Sammamish City Council renews development moratorium for an additonal six months

Sammamish’s moratorium on new developments will continue for an additional six months, after a unanimous vote by the City Council at their March 6 meeting.

Sammamish residents packed in to the council meeting to speak at the public hearing on the possible extension of the six-month development moratorium put in place last fall. The council approved the moratorium on Oct. 3, 2017, in order to stop new development projects from proceeding while the city works to develop and implement a revised traffic model.

The moratorium received two amendments, the most recent on Dec. 5, 2017, to add some exceptions to the moratorium including places of worship like churches, synagogues and temples, as well as government facilities and structures like street and utility improvements.

The city’s primary priority is to make sure the roadways and intersections throughout the city will be able to handle the impact of continued growth without having the level of service of the traffic pathways deteriorate. With the council working an an all new traffic concurrency policy, the moratorium was put in place to make sure any additional growth is not vested to the old traffic plan.

The March 6 meeting was a public hearing on the potential renewal for an additional six months. Without a renewal, the moratorium would have ended on April 2.

Many citizens attending the meeting spoke in support of the renewal, explaining their experiences driving in the city and their concerns of additional growth, waiting times in traffic, maintenance of roads and safety.

The city also approved a preferred approach to the the development of transportation concurrency and level of service (LoS) policies. The approach they approved is aiming to keep the volume at intersections at an LoS level of D, a level of E is also allowed where D cannot be maintained. An LoS of D means intersections with traffic signals and roundabouts can have approximately 35 to 55 seconds of wait time before a vehicle can get through, Level E ranges from 55 to 80 seconds.

Sammamish Mayor Christie Malchow said she anticipates the new concurrency policy to be adopted in July and that she does not expect the moratorium to last the full six-month extension. Throughout the moratorium so far, she said, the council and city staff have been working to improve and rewrite the concurrency policy to be amended into the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

The city’s Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) will also be updated with projects that will put the new policy into action by making improvements to the actual roads and intersections in the city. Malchow said that there are currently nine failing intersections in the city and the TIP will address each of those locations and more.

The TIP contains projects for the next six years in accordance with the King County Growth Management Act. Malchow said that with a timeline of six years she hopes to have all of the projects not only funded by that time, but completed.

Sammamish city staff will now begin work on drafts for future Comprehensive Plan amendments and traffic concurrency methods in order to address the growing traffic needs.

“It’s not going to be instant gratification, these are long-term solutions we are coming up with,” Malchow said. “It’s going to be in the future to get a win on this traffic stuff, but we’ve got to do the work now to get it there.”