Valderrama answers issues questionnaire

General Information

Name: Ramiro Valderrama

1. City Council Position Sought:  Sammamish City Council Position 4

2. Neighborhood you live in: Sammamish Glen

3. General area you live in: (e.g., SE 20th St. and 212th Ave. SE.)

4. Current or Previous positions in city government (and dates). None

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

Spokesman for Citizens for Sammamish ,  US Services Academy Selection Board for 8th Congressional District

Your Campaign

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

I love Sammamish and want to bring my talents and experience to making it a better place. I also want a City Council that:

  • Is more considerate and responsive to the concerns and needs of the entire community;
  • Leverages the extraordinary knowledge, diversity and talents of our citizens
  • Prioritizes spending and uses our tax dollars wisely, sparingly, and effectively.

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

  • Fiscal Responsibility: being more productive in servicing citizens with fewer resources.
  • Environment: Preserve our beautiful parks and lakes through low impact development and fostering sustainable practices.
  • Managing Growth and Emphasizing Thoughtful and Viable City Development
  • Enhanced Citizen Participation: increased dialogue and collaboration with citizen and business groups in such areas as local mobility, critical area ordinance impact, community services, finance, and transportation.

8. Please outline in 100 words or less how you intend to pursue and accomplish each of your priorities.

Insist the city detail all current and future expenses by category and rank in priority order in the annual budget reviews; increase efforts to seek out offsetting grants for funding.

Continue to develop low impact programs and supporting code

Promote activities that encourage and enhance citizen use of sustainable practices.

Work with low impact development leaders and explore how the code can be more flexible to encourage their building in the city.

Reach out to citizen groups inc. CFS, Kiwanis, Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, etc. for input

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.)

Kathy Huckabay; Bob Brady, Charles Goodrich, Megan Gee, others are announcing on my web page http://valderrama4council.com/

10. How has the Municipal League rated your candidacy?

NA

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

$7,500

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

2012 – 2014: Financial stewardship; infrastructure maintenance; Community Center feasibility; Address barricades to include issues of safety and openness, characteristics of neighborhood and need for more mobility.

2015 – 2016: continue Financial Stewardship; Maintain focus on the financial cross over point in light of increasing inflation pressures and low revenue income; town center feasibility/jump start

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

Control consultant expenses and parks expenditures while exploring ways capacity of existing facilities.

City should reconsider what is really needed and alternate ways of providing the service via the private sector and partnering. The city should ensure citizens vote on any final proposal.

Focus on early road maintenance.  Implement a framework on barricades that is open and transparent to analyze each barricade.

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?

This is a result of an Economic down turn and lack of financing, and need for more flexibility in the design codes and construction requirements.

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

Work with property owners, developer and investor to aggregate property.  Determine any need for code flexibility is needed.  Consider if a local improvement district could assist to address infrastructure issues.

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.)

Will the Town Center be able to offer affordable housing?

Will retail be affordable even when in good times?

I am concerned that the Town Center could really be cash drain for city finances.

Will Town Center development move us beyond concurrency requirements and thereby limit development anywhere else in town?

Potential impacts on traffic, environment and the existing businesses in Pine Lakes and Safeway centers.

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

Seriously look at the impact of the affordable housing requirement on the overall viability of TC development projects.

Need to carefully evaluate to ensure that city investments do not exceed the revenue that the city will obtain.

There is a danger that we will need to “relax” the concurrency requirements.

Town center needs to be limited to small-scale retail in order to minimize impact on existing shopping centers.

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?

Current number of residential units appears appropriate however; the commercial space may not be viable from a demand perspective. Care must be taken to encourage the types of business that provide additional services.

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 as is.

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

City should reconsider what is really needed and alternate ways of providing the service through the private sector and partnering. The city should ensure citizens vote on any final proposal.

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

Yes good location but given current regulations there are challenges in building.  There other locations that may also work and we should also consider distributing the services between facilities.

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. 

I think Private sector initiative or a partnership with the YMCA is best. The city has a history of partnering with external entities that have more experience in providing the desired services e.g. Boys and Girls club.  I do not think the city should be in the pool business and the cost would impose an undue burden on the finance of the city with the M&O expenses.

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 spoke in favor of a very limited park being opened on the lake –doing the minimum to clear space on the grounds, mark water area and place some limited dock.  I am against the grandmaster plan.

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

See #22

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

Yes, but we are continuously looking at ways to increase existing field utilization.

Need to consider all city-funding needs before spending more on parks.

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.

ELSP project should be killed- it never was meant to improve traffic time and sidewalks were never justified or used. There are other places in the city where the funds would have much greater effect such as road maintenance and shoring up roads on the west side. Attention should be placed on the arterials to the Plateau.

26. In your view, what are the priority road improvements for the City? (Name the roads and what you believe is required for them.)  

Snake Hill Rd needs improvement. Widening Sahalee.  Selected left turn lanes on 228th-need to be lengthened, Issaquah Pine Lake Road needs improvement as it is backing up, expand search for grant funding for Sahalee in case of slide

26. 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?

We need more sidewalks by schools and to and from shopping centers and in around City Hall and the library. Issaquah Pine Lakes Road, and Beaver Lake Park facility also need sidewalks.

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

Given the cost and better pervious nature of trails I would like to see a preference in favor of trails and walking paths over use of sidewalks as long as there is sufficient separation from the road way. Sidewalks are currently running a $1M per mile.

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.

Where it increases mobility and is safe- there needs to be open and transparent with the public and surrounding community of the barricade to avoid the design and safety problems that arose on 32nd ST. This should be a two phase process with a separate mitigation phase discussion following the decision process to open a barricade.

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

While initially appealing due to the location –on ground analysis shows 42nd st from walking there it will be very expensive for the city in cost and mitigation to make the street safe due to steepness, incorrect banking of the road and line of sight issues.

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

This issue requires further study before I can comment here.

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

The needs of connectivity and safety have to be taken into account along with overall public gain and cost benefit analysis.

 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. 

While the intent of CAO and its role in protecting the environment is well founded its often inflexible application and mandatory buffer sizes regardless of the true area impacted  (big or small) can.  I feel more flexibility is needed.

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

The Sammamish SMP as developed with the citizens and proposed/accepted by the state is an acceptable compromise.

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?

I believe that these in general are acceptable and good for the environment but should be looked at individually as to the effect and cost on the projects.

I would work with low impact development leaders and explore how the code can be more flexible to encourage their building in the city.

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?

Tighten expenditures; look at other forms of revenue fees to supplement property tax.  It is likely that Sammamish will remain heavily dependent for many years but we should continue to look for and evaluate new ways to increase revenue. Special care must taken in looking at sales tax to ensure that the cost to providing the associated services does not exceed the revenue.

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? 

Insist the city detail all current and future expenses by category and rank in priority order in the annual budget reviews.  Increase city efforts to seek out offsetting grants for funding.

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?

No

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

No. Not if the city delays projects and partners with private sector and infrastructure is paid for by developers. If there is a gap any bond must be agreed to by the public

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

While we prefer it to be a pay as you go. It is a tool that the city could utilize in conjunction with land owners, developer and business if needed.

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