Richardson answers issues questionnaire

General Information

Name:  Kathy Richardson

1. City Council Position Sought:  Position #2

2. Neighborhood you live in: If you don’t resident in a recognized neighborhood, please skip to next question.

3. General area you live in: North Lake Sammamish

4. Current or Previous positions in city government (and dates).

Planning Commission Position #5, 2010 – present; Vice Chair 2011.

Planning Commission representative on the Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Steering Committee, October 2010 – present.

5. Current or Previous positions in community organizations (and dates):

Founding member of Sammamish Homeowners (SHO), 2009 – present.

Your Campaign

6. Why are you running for election (or re-election)?

I want to bring a new energy and fresh perspective to the council.  I have been active in local government since 2004 and want to continue my service to the community as a member of our city council.  My experience as a leader in the business community has taught me the value of listening – no one person knows all the answers; and the value of effective decision making; both key values for our representatives in government.

7. Please name succinctly three or four priorities of your campaign.

Key issues of importance to me are effective decision making and the public input process. 8. Please outline in 100 words or less how you intend to pursue and accomplish each of your priorities. (Use Word’s “Tools” to count your words.)

My business experience has taught me many lessons about decision making, and one of my favorite quotes is from M. Scott Peck, “The best decision-makers are those who are willing to suffer the most over their decisions but still retain their ability to be decisive.”  We need to make re-work and indecision patterns of the past and bring effective decision making to our city.

We also need to find a better way to engage and interact with our constituents.  The current public comment process does not promote dialogue or understanding.  We need better and varied ways to engage our community.

9. What community groups, key citizens or business interests support or have endorsed your campaign? (Include newspaper endorsements, if any at this time, and other endorsements.)

I am endorsed by the following:

  • John James, Sammamish City Council
  • Jay Rodne, State Representative, 5th District
  • Jack Barry, former Sammamish City Council Member

10. How has the Municipal League rated your candidacy?

The Municipal League did not rate candidates for Sammamish City Council in 2011.

11. At this juncture, how much money have your raised?

Please see PDC information for current fundraising information.

Issues: keep your answers to 100 words or less.

12. What do you consider to be the major issues facing Sammamish during 2012-2014? And from 2015-2016?

  1. Fiscal Effectiveness:  Our city is fiscally conservative, but not fiscally effective.
  2. Growth:  The Town Center Plan was established to focus growth in the center of the city but there is much speculation about whether it will achieve this goal.
  3. The crossover point where operating expenses are projected to exceed operating revenues.

13. What are your solutions, at this stage, for these issues?

Fiscal Effectiveness: 

We need to learn from the lessons of our past; eliminate the costs of re-work (master plan followed by expensive master plan) and indecision (what to do with the Reard-Freed house).

We need to focus our limited financial resources on our top priorities.  We need to do a few things well rather than many things with mediocrity.  We need to focus our efforts and energy on the things that make Sammamish a great place to live.

Growth:

It is too early to tell whether the Town Center Plan can be achieved.  The Economic Development Committee must work with developers to understand how the Plan can be implemented in a way that works for both the City and the development community.  Council must be committed to refining the Plan over time based on results – what development has occurred?  Did it reflect where and what the City envisioned?  If not, refine and adjust.

Crossover Point:

Keeping a watchful eye on operating expenses, and ruthlessly prioritizing all city expenditures are the first and most critical steps to eliminating the crossover point.  Previous council decisions and recent economic conditions have delayed the crossover point, but eliminating it from the foreseeable future, rather than postponing it, should be our collective goal.

Town Center

14. The City developed a Town Center plan that at this point has not proceeded to development. Why do you think this is?

It is too early to tell, especially in today’s economic climate, whether the Town Center Plan will work as intended.

15. How would you revise (if you would) or “kick-start” the Town Center to proceed with development?

The Economic Development Committee was established to specifically address this goal.  If elected, I would like to serve on the committee to work with citizens and developers to identify specific impediments to development within the Town Center and find creative way to eliminate or work around these impediments.

16. What are your major concerns about the Town Center? (e.g., feasible or not feasible plan; infrastructure requirements; affordable housing requirements; environmental requirements; etc.)

A major concern about the Town Center is it will be less attractive to developers than parcels elsewhere in the city; that growth will happen through sprawl rather than through focused density

17. How would you “fix” those issues addressed in #16?

Monitor and adjust.  Through the Economic Development Committee and through permit applications the city should monitor where, when, and how growth occurs and adjust both the Town Center Plan and other development regulations to guide and manage growth within our city limits.

18. Is the size of the Town Center (600,000sf of commercial/retail and 2,000-2,500 residential units) about right, too small or too large? If too small or too large, what size do you believe is correct?

Please see response to question 17.

Community Center

The 2012 City Council will have to decide whether to send the current concept to the voters for a $64 million bond issue.

19. Do you favor the current concept? Explain why or why not.

The current concept is a beautiful design with many features and amenities.  There is clear demand (need) for many of these amenities, but both the capital cost and projected operating loss are too high.

20. Is the proposed location in the Sammamish Commons the best location? If not, where do you think it should be and why?

A Community Center acts as a gathering place within the city; the city’s living room.  All else being equal, the Sammamish Commons is an ideal location for the Community Center.

21. Is the City’s current approach to have this be entirely a city-owned facility the best approach or should a public-private partnership be pursued (e.g., with the YMCA)? Explain your position.

A public-private partnership reduces the financial and operating risk to the city and enables the city to benefit from experts in the industry and should be pursued.

Parks

22. The Parks Commission and City Staff propose development of the Lake Sammamish property owned by the City into a park (it is “raw land” now). Do you favor this plan? Please explain your position.

I support the Parks Commission’s original recommendation for modest development of this site; not the lavish master plan that the Council required and has approved for this site.

23. If you do not favor the current lakefront plan, what do you propose instead?

This site represents one of the longest reaches of natural shoreline on the East side of Lake Sammamish.  It should be developed in such a way to enhance and retain the natural characteristics of the site and make them accessible to the public.

24. Are there adequate sports fields now or under development or does the City need more? If more are needed, how would you fund this need?

Sports leagues continue to place a high demand on our city’s athletic fields.  There is speculation that leagues are turning away interested youth and adults due to the lack of practice and game fields.  Lighted and artificial turf fields enable the city to expand the available hours for play without purchasing additional property.  However, the impacts of lighting and expanded hours on adjacent neighborhoods must be taken into account when considering making these changes.  Funding for additional athletic fields is included in the Parks and Recreation Capital Improvement Plan.

Roads, Sidewalks/paths and Connectivity

25. Sammamish has deferred for many years further revisions to East Lake Sammamish Parkway. Is this a correct or incorrect decision in your view? Explain your position.

Traffic flow along East Lake Sammamish Parkway in the area targeted for revision is governed by flow through the intersection of this road with Highway 202.  The City should continue to work with Redmond to manage flow through this intersection but additional investment in the parkway is money ill spent without additional capacity through this key intersection.

26. In your view, what are the priority road improvements for the City? (Name the roads and what you believe is required for them.) Sammamish continues to have a lack of sidewalks and/or walking paths, a left-over from unincorporated King County. Where do you see the greatest need for sidewalks or walking paths?

The city needs to invest not only in sidewalks and/or walking paths but also safe lanes for all types of non-motorized transportation. Beaver Lake Drive is regularly used by both bicycles and pedestrians and lacks shoulders and/or sidewalks along much of its length.

27. What do you believe is the balance between the requirements for sidewalks or walking paths and road improvements?

Safety and maintenance must remain our top priorities for our city.  We must maintain our existing infrastructure before considering expansion or improvement.  When investing in expansion or improvement, investments should include provisions for safe motorized and non-motorized transportation in addition to provisions for traffic flow.

28. There are road barricades throughout the City that inhibit connectivity, forcing traffic to a few through-roads. On the other hand, these barricades have historical precedence dating to unincorporated times and provide for neighborhoods protected from through traffic. Please explain your philosophy of this controversial issue.

Each barricade must be evaluated individually; taking the viewpoints of the citizens that are directly affected by a specific barricade into account and ensuring safety issues are addressed when deciding to remove a barricade.

29. What neighborhood barricades are, in your view, the ones that should not be removed?

Please see response to question 28.

30. What neighborhood barricades are, in your view, the ones that might be at the top of the list for removal?

Please see response to question 28.

31. How would you balance the desires for connectivity against the neighborhood safety concerns?

Each connectivity situation is unique and merits specific evaluation and consideration.  This question presumes that safety must be traded-off for connectivity.  Ideally, a solution can be found that doesn’t compromise either; this should be our goal.

Environment

Sammamish has some of the most environmentally sensitive areas in King County. These areas include Lake Sammamish, Beaver Lake, Pine Lake, Laughing Jacobs Lake and all their respective creeks and tributaries; steep slopes; erosion hazard areas; and wetlands.

To protect these environment concerns, the City has adopted a Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO), updated the Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) and adopted a voluntary Low Impact Development (LID) ordinance. Many of the regulations and standards to be met are required by State Law. The CAO and SMP are particularly restrictive and subject to State oversight.

32. Do you believe the CAO is an appropriate balance of State requirements and property rights? Explain your position.

Some of the current provisions of the CAO are inflexible and warrant reconsideration.  For example, properties located in the erosion hazards near sensitive water bodies special overlay district cannot be subdivided and there is no process for appeal.  At a minimum, a process for site-specific evaluation and appeal should be considered when next updating the CAO.  Other provisions are highly constraining and opportunities to provide additional flexibility for both the property owner and the city should be identified.

33. Do you feel the SMP is an appropriate balance of State requirements and property rights? Explain your position.

As a founding member of Sammamish Homeowners (SHO), a citizen group that worked tirelessly with city staff and council to achieve a balance between environmental protection and property rights, I am generally satisfied with the final version of this regulation.

34. The State eventually will require Sammamish to adopt mandatory LID regulations. The City already adopted mandatory LID for the Town Center. Do you believe these are appropriate or another example of over-regulation? What, if any, changes might you support?

The City should encourage rather than require desired development activities.  Encouragement can take many forms – education,  development incentives, cost reduction incentives (e.g. reduced permit fees), public awareness programs, and public recognition, to name a few.  Where requirements are imposed, they should incorporate a high degree of flexibility and focus on the specific goal of the regulation; rather than defining prescriptive requirements intended to achieve a specific goal, define a requirement that is based on measurable contribution to the goal.

Fiscal Concerns

Sammamish has nearly total reliance on property taxes and building permit fees to support its operations. There is a general consensus that this reliance must be diversified.

Because of the recession that began in late 2008, Sammamish has undertaken cost-cutting, restrained spending, deferred some road capital projects yet it is considering a $64 million community center and whether to financially contribute to “kick-start” the Town Center. Sammamish will also have to contribute its fair share to roadway improvements for the Town Center once development begins, but this will only be a portion of the funding required (with developers required to pick up their fair share).

To so-called “cross-over” point where expenses exceed revenues has moved “to the right” but based on current conditions will be reached within the four year term of those elected in November.

35. What are your views of intelligent diversification of revenue to reduce reliance on property taxes and building permits?

There is no “silver bullet” to cure the city’s crossover point.  Diversification of revenue must be pursued in a cautious, thoughtful manner as many revenue sources also require both one-time and ongoing expenses.  For example, retail development requires significant investment in infrastructure (capital investments and ongoing maintenance), which often does not provide sufficient return.

36. How do you balance the need for fiscal conservatism with the goals of funding a Town Center, a Community Center, roads/sidewalks/walking paths and parks?

The City must manage its budget like any other business – we need to “run it like we own it”.  Capital improvements and ongoing expenses must be ruthlessly prioritized and tightly controlled.  Re-work, make-work, and indecision all lead to unnecessary expenses and must become behaviors of our past.

37. Do you believe implementation of a utility tax will be required in the next four years either because of the cross-over point or to fund those goals outlined in #36?

The city should tightly manage its expenses and exploit other funding sources such as grants and low interest rate bonds rather than introducing another tax.

38. Do you believe bond issues will be required to fund those goals in #36?

Bond issues are a funding source that should be considered to fund these goals, as the current cost of money is quite low.  Bond issues may not be a practical alternative in the future, however.

39. Do you believe that special, taxing Local Improvement Districts will be necessary to fund the goals outlined in #36?

Other funding sources should be exhausted before pursuing Local Improvement Districts as an alternative.

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