Glaring omissions in the Town Center plan regarding traffic forewarned 10 years ago – and ignored.
By 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.
Council Members routinely used private email accounts for City-related business.
Expansive Public Records Request during 2015 Council elections brought issue to fore.
One Council Member, acting as a private citizen, demanded emails on private account from another Council Member.
The City Attorney, paid for by tax dollars, became de facto attorney for the “private citizen” Council Member.
Two Council Members subsequently failed to produce emails from their private accounts.
One of the two Council Members failed to produce emails from her private account again in 2016 pursuant to a PRR.
Hillary Clinton’s email was a story that wouldn’t die in the presidential campaign, dogging her right through the Nov. 8 election.
The City of Sammamish has its own problems over emails. Council members routinely used private emails for city business and when it comes to complying with the Washington State law for Public Records Requests (PRR), some members aren’t always forthcoming with documents.
One City Council Member was explicit that a controversial topic should be discussed using private emails to avoid public disclosures through City emails.
The City Attorney’s position on compliance in responding to Public Records Requests appears inconsistent.
The issue is about transparency in government and complying with the law.
Requirements to hand over emails from personal accounts is well established in Washington State. A Bainbridge Island case is illustrative. See here and here.
The 2003 Sammamish election presented an opportunity to shift the balance of power from a Republican-conservative leaning City Council to a Democratic-left-of-center membership.
As the election season approached, the Council was generally, though not reliably, split 4-3. Ken Kilroy, Ron Haworth, Troy Romero and Jack Barry were reliably a voting bloc. The minority three were Michele Petitti, Kathy Huckabay and often, but not always, Don Gerend.
Petitti won her seat in 2001. The others were all original council members from 1999.
Personal message from Scott Hamilton, Editor of Sammamish Comment.
After 20 years, two months and 10 days, I have moved from Sammamish.
For my wife, Gail Twelves, it’s been one month short of 16 years.
We’ve moved to Bainbridge Island, where we will build a home. For the first time in decades, we’re renters—for the time being.
Sammamish Comment will continue through next year, at which time this community service to Sammamish will close. The Comment was formed in 2003, so at the end of next year, this will have been a 14 year run.
In Part 1, the background, objectives and membership of the Planning Advisory Board was described. In Part 2, the PAB gets down to work writing Sammamish’s first Comprehensive Plan. This is six pages when printed.
The 17-member Planning Advisory Board members were a cross-section of environmentalists, activists, developers, real estate agents and businessmen. The City Council did an admirable job of appointing a broad spectrum of people.
Open divisions from the start
However, from the start there was open tension among the members. Divisions from the bitter 1999 City Council election carried over to the PAB, which was appointed by this Council. Most of the members of the PAB supported the candidates who won in that bitter contest; a few supported the losing candidates, who, it will be remembered, lost by wide margins in what turned out to be a nasty race filled with anonymous fliers and a forged newsletter.
One of the developer-real estate appointees who supported the Council candidates later told one of the environmentalist-activists it was her personal mission to oppose everything he said. The two strong personalities clashed often and openly.
Two members resigned early. One Council Member later said they resigned because they thought the PAB was too heavily dominated by environmentalists. Whether this is an accurate characterization or not is beside the point. The broad spectrum of the appointees belies any charge that environmentalists ran away with the process. In the end, the Comp Plan was adopted and recommended by the PAB with just one dissenting vote and this vote had nothing to do with the environment or any other issue. The dissenter complained the PAB hadn’t finished its job. (This will be described later.)
June 5, 2016: Development of the East Lake Sammamish Trail has been an overhang of Sammamish politics for 20 years.
It was a dominate factor in the first City Council race 1999 and surfaced again in 2001. It became a key issue in the 2003 election, with a flood of “outside” money flowing to candidates favoring the Trail.
The issue surfaced periodically in subsequent elections. It wasn’t until 2015 that once more it became a key election issue, as Trail residents rallied behind three candidates to win bitterly contested races. For the first time, they helped elect a resident who lives along the Trail.
And the issue hasn’t subsided, either.
In April, three Council Members voted to undercut the City’s own Hearing Examiner and side with King County, developer of the Trail, on a jurisdictional issue in an appeal before the State Shoreline Hearings Board.
This is the story behind the 20-year battle of the ELST.
After being routed in the 1999 City Council elections and licking their wounds for the better part of two years, the environmentalists in Sammamish—the “greenies—“ began a comeback.
All seven Council seats were up for election in 2001. This was because that as a new city, two- and four-year terms had to be established. The largest vote-getters in 2001 would get four year terms. The three lowest vote getters would get two year terms.
As it happened, only three Council members were challenged by people backed by the Greenies, and by SHOUT officials (see the post of March 28 to understand who SHOUT was): Ron Haworth, Ken Kilroy and Phil Dyer. Don Gerend, Kathy Huckabay, Jack Barry and Troy Romero were unopposed. By default, they would receive the most votes and four year terms.