The Sammamish City Council voted 4-3 to not re-appoint Planning Commission chair Shanna Collins to a second term, going against a plea from Master Builders Assoc, the lobby group representing 2,900 builders.
Plan envisions high density in single family neighborhoods.
13 growth centers outlined throughout the city.
By Miki Mullor
Should Sammamish neighborhoods be transformed into mini high density “town centers”?
Yes, if you ask the city’s Planning Commission.
In what will likely to become an election issue, a new vision for the city, centred on high density housing and retail centers, has been put forward by two Planning Commissioners and supported by the entire planning commission and two council members.
This is a departure from the current strategy of “absorbing” or “focusing” growth in the Town Center, spreading growth all over the city.
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.
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.
The Sammamish staff will recommend to the City Council tonight that action on the Ace Hardware development plan be deferred to January.
In the Council packet in advance of tonight’s meeting, Staff writes,
“Continue to work with the applicant team and report back to the City Council in January, 2013 with options to consider the request.”
With respect to the Docket Request by landowners for the SE Quadrant, the Staff recommends to the Council:
“Address the items included in the proponent’s submittal in the upcoming Economic Development Strategic Plan process which will develop specific steps to catalyze implementation of the Town Center Plan. These steps may include programmatic efforts, infrastructure plans, and amendments to the Town Center Plan and associated development regulations.”
I’m unclear if this is adequate or whether the Planning Commission needs to be involved. We’ll have to wait and see what Staff says at the Council meeting tonight.
Three new people joined the Sammamish Planning Commission after being appointed Jan. 19 by the City Council. This article in The Sammamish Review provides details.
After the City Council, this is the most important body authorized in state law for cities. All land use policies and proposals must first go through the Planning Commission. Environmental policies start here.
The seven members are all unpaid volunteers who donate and dedicate their time. It is a thankless job–often without thanks from the very City Council that appoints them–and their recommendations frequently become targets from citizens and council members alike.