Your Comments for a Safe and Accessible East Lake Sammamish Trail Didn’t Count!
Now is your chance to join us at the November 3 hearing examiner meeting to say “my voice counts” for the completion of a safe East Lake Sammamish Trail.
Hundreds of thoughtful and unique letters written by East Lake Sammamish Trail users from Sammamish and across the region were ignored by City of Sammamish staff this summer. These letters, which asked for a safe East Lake Sammamish Trail built to regional trail standards, weren’t incorporated into reports to decide whether to issue permits to continue to build the final segment of the trail connecting Sammamish to Issaquah. Because your written comments were largely ignored, it’s now more important than ever to join Sammamish neighbors at the November 3 hearing with the city of Sammamish Hearing Examiner that will determine whether the trail can be built as a safe regional path.
This January, as a part of the public process to accept public comment and input, the city of Sammamish received over 800 public comments about the design for the final 3.5 mile segment of the East lake Sammamish Trail (ELST). The majority of comments supported King County’s application for the final shoreline development permit, which is needed to complete the trail to safe, paved, regional trail standards. Only a trail designed to these standards will make for an intuitive expeirence that is safe for the many trail users who walk, run, bike or roll.
The comments were an exciting outpouring of support from caring neighbors and trail users from near and far, and included many unique and personal stories about why the ELST is important to a whole host of different people.
Surprisingly, comments that voiced support for designing the trail to create safe spaces for all users were ignored in the City of Sammamish summary record of comments received (page 9). That summary, and the proposed trail design now heads to the city hearing examiner, who’ll decide whether to issue the shoreline permit – the next step towards construction of the final trail segment.
The omission of scores of comments is a blow to the hundreds of people who spent time crafting and communicating comments. And it means we don’t know if the decision about whether to issue the permit will be made by balancing the differing perspectives fairly.
The fate of the permit – and the trail – is now firmly in the hands of the city of Sammamish Hearing Examiner. Next, they will hold a hearing starting at 9 a.m. on Friday, November 3. At the hearing, the examiner will review documents and hear testimony from the public and King County Parks staff. Because the thoughtful letters by pro-trail voices were excluded in the city’s summary of comments, it’s all the more important for people who support completing the ELST to paved regional trail standards to voice support for the trail in person at the hearing.
Ignore Our Letters; Hear Our Voices
Join us at the November 3 hearing to send the message of the specific support for the trail as designed. The three comments that trail supporters provided, and that were omitted from the summary are:
- Request 1: Approve the permit application: Complete this regional trail and local amenity
- Request 2: Follow AASHTO national standards: An 18 ft trail footprint will allow for all users (people on bikes, people walking) of all ages and abilities (as proposed in the permit application).
- Request 3: Give crossing priority to the trail at roads and driveways: Ensure safety and predictability (as proposed in the permit application).
The ELST is a Legacy for the Future
When complete, the ELST will provide a safe, connected and protected alternative to the East Lake Sammamish Parkway road. For people who walk, bike and run, the trail will connect Sammamish to Issaquah and Redmond — to the regional trail network and the forthcoming regional light rail network.
For Cascade, the East Lake Sammamish Trail is a legacy project. Twenty years in the making, once it’s complete, the trail will carry an estimated 5-7,000 people per day by foot and by bike. The trail’s legacy for future generations can’t be overstated: Our region is growing. Preserving natural spaces now and setting aside dedicated places for active transportation and recreation is essential to keep us connected to what’s important – and to give us, and our children, travel options that will keep us safe and healthy.
Design for Safety First
Thanks to years (even decades) of community advocacy, seven and a half miles of the East Lake Sammamish Trail have been built to paved, safe regional trails standards over the last five years. This safe standard creates a 12 foot paved trail, with 2 feet of gravel shoulders on each side, and a 1 foot clear zone inside of any trail fencing of vegetation (total of 18 feet trail footprint). As designed, this final three and a half miles of the existing interim trail would be developed to the same regional trail standards. Given the number of users and the variety of uses anticipated on the trail, this width is essential to creating a safe trail. Narrowing the the trail is a non-starter, because it will create a trail that will be too narrow and unsafe from day one.
Another safety issue is that of stop sign placement along the trail. As evidenced by the ongoing legal battle on the orientation of stop signs on a segment of trail already under construction, voicing support of consistent placement of the stop signs – on the roads that cross the trail – is essential.
Join Us! ...Tips for Testimony
Join us on November 3 to demonstrate support for the safe trail design, and ensure that a vocal minority does not sway the outcome towards a trail that doesn’t meet the needs of the broader community.
Signing up to speak:
The hearing is on Friday, November 3rd, at Sammamish City Hall (801 228th Ave SE, Sammamish, WA 98075).
- 8:15 a.m. – Sign-up sheet is available at Sammamish City Hall
- 9 a.m. – The hearing begins
- 1 p.m. – Public comment period opens, and will continue Nov. 6-9 as needed (but you must sign up on Nov. 3)
Members of the public will have three minutes each to address the hearing examiner.
What to say:
- Reshare the comments from your letter on the shoreline permit, OR share your story about why a safe trail matters to you.
- Be respectful towards the hearing examiner and the city staff - express that you want to be heard and you want a safe Trail for generations to come.
- Don’t be daunted! Write your comments ahead of time if that makes you feel comfortable. And remember that you have every right to speak!
Let us know you’re coming:
Thanks for Being the Voice of the Trail
The legacy of the East Lake Sammamish Trail still hangs in the balance. Join us in making sure it will be a special trail and a special place for people of all ages and abilities to get outdoors and enjoy the lakeside views; to learn to ride a bike; to walk the dog or exercise in a safe place away from traffic.