Staff confirms Klahanie annexation’s adverse affects on other road projects

Aug. 26, 2019: The Klahanie area annexation to Sammamish in 2015 caused road projects in the legacy parts of the city to be delayed, despite promises from then-Mayor Tom Vance and then-City Manager Ben Yazici there would be no adverse impacts.

Then-Mayor Tom Vance and then-City Manager promised no ill affects on legacy Sammamish from Klahanie annexation.

Acting public works director Cheryl Paston confirmed at the City Council’s Aug. 20 meeting what Sammamish Comment feared and reported in 2015: the Klahanie annexation would divert money from key projects to fulfill a Christmas list of promises made by Vance, Yazici, council members Don Gerend and Ramiro Valderrama to entice Klahanie residents to vote to annex to Sammamish.

As the current city council debates over projects listings on the Transportation Improvement Plan—notably the Sahalee Way project—the 2015 council led by Vance and Yazici’s administration manipulated the TIP then to claim sharply reduced costs for a major Klahanie road project while simultaneously shifting monies from other road projects in legacy Sammamish.

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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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Revisiting the 2015 election

With the 2019 Sammamish City Council race underway, Sammamish Comment looked back at the 2015 race in which Christie Malchow and Tom Hornish were elected for the first time and Ramiro Valderrama was reelected to a second term.

Malchow is seeking reelection. Hornish and Valderrama are retiring. Malchow defeated former city council member and mayor Mark Cross, who was seeking a comeback after a four year hiatus. He was closely aligned with Mayor Tom Vance, who was seeking reelection to a second term. Malchow won with 58% of the vote, a landslide.

Hornish defeated Vance, making him only the second incumbent Sammamish council member and the only sitting mayor in the city’s history to be defeated. Vance won his 2011 election with 67% of the vote against a weak candidate. He lost his reelection, receiving only 47% of the vote, a 20 percentage point drop. Hornish was a reluctant candidate, running because he didn’t want to see Vance run unopposed.

Valderrama defeated Hank Klein, who withdrew from the race too late to be removed from the ballot. Valderrama used his huge win, with 85% of the vote, as a springboard to run in 2016 for the State Legislative House against Democrat Roger Goodman. Goodman, a flawed candidate who should have been easy to defeat, hammered Valderrama by capturing 62% of the 45th District vote. Valerrama only captured 40% of the Sammamish vote in the 45th–a dismal showing compared with his 2015 and 2011 results.

Some of the issues then remain issues today: Tamarack storm water drainage, Sahalee Way and, as always, development.

Here’s a retrospective of that election.

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Tamarack stormwater runoff damage back before council–again

By Scott Hamilton

After nearly a decade and a half of little, the Sammamish City Council may finally be ready to address serious storm water drainage issues in the Tamarack subdivision on the city’s west side.

The issue is on the council’s agenda tomorrow night.

Tamarack has been subject to increasingly damaging storm water runoff as development uphill from the subdivision, which is sited on a downhill slope off Thompson Hill Road, flows through the neighborhood.

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Valderrama’s hypocrisy over Hornish issue

Analysis

Ramiro Valderrama

Sammamish City Council member Ramiro Valderrama displayed hypocrisy last Tuesday in his aggressive attempt to force fellow member Tom Hornish to remain on committees following acceptance of a new job in the private sector.

Two years ago, Valderrama sought a new job in the public sector that would have had direct conflict of interest with his city council position. It would have meant choosing between his new job and the council when it came to attending meetings and committee meetings. It likely meant Valderrama would have missed the council’s annual retreat at which goals and committee assignments are made for the coming year.

Yet Valderrama vowed to retain his council position if he got the new job and brushed aside all objections from his constituents.

When Hornish stepped up and recognized time constraints were coming, resigned his position as deputy mayor and stepped off all but one committee, Valderrama—oblivious o his own actions two years earlier—objected and engaged in a transparent attempt to set Hornish up to fail and ultimately force him off the council.

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Funding for roads used for other priorities, wrote former Public Works director

  • City Council Member Tom Odell is on the record—several times—that Sammamish neglected its road infrastructure for 10 years. Charts and graphs below tell the depressing story.
  • “[F]unding that could have been used for transportation capital projects was used for other priorities such as city hall, the city’s street maintenance program, the YMCA/Community Center and to some extent, even the city’s parks capital projects,” wrote the City’s former Director of Public Works in June 2017.

If Sammamish residents want to know why there is so much traffic congestion, two visuals created by citizen Miki Mullor tells the story easier than long, drawn out narratives can.

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Council takes up 2018 budget tonight–“crossover point” (deficit spending) appears to arrive years early

The long-awaited “crossover point” when deficit spending occurs for the Sammamish city budget—in recent years projected to be early next decade—may be here now.

The City Council takes up the budget tonight and a comparison of revised figures by Council Candidate Mark Baughman shows proposed expenditures exceed projected revenues by $4m.

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