Huckabay wants study about Council Member salaries

Kathy Huckabay

A salary study for City Council members was requested by Kathy Huckabay during the Sept. 20 meeting (at 184 minutes into the meeting on the video tape).

Members are paid $850/mo; the mayor gets $950/mo.

Huckabay asked the staff to conduct a salary review as part of the current budget process. Staff said it is undertaking a salary review study for employees. Her current term expires next year. She has not said whether she will seek reelection or retire,

“In that salary review, are you going to be reviewing city council salaries?” Huckabay asked. “Next year is an election year. It would be really important for potential people who are running for city council to understand what the salary schedule is.

“I understand Issaquah hired somebody and they did a salary study and they came back with an adjustment.”

Huckabay didn’t say what the Issaquah adjustment is. Huckabay asked a question about storm water costs immediately after her salary review question. Staff answered the second question but not the first.

Continue reading

Council nears decision to send annual January Retreat back to Suncadia, across mountains

After starting 2016 with a new era of transparency and access, the Sammamish City Council may revert to holding its annual January retreat at the Suncadia Resort in Roslyn, east of the Cascade Mountains.

The timing–January 19-22–puts at risk driving over Snoqualmie Pass in a winter storm. The location makes it difficult and unlikely all but the most diehard members of the community will attend the meetings. It’s also costly: being more than an hour away, over the pass and through the woods means anyone going has to rent a hotel room for the three-day retreat.

Even the Sammamish Review and Issaquah/Sammamish Reporter historically don’t show up to report on the meetings and hold the City Council accountable to the public.

Only Sammamish Comment made the trek in January 2015, the first time it had done so.

The long drive over the mountains and through the woods to the Suncadia Resort for the Sammamish annual Council Retreat could be longer and challenging in the January winter storms, but that’s where the City Council is thinking of going in January 2017.

Captive audience and no audience

Council members chose the location in the past to make it difficult for their own members, and staff, to leave the retreat meetings. But it also meant that despite the days being open meetings, the practical effect was they that were closed. No public participation occurred.

During 2015, The Comment made an issue of this. Toby Nixon, then-president of the Washington Coalition for Open Government, criticized the Sammamish City Council for the location, lack of transparency and lack of access for citizens. Nixon, then as now a member of the Kirkland City Council, said Kirkland in 2015 chose the Beaver Lake Lodge for its retreat, right here in Sammamish.

The public pressure caused the 2015 Council to delay site selection. The November 2015 Council election saw the defeat of Mayor Tom Vance and his allies, Mark Cross and Hank Klein. Council member Ramiro Valderrama was reelected, along with newcomers Christie Malchow and Tom Hornish. The latter three made it known to then-City Manager Ben Yazici, who was retiring in February 2016, and his successor, Deputy City Manager Lyman Howard, that they wanted the retreat at a more local site.

Continue reading

The Vision Thing

  • Tonight is the first of three debates between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, beginning at 6pm PDT.

“The Vision Thing” was George H. W. Bush’s lament about which he was having trouble articulating when he was running for President the first time.

George H. W, Bush had trouble with The Vision Thing. Photo via Google images.
George H. W, Bush had trouble with The Vision Thing. Photo via Google images.

Bush, well qualified from his decades of public service, and at the time two-term vice president to Ronald Reagan, went on to win election in 1988. But the “vision thing” dogged him throughout his first term. He couldn’t create a “vision” to synopsize his goals for the American people.

He lost reelection to Bill Clinton in 1992, an election in which a third party candidate—Ross Perot—hurt his reelection chances.

It’s a lesson Hillary Clinton should take to heart.

Like it or not, Donald Trump has no trouble articulating a vision, regardless of how repugnant some find it and how mangled his syntax.

Continue reading

Market-driven building moratorium is over; pent-up demand is building now

City_of_SammamishEditor’s note: There has been a spirited discussion on Facebook under Save Sammamish (a closed group) about the current level of development and the topic of a building moratorium. Here is what I posted this morning.

When the Comp Plan was written in 2001-2003 (of which I was a part), we did everything possible to meet the minimum requirements of the Growth Management Act (GMA) in order to have the minimum growth for our city. However, development of the Town Center was set aside from this process for a separate process.

Except for some very selected areas for GMA compliance purposes, no up-zoning was approved by the City Council.

As has been discussed, growth and job targets are set in negotiation with the county and other cities. Sammamish considers itself an island, so we always argued for minimum growth targets.

Then we did the Town Center plan. There were proposals for up to 1.7 million SF of commercial/retail/office (larger than Redmond Town Center) and (if I recall correctly) at least 3,500 residential units.

These were non-starter proposals. The committees and Planning Commission (of which I was also a part) settled on recommending to Council 500,000 sf of commercial and 2,000 units. The Council upped this to 600,000 and 2,500. The Environmental Impact Statement studied up to 700,000 sf and 3,000 units before another EIS would be required with dramatically higher road improvements also required.

Continue reading

“Save Sammamish” cites facts, not emotions, in moratorium quest

Speaker after speaker Tuesday asked the Sammamish City Council to reject a suggestion that a building moratorium be imposed.

Each one had a personal financial stake of some kind, or represented someone who did, or simply philosophical opposition to the idea.

Only about three people favored the moratorium.

But only one of all those who spoke stood up and presented a fact-based argument backed by details and citing legal questions.

Jennifer Kim

Jennifer Kim, founder of the group Save Sammamish, zeroed in on the state requirements for housing under the Growth Management Act. (The GMA also sets job targets, although this was not part of Kim’s presentation.)

Kim also cited the City’s Comprehensive Plan and the growth targets it contains.

Continue reading

Town Center Moratorium dead, but growth issues heading toward Retreat

Deputy Mayor Ramiro Valderrama unleashed a firestorm of opposition to a building moratorium when he suggested one for the Sammamish Town Center.

The Sammamish City Council decided Tuesday to not pursue a proposal by Deputy Mayor Ramiro Valderrama to undertake a 60-day study that could have led to a building moratorium for the Town Center.

The TC is already under construction, but there remains about 40 acres for which a building permit application has yet to be filed.

The Council considered Valderrama’s suggestion after nearly two hours of public comment, nearly all of it opposing a moratorium

But the issue isn’t dead. Continue reading

Council rejects building moratorium, 60-day study–for now

Tuesday, 11:05 pm: The Sammamish City Council rejected any building moratorium for the Town Center. It also rejected the idea of a 60-day study.

Council members favored full speed ahead for finishing development of the Town Center. They rejected the 60-day study but agreed that a longer-term study of key issues, such as transportation, infrastructure, trees, storm water issues and related topics that affect city-wide issues. Some kind of moratorium for some or all of the rest of the city at a later date might be considered.

Sammamish Comment will prepare a full report on Wednesday.