“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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John James bows out of re-election, Huckabay to run for old seat

After quietly filing his C-1 candidacy papers with the state Public Disclosure Commission for reelection to the Sammamish City Council, John James reversed course this week and said he will not seek another term.

Kathy Huckabay, one of Sammamish’s original council members, left her seat four years ago when she decided not to seek reelection, which is the one James won, confirmed to Sammamish Comment that she will run for election to reclaim her seat.

John James quietly files for re-election for Sammamish City Council

John James, who is completing his first term as a Sammamish City Councilman, quietly filed his C1 form with the Public Disclosure Commission on April 17 for re-election.

James was deputy mayor in 2012. The position is rotated annually among council members. James hasn’t made any announcement concerning his re-election that I’m aware of.

Keller declares for John Curley’s City Council seat

Bob Keller, a 17 year resident of the Sammamish Plateau, declared his candidacy for the Sammamish City Council in the fall election. He will run for the seat being vacated by John Curley, Position 3.

Keller, who lives in the Tree Farm area, was active in civic affairs prior to the incorporation and was one of about two dozen candidates seeking a City Council seat in the 1999 primary. He did not survive the primary.

Since then, Keller was on the Planning Advisory Board, which wrote the City’s Comprehensive Plan, and the Planning Commission. His last year on the Commission was as chairman.

Since then he’s been president of the Sammamish Kiwanis chapter, arranging monthly speakers, engaging in various civic projects.

Four Council seats are up for election: Curley’s; Don Gerend, Tom Odell and John James. Gerend and Odell are expected to seek reelection. Gerend has served since the first City Council was elected in 1999. Odell and James are completing their first terms. Odell is currently Mayor and James was Deputy Mayor in 2012.

James quietly filed his C1 Candidacy report with the Public Disclosure Commission on April 17.

Looking ahead to 2013 for the City of Sammamish

Here are some of the big issues I see facing Sammamish and our citizens for 2013, in no particular order except for….

  • The future of Ace Hardware. Time is running out. Ace needs a building permit by March (February would be better) if it is to have a new building ready by August, when its lease expires. Staff was directed by the City Council in December to expedite a review of issues facing development of some of the most environmentally constrained land in the city, next to the Washington Federal Bank and the Mars Hill Church on 228th. A land swap with the City is a crucial component. Procedurally, an “emergency” probably would have to be declared to speed up processes required by state and local laws, but there are still certain requirements that suggest to me that even on an expedited basis, I don’t see how it can all come together by February or March. I hope I’m wrong. The City Staff is to report back to the City Council at the first meeting in January (the 8th, I think). Let’s hope. What happens could play into the 2013 City Council race. If a positive solution isn’t found, the issue is certainly going to become a major campaign event. Four seats are up for election: Mayor Tom Odell, Deputy Mayor John James, and Members Don Gerend and John Curley. Failure to find a solution will be used against these guys, and the issue will become a major one. Success will be used by these guys.

After Ace, here are some of the other key issues I see:

  • Staying with or defecting from the Eastside Fire and Rescue (EF&R): This is going to be a Big Deal. A decision will be controversial. The outcome has the possibility of becoming a major election issue for the 2013 City Council race. There is some significant sentiment to leave EF&R because of the costs (it, along with police service, is the highest single item in our budget and it’s going up) and long-running disputes over Sammamish’s fair share of the EF&R budget. Ambitions to expand the district by other EF&R members would have the effect of neutralizing our influence on the EF&R board and place our two representatives at a disadvantage to protect our taxpayers. But, according to several City Council members and others we’ve talked to, our City Manager Ben Yacizi is adamantly opposed to the City forming its own fire department because he doesn’t want to deal with unions. The City Council, which in my long-held view, is too subservient to the City Manager, may well be out-maneuvered by him in his opposition. A committee of former City Council members appointed by the current City Council to study the issue recommended leaving EF&R. The committee included Ron Haworth, a former fire chief himself, Kathy Huckabay and Lee Fellinge. Our City Council so far has ignored this recommendation. A decision comes before the election in November. It will be interesting to see if the four Council Members whose seats are up will have the political courage to withdraw from EF&R; the time, I believe, has come to do so.

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City Council on Ace: We got the message; action, next meeting Dec. 11

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Mayor Tom Odell said the Sammamish City Council “got the message” from two hours of public comment in support of Ace Hardware at the Dec. 4 council meeting.

The Council will consider the proposal by Ace at its Dec. 11 meeting for a land swap immediately south of the Starbucks at NE 4th St. Tim Koch, owner of Ace, hopes to enter into a Development Agreement that will streamline the review and application process with a goal of beginning construction in February or March, in time for his lease expiration on August 28.

The Council asked Kamuron Gural, the Community Development Director, to produce a matrix that identifies Problems and Solutions involved with the land swap and the parcels, which are highly constrained by sensitive areas and buffers.

At the very end of the City Council meeting, Odell–speaking to the few people remaining in the audience and those watching on Comcast 21, that the Council received the message in support of Ace. Deputy Mayor John James said that he would like to see one last effort to accommodate the proposal than see it die without trying. City staff recommended against a Docket Request submitted by Ace. The attorney for Ace called the Request a “placeholder” required due to timing and Ace really wasn’t interested in the request, preferring a Developer Agreement instead.

Some kind of action is planned for the Dec. 11 Council meeting.

Polls slam City Council, Staff, Manager

Opinion polls gave failing grades to six of seven City Council Members, the work of the City Council as a whole, the City Staff and the City Manager.

The polls, conducted on this blog, are, to be sure, unscientific. But an unscientific poll conducted to gauge support for the Community Center proved to come within 2.5 percentage points of the final result.

Graphs of the Opinion polling about the City appear below the jump.

Except for Council Member Ramiro Valderrama, whose Favorable score was 78%, each council member’s favorables-unfavorables fell below any passing grade metric anywhere in any school.

Approve-disapprove polling for the City Council as a while, the City Staff and the City Manager also were failing scores.

And Don Gerend, who has been a council member since the formation of the City in 1999 and who has told people he intends to run for another term next year (after 14 years in office), should retire, respondents voted. Gerend, Mayor Tom Odell, Deputy Mayor John James and John Curley are up for election next year. Curley said when he was campaigning in 2009 he planned to serve only one term. If he follows through, this guarantees one open seat in the 2013 election.

My analysis of each poll results follows the graphs.

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