Sunday, July 30, 2017

UPDATED,6/19 Opinion: Vote for future-minded candidates

UPDATED:  Redmond City Council  is gripped by "The Master Builders of King and Snohomish Counties."  50% of the spend in the City Council Primary thus far has been sourced by the Master Builders PAC...all of it spent on campaign mailers and services supporting two "City Hall" candidates. 

The "Master Builders PAC states "There are many timely issues that directly impact the homebuilding industry - critical areas regulations, design review guidelines, permitting processes....etc."  Of course these "timely issues" ultimately revolve around profit (that's okay) but sometimes at serious compromise to our city look and feel.

With the Master Builder's concerns for the "timely issue of design review standards" it's no wonder our downtown is built-out with inexpensively designed "row-house" apartment buildings fronting our signature Leary Way Gateway.  We'll be living with and seeing this wall of box buildings for the next 100 years.

We need to elect candidates who are independent of developer "timely issues" and to support those few sitting council members willing to sacrifice their standing with the development community to do the right thing.

Bob Yoder

I was inspired to write this post by Jason Antonelli Position 6 and Steve Fields Position 2.   Councilman Hank Myers wrote an excellent letter in the Redmond Reporter defining the candidates as "City Hall"  and "outsiders." which inspired me. 


Sherri Nichols said...

I've been out of town all week, so I'm just now seeing this post. I serve on the Planning Commission, and I've never met anybody from the Master Builders Association. Design review standards are not part of our purview; that's the Design Review Board. The designs for the buildings downtown were approved long ago, prior to appointments by our current mayor, so blaming anybody serving today for the "lol and feel" of the buildings downtown is wrong.

Over half the Planning Commissioners currently serving have served less than two years. Next time, why not talk to one of us before calling us tools of developers.Our meetings are public, and we're always happy to talk to people.

Bob Yoder said...

Thanks Sherri for your comment and you're volunteerism on the commission, I've watched Planning Commission meetings for years. Late in the Ives Administration I recommended adding an e-mail to your website page to encourage participation.
( I use it a lot. However, in this case it shouldn't take a formal e-mail or public presentation to know design standards are outdated... just look around: read the Redmond Reporter.

You've twisted my words to some degree Sherri. Never once did I accuse your commission as a tool for developers. In my opinion piece I called out the The Master Builder PAC not you.
Even if existing design standards were made years ago, as you say, this doesn't preclude standards can't be improved and updated now or could have been updated at anytime during Marchione's terms. It's disingenuous to blame the Ives Administration for the urban "design damage" we have today.

Many impactful projects are still cueing up for land use and design approval -- the most immediate and significant being Marymoor Village, two 2-4 story Avondale projects, The Town Square District and who knows what else. Your council approved commission needs to adapt with the times and get with the program to influence design updates. In addition, the Design Review Board is atrociously non transparent and needs airing.

Redmond councilmember Hank Myers said...

by Hank Myers

I am pleased that my letter to the Editor of the Redmond Reporter has prompted you and others to speak out during this election. Unfortunately, some have concluded that inspiring discourse also meant inspiring your opinion on the Master Builders Association. My ten years of experience with the Master Builders has been consistently positive and helpful. They have members from all phases of the building trades including small businesses such as electricians, plumbers, remodelers and painters. In addition to providing technical expertise on construction matters, they run an excellent free campaign seminar. All candidates who filed for Council positions were invited. When it comes to the problems and dislocations caused by the recent increased development, the culprit is our cumbersome and costly process. Projects take years from inception top completion, adding costs and jamming projects together. The State’s Growth Management Act dictates that Redmond provide housing for significantly more residents by 2030. Under the Act, it is not a matter of whether there will be development, but how effectively it is administered. That is where Redmond has fallen down.

Bob Yoder said...

Sherri, I talked with your Chair about this some more and realized I slipped by comparing the commission and council in the same breath so I edited this piece. However, it's important to note council approves the Mayor's commission appointments so there's some connection.

Scott Biethan, Chair of Planning Commission said...

"Bob, I have been following these issues for some time now. I respect your passion around this community that you and I both love. At times we disagree, but that is part of the political process. This post troubles me for a few reasons. First, the links in your blog, connected to this thread, have stated that the Planning Commission, appointed by the City Council and Mayor, is gripped by the Master Builders Association.

As a current planning commissioner and the current chair, I take offense. I have not ever been in contact with this group unless they have testified in front of the Commission, so I do not see how this statement is supported. As a commission, we take our role as community representative seriously. Is the outcome perfect? Nope. Are we striving to do the best we can for all stakeholders amid the many challenges of high growth? Yep. Are we gripped by stakeholder groups? Nope. We are a volunteer group, with widely varied backgrounds.
On a second related issue, regarding candidates who do receive business donations: Part of the political process for any official is listening to ALL sides of the complex issue of growth and then making informed decision. All sides includes both individuals and businesses. As an example, Mr. Myers ran for the State Legislature as a Republican against Cyrus Habib in 2012. In that campaign he accepted donations from several Business/developers/PACS including:

-Affordable Housing Council of the Masters Builders Association
-Various employees of many of our local well-known Real estate Developers
-Kemper Holdings
-BOMA (Building Owners and Management Assn) PAC
-Employees of CAM West Development
-Employees of Conner Development
-Employees of Northwest Corporate Real Estate
(Source PDC Website-Henry B Myers 2012 all contributions.)

Receiving contributions does not put you "in the pockets of developers." That's a phrase that's being used purely to score political points.
Regarding Mr. Myers and Mr. Stilin, I respect them both. Mr. Myers (even though he and I may often disagree) for his outspoken passion, and Mr. Stilin for his hard work and love for this city.

I am sad John Stilin is not running. He cares deeply about our city and has worked hard to make it a better place. I still recall a matter that came in front of the council where I did not like the outcome. (For the record, it had nothing to do with any development issues.) John was the pivot vote. I called him and gave him a piece of my mind for 45 minutes. The next day, I called back saying I did not regret the comments I made, but I was sorry for the tone and tenor that I used. He simply laughed and said, that was his job to listen and then make a decision. He had no hard feelings over the passion with which I approached him on this topic. He is a gentleman and a good person and the City of Redmond needs more people like him." 8/20

Bob Yoder said...

Yes Scott, John Stilin and Myers both love our city. I'm very happy you've brought perspective on how the candidates listen to ALL sides of complex growth decisions and take donations in the process. Thank you for disclosing the MB donations to Mr. Myers campaigns. The MB donations to the Captain and Schutz campaigns in the Primary were startling. Your input is healthy and I look forward to studying the MB donations to the Shutz and Fields campaigns in the General Election.

Bob Yoder said...

Scott, you know from our phone conversion a few days ago that I apologized for writing your commission was "gripped" by the MB Association PAC. And you know I edited the piece for this "slip." Please don't hold a grudge. I've got plans to participate more with the commission and want to be on your good side. Best wishes.