City of Clyde Hill Abandons Project, Homeowners
“Surprise! That work we said we would do is now yours!”
In August, the Mayor and Staff of Clyde Hill told the City Council its plan to abandon stormwater repairs that the Mayor and Staff had just requested approval of in July. At least three homeowners are waiting to hear from the City about what happens now that the City has abandoned the project after spending eight months investigating this problem, deeming the repairs necessary, and allocating money to it.
Imagine that you look out your window and see water going by like this in your yard or neighborhood:
These videos, from a neighborhood in Clyde Hill, are from a presentation that City Staff showed the City Council in July:
At July’s City Council meeting, the City requested that the Council approve $45,464 toward this repair. That amount “only covers the designing and bid assistance for this project.” (The City’s approved budget for the repairs is $220,000.)
At the August meeting, the City informed the Council that they “will be abandoning this project and notifying impacted residents.” The reason: the City did not have a stormwater easement. Because there is no easement, the City wrote, “these facilities are considered private facilities despite the fact that they are connected to the City’s stormwater system.”
“City does not appear to be obligated to maintain them,” they concluded.
The City figured this out after “eight or so months.”
Transparency and Accountability
I met one of the homeowners Wednesday afternoon. The news appeared to puzzle her as the most recent communication she had from the City, she said, described the City’s efforts to find a contractor to do the work. I gave her a copy of the document (reproduced at the end of this post). She appeared visibly upset, saying that this issue had gone on for years.
The first public availability of this plan was late on Friday August 6th, when the City posted this document on its website.
At the City Council meeting, on Tuesday August 10th, I asked about this plan and how the people involved in this decision would feel, as residents, if they were the recipient of this surprise from the City with no warning and no obvious recourse.
The Mayor said that there would be additional information during the Council discussion of this issue, and refused to allow the question, claiming that at these meetings the City has no obligation to answer questions.
The main piece of information that I noted during the later discussion was a Council member’s comment about the job performance of the former Director of Public Works. This happened at ~9:30p, two and a half hours after the start of the meeting.
I am still waiting on the City to release its official recording of this meeting. Their current estimate is mid-September because the “allotment of time for public records is limited” as so many City employees have left and the City is short-staffed.
Not the only problem
In other posts, I describe other problems with the City’s stormwater system. Relevant to this issue: the City did not disclose any information about that issue. I had to go to the Department of Ecology to find it. In fact, that information is not available on the City’s site and does not appear in any of the City’s communications (Council Meeting packets, Administrator’s Weekly Reports). When asked during the August meeting, the City’s response was that it is not legally obligated to disclose this particular information.
The decision to just abandon the project rather than seek some other solution that would actually serve residents is not unique. Several residents have described efforts from the City to force landscaping and other changes for no apparent reason. The City has often relied on courts rather than working collaboratively with residents.
What Happens Now?
It’s not clear when the City will communicate this decision to the residents affected by it, or what options and guidance the City will offer.
What happens now, in many ways, depends on what Clyde Hill residents decide to do. The phone number at City Hall is (425)453-7800. Mayor Marianne Klaas’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org. City Administrator Dean Rohla’s email is email@example.com.
The City’s Abandonment Memo
Link to City Council meeting documents for August