In Part 1, the background, objectives and membership of the Planning Advisory Board was described. In Part 2, the PAB gets down to work writing Sammamish’s first Comprehensive Plan. This is six pages when printed.
The 17-member Planning Advisory Board members were a cross-section of environmentalists, activists, developers, real estate agents and businessmen. The City Council did an admirable job of appointing a broad spectrum of people.
Open divisions from the start
However, from the start there was open tension among the members. Divisions from the bitter 1999 City Council election carried over to the PAB, which was appointed by this Council. Most of the members of the PAB supported the candidates who won in that bitter contest; a few supported the losing candidates, who, it will be remembered, lost by wide margins in what turned out to be a nasty race filled with anonymous fliers and a forged newsletter.
One of the developer-real estate appointees who supported the Council candidates later told one of the environmentalist-activists it was her personal mission to oppose everything he said. The two strong personalities clashed often and openly.
Two members resigned early. One Council Member later said they resigned because they thought the PAB was too heavily dominated by environmentalists. Whether this is an accurate characterization or not is beside the point. The broad spectrum of the appointees belies any charge that environmentalists ran away with the process. In the end, the Comp Plan was adopted and recommended by the PAB with just one dissenting vote and this vote had nothing to do with the environment or any other issue. The dissenter complained the PAB hadn’t finished its job. (This will be described later.)
Jan. 20, 2016: The Sammamish Hearing Examiner Tuesday rejected the appeal by the Kempton Downs Homeowners Assn. of the Conner-Jarvis project. Approval was given with minor modifications to conditions.
The approval, by Examiner John Gault, was a sweeping victory for Conner-Jarvis and the City’s Development and Public Works departments. Gault ruled that Kempton Downs failed in issue after issue to meet the burden required under state law to overturn the professional judgment of the City’s staff.
State law says that deference to the professionals takes preference. This means that in appeals, the burden of proof that the staff erred is on the appellants.
Updated, Jan. 16: More detail on the 42nd St. barricade.
Jan. 15, 2016: Continuing Day 2 of the Sammamish City Council Retreat:
The Conner-Jarvis project did ask for variations to road standards, to narrow roads within the subdivision and development design around streets. The Planning Commission made some recommendations along these lines.
(Narrower streets are generally considered to be more environmentally friendly because of reduced impervious surface.–Editor)
Jan. 15, 2016: Day 2 of the Sammamish City Council Retreat.
Greg Reynolds of Timberline advocated for opening the 42nd Street barricade for safety reasons to facilitate emergency service access. Reynolds pointed out police don’t have the equipment to open the barricade and fire and aid services have had trouble getting through the gate.
Town Center Update
There has been interest expressed for restaurants and potentially Swedish Medical in the complex under development by Metropolitan Market consortium. (This is the one on the Northwest corner of SE 4th and 228th.)
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.
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.
Nor, as far as Sammamish Comment can determine, has staff ever issued a Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance (MDNS) for a project until the current Conner-Jarvis project, which is under citizen appeal; it’s only otherwise issued a Determination of Non-Significance (DNS) in 15 years of projects.
For those not versed in land use regulations and reviews, this alphabet soup of letters is confusing and, on its face, meaningless.
Here’s what these mean, why they are important to development in Sammamish, why the staff practices lie at the root of what citizens are seeing today as trees come down and controversies emerge over protection of wetlands, streams, lakes and Kokanee salmon and why the responsibility ultimately flows back to the City Council.