City Council faces a pivotal decision on Town Center; STCA proposal reveals phase II details

By Miki Mullor

UPDATE: tonight’s City Council meeting has been cancelled.

The new majority on the  Sammamish City Council will face its first major decision tonight on the Town Center – whether to revamp the Town Center plan, or focus on adjustments. This decision comes as new details on further phases of Town Center are revealed in an unsolicited proposal developer STCA made to Sound Transit to place a “transit center” on one of its properties. 

STCA’s proposal details a total of 2,000 homes (6,000 residents), 2,000 employees and 11,000 daily customers in the area west of 228th Ave, above the Met Market complex.

Tonight’s meeting is closed to  public attendance due to the coronavirus but will be broadcast live on Channel 21 and on Facebook, starting at 6:30pm:

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No good solutions forces City Council to rethink transportation projects plan

By Miki Mullor

  • No real solutions to traffic congestion
  • Phantom traffic projects used to approve developments 
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City’s new concurrency plan doesn’t measure congestion, overall travel time

By Miki Mullor

Deputy Editor

A new traffic concurrency plan for Sammamish appears unlikely to meet the Sammamish City Council target date to lift the building moratorium in July, despite six months of staff and consultant work and expenditures of about $375,000. (Read more.)

Concurrency is a state law requirement to “​prohibit​ ​development​ ​approval​ ​if​ ​the development​ ​causes​ ​the​ ​level​ ​of​ ​service​ ​on​ ​a​ ​locally​ ​owned​ ​transportation​ ​facility​ ​to​ ​decline​ ​below the​ ​standards​ ​adopted”, unless “​transportation​ ​improvements​ ​or​ ​strategies​ ​to​ ​accommodate​ ​the​ ​impacts​ ​of​ ​development​ ​are made​ ​concurrent​ ​with​ ​the​ ​development “. The law allows development to proceed if “a financial commitment is in place to complete​ ​the​ ​improvements​ ​or​ ​strategies​ ​within​ ​six​ ​years​.”  (see RCW 36.70A.070, and a clean indented version)

Accordingly, cities are required to set a level of service standard for their roads, measure traffic and forecast future impact of development on traffic.  

In response to residents’ frustration over traffic congestion in Sammamish, City Council has enacted a moratorium and directed staff to revise the city’s concurrency system to focus on drivers’ experience.  Continue reading

Sammamish Transportation Plan balloons to $165m; Klahanie project now $45m

The new Six-Year Transportation Improvement Plan approved by the Sammamish City Council Tuesday boosts projects costs to $165.36m.

This figure includes the cost of the projects that start within the six-year TIP period but continue beyond into a date not specified.

Costs for the Issaquah-Fall City Road widening along the greater Klahanie area goes to $44.8m from an estimated $23m in the months leading up to the annexation vote to Sammamish in April 2014.

Last March, only three months ago, the cost was pegged at $36m.

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Sammamish needs to open up with transparency on TIP; there’s a “now you see it, now you don’t” show happening

Illustration via Google images.

Sammamish officials have a serious transparency and credibility problem.

The side-by-side comparison of the 2014 and 2016 Six Year Transportation Improvement Plans (TIPs) shows what appears to be creative “book keeping” to present a financial picture that is rosy when it’s really not. Sammamish Comment also reviewed prior TIPs to compare projects and projected costs.

Sammamish Comment spent this week dissecting the TIPs for the Readers. The issues are these:

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City shifts $23m from City Roads to Klahanie project–but had vowed not to affect legacy Sammamish

When Sammamish officials in the summer of 2014 lopped around $19m off its 2015 Six Year Transportation Improvement Plan from four long-standing road projects, they had already pledged to improve and widen Issaquah-Fall City Road along the entire length of the east side of the Klahanie Potential Annexation Area if voters there agreed to annex to Sammamish.

Klahanie PAA voters rejected a plan the previous January to annex to Issaquah. Sammamish, which campaigned against the Issaquah vote, promised to take on the road project if a subsequent vote to annex to Sammamish was held and approved. King County at one time placed a price tag of $32m on the project. Sammamish officials studied the plan and concluded King County had double-counted some of the work in a two-phase plan and estimated the cost was closer to $23m.

For several consecutive TIPs, costs for four key projects within Sammamish remained constant. Facing the Klahanie project, the 2015 TIP cut$19m from these projects. Another $3.6m was further reduced from the 2015 TIP for the 2016 TIP, approved last month.

The analysis that revealed City officials shifted $22.5m from road projects to fund the $23m Issaquah-Fall City road widening to fulfill a commitment for the Klahanie area annexation appears to go back on a pledge to Sammamish residents that they wouldn’t be impacted by the annexation.

It also appears to be an effort to mask early statements by City officials that Sammamish would have to issue $23m in bond debt to pay for the Issaquah-Fall City/Klahanie road widening project.

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City may discuss Transportation TIP funding–after the election

The Sammamish City Council may discuss the controversial Six Year Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP), but not until after the November election, Sammamish Comment has learned.

City Manager Ben Yacizi wrote Council Member Nancy Whitten on Aug. 5 that a budget review meeting in November, which will “authorize the funding of various TIP projects” “might be a good meeting to further discuss this topic.”

Whitten had written Yacizi supporting Council Member Ramiro Valderrama’s concern that the August City Newsletter and its articles about the TIP were political in nature.

Sammamish Comment detailed the politicalization of the Newsletter in an August 12 post. The Newsletter had a front page article defending the funding of the TIP, along with a Mayor’s Message doing the same thing.

“I join in Councilmember Valderrama’s request that we have further council discussion about these road projects…and how we might pay for them and the potential bonding before such an article goes into our newsletter,” Whitten wrote, noting that “inconsistency with prior statements made about bonding are very convenient timewise during an election year.”

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