Cascade: Your E Lake Sammamish Trail comments ‘didn’t count’

The legal battle to complete the E Lake Sammamish Trail between Redmond and Issaquah continues, heading to the City of Sammamish Hearing Examiner next week.

The majority of the 800+ comments received about the trail project were supportive of King County’s plans for the regional rail trail, but Cascade Bicycle Club and the Friends of the E Lake Sammamish Trail sounded the alarm this week after noticing these comments were missing from the City of Sammamish’s summary of public comment.

To ensure that the Hearing Examiner hears from trail supporters in addition to opponents, the two groups are urging people to head to Sammamish City Hall at 1 p.m. November 3 to sign up to give public comment in person. You can also RSVP online to let Cascade know you’re coming.

The final 3.5 miles of the trail are designed, funded and ready to break ground. The county just needs a construction permit from the City of Sammamish without restrictions that would make the trail less safe.

More details from Cascade:

This January, as a part of the public process to accept public comment and input, the city of Sammamish received over 800 public comments about the design for the final 3.5 mile segment of the East lake Sammamish Trail (ELST). The majority of comments supported King County’s application for the final shoreline development permit, which is needed to complete the trail to safe, paved, regional trail standards. Only a trail designed to these standards will make for an intuitive expeirence that is safe for the many trail users who walk, run, bike or roll.

The comments were an exciting outpouring of support from caring neighbors and trail users from near and far, and included many unique and personal stories about why the ELST is important to a whole host of different people.

Surprisingly, comments that voiced support for designing the trail to create safe spaces for all users were ignored in the City of Sammamish summary record of comments received (page 9). That summary, and the proposed trail design now heads to the city hearing examiner, who’ll decide whether to issue the shoreline permit – the next step towards construction of the final trail segment.

The omission of scores of comments is a blow to the hundreds of people who spent time crafting and communicating comments. And it means we don’t know if the decision about whether to issue the permit will be made by balancing the differing perspectives fairly.

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8 Responses to Cascade: Your E Lake Sammamish Trail comments ‘didn’t count’

  1. Scott says:

    Why weren’t the supportive comments included? That seems like an illegal subversion of the public process.

  2. Jeremy says:

    This whole thing is ridiculous. I’ve ridden that route several times (beautiful taxpayer funded road), and there are a series of outlets to the upper road where it turns to unfinished gravel region above, all of which are marked “private property”. Been that way for years, I think.

    When you take one of the outlets, a dude on a Segway (guarding the tiny road?) will chase you down and threaten to call the cops, to prevent you from travelling about 50 feet to the upper road with a trail on what appears to be a public road. Happened to me a few times.

    My guess is that it is a bunch of pompous landowners with their McMansions stonewalling to keep the cyclist riff-raff out. Somehow they managed to get City of Sammamish to sell them what should be public access roads, and I’d bet are using political connections to stall permitting as long as possible.

  3. Janet Bird says:

    What got me upset was reading p. 9 of the staff report for the trail permit:

    https://www.sammamish.us/attachments/pagecontent/47039/01_Exhibit_SSDP2016-00415%20Segment%202B_Staff%20Report%20Final100217_signed.pdf

    “18 Public Comments: Approximately 55% of the comments were from “trail supporters” the majority of these were similar in nature and appeared to be “form support emails” sent out to bicycle clubs/enthusiasts throughout the northwest.”

    And when they mentioned concerns brought up in the summary, no mention of decreased width being a safety issue! See p. 10 for the concerns they summarized. I made a public comment at city council about my concern last city council meeting…dead silence from Council and City Manager. (I live in Sammamish) My guess is everyone’s comment could be on the web page if you look long and hard, but it certainly didn’t make it on the summary page.

    There are 2 hearings, the first starting on the 30th for the parking lot and small piece of trail next to it. On Nov. 3rd, the hearing for the 3.5 miles of trail begins. Although public comment starts at 1:00 PM, they will go in the order that people sign in and the sign-in sheet will be out at 8:15 AM.

    One of the city council members was head of the homeowners association that has gone to court about their property rights. (He bowed out as head of the group once he was on Council) Although King County won in 2016, it is being appealed. Oral argument is supposed to be in January and then could take up to a year to decide.

    • Troy says:

      @Tom: if you’re up for a phone call to the City of Sammamish on Monday, it would be interesting to hear their policy for summarizing comments. Is there a threshold below which comments describing the same concerns get combined, and if so, what is it and how is that actually implemented?

  4. Gordon says:

    How is this legal?

  5. Bando says:

    Cascade has always employed the same lazy approach to generating comment letters. Click a button and send. When a government agency receives these, it is the most accurate approach to summarize them as 500 or whatever number of the same letter. It’s just the way its done. Cascade need to instead provide suggested talking points and encourage unique comments however brief. Blame goes to Cascade on this one, not City of Sammamish.

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