Greenwashing, Part 2: Sammamish never demanded EIS from developers

  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.

Sammamish staff has never required an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) from a developer when reviewing a project, it was revealed October 7 at the only candidates’ forum held for the City Council election November 3.

Nor, as far as Sammamish Comment can determine, has staff ever issued a Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance (MDNS) for a project until the current Conner-Jarvis project, which is under citizen appeal; it’s only otherwise issued a Determination of Non-Significance (DNS) in 15 years of projects.

For those not versed in land use regulations and reviews, this alphabet soup of letters is confusing and, on its face, meaningless.

Here’s what these mean, why they are important to development in Sammamish, why the staff practices lie at the root of what citizens are seeing today as trees come down and controversies emerge over protection of wetlands, streams, lakes and Kokanee salmon and why the responsibility ultimately flows back to the City Council.

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“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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