Chris Ross (Position 5)


1. Do you support a plastic bag and styrofoam ban in Sammamish?  Why or why not?


Yes, I support banning all bags that aren’t 100% recyclable and a requirement to use compostable food service packaging in liu of Styrofoam packaging and cups.  

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, NOAA National Ocean Service, and other agencies, there are many dire consequences of introducing plastic bags into our environment:

  • Plastic bags don’t biodegrade but rather break down into smaller toxic bits
  • Can take up to 1,000 years to break down in the environment
  • Plastic particles contaminate soil and waterways and enter the food web
  • In some locations, there is 46 times more plastic than available food for marine animals.
  • Plastic bags cause over 100,000 sea turtle and other marine animal deaths every year
  • Nearly 90% of the debris in our oceans is plastic
  • Plastic bags are among the 12 items of debris most often found in coastal cleanups
  • When fish and other marine animals ingest plastic debris, they are also ingesting these toxins
  • If the food we eat is contaminated with toxins, we will be too

Styrofoam is made from a petroleum-based plastic that is also not biodegradable and lasts virtually forever.  Therefore, like plastic bags, Styrofoam has similar long-term impacts to the environment.  Further, the market for recycling Styrofoam is diminishing.

These incremental destructors of our environment add up. According to the EPA, roughly only 2% of plastic bags are recycled.  Reusable bags are an alternative but should be carefully sterilized frequently before re-use and must be used as many as 130 times or more to recover the manufacturing/transportation cost to the environment.  Biodegradable paper bags are an alternative but do require some level of tree reduction, more energy to produce and additional transportation costs to accommodate.

Eliminating tote bag availability at stores entirely may generate unintended consequences.  For example, consumers may purchase bulk packages of environmentally unfriendly bags for garbage liners and use them without re-use due to the convenience of multiple bags available.  

For plastic bags, I would require all stores to use 100% recyclable bags.  For convenience, stores could have recycle bins for bags no longer in use.  Our current recycle program allows us to bundle plastic bags too. We must get rid of non-recyclable materials and make huge progress towards raising the 2% recycle measure. With fewer recycling options for Styrofoam, I would recommend policy requiring compostable serving materials.

2. How would you encourage local businesses and Sammamish residents to compost and recycle?  What incentives, education, and/or regulations would you enact to increase participation in these programs throughout the city?


Education should start very early.  Hank Klein made a terrific presentation on the impacts of plastic bags to our environment at our Kiwanis meeting.  After his presentation, he described a “Waste Watchers” program at his school where kids are stationed next to the different recycle bins and helped students dispose of their waste appropriately.  This early learning becomes habit forming. This also develops future environmental leaders. Every community organization should have an environmental speaking topic periodically.  It is quite enlightening realizing the permanent damage we are applying to our environment.  Education is critical because regulation alone does not fix or prevent the problem.  Knowledge and commitment to properly recycling is essential.

Also, making it convenient to recycle is always helpful and can dramatically improve the percentage of materials recycled.  For example, unused paint, bulbs and like products can be dropped off at local hardware stores and later picked up in bulk by the appropriate recycling/disposition entity.

3. What is your priority for land acquisition for open space, parks, and/or trail connections for the city of Sammamish? Why?


The survey associated with the Land Acquisition Strategy identified passive use and preservation as the highest priorities.  Less than half of those surveyed identified active use and recreation as a priority.  Active use is usually the most expensive to maintain and tends to reduce our tree canopy. I agree with these priorities because they best help sustain the green character of Sammamish with lower long-run maintenance costs to sustain the property.  

Also, I am discovering that many of our aging population that acquired properties with acreage decades ago, find it difficult to hold their homes with escalating prices driving high property tax burdens.  Rather than losing these valued members of our community, I would encourage the city to purchase and preserve the extra acreage of these homeowners as part of the land acquisition strategy.  This enables the homeowner to stay in Sammamish at a reduced cost with compensation for land sold.  The community wins by putting the land to best environmental use versus subdividing and developing into multiple housing units.

Finally, if we generate positive results and make impactful investments, new funding will be more easily realized as a component to keep Sammamish green.

4. What is your plan for reducing car traffic in Sammamish?  Would that include increasing public transit and/or removing road barricades to increase connectivity?


Sammamish is still transitioning from a rural road infrastructure to an urban one.   Road barricades are in some sense preventing a surge of traffic to roads intended as collector arterials to service the inflow and outflow of neighborhoods.  Removing barricades potentially may push traffic at unintended levels in certain neighborhoods with safety implications.  The city acknowledges that no real cost estimates have been made regarding the removal of the barricades. More current traffic studies and research into necessary road improvements and cost are necessary.

Completion of the Traffic Management Plan (TMP) is a critical first step.  The TMP is a 20-30-year vision and is the first time the city has done this.  This plan among other things addresses connectivity. Also notable is that this plan coordinates with Redmond, Issaquah, and King County.  Further, the State and Sound Transit will also be examined.

In the short run, effective public transit options can be considered because schedules and routes are easily adjusted or removed with little cost to align with the final TMP vision.  The TMP should be completed to represent our integrated strategy.  Through that process, barricades can be considered.

5. How would you increase trail connectivity in and around Sammamish to increase walkability within the city and to and from the Emerald Necklace? 


Completion of a trail at the north segment of our city will create a complete trail system circling our city (the Emerald Necklace). A Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) agreement signed by King County King County protects open space for the Emerald Necklace around Sammamish. Completing the full circle of the Emerald Necklace would be a major accomplishment for our community. Additional trails enhancing connectivity should be reviewed in conjunction with the Land Acquisition Strategy.  All of these efforts preserve open space and allow us to enjoy our natural environment in Sammamish.

6. Would you support Sammamish using the STAR Community Rating  system ( as a sustainability framework and certification program? Nearby, Seattle is a 5-STAR Certified Community (the second city in the country to do so!), Tacoma is a 4-STAR Certified Community, and King County is a 4-STAR Certified Community.  


I believe the STAR system is an excellent opportunity and way to integrate real solutions for sustainability with practices and metrics to measure results.  This program can be included in the city’s planning efforts.  The STAR system describes how this process includes a community definition of sustainability and uses data to evaluate and improve economic, environmental, and social performance and support local planning efforts.  Sammamish values our environmental character and actively managing our condition should be a priority.

7. Do you support completing the East Lake Sammamish Trail to King County regional trail standards?  As currently designed by King County Parks, the trail meets King County and AASHTO national standards for a trail of its type and expected volume of use, including design as a 12-foot-wide trail.


We must be flexible when our environment and residents can be negatively impacted.  Environmentally, numerous mature trees, wetlands, and buffers are at risk. Some property owners on the trail are losing use of their property.  Many residents view this as a jewel of our community and want it completed.  To complete the trail, design compromises should be worked including narrowing the trail in certain areas and re-routing where possible to reduce the negative impact on the environment and properties.  

8. Would you support the city transforming our unattractive stormwater ponds to promote a natural aesthetic? How would you propose that the city ensure they are properly maintained in form and function?


I support efforts to enhance the visual look of our community.  At a minimum, we need to maintain what we currently have with basic maintenance such as mowing and weeding.  Initial costs and maintenance of enhancements need to be considered along with other community priorities.  For example, as we purchase new land, our maintenance requirements will grow.  This is why it is important to have a long-term financial forecast to ensure our maintenance budget is sufficient to sustain these investments.

9. Do you support the creation of aesthetic design standards for new developments in Sammamish?  Why or why not?


Absolutely.  Regulation alone does not always generate the desired results.  Urban and landscape design standards would go a long way towards realizing the look and character we all value.

10. The agreement between the city and the Y includes transferring the Y property next to Pine Lake Middle School to the city at no cost if it is used for active recreation.  Some would like to see it developed for more passive use to maintain tree canopy and wildlife habitat.  This passive use of the property may require the city to purchase it outright.  How would you handle this issue?


The City’s obligation is to use the 7.25-acre property for recreational use.    This property is highly wooded, includes two wetlands and two streams connected to the Laughing Jacobs sub-basin.  This is a habitat of the Kokanee salmon.  I recommend we minimize development of the property while meeting our agreement as active use.  The property is not the right place for robust recreational use.  The Y got a sweet deal and is benefiting greatly from their partnership with the city. If the tree canopy and other environmental features are at risk of being compromised, I would fight for an acceptable solution before outright purchase or compensation is considered.    

11. What 3 actions should the city take to increase its tree canopy cover?


Enforce the tree policy.

Seek to preserve large private ownership of acreage from density development by acquiring excess acreage through our land acquisition strategies.

Identify areas where tree planting is possible.  Set goals and implement a process to execute on the plan.

12. What is your goal for Sammamish’s Urban Forest?  Additionally, would you support the following proposals? Why or why not?


The objectives of the Urban Forest Management Plan are critical: identify inventory current tree inventory for baseline status, identify City-wide goals for the urban forest, determine the most effective methods to help the City reach its urban forest goals, and identify goals and priorities.  I would like to see an aesthetic component in the plan to ensure what we plan is what we get. 

a) Linking that goal to stormwater retention

Trees are not just nice to look at.  They have many valuable benefits such as supporting clean air, clean water, flood and erosion control, and protecting wildlife habitats.  In addition, they absorb a lot of water that is integral component of managing stormwater runoff.  Standards in the Urban Forest Management Plan must be linked to stormwater management.

b) Creating an Urban Forest Panel or Board to monitor and enforce the provisions of the Urban Forest Management Plan

This is a great idea.  I fully support actively monitoring this important element of sustaining Sammamish as a green city.

c) Hiring one or more arborists to city staff to assist in assessment of trees on land to be developed as well as to support policies in the Urban Forest Management Plan

I would contract for these services initially until we assess all our requirements and needs through the PRO plan.

d) Creating a requirement that retained trees are clustered together rather than scattered or left in a thin line at the property boundary? This “Tree Save” idea has been used in other cities, with the provision that only passive recreation can be conducted within the retained cluster

This can be accomplished through Transfer Development Rights (TDR).  For example, the passive use cluster can be retained in exchange for up zoning.  This essentially puts development where it belongs and preserves our environment.

13. Would you support having a dedicated Sustainability staff member in Sammamish? (Issaquah currently has 5 staff in its Office of Sustainability.) 


Sustaining the environment for the city is a top priority. As such, top priorities should be staffed.  I would review all of the services the city provides in order of priority and reallocate resources to this important need.

14. What other efforts would you actively pursue to further sustainability in Sammamish?


Ensure that the design and quantity of city property is financially sustainable.  I would encourage a larger proportion of passive or preservation use to minimize the maintenance costs to sustain these investments.  At the same time, these types of investments have a greater positive impact on retaining our environmental character.

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Position 1 Mark Baughman Jason Ritchie
Position 3 Minal Ghassemieh Karen Howe Karen Moran
Position 5 Ryika Hooshangi Rituja Indapure Chris Ross
Position 7 Melanie Curtright John Robinson Pam Stuart