Forgetting who you’re serving at the Sammamish City Council

All too often, elected officials forget who they were elected to serve. This unfortunately is the case with some on the Sammamish City Council.

Artwork via Google images.

During the course of this year, Sammamish Comment chronicled a number of important issues in which the Council and the City Administration practiced benign neglect. In many cases, individual Council Members have pursued personal agenda, played follow the leader or blamed citizens for being whiners or misunderstanding what they are supposed to understand.

These attitudes are why Washington D.C. and Olympia (WA) are so dysfunctional and failing to serve the peoples’ interest in pursuit of their own. It’s why Sammamish citizens voted to incorporate in 1998: to get out from under an unresponsive King County government that ignored our wishes and needs.

Certainly being our own City proved far more beneficial than being under the King County Council. We have roads and parks we weren’t going to get under the County rule. We have community events, notably our Fourth of July, Sammamish Nights and similar activities we’d never get under King County.

But the City is letting citizens down in a number of areas due to the benign neglect and personal agendas referenced above. For example:

Skipping the Cascadia Rising earthquake drill

There are a lot of things in government that fall within the category of “What were you thinking?”

Skipping the Cascadia Rising earthquake drill tops the list.

The Sammamish Comment revealed October 5 that the City skipped the sign-up deadline last year to participate in a regional Cascadia Rising earthquake preparedness drill that outlines a scenario of a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hitting Sammamish. (The scenario’s epicenter is the Cascadia Subduction Fault off the Washington coastline, with a 9.0 epicenter magnitude.)

Sammamish had no plans to participate. Until after The Comment began making inquiries.

This is a huge public safety issue. This is the worst example of benign neglect yet by our City and City Council. Read the details here.

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“Go slow, do it right” on Klahanie annexation, but “go fast and go on vacation” to approve revised Comp Plan

Sammamish City Council members were adamant they wanted to “go slow and do it right” on the annexation of the Klahanie area, but Mayor Tom Vance and a majority of the Council have been pushing to adopt a complete revision to the Comprehensive Plan before the August recess.

Council Member Nancy Whitten  believes flaws remain in the new Comp Plan, which has been a virtual complete rewrite of the detailed plan adopted in 2001 after 18 months of work by the Planning Advisory Board. The new Comp Plan is far more general, she says, reducing environmental protections, particularly potentially for Pine Lake. Pine Lake is one of six “303(d)” lakes in King County. Beaver Lake and Laughing Jacobs Lake or Lake Sammamish (I forget which), also in Sammamish, are two others.

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Cost of Klahanie annexation to Sammamish taxpayers: $4m-$5m so far

  • $3m in tax revenues to King County;
  • Forfeiture of $1m-$1.5m in sales tax equalization;
  • $700,000 to Fire District 10 for tax revenues lost;
  • In return, King County provides $500,000 in services;
  • Klahanie residents don’t get to vote in November 3 City Council elections; must wait until 2017 to vote in next City Council election;
  • Taxes get lowered for 2016;
  • Klahanie gets some services from King County it should have been doing anyway.

The cost of annexing Klahanie to Sammamish is adding up to $4m-$5m before the annexation becomes fully complete on January 1.

The cost to Klahanie voters is two years of disenfranchisement because the Sammamish City Council voted July 7 to make the annexation fully effective January 1, 2015, rather than July 31, in two weeks, when everything else procedurally effectively becomes part of Sammamish. The January 1 effective date means residents in the Klahanie annexation area won’t be able to voter for candidates in the Sammamish City Council races November 3. The next city election is in 2017.

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Klahanie annexation, Initiative win

Update, April 30:

  • Initiative: Roughly another 400 votes counted; percentages largely unchanged.
  • Klahanie: Roughly another 150 votes counted; percentages largely unchanged.

This ends our coverage; even as more votes are counted, there is enough in the way of changes to the election night results to be material.

Update, April 29:

  • About 700 votes were counted in Sammamish with no appreciable change in the results.
  • About 240 votes were counted in Klahanie with no appreciable change in the results.

Original Post:

It’s been widely expected: the Klahanie Potential Annexation Area and the Advisory vote for whether Sammamish should have the right of Initiative and Referendum have both won in landslides.

  • Klahanie PAA residents voted to approve annexation to Sammamish with 86.83% of the vote.
  • Sammamish residents voted to approve the right of Initiative and Referendum with 55.25% of the vote.

Election night results reflect the early main-in ballot returns. Turnout for these special elections was low, typical of April elections in which no electoral races are on the ballot.

  • The Klahanie turnout was 2,480 out of about 6,220 voters, or a 40% turnout.
  • The Sammamish turnout was 5,747 votes out of 28,665 voters, or a 20.24% turnout.

By the time all ballots are counted over a two week period, turnout typically doubles from election night. Although turnout was low and there are ballots to be counted, the election night results were so heavily weighted toward Yes votes that I declare the two ballot issues as won. Final results rarely vary by more than a percent or two.

The I&R vote, while a 10 point spread, was not as broad a victory as had been expected: most, including at least one City Councilman, expected an 80% Yes vote. Continue reading

Initiative/Klahanie votes today: Unscientific poll shows ~80% support for Initiative

The Sammamish-led votes for the Klahanie Potential Annexation Area (PAA) and the Initiative/Referendum finish up today. Ballots must be postmarked today or dropped off at the Sammamish City Hall.

Initiative/Referendum

I’ve been running an unscientific poll whether the Sammamish City Council should give citizens the right to Initiative and Referendum. The vote today is an Advisory Vote, not a binding one. The result of the unscientific poll: support for the Initiative/Referendum has been running around 80%, give or take a point or two at any given time.

Previous polls I’ve done, while also unscientific, have correctly predicted trends in final votes. The first results will be posted by King County tonight about 8:15pm.

Controversial to begin with, the topic became even more so when Council Members refused to say they will abide by the outcome of today’s election.

Controversy heightened when it was revealed by Sammamish Comment that the City engaged in a stealth campaign to silence critics, the Citizens for Sammamish, supporters of the Initiative, discussion at community groups and to deny CFS a place to meet. Continue reading

Klahanie could lose Initiative right in Sammamish annexation

The Klahanie Potential Annexation Area could lose its right to Initiative and Referendum if it annexes to Sammamish.

As part of unincorporated King County, the 10,000-plus residents in the PAA currently have the right. Sammamish residents do not.

The Klahanie PAA will vote April 28 whether to annex to Sammamish. If approved, the City Council hopes to make the annexation effective in August.

Sammamish residents vote April 28 in an Advisory vote (which means the City Council can affirm or reject the advice) whether the City should adopt the right of Initiative/Referendum. But the vote has no force of law.

So Klahanie PAA residents could very well come into Sammamish without this right.

Spending on the rise in Sammamish; heads up, taxpayers, Klahanie

Nearly a year ago, I raised the alarm about increased spending by the City of Sammamish. At that time, I identified at least $100 million in spending and that the City could be on a path to tax increases.

Here’s what I identified in May 2014:

  • Community Center: $35 million and probably more.
  • Developing the former YMCA property next to Pine Lake School, at a cost of $15 million proposed in the park plan.
  • Sahalee Road improvements at an unidentified cost, but probably in the low millions at the least.
  • Millions of dollars in the park plan for the Sammamish Landing, the Pigott property and more.
  • Klahanie Annexation: $32 million for road improvements and who knows what else on top of this, almost certainly amounting to tens of millions of dollars more.
  • Widening Issaquah-Pine Lake Road at a cost of $16.5m.
  • Rebuilding “Snake Hill Road” (it’s really 212th Ave. SE, down the windy, snake-like drive to East Lake Sammamish Parkway): Millions of dollars.
  • Desires to take over the Northeast Sammamish and Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer Districts: tens of millions of dollars, at a minimum.
  • Town Center improvements.
  • And this is on top of the normal operations of the city, including millions of dollars for road maintenance, parks, services and overhead.

Let’s update these: Continue reading