Thanks to all who sent comments or made public comments at the ELST hearing in November. The hearing examiner felt he would be able to reach a decision by January 9th so hopefully we will be hearing soon. This writer believes regardless of the decision, someone will appeal it and this would mean waiting a good part of the year for the case to be reviewed by the State Shoreline Hearing Board. If you are interested, the audio tapes of the 4 days of the Nov. Hearing can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCPDV1ofWdWN5qFl__FJejqRMKEMd_BaN
Hopefully we will get enough information from the results of this hearing to provide public comment again for the next hearing on the parking lot at the bottom of Inglewood Hill which will be held January 24th -26th. https://www.sammamish.us/government/departments/community-development/current-projects/east-lake-sammamish-trail-inglewood-hill-parking-lot/
As with the previous hearing public testimony will be on January 24th at 1:00 PM. Given they also allowed the public to do a rebuttal on the last day of the previous hearing, they probably will do the same for this one.
Regarding the Nov. hearing one of the main issues was the width of the trail and the interpretation of AASHTO guidelines. The city permitting person said the city was only asking that the trail be narrowed in places, not the entire length. Per the city’s consultant, the trail could be narrowed in sections to as little as 8’-10’ rather than the 12’ pavement the county is proposing. You can read the two competing AASHTO interpretations here:
The other issue is related to mitigation sequencing. The city said the mitigation was good but mitigation sequencing requires one to first avoid the impact in the first place and the County did not show how it did that. The County responded there were times when impacts could not be avoided if they were to build a safe trail thus there were areas where they had to do mitigation instead.
There are other issues that could impact the timely completion of the trail. Lindsey Ozbolt, the planner with the city assigned to this project left for a job elsewhere. Also, the City of Sammamish has 4 new city council members and a new mayor and deputy mayor. Christy Malchow is the mayor (2 year position) and Tom Hornish, is deputy mayor (1 year position). Tom Hornish prior to becoming elected 2 years ago, was head of SHO, the Shoreline Homeowners Association which continues to be in court with King County related to property rights. More details to follow. Ramiro Valderrama, Malchow and Hornish were all endorsed by SHO when they were elected. SHO also endorsed two of the new council members, Karen Moran and Chris Ross. In the recent city newsletter they noted that “due to her passion for property rights, Moran felt this was a critical time to run for office.” Two out of the four candidates that Cascade Bicycle Club and the Friends endorsed were elected, Pam Stuart and Jason Ritchie.
Given the current makeup of the city council it will be more important than ever before for grassroots support for the trail completion.
Related to legal issues, this is an update we found from SHO’s web page:
“In other matters, there have been developments in the quiet title suit in federal court. The appeal of the ruling of judge Pechman to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to be heard sometime this spring. Plaintiffs in the case have uncovered new evidence that should reinforce the appeal. That new evidence shows that the plaintiffs have been paying taxes on the disputed property contrary to the County’s claim that the County has been “paying” the taxes. The matter of tax payment was one of the pivotal issues in the original case and we expect the new evidence to raise the probability of a successful appeal. The Court has accepted the new evidence.
In addition, the plaintiffs in the Federal suit have entered a motion to stay Pechman’s order until the appeal is decided, with the new evidence noted above as part the justification for the stay. They argue that there is a reasonable chance that they will prevail in their appeal and that permitting the County to proceed with construction would cause irreparable harm to the plaintiffs and other property owners who are not party to the suit. As you know, the County is using Pechman’s ruling to subject other property owners to their claims of ownership and use rights, even though the legal situation with other properties is entirely different from those of the plaintiffs; Pechman’s ruling only applies to the plaintiffs’ property.”
Hopefully the property rights issues and any appeals to the Shoreline Board will be settled at approximately the same time so trail construction can move forward.
In the good news department, the South Segment A in Sammamish will have a grand opening on Wednesday, January 17th from 2:30 to 4:00. Details to follow.