Valderrama, Howard sought a Developer Agreement with STCA without council authorization

Sammamish City Council Member Ramiro Valderrama and City Manager Lyman Howard last year wanted to negotiate a Developer Agreement with Town Center developer STCA, without the required council approval, Sammamish Comment learned.

Ramiro Valderrama

The revelation is in an email (click to read it) dated Nov. 21, 2017, that the city manager designated “attorney client privileged.” The email was recently determined to be not privileged and released in a public records request.

The email was addressed to another city employee and cc’d to the city attorney and a second city employee. Howard’s labeling the email attorney-client privilege is intended to bar the email from public disclosure.

Continue reading

City advances SE Quadrant Docket Request

Overruling the Staff recommendation opposing action on the SE Quadrant Docket Request, the City Council approved moving forward with it. The City Council also approved a revised Staff recommendation putting the issues raised by the Docket Request on a parallel track of examining the issues at the Council’s Economic Development Committee.

The Council also decided to expand the Quadrant’s Docket Request issues to the entire Town Center.

Continue reading

Sammamish needs to act now for more commercial zoning–not wait to 2015–due to ‘economic emergency’

There were three “Docket Requests” submitted to the City from citizens seeking amendments to the Comprehensive Plan. One was from Ace Hardware, which as I’ve reported in a previous post was a placeholder and which is superseded by the preferred Development Agreement proposal. Another was from the landowners in the Town Center’s Southeast Quadrant. And the third had to do with how density is treated.

Staff urged the Council to reject all three requests, saying the Ace was too difficult to achieve given wetland issues and timing and that the other two should wait until the 2015 Comp Plan rewrite.

The recommendation to put off Comp Plan changes of consequence to 2015 may have some merit under ordinary circumstances. But we have what I call an “economic emergency” right now.

Regency owns almost all the commercial space in the heart of Sammamish (only the Saffron complex is owned by someone else) and it’s now clear Regency doesn’t give a hoot about local businesses. Ace Hardware, the Sushi restaurant and Rancho Grande are being pushed out in favor of national retailers. Several other local businesses are gone. Civilized Nature is going.

The lack of alternative commercially zoned space is killing opportunities for our local business.

And, unfathomably, the City Administration has not on its own initiative proposed identifying properties in the city outside the Town Center that could be rezoned commercial and which do not have the regulations associated with the Town Center that, as we now know, make it virtually impossible for small businesses to locate there.

Recognizing this, last January I submitted a long list of ideas to the City Council to redress some of these issues. The proposal was put on the shelf.

With the time for Comp Plan amendments now upon us, the City Administration did not come forth with a single idea to redress this, but instead says wait until 2015.

This is ridiculous. Even more so, it seems that nobody on the City Council suggested changes, either. Where is our leadership? Where is the vision?

At the December 4 City Council meeting, I provided public comment resubmitting my January list of suggestions and urged the Council to direct staff to include rezonings on the current Docket Request. This submittal is below the jump. the January memo is here.

The City Council is to make decisions regarding Ace Hardware, the Docket Request from the Southeast Quadrant, the other Docket Request and, I hope, my December 4 suggestion all at the December 11 meeting. I urge citizens to appear again to support affirmative action on these. It seems the City needs the proverbial 2×4 upside the head to get the message. It’s astounding that we have this economic emergency that is devastating locally owned businesses and neither the City Administration or the Council has taken any action to meet this emergency.

Continue reading

Treat land owners the same, Galvin asks–and he’s right; give him his Docket Request hearing

Follow us on Twitter @sammcomment

At the very end of the Council meeting last night (which eventually will be on the City’s website), John Galvin commented that while he favors action to keep Ace Hardware in business, the expedited approach and focus on Ace raised concerns over fairness and treatment of his Southeast Town Center project, and the Docket Request for increased density.

Staff recommended denial of his Docket Request, and it recommended denial of the Ace Hardware docket request. (More on this in an upcoming post.)

Setting aside for the moment that the community turned out in droves in support of Ace and nobody other than the landowners in the SE quadrant has turned out in support of Galvin, and that Ace owner Tim Koch is respectful and Galvin is a poster child for anger management requirements, this time Galvin is right. (See his appearance during the two hour public comment section of the same Council meeting.)

The Council should override the Staff recommendation and send the Docket Request to the Planning Commission for consideration.

In 2009, Galvin and his fellow landowners submitted a Docket Request to upsize the commercial allocation from 90,000 to “up to” 300,000 sf, plus some density increase, in the SE Quadrant of the Town Center. The Council rejected the application and in my view properly so. The Town Center plan hadn’t even been completed in September 2009, when Galvin submitted the Docket Request and regulations hadn’t been adopted when the Council rejected the request.

This is three years later. Galvin and his colleagues have asked for reconsideration of the 2009 Docket Request, along with a host of changes to regulations.

Continue reading

Misleading on the Town Center, again

My post below on the Town Center, with a link to a Sammamish Review story, prompted a long response from John Galvin.

There you go again, Johnny, misstating facts throughout your tirade. There are so many errors and omissions that it’s hard to know where to begin. I’ll suffice it to the following.

Continue reading

Sammamish Town Center: Bigger is not better, nobody wants it anyway (Scroll down page for Community Center stuff)

In the Oct. 24 issue of the Sammamish Review, there is a long article about the Sammamish Town Center. A few paragraphs stood out to me.

There’s this, to set the stage:

But even as the council approved a document that lists its first goal as being “catalyze development in Town Center,” several councilmembers openly questioned whether the 2,000 residential units and up to 600,000 square feet of commercial development called for in the Town Center Plan was realistic given the changes in the economy since the plan was approved in 2008 after several years of public meetings.

Continue reading

Council results repudiate “pave-it-over” Town Center ambitions

Two property owners in the Sammamish Town Center tried to frame this election as an up-or-down referendum of sorts on the Town Center Plan adopted by the City Council.

John Galvin and Mike Rutt, the former the most visible advocate for a pave-it-over approach to the Town Center, and both failed candidates for City Council in the past advocating for a massively up-scaled Town Center plan, clearly persuaded Jim Wasnick and Jesse Bornfreund to make a full review of the plan their top campaign priority.

Both candidates lost, and lost big.

Once again, the citizens have spoken. Time and time and time again since the Planning Advisory Board first proposed six commercial “villages” only to have massive opposition at a community meeting that drew an estimated 200 people, and from the 2001 election in which Nancy Whitten campaigned on an anti-village platform and came within a whisker of beating a complacent Ken Kilroy, citizens have said they prefer a modest Town Center plan to the huge ambitions proposed by Galvin and his fellow land-owners.

Continue reading