Clyde Hill News This Week #2
An experiment in distilling information from the city weekly Administrator’s Report
Welcome to the second issue of what might become a weekly newsletter about what’s going on and how things work in the City of Clyde Hill! The city has not yet posted the weekly Administrator’s Report from Friday, so I’m going ahead with other content. This week: thanks, issues I’ve heard from walking the neighborhood — and stormwater management.
Context: A Feedback Loop
Over the last year, I've worked to get a better understanding of what the city does as well as how and why. In just about every interaction, there’s a slow trickle of information about recurring activity that is not well-explained to the public despite being for the public’s benefit and being paid for by the public. I’m trying to find ways to distill this information and make city government easier to understand and interact with.
The whole point is to get a feedback loop started. So, please tell me what you think. The big requests from people’s responses to last week’s mail were (1) make any calls to action clearer and easier to find and (2) be clearer about who to follow up with on an issue. I’m going to emphasize calls to action like this. My understanding is that firstname.lastname@example.org is the starting point of choice for interaction with the city.
As a reminder to new readers, I’m running for Clyde Hill City Council because after the last year of learning and engaging on these topics, I really want to help City government get better at informing and listening to residents. We all win when that happens.
Thank you for your support
The support I’ve gotten from friends both old and newly minted has exceeded anything I could have imagined. I want to start with a heartfelt thank you — I wish I had better words to express how much I appreciate your time, your suggestions and feedback in person and via email, your help with yard signs, and the phone calls and emails on your part to friends and neighbors. 🙏
A good friend told me a story about an election day many years ago before mail-in voting. Her father (who will turn 90 this week!), going door to door, helped someone who was under the weather make it to the polls to cast a vote. I’m sharing this story because of course that candidate won by one vote.
Every vote matters. Please accept this gentle reminder turn your ballot in if you haven’t already, and please remind friends and neighbors to do so as well.
Issues and concerns
I asked, face to face, what was important to people as I walked around Clyde Hill knocking on doors. I knocked on about a hundred doors and had about a 50% rate of people opening doors.
One conversation from yesterday’s visits has really left an impression. People (who have lived in Clyde Hill for more decades than I have) described feeling not welcome, like an intruder and a nuisance in their interactions with the city. They described going to a meeting to voice their opinion on an issue involving their neighborhood, not being listened to, and then watching the council move ahead and vote the measure into action.
I don’t expect unanimous opinions on any matter of substance in Clyde Hill. I want to believe that residents can expect to be listened to and have their point of view acknowledged and considered before a council vote.
Some of the recurring themes from my meetings with residents:
Unoccupied houses. I heard concerns about empty houses several more times, with issues from unkempt landscaping to rodents.
Trees. I heard concerns about trees coming down and not being replaced. (This feedback is a good specific example of how the city could encourage more climate-friendly behaviors.)
Property taxes. I heard concerns about property taxes, especially from seniors.
Dog park. This includes feedback about better public gathering places.
Large trucks cutting through Clyde Hill along with speeding cars. And, to be fair, from talking with our Police Chief, I found out that Clyde Hill has done some very deep traffic analysis. I trust and believe him, and have started looking for that information.
Chickens. I defer to last week’s newsletter on this issue.
Is there something important to you missing from this list, or a point of view on something already on the list that you want to make sure is noted? Please tell me.
Stormwater Management, Part 1
The very, very short version of why you care and what you should do:
because water goes untreated from our paved areas back to nature (as you’d expect for rain), please go to a carwash (rather than do it in your driveway), please throw dog waste into the trash (rather than leaving it to get rained into our water supply untreated), and consider what chemicals you use on your lawn (because they will wash into our water supply).
That’s the main point. City of Seattle has a nice write-up here.
The other point is that the plan Clyde Hill submitted to the Washington State Department of Ecology was non-compliant… on issues of communication with residents in the community. Kinda like what we’ve been talking about all campaign.
The longer version
Many of Clyde Hill’s city services are contracted out. For example, Clyde Hill’s fire, emergency response, and water and sewer services are from the City of Bellevue. The City of Kirkland handles court issues, for example, pleas and payments from speeding tickets issued in Clyde Hill. Puget Sound Energy is responsible for our street lights.
Outside of city administration and finance, Clyde Hill’s big responsibilities are police, building codes and permits, and public works. The folks in public works cover a lot of ground, including making sure that our roads are clear after snow and ice storms and that our streets and sidewalks are in good shape — and stormwater management.
On the other end of the spectrum, at the Federal level, “The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed rules for the implementation of the new stormwater requirements… The State of Washington, through Ecology, implements these stormwater rules through the Municipal Stormwater Permit program.” (link)
Clyde Hill is the owner and operator of a small municipal separate storm sewer system (“MS4”) — and is required to comply with and be covered by this permit in order to discharge stormwater from its system into the waters of the of the State of Washington.
At some time, I will go into how much hard work is involved in keeping this municipal separate storm sewer system operational. The people in the public works department are remarkable.
There’s an annual report from Clyde Hill to the state’s Ecology people in order to maintain the permit. (The truly curious can look here at all the documents and back and forth.) Here’s the letter that accompanied the revised (after state feedback) report. This letter is dated May 2021; I believe the 2020 in the letter body is a typo.
From what I can tell, the city’s communication strategy involves a link to a survey on the right side of the website:
And some number of postcards mailed to residents: