Why Issaquah can’t be trusted, Part 2: Klahanie annexation

The opinions expressed are my own.

Why Issaquah can’t be trusted, Part 1: Mayor admits to cybersquatting.

After summer doldrums, events are picking up with the prospective annexation of Klahanie into Issaquah.

While this is known as the Klahanie Potential Annexation Area (PAA), in reality there are several adjacent neighborhoods to Klahanie that are also subject to the February vote the Issaquah City Council has set. The Issaquah Reporter has a very good story outlining the issues facing Klahanie voters. The map below is from this story and shows the adjacent neighborhoods.

But there are other issues voters need to consider, and top of the list is whether Issaquah, its city council and city administration are the best choices to become their new leaders. And this is quite questionable.

Map Source: Issaquah/Sammamish Reporter, Sept. 12, 2013.

Klahanie voters face four choices:

  1. Remain unincorporated, under the rule of the King County Council and subject to the services the county provides.
  2. Vote to annex into Issaquah.
  3. Reject annextion into Issaquah and seek annexation into Sammamish.
  4. Incorporate on its own.

When residents of what is now Sammamish debated their future in 1998, their choices were:

  1. Remain unincorporated, under the rule of the King County Council and subject to the services the county provides.
  2. Eventually hope to annex into Issaquah. At the time, Issaquah had not extended to include Providence Point and areas north, so the “Sammamish” area wasn’t contiguous, therefore annexation wasn’t a near-term option.
  3. Eventually hope to annex into Redmond on the north. This was more feasible, due to Redmond’s proximity to “Sammamish,” but Redmond officials made it known they weren’t interested then.
  4. Vote to incorporate. Which is what we did, with 69% of the vote.

We were tired of being ignored, neglected and abused by King County rule. Our infrastructure (roads, parks, sidewalks) was neglected. Development was being crammed into the Plateau and “Sammamish” was initially designated as a receiving area for transfer development rights from North Bend. (Activists succeeded in blocking this.) Our two King County Council representatives, Louise Miller and Brian Derdowski, poorly represented our area and the King County Library system gave us one of the ugliest, smallest libraries in the county (what is now the Boys and Girls Club at NE 8th and 228th Ave. NE, the metal Quonset hut). So we incorporated.

Whatever shortcomings there are from the City Councils that have been seated since 1999, we’re still better off than being under King County rule.

Klahanie faces a similar choice. Roads have been neglected by the county, notably Issaquah-Fall City Road, which was supposed to have been expanded into four lanes at least a decade ago. Parks have been neglected. Police service is spotty. And Klahanie voters, some 4,000 of them, have virtually no influence with the King County Council. Kathy Lambert, the council representative for Klahanie (and now all of Sammamish), is better than Miller or Derdowski, but her district is huge, and Klahanie is just a blip.

So Klahanie should annex to someone, either Issaquah or Sammamish. Here’s why going with Issaquah is a bad idea.

(Note: I live in Sammamish and as a Sammamish taxpayer, I don’t want Klahanie to annex to us; the financial impact of fixing all the roads and parks, and expanding Issaquah-Fall City Road, would be a financial burden to us taxpayers I don’t want to see.)

The Issaquah Mayor, City Council and City Administration have proved they aren’t being straight with Klahanie, and Klahanie is being used by the city as a pawn in the city’s fight with the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District.

Most of the integrity issues revolve around what Issaquah officials didn’t tell Klahanie, but there are some instances in which Issaquah just flat out misled Klahanie.

What Issaquah didn’t tell Klahanie

  1. Issaquah didn’t tell Klahanie–or Sammamish or anybody else, for that matter, including its own residents in Issaquah Highlands–that it applied to the State Department of Ecology to resume injecting stormwater into what’s known as the Lower Reid Infiltration Gallery (LRIG), which collects stormwater runoff from the Highlands. The LRIG was ordered shut down by Ecology in 2008 when fecal coliform (bird poop and other pollutants) was detected near the wells that draw water from the aquifer that provides pristine drinking water for 40%-50% of the Water District’s customers, including the entire Klahanie PAA. Informing the District’s customers fell to the District itself. Issaquah proposes no new technological update to LRIG that would prevent a recurrence of infiltration of fecal coliform into the aquifer.
  2. Issaquah didn’t tell anybody that it was pursuing a hostile takeover of that portion of the District that lies within the city limits. This is 7% of the District, which includes three wells at risk from the LRIG. Why? The Water District has been aggressively fighting the permit application, a battle that’s been going on for years, and if Issaquah owns and controls the wells, it can do what it wants when it wants, the District–and its customers–be damned. It once again fell to the Water District to let its customers know what is going on.
  3. Issaquah didn’t tell Klahanie, or any of its own taxpayer-citizens, that a white paper prepared by its own consultant estimated that it would cost an estimated $1.5 million to pursue assumption of the 7% of the Water District lying within the city limits. (Nearly a half million has already been spent.) It fell to the Water District to reveal this.
  4. Issaquah didn’t tell its taxpayers, or Klahanie, that the City’s own consultant estimated it would cost $1.5m to actively pre-treat stormwater. Issaquah chose to pursue assumption of the District, hoping to silence the District’s opposition to LRIG injection. It fell to the Water District to reveal this–and the District offered to pay $400,000 for the upgrades, which Issaquah rejected.
  5. Subsequent to the original Issaquah communication with Klahanie, it’s been reported in the Issaquah Press that a hostile takeover of the Water District would cost an estimated $10 million more than a cooperative solution. This cost would have to be shared in some form by Klahanie. (Issaquah refuses calls for public discussions–see the end of this column.)
  6. Issaquah hasn’t told Klahanie that it has no meaningful reserve funding for Repair and Replacement of aging water and sewer systems. The City’s total cash balance is $8 million, which isn’t much for a City with the aging infrastructure and service requirements. The Water District has been accruing R&R funds (which is why the Water District rates are higher than those of Issaquah) and the Water District has $30 million in cash reserves. Klahanie is 30 years old and most of Issaquah is older than this. If Issaquah is faced with a collapsing water and sewer system, all City taxpayers will wind up paying sharply increased rates because the City hasn’t been accruing funds. This means Klahanie, too, if it is annexed to Issaquah. Issaquah and the Water District were invited to Providence Point to discuss this issue. Both accepted, but Issaquah backed out at the last minute.

What Issaquah misled the public and Klahanie about

  1. Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger claimed in a printed statement and at a council meeting that stormwater going into LRIG is nothing more than rainwater. A long-time purported proponent for the environment, she knows this is patently false. Stormwater runoff from Issaquah Highlands includes bird poop, dog poop, wildlife poop (fecal coliform) and pesticides, fertilizers, oils and debris from roads, driveways and parking lots. The suggestion that LRIG is handing stormwater that is nothing more than rainfall is preposterous.
  2. Frisinger accused the Water District of having a “political agenda,” ignoring opposition to Issaquah stormwater practices pre-dating the 2008 shut down of LRIG.
  3. Issaquah told Klahanie its water and sewer service provider would not change with annexation. It fell to the Water District to reveal that Issaquah’s own Comprehensive Plan makes it unambiguously clear it intends to take over water and sewer service for Klahanie. Below is a Fact Sheet from the Water District excerpting from Issaquah’s own Comp Plan:

Klahanie Fact Sheet Pg 1

In addition, the following is taken directly from the Comp Plan Update:

Section 3.6.2 Assumption of Other Jurisdictions

The City shall assume municipal and special purpose district water utilities to provide direct retail service within the City of Issaquah Corporate Limits. (Bold face emphasis added.)

Discussion

It is the City’s policy to be the provider of direct retail service within the City of Issaquah Corporate Limits. When possible, the City prefers to accomplish these assumptions through cooperative, collaborative, and cost-efficient measures.”

Why is Issaquah pursuing annexation of Klahanie now? Because if Klahanie becomes part of Issaquah, the city will have a stronger case to go to the Boundary Review Board in the future to assume those parts of the Water District that lie within the City Limits. It’s tough to engage in a hostile takeover of 7% of the District, a move that affects so many who do not reside in Issaquah. It makes an easier case if Klahanie, served by the Water District, was part of Issaquah.

From the Water District’s perspective, the fight with Issaquah is about protecting the water supply from pollution and contamination. From Issaquah’s perspective, this is about power and getting the District off its back.

I don’t want Issaquah in charge of my drinking water (which is why I care about all this). The Mayor, City Council and City Administration have clearly demonstrated they don’t give a damn about us in Sammamish. Furthermore, they’ve also made it clear they don’t give a damn about the citizens who appeared at public comment universally opposing the resumption of injection into LRIG or a hostile assumption of the 7% of the Water District. Furthermore, the Mayor, City Council and Administration have ignored every citizen request that there be a public meeting between all interested parties: Sammamish, Issaquah, the Water District and the District customers–to discuss these issues.

There are other issues important to Klahanie as well that Issaquah hasn’t told its voters about, which are unrelated to the Water District. I’ll discuss these in another post.

Issaquah has demonstrated it cannot be trusted. Those in the Klahanie PAA need to understand this before voting.

The Boundary Review Board holds its public hearing Wednesday, September 18, 2013, at 7pm at the Holiday Inn in Issaquah.

I have written many posts previously about the water war between Issaquah and the Sammamish Water and Sewer District, and the impact to the residents of the City of Sammamish, Klahanie and even Providence Point in Issaquah. Go to our main page and scroll through posts dating to May to read these posts.

This entry was posted in Issaquah, Issaquah City Council, Issaquah Highlands, Klahanie, Lower Reid Infiltration Galley, LRIG, Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Why Issaquah can’t be trusted, Part 2: Klahanie annexation

  1. Pingback: Why Issaquah can’t be trusted, Part 3: City reneged on signed MOU transferring Klahanie PAA to Sammamish | Sammamish Comment

  2. Pingback: “Against Annexation” lead holding; How Issaquah lost Klahanie | Sammamish Comment

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