Protecting our Community Character
My wife and I moved to Sammamish because we loved the natural beauty and wildlife in the area. We’re close enough to cities like Seattle, Bellevue, Redmond, and Issaquah to enjoy a night out but far enough away to enjoy the peace nature brings. I’m sure many chose Sammamish for similar reasons (not to mention the excellent schools).
As you make your way through our city, you’ll notice some areas are unrecognizable from others. Many newer developments with their clearcut lots and minimal setbacks are in stark contrast to older neighborhoods where trees have been preserved.
These developments didn’t have to look like this, but they do. We can’t go back in time and undo mistakes of the past; we can only go forward, making sure this never happens again. As your councilmember, I will work hard to ensure any new development respects the natural area by adhering to strict development standards.
Strengthening our development regulations
The Council adopted the first new set of development regulations in 2018 under an emergency development moratorium. More work is in progress. A Community Advisory Group was put together to identify problem areas in development regulations.
Right now, they have identified eight focus areas:
- Code Enforcement and Penalties
- Residential Neighborhood Design
- Protection and Integration of Natural Features
- Standards for Non-residential uses in Residential Zones (e.g., schools)
- Infrastructure Coordination and Design
- Single-Family Site and Building Design
- Construction Management
- Code Organization and Administration
My colleagues and I on the Planning Commission have been briefed on the progress of the new development regulations. We will be working on this throughout 2021. There will many opportunities for public engagement, and I hope to hear from you. This process will give our community a chance to build on the work from 2018 and fully break away from the outdated development code we inherited from King County. We will soon adopt a code that truly meets our community’s high standards.
How I will work to improve development regulations
I take my role on the Planning Commission seriously. I have a history of listening to public feedback, diving into the details and scrutinizing code, providing suggestions to improve code quality, and making sure our recommendations improve the community.
The Planning Commission will be reviewing and improving the development code changes before they go to Council. I will fight to ensure our development regulations protect our natural environment, respect our community character, and are easy to understand and follow, with real penalties for non-compliance.
This year I will help write regulations on the Planning Commission that reflect our community values. And, if elected as your Councilmember, will ensure the code is implemented.
Streamlining regulatory requirements for homeowners
I am a strong advocate for private property rights, which means protecting the property rights of those wishing to make a change to their property and property owners impacted by those changes (e.g., by stormwater runoff). We must ensure homeowners are not hamstrung by onerous regulations, making it especially complex and expensive to comply. Well-meaning individuals who want to follow the rules will either give up or sidestep important regulations because of unnecessary complexity.
As a personal example, my wife and I recently purchased a hot tub (as many are doing during COVID). Even as a Planning Commissioner, I was unaware I needed a building permit for my hot tub to comply. I knew I needed an electrical permit and had one obtained for the electrical work required for the install. It wasn’t until I looked closer that I discovered the regulations for portable spas/hot tubs were embedded within the regulations for in-ground pools and spas.
It took quite a bit of time to gather the required information to submit my building permit application for my portable hot tub. After going through the process, I understand there are certainly good reasons for the city to require a permit: safety, setbacks from property lines, ensuring structural support for the hot tub, etc. All of us have a vested interest in how we empty hot tubs as it goes right into our streams, lakes, and aquifer where we get our drinking water. However, the permit application process was anything but straightforward, and I have no doubt people would just skip these hurdles. That is only one example from personal experience. I have heard many others. In fact, a former Planning Commissioner felt compelled to join because of the onerous process he went through to put a shed on his property.
As your councilmember, I will ensure homeowners can go through a streamlined process for common permits and have a location on the website that makes it very easy to determine if you need a permit, what you need to make your application successful, and exact items permits may require. One of the best ways to ensure compliance is to make complying easy to understand and attainable for the average person who doesn’t have the time to deal with the city, as if it were their second job.
If you have had an issue obtaining a permit from the city, please contact me to add it to my list of items to review.