City_of_SammamishJune 5, 2016: Development of the East Lake Sammamish Trail has been an overhang of Sammamish politics for 20 years.

It was a dominate factor in the first City Council race 1999 and surfaced again in 2001. It became a key issue in the 2003 election, with a flood of “outside” money flowing to candidates favoring the Trail.

The issue surfaced periodically in subsequent elections. It wasn’t until 2015 that once more it became a key election issue, as Trail residents rallied behind three candidates to win bitterly contested races. For the first time, they helped elect a resident who lives along the Trail.

And the issue hasn’t subsided, either.

In April, three Council Members voted to undercut the City’s own Hearing Examiner and side with King County, developer of the Trail, on a jurisdictional issue in an appeal before the State Shoreline Hearings Board.

This is the story behind the 20-year battle of the ELST.

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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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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.

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Variances-R-Us, Part 2: City engineers admitted staff routinely ignored code, relied on unwritten policies

The City Council adopted the [Public Works Standards] by ordinance…. Thus, the PWS has the force of regulation.

When it adopted the PWS, the City Council gave to the Public Works director the authority to administratively amend them…. The record of this hearing does not contain any evidence that the Public Works Director has ever formally exercised that authority: the PWS read today just as when they were adopted in 2000, except for changes that were brought about by the Council’s 2005 adoption…changes which the City Engineer testified are routinely ignored by Public Works and which do not to this day appear in the publicly available version of the PWS. Public Works’ unwritten policies are also not publicly available. (Emphasis added.)

This remarkable section is part of the Sammamish Hearing Examiner report of an appeal of the Kampp Property project by the Pine Hills Homeowners Association.

A City official testified Staff routinely ignores city code, and relies on an unwritten policy. (Memo to lawyers: “arbitrary and capricious” rings a bell here.)

This damning admission underscores the cavalier approach to approving developments that citizens have been complaining about for years.

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City’s Newsletter on growth distorts the facts; Variances-R-Us

Newsletter LogoThe September Sammamish City Newsletter–which has become an electioneering tool for the Nov. 3 ballot at taxpayers’ expense–has one and two-thirds pages devoted to growth issues.

Unfortunately, it just flat-out distorts and omits some important facts.

In a Q&A format, the Newsletter begins on Page 1 and jumps to Page 3, discussing a host of issues.

Here’s what’s distorted:

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“Greenwashing” in Sammamish: A Special Report

  1. Greenwashing (a compound word modeled on “whitewash”), or “green sheen,” is a form of spin in which green PR or green marketing is deceptively used to promote the perception that an organization’s products, aims or policies are environmentally friendly.–Wikipedia.

Since the 2003 Sammamish City Council election, in which environmental-leaning candidates swept the election, the Council prided itself on pursuing “green” policies and ordinances.

The City Manager was far less gun-ho, often lagging his own staff, especially when it came to a concept called Low Impact Development, or LID (not to be confused with Local Improvement Districts, also LID, a special tax option–so context of “LID” is always important to understand).

The current Council is comprised of what would ordinarily considered to be environmentalists. Of the seven, only Member Don Gerend leans “development” over the environment–or so its appears. Tom Odell and Bob Keller proved to have strong environmental credentials. Ramiro Valderrama evolved into a strong backing of the environment. Deputy Mayor Kathy Huckabay and Mayor Tom Vance not only consider themselves environmentalists but have an historical track record supporting this.

Image via Google Images. Click on image to enlarge.

Without question the leading environmentalist on the Council is three-term incumbent Nancy Whitten, who decided to retire at the end of this year. And Whitten has been increasingly critical of the collective Council’s direction on a number of environmental issues over the past four years.

While “greenwashing” isn’t the term that comes to the top of the conversation with Whitten, she didn’t disagree with its use when it comes to how Sammamish approaches the environment now. And she’s especially critical of Vance’s evolution away from his historical green leanings.

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