The city of Sammamish followed its neighbor Issaquah’s footsteps; at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, the council unanimously approved an emergency moratorium on most new development until city leaders have implemented a revised traffic model.
“We can’t stop growth, but we can manage it,” City Manager Lyman Howard stated in a press release on Wednesday. “We’re in an intense cycle of strategic planning at the same time all this growth is happening. The building moratorium is like a time out or a pause. It’s a temporary reprieve while we complete the planning necessary to guide development in alignment with our Comprehensive Plan.”
Council members specifically want to complete their work developing a revised traffic concurrency policy and traffic modeling program. They voted in July to make alleviating traffic congestion their No. 1 priority, and the emergency ordinance provides them time to do in-depth analysis of current conditions, the press release said.
City leaders are working with a consultant to explore alternative concurrency models. They expect to select a preferred approach and begin looking at implications by January 2018.
Because this is an emergency ordinance, the council must hold a public hearing on the moratorium within 60 days and review and renew the action if it lasts beyond six months.
The moratorium does not mean all development will stop. Projects can proceed if they are already under construction or have development applications filed with the city. With approximately two years’ worth of such projects in the pipeline, it will likely take some time before citizens notice the effect of the moratorium.
In addition, the moratorium excludes affordable-housing projects and publicly-funded facilities.
The Issaquah City Council enacted a similar emergency moratorium in September 2016, which is scheduled to lift at the end of this year.
More specific information is available in a Sammamish Building Moratorium FAQ sheet at www.sammamish.us.