Sammamish voters are beginning to mail their ballots for the November 3 City Council election. It’s a good time to review endorsements.
Christie Malchow is the recommended choice over Mark Cross.
Malchow is an energetic professional who got her baptism under fire in Sammamish as an appellant of a proposed project, Chestnut Estates West, that would have a material adverse impact on salmon-bearing Ebright Creek, traffic and a proposal to build on what had been designated as open space when the developer built Chestnut Estates (East). The City Hearing Examiner threw out the City Staff approval of West as improperly approved.
As with many who enter public service because of a passionate issue, Malchow came to understand there are bigger issues at stake than just a NIMBY issue. She learned that the City staff routinely waivers, ignores or grants variances to code to approve projects. City transparency and responsiveness is lacking. Malchow pledges to hold the staff’s feet to the fire, pry open the doors to transparency and to restore responsive government to Sammamish.
Malchow, if elected, will be the youngest member on the Council and the only one not eligible for membership to AARP. She’s 42 and has two small children, representative of the demographics of Sammamish.
Cross is a career government employee who served eight years on the Council, from 2004-2012. He seeks to return to Council after a four year break.
Cross, 65, served admirably on Council and is a faithful public servant. But his principal objective is to add staff to manage future road projects and to pave over the rest of the East Lake Sammamish Trail, though from his public statements, there is no evidence that environmental protection and property rights along the trail figure into his agenda. Cross will be a reliable member of the ruling majority, the so-called Gang of 4, all of whom have endorsed Cross for election. He also endorse Mayor Tom Vance, a member of the Gang, for reelection.
We need independent voices to challenge the Gang, not a reliable member to make it the Gang of 5.
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.
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.
The City Council adopted the [Public Works Standards] by ordinance…. Thus, the PWS has the force of regulation.
When it adopted the PWS, the City Council gave to the Public Works director the authority to administratively amend them…. The record of this hearing does not contain any evidence that the Public Works Director has ever formally exercised that authority: the PWS read today just as when they were adopted in 2000, except for changes that were brought about by the Council’s 2005 adoption…changes which the City Engineer testified are routinely ignored by Public Works and which do not to this day appear in the publicly available version of the PWS. Public Works’ unwritten policies are also not publicly available. (Emphasis added.)
This remarkable section is part of the Sammamish Hearing Examiner report of an appeal of the Kampp Property project by the Pine Hills Homeowners Association.
A City official testified Staff routinely ignores city code, and relies on an unwritten policy. (Memo to lawyers: “arbitrary and capricious” rings a bell here.)
This damning admission underscores the cavalier approach to approving developments that citizens have been complaining about for years.
Sammamish voters should vote Yes on the April 28 Advisory Ballot for the Initiative/Referendum.
As long-time readers of this column know, I’ve been conflicted over whether Sammamish should adopt the right of Initiative and Referendum, as provided in the 1912 Washington State Constitution. But events since the first of the year convinced me this is the correct decision on the part of the voters. The Sammamish City Council informally said it will follow the outcome of the Advisory vote. This should be the case even if a Yes vote is narrow.
King County Elections is mailing the ballot this week.