The City of Sammamish was denied a requested extension to pass a new traffic concurrency ordinance that complies with state law, setting up a firm deadline of November 13 for the City to pass an ordinance that is consistent with its Comprehensive Plan.
The Growth Management Hearing Board, the state body that oversees how cities across Washington comply with the state’s Growth Management Act, issued the denial on May 22.
This is the latest development in a case before the board that was filed by former Sammamish City Council member Don Gerend.
Gerend had challenged the City’s 2019 traffic concurrency ordinance, which tightened the measure for traffic capacity in order to limit development within city limits.
“The ordinance was deliberately structured to result in failure of traffic concurrency by new proposed subdivisions in Sammamish,” Gerend said in a statement. “Concurrency was being used to stop growth which is contrary to the State of Washington regulations.”
The board, in its April 20 ruling, invalidated the ordinance, citing that it was inconsistent with the rest of the City’s Comprehensive Plan and therefore violated the Growth Management Act. The board gave the City an October 30 deadline to adopt a new ordinance. By November 13, the City must submit a report explaining how the new ordinance complies.
The day after the April decision was released, the Sammamish City Council passed a 6-month building moratorium to buy time for compliance.
With the deadline looming, the City may go through the process of updating the Comprehensive Plan as a way to comply, while still keeping its tighter method for measuring traffic capacity. The Comprehensive Plan covers city land use, infrastructure and environmental priorities through 2035.
“The City staff will build on its experience from the past in writing the Comprehensive Plan,” Kate Langsdorf, the City’s communications manager, said in a statement. “This will require public input on all goals of the Comprehensive Plan including transportation, land use, capital facilities, environment and conservation goals.”
The current city council majority was formed when three of the councilmembers won their 2019 elections on a platform to stop development, which includes a new Town Center under construction in central Sammamish. However, the City’s current Comprehensive Plan, which was adopted by previous councils, still includes the Town Center as a key part of the City’s proposal to meet state-mandated housing growth targets. The current plan allows for up to 2,000 units of housing and 600,000 square feet of commercial space at the Town Center. Most of the housing will consist of apartments and townhomes.