Sammamish City Council Member Pam Stuart ran for office in 2017 vowing to protect the environment.
Instead, she is using a claim of environmental protection to support her vote for lifting the building moratorium on the Town Center and as a proponent for higher density.
At the Oct. 16 council meeting, Stuart argued that lifting the moratorium is environmentally friendly because concentrating growth in one area protects other areas in Sammamish from building.
This shows an appalling ignorance of Sammamish’s land use zoning, the history of the development of the Comprehensive Planning to limit growth, political realities and impacts on property owners.
Either that, or Stuart just is using “environmental protection” as a faux excuse to open the development door to STCA, the principal developer waiting to get the green light to file permit applications to build the Town Center.
Sammamish residents took to email, social media and showed up in person at the Oct. 16 council meeting to tell council to keep the moratorium on the Town Center and not to exempt anyone from the new development regulations.
On a split 4/3 vote, the council voted to keep the moratorium. The vote on the development regulations has been postponed.
The building moratorium in Sammamish won’t be lifted next week.
In a sometimes-heated meeting, the city council on a 4-3 vote adopted an amendment offered by Deputy Mayor Karen Moran to add some capacity-based measurements to the Level of Service concurrency model previously approved.
The absence of road capacity measurements means some key road segments without stop signs or stop lights aren’t measured.
These include East Lake Sammamish Parkway north of Inglewood Hill Road to the Redmond city limits; 244th north of NE 8th to the city limits; and long stretches of Sahalee Way.
All are heavily congested during rush hour and would likely fail concurrency tests.
Just how cozy is Town Center developer STCA with the Sammamish city administration?
Sammamish Comment has been reporting aspects of the relationship between the developer, administration and certain members of the city council for more than a year.
Now, The Comment discovered that the city administration collaborated with STCA to promote their project using taxpayer money at the same time the new concurrency model was being developed by the city.
This casts an appearance of a conflict of interest because a realistic concurrency system may block new development under certain circumstances, including the Town Center. STCA is the largest developer of the Town Center.
The council included the Town Center in the moratorium so it will be subject to the new concurrency.
It is our view that it is improper for city staff to collaborate with STCA and at the same time develop a concurrency model that may block it.
Indeed, on February 28, Kendra Breiland, the city’s concurrency consultant, met in Bellevue with STCA for “coordination.”
The Sammamish City Council continues to wrestle with the controversial and highly complex topic of traffic concurrency.
The council has been backed into a corner by staff, consultants and, as the responsible executive, the city manager. There are no good choices left to the council to deal with the city’s growing traffic problems and balancing these against development.
The process to date has been so thoroughly mucked up that, in reality, there are few choices the council has ifit is going to lift the building moratorium in July, its self-imposed target.
Deputy Mayor Karen Moran and Council Member Chris Ross are the key votes that will determine the direction.
The first choice is to adopt the new model that has been proposed by the city staff and consultants.
The second is to go back to the old model, adjusting it to eliminate “credits” for theoretical added capacity that, for the most part, are pencil-pushing solutions.
I favor the second choice. Here’s why. But it may be too late to go there.
Sammamish City Council Member Ramiro Valderrama and City Manager Lyman Howard last year wanted to negotiate a Developer Agreement with Town Center developer STCA, without the required council approval, Sammamish Comment learned.
The revelation is in an email (click to read it) dated Nov. 21, 2017, that the city manager designated “attorney client privileged.” The email was recently determined to be not privileged and released in a public records request.
The email was addressed to another city employee and cc’d to the city attorney and a second city employee. Howard’s labeling the email attorney-client privilege is intended to bar the email from public disclosure.