“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

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.

GMA

Kim noted that one GMA objective is to direct growth into designated areas over a 20-year horizon. This trickles down through the counties (King in Sammamish’s case) and then to the cities. (Sammamish is inside the urban growth boundary, and thus has legal requirements for growth and job targets.)

The targets are arrived at through negotiations between the cities and the counties.

Kim noted that Sammamish’s Comp Plan 2006-2031 had a housing target of 4,180 units within the City and another 350 in its potential annexation areas (PAAs.)

Between 2006 and year-to-date in 2016, Sammamish recorded 1,893 permits for new housing. The Town Center adds 2,000 more units. When all the math is done, Kim told the City Council that there are only 287 more units to be permitted to hit the 2031 target, 11 years from now.

Updating the numbers

Since then, Sammamish updated its Comp Plan and increased the housing target to 2035 to 4,439 units. This means there are only 546 permits needed to hit the new target, 19 years in the future.

From 2011, after the Great Recession began to ease, through YTD 2016 Sammamish issued an average of 211 permits a year. Kim said this means Sammamish is only 2 ½ years away from the 2035 housing target.

She called on the Council to pause issuing permits and to come up with a means for pacing future development.

Kim’s presentation is here: Sammamish moratorium-kim 092016

No moratorium, but a topic for the retreat

Kim did not succeed in persuading the Council to adopt a moratorium, but the Council announced that her points and others raised in a recent Town Hall meeting on growth will be topics for the annual Council retreat in January. The time and location is to be announced.

Mayor’s response

On the Save Sammamish Facebook page, Mayor Don Gerend Wednesday responded to some comments at the Council meeting and on the Facebook page.

Gerend’s comments in full:

Gerend 2

Don Gerend

I agree that there are changes to the code that could be made. We have already talked about possibly increasing the setbacks along arterials and between new subdivisions and existing lower density neighborhoods. Reducing the percentage of lot coverage by buildings is another possible action, so that you either have to increase the size of the lot or decrease the size of the house.

Regarding the traffic concurrency rules, I believe that the entire City is part of the concurrency modeling for a new project. We have a quite sophisticated model of the City used in the model program (over 100 zones) and it is calibrated by the frequent data gathering using the counter tubes.

We also heard last night from a lot of small property owners who basically have their retirement fund in the equity of their home. I will not be party to wiping out this equity by pulling the rug out from under any chance of a reasonable sale of their property. We have already effectively downzoned much of the City since we incorporated (except the Town Center) by going from Gross Density to Net Density, dramatically increased the buffers of critical areas, strengthened the tree ordinance, and methods such as increased setbacks and impervious surface restrictions.

Vaults are a great improvement over the metal fenced ponds, at additional cost. The major developer in the Town Center (well, they haven’t developed anything yet, but they now control some 80 acres of the TC) is doing research and plans to test drill to see if they can recharge the aquifer at various sites in the TC with treated storm water, thus making the post development surface water runoff approach zero (i.e. 100% of historical forested conditions). The code now is at 60% in the TC.

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

  1. Brian Derdowski says:

    Mayor Gerend’s comments should be fact checked. For example, vaults for managing storm water are inferior to ponds from a water quality standpoint. The complex natural processes that break down water pollution depend on sunlight, which doesn’t happen in vaults. Also, well designed storm water ponds can become public amenities and provide significant wildlife habitat.

    Jennifer Kim’s point about the need to more effectively pace development is important. Development that happens too fast in the wrong places hurts the market for development in the right places. Growth should be slowed and restricted in those places that are environmentally important or that cannot be served by urban services economically.

    The rate of growth in a community is a policy choice, not a decision by land developers that the public has to accept as a fait accompli. There is no truly free market in land development, and never really has been. Public subsidies, environmental variances, design concessions and political connections are the coinage of the realm. We the public must not be suckered into accepting the myth that the Growth Management Act or any other law mandates a certain amount of growth, because they don’t.

  2. Les Kowlessar says:

    Your comments are on target. The city officials have been catering to the developers using the State devopment plan as cover, and completely ignore the welfare and wishes pf the majority of our residents.

    Let us get together and fight this situation. Please count me in. I have lived here for nearly 30 years and I am tired of the our reps catering to the developers.

  3. Layna Crofts says:

    I have only just found out Scott Hamilton, the man who is the, wizard behind the “Sammamish Comment” does not even live in Sammamish. He lives on Bainbridge Island!
    He runs this blog like he is the almighty Sammamish knowing, and we should all listen and obey to his every word because he once lived here and he once knew everything and he once… whatever. He LEFT US! He could have stayed to help our city, instead he uses his retirement time to bitch and cause waves about Sammamish from an island.
    He publicly defaces Ramiro, and is against him running for office. -We don’t care what you think. GO AWAY.

    Anyway, please don’t give Scott Hamilton any more credence. He is in Bainbridge, retired, playing on his computer while we are in Sammamish trying to fix problems
    -I am sick of these fake people. (Yes, I will be putting this on every one of his blog articles.)

    • cityhamilton says:

      Layna, the articles are not “anonymous;” The “About” tab is clear who I am.

      As a “private investigator,” you’re not very good if you “just” found out. I posted an entire article about this Aug. 6: https://sammamishcomment.wordpress.com/2016/08/06/so-long-sammamish-sort-of/ I also announced that The Comment will discontinue 12/31/17.

      I spent 20 years in Sammamish fighting the fight. It appears you’ve only lived in your current house since March 2015. I’d say I’m better informed about the issues than you are.

      Hamilton

  4. Heinz Maine says:

    The Sammamish City council does not respect the input from their residents. They want Carte Blanche for their action.

  5. Pingback: “Save Sammamish” formalizes, talks growth, trees, roads and budgets at first meeting | Sammamish Comment

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