Thursday, December 2, 2021

Canyonland Capital Of The Northwest

 It's beginning to look a lot like a City!
Everywhere you go!

-- Bob Yoder

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Fun Facts On The Microsoft Modernization Project

Some fun facts about the project: (clip)

  • We have completed more than one-third of the geothermal wells for the Thermal Energy Center, with over 48 miles installed thus far – long enough to stretch across all of Rhode Island.
  • The campus underground parking garage is considered one of the largest underground parking structures in the world at 3 million square feet spread over four levels. It’s large enough to fit an estimated 8,000 school buses.
  • Central catering will be connected to every building on campus through a below ground service corridor spanning a mile. They will prepare 4,000 meals each week in the 140,000 square foot back of house area, which is roughly the size of a Costco warehouse.
  • Almost 3 million pounds of concrete and carpet have been recycled so far – the equivalent to the weight of four Boeing 747 jumbo jets.
  • By reusing harvested rainwater in flush fixtures and utilizing low-flow systems, the new campus is projected to save over 5.8 million gallons of water annually, enough to fill nearly 9 Olympic-size swimming pools.
  • The Redmond Technology Station (RTS) Pedestrian Bridge will provide a safe and accessible path across SR 520, connecting East and West campus to each other and the new light rail station. The bridge is 1,100 feet long and will serve thousands of people every day.
  • We recently achieved Salmon-Safe certification, which means the campus is verified for protecting water quality and habitats and limiting the negative impact that Microsoft’s construction has on aquatic species in nearby waters, such as Lake Sammamish. Civil engineering and landscape teams worked together to ensure that only salmon safe management practices will be used on the project, including improving the quality of runoff with a “biopod” treatment system that filters water before it is released to flow downstream.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

OPINION: How Will Lake Washington School District Adapt To Our Rapid Growth?

I've been reporting on Redmond's downtown growth for over a year.  Growth has been massive with still no end in sight. On brief count, 2025 dwelling units are approved for construction in Redmond this year. (This, not counting SE Redmond where schools are planned on a $25 M. parcel.) How can Lake Washington School District adapt to this growth?  Drastic measures may be required. Unfortunately, few of the thousands of new dwelling units are family-friendly 3-BR.  

I'm concerned newly-built schools will require building UP to accommodate this growth. Sad for the disruption to educators and the students; distressing for the community taxpayers.  Also, newly built schools are more expensive since the State doesn't fund new construction.

Below, is a sampling of Redmond's downtown growth:

Does Kirkland have a similar problem?

-- Bob Yoder, 11/30/2021

"Redmond Center" 8-Story Twin Towers To Break Ground Mid-2022

The availability of hundreds of dwelling units, office spaces, and retail businesses so close to a transit center is highly beneficial to a community. This availability promotes the ability to walk to work, the grocery store, and surrounding businesses. The proximity to a transit center assists with the need for less cars, and increased affordability for residents. 

The subject site is approximately 2.3 acres in area. The site itself is bound by NE 85th Street to the north; a 4-story multi-family building and 3-story multi-family complex located to the east; a Metro Park-N-Ride transit center to the south; and a City of Redmond Fire Station to the west. Across NE 85th Street, is both a one and a two-story retail and office [Village Square] building. (The zoning surrounding the site in all directions is "Town Square."

Staff notes that the proposal includes two new visually distinct towers identified as Towers “A” and “B”. These towers will provide new opportunities for housing, but will also include an office component in Tower “B” as well as providing new retail opportunities in Tower “A” to serve both the retail and employment needs for the users of these buildings, but also Redmond residents. The addition of the mid-block pedestrian path will further provide pedestrian oriented movement throughout the area.

Source:  Design Review Board, 2021

Sammamish River Water Trail Kayak Canoe Paddle Board, Redmond To Kenmore


Don't miss the New Year's Day paddle!  Meet at Idylwood Park, 11 a.m. 

-- Mike Hedges

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Buffering Between The "Homeless Hotel" and "Others" In Redmond Isn't Possible

Silver Cloud Inn, Redmond, WA.

On November 23, 2021, Director Carol Helland of Planning and Community Development gave an excellent presentation to Council on the Homeless Hotel "Occupancy Agreement" between Redmond and King County.  

The agreement governs five areas to which the Operator (hotel manager) will give input.

  • Program rules
  • Code of conduct
  • Safety and security
  • Parking management 
  • Community relations plan
CM Carson wanted to make sure Case Managers would be present.  He wanted background checks.  Director Helland said there was something similar to a background check; it sounded more thorough. Carson asked for heightened coordination between Redmond Fire/Police and Bellevue Fire/Police.  It's State law that sex offenders, released criminals, evicted are welcome in "low barrier permanent supportive housing."

Director Helland said not all 144 rooms will be used.  They need to reserve some rooms for repair and remodeling.  Communal kitchenets are planned, though with uncertainty.  

CM Kistler brought up the question of car camping. Director Helland noted there will be a second parking lot for safety.  

CM Anderson noted a need for Human Services and Planning Commission input.  The Planning Commission will present the final ordinance to council.  

Don't quote me, but there's apparently a high demand for homeless hotels in Puget Sound and we have to do our share."  The sad news is buffers and 5-mile separations between "permanent supportive hotels" won't work owing to Redmond's small geographic size.  The Planning Commission's final ordinance decision could address this problem.

It's anticipated the Operator will be chosen in February, 2022.

--Bob Yoder, 11/24/2021
  Source:  Facebook LIVE, 7PM Council Business Meeting

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

5-Story Apartment Project Proposed At Kimmel Athletic Supply

What is your Vision for 2050? Does this project satisfy your dreams?

The "Redmond 87" project
 (video) proposes one five-story mixed-use building of 177,454 square feet with one level of below grade parking on the site.  The project is in the pre-application phase.

The building will include 134 residential units, including 13 affordable units, consisting of studio, one, and two-bedroom floor plans, and approximately 7,900 sf of retail space. [Why not 3BR units for families?]

The project provides community open space in the form of a second story courtyard. The courtyard is complimented by a rooftop lounge, and deck. Both the courtyard and deck will include landscaping, and seating for residents.

The location is:  16101 NE 87th Street.  About a 10 minute walk to the Redmond Transit Station.

The flat, rectangular parcel currently has a single one-story building which is home to a Goodyear Auto Service, as well as the old Kimmel Athletic Supply that is currently hosting the Friends of Youth as a temporary tenant. The site is neighbored by the Bella Bottega shopping center to the north, a three-story office building to the south, the proposed redeveloped Together Center to the east, and Modera Apartments to the west.

-- Bob Yoder, 11/23/2021, Source: Design Review Board memo

376-Unit Development Planned In Anderson Park Zone

Two huge luxury apartment / retail buildings are in the process of pre-application approval.  The development is named "AMLI Redmond" and is located in the downtown "Anderson Park Zone." (16771 Redmond Way.) It will house 679 parking spaces, 11070 sf retail, and 376 apartment units.  There's an abundance of flat roof tops that could be used for Green Roofs.  Our Planning Department could make it work with the right incentives.  

-- Bob Yoder, 11/23/2021
   Source: Design Review Board  (2 resident vacancies)
   Go to pages 9-10 to see the roof lines
   Location:  Value Village

"Porch + Park" Multi-Use Building Plans "Green Roof Porch"


Besides shrubs and potted trees, the roof is set with chairs, tables, benches and a BBQ for luxurious outdoor eating.  One other apartment building in Redmond (Horizon) is designing a Green Roof.  The City should emphasize Green Roofs in their "Vision 2050" plan, with particular attention to the Nelson Master Plan.

-- Bob Yoder, 11/232021

Monday, November 22, 2021

UPDATED: COVID Funding At Lake Washington School District

During COVID, some staff worked exceptionally hard and were heroes, others had less timely jobs and were paid beyond their need.  For example, why would you need a full-time Director for Certified Talent Acquisition during COVID?  His salary is ~ $177,150. (There are five other HR Directors.)

During the November 15th LWSD school board meeting, Chief Financial Officer Barbara Posthumous presented the annual "Legislative Priorities" report.  She rattled off some interesting statistics, including shortfalls to be made up by taxpayers.

LWSD fully funds Special Education,  In 2021 - 2022 the District shortfall was $18M. 26% of the Levy covers this shortfall
  • Despite federal COVID "ESSER" funding, the District had to use additional $6.5M carryover for funding COVID.
  • COVID expenses to the District were $14M.  The State and Feds funded $8M.  (21-22)
Social/Emotional Support  (FTE = Full Time Employee.)
  • Counsellors:  State FTE 61. District FTE 73
  • RN, Psychologists, Mental health specialists, State FTE 7, District FTE 37
  • Student Safety: State 6 FTE, District 73 FTE. The District pays excessive amounts on safety as compared to other Districts. 
ESSER Funding = Federal COVID funding to support safe, sustained reopenings and operations. 
  • The feds awarded ESSER funds of $409.64/pupil for a total of $12,756,000.  The grant is exceptionally below the State average owing to the District's "free and reduced lunch" poverty data.  North Shore, Mercer Island, and Issaquah Districts also received low funding. 
COVID Costs:  $14M expensed, $8M State and Federal support (21-22.) 
  • Health and Safety
  • Staff and Support - exceptional Director compensation
  • Remote Learning
  • Materials
  • Curriculum
  • Instructional Support for Children in Quarantine. 
-- Bob Yoder, 11/22/2021

Friday, November 12, 2021

Community Conversations -November 8, 2021

Interesting and informative discussions.  All councilmembers were in attendance except Mr. 
Steve Fields.  The "conversation" was moderated by the Mayor in a Q&A format with the audience.  

Tree discussion:  Advance to 34 minutes
Homeless Hotel:  Advance to 38 minutes
Affordable Housing:  Advance to 55 minutes
$120,000 medium income, ADU's, 10-minute communities, the "missing middle":  Advance to 105 minutes
Homeless Hotel:  Advance to 112 minutes

-- Bob Yoder, 11/12/2021

Thursday, November 11, 2021

UPDATED: Evans Creek Relocation Improves Fish Habitat, Makes Redevelopment Feasible


City engineer Emily Flanagan gave Council an overview of the Evans Creek Relocation project November 9th 2021.  She quoted a total cost of the project at $18,450,000. Grants totaled $850,000.  In 2013, $910,868 was approved for a relocation consultant at a Council regular meeting  

Thus, the total price tag for relocation, including grants is 18,510,868 (not counting legal fees from lawsuits with "Union Shares." The $910,868 was paid for a preliminary design and to secure permits to relocate 3500 feet of Evans Creek channel out of SE Redmond Industrial area into adjacent open space to the north and east.

BENEFIT:  Redevelopment of some aspects of SE Redmond Industrial will be economically feasible with removal of the stream and buffer from it's present location.  In addition, passive recreation along the Bear-Evans Creek trail to Perrigo Park will be enhanced since the new channel will share the same open space with the trail. 

BENEFIT:  Evans Creek is a Class One salmon bearing stream but is impacted by adjacent industrial development with untreated run-off and untreed, paved buffers less than 50 feet wide in some places.  Class One stream buffers are supposed to be 200 feet wide but 50 foot buffers have been grandfathered in SE Industrial Redmond.   Evans Creek  Relocation is listed as a priority in the WRIA 8 Chinook Conservation Plan owing to the wealth of habitat in the upper reaches of Evans Creek.  With the relocation Chinook and Coho will be able to swim from the confluence of Bear-Evans Creeks to the upper reaches of the watershed. 

According to Ms. Flanagan, the project will take two summers to complete.  Expected completion time is 2024.  

In 2013 it was estimated the total cost for the relocation is $7.6 Million and is funded by City of Redmond Capital Improvement Projects fund.  That's a far cry from $18M.  CM David Carson didn't give the source of the funds.  

-- Bob Yoder, 2013 Council memo, 11/9/2021, Council Committee meeting.

It's about time (2021) Evans is relocated away from this industrial mess!

Years past, I was obsessed by the filth draining into Evans Creek. It's one of the reasons I decided to blog.  Years ago, I arranged a tour of the site for KCC Kathy Lambert, CM David Carson, and CM Hank Myers.  Jon Spangler, the City Natural Resources Manager gave the tour.  I thought they were interested in the pollution but it was more than that. Myers and Carson left the tour early when we got close to the All Wood Recycling office.   B.Y.

Fairy Dust!

An Urban Fairy Tail !

Twitter, video clip

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Creativity Abounds In Campaign Signs This Year

We enjoyed lots of creativity and flourish in Council candidate signs this year!  My favorite was Tara's. Absolutely loved the colors and design! She was handily defeated by incumbent Jeralee Anderson. Jeralee scattered an abundance of signs all over the City.  Her bicycle logo looks pretty cute 😉. My wife really liked Janet Richards flowered, green sign with the tag " Redmond Thrives When Everyone Thrives." Janet lost to incumbent Steve Fields in a big way.  Steve staked his standard 2-tone, blue wavy sign everywhere.  

Incumbency aside, it seems quantity rules over quality. I'm always amazed how quickly candidates remove their signs.  

-- Bob Yoder, 11/9/2021

City Replaces Idylwood Park Dock, Designs New Restroom, Concession, And Activity Building

This drawing is a concept for the Idylwood Park new restroom, concession, and activity building, which could also include outdoor seating and would be scaled and designed to fit the site.

In the 2004 Park Opportunity Plan, the community identified the following important projects in that plan that have yet to be completed and "may be funded by this levy"  (what levy?) 

  • Renovate the existing concession and restroom building and explore the feasibility of a water activity building within the park (i.e.; programmable space and/or meeting space, boat storage, maintenance support area, deck or patio).
  • Increase on-site parking to 80-90 spaces and manage parking lot surface drainage to enhance water quality. Provide access to “car top” non-motorized boat launch area.
  • Reinforce the pedestrian crossing at 177th Ave NE and West Lake Sammamish Parkway.

More than 20 years later, these facilities are now in dire need of replacement. The concession and restroom building replacement is a necessary structural and safety improvement and an opportunity to consider inclusion of water activity amenities in the building. 

The Idylwood Park dock will be replaced with aluminum materials.  Improvements include a non-slip surface, ADA compliant handrails for fishing activities, and a new swim ladder. The new dock replaces the original structure built in the 1970’s.

Idylwood Park is regional and enjoyed by 42,000 visitors during the summer.  I'd like the City to identify users outside of our jurisdiction, charge a fee, to make room for Redmondites and contribute to maintenance. This is a free beach and attracts many outsiders, yet we pay the levy.  B. Yoder

King County Aims To Mandate 30-Day Notice Before Re-purposing Hotels For Homeless Shelters

County Councilmember Dunn aims to mandate public comment, 30-day notice before King County can re-purpose hotels into homeless shelters.

King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn on Tuesday introduced an ordinance that would require King County to notify the public before purchasing a hotel for use as a homeless shelter, supported housing, or similar housing option.

“It is not good government for King County to make hugely impactful land use decisions by siting large homeless shelters without first providing full transparency to the public. The impacted communities, including residents and the municipal governments that represent them must all have a chance to provide public comment in advance of the decision being unilaterally made by King County,” Dunn said. “My legislation provides a simple fix to that problem by putting it in King County code that the government must notify the public before siting a shelter in their community.”

Dunn’s legislation would provide the opportunity for public comment in advance of all such purchases by requiring a public notice to be circulated in a local newspaper at least 30 days before the purchase takes place in order to inform the impacted community of the location of the property; the purpose for which King County intends to use it; the funding source proposed the purchase it; information on how the public may provide comment; and the name and phone number of the King County person of contact.

Monday, November 8, 2021

City Prepares For Winter Conditions

This is a helpful, interesting and reassuring video about winter safety in Redmond, especially the first 5 minutes. When it's dark and raining drive slowly, even if you feel "pushed" by the car behind you.  It's easy to miss your turn and be put into a precarious situation, right?  I'm not the best driver and almost had two horrifying accidents recently.

-- Bob Yoder, 11/8/2021

Friday, November 5, 2021

UPDATED OPINION, 11/7/2021: What Will Redmond Look Like In 2050?

Is it too late to make the massive 22-acre downtown Nelson "Village" palpable and resident friendly or will our elected officials cave to this developer?

In 2007, Redmond hired consultant Guy Michaelson from Berger Partnership of Seattle to give a vision  and suggestions for the development of Downtown Redmond.  Below, are two points he made, salient to Redmond 2050:

Guy emphasized the importance of "promenades" for connecting a hierarchy of streets. Promenades are not boulevards but important avenues with canopy and wider (20')sidewalks.  The Parks Director and Mayor Ives talked with excitement about street-side cafes, book stores, spilling over onto wider sidewalk promenades. (Thank you COVID for the later.)

Guy suggested improving the "green ring" along the Sammamish River by softening the eastern slope of the river with a more gradual grade to "get out of the ditch". He suggested building a bike/running trail on the west side to allow for more passive activities on the eastern slope. He thought Luke McRedmond Park had great potential. [He failed to point out King County has jurisdiction over the river corridor.]

Mayor Birney and Council, please zone for greater use of promenades, wider sidewalks and bike lanes, specifically in the Nelson Master Plan and SE Redmond Neighborhood (where new schools are planned.)  Thank you.  B. Yoder

READ MORE for the abridged Berger report and my opinion:

Thursday, November 4, 2021

City Council Approves 5% COLA

Redmond City Council approved a 5% Cost of Living salary increase for union employees Effective January 1, 2022,   (Staff quoted 6.5% as the true rate of inflation.)  Many thanks to Mayor Birney and Council for their transparency on this topic!  The Council took time to ask some very good questions. In the past, union salary plans were buried in the Consent Agenda and never pulled for discussion.  

Per employee visibility, the following are a few maximum salaries:  

  • Planner, $104,232
  • Principal Planner, $131,076
  • Senior Planner, $118,614
  • Communications & Marketing Project Administrator, $109,164
  • Senior Engineer, $141,660
  • Administrative Assistant, $71,360
  • Communications & Marketing Specialist, $97,824
  • Environmental Sustainability Program Manager, $101,736
  • Senior Building Inspector, $107,376
  • Senior Accountant, $99,636
  • Senior Purchasing Agent, $109,044
  • Recreation Program Administrator, $104,408
Several neighbors and LWSD employees informed me they are very unhappy with LWSD salaries and  benefits. So, I'm in the process of  looking into District salaries. The work is not easy because the only way to find District salary information is by Public Record Request.  Sadly, their Public Records site is lacking in transparency.  I've been working to change this for quite some time. 

-- Bob Yoder, 11/4/2021

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Leah Choi Thanks Councilmembers Jeralee Anderson and Steve Fields For Their Support In The School Board Race (video clip)

Leah Choi challenged Cassandra Sage for Lake Washington School District Board of Directors Position 3.  Leah Choi (53.99%) was leading Casandra Sage (45.45%) as of 8:15 p.m. 11/2.  Lake Washington School District is the second largest in the State of Washington.

-- Bob Yoder, 11/3/2021