Critical SSDP Hearing

The SSDP hearing for ELST Segment 2B begins on Friday, November 3 at City Hall. This hearing is a project permit hearing at which both the County and City will present their cases without cross examination. Public comment will commence at 1pm on the first day of the hearing with the hearing examiner estimating the number of comments to be made each day. The City is expecting a large turnout with additional off-site parking made available for the hearing.

The hearing examiner, John Galt, will make his decision based on the law and the testimony from the County, City, and public comment. Mr. Galt is a very thorough examiner who will read everything previously presented, including earlier public comment.

King County’s responses to individual public comment has been posted on the City’s website:

https://www.sammamish.us/attachments/pagecontent/47295/SSDP2016-00415_ELST_Segment_2B-10-10-17.pdf

The responses are in a spreadsheet that can be searched. With the font being very small and the search tool being difficult to use on the website, SHO recommends that you download the file to search it on your computer. If you want to comment on a King County response, whether positive or negative, you need to sign up to make your comment at the hearing.

The sign-up sheet for public comment will be available at 9am on the morning of November 3 at City Hall. Comments will be heard in the order of this sheet. As stated above, the hearing examiner will estimate who will be able to comment on the first day. Thus, if you are not among whose who will be able to comment on the first day, you do not have to listen to others comment while waiting for your turn. The same process will be used for the remaining days of the hearing. Remember that your comment will be limited to 3 minutes unless you represent a recognized community organization when 5 minutes will be allowed.

SHO recommends that everyone be courteous and respectful of the hearing process. You are trying to convince Mr. Galt to make decisions in your favor. Thus, talking against the County or even the City during your comment is unlikely to be persuasive; stick to the facts and offer options to achieve your objectives.

The complete procedures for the hearing are posted on the City website:

https://www.sammamish.us/attachments/resolutions/R2017-727%20-%20HE%20ROP.pdf

Note that only the project hearing procedures apply to this hearing. The summary of the process is on page 13 of Attachment A, page 17 overall.

SHO Board

SHO Endorsements for City Council

Very Important…  The general election is only two weeks away and the ballots are already mailed.  It is critical that we elect City Council members who understand the complexity of completing the ELST while respecting the environment and property rights. We have reviewed the qualifications and positions of all candidates and are recommending for your consideration the following candidates.

Please vote!  Your vote is extremely important to ensure that we have City Council members who understand the trail issues and are supportive of the trailside community.

Position 1 – Mark Baughman
Position 3 – Karen Moran (note: there are two Karens on the ballot- Karen Moran is SHO’s choice
Position 5 – Chris Ross
Position 7 – No opinion

SHO Board

 

Two Important ELST Issues

October 7, 2017

City Council Members and Mr. Howard;

This is to expand on an important issue that Reid Brockway addressed in brief in public comment to the October 3rd City Council meeting. It is one of two issues concerning the handling of public comment on the 60% design of Segment 2B of the East Lake Sammamish Trail.

To reiterate, those two issues are:

  1. The conflict between a public hearing on the SSDP scheduled to start November 3rd and King County’s published statement that its responses to citizen comments may not be available until “late fall”.
  1. The apparent absence of a venue, and possible lack of city support to its citizens, for those issues concerning the 60% design deemed out of scope for a SSDP.

It is the second of these that SHO wishes to elaborate. The first has a simple solution: do not hold the public hearing until the county has finished responding to the citizen issues.

There will likely be many legitimate and serious issues deemed out of scope of a SSDP. It should be recognized that King County, in its responses to the city’s comments, and those of other commenting entities such as the fire district, asserts that many of the issues raised are outside the scope of a SSDP. That includes, for example, most of the surface water management issues. And it is likely, given that a SSDP is primarily concerned with the shoreline environment, that the hearing examiner will agree with them in many cases. Yet there are many issues that will remain that need a fair hearing, and the county has demonstrated with the other trail segments the practice of rejecting all but the most unarguable of the citizen issues.

In addition, not all of the right-of-way is within the Shoreline Jurisdiction. That portion that is not – roughly one mile in total – is not subject to the SSDP. Consequently any issues unique to that portion will probably not be considered in the hearing.

As just one example of an issue likely not to be resolved at the hearing, there is the matter of “dispersion areas”. The 60% plan designates these bands of vegetation the county intends to create on the west side of the trail to absorb runoff from the trail. The bands will be 25 feet wide and will take up more than half of the land within the right-of-way west of the trail. Parking, gardens, and other improvements west of the current trail will have to be removed. And they extend for long distances affecting dozens of properties whose ownership remains in question. Given the county’s poor maintenance practices, these will turn into thickets of dense vegetation. One merely needs to look at the thicket surrounding Zackuse Creek, which was re-vegetated a few years ago, to see this.

This conversion of useful land into unusable thicket, and the impact that has on adjacent property owners, is unnecessary. The depression between the Parkway and the former rail bed on the east side of the trail provides a retention area for runoff from the trail. It is already performing this function. The county merely needs to grade the trail so it slopes to the east instead of the west and the cost and consequences of these dispersion areas can be avoided.

But is this an issue that the hearing examiner will decide? Likely not. The need to deal with runoff is perhaps legitimately of concern to a SSDP, but the choice between two ways of accomplishing it is probably not. (Surely the county will argue that it is not.)

There are numerous other issues like this that will likely be deemed outside the scope of a SSDP. So the question becomes will the city play a role in resolving them on behalf of its citizens? Does the city intend to be an agent in dealing with them, or are we citizens to be left on our own in fighting a county that has shown itself to be largely unresponsive to citizen concerns?

Or to put it another way, will there be another mechanism – perhaps review of the Clearing and Grading Permit – for getting these other issues addressed in a constructive manner? And will the citizens have some forum, akin to the SSDP hearing, for arguing their “cases” where the county’s responses (assuming they do eventually come) are unreasonable?

Note that the county has committed to do a 90% design, and to provide the opportunity for public review of that design, and may argue that these issues can be dealt with then. But our experience is that by that time the county is very reluctant to make any further changes, arguing cost and schedule impact, and will likely dig in its heals on any accommodation. The time to deal with these 60% design issues is before things proceed that far.

SHO strongly urges the City Council and staff to devise a plan for dealing with these “out of scope” issues once the county has responded to citizen comments.

Sincerely,

Sammamish Homeowners (SHO)

King County Responses

King County’s responses to the City’s letter of April 12 are now posted on the following website:

https://www.sammamish.us/government/departments/community-development/current-projects/

King County has NOT responded to individual comments. According to the City, this may not happen until September. Meanwhile, you may want to look over the “Response to City Letter” where King County claims that many issues important to shoreline residents are marked as “Not a shoreline comment;” meaning that King County intends to ignore the issue with respect to obtaining the Shoreline Substantial Development Permit (SSDP).

SHO Board

Alarming King County Meeting on April 25

As a result of the significant number of comments received by the City of Sammamish regarding the proposed 60% plan for Section 2B of the ELST the City facilitated a public meeting with representatives of King County Parks on Tuesday, April 25. Unfortunately the meeting was yet another King County Parks dog and pony show reiterating once again their vision of the ELST with little if any regard to the interests of the citizens of Sammamish. No public comment was allowed. Kevin Brown, Director of Parks and Recreation Division, gave a 30 minute slide show about how well everything was going and pointing out what will happen in the construction of Section 2B. KC staff members were behind tables with aerial photos of the trail at an “open house” but provided no indication of where the trail would be located on the photos.

During Brown’s presentation there was a little laughter and at one point multiple people called out “untrue” when Brown commented that no homeowner was paying real estate taxes for the trail right-of-way (ROW). Brown also pointed out an example of a homeowners intrusion into King County’s claimed ROW that will have to be removed during construction. Interesting though that the identified intrusion is actually a home constructed under a building permit issued by the City. Otherwise, the overflow crowd that filled council chambers was quiet and disappointed.

The one thing that surprised SHO board members is how hard-line the County apparently intends to be about treating everything within the corridor as subject to County takeover, or at least the requirement to obtain special use permits and pay fees, including even docks and community waterfront. Brown emphasized that it is the County’s obligation to not allow anyone to use County property free of charge. Be prepared for a significant fee to cross the trail to utilize your own property!

This means that lawsuits proving that the County does not have fee interest in the ROW continue to be essential just to keep what we already have. SHO continues to fund the appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. This appeal may take until the end of 2017 or even later for a decision.

ELST Segment 2B Public Meeting

The Sammamish City Council will be hosting a public meeting with King County regarding the East Lake Sammamish Trail – Phase 2B Project. The meeting is scheduled for April 25, 2017 from 6:30pm to 8:30pm and will be held in Council Chambers, located at 801 228th Avenue SE, Sammamish, WA.

Before attending this meeting, SHO recommends that everyone read the letter that the City sent to the County on April 12. Your public comments are not being ignored. The letter is definitely worth reading. The following are a few of the issues discussed:

  • Trail centerline location

  • Justification for trail width in difficult and sensitive areas

  • Resident access to houses and beach

  • Access for emergency vehicles during and after construction

  • Wetlands and trees

  • Ownership

Quoting from the letter: On April 12, 2017, City Staff transmitted a First Review and Request for Additional Information Letter to King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks along with numerous attachments as referenced in the letter. This letter and all attachments have been added to the City of Sammamish webpage linked below. The County has 90 days to respond to the City’s letter and provide additional information. The project is considered pending awaiting the County’s response.”

Additional information can be found by visiting the City of Sammamish website at this link: https://www.sammamish.us/government/departments/community-development/current-projects/east-lake-sammamish-trail/

ELST Segment 2B Public Comments

The City of Sammamish has posted the public comments based on the 60% plans for Segment 2B of the ELST on the city website. Here’s a link:

https://www.sammamish.us/government/departments/community-development/current-projects/east-lake-sammamish-trail/

Scroll down to the heading, East Lake Sammamish Trail Segment 2B – Public Comments. The comments are in PDF ordered by date received.

There are approximately 965 comments contained in these files. About 720 of these comments are from bicycle enthusiasts who stated that they support approval of the SSDP as submitted. There are multiple comments from some people with concerns, leaving about 175 actual comments about the 60% design.

The list of actual concerns in approximate order of their mention is as follows:

  1. Access (both to beach and to homes)

  2. Location (not aligned with current interim trail)

  3. Environment (trees being removed to save questionable wetlands, etc.)

  4. Drainage

  5. Ownership

While the public comment was collected by the City of Sammamish, it is the responsibility of King County to address these concerns in its 90% plans. SHO continues to encourage the County to keep the trail aligned with the current interim trail. SHO also contends that the trail width should not exceed 16 feet when not within a critical areas buffer, and 14 feet when within a critical area buffer (wetland or stream).

Finally, it will be the responsibility of the City to ensure that the 90% plans meet the City’s regulations.

The City is working on a summary of these public comments that will be published soon.

TIPS ON READING THE 60% TRAIL PLAN

The 60% plans can be seen on-line as a 135-page PDF. The link to this file is:

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/89391934/ELST/Site%20Content/Segment%20B/ELST-SSB-HALF_20161012.pdf

 

The first page (sheet G1) has an overall map of the project. It is divided into “stations”, STA 283 to STA 468, from south to north. If you expand the image you can find a station number closest to your property, which you can use to zero in on your property on other maps. Sheet G3 has an expanded view of the same thing.

The Index to Drawings on page 2 (sheet G2) shows the different kinds of maps and drawings. Use that to guide you in finding the various kinds of information contained in the document. This page also defines abbreviations used on other pages.

Sheet G4 is a legend that defines various symbols used on the drawings.

The house numbers run from south to north as you progress down in each section of the file.

The centerline of the paved trail is to be shifted from that of the interim trail in many areas. The Existing Conditions (EX) section contains the only drawings that show alignment between the existing trail and the proposed improved trail. You should start here to be able to understand where the proposed trail will be located.

The Plan and Profile (AL) section shows what will be constructed and to some extent what will be destroyed. The line marked “CG” is the clearing and grubbing line, which is where the county intends to run equipment during construction. Anything trail side of this line may be destroyed.

Finally, the Landscaping Plan (LA) near the end of the file shows areas for wetland buffer enhancement, wetland buffer additions, shoreline setback enhancements, wetland creation or restoration, wetland enhancements, stream buffer enhancements, and seeding for removed driveways. All of these may affect your property.

SHO recommends that you examine each section of the file and then email specific comments to Lindsey Ozbolt, the city staff person responsible for the ELST, at: lozbolt@sammamish.us

Recommendations to rectify the impacts to your property may be helpful.

The public comment period ends on January 27.

SHO Board

Year End Update

As you probably are aware, construction has started on South Segment 2A of the East Lake Sammamish Trail (ELST) — the section from SE 33rd street south to the Sammamish/Issaquah city limit. This is despite SHO having appealed issuance of Shoreline Substantial Development (SSDP), first to the city then to the Shorelines Hearings Board (SHB). This is to provide you with an update concerning that.

SHO thus far has been unable to convince the City to stop construction of the ELST in the critical area buffers of Segment 2A, even though city environmental codes are being violated. The County explicitly stated in its SSDP application that a buffer exemption was taken. The buffer exemption eliminated the crossing of wetland buffers. With the exemption, the wetland buffers terminate at the east edge of the existing interim ELST. Then, before the SHB, the County stated under oath that a buffer exemption was not taken. This means that the improved ELST will cross wetland buffers without proper analysis of its impact on the environment. This analysis would have been required if the exemption had not been claimed in the first place.

We thank those who spoke at the December 6 City Council meeting. SHO will continue this plea at the January 3 meeting and we encourage others to speak as well.

SHO talked with its legal council last week about our appeal of the SHB decision to King County Superior Court. We were advised that the court was at best likely to rule that the SHB had made a procedural error when it claimed that our arguments were new issues (which they were not). This ruling would send the SSDP back to the SHB to re-hear our arguments. This would take months while the Segment 2A construction would continue. In Superior Court and before the SHB, King County would be arguing that since construction is taking place why argue about the validity of the SSDP. With the likelihood of “winning” being at best 50%, SHO decided to dismiss its appeal.

Legal council also advised SHO not to wait until the permit is granted for Segment 2B, the middle section. We need to push hard early and document via e-mail and letters what we believe is wrong.

On December 28, the City declared the County’s SSDP application complete and opened a 30-day public comment period that ends on January 27. Everyone in Segment 2B needs to examine the plans to determine its impact on their property. The following is the link to the County’s ELST website:

www.kingcounty.gov/services/parks-recreation/parks/trails/regional-trails/popular-trails/east-lake-samm.aspx

To access the plans, click on “60% Design Plans posted for South Samm B and Inglewood Hill” under “Latest news.” Then, click on “South Sammamish B Segment (In Design)” to download the actual plans. This is a very large file (about 100 mb) and takes quite a while to download, so be patient. When comparing the plan with the portion of the ELST crossing your property, the stakes flush with the ground and painted pink are the proposed centerline.

You will also note on the County’s ELST website that there are opportunities for meetings here in Sammamish with county officials. Please sign up and voice your opinions at one of these meetings.

Your public comment needs to be sent to the City, attention: Lindsey Ozbolt – lozbolt@sammamish.us

You also should consider making public comment before the Sammamish City Council.

SHO believes that a trail of minimum width prescribed by national guidelines and strictly aligned with the existing interim trail would solve most of the environmental and privacy issues for Segment 2B.

Meanwhile, SHO is continuing its appeal of the Federal Court decision on ownership in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Urgent December Update

You have probably read King County Park’s announcement that the South Sammamish Segment A of the East Lake Sammamish Trail (ELST) will be closed in mid-December to allow for construction to begin. Those of you who have been following SHO’s appeal of the Shoreline Substantial Development Permit (SSDP) for this segment are probably wondering how construction can begin with the SSDP still under appeal. Did SHO drop its appeal?

SHO has not dropped its appeal. SHO has appealed the decision by the Shoreline Hearing Board (SHB) to King County Superior Court. A judge has been assigned to the case with a court date in May. In late October, King County applied for a Clearing and Grading Permit (C&GP) from the City to begin construction. The permit was granted because there is nothing in the City’s regulations that restricts the issuance of a C&GP for a project with a SSDP under appeal.

At this time, there are limited options available with regard to Segment A. The SHO Board considered and rejected requesting a stay that would have blocked construction because a very expensive bond would be required with the money lost if the appeal were lost. In fact, with construction starting, SHO needs to decide what would be gained by continuing the appeal process. Unfortunately, SHO must spend its very limited funds in a manner that provides the best possible return on investment.

SHO believes that the only practical solution is public comment before the Sammamish City Council (CC) that allowing construction while a permit is being appealed does not make sense. SHO further believes that this message needs to be made by the residents of Segment A; i.e., people who are directly affected. SHO Board members will make comment, but that alone will be insufficient.

The issues under appeal and the consequences are:

  1. City environmental regulations are being broken within critical areas and their buffers

  1. The current interim trail is an existing crossing of the wetland buffers. 21A.50.300(8) and 21A50.300(10) preclude a new crossing. The only option available for an improved trail is to use the existing crossing.

  2. According to Washington State law (WAC 197-11-768) and SMC 25.06.020(1), mitigation sequencing must be followed to determine if widening of the trail is justified. Mitigation is the third step in the sequence. The first step is to avoid the impact and the second step is to minimize the impact.

  3. The AASHTO minimum trail width is 14 feet, not the 18 feet claimed by King County.

  4. The County assumed that the crossing of the wetland buffers could be expanded to the 18 feet that it desired and relocated toward the lake by mitigating; i.e., creating wetlands elsewhere. However, mitigation sequencing prevents that. The trail needs to be aligned on the interim trail and it cannot be expanded in width more than the minimum of 14 feet. A harder stance by SHO would have been NO expansion in width, but we considered that unreasonable.

  5. Finally, 21A.50.300(10)(e) All crossings are constructed during summer low water periods. Construction within wetland buffers cannot start until after March 31.

  1. From the Sammamish/Issaquah city limits to 206th Ave SE, hundreds of trees will be removed and the environment will be severely damaged. This includes a number of significant trees that cannot be replaced once the appeal is won. The damage will not happen if the regulations listed above are followed.

  2. Finally, the ownership of the right of way (ROW) for 39 parcels in this segment is being contested before the 9th Circuit Court. The railroad never bothered to obtain easements to cross these parcels; it just laid tracks. Until the ownership issue is decided, the County should be prohibited from modifying or destroying property it does not own.

What can you do?

  1. Appear in person to make public comment to the CC. Next meeting is December 6.

  2. If you have not recently contributed to the cause, please consider making a donation to SHO so that we can continue our advocacy for trail side residents.

  3. Volunteer to help SHO spread the message and collect funds from your neighbors.

SHO Board