Ryika Hooshangi (Position 5)

Ryika’s answers were received after our submission deadline and will not be scored.  However, the full text of her response is available below.

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

I support a ban, but would like to review the experiences of other cities, like Issaquah, to identify best practices on issues like bag charges to maximize the impact of our policy and avoid any potential landmines. Anything we can do to limit the use of plastic and Styrofoam is a win not only for our community, but across the planet. As a lawyer for the U.S. Department of State, I have traveled the world and have seen first-hand how damaging plastic bags and the lack of recycling can be on a community and its environment.

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? 

The best way to encourage residents and local businesses to compost and recycle is to make it simple and easy. Too often people are stumped by what is recyclable and what is compostable. We should look into ways to make this easier for citizens including researching no-sort recycling services being adopted in other communities. We’re already off to a great start with our city contract with Republic Services—as you no longer have to wait two weeks before recycling day. One of the best ways to educate our community is to work with the schools. As someone who was born and raised in Redmond, I vividly remember the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” campaign in our schools at a very young age. Today, the importance of recycling and composting starts even at the preschool age.

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

I believe as new communities are planned, we should work with developers to ensure parks, open spaces, and trail connections are considered in their plans.

Based on the projected density in new developments, we should add these conditions as part of the permitting process, instead of all the costs being shouldered by the City and taxpayers. It is essential to balance the infrastructure that is needed as we build more communities—this does not mean just roads. We should look to increase our connectivity via trails. Growing up in this area, I know how much the character of our community is based on our open spaces and parks—these are the things that make Sammamish so very special and in my opinion, the best place on earth to raise a family. We need to do what we can to preserve this not only for today, but for the future.

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?

We need a comprehensive long-term strategy for protecting what makes Sammamish so special, including our lakes, wetlands and forests. As we look toward future growth and how to manage it, we need a vision for the future of Sammamish and we should audit existing policies on wetlands, lakes, and tree protection to ensure they are clear, consistent, and effective in protecting that vision. We are at an inflection point as the entire Seattle area faces massive growth. This is a regional crisis and we can’t solve all these challenges alone, in particular we need to partner with our neighbors in Redmond and Issaquah to build for the next generation.

We do need to promote ride sharing in our community—whether that be for school pick-up and drop-off or for commuting to work. I think we should work closely with some of our local employers to ensure that we are doing all that we can to increase ride share opportunities. We should look to attract shared work spaces in Sammamish. There are currently several in Redmond, and instead of having people travel into Redmond for work, why not have a shared work space in Sammamish. As far as public transit is concerned, we should work closely with Metro to increase the bus routes in Sammamish. Often times removing some road barricades do pose a safety issue and we must be mindful of that as we look to increasing connectivity.

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

The easier we make it to use, the more people will use our beautiful trails and increase walkability with the city. We are so lucky to have the Emerald Necklace in our city, and we should consider all ways that we can increase the use of it and visibility. Unfortunately, there are many people who are unaware of the ongoing project of the Emerald Necklace. It would be great to work with City in order to bring additional visibility to this large and worthwhile undertaking.

6)    Would you support Sammamish using the STAR Community Rating  system (starcommunities.org) 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 think using STAR Community Rating system as a sustainability framework would be helpful in developing best practices and benchmarks for our city. I would be interested in knowing the costs associated with the certification program, the staffing that would be required by the city, and the benefits we would receive as a community. All things being equal, I would prefer we dedicate resources toward embracing sustainable practices and being a regional leader on sustainability.

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.

There are many disputed issues related to the East Lake Sammamish Trail including the width of the trail, stop sign placement, right of way ownership, storm water issues, and tree preservation. The dispute over Section 2B involves changes of the stop sign controls to give trail users the right of way. The county and the city are in dispute over a Right of Way permit, and the approval of the clearing and grading permit. As a trained mediator, I think the City and the County need to come together to resolve this dispute before legal fees become astronomical. We should work together to complete the trail.

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?

We should always work to promote a natural aesthetic and stormwater ponds should be no exception. We need to understand what would work best for the stormwater ponds—and what we would need to do as a City to maintain the transformation. This is a wonderful opportunity to seek public-private partnerships.

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

I support the reasoning behind aesthetic design standards for new developments—but unfortunately, I’m not sure how the city would create such design standards; much like art, it is so very subjective. So many of us would prefer to see new developments with greater character, instead of each home looking the exact same. Where we can make a great impact, is ensuring the new developments keep the character of our city by retaining the old growth trees, making new parks, or creating trails within the community.

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?

We need to determine what percentage of the property must be “active use” to meet the letter of the law and our contractual obligation. We should maintain the integrity of the area and utilize the property in the best way possible. This will require us to balance the critical areas, streams, and wildlife with any proposed active use. There are many varying opinions on this topic, and we need to be respectful of that and request additional input by our citizens.

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

Currently, the City is developing the Urban Forest Management Plan—unfortunately, we are playing catch-up with developing policies that should have been done years ago. Our trees and forests are a defining aspect of our city. We need to hold ourselves and others accountable when it comes to preserving our trees.

In order to increase our tree canopy cover, we need to: (1) Set the City’s priorities for management, protection, and promotion of our trees; including looking at where we can add additional trees. (2) Take a close look at the developments and make sure we are holding them accountable for not only taking down old growth trees, but keeping them honest as to the planting of new trees.  Regulations are only as good as their enforcement. (3) Finally, I think we need an arborist on City staff to help us with our diseased old growth and identify problems before it becomes too late to fix. We need to keep our trees healthy.

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

a) Linking that goal to stormwater retention

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

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

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

Stormwater retention and Sammamish’s Urban Forest are so interconnected, that we should be discussing both at the same time. As I previously mentioned, regulations and policy are only as good as their enforcement. We need to hold developers accountable and that should include monitoring by City staff or a newly created panel within City staff. I do support having an arborist on staff to assist with the assessments of trees and to support the policies developed in the Urban Forest Management Plan. I also think an arborist on staff would be quite useful to citizens who have questions about various trees on their property. Tree clustering is a great idea—and I welcome policies to maintain and/or increase our tree canopy in a way that maintains the character of our city.

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

Absolutely. Much like Issaquah, we need dedicated staff to implement projects, programs and policies that will promote sustainability in our city. When there is no direct staff member dedicated to this important job, unfortunately, it can fall through the cracks.

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

We are so lucky to be in the Northwest, where sustainability and technology can collaborate. We should look to the many environmental tech start-ups in our areas for creative ideas that we can bring to Sammamish, to lead the way for sustainability. There are also many opportunities to receive federal and state grants on sustainability projects, and as a City we should activity pursue this to ensure we are not falling behind.

Back to the questionnaire page

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