Issaquah Mayor Mary Lou Pauly, second from right, gives her first State of the City address at Monday’s Issaquah City Council meeting. Nicole Jennings/staff photo

Issaquah Mayor Mary Lou Pauly, second from right, gives her first State of the City address at Monday’s Issaquah City Council meeting. Nicole Jennings/staff photo

Development, transportation dominate Issaquah mayor’s State of the City

Pauly became mayor of Issaquah at the beginning of the year.

They were the subjects that took center stage in the 2017 mayoral election.

So it was no surprise that development and transportation topped Issaquah Mayor Mary Lou Pauly’s 2018 State of the City address at Monday’s council meeting.

Pauly, who took over as mayor at the beginning of January, spoke for just over 10 minutes on Issaquah’s successes over the past year and its plans for the future.

“My primary objective this evening is that you take away a sense of optimism and enthusiasm about our future, because that’s how I feel and that’s why I’m so excited to serve,” she began.

Pauly praised Issaquah as both surrounded by natural beauty but also the home of a vibrant business community with plenty of services, entertainment and amenities for residents.

“We are indeed at a pivotal moment in time, attempting to carefully grow … The pressure is on our city to continue to welcome and house new residents,” she said. “And so we need to thoughtfully build upon that foundation; that includes taking care not to displace jobs, or commercial spaces, or retail amenities, or natural gifts like our forested hillsides or our existing neighborhood character.”

As Issaquah changes from suburban to urban, Pauly said that redevelopment strategies will include “moving away from single-story buildings and expansive surface parking lots” to mid-size, mixed-use buildings designed for mixed use, and eventually, tall buildings and structured parking on the valley floor.

Pauly said that this process will be helped by the recent city-wide development moratorium, which went into effect in September 2016 and is scheduled to be lifted this June.

“The moratorium’s pause gave us the opportunity to create stronger requirements for better architectural fit, creative and functional urban design, additional affordable housing as our housing stock grows, planning for vertical mixed uses that allow retail and commercial to be in the same building as residential, and planning for structured, or below-grade parking,” she said.

Closely linked to making smart plans for development is transportation, Pauly said. Traffic congestion is a frequent grievance brought up by public commentators at council meetings.

“My top priority is to make it easier for our residents to get around town,” Pauly said. “This means we will not prioritize getting pass-through traffic through our city over our own mobility needs … We need to better control pass-through traffic and better manage its impact on our community.”

Still, Pauly said, there is quite a bit to be excited about in the transportation arena. The city is preparing for light rail, which is coming to Issaquah in 2041 as part of Sound Transit’s ST3 expansion. Several city transportation improvement projects are also underway, such as the Southeast 62nd Street extension, Newport Way improvements and the re-opening of the Fourth Avenue Northwest/Interstate 90 under-crossing, which is set to open back up late this year.

To better “shape our transportation future,” Pauly said that she is also thrilled about the city’s upcoming Transportation Advisory Board and Master Mobility Plan, both of which will help the city to recognize and prioritize the most critical transportation improvements.

The city is also committed to remaining green. Pauly explained that the council last year adopted its Sustainable Building Action Strategy, which was “designed to put Issaquah back at the forefront of environmental sustainability innovation.”

Green space continues to be a priority for Issaquah — Pauly noted that in the past year, the city protected wildlife habitats, made improvements to Confluence and Central parks, and opened the Skate Park at Tibbetts Valley Park. Pauly said that upcoming plans for parks include the creation of an off-leash dog park and the opening of the turf field at Central Park, the latter of which is scheduled for this year.

A frequent complaint brought up by residents during last year’s mayoral and council elections was the city’s lack of transparency, and the lack of trust between residents and their municipal government. To break down any barriers between city staff and residents, Pauly is implementing a practice that she calls “city hall outside.”

“I’m eager to come to where you are, not to force you to come to City Hall,” she said. “We’re also working to increase transparency and responsiveness in all things we do.” New strategies include an improved public notice process, more televised board and commission meetings and more interactive self-service tools, such as being able to use credit card payments for services.

Pauly ended her speech by highlighting the importance of progress and moving forward.

“Change by its nature is new and different, but we are working hard to ensure it is also a net positive to you and our community.”

More in News

Issaquah residents file for November 2019 general election

Residents in the city of Issaquah and the Issaquah School Districts have… Continue reading

King County Councilman Reagan Dunn sent a letter to the FBI asking for them to help investigate Allan Thomas (pictured), who is under investigation for stealing more than $400,000 of public funds and skirting election laws in an Enumclaw drainage district. Screenshot from King 5 report
King County Council requests report on special districts in wake of fraud allegations

Small, local special districts will face more scrutiny following Enumclaw drainage district case.

Issaquah High School employee one of five confirmed with measles

School urges families to monitor children for signs.

The Marquee on Meeker Apartments, 2030 W. Meeker St. in Kent, will feature 492 apartments and 12,000 square feet of retail. The first phase of 288 apartments is expected to be completed in early 2020. Developers are targeting people in their 20s and 30s to rent their high-end, urban-style apartments. Steve Hunter/staff photo
Housing study pokes holes in conventional wisdom

High construction and land costs will incentivize developers to build luxury units.

Eviction reform passed by state Legislature

Tenant protections included longer notices and more judicial discretion.

Legislators budgeted more than $900 million for the Eastside

Issaquah residents will see the state invest $68.4 million in capital and transportation projects.

Madison Miller / staff photo
                                Influence the Choice held its 7th annual video contest awards ceremony on April 30 at Issaquah High School.
IFC hosts 7th annual video contest award ceremony

45 videos were submitted for video contest.

Issaquah wants feedback on transportation improvements for the future of the city

Issaquah is hosting a survey to collect public comment on their upcoming Mobility Master Plan.

Homelessness may be trending down after seven years

A press release from the annual count showed a reduction in people living without a home.

Most Read