Wednesday, May 24, 2023

UPDATED OPINION: Salary Commission Volunteers Give Input On Council Salaries

Salary Commission volunteers are presently reviewing city council member salaries and benefits.  The Human Resource department thinks they may be due for a raise.  Presently, each council member makes $18,000 per year.  

What Council members do now:  

They have two formal meetings every week.  They occasionally hold Special meetings and Hearings.  Most meetings end within 1-1.5 hours. Council members also attend outside meetings and with give "committee reports" on them.  Each month, a different Council member is assigned ombudsman duties to report citizen complaints and appreciation.  At festivals like Derby Days they work a booth.

An important weekly Council Committee of the Whole (COW.) increased their duties and responsibilities significantly, but this is already baked into their $18,000 salary.  All seven members are expected to attend (though not required) whereas, in years past only 2 council members met on a rotating basis. COW meetings are  where the real work gets done.  A 2- 3% salary increase may be justified based on COW activities.  

Redmond is rapidly evolving from a suburb to a city.  Council's budgetary and policy oversite is not primarily to our downtown, but also Marymoor Village and Overlake Urban Center.  A few councilmembers are getting involved with One Redmond.  That's where the real work gets done. The Comprehensive Plan and budget is more complicated and demanding of Council.  Light rail brings a continuing challenge never before encountered by a Council.  Council members should be compensated for these increased responsibilities. (3%.)  Of course, a COLA is justified. (6%)

Remote, virtual attendance is a new benefit and should be factored into the salary discussion.  

  1. Council transportation costs and traveling times are reduced.
  2. More time can be spent at their real jobs and other obligations.
  3. Attendance at 4:30 PM COW meetings becomes more convenient. 

The health benefit is significant and should not be overlooked.  Council members running their own business benefit.  

With all of the above considered, a 12% salary increase from $18,000 to $20,106 is justified.  Council members are privileged public servants and not in it for the money.  Human Resources should hold a community meeting for citizens so they can learn what councilmembers do, just as LWSD does from their community.    

The Salary Commission has two more meetings in City Hall in which you can comment in person:  June 8th and June 22, 7PM.  Written comments may be submitted to preferably the day before they meet.  

Bob Yoder, 5/22/2023 

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Maintenance & Operations Center Plan Costs $969,416

Click to enlarge the image and you'll see a lot of the Center is for storage.

The Miller Hull Partnership's Master Plan for the a new Maintenance & Operations Center (M&O) costs $969,416.  The Master Plan is expected to be delivered in early 2024 with construction scheduled to begin in 2027.  It's location is NE 76th Street in SE Redmond.

"The current Maintenance & Operations building is well past its useful life, no longer fits the needs of a growing City and is inefficient for current staff workflow. The multi-year project will deliver a redeveloped operations site and office building with open and flexible crew, office, meeting, and emergency response spaces that will accommodate Parks Operations and most, if not all of Public Works staff. The improved site layout will provide better equipment protection, modernized shops, as well as central storage, and a combined Fleet facility. In addition, parking spaces will be provided for approximately 300 vehicles (staff and fleet)."

-- Source COW memo, 5/23/2023

Projected cost ~ $ 1 million  NE 76th Street
Opinion:  One-time money from development revenue will be used to build the M&O Center.  B. Yoder

Friday, May 19, 2023

Crime Report, Redmond / King County

Chief Lowe

Redmond Police Chief Darrell Lowe gave a quarterly 5-year crime overview report to Council during their 5/16 Committee Safety Meeting, as follows:  Watch Chief Lowe's presentation here.   20.14 m.  

All crimes:  

  • up 18.8%  2019-23 ; up 17.7% 2022-23
Auto thefts: 
  • up 237.5%  2019-23 ; up 30.6% 2022-23
Property crimes:
  • up 54.5% 2019-23; down 13.8% 2022-23
  • down 10.3% 2019-2022 ; up 24.4% 2022-23  (big box retail thefts)
  • down 37.5% 2019-2022 ; down 47.9% 2022-23

King County residents were charged with promoting prostitution and operating almost a dozen message businesses as fronts.  --  Redmond Reporter


The Police Department is providing information regarding use of My90 on a trial basis to solicit customer service feedback from community members. My90 is an integrated automated Axon survey that sends electronic surveys to people within 24-48 hours after having an interaction with the Police Department. Respondents answer questions about the service they received (positive, neutral, or negative). The information is anonymously collected and sent back to the department as feedback. This will allow us to gather customer service and service delivery feedback. We will use My90 on a trial basis from approximately June - August 2023. Other My90 components (employee surveys, outreach landing page, etc.) likely would not be evaluated during this trial but are available for future use. There is no cost for this trail. If purchased, My90 is estimated to cost $1,500 per year

Reported by B. Yoder, 5/19/23

"Civic Genius," working to overcome polarization and strengthen civic culture

Hi Bob (and community-at-large);

I’m the executive director of Civic Genius, a national nonpartisan organization working to overcome political polarization and strengthen civic culture. I live just outside of Redmond (unincorporated King County) and am an appreciative reader of your blog.

I wanted to reach out because Civic Genius runs a grassroots deliberative democracy program which we are planning to bring to the East Side in July. The program brings Americans from across the political spectrum together to develop solutions and take action on pressing issues. We also offer a bunch of nuts-and-bolts civic education content and online events, as well as long-term skill-building and support for people who want to ramp up their engagement.

I would love to find some time to tell you more about this initiative and get your thoughts on how it can be most valuable to the community. Let me know if you're ever free for a coffee or a Zoom!


Jillian Youngblood

Civic Genius is an exciting opportunity to strengthen our democracy. I will be calling Jillian next week. If any of you are interested in a coffee with her please email me at Bob

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

UPDATED: Nonprofits Are Moving Into the Together Center, Mountain Building


Together Center (TC) announced today that phase one of construction is complete! Last week the first nonprofits moved into the first of the two buildings on the new Together Center campus and today the new TC campus officially opened its new doors!  Phase two will be completed later this Summer.  

TC Board views corner unit apartments. 280 units of affordable housing managed by Horizon Housing and Polaris Housing are on the 5 upper levels.

Posted, 5/18/2022

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

School Board Acknowledges and Commits to Native Students


Land acknowledgement and commitment to native students and families:

"The board of directors of Lake Washington School District acknowledges that our district is on the Indigenous Land of the Coast Salish Peoples, who have reserved treaty rights on this land, including the Duwamish (dxʷdəwʔabš) and the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe (sdukʷalbixʷ). We thank these caretakers of this land who have lived here since time immemorial. We commit to continue collaborating with our native community, to teach the indigenous history of this land and these local tribes to all children of the district. We also commit to provide the best possible education for all children of native descent who attend our schools."

- Read by Board member Eric Laliberte at recent School Board meeting


 Posted 5/16/2023

UPDATED: Watch Out For Exorbitant Emergency Department Expenses / Mental Health Awareness Month

EvergreenHealth Medical Center - supported by District taxpayers

A month ago I was transferred from Fairfax Behavioral Health Hospital to EvergreenHealth Emergency Department (ED) for a concussion evaluation and incidental mental health care.  For ED services I was charged. 

$2,024 for a Level 4 Visit, $515.00 for intravenous hydration, $1,687 for a CT scan, $270 for an acetaminophen blood level, $270 for a urine toxicology screen, $379.00 for an ECG, $270.00 for an alcohol blood level, $309 for a lactic acid blood level, among other charges, totaling $7,079.  (Not counting the radiologist fee.)  

My insurance company had a contract with EvergreenHealth which helped.  I read somewhere on Evergreen's website tax-payer funds (via the levy) sometimes kick-in when insurance companies can't.  Our Emergency Department charges at Overlake were high, as well.  It seems ED physicians always need to take a CT; at least for us. We've had four CT's at four visits.  Stay out of ED's at all costs (no pun intended.)  Go first to Urgent Care or your Primary Care physician, if possible.  

As we all know, the cost of healthcare has sky-rocketed everywhere.  It's come to the point that people have had to resort  "medical credit cards."  Yahoo Business has an excellent article on these cards.

-- Bob Yoder, 5/16/2023

May is "Mental Health Awareness Month."  Under "comment" (below in blue,) I wrote in detail my recent experience of treatment and recovery at Fairfax Behavioral Health Hospital.  I hope you read it. Bob

Saturday, May 13, 2023

EvergreenHealth Commissioners Confronted by Nurse and Service Unions

EvergreenHealth, Supported by District Taxpayers

Twenty-one staff from the Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare 1199 NW spoke to the Board and expressed concerns and complaints regarding:

  1. wages, 
  2. working conditions, 
  3. patient and staff safety, 
  4. recruitment and retention, 
  5. excessive patient wait times, 
  6. cost of living in the area, 
  7. the reputation of EvergreenHealth, 
  8. medical benefits coverage, 
  9. and safety and support for home health nurses. 
  10. A patient expressed concerns about the current direction of EvergreenHealth and shared that she and other patients are looking for other healthcare providers. 
  11. Several speakers expressed their pleasure in working for EvergreenHealth and their desire to partner with EvergreenHealth to resolve the issues, but all indicated that changes are needed. 

The guests provided the Board with a stack of letters and notes from union members expressing their concerns and desires.  Comm. McLaughlin thanked the guests for attending and providing the Board with their perspectives and assured them that the Board takes their concerns seriously.

Source: EvergreenHealth Board of Commissioner Regular Meeting Minutes, March/April, 2023 

-- Posted by Bob Yoder, 5/7/2023

Friday, May 12, 2023

Sammamish River Eaglets


Three week old eaglets nesting on the Sammamish River.  One is quite a bit larger than than the other.

-- Photo by John Rinke, Redmond, WA.  

Monday, May 8, 2023

EvergreenHealth Holds May 10th Meeting to Discuss Potential Bond Measure

A large, proposed bond measure would significantly expand the EvergreenHealth campus:
A seismic upgrade, parking lot expansion, Cath lab, new building, surgical services in the top two vacant stories of the Silver Tower.  


"Interested in learning about our community's future health care needs and EvergreenHealth's plans to meet them? The Board of Commissioners will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, May 10, 2023 at 7:00 p.m. in Red Auditorium for the purpose of hearing public comment regarding King County Public Hospital District No. 2 growth plans and a related potential levy measure." 

View our Visitor Guide for maps, information on where to park and location information (zones and floors).  Enter the Red Zone from the Emergency OB and Emergency entrance.  

- posted by B. Yoder

OPINION: Can the Marymoor Village and Commercial District be Salvaged?

Spectra project with "planters" 
(click to enlarge)

 Oxford dictionary:  *ECLECTIC: 
deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources.

OPINION:  I and about eight other residents went to the Long Range Planning exhibit at Marymoor Community Center a few weeks ago.  Apparently, the mayor and planning director will be sending these planners to the library every week to "reach out."   This is token planning.  

According to a Principle planner, the "Big Decisions requiring input from managers and above."  are still outstanding.  (And, then there's "Medium Decisions" and "Small Decisions!")

A few "Big Decision" items the planners have asked the public, Mayor and Council for input are: 
  • "The Vision for the Marymoor Design District."  Staff states design impacts are "unclear and potentially unrealistic."  This late in the game. 
  • Planners ask: "Are families going to move into an industrial area?  Should the commercial area be re-zoned residential."  Apparently, owners there can profit significantly with residential; light rail could increase the "need" for residential, as well.  A planner states " why not have standards that are more realistic for townhomes."  Mayor Birney and Council:  Yes or no?  
  • Planners ask: "Rather than a trail around the entire perimeter - require/encourage other community amenities."  What amenities?  Mayor/Council: Yes or no? Don't we need trails for mobility?  Bicycles, e-bikes, scooters, pedestrian users.  
  • Planners state: "Inconsistent shared street implementation - provide more direction for desired quality."  
  • Planners question the Design Concept:  "Building façade materials / color - "no guidance in zoning code for the Marymoor Design District."
  • Plantings / Landscape - Mayor: "establish "unique" identity for Marymoor Village.  
  • etc. etc.  
Council, Arts Commission and Design Review Board were intimately involved in ensuring Marymoor Village would be *eclectic, according to Mayor Birney's wishes.  So far, Spectra is what we have.  Pinwheels in empty garden containers? (Or, is that a dog walk area adjacent to the dog friendly Sammamish Trail?)

The Design Review Board (DRB) has the "teeth" of one planner  The rest are volunteers. (State initiated changes may be in the offing.) I recommend Mayor Birney assign Long Range Planners to the Board to give substance to it. Get them out of the library and in front of the developers.  
DRB planners push for and conduct all presentations remotely.  Mayor Birney should join other organizations and wean off remote meetings.  One critical function of a DRB  is collaboration....sharing pictures, color designs, blueprints, etc. 
Mayor Birney should give Overlake Urban Center equal, if not more attention to design.  Let's be honest, ~70% of Redmond Vision 2050 appears already baked into our city.  What's left is Design.  Anything else?  Council Leadership should schedule an Open House and one Study session for input on the Big and Medium decisions.    

Our Village and the commercial district need to be salvaged before it's too late.  The Spark project design looks very promising, but will the final product hold it's own?     

-- Bob Yoder, 5/8/2023

Monday, April 24, 2023

Pair of Nesting Eagles On the Sammamish River

A friend of mine told me 4 or 5 days ago that she had been monitoring the nest daily for 35 days.  According to the excellent website, that is the incubation period for hatching eaglets.  Presumably the egg(s) will have hatched by now, if that is true.  - John Reinke, 4/24/2023

Photos by John Reinke

John's  photos were taken from up on the Central Connector bridge over the Sammamish River.  The nest is on the west bank of the river across from the Opportunity building.   

The Legacy of Rosemarie Ives

Mayor Rosemarie Ives - Redmond's unprecedented 4-term mayor

I have the strong opinion that the mayor should make the City a the beginning learning as much as possible about the organization, its responsibilities AND keeping in touch with the people in an authentic way on a regular basis.  Unfortunately, Mayor Angela Birney is president of Suburban Cities which I think shows poor judgement and she's not paying attention to what's going on at home. 

When I ran for Mayor the first time, I had four priorities and I believe they served the people of Redmond very well--they were real simple:  open and responsive government, environment, prudent financial management and a teen agenda...."Together, we create a community of neighbors" was my "theme."   I always said that if I was doing the right things, the right way at the right time  for our youth today and for the future, we adults would be fine too!
Some people make a thing of "legacy."  The ones who talk the most about it, do the least. Upon reflection I would like to believe my "legacy" was that the people of Redmond had an advocate at City Hall--someone who was always considering what was best for the people who call Redmond "home."  
There were so many accomplishments as a result of so many people willing to work with me to do our collective best...Yes, I am proud of the four environmental Riverwalk projects along the Sammamish River, that we went from 16 to 36 parks during my tenure, Youth Leadership Day, Old Firehouse teen center, the tagging wall, the skate park, Redmond Youth Partnership, so many environmental initiatives that were recognized at the national and regional levels,  Redmond Lights, flower pots on every corner downtown, rather than an enclosed mall that was proposed in 1988, when I was elected the Town Center owners came forward with a new, open air mixed use design , a senior center that flourished with great programming and high participation, the 40 year lease that I negotiated with the Lake Washington School District for the Old Redmond Schoolhouse Community Center for a total of $80,000 (that John Marchione broke after 20 years)...televising city meetings and producing very informative programming, ...those are a few of the things that come to mind.

Posted by B. Yoder, 4/24/2033

Mayor Rosemarie M. Ives Biography

 Mayor Rosemarie M. Ives Biography 

First elected as Mayor of Redmond, Washington in 1991, Rosemarie M. Ives served an unprecedented four terms of this economically vibrant and naturally beautiful Northwest city, 16 miles east of Seattle.  The community of 51,000 residents serves as home to corporate headquarters for Nintendo of America and Microsoft as well as several thousand small businesses where over 90,000 people are employed.  Mayor Ives served as the full-time CEO, responsible for seven departments with over 500 employees and a biennial $368 million budget.  In addition to the oversight for day-to-day operations, Mayor Ives was a founding member of consortia on regional emergency communications, housing, and water and represented both Redmond and 39 suburban cities on regional committees on multi-modal transportation, emergency preparedness, youth, regional justice, environmental protection, and growth management. 

While Mayor Ives presided over a period of significant economic development in Redmond, she devoted much of her efforts to preserving residential neighborhoods, open space and other elements of Redmond’s unique quality of life.  Her vision statement for the City was and still is “Together, We Create a Community of Good Neighbors,” which reflects her approach to building civic partnerships that draw on the strengths of neighborhoods, schools, faith communities, and businesses.  Her priority issues included enhancing communications especially with the increasing culturally diverse residents, stewardship of the environment, commitment to youth, and improving mobility. 

Help Inform New City Guidelines for Leaf Blowers

Gasoline-powered leaf blowers produce emissions and ambient noise pollution. The City of Redmond would like to hear from you as we evaluate actions regarding their use. Complete the following questionnaire by May 31 to help inform the next steps.  It's very short!

Posted by Bob Yoder, 4/24/2023

Dog Park Opens at Luke McRedmond Park

Council member Jessica Forsythe took these pictures of the new downtown dog park.  She said the Parks Department re-purposed surplus fencing for the park and picnic tables are planned.  The park is partitioned for small dogs, common in downtown apartments.  The pop-up dog park will remain open through September, allowing the City to test different potential locations and needs for a more permanent off-leash dog area in Redmond.

    • The the city labels it as a "POP UP" Dog Park; by construction it looks permanent.

      Posted by Bob Yoder, 4/24/2033, Community volunteer

Sunday, April 23, 2023

An Enhanced Historic District linked to RTC Will Mutually Stimulate Business

 An enhanced Historic District linked to RTC will stimulate business to both. The Downtown Park would be more lively. 

The Historic District is bisected by Leary Way, just to the west is the downtown park (DTP,) Redmond Town Center Retail (TWNC) is circled in red. Two 12-story buildings are planned.  It's possible BJ's may be demolished to further densify. 

Connecting the Downtown Park with the Historic District and RTC could create a valuable alternative pedestrian route for Redmond Lights, seasonal festivals and mobility in general. Food trucks (?) music and other entertainment at the Downtown Park would would attract pedestrian shoppers.  Strolling into the Historic District, the paradors could rest and stay warm at the eateries and shops.  At 164th, a crosswalk would link the district to RTC.  Artwork and wayfinding signage would draw people into RTC and the Historic District to shop, eat and be entertained.  We'd have a more dynamic downtown.

To make it all work, the Historic District needs to be enhanced.  Leary Way, bisecting the Historic District, should be a "Safe Street" for pedestrians and bicycles; limited cars.  Alleys might be restored. Some of the buildings would be restored or enhanced.  Others remodeled or rebuilt.  One Redmond has a deep interest in the vitality of small business. 

To date, Mayor Birney hasn't considered enhancing the district with the help on One Redmond.   An enhanced Historic District linked to RTC will stimulate business to both; the downtown park will be more lively.  

If you like this route and /or think the Mayor Birney should start improving the Historic District will you email her at  

-- Bob Yoder, 4/24/2023
   Community volunteer

City Planning Is Posting QR Codes for Proposed Land Use projects

It's great the city is finally posting QR codes for Proposed Land Use Action projects.  Better late than never.  The AMLI project decision has already been made, but with conditions.  According to the QR, the State Environmental Policy Act was revised and the project may now be appealed by 5/15/2023.  The project sits about 100 yards downhill from city well water and it's possible the aquifer may be disturbed.  It's also possible the aquifer will liquify during an earthquake.  A final act of the decision are inspections from city engineers.   

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Council Notes: 4th Quarter Finance Report

Interim Finance Director's 4th Quarter Finance Report, minute 19.35
Council comments:  CM Vanessa Kritzer and CM Melissa Stuart minute 29.26
OMBUDS REPORT:  minute 32.

The key financial highlights from January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2022 include the following:

General Fund 

· Total revenues totaling $250 million are 26.8%, or $52.8 million, above target. 

· Property tax is 0.4%, or $186,000, above target. 

· Sales & use taxes are 75.7%, or $97.3 million, above target primarily due to the high level of development activity. This includes retail sales tax, criminal justice sales tax, and use tax. 

Ongoing retail sales tax is 27.3%, or $13.0 million, above target. One-time retail sales tax, which primarily relates to construction, is $34.7 million through December 31, 2022. 

· Utility & other taxes are 10.3%, or $2.2 million, above target primarily due to an electric and gas utility tax spike. 

· License & permit fees are 38.2%, or $8.4 million, above target primarily due to the high level of development activity. 

· Total expenditures are 2.5%, or $6.1 million. In year 2022, the personnel cost is over the target due COLA at 5%, overtime cost increase for Fire due to vacancies because of vaccination mandate, retirement payouts, rate increases after unions contract negotiations. 

Other Funds · Recreation Activity Fund: Total revenues are 51.1%, or $1.1 million, above target primarily due to increase in both indoor and outdoor recreation programs, field rentals, and donations. · Water/Wastewater M&O Fund: Total revenues are 5.0%, or $3.8 million, more than total expenditures. Commercial water consumption is 2.9% below target. 

· Capital Investment Program: Total expenditures are 71.3% of budget at the 100% point of the 2021-2022 biennium.

-- Source:  Business Meeting memo of 4/18/2022

Thursday, April 20, 2023

OPINION: Marymoor Village Is Anything But Eclectic

 Oxford dictionary:  ECLECTIC: deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources.

SPECTRA, 1,2,3 unit apartments
(click picture to enlarge)

Mayor Birney once announced Marymoor Village would be "eclectic" and unique from the hum drum of downtown buildings.  Looking at this gargantuan project, Spectra, it's just that, a project.  Where's the art, the color?  Rather, each empty planter box has a tiny pinwheel twirling in the wind.  

Well, we know now what happens when the city and Design Review Board throw in the towel to accommodate the developers and the city's insatiable need for housing.  SE Redmond is zoned industrial too, permitting us to just look the other way.  

-- Bob Yoder, 4/20/2023, Opinion

Saturday, April 15, 2023

"The Redmond Recorder Newsletter," New and Improved.

 Brought to you by the Redmond Historical Society

"The Redmond Recorder" 
Every Town Has it's History, Discover Ours.

The Redmond Recorder News was once the name of Redmond's local newspaper. It was replaced by the Sammamish Valley News, which later folded. We've since adopted The Redmond Recorder as the name for our newsletter, published 9 times a year since 1999.

Read Our Recorder Newsletter!  New and Improved!  The Redmond Recorder is going quarterly—and bigger.

John Oftebro, President, Redmond Historical Society

Featured this month!

"The Four R's - River. Redmond, Resource, Rockets"
By John Oftebro

 Author's Note:  This is the first of a series about Redmond's development beginning with it's lifeblood - the Sammamish River.  

-- Posted by Bob Yoder, 4/15/2023