Fact and myth, truth and spin about the Town Center Plan

By Scott Hamilton

Guest Contributor

There is a continuing effort to claim the Town Center will divert growth from the rest of Sammamish. This is a falsehood based on the current set of facts on the ground (so-to-speak).

Credit: Patrick Husting. Satirical rendering of the Town Center.

Here are the facts:

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Seattle-based Sammamish Town Center developer pours money into Council elections

By Miki Mullor
Editor 

  • R.D. Merrill of Seattle contributed $25,000 to “Livable Sammamish” PAC (Political Action Committee), headed by former Mayor Don Gerend and former Council Member Kathy Huckabay.
  • R.D. Merrill partnered with STCA to develop Phase 1 of the Town Center, a 419 unit project and 98,000 sq/ft of retail, located on SE 4th St.
  • “Livable Sammamish” is opposing “Sammamish Life”, a Sammamish residents PAC headed by Michael Scoles.
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Town Center developer wines and dines local politicians at closed City Plaza

By Miki Mullor
Editor 

The City Plaza in front of the Sammamish City Hall was closed off on Sunday, Sep 15, for a private event hosted by Sammamish Chamber of Commerce and  sponsored by STCA, the Town Center apartments developer (also known as Innovation Realty).  

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City staff overruled its own engineer in favor of STCA’s engineer on Town Center traffic impact

By Miki Mullor 
Editor

Controversy erupted in August when the City of Sammamish announced that STCA’s Town Center Phase I project passed traffic concurrency. 

The City Council convened for a special meeting Aug. 20 to question how was it that this project, 419 homes and commercial space, that has failed concurrency for nine month suddenly passed it.

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Now, emails obtained by the Sammamish Comment through a public records request reveal that city staff inexplicably overruled its own engineer in favor of STCA’s engineer when forecasting the number of car trips the project would generate. 

The staff’s decision lowered the forecasted traffic impact of STCA Phase I by at least 19% in the AM and 30% in the PM peak hours. 

In order to fully understand the implications of ignoring the city traffic engineer and accepting STCA’s traffic consultant data instead, some background is necessary. 

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Former Mayor Gerend’s lawsuit postponed for 90 days

By Miki Mullor
Editor

The Growth Management Hearing Board (GMBH) has continued (postponed) Don Gerend’s lawsuit to invalidate the new concurrency rules enacted by the majority of City Council.

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How the Town Center plan happened

By Scott Hamilton

Commentary

Aug. 22, 2019: There is a lack of knowledge about how the Sammamish Town Center Plan unfolded and what it is today.

Here is how it happened.

Sammamish became a city in 1999. One of the first orders of business was to create the Comprehensive Plan. The first city council appointed 17 citizens to what was called the Planning Advisory Board (PAB) to draft a plan.

The PAB had a cross-section of Sammamish residents: environmentalists, developers, real estate agents, business people and people simply interested in serving. I was on the PAB.

The PAB worked over 18 months on all elements except one: the area that became the Town Center.

The PAB was directed by that first city council to wrap up its work just as we got to the center of town. Whereas nearly all new cities took three years to complete its first Comp Plan, that city council and the city manager at the time, Ben Yazici, wanted it done in record time.

The center of town was set aside for its own process—which took from 2001 to the end of 2009.

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STCA wanted to upzone by 42%-68% in 2017

Aug. 20, 2019: STCA, developer of much of the Sammamish Town Center, and city staff pondered dramatic upzoning in 2017.

The idea would have added 250,000 sf to the 600,000 sf of commercial already approved and 1,500 more residential units to the 2,200 approved.

The ideas never made it to the public domain for debate nor to a Docket Request stage to amend the Comprehensive Plan. The 2017 city council quietly, and out of public view, killed the idea before it reached the public or the stage of a formal request.

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