Fact and myth, truth and spin about the Town Center Plan

By Scott Hamilton

Guest Contributor

There is a continuing effort to claim the Town Center will divert growth from the rest of Sammamish. This is a falsehood based on the current set of facts on the ground (so-to-speak).

Credit: Patrick Husting. Satirical rendering of the Town Center.

Here are the facts:

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Seattle-based Sammamish Town Center developer pours money into Council elections

By Miki Mullor
Editor 

  • R.D. Merrill of Seattle contributed $25,000 to “Livable Sammamish” PAC (Political Action Committee), headed by former Mayor Don Gerend and former Council Member Kathy Huckabay.
  • R.D. Merrill partnered with STCA to develop Phase 1 of the Town Center, a 419 unit project and 98,000 sq/ft of retail, located on SE 4th St.
  • “Livable Sammamish” is opposing “Sammamish Life”, a Sammamish residents PAC headed by Michael Scoles.
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2009 evidence casts shadow on the “Growth Targets” narrative

By Miki Mullor
Editor

“Growth targets are mandated by the Growth Management Act. We always negotiated the minimums,” has been the City of Sammamish response for the years when residents complained about over growth.

But is it?  The evidence unearthed in a research by the Sammamish Comment paints a different picture.  

The last time growth targets were updated by King County was in 2009. Every 10 years, growth targets are updated based on new population projections.   

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Former Mayor Don Gerend forms a PAC

By Miki Mullor
Editor

The latest entrant to the election cycle is former Mayor Don Gerend, who has just formed a PAC (Political Action Committee), a PDC filing shows. Gerend has also recently initiated legal action to reverse the City Council’s new concurrency rules.

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Former Mayor Gerend’s lawsuit postponed for 90 days

By Miki Mullor
Editor

The Growth Management Hearing Board (GMBH) has continued (postponed) Don Gerend’s lawsuit to invalidate the new concurrency rules enacted by the majority of City Council.

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Staff confirms Klahanie annexation’s adverse affects on other road projects

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.

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How the Town Center plan happened

By Scott Hamilton

Commentary

Aug. 22, 2019: There is a lack of knowledge about how the Sammamish Town Center Plan unfolded and what it is today.

Here is how it happened.

Sammamish became a city in 1999. One of the first orders of business was to create the Comprehensive Plan. The first city council appointed 17 citizens to what was called the Planning Advisory Board (PAB) to draft a plan.

The PAB had a cross-section of Sammamish residents: environmentalists, developers, real estate agents, business people and people simply interested in serving. I was on the PAB.

The PAB worked over 18 months on all elements except one: the area that became the Town Center.

The PAB was directed by that first city council to wrap up its work just as we got to the center of town. Whereas nearly all new cities took three years to complete its first Comp Plan, that city council and the city manager at the time, Ben Yazici, wanted it done in record time.

The center of town was set aside for its own process—which took from 2001 to the end of 2009.

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