Intervention badly needed for Sammamish city council

By Scott Hamilton, Editor

Editor’s Note: This column was drafted the week before last. The plan was to publish once the final traffic concurrency and building moratorium votes were taken, anticipated in November. But this weekend, Council Member Pam Stuart launched a highly personal, accusatory attack on Mayor Christie Malchow on Facebook. Stuart brought into the attack indirect reference to Malchow’s children, a political verboten that goes to the presidency of the United states. Thus, I made the decision to publish this column today.

The Sammamish city council badly needs an intervention. Residents have serious cause for concern with the dysfunctional, bitterly split ruling body.

The divisions and in-fighting are the worst seen since before incorporation.

Initially, the council split into two factions: The “new V-3” (Ramiro Valderrama, Jason Ritchie and Pam Stuart, odd bedfellows if there ever were any) and the “M-4” (Christie Malchow, Tom Hornish, Chris Ross and Karen Moran).

Ritchie coined the terms. (The old V-3 were Valderrama, Malchow and Hornish. The latter two split with Valderrama over his 180 degree flip-flops on environmental and development issues and his persistent distortion of facts and outright falsehoods he makes to advance his positions.)

For a while, even this split broke down. It became 2-2-3. Malchow and Hornish remained staunch allies. Moran and Ross became unpredictable votes, flip-flopping on the same issue between the M-2 and the V-3. The V-3 by-and-large remain a solid voting bloc.

More recently, the 4-3 split reemerged. The infighting is worse than ever. It’s not clear that it won’t get worse. Continue reading “Intervention badly needed for Sammamish city council”

Stuart supported upzoning, with conditions, she told Master Builders Assn.

Sammamish Council Member Pam Stuart told the Master Builders Assn. before the 2017 city council election that she supported upzoning for higher density.

Sammamish Council Member Pam Stuart

In a questionnaire the MBA sent to candidates throughout the region, Stuart—who was making her first run for political office—said she would not “advocate” for upzoning, however.

The retrospective is relevant today because Stuart last week claimed high density development is environmentally friendly. Her position fails to take into account the realities of land use zoning, downzoning, “takings” and political opposition.

The MBA ultimately supported Stuart in her election. This support became a point of contention with Stuart’s opponent, John Robinson, in the council race last year. Continue reading “Stuart supported upzoning, with conditions, she told Master Builders Assn.”

Stuart’s faux environmentalism

Editorial

Sammamish City Council Member Pam Stuart ran for office in 2017 vowing to protect the environment.

Council Member Pam Stuart
Council Member Pam Stuart

Instead, she is using a claim of environmental protection to support her vote for lifting the building moratorium on the Town Center and as a proponent for higher density.

At the Oct. 16 council meeting, Stuart argued that lifting the moratorium is environmentally friendly because concentrating growth in one area protects other areas in Sammamish from building.

This shows an appalling ignorance of Sammamish’s land use zoning, the history of the development of the Comprehensive Planning to limit growth, political realities and impacts on property owners.

Either that, or Stuart just is using “environmental protection” as a faux excuse to open the development door to STCA, the principal developer waiting to get the green light to file permit applications to build the Town Center.

Or it could well be both.

Continue reading “Stuart’s faux environmentalism”

Public pressure on city council keeps the moratorium on the Town Center

Karen Moran
Karen Moran

Sammamish residents took to email, social media and showed up in person at the Oct. 16 council meeting to tell council to keep the moratorium on the Town Center and not to exempt anyone from the new development regulations.

On a split 4/3 vote, the  council voted to keep the moratorium. The vote on the development regulations has been postponed.

Continue reading “Public pressure on city council keeps the moratorium on the Town Center”

Sammamish city council descends into dysfunction, paralysis

By Scott Hamilton

Commentary

The Sammamish City Council hardly distinguished itself Tuesday night, descending into full-fledged dysfunction, paralysis and open warfare.

The issues: concurrency and the building moratorium.

It was often an embarrassing display and overall, the council as a collective body came off tarnishing itself.

Continue reading “Sammamish city council descends into dysfunction, paralysis”

Concurrency approval, lifting building moratorium now targeted for September

The building moratorium in Sammamish won’t be lifted next week.

In a sometimes-heated meeting, the city council on a 4-3 vote adopted an amendment offered by Deputy Mayor Karen Moran to add some capacity-based measurements to the Level of Service concurrency model previously approved.

The absence of road capacity measurements means some key road segments without stop signs or stop lights aren’t measured.

These include East Lake Sammamish Parkway north of Inglewood Hill Road to the Redmond city limits; 244th north of NE 8th to the city limits; and long stretches of Sahalee Way.

All are heavily congested during rush hour and would likely fail concurrency tests.

Continue reading “Concurrency approval, lifting building moratorium now targeted for September”

Just how cozy is the city with STCA?

Editorial

Kellie-Stickney-cropped-221x300
Kellie Stickney Communications Manager

Just how cozy is Town Center developer STCA with the Sammamish city administration?

Sammamish Comment has been reporting aspects of the relationship between the developer, administration and certain members of the city council for more than a year.

Now, The Comment discovered that the city administration collaborated with STCA to promote their project using taxpayer money at the same time the new concurrency model was being developed by the city.

This casts an appearance of a conflict of interest because a realistic concurrency system may block new development under certain circumstances, including the Town Center. STCA is the largest developer of the Town Center.  

The council included the Town Center in the moratorium so it will be subject to the new concurrency.

It is our view that it is improper for city staff to collaborate with STCA and at the same time develop a concurrency model that may block it.  

Indeed, on February 28, Kendra Breiland, the city’s concurrency consultant, met in Bellevue with STCA for “coordination.”  

Continue reading “Just how cozy is the city with STCA?”