Time for fresh approaches

By Scott Hamilton
Founder, Sammamish Comment

The Sammamish City Council held its last meeting of 2018 yesterday, ending the most contentious and divisive year I’ve seen since the incorporation vote in 1998.

As 2019 prepares to arrive, it’s time for a fresh approach to how this city is governed.

The city council, administration and staff has been consumed by traffic concurrency, the resulting building moratorium and related development regulations all year—really, since October 2017, when the moratorium was adopted to give the government time to sort out the concurrency issues.

These issues consumed the city nearly to the exclusion of all else.

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Emails reveal secret meetings involving Fehr & Peers, the city’s traffic concurrency consultant

Kendra Breiland
Kendra Breiland, Fehr & Peers

Recent emails discovered on Fehr & Peers servers, obtained through a public records request, reveal separate, secret meetings between Kendra Breiland from Fehr & Peers, former City Manager Lyman Howard and Town Center developer STCA.

“This is confidential correspondence from the City Manager’s office,” wrote former Deputy City Manager Jessi Bon to Breiland in an email dated July 22, 2017. “We would like to meet with you on Thursday at on off-site location. At this time it will just be myself and the City Manager. The other staff are not aware of this meeting, so again, please keep this confidential.”

Meetings between developers and government officials are common. What is uncommon–and suspicious–are meetings that are labeled confidential and specifically excluding staff under a request for confidentiality.

A contractor’s emails are subject to the State Public Records Act under certain circumstances, which applied in this case. The complete email exchange is here

Continue reading “Emails reveal secret meetings involving Fehr & Peers, the city’s traffic concurrency consultant”

Sammamish’s Town Center-concurrency dilemma

By Scott Hamilton

Editor

The Sammamish City Council faces a complex set of issues interconnecting the Town Center and efforts to revise its traffic concurrency policies.

At stake is whether the Town Center proceeds per the 2009 plan adopted by the Planning Commission and City Council or, as some desire, the plan is reopened with the goal of down-sizing it.

Reopening the plan also allows the possibility of some advocating an up—zoning of the TC.

The city is under a building moratorium adopted last October. The council and staff want to lift the moratorium in July, but controversy over how to proceed with revisions for concurrency casts doubt over whether revisions may be ready by then.

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Sammamish Comment names Miki Mullor Deputy Editor, effective immediately

Miki Mullor

Citizen activist Miki Mullor has joined Sammamish Comment as deputy editor, effective immediately.

Mullor, a Sammamish resident for 12 years, emerged as a citizen advocate last year when he undertook, at his own expense, an in-depth study of the city’s traffic concurrency system.

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Town Center Plan Flaws Ignored

  • Glaring omissions in the Town Center plan regarding traffic forewarned 10 years ago – and ignored.

By Miki Mullor

Guest Contributor

Miki Mullor

During the recent moratorium deliberations by City Council, the Town Center neighborhood plan was brought into the conversation. The issues with traffic planning in the city, exposed during the concurrency debacle, were feared to also impact the Town Center plan. Calls to review the plan were answered with a response that the plan was done 10 years ago therefore it’s too late to review.  This implies a “statute of limitation” argument that if indeed there were issues with the plan, those should have been raised at that time and cannot be argued now.

However, recently surfaced documents from the time of Town Center planning in 2007 reveal just that – that serious problems do exist in the plan and those problems were raised timely – yet ignored by the city.

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The strange case of the Larson “investigation”

Tim Larson

When Tim Larson, the Sammamish communications manager, was sent home on paid Administrative Leave, his boss, City Manager Lyman Howard wrote in a memo he was under “investigation.”

Larson had to make himself available for any questions related to the investigation, Howard wrote.

Larson resigned Sept. 26. The resignation was announced by Howard to the City Council and staff in a benign email that didn’t list any reason. Howard expressed good wishes.

Sammamish Comment obtained a copy of Howard’s August memo, which was released through a public records request (PRR), and submitted a PRR for the investigation report and supporting documents following Larson’s resignation.

Two months later, the City Clerk’s office responded, “At the time of your request there was no investigation.” This appears to be parsing words. Taken literally, this means that on the date of the PRR, there was no investigation. It does not, read literally, address any previous investigation that may have existed.

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Sammamish Comment continues on limited basis

By Scott Hamilton

Sammamish Comment will continue publishing past Dec. 31, but on a limited basis.

In August 2016, I announced that my wife and I moved to Bainbridge Island after 20 years in Sammamish and that I would continue publishing Sammamish Comment through 2017, at which time I intended to discontinue the effort.

Not being a resident of Sammamish any longer meant I was somewhat removed from events. Although I obviously remained in contact with established relationships, and created some new ones, being absent on a day-to-day basis made it challenging for what was already an endeavor that is pursued in my free time.

My work schedule, at a time when I should be retiring, has gone the other direction. I’m busier than ever and traveling more.

But events emerged that I just can’t give up serving the City I’ve been serving in one way or another since 1997, when I filed my first land use appeal, prior to incorporation.

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