Misunderstanding the ELST issues

The Sammamish City Council chamber overflowed into the waiting room and it was standing room only as scores of people got up to testify about King County’s development of the East Lake Sammamish Trail.

It’s clear from the comments that there is a misunderstanding on the part of some over the underlying issues.

Just as the chamber was packed with property owners and members of the Sammamish Home Owners, the place was clearly packed with bicyclists, including the Cascade Bicycle Club. The property owners are largely concerned with legalities, encroachments and heavy-handed tactics of King County. The bicyclists and some walkers, including former Sammamish City Council member Mark Cross, are concerned with having the 18 ft wide design for safety reasons.

Many took issue with suggestions to narrow the trail in some locations and for various reasons. What comes across clearly, for anyone willing to watch nearly two hours of comments on the City’s webcast of the Council meeting, is that those advocating the 18 ft wide design, don’t understand the unique issues involving ELST.

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ELST testimony to City Council tonight–here are some thoughts

We’re just hours away from the Sammamish City Council update by City Staff and the County staff over the pending development of Section 2A (7-11 area to the Issaquah City Limits) of the East Lake Sammamish Trail.

In my own comments planned for tonight during Public Comment, I will be giving an abbreviated version of what’s below (as much as I can in 3-5 minutes):

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County, city staff to present to Sammamish City Council on ELST March 3

A top King County Parks official, Kevin Brown, and Laura Philpot, deputy city manager for Sammamish, will present updates to the City Council tomorrow (March 3) on the controversies surrounding the East Lake Sammamish Trail.

Focus will be on Section 2A, that portion from the Issaquah City Limits north to 33rd St. (the 7-11), which is next on the County’s plan to remake the trail to its final design.

Missteps, lack of communication, and a variety of issues on the Northern section (Inglewood Hill Road to the Redmond City Limits) caused an uproar among some property owners, conflicts with the County and a huge embarrassment for the City government.

Following this, the City stepped up to pay close attention to the design for Section 2A, including submitting comments to the County by the Oct. 29 deadline. When the 90% design came out at the end of December, it appeared that neither citizen nor City comments were considered.

The City blew a gasket that its comments were apparently ignored. Philpot told the County that the City wouldn’t accept transfer of the development permit from the County or it may reject it outright. Any appeal by the County would take enough time that its federal funding would be withdrawn.

(The complex Inter Local Agreement between the City and County whereby the County does the permit processing is described in my January 17 post.)

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County cites “breakdown in internal communications” over ELST plan for Section 2A keeping semi-truck wide design

  • From tonight’s City Council meeting:
    • City Staff and County Staff are meeting this week.
    • The City Council wants the County to come to the March 3 council meeting to explain themselves.
    • The City Council is hopping mad at the County. Member Ramiro Valderrama wants a discussion about withdrawing the Trail from the Inter Local Agreement (ILA) with the County, but this effort failed to muster a majority because it’s unknown what unintended consequences could be. This subject could be revisited if the March 3 County Come-to-Jesus meeting is unsatisfactory.
    • Deputy Mayor Kathy Huckabay wants to give the County the “benefit of the doubt” over the “communications” issue. (!!!)
    • Member Tom Odell, who had met with County officials about the North end troubles and came away cautiously optimistic, has “had it.”
    • When the video tape of the meeting is posted on the City web site in about three or four days, the discussion at the top of the meeting (including a staff report) is worth watching. It takes about an hour. Then skip ahead to public comment for my remarks.

Now for my commentary today.

It’s not often I am gobsmacked by government, but one should never under estimate the incompetence of King County.

The County issued its design plans for that portion of the East Lake Sammamish Trail that runs from 33rd St (the 7-11) to the Issaquah City Limits, and it’s the identical design to the North end that has caused so much controversy.

Please see my post of Sunday, County to City, citizens: Drop Dead, for context.

I emailed the City Feb. 15 about the design. What I got back pretty much summed up the County’s position by this clip from the Paul Newman movie, Cool Hand Luke.

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