Guest Op-Ed By Kent Treen Sammamish City Council Member
The debate about the negative impacts of development mostly focuses on what we all see and experience, like the pain of traffic, overcrowded schools, and the loss of trees and wildlife. But development triggers a more powerful force, that unless properly mitigated, can be the most destructive of all: stormwater.
When development does not handle its stormwater properly, its runoff will cause permanent damage to our creeks, our endangered kokanee salmon, our drinking water, our lakes and to our neighbors living downhill (just ask the residents in the Tamarack neighborhood).
To my shock and disbelief, I learned recently that in 2013 the City Council relaxed the strict storm water regulations that were in place for the Town Center development.
As the public record shows, they put the financial interests of development in the Town Center ahead of our environment, explicitly for the developers’ financial gain.
July 29, 2019: The Sahalee Way project Sammamish City Council Member Ramiro Valderrama now advocates approving is the same ones he labeled “lipstick on a pig” and “lipstick on a hippo” in January 2017.
Valderrama opposed the 2015 plan, comparing with a proposed set of projects for East Lake Sammamish Parkway in 2011 that he labeled the “most wasteful project in the city’s history.”
In posts on Facebook last week, Valderrama falsely claimed he supported the Sahalee Way project but only after a Transportation Management Plan was prepared.
It’s three weeks to the first filing date May 12 for the August primary for local elections. So far, there are only two declared candidates for three Sammamish City Council seats up for election this year.
Only one of the three incumbents announced election plans; two others haven’t decided if they will seek reelection.
A vast majority of resident speaking before the Sammamish City Council Tuesday opposed the possibility of imposition of a building moratorium, particularly for the Town Center.
Deputy Mayor Ramiro Valderrama surprised the Council last week by suggesting a 60-day study period to decide whether a moratorium should be adopted.
Opposition was particularly focused on the prospect of halting development of the Town Center. The plan for the TC evolved over 10 years. Development was then delayed by the Great Recession of 2008 and began only in 2015.
Much of the land is already under development, but there are still large swaths that have yet to reach the permit application stage.
A moratorium would threaten a $4m federal grant to reconstruct SE 4th Street and halt the addition of goods and services.
Ed Zercher, a property owner in the Town Center who was involved as a stakeholder throughout the planning process, argued in favor of continued development.
“I find it rather alarming,” he said of the prospective moratorium. “There was very thoughtful planning of the Town Center. There was a very dedicated planning commission that spent thousands of hours planning. The best way to keep Sammamish a bedroom community is to centralize residential development instead of residential sprawl. The Town Center does this. The Town Center has been more than a decade in the process.