We’ve all seen the city of Sammamish logo. When you look at the logo, what does it suggest? I believe it suggests that Sammamish sees itself as a community that deeply values the natural world. Crystal blue waters, majestic mountains and soaring trees. Sammamish wants to attract people who want a certain lifestyle — one dominated by the natural landscape. Look again at the logo — there’s not a house in sight.
One would hope that our logo expresses a genuine reality — a philosophical yearning of how Sammamish not only sees itself, but what Sammamish is and wishes to remain. Supporting that lovely logo, the city has issued the Comprehensive Plan filled with soaring rhetoric extolling the preservation of trees, wildlife, habitat and the environment. Let me quote the Comprehensive Plan:
• Recognize and preserve the natural environment as an important element of the city’s identity.
• Promote development design that maintains a harmonious relationship with the natural environment.
• Work cooperatively with local, state, regional and federal governments, homeowners associations, individual property owners and community organizations to protect and enhance the environment.
• Protect a large diversity of wildlife, priority species and habitats.
• Preserve existing neighborhood character by including policies that will keep new development compatible.
There’s quite a bit more, and as comprehensive plans go, it’s beautiful. I’m in full agreement with Sammamish’s Comprehensive Plan, especially the part about “preserving existing neighborhood character.” Unfortunately, just like the Sammamish logo, it is fiction. What Sammamish says it wants is at wide variance with what Sammamish is becoming. How many other residents have begun to recognize the disconnect between what a community says it wants and the policies it enacts to undo those noble aspirations? We read the lovely words of the plan, but then watch the wholesale demolition of our environment and local habitat to enrich developers. Which is real? The piece of paper? Or the fallen tree?
My wife Wendy moved to Sammamish in 1990 after falling in love with the tall trees and the acres and acres of undisturbed timber and grass. She fell in love with the blue sky and the bald eagles catching the wind. She fell in love with the procession of deer, squirrels, rabbits and the occasional bear cavorting across our backyard with a pair of cubs. She “bought a piece of heaven” — her favorite saying — sidestepping the manicured version of nature found in most subdivisions. She prefers a wild unkempt nature alive with blackberry brambles, fruit trees and bird song. She also fell in love with the quiet. I joined Wendy in 2006 and I fell in love with our Sammamish home for all the same reasons.
Unfortunately, development now threatens all the things that have fostered our quality of life in Sammamish. We have watched as hundreds of trees have fallen to make way for new groves of close-set houses, popping up like weeds through the miracle of the 5-foot setback. Nothing in that lovely logo or the lofty language of the Comprehensive Plan suggests the cheek-by-jowl cityscape that is rapidly replacing the natural beauty that the logo and the Comprehensive Plan insists Sammamish embraces. How many Sammamish residents wonder if those of us who live here — those of us who moved here for the environmental beauty and advantages that Sammamish offers us — should allow those who don’t live here — the developers — to exploit and destroy our environment in the name of profit? After all, this is our home.
We’ve watched and wondered if the creators of the logo and the writers of the plan really meant it, or are they pedaling illusions, or worse, deceptions? It’s time for Sammamish to align its policies with its words and its logo. Keep in mind, our environment disappears one tree at a time.
John Scannell and Wendy Kelling