The big issues in 2010

Sammamish faces several big issues this year that will be important for citizens to follow. Among them, in no particular order:

The Budget: Sammamish is a property tax-based community. Revenue diversification is needed (which is what the Town Center is about–see below). Because of the global economic meltdown beginning in September 2008, which dried up the housing market, a major source of revenues for the City declined significantly: permit and impact fees. Although markets appear to be slowly improving, it will be some time before revenues recover. The City Council will have some hard choices to make on expenditures and potentially….

Taxes: Will Sammamish consider new taxes? At the very next meeting after the November elections, the subject of increasing the City’s tax rate by1% came up. Aside from the appalling timing, the Council decided not to increase the tax rate. But don’t be surprised if the subject comes up again this year. For one thing, there is the question of what, if anything, the City might do to jump-start development of the Town Center. The prospect of new taxes to do so will be discussed in this section below.  The other recurring tax is Don Gerend’s 10-year campaign to increase the REET, or Real Estate Excise Tax, by 1/2 percent.

But these taxes aren’t the only prospect. Sammamish voters did not provide the Super Majority needed (60%) to approved a parks bond issue in 2008. This would have funded a variety of parks development, including….

Parks at the Sammamish lakefront, Evans Creek Park just outside the northern city limits, a community center and more.  The  City Council, after dilly-dallying for 10 years, finally made a decision to proceed with a community center without a voter-approved parks bond when it agreed to buy the King County (Sammamish) library at NE 8th and 228th Ave. NE to serve as an interim community center. But there are other park issues facing the Council this year, including whether to install lights and an astro-turf soccer field at Beaver Lake Park. Both issues remain controversial, and the astro-turf potentially has negative implications for the environmentally-sensitive Beaver Lake.

Development of the City’s property along Lake Sammamish is another controversial plan, especially in today’s economy. Staff proposed plans that the 2009 Council rejected as too costly. A similar challenge faces the 2010 Council for Evans Creek Park, some 170+ acres purchased in around 2000 but which has languished ever since. Only some 30+ acres is flatland; the rest is in steep slopes and wetlands. Access, at the moment, is only via SR202. Staff and the Parks Commission had the big challenge to come up with a financially feasible plan to finally make this land available to our residents. The new Council has the challenge to decide whether to finance development in the current economic climate.

The Fire Department service, through the Eastside Fire and Rescue, is going to be a very thorny issue. The 2009 Council was feuding with EF&R over costs and this became an election issue. Everyone agrees EF&R provides excellent service; the dispute is the cost shared by Sammamish taxpayers. Last year’s Council and the City Manager believe EF&R is charging our taxpayers too much. John Curley declared during the campaign he doesn’t favor changing the provider. This will conflict with Curley’s near-Libertarian cost-cutting, no-new-taxes philosophy. This will be a thorny issue for the Council, and for Curley, in 2010.

The Town Center remains on the agenda in 2010. This is one of those things that never seems to end.

Landowners in the Southeast Quadrant want to triple the commercial space approved by the City Council. This article in The Sammamish Review captures the essence of the request. Mayor Don Gerend is clear that he wants to dismantle six years worth of work by Staff, consultants and Council-appointed citizen committees who have labored over the Town Center plan. This is going to be as controversial this year as it has been for the past five years.

Bus Service/Regional Split will be an important issue for Sammamish. King County wants to cut Metro bus service to city’s like ours and redirect it to Seattle. One area where Mayor Gerend has shined has been his advocacy and success in getting more bus service for Sammamish. He and his fellow council members as well as Staff will have their work cut out for them to preserve the current level of bus service, let alone get more. Citizens need to weigh in on this one in particular with County Executive Dow Constantine.

East Lake Sammamish Parkway (ELSP) is another issue that won’t die. Phase 1B is on the agenda; the City obtained $3.5 million in federal money to help pay for this construction project. Many citizens don’t think it is needed. The Council is split.

Issaquah-Pine Lake Road expansion is another issue. Widening is needed to maintain “concurrency.” Watch for this issue.

SE 20th between 228th and 212th will go into make-over this year. It’s been a traffic problem during most of 2009 as a new sewer line was installed. Repaving and installation of a bike lane and sidewalk is slated this year. The problem is that the design may add to pollution on Pine Lake. This issue has yet to get traction.

This is enough to get things started.

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One Response to The big issues in 2010

  1. Elucidate says:

    The Budget: In general, I support what Sammamish has done, but various aspects lend to question…

    Transportation projects- have been less than optimal. First Example: 228th Ave NE/SE. The project duration was far beyond planned, and as expected, every sub-structure (e.g. man-hole) had settling problems. Paving with asphalt will always have that problem if due diligence is not spent on substrate, compaction, drainage. Yes, Sammamish is forever doomed to patch-work every year now as a result. When I grew up (not in this area), my parents had an option, asphalt or concrete…they chose concrete. To this day (30 years later) there has not been the need for a single patch job. I would suggest, with the federal stimulus dollars, please think long term (in the future). Maybe because the majority of people drive 4WD vehicles, they do not notice the “tank traps” but they are there for the non-4WD vehicle.

    Kudos on Transportation Theory/Design for intersection lightsl, BUT new intersection at the bottom of Inglewood Hill Rd. The light sequence when tripped, way too long to pass through the one or three cars turning south onto the parkway. Faster cycle please. The light cycle could be reduced to less than 20 seconds. Keep the primary green: Inglewood Hill – Redmond traverse. Trip the light for the other options.

    The Parkway: What are people thinking? That amount of money to be spent on a turn lane that most people will never feel comfortable using (i.e. people, please wait completely in the turn lane, do not do this half “arse” center turn, and not! Learn how to drive in your community.

    Morning Commute at 228th & NE 8th (and NE 4th) intersections: what a joke. There are countless violations every single morning. I sympathize with Sammamish police about not writing violation tickets with red light runners, but when is enough enuff? Traffic jams occur every morning because of why…when traffic cannot move. The fact that drivers in the morning commute are DRIVING to a WALKING high school do not respect the INTERSECTION, police should ticket. Between 7:am and 7:30, people driving the few blocks to school causes jams. Worst of all (and I’m not sure if it’s illegal or legal), driver will stop in the far right lane to force the merge to the left lane. All traffic north and south is stopped until someone lets the person cutting into line.

    Is it legal to stop in a street to merge into another lane because that person chose to try and cut but no movement exists to allow the merge? Seems like if it’s not, should be monitored. Those actions completely stymie traffic flow. Police should traverse along 228th between NE 8th and SE 8th all morning long- use the siren to move people along—NO TICKETS WRITTEN (for the first month?).

    The worst traffic project? New traffic circle bottom of SE 43rd. This is an Issaquah project. Absolutely poorly executed. It was suppose to finish September 2009. Then November 2009. At that point, I knew the November weather would prevent laying asphalt from completion. Why did Issaquah still profess it will be completed in November? Then December. Guess what Sammamish? They will not be able to lay asphalt until March at best.

    And what about that MERGE southbound on the Parkway INTO the circle traffic? That is an accident waiting to happen. I’ve never seen a MERGE into an accelerating turn! I won’t bother people with the details, but a traffic theory engineer could easily tell, bad design (Traffic theory 101 would cover this). No temporary yield signs- I’m sure they’re coming, but those should have been up before the lane was opened? Again a failure on Issaquah. The parkway, in general south of SE 43rd, is a failure. They have to patch that Parkway every single year. They would not have to do this if they did it right the first time- and it would be cheaper in the long run. Instead, sink holes form, pot holes, etc. Poor under drain/ substrate, ultimately hazardous to traffic when large puddles form and not safely navigational.

    Then the Parkway northbound from Inglewood Hill road, what is that about. Spend the millions of dollars only to add a planted median strip and a turn lane for a short distance (a turn lane that people will never properly use?). Not efficient in funds. Who directly benefits? Increased traffic flow? Not really. Improved environment for Parkway residents, absolutely. Does that improvement really benefit the City or just those residents along the waterfront?

    I would love someone to explain to whom/how the Parkway project(S) benefit the majority of Sammamish residents. ANY argument would be welcome!
    Parks- done nicely, well maintained. Parking? Minimal at best, poor, but I have no suggestion to improve, EXCEPT (see transportation suggestions below).

    I cannot comment on the SFD. Do we pay a lot? Maybe, don’t know, but Sammamish residents don’t fall into the trap, if “I” don’t need it don’t want it. You will at some point. Now does that support the win-fall of money they make for being ON-CALL. Who do you know that gets the same pay for on-call and hazard pay? Is it unreasonable, don’t know enough. Those are jobs that really can’t allow for failure, thus the high pay.

    Town Center- love the idea, but the city is not conducive to walking or bus riding to move from place to place. NEEDS huge improvement- could be a response in itself.

    Bus Service- absolutely messed up. The 216 should ONLY stop at the Park&Rides. Intermediary stops should be serviced by the 269. The 216 is an Express but effectively is a “milk run”. Every block (or other block) all park-n-rides, Eastgate, Mercer Island, etc. Does that sound like an express? City Council please work in King County Metro to get this changed.

    What does express service mean to the rest? If students need a ride to BCC, take the 218 or 214. The 216 stops at enough places. Remove the Eastgate stop. Remove the intermediary stops between park-n-rides. Ridership will grow exponential. Increase the 269 to every 15 minutes. Also, the available parking at the two centers is at capacity almost every day. It makes it difficult for a new business to expand when parking is not easily come by.

    Light rail: Last time I looked, there are no plans for Light-rail to reach Issaquah- ever. The plan, to increase bus service. Then transfer to the light rail at Eastgate’ish. All the while, Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Woodinville get huge benefits from the light rail. Then there is the no parking downtown for Seattle residents- where existing businesses want to pay for the monitoring of parking violators by allowing monthly parking in an existing parking lot. Seattle, wake up. BO taxes make your city solvent, yet you ding the businesses who pay the BO tax.

    John Curly- time will tell what he’s like OFF CAMERA.

    Finally, Red-Light cameras. There are soo many violators, two cameras (NE 8th and 228th, Pine Lake & 228th).

    City Planning- why not a Sammamish shuttle? Where are the restaurants? How many people go to Issaquah, Redmond, Bellevue, or Seattle for a nice meal? Grandridge/Klahanie are ok, but…What is driving entrepreneurs away? DC didn’t survive, but one would think if anything, Sammamish could offer the best. Half way between Redmond and Issaquah.

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