New battle brewing over Ebright Creek development

Wally Pereyra, gearing up for a new land use appeal over development affecting Ebright Creek.

A tiny, two-home short plat is at the heart of what’s likely to be another appeal to protect environmentally sensitive Ebright Creek.

The Sammamish City Staff Monday approved development “to subdivide one parcel comprising approximately 2.97 acres into two single-family residential lots. The site is located to the east of Ebright Creek, west of the Greenbriar subdivision. The site is constrained by the buffer of a Type F stream (Ebright Creek) and landslide hazard area buffers.”

The applicants, Clifford and Pauline Cantor, first filed for development 16 years ago.

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Writing Sammamish’s first Comp Plan

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.

City_of_SammamishThe 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.

Sammamish MapOne 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.)

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Greenwashing, Part 2: Sammamish never demanded EIS from developers

  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.

Sammamish staff has never required an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) from a developer when reviewing a project, it was revealed October 7 at the only candidates’ forum held for the City Council election November 3.

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.

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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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Kokanee savior targets next step: Zaccuse Creek restoration

Sammamish’s leading savior of the threatened kokanee salmon, the only salmon native to Lake Sammamish, is taking the next step to save the species: the restoration of Zaccuse Creek.

Wally Pereyra, who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to restore Ebright Creek to help save Kokanee salmon, is moving on to Zaccuse Creek as the next phase of his decades-long effort. the Kokanee are native to Lake Sammamish. Photo via Google image. Click on image to enlarge.

Wally Pereyra, who already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money to restore Ebright Creek and to appeal City of Sammamish approvals of upstream development he believes would harm Ebright Creek, is preparing to restore Zaccuse Creek in cooperation with the local Snoqualmie Tribe and, he hopes, the City.

Planning began several years ago. A June 2012 study with King County surveyed the creek, a culvert that goes underneath East Lake Sammamish Parkway and upstream and downstream from Pereya’s property. The study has several photos illustrating the 25 page report.

Pereyra owns several large parcels of land south of Thompson Hill Road, continuously along the Parkway to his residence.

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