August 14, 2013 Locally owned 50 cents
Sammamish woman helps change law for victims of abuse By Ari Cetron
Gail Harsh was giving herself one chance. One chance to honor a dead daughter who’d endured years of sexual abuse. One chance to open herself to rooms full of strangers and tell her heartbreaking story. One chance to change state law to make it easier for victims to seek justice. She did it. “I can do this once. I can pour my heart into it one time,” said Harsh, a Sammamish resident. “It took a lot, emotionally, to tell about our daughter.” Along with a phalanx of others from around the state, Harsh lobbied to change the statute of limitations for reporting and prosecuting cases of child rape. After a bit of prodding from state Sen. Andy Hill (R-45), Harsh testified before both the House and Senate about the impact child rape had on her and her family. While lawmakers are presented with mountains of data, hearing the emotional side can be the sort of thing that helps a bill pass, Hill said. “One of the most powerful ways to get support for a bill is to have someone come and tell their personal stories about it,” he said. Amy’s story A family member first abused Harsh’s daughter, Amy, when Amy was 4. Then another family
member abused her between the ages of 4 and 8. Finally, a teacher assaulted the girl at age 10, Gail said. The incidents took place in the 1980s in Spokane. One of the three men is now dead. None were prosecuted. The family moved to Sammamish in 1988. At the time, neither Gail, her husband, Tom, or Amy’s brother and sister had any idea. “We did not know this happened, and we were a close family,” Harsh said. That changed July 24, 1992 (Harsh has detailed journals with dates). Amy was at a youth conference in Oregon. She was flipping through a magazine and saw a photo of a group of adults who were abused as children when she started having flashbacks, Harsh said. Harsh was not there, but another adult told her Amy started shaking violently. “She’s repeating over and over, ‘Something happened to me at (school). Something happened to me at (school),’” Harsh said. Amy was taken home. She started journaling and working with a therapist. She remembered the abuse in reverse order, which Harsh said is fairly common. “She gave a play-by-play about what this teacher had done to her,” Tom Harsh said. In retrospect, Gail Harsh said, she started to understand
some of Amy’s behaviors from the time it was happening. Amy would jog in place before a soccer practice, hoping that would stop her 9-year-old body from getting pregnant. Amy came home from school one day and asked to transfer to a different school – and wanted to start the next day. The fall after the revelations, Amy went back to school and became deeply involved, earning varsity letters, serving as president of the honor society and natural helpers. Then on July 2, 1993, she died of complications from mononuSee ABUSE, Page 2 Photo by Kayti Heuser
Jenny Graham, of Spokane, (left) and Gail Harsh, of Sammamish, were among dozens of citizens from across the state fighting for a change to the statute of limitation on child sexual abuse.
The new law As of July 28, the statute of limitations for sexual abuse has changed. Under the new standards, if the victim of rape, child molestation, indecent liberties, incest or sexual exploitation of a minor was under 18 when the crime was committed, the crime may be prosecuted until the victim’s 30th birthday. If the victim is over than 18, rape may be prosecuted with 10 years, if the crime was reported within one year. If the offense was not reported within one year, then it may be prosecuted within three years of the act. All other sexual offenses may be prosecuted within three years from the act.
He’s seen it all community page 11
Photo by Kayti Heuser
Dozens gathered at Gail Harsh’s Sammamish home to release ballons to honor victims of child sex abuse, and celebrate a change in the law.
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August 14, 2013
to report the crime within a year. For example, since a 4-year old Amy didn’t report the crime when she was 5, the statute of limitations had run up – on that and all the other incidents. “They closed the case because the statue of limitations had passed,” Gail Harsh said.
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cleosis. She was 15. “For almost one full year, she was going through post-traumatic stress,” Gail Harsh said. “She just carried on like an amazing trooper.” Naturally, the family turned to police. They started working with a detective in Spokane, but thought he was dragging his feet in the investigation. Then they ran up against the problems in state law. Washington law regarding sex offenders had been a mish-mash of times and circumstances. Generally, if someone is under 14 when they were abused, they would need
The aftermath Gail ended up overwhelmed as the effect of the abuse rippled outward. “When she died, our whole world stopped,” she said. “Your child is dead. Your heart is broken.” Doctors prescribed drugs to help Gail take the edge off her grief. They worked a bit too well and Gail was addicted to them. They also stopped her from
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processing her grief. “I wasn’t dealing with anything on a deep level,” she said. “I lost 11 years to prescription drugs.” After some counseling, and help from her church group at Sammamish Presbyterian Church, Gail began dealing with her grief. She started talking, not on some kind of formal lecture circuit, but simply sharing her story with community groups or individuals. Her work there caught the attention of Hill, the state senator, who asked her to come to Olympia and testify. A group of citizens, led by Jenny Graham of Spokane, had been lobbying for a change to the statute of limitations. If passed, it would mean that a person abused before age 18 would have until age 30 to report the crime. When Harsh joined the group, she quickly became part of the lobbying effort. She contacted friends around the state and encouraged them to call their legislators in support of the bill. Hill said such grassroots
SAMMAMISH REVIEW efforts can be especially effective, particularly when citizens are doing the work instead of professional lobbyists. The idea for the bill had been kicking around Olympia. In 2012, it passed the House unanimously before getting stuck in the Senate. The Senate committee was waiting for a report on the idea from the state’s Sex Offender Policy Board. The board’s report was not filed until October 2012, months after the Legislature had adjourned. In the report, the board recommended setting the limitation at age 28 and retaining a tight deadline for reporting the incident. There are reasons to keep the statute of limitation in place, the report argues. As time goes on, evidence will become less reliable and the chances of a successful prosecution will diminish. Therefore, it may be more important to spend limited resources on prosecuting more recent crimes. Hill said that while that may be a valid point, the old standard of expecting a 4-year-old to report such
Sexual assault resource center to provide services for Eastside Beginning in late September, the Harborview Center for Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress (HCSATS) will expand its partnership with the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center (KCSARC). Both centers are nationally recog-
crimes within a year didn’t work. “From a common sense point of view, the one year didn’t make sense,” Hill said. Harsh got involved as the 2013 legislative session began. Once again, the bill sailed through the House unanimously. State Rep. Jay Rodne (R-5) was a cosponsor of the House version and was pleased to see it pass. “I think it was about providing justice and access to justice for very heinous crimes,” Rodne said. As the bill went to the Senate this time, it sailed through the upper chamber, also passing unanimously. Rodne noted that a noncontroversial bill, such as renaming part of a state highway, might pass both the House and Senate unanimously. But a bill like this one, with some substantive changes to state law, rarely goes through without a single no vote. “It is rare,” he said. Epilogue The new law went into effect July 28. The next
nized leaders in sexual assault and trauma services. They provide counseling, advocacy, prevention and education services. “We see this as an opportunity to further solidify the long standing collaborative relationship with KCSARC and to increase the availability of services on the Eastside to include counseling for adults as well
Who to call People who have been the victims of sexual abuse, even if it took place years ago, should call 911, said Sammamish Police Chief Nate Elledge. The operators will be able to connect callers to the appropriate channels. The King County Sherriff’s Office Special Assault unit would likely handle the case, Elledge said. The amount of time that has passed will not diminish police interest. “We would still consider that a priority,” Elledge said. day, Harsh had nearly 50 people from around the state come to her house to celebrate. They released colorful balloons — the sort children would enjoy — into the air from her dock on Lake Sammamish. “I believe Amy is really pleased,” Gail Harsh said. “Her whole thing is to protect children.”
as children and families,” said Lucy Berliner, director of HCSATS, in a statement. Eastside families will have access to the same services that the Children’s Response Center has provided for nearly 30 years. HCSATS and KCSARC services will integrate Sept. 30 into the Children’s Response Center on the campus of Overlake Medical Center.
December 4, 2013 Locally owned 50 cents
Sammamish, residents may settle lawsuit over street By Ari Cetron
Sammamish is suing a group of neighbors along Southeast 14th Street, but the parties may have come to a settlement. The Lawson Park subdivision is going in along 14th Street between 242nd Drive
Southeast and Southeast Windsor Boulevard. As part of the development, the city wants to finish paving a section of road on 14th. City regulations call for increasing street connectivity whenever possible, rather than creating new cul-de sacs. Some residents in the area,
however, aren’t too keen on what they fear will be an increase in cut-through traffic, particularly students on their way to and from Skyline High School looking to shave a few minutes off the drive. See SUIT, Page 3
Salamanders get a little help By Ari Cetron
Salamanders, as it happens, are kind of dumb. When the little amphibians scurry across the road and hit the curb on the other side, they don’t know what to do. Luckily for them, Kate Poaster does. For the past 10-12 years, Poaster has been walking the streets of Sammamish in the wee hours of the morning, picking up the salamanders and depositing them at the top of the curb during their twice-a-year migrations. See SALAMANDER, Page 2
Photo by Greg Farrar
Photo by Kate Poaster
Kate Poaster has identified three species of salamander, the Northwestern, the long-toed and a newt.
Rabbi Barry Farkash, with Chabad of the Central Cascades, lights the lamps on a public menorah for the fourth day of Chanukah during a holiday celebration Nov. 30 in Issaquah Highlands, the closest public celebration to Sammamish. About 200 people from throughout the region attended.
Doug Eglington ending tenure on LW School Board By Evan Pappas
After almost 25 years on the Lake Washington School Board, the 31st of December will mark the end of Doug Eglington’s term. Eglington, a resident of Sammamish since 1986, works as a senior policy analyst for King County and has served on the school board since 1989. “I moved here because it had a good reputation, and I wanted to make sure that reputation was fulfilled,” Eglington said. Eglington comes from a fam-
ily of school board members and educators. His great-grandfather was one of the co-founders of the Clark County School District in Nevada, and his grandfather was on the Los Gatos School Board just south of San Francisco. His family’s history in education is partly why he is so interested in it. At Whitman College, his political science thesis was about school governance and whether or not the ideas of the founders who felt education was an important service of government were realized.
Eglington’s involvement with the school board over the years has given him an unusual perspective on how the district has changed and grown. “The school district was really booming in the late 80s and early 90s and slowed because of the dot-com burst and the housing bubble,” Eglington said. But recently, Eglington has seen the growth of the district take off again, particularly in the Redmond Ridge area. It’s not just because there are more schools, but also because the district has
become more sophisticated than ever before. Eglington associates the growth with the rise of the high tech industry in the area. “One of the biggest changes over the years I’ve seen is the cultural change that Microsoft has brought,” Eglington said. “It values diversity, competence and understands how important the global economy is.” In the early 90s, Eglington was involved in the discussion of what a modern graduate from the Lake Washington school district should look like. That student
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profile framework is still relevant to this day, he said. “The student profile still guides the district and reflects what the community values,” Eglington said. With the standards of the student profile and the growth of the culture in the area, Eglington said the bar is always being raised and that it helps the school district to keep improving what they do. It’s a constant demand for quality. Eglington has not just contrib-
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December 4, 2013
it is the most amazing evening,” she said. The numbers are fairly typical, said Jared Grummer, a doctoral student at the University of Washington who studies evolutionary biology and amphibians. Grummer said the salamanders are likely heading to their breeding grounds. Like a more famous Northwest native, the salmon, salamanders often return to the spot where they hatched in order to start their own families. “Some individuals will come to breed at the same pond year in, year out,” he said. And year in and out, Poaster walks the streets looking to help them. She started doing this years
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“Salamanders can’t climb straight up curbs,” Poaster said. Yes, salamanders migrate. Poaster finds that the fall migration, which is now starting to trail off, starts after the first frost, and once the rains begin. At its peak, on a really rainy night, she said she finds dozens of salamanders stranded at curbs, and she sees dozens more who have found some way or another, or were maybe lucky enough to cross the street and find a curb cut meant for cars. “If you hit it just right,
ago when she would go for her morning walks around 212th Avenue Southeast, Southeast Eighth Street and Southeast 20th Street. When she first saw them, she didn’t realize the animals were migrating. Then Poaster, who teaches environmental science at various Issaquah district schools, said she eventually realized what was going on as she stopped to help. Poaster often goes out for walks with a flashlight, scanning the sides of the road and using her foot to disturb piles of leaves up against the curb. Sometimes, she said, she finds a few of them who think they’ve found a safe spot there on the roadside. She moves them along. After years of doing it, she occasionally recruits her husband to help. On particularly foggy or rainy days, he’ll follow along behind her, using the headlights of his car to light the way. She also finds herself stopping traffic to get out and lift animals to safety. “There’s nothing more irritating (for other drivers) than when you stop your
Photo by Kate Poaster
The Northwestern salamander oozes a white poison when threatened.
The Northwestern salamander oozes poison. Touching it might be OK, but certainly eating it would be a problem. Jared Grummer, a doctoral student at the University of Washington who studies evolutionary biology and amphibians, said the salamander poison is the most potent in the animal kingdom. Grummer said there is a distinction between a poison, which must be ingested, and venom, which something like a spider or a snake will inject into a victim. Grummer said the only thing that can eat a salamander is a garter snake,
car to go pick up a salamander,” Poaster said. None of the salamanders in this area are endan-
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which has developed immunity to the poison. Even then, the snake must remain still for quite a while after ingesting the salamander, so its body can focus its energy on not allowing the poison to spread. Over generations, Grummer said, scientists have noted the salamanders’ poison has gotten more potent, and snakes have found new ways to resist it. The relationship has lead to a sort of arms race, with each species evolving in tandem, trying to out-do the other. “It’s one of the classic examples people think of,” he said.
gered, Grummer said, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t use a little help. He said that what Poaster is doing is generally good. Since people built the curbs which block the salmanders, it’s reasonable that a person would help them over it. He noted that in some places, localities go to rather extreme measures to protect the creatures. In Berkeley, Calif., he said, officials close some streets during migration times. Other places put up fencing to try and funnel the salamanders to a culvert or other spot where they might cross. Poaster said she’s identified three different species of salamander and
newts (newts, the same sort whose eyes end up in witch’s cauldrons, are a subset of salamander) crossing the road. Once they get across, they’ll head to their breeding grounds, Grummer said. The males drop a sperm packet, which the females scoop up, and then – voila – there are fertilized eggs. About a month later, the eggs hatch. The salamanders spend some time fully aquatic, similar to the tadpole stage of a frog’s life, before moving up onto land, Grummer said. Once they’re adults, they like to find a spot underground, since the sun will dry out their skin, which is also the reason they migrate when it’s still dark. At that point, they play a key role in keeping the environment running. Grummer said he’s read studies of some forested areas on the East Coast where salamanders were found to be the most abundant animal, in terms of biomass, in some areas. Poaster said she’s seen some salamanders eaten by raccoons, owls, blue herons and garter snakes (see “arms race” sidebar). Grummer said salamanders typically eat bugs and are, in turn, eaten by things like raccoons, foxes, and some birds. “Just because people don’t see them, doesn’t mean they’re not important and they’re not there,” he said.
March 5, 2014 Locally owned 50 cents
Klahanie says no to Issaquah
LWSD may make quick choice on new bond
By Peter Clark
Klahanie-area residents have spoken — and 32 of them may make all the difference. The final results of the Feb. 11 election are in. With 49 percent of registered voters casting a ballot, only 49.47 percent, or 1,504, voted for an Issaquah annexation. While 50.53 percent, or 1,536, voted against the measure. Even with the narrow number of votes separating the sides, it is outside the 0.25 percent margin that would trigger an automatic recount. Though one side or the other could pay for one, no one has suggested they are willing to do so. After Issaquah spent a year and a half in studies and public meetings, exploring the option of annexing the residential neighSee VOTE, Page 2
By Ari Cetron
Photo by Donna Leavitt
Donna Leavitt snapped this photo of sunrise over the smooth waters of Lake Sammamish.
The Lake Washington School Board is trying to decide what to do after its bond measure failed last month, and it looks like voters could have some sort of bond placed before them again this year. The proposed $755 million bond received 57.8 percent approval — a ringing endorsement in almost any other election — but bonds need 60 percent to pass. Two levy votes also on the ballot were approved. The board met Feb. 24 to discuss the bond, said Kathryn Reith, district spokeswoman. Even with the bond’s failure, the district needs to find a way to See BOND, Page 3
City starts cable franchise negotiations from tough place By Ari Cetron
Patricia Waltner was fed up. Over the course of a month, she’d just had pieces of equipment break, the replacements break and a series of other customer service problems with Comcast, the only cable provider in Sammamish. She called around and found out that she had no other options – other companies simply don’t serve the plateau. “All I want is a choice,” she said. “There’s got to be better service out there somewhere.” The Sammamish City Council is beginning to review the cable franchise agreement it has with
Comcast, but whether or not that will lead to more choices is an open-ended question. The issue came up at the council’s retreat, said Mayor Tom Vance. He said the council is mostly concerned with ensuring that cable providers provide the service people want. “Our goal is to make sure we are giving our citizens and businesses whatever they need,” he said. In general, cable companies cut deals with places where they operate so the company can use publicly-owned property. The companies need to get wires to homes, and the most efficient
Franchise fees Comcast pays Sammamish an annual fee for the right to use city-owned rights of way. The amount has steadily increased in each of the past five years. From 2009 to 2013, the total increase has been about 26 percent. In 2013, franchise fees were way to do that is by using public rights of way. The most commonly understood examples of rightsof-way are city-owned strips of land that run along the edges of
about 1.3 percent of the city’s total revenues, which totaled $46.5 million. 2009 $489,996 2010 $532,455 2011 $553,213 2012 $589,344 2013 $617,660 Source: Chris Gianini, deputy finance director, city of Sammamish roads, or telephone poles. Cable companies pay the cities where they operate for the right to use some of the space, and often offer other amenities.
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School bus slides into ditch
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In Sammamish, there’s an annual payment (see sidebar) and the city gets the use of channel 21. Those sorts of deals are fairly typical, said Steve Kipp, vice president of communications for the Washington region of Comcast. Not all localities want or can use a cable channel, he said, so it’s not a standard part of agreements. Payments can vary depending on the location, but often are 5 percent of the gross revenues made by the company in each jurisdiction. The contract with Sammamish
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March 5, 2014
Issaquah school bus slips into ditch, 1 minor injury reported An Issaquah District School Bus slipped into a ditch the morning of March 3 at about 6:45 a.m. There were 17 students on board, said Sergeant Tony Garza of the Sammamish Police Department. He said firefighters on the scene thought one of the students might have had a sprained wrist, but that was the only reported injury. That student’s father picked him up, while the rest of the students were put on a Photo courtesy Sammamish Police Department different bus. Students are shepherded into a new bus after the one they were The incident occurred riding on slipped into a ditch. when the original bus was coming around a bend near Pine Lake. slipped into a drainage ditch on the intersection of Southeast Garza said the bus was trythe side of the road. 24th Way and 200th Avenue ing to edge out of the way to let A tow truck pulled the bus Southeast – an area a bit west of another vehicle pass when it out of the ditch.
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also contains a clause which states that if the city wants to allow another cable provider access to the
rights of way, they have to get the same deal Comcast does. “If another company comes in and tries to serve Sammamish, it’s a level playing field,” Kipp said. He declined to say if such clauses are typical.
He further noted that since Sammamish’s franchise agreement is under negotiation, he could not comment on specifics of the deal. Kipp stressed that there is nothing in the current franchise agreement which would prohibit another company from coming into Sammamish. Nor could there be – the federal government has prohibited exclusive franchise agreements since 1992. “The agreement, like all agreements, is non-exclusive,” Kipp said. Although agreements are non-exclusive, industry analysts explain that nationwide, having more than one cable company in an area is relatively
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borhoods with a population of more than 11,000 people, it is now investigating how to proceed. “Now that the county has certified the results, the city’s next step is to review all of our options,” City Communications Managers Autumn Monahan said. “We’re really in our research phase and we don’t know all of them yet.” She said the City Council would ultimately make the decision. Election campaigning brought out support in the area for a Sammamish annexation. Klahanie Choice, a political action committee, said a ‘no’ vote for an Issaquah annexation would essentially mean saying ‘yes’ to Sammamish. Before Sammamish could attempt to annex the area, Issaquah would have to relinquish it, something the Issaquah City Council can do.
rare. Companies have to put in a lot of upfront costs to put in the new lines, and there’s no guarantee of how many customers they’d be able to poach from the alreadyentrenched company. Sammamish has not had a new cable provider approach the city about providing service in recent memory, said Kamuron Gurol, development director for Sammamish. Gurol is also heading the city’s effort at developing its new agreement. In the past, Sammamish banded together with a group of other localities to develop a single larger agreement. Gurol said Sammamish is beginning to reach out to
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Sammamish has already begun a bullish move to investigate their own annexation of the area. “I think if anything, the election was an election for choice,” Sammamish Mayor Tom Vance said, saying they’ve already done some internal studies and might hire a consultant to do a more formal one. “We’re moving to get our house in order.” Sammamish has already sent a letter to the King County Growth Management Planning Council, and had city officials testify there in favor of moving the potential annexation area. Vance said a vote on annexation could occur this year, but that would require a “perfect storm” in order to get everything together that quickly. He pushed for the Issaquah City Council to drop Klahanie from its potential annexation area, allowing Sammamish to adopt it. “I hope that they honor the election and do the right thing,” Vance said. Sammamish Review Editor Ari Cetron contributed to this story.
those other cities again. Not leaving While other companies can come in, it would be extremely difficult to kick Comcast out. Under federal law, once a company has been granted a franchise agreement, a local government can’t make it leave unless it fails in one of four areas. Generally, the cable provider would either have to violate the terms of the current agreement, provide inadequate service, or stop providing service before any local government could remove them. Kipp said that Comcast has more than 150 franchise agreements in Washington. Almost all are renewed in informal discussions, he said. Cable companies typically favor “informal” renewals, according to Brian Grogan, a telecommunications lawyer based in Minnesota. For one, the companies have staff working on renewals all the time, while government officials only see them
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once every 10-15 years. As a result, cable companies typically have an advantage when it comes to negotiations. “Second, cable operators recognize that a franchising authority has no ability to deny franchise renewal under the informal negotiations,” Grogan wrote in a paper delivered to the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors in 2004. “Given that the city has no ability to deny renewal, cities have very little leverage to mandate aggressive franchise requirements under informal proceedings.” Even given these constraints, Sammamish is hoping to forge an agreement with better terms, said Vance. Kipp said that Comcast also hopes to come to an agreement. He said they appreciate the opportunity to serve Sammamish, and want to work with the city. The Planning Commission is studying the issue now, said Vance, and will present its findings to the City Council within the next few weeks.
February 26, 2014 Locally owned 50 cents
Gun initiatives set to duel in November By Christopher Lopaze WNPA Olympia News Bureau
Campaigns for dueling gun initiatives on this year’s ballot could bring national attention to Washington state, and contribute to an ongoing debate about gun laws across the United States. Initiative 594 would enact statewide criminal background checks for all firearm transactions. That’s indirect conflict with Initiative 591, which would prohibit passage of any law expanding background checks unless a national standard is created. I-591 also prohibits confiscations of guns without due process. Both measures were given a public hearing in the Legislature, but it’s doubtful state lawmakers will take further action, said Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma), head of the house committee that
Edward Kim makes history
heard testimony on the initiatives. Jinkins said it doesn’t make sense to waste time on measures that aren’t likely to pass. Lawmakers have the option of not taking action on initiatives to the Legislature, if they don’t, the initiatives will end up on the November ballot. Campaign Preparation The Citizens Committee to Protect the Right to Keep and Bear Arms is a member of the pro-I-591 campaign. Dave Workman, communications director for the organization, said the state has some of the best firearm laws in the country, not just because they are less restrictive, but because they have strongly written language See GUN, Page 2
Photo by Greg Farrar
Ed Kim, an Eastlake senior, takes a breath after winning his second state title. Kim won eight during his high school career, the maximum possible in Washington state. For more see Page 8.
Stormwater standards complicate community center By Ari Cetron
During a big rainstorm in the 1970s, Ebright Creek overran its banks and flowed into the nearby Zaccuse Creek, flooding the basement of Wally Pereyra’s neighbor. At the time, Pereyra drove out on a tractor, pushing earth around and trying to put the creek back where it belonged. Now, he fears that the new Sammamish Community Center might cause a repeat performance. The city is in the process of granting itself permits for the community center, which sits near the headwaters of Ebright Creek, and officials are poised to allow a deviation from city standards about how much water can
flow off the land. Pereyra, and at least one member of the City Council, question whether the city should grant itself the leeway. “The city, which should be, really, the model, is applying to give itself a deviation,” Pereyra said. Pereyra has a Ph.D as a fisheries biologist, and he understands the impact development can have on water bodies. He is known for spending $175,000 of his own money to help restore the part of Ebright Creek that runs through his property. While he doesn’t think the community center will damage the work he did, he does fear for the overall health of the stream. The entire process is new,
New term The process for permitting stormwater in Town Center is so new, the city administration had to invent a new term to explain it, said Evan Maxim, of the Community Development Department. Since the rules include the term “where practical,” Maxim said allowing something with a lower standard is within the rules. It wouldn’t properly be called a variance or some kind of exception since it falls within the regulations. But it doesn’t quite achieve what’s called for in those regulations, so city staffers have taken to calling it a deviation, Maxim said. since the community center is the first thing to be built in the Town Center area. Until recently, guidelines in that area said developers should try to remove 100 percent of the water from
their development (see sidebar) when practical. When the City Council established that goal, it knew it was an aspirational one, since containing all of the water that runs off a property is next to impossible. “We realized it would be pretty
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hard, but we thought it would be good to get people to try,” said Eric LaFrance, the city’s stormwater engineer. As the city has gone through the process, acting as its own guinea pig, officials have realized just how challenging the goal is. Much of the soil in Sammamish is glacial till, which is very densely compacted. With that type of soil, water tends to run off a property instead of filtering down into the ground. As a result, the council voted in November to reduce the standard from 100 percent to 60 percent — and 80 percent near Ebright Creek. But the city continues to require it only when practical.
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See WATER, Page 3
Stolen property to be released to owners Police are hoping to identify the owners of hundreds of items of stolen property and reunite people with their goods. The items were stolen by a prolific duo that burglarized homes between Mill Creek, Wash. and Tigard, Ore. between January 2012 and July 2013. Sammamish Police arrested Krystal Sweetman, 27 of Puyallup, and Steven Tipton, 27 of Tacoma, last July. Sweetman has already pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 36 months in prison and 36 months of community custody. Police expect Tipton to plead guilty as well. During the course of the investigation, police found the couple to have burglarized more than 80 residences. Many of the items were sold at local coin stores, and they netted more than $346,000 over the 18 months. The couple also had a large storage unit packed with goods taken during the burglaries. Many of the items found in the storage unit are still unclaimed. Detectives have photographed the property and posted the photos online. Items run the gamut from jewelry, electronics and baseball cards to art, video games, family photos and a sword. Detectives are hoping that anyone who was the victim of a burglary between January 2012 and July 2013 will look through the photos and see if anything belongs to them. The photos are posted at: http://s1113.photobucket. com/user/kcsophotos/ library/13-160094. The case-sensitive password is SammamishPD. The first image shows a form people will need to fill out to claim the property. People will need to provide a case number and some proof that the item is theirs. Police expect there may be a high interest in checking the photos. If the site is unavailable, they suggest trying again at a later time.
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It’s the “when practical” part that worries Pereyra. “As far as I’m concerned, it means there’s no regulation,” he said. Pereyra also fears the precedent the city will be setting. If the city decides, for its own project, that “practical” means retaining a certain amount of water, it may be difficult to argue in the future that private developers would have to retain more. “Each little development adds a little bit more,” Pereyra said. “It’s like the old Chinese proverb, death by a thousand pricks.” How does it work? In theory, it would be possible for someone to remove all water from their property. In an example intended to be unrealistic, LaFrance explained to the City Council that someone could collect the water from a site and load it onto tanker trucks to remove. While possible, it would not be practi-
How much water is too much? Adding water to a stream — beyond what the stream has evolved to handle — tends to erode the streambed and other nearby land, increasing the dirt in the water. This means property owners who might have had a tree near a stream eventually find their tree in the stream. The extra dirt doesn’t do wonders for the fish that need to live in the stream and, essentially, breathe the water, either. New buildings cover up some land, so water that would have filtered into the ground can’t. Instead it runs off toward the nearest water body, creating the problem of extra water. Sammamish officials implemented standards in the Town Center proposal that sought to do more than stop things from getting worse; they hoped to improve them. The plan would turn back the clock to a time when the area was forested — actually improving the cal or cost-effective, so it would be unreasonable for the city to ask someone to do it. While King County has specific guidelines for how much something could cost and be considered reasonable, Sammamish does not. “This is kind of new for both staff and developers,” LaFrance said. It would be up to the Community Development Department to issue the necessary permits.
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water runoff situation. Water could still flow off a property, but no more than if the land was still a forest. Even though some water would leave the property, this is, in a way, considered capturing 100 percent of the water. The goal was to force development to have a smaller environmental impact, called low-impact development. There were not yet formal standards for this, so the city did what it could to approximate them. “This was all a proxy to get at low-impact development,” said Eric LaFrance, Sammamish’s stormwater engineer. City officials realized a 100-percent goal was unrealistic, so in November 2013, they set their goal back and asked property owners to capture 60 percent of the water (80 percent in the Ebright Creek basin). In the community center project, the city should be able to reduce the volume of water running off, but would extend the time the extra water is flowing.
Evan Maxim, of Community Development, said his department has not yet determined whether it will grant the needed deviation from the standards. He expects it to be part of the larger permit package issued for the community center, which should happen within the next couple weeks. Until the final permit is issued, it will be unclear just how much will be retained. Since the guidelines call for removal “when practical,” the city has the
authority to grant itself the permits, Maxim said. He also notes that the definition of “practical” is tough to get at. Certainly, there could be a way for the city to detain all of the water, but doing so is not always worthwhile. During a November 2013 council meeting, Councilman Ramiro Valderrama questioned the city granting itself a deviation. No one had calculated how much it would cost to detain all of the water, so
Valderrama asked how the city could know it would cost too much. In an interview, Maxim explained that city officials didn’t have to go through the exercise of finding how much it would cost to realize that nothing practical would work. He said that the prospect of detaining all of the water would involve a very high cost with a very low probability of success. “What we’re talking about is diminishing returns on the money spent,” Maxim said. “We’re not sure that actually adds value.” He also noted that right now, the water coming off the area is not treated at all, and that adding the community center will actually improve the situation in some ways. “We’re actually reducing the volume from what it is right now,” he said. Pereyra said it’s shortsighted to say detaining the water will be impractical. The costs are all going to be paid somehow, by someone — if not by the city at the community center site, then by the community at large in the form of the environmental degradation of the stream. “I understand what they are doing, but it comes at a cost,” he said. “If you don’t pay it there, you’re going to pay it down here.”
November 6, 2013 Locally owned 50 cents
Issaquah schools to stop weighing children publicly By Neil Pierson
The Issaquah School District will no longer be collecting student height and weight measurements in physical education classes after several parent complaints. This year, the district’s five middle schools began using a new method for tracking fitness data and helping students achieve goals in P.E. classes. An online tool known as Welnet is being used to gather the data, then communicate the results to teachers, parents and students. Welnet can help teachers compile body mass index results for their students. The BMI is a
percentage-based scale that rates whether a person is underweight, overweight or of normal weight. To collect BMI data, Issaquah’s middle-school students were asked to step on scales and write their weight on cards during P.E. classes. When parents learned of the procedure, some expressed concerns, and in an electronic newsletter sent Oct. 28, the district said at least one student felt uncomfortable about it. Sarah Ransom, who has two daughters attending Beaver Lake Middle School, said she and her husband, Chris, were alarmed for several reasons, including the See WEIGH, Page 3
Photo by Jean Johnson
Sammamish Resident Jean Johnson snapped this photo of a blue heron watching a pair of ducks swim by on the shores of Lake Sammamish Oct. 24.
Tent City settles in By Ari Cetron
Photo by Ari Cetron
Christine, one of Tent City’s executive committee members, pauses during a tour of the encampment.
Standing in the midst of neat rows of tents behind Mary, Queen of Peace Catholic Church Oct. 31, Red Manchester looked around and smiled. “This is a god-send,” she said. “It really is.” Manchester is one of about 60 homeless people living in Tent City IV, a traveling encampment of homeless people. The camp set up Oct. 19 behind the Sammamish church. Of the camp’s 60 current residents, 90 percent are men, said Christine (last name withheld), a member of the camp’s executive committee. The residents range in age from their early 20s to 60s, and represent a mix of different races and religions. The reaction in Sammamish has
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been mixed. Many people have come forward with donations and offers of help. Others have been opposed to the camp, some because of its proximity to a daycare facility and school, others because of its proximity to homes, and still others with less specific reasons. Gregor (last name withheld), who has lived at the camp for about five months, said that reaction is pretty typical. “It happens historically,” he said. “They don’t know.” One of the bigger issues, Gregor said, is that people don’t know what to expect. They hear the word “homeless” and expect someone dirty, someone criminal. “What do they think? There’s
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See TENT, Page 2
November 6, 2013
How’s it work?
Photo by Ari Cetron
The tents which store donations and house camp operations are larger than the places where people live. They also lie outside the cordon surrounding the sleeping tents.
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going to be 10 guys passing around a bottle of whiskey and swapping old stories?” Gregor said. Christine said while she finds it hurtful that people are afraid to have their children near the camp, she can understand the apprehension. “I have kids,” she said. “I
had the same response.” She said she grew up in Sequim and was raised to, basically, look down on homeless people. But then her father died, and she was left with little more than his truck. Slowly, her material possessions withered away. Eventually the truck was impounded and she was left with few other places to go. “The first two months I was here it was, ‘What did I
Recent problem A police officer responded to the area of Tent City IV at 10:30 p.m. Oct. 26. A man and a woman were having an argument in the road and both smelled of alcohol, according to police reports. Upon questioning, the man said he was a documentary filmmaker who had infiltrated Tent City for a movie he was working on about drug and alcohol abuse in homeless camps. The couple had been arguing about relationship problems for about 15 minutes, disturbing the other Tent City residents, which prompted the call for police. The man said the couple wasn’t actually homeless and they lived in Lynwood. The pair was expelled from Tent City. They left on foot with some of their belongings; staff from Tent City put the rest into storage for them. Tent City residents said they did not recall seeing the couple carrying any camera equipment.
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Tent City IV is a self-contained, self-governed entity. Residents elect people to its seven-member executive committee. That group then takes care of the nuts and bolts of running the community. They fill out the forms for needed permits when they move to a new community, and run the various aspects of the camp. Each member of the camp undergoes a background check and must follow a code of conduct. The camp does not permit convicted sex offenders or people with outstanding warrants to join. The code forbids drinking alcohol or doing drugs in the camp. Members are also prohibited from drinking in the host city. The camp typically stays in one place for 90 days – there is a county ordinance that allows them to stay for up to 92 days. The group has its own security, which patrols in a two-block radius to make sure no residents are loitering in nearby neighborhoods. The camp has a shower facility and a heated community area with electricity, which residents use to charge their phones and laptops or watch TV. do wrong?’” Christine said. But she said she became accustomed to the changes and developed a more pragmatic philosophy. “I could be worse,” she said. “These (things) are all replaceable.” She’s been involved with Tent City IV off and on for a little more than two years, and said now she stays because she wants to help the camp since it has meant so much to her.
“I’m going back more because of what they’ve done for me,” she said. The great outdoors Generally, the residents of Tent City IV say they prefer the camp to other options, including indoor shelters. For one thing, Tent City gives them a safe place to leave their things during the day. At an indoor
A long commute Tent City IV residents with jobs are running into much the same problem that Sammamish’s permanent residents have – infrequent bus service. Residents quickly learned the sparse bus schedule means getting up and heading to the stop early, or having to wait a couple hours for the next bus, said Red Manchester, a Tent City resident. Residents haven’t been excited about the situation, she said, but they’ve made do. “They just make the best of it,” she said. “When you’re served lemons, you make lemonade.”
Photo by Ari Cetron
The camp clusters up against the back side of the church. The area with the tents is surrounded by a tarp-covered fence which allows the main way in to the area. shelter, people can stay overnight, but are usually kicked out during the day. Christine noted that most places force people out at 5:30 a.m. “And 5:30 is the coldest time,” she said. Particularly for a woman, being alone in the cold and dark of winter is hard. “If you’re a young woman, and you’re sweet, you’re not going to be when you’re done,” she said. Indoor shelters also offer no privacy, and often don’t have the food dona-
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tions that come to Tent City, Christine said. Beyond those practical concerns, Tent City residents say they feel like they live in a community, an extended family. “I have a new family, and I’m protected here. I feel safe,” Manchester said. While she has children and grandchildren, she said Tent City has given her another group that cares for her. “We’re like all brothers and sisters here,” she said. But they are temporary brothers and sisters. Christine said that while one resident had been there since the start, most only stay for a few months or maybe a year before they can move into more permanent housing. The backlog for government-assisted housing is long, said Gregor, and people have to go somewhere in the meantime. Resident Eric Brauch agreed. Brauch had been in the camp for 14 days, but was moving into an apartment later that day. “Most of us do not see this as a way of life,” he said. Reach reporter Ari Cetron at 392-6434, ext. 233, or firstname.lastname@example.org. To comment on this story, visit www.SammamishReview. com.