Shorelines Hearing Board Issued Decision on ELST: Remand SSD Permit Application Back to the City for Approval and Issue

We were just made aware today that on November 7, 2018, the state Shorelines Hearings Board made their decision regarding the Shoreline Substantial Development (SSD) permit for the final segment of the ELST (See previous post for background) The order consisted of 3 parts.

1. The Hearing Examiner’s decision, dated January 5, 2018, is reversed. (In that decision the Sammamish City Hearing Examiner denied the Shoreline Substantial Development Permit (SSDP) for segment 2B, the final segment of the trail, without prejudice because the 60% design plans on which the application was based were, in his opinion, incomplete. Denial without prejudice allowed the County to resubmit the application after incorporating the missing information. But instead they chose to appeal as they felt they had given sufficient information.)

2. The Board remanded the Shoreline Substantial Development Permit Application No. SSDP2016- 00415 to the City to approve and issue a shoreline substantial development permit in accordance with the Board’s decision.

3. All of the City’s proposed conditions that both the City and County agreed to will be included in the approved permit, but Conditions 3, 4, and 9 that were not jointly agreed to will be omitted. (Condition 3 required the County to identify all structures or improvements on non-County land that would be removed or relocated and provide written permission from the owner to remove or relocate.) (Condition 4 stated in certain areas the County was not allowed to develop the trail any closer to the water than the existing interim trail which probably would have required narrowing of the trail.) (Condition 9 required the County to Provide an updated Critical Areas Study that addressed how trail narrowing has been implemented where a critical area was impacted.)

Other important findings of the Board:
• The Project avoided the removal of significant trees whenever possible and the Project area will be revegetated.
• The County’s choice of trail width is justified and reasonable in this case. It is reasonable for the County to design the Project to accommodate an increase in demand. The Board also shares the safety concerns raised by the County. Finally, the County has fully mitigated for Project impacts and trail narrowing should not be necessary to comply with mitigation sequencing requirements.
• The County has already avoided or minimized impacts to critical areas and has proposed compensatory mitigation for unavoidable impacts. The wetland areas identified in proposed Condition 9 are not of sufficient extent or ecological value to support compromising public safety by narrowing the trail or to justify further County evaluation at this late stage of Project development.
• With regard to the transportation element of the Project, transportation setback requirements expressly exclude trails. (Related to Condition 4)

The decision can be viewed here.

It would appear given the recent federal property rights lawsuit that was settled in the County’s favor as well as this decision by the Shorelines Hearings Board, permitting of the last segment should be in order. But we have not heard from the City or County yet about next steps. We will keep you posted when we know more. In the meantime, enjoy another victory toward the completion of the East Lake Sammamish Trail!

Homeowners Lose Appeal

United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on Aug. 3, 2018 released its decisions in the Hornish (homeowner’s) case against King County. The decisions on the whole are all in favor of the trail: they side with King County regarding title, the nature of railbanking, and the width of the rail and trail easement. This is a big win for King County and the trail! Per the Court:

The panel affirmed the district court’s summary judgment in favor of King County, Washington, quieting
title to a rail corridor that the Surface Transportation Board had “railbanked” pursuant to the Trails Act.

The panel held that the plaintiffs, landowners whose properties abutted the rail corridor’s boundaries, lacked both
Article III and statutory standing to bring their claim for a declaratory judgment pursuant to Wash. Rev. Code
§ 7.24.020 because they lacked any property interests in the corridor. The panel concluded that the County owned one
portion of the corridor in fee. In addition, the Trails Act preserved the railroad easement and created a new easement
for trail use, and both easements were conveyed to King County. The panel concluded that Washington’s “centerline
presumption” did not apply.

The panel held that the district court properly granted summary judgment to and quieted title in King County
because the county possessed the railroad easement and the recreational easement. The panel concluded that the
easement was 100 feet wide, with certain exceptions. The panel denied plaintiffs’ motion to supplement the record
with new evidence regarding the width of the corridor.

The document can be read here.

Our lawyer friends tell us it would be very difficult to appeal this any further. Let’s hope! At the same time, they also used this ruling to support King County with a similar legal issue with homeowners next to the Eastside Rail Corridor. The document can be read here.

We are now waiting to hear the results of the Shoreline Hearing Board for the last segment.

Shorelines Hearings Board Update

As you may recall, on January 5, 2018 the Hearing Examiner for the City of Sammamish issued a decision denying the Shoreline Substantial Development Permit (SSDP) for segment 2B, the final segment of the trail, without prejudice because the 60% design plans on which the application was based were, in his opinion, incomplete. Denial without prejudice allowed the County to resubmit the application after incorporating the missing information.

The County decided to appeal the Hearing Examiner’s decision to the Shoreline Hearings Board (SHB) rather than provide the additional information because they felt they had provided adequate information.

Per SHO (Sammamish Home Owners) web page, three homeowners who live in Mint Grove agreed to be the appellants on the appeal on behalf of SHO. The appeal asserts that there are insufficient conditions protecting the environment within the Hearing Examiner’s decision. The following are the specific conditions requested in the appeal:

• Disallow any improvements that serve purposes other than providing a hiking and biking trail.
• Condition any future approval of the Permit on a trail width, in areas where the stream and wetland buffers are not implicated, based on AASHTO guidelines of 16 feet, including 2 feet of graded shoulder on each side.
• Condition any future approval of the Permit on a trail width, in areas where the stream and wetland buffers are implicated, based on AASHTO guidelines of 14 feet, including 2 feet of graded shoulder on each side.
• Condition any future approval of the Permit on the use of the existing interim Trail centerline, which follows the rail bed, minimizing the negative impact to the environment.

Their goal was to show where and how the relocation of the centerline of the proposed trail will damage the environment. This includes damage done by clearing within the CG lines shown on the drawings.

Besides this group, there appeared to be one other group of homeowners who withdrew their appeal and one individual homeowner who also appealed. The Shorelines Hearings Board consolidated them into one appeal.

Shorelines Hearings Board heard the case for the last segment of the trail June 25-27th. The first day was held in Sammamish so that the Board could do a site visit before they started. They did not finish and a 4th day was scheduled for July 25th. Apparently the July 25 hearing is being held so that the lake front appellants can cross examine the original Trail experts that testified on future trail user volume and trail width standards.

In 2016 when the south Sammamish section went in front of the Shorelines Hearing Board, the hearing was also late in June and a decision was reached in mid-September thus, it is likely that a decision on this segment may also be in that timeframe or a month later since the final hearing date will be late July this time.

City Loses Surface Transportation Board Petition

On March 28th, the Federal Surface Transportation Board denied the City of Sammamish’s petition to issue a declaratory order that the construction and use of a railbanked corridor for interim trail use by King County, Wash. (County), “is not exempt from the City’s local land use and development regulations,” and that neither 49 U.S.C. § 10501(b), nor the National Trails System Act (Trails Act), 16 U.S.C. § 1247(d), authorizes the County to override these local public health and safety regulations in order to operate the trail. (Pet. 1.)

However, while the District Court included some discussion of the County’s preemption arguments and preemption law, it ultimately granted the preliminary injunction on grounds that the City lacked a sufficient property interest under state law to impose any regulation on the Intersections, and expressly declined to reach the federal preemption issue.

Given that the dispute between the parties rests on a matter of state property law and may ultimately be resolved by the courts on state law grounds, the request for a declaratory order was denied. The detailed document can be found here

ELST Permitting & Stop Sign Updates

Lots of permitting and stop sign issues to catchup with.

First of all, King County has decided to appeal the denial of the Shoreline Substantial Development Permit (SSDP) for the last 3.5 miles of the East Lake Sammamish Trail to the Shoreline Hearings Board.

And apparently the homeowners’ group, Sammamish Homeowners (SHO) will be appealing as well.
Per their organization’s web page, their appeal asserts that there are insufficient conditions protecting the environment within the Hearing Examiner’s decision. The following are the specific conditions requested in their appeal:
• Disallow any improvements that serve purposes other than providing a hiking and biking trail.
• Condition any future approval of the Permit on a trail width, in areas where the stream and wetland buffers are not implicated, based on AASHTO guidelines of 16 feet, including 2 feet of graded shoulder on each side.
• Condition any future approval of the Permit on a trail width, in areas where the stream and wetland buffers are implicated, based on AASHTO guidelines of 14 feet, including 2 feet of graded shoulder on each side.
• Condition any future approval of the Permit on the use of the existing interim Trail centerline, which follows the rail bed, minimizing the negative impact to the environment.

This ignores the fact that the trail is being moved because it is near wetlands.

Three homeowners who live in Mint Grove will be the appellants as in the past the County has claimed that SHO did not have standing because it owns no property along the trail.

SHO will is looking for exhibits to provide to the SHB showing where and how the relocation of the centerline of the proposed trail will damage the environment.

The initial conference call for this appeal is March 9th and King County believes the hearing will likely go before the board between late spring to early summer.

In the meantime, the hearing related to the Shoreline Substantial Development Permit (SSDP) for the Inglewood Hill Parking Lot was held 1/24/18 and was finished in one day.

The audio of the hearing is on the city web page in two parts. The first half is here and the second half is here.

The hearing examiner released his decision on February 5, 2018.

The decision can be found here.

The Hearing Examiner approved the parking lot minus the restroom, picnic shelter and kiosk as he felt there wasn’t sufficient detail. The County will have to apply again for the kiosk, picnic shelter, and restroom to be built at that site. It’s not clear yet if they will provide the detail and reapply or if they will appeal this to the Shoreline Hearing Board as they have for the 3.5 mile trail segment. The City actually felt they had sufficient detail since facilities like this are usually prefabricated and fairly standard. However, at the hearing, the Hearing Examiner quoted another decision that noted for this type of permit there needs to be elevation to scale and dimensions of the structures present and to be built.

At the hearing, King County did not challenge conditions 1,4,7, & 8 that the city stipulated. Below are the Hearing Examiner’s decision on the city’s required conditions that King County challenged:

Regarding Condition #2 requiring an updated survey conducted no later than one year prior to submittal or resubmittal of any construction permit showing all dimensions and locations of all existing and proposed structures and improvements. The Hearing Examiner noted that updated survey does not mean a complete comprehensive survey as King County stated but updating it would be acceptable.

Regarding Condition #3 Identifying all the structures not owned by the county, the Hearing Examiner once again felt this was related to the property rights dispute and not part of this permit.

Regarding Condition #5 An updated arborist report and tree survey required at the submittal of the construction permit, it was changed to “if more than 2 years elapse between July 7, 2017 (date of the current report), an updated arborist report and tree inventory will be required.”

Regarding Condition #6 stating the trail shall be narrowed as necessary to fully comply with tree protection in accordance with tree protection barrier and grading/grubbing limit restrictions in 21A.37.270(5), the city proposed eliminating the trail width part. The Hearing Examiner noted that alternative measures under SMC 21A.37.270(7) would preserve more trees and would be most appropriate agreeing with King County.

Regarding Condition #9 stating the permit was good for 5 years, both the City and Hearing Examiner agreed with the County’s request to extend to 7 years.

Finally, you may remember the City of Sammamish appealed a decision on the direction of the stop signs at two locations on the South Sammamish segment near Alexanders and across from the 7-11. On Aug. 8th, the federal court decision agreed with King County. The City felt “it may place ominous limits on the city’s ability to protect public safety, preserve the environment, and properly manage its roads” and the City filed an appeal with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

While the appeal is pending in the Ninth Circuit, the City has also asked the United States District Court in Seattle to reconsider the preliminary injunction it ordered, which forbids the city from regulating two public street intersections where they cross the trail, or taking any other regulatory actions that would impede or delay King County’s construction of the trail. Apparently this reconsideration was denied as the County has changed the direction of the stop signs so that the cars have to stop for trail users. In December, the city decided to hire a Washington DC attorney and approach the Surface Transportation Board regarding this issue as well.

The City of Sammamish has requested to be able to have veto-authority over King County in decisions on the trail right of way. That would require a change to one of the fundamental tenets of federal railbanking rules that have enabled King County’s extensive network of trails on railbanked corridors, and could have impacts on trails nationally.

City’s petition to STB.

Follow-up petition as the County was one business day late with their response.

Reply to City’s petition by King County.

The petition has attracted the opposition of the national Rails to Trails Conservancy (RTC). Friends of the East Lake Sammamish Trail , Friends of the Burke Gilman Trail, and the Cascade Bicycle Club are supporting the RTC’s efforts to fight this petition.

Reply to the City’s petition by RTC.

Stay tuned….

Section 2B Permit Denied Without Prejudice

The decision was received on January 5, 2017 and although this sounds rather negative, the Hearing Examiner actually agreed with the County on many issues.  We’ve tried to pick out the major points in the 52 page document which you can find on the City’s web page here:

He start off by saying, “Based upon the record and the four days of hearing, the Examiner is reasonably convinced that any Decision he issues in this case will be appealed to the SHB (Shoreline Hearing Board). There is so much antagonism and conflict among the various parties that not even a Solomon could craft a decision to satisfy everyone.

The “elephant in the room” must first be addressed: Is King County’s Segment B application complete? The Department states rather clearly that it is not. (Exhibit 1:B17, § IV.6; 131, p. 8 et seq.) But the Department then goes on in the same paragraph in Exhibit 1 to ignore its own finding and require King County to provide the missing information after issuance of the SSDP.

The Examiner concludes that the County’s application was incomplete because the site development plans (Exhibit 7) lack all information required for a complete application under WAC 173-27- 180(9)(f). 22 Specifically, they do not depict any utilities and may not depict all structures in the vicinity of the proposed construction. An incomplete application cannot be processed. An incomplete application creates no vested rights. An incomplete application cannot be cured by imposing a condition on the requested SSDP.

Three actions are possible: Remand, denial, or denial without prejudice. Remand would put the parties in an awkward position in that a remand is typically not considered a final action, and, thus, typically not considered ripe for appeal. The Examiner does not want to leave the parties in that position. Denial is a final, appealable action. But denial is not warranted where the problem is an incomplete application. Denial without prejudice is also a final, appealable action, but it is a denial which invites correction of a problem and resubmittal. The Examiner will use the denial without prejudice option.

The Hearing Examiner noted “The Decision could end here. But ending here would be unfair to the parties and (arguably) to the SHB as it would deprive them of the Examiner’s analysis of the voluminous record developed in this case. Therefore, the Examiner will provide a substantive analysis of the evidence in this record.”

 “The Department wants the County to reduce the width of the Master Plan Trail is unspecified areas by an unspecified amount. The Department argues that potential width reductions may be required to comply with mitigation sequencing provisions of the SMC: A reduced width might allow further avoidance of critical areas impacts. But it seems to this Examiner that such a request, presented in the open-ended fashion as here, is akin to arguing that the Port of Seattle could have further reduced impacts of its Third Runway project if only it had shortened or narrowed the runway. Or that the state could reduce wetland impacts of an interstate highway project if only it would reduce the width of the travel lanes.

Shifting the alignment of a proposal to avoid impacts is one thing. Even reducing the width of a proposal for a short segment to avoid a critically important feature could be reasonable. But changing a proposal simply to further reduce impacts on low-value wetlands that have already been avoided/reduced by alignment shifts and use of retaining walls does not seem justified. And that is what is being requested here. The Examiner is inclined to agree with the County that the primary reason the Department wants the Master Plan Trail width reduced is to reduce the impact of the trail on private improvements located within the ELST right-of-way. (Exhibit 131, p. 11 et seq., especially p. 13) That is not a sufficient or legally sound reason to try to change a fundamental aspect of the proposal.”

Although he had some sympathy for the homeowners situation,  he noted “Resolution of the ownership disputes is far beyond the scope of both this Examiner’s authority and the scope of concern of an SSDP application. Resolution of the ownership issues is a matter for the courts to decide.”

“The private improvements which property owners (and, implicitly, the Department) want the Examiner to protect by narrowing the width of the Master Plan Trail are all within the ELST right-ofway. King County has submitted voluminous evidence, which has been accepted by the City Attorney, to demonstrate that it owns the ELST right-of-way. Thus, for the purposes of this application, those private improvements all lie on King County property. The Examiner simply cannot deny or condition an otherwise compliant SSDP application to avoid impacts to things which lie within the ELST right-of-way and, thus, within the control of the applicant. Resolution of those many property rights conflicts must occur in another forum at another time.”

“Once application completeness and impact on private structures within the ELST Corridor are removed from consideration, evaluation of the ELST Master Plan Trail SSDP becomes fairly simple and straight-forward. The Conclusions of Law which follow demonstrate that the proposal as currently configured, properly conditioned, complies with all applicable requirements of the SMP.”

Hearing examiners comments regarding interpretation of AASHTO guidelines:

“The proposal complies with SMC 21A.30.210(3). Essentially, that subsection provides that trails “should be designed consistent with” the AASHTO Bike Guide and that clearing should be the minimum necessary. First, the requirement regarding the AASHTO Bike Guide is phrased as a “should,” not a “shall.” “Should” does not mandate, it suggests. Therefore, compliance with the Bike Guide is not mandatory. Second, even though the subsection refers to “AASHTO standards,” the Bike Guide contains guidelines, not rigid standards. Adopting guidelines does not convert “shoulds” to “shalls.” The City has adopted guidelines, not standards. The very language of the Bike Guide makes it clear that its contents are not rigid standards.

Having said that, the Master Plan Trail design is consistent with the AASHTO Bike Guide. The Guide recommends a 12-foot paved trail where volumes will exceed 300 users in the peak hour and where pedestrians comprise more than 30% of the users. Both situations apply here. The peak hour use factor is at or very near 300. Alexander is splitting hairs: It makes no sense to build a trail to a standard that will be outdated within a short time after completion. Further, the evidence indicates that user complaints are leading King County to widen existing 10-foot trails to 12-feet. Given Segment B’s placement in the regional trail system, it should be built to a 12-foot standard to begin with – just as were the segments to its north and south, both within the City and in Issaquah and Redmond.

Clearing limits have been reduced to a practical minimum. The testimony is compelling that even narrower clearing limits would be impractical and potentially unsafe for the workers: There simply must be adequate space beside the trail for workers to safely construct the retaining walls that are necessary to reduce the width of the trail’s footprint.”

The Hearing Examiner agreed with the County that 6 of the 16 conditions should be omitted and agreed with the County on most of the wording of several other conditions.  The six conditions requested by the City that the hearing examiner recommended being removed are the following.

(In the following section, the City’s condition is in parenthesis and italics with dots indicating this is just a section of the actual document.)

Recommended Condition 3 (The County shall identify all structures not owned and controlled by the County, and existing within the project area that were constructed or installed to a permit that is not revocable by the County.  For each permitted structure, if any, the County shall identify where the Project will be modified, narrowed, or relocated to mitigate for conflicts with permitted structures.)

This condition inserts the City into possible property rights disputes between the County and owners of improvements that have been constructed within the County’s ELST right-of-way. The SSDP should not be concerned with those private property disputes.

The Examiner would omit Recommended Condition 3.

Recommended Condition 4. (For those segments of the Project that located within the shoreline setback, the County shall update the plan set to depict that no development….will occur waterward of the current interim trail alignment…This section of the project must be minimized by either locating expanded improvement landward of the current interim trail alignment or by narrowing the Trail section.)

First, as has been previously concluded, the shoreline setback applies to structures; uncovered paved areas and fill are not structures by SMC definition. Second, SMC 25.06.020(1) generally calls for mitigation of otherwise not mitigated environmental impacts. This hearing record does not disclose any specific environmental impacts that would flow from widening the trail in those few places where the widened trail would be within 50 feet of the Lake Sammamish OHWM. Without specifically identified impacts needing mitigation, the subsection does not apply. Third, SMC 25.06.020(5) calls for general minimization of clearing and grading. It has nothing directly to do with the shoreline setback. Fourth, SMC 25.07.100(3) requires new transportation facilities, “not including trails, [to] be located outside of the shoreline setback”. This is an express authorization for new trails to be located within the shoreline setback.

The Examiner would omit Recommended Condition 4.

Recommended Condition 5.  (For that portion of the Project that is located within the Lake Sammamish Shoreline Setback, the County shall update the Project Plans to establish and maintain a Vegetation Enhancement Area (VEA) that is equal to the 15’ wide portion of the 50’ Lake Sammamish Shoreline Setback.)

Since the shoreline setback does not apply, the VEA requirement also does not apply.

The Examiner would omit Recommended Condition 5.

Recommended Condition 8.  (….The trail shall be narrowed as necessary to fully comply with tree protection in accordance with tree protection barrier and grading/grubbing limit restrictions in 21A.37.270(5))

The Examiner agrees with King County that this condition should be omitted. First, since most of Chapter 21A.37 SMC does not apply, this condition is trying to impose restrictions that are not appropriate. Second, the evidence is quite persuasive that employing standard tree protection measures would result in the removal of more trees, not preservation of more trees. Third, the Examiner concludes that alternative measures under SMC 21A.37.270(7) can be approved by the Examiner in the context of an SSDP review and that the alternative measures proposed by King County are appropriate. Finally, to the extent the purpose of this condition is to force the County to reduce Master Plan Trail width, it is a mis-use of Chapter 21A.37 SMC.

The Examiner would omit Recommended Condition 8.

Recommended Condition 9.   (….The trail can be narrowed in locations to reduce required clearing  and grading limits  and correspondingly reduce then minimize impacts to a level that is below what is currently proposed.  The County shall provide an updated Critical Areas Study (CAS) and updated clearing and grading plan…that address how Trail narrowing and clearing and grading limits reductions have been implemented in each instance where a critical area…..has been impacted….The updated CAS shall also include more specific information about how impacts on shoreline ecological functions are avoided and minimized.

The obvious objective of this condition is to force the County to reduce Master Plan Trail width. This objective is flawed for two major reasons. First, the time to consider major design changes (and the Examiner would contend that reducing the paved width from 12 to somewhere between 8 and 10 feet would be a major design change) is before the SSDP is issued, not afterward. Leaving trail width decisions to after issuance of the SSDP places them in an administrative forum for which there is no established procedure nor appeal process. Second, the voluminous record in this case fails to identify any wetlands along the ELST that are so valuable or so sensitive as to warrant forcing a reduction in the width of the proposed project. The adjacent wetlands are all Category 3 or 4 with low habitat scores. They simply are not major features.

The Examiner would omit Recommended Condition 9.

Recommended Condition 12. (Where fences, retaining walls, or a combination of fence and retaining wall exceed 4’ in height, adequate provisions shall be made to allow wildlife passage at intervals along the Trail if existing driveways are not sufficient.)

 This condition is unnecessary: The submitted plans show more than adequate opportunities for wildlife to cross the trail. Compliance with the plans would preserve those crossing opportunities.

The Examiner would omit Recommended Condition 12.






Trail Update: Trail Hearing and Beyond, South Segment Opening

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:

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

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.

Hearing in recess until Nov. 20th at 9:00 AM

We have finished day 3 of the hearing for the Shoreline Substantial Development permit for the last 3.5 miles of the East Lake Sammamish Trail. We finished as much as we could today and are in recess until Nov. 20th at 9:00 AM when the remaining witnesses will testify. That should be the last day of the hearing. If you want to send a comment in, it must be received by the 20th. No more public comment will be allowed in person.

Update! Monday Oct. 30th to Thursday Nov. 2nd Hearing Cancelled & Rescheduled

We spoke with the City of Sammamish this morning and they confirmed that the Hearing Examiner has cancelled the Monday-Thurs. hearing on the Inglewood Parking lot for the ELST as he is ill.  Per the city web page it has been continued to January 24th with public testimony at 1:00 PM (Also January 25 and 26 if needed)  Per the city web page, the hearing for the 2B 3.5 segment of the trail will still be on for this Friday Nov. 3rd…..but as always, please check in here or at our Facebook page for updates.  Thank you!

Update! Please attend upcoming hearing on the SSD permit for the final 3.5 trail segment on Nov. 3rd and for the Inglewood Parking Lot on January 24, 2018

We are in the home stretch for paving the East Lake Sammamish Trail!  However, this is the most narrow and most difficult part of the trail to enlarge which means the most controversial.

King County is responsible for developing the trail; the city of Sammamish is responsible for issuing permits for construction of the trail.

Construction of the final section of trail cannot be started until a Shoreline Substantial Development permit is obtained from the City of Sammamish. Thus, it is important for the city council and staff to know that completion of the trail in a timely manner is important to both the citizens of Sammamish and the larger community.  Any project that is close to the lake now requires this type of permit to go in front of the City’s Hearing Examiner, John Galt.  As there are 2 permits to finish the trail, there will be two hearings.  The first hearing is probably the most important one as it is for the last 3.5 miles of the trail.  It will run, if needed from Friday Nov. 3rd  to Thursday Nov. 9th and Monday Nov. 20th starting 9:00 AM with public comment at 1:00 and ending at 5:00 PM.

The second hearing is for the parking lot and adjacent trail at the bottom of Inglewood Rd.  This will run from Wed. January 24, 2018 to Friday Jan. 26th, if needed,  starting at 9:00 AM with public comment at 1:00 PM and ending at 5:00 PM.  This was the hearing originally scheduled for Oct. 30th but was rescheduled.

Please note for both hearings, there will be a signup sheet set out at 8:15 AM on the first day and people will be able to speak in the order that they signed up.  The hearing examiner at 1:00 PM will let those who have signed up know when they are likely to be able to speak. Public comment will continue until 5:00 PM the first day and will continue until all have spoken which could be the following day.

Because parking is limited in front of City Hall and the City is expecting a large number of people to attend, they have provided a parking plan here and will have a parking attendant:

The City has approved both permits but with conditions which could affect width and safety.  Both the City and County have hired outside consultants to review the AASHTO standards as it applies to this trail and have come to opposite conclusions.  The County stating it needs 12’ and the City questioning the amount of trail traffic feeling that it could be narrowed to 10’ to avoid and minimize impacts to physical and natural resource (Environmentally Critical Area) constraints.  The City is also asking that the County identify all  permitted property on the right of way and where the trail will be modified, narrowed, or relocated to mitigate for conflicts with Permitted Structures (aka neighbors who have encroached on the County property)

If you aren’t available to come to the hearing, or have lengthy complex information to convey, submittal of written hearing statements is encouraged.   They can be directed to Lindsey Ozbolt at  All comments need to be received by the last day of the hearing.  Given we do not know how many of the allotted days will be used, it will be best if you can get written comments submitted by the end of the first day of the hearing if possible.

Documents related to the parking lot hearing can be found here:

Documents related to the trail can be found here:

Given the amount of documents, we recommend that you concentrate on:

Exhibit 1:  Staff Report

We are working on our talking points which we will share closer to the date.  But it’s important that you write your own version as in the staff report they said this regarding previous trail supporter comments:  “Approximately 55% of the comments were from “trail supporters” the majority of these were similar in nature and appeared to be “form support emails” sent out to bicycle clubs/enthusiasts throughout the northwest.”  And in the city’s summary of public comments there was no mention of decreased width being a safety issue!

Please join us and comment on these permits!  It will be particularly important for those who live in Sammamish to do so to provide resident support for this gem in our backyard!