Like many of its Eastside neighbors, Redmond is having growing pains. Traffic is a nightmare. Home prices have soared to the point where...
Like many of its Eastside neighbors, Redmond is having growing pains.
Traffic is a nightmare. Home prices have soared to the point where many who work in town can’t afford to live there. And with revenues not keeping pace with costs, city leaders are contemplating raising a trio of taxes and fees.
The city of more than 47,000 is preparing to welcome taller buildings, a new transit center and thousands of new residents to its downtown in the coming years as part of its growth plan. The challenge will lie in balancing the new development with the things Redmond residents love: the natural beauty of its forests, salmon streams and Lake Sammamish; its miles of trails and bike paths; and its diversity.
The City Council that will tackle these issues in a new City Hall scheduled to open in December will remain nearly the same after Election Day. Two of the three open seats are uncontested: Councilwoman Nancy McCormick is running unopposed for her sixth consecutive council term, and Councilman Pat Vaché, who was appointed to the council in 2003 after serving two terms in the 1980s, is uncontested in his run for a second term.
That leaves two newcomers with similar views on many issues vying for the position of two-term Councilman Thomas Paine, who is not running for re-election.
Kimberly Allen and Jack Bittner both say Redmond’s traffic situation needs improvement. Both say Redmond needs to encourage new businesses to boost the city’s tax base and provide more local jobs. Both want the city to prioritize spending based on what residents want and need most and to share the details before asking for more money.
Kimberly Allen, 46
Occupation: Lawyer, currently stay-at-home mother
Personal: Married, two children
Background: Vice chair of Redmond planning commission; former assistant attorney general for the state of Arizona; volunteer at Kirkland’s Holy Family School
Top endorsements: Washington Conservation Voters; King County Women’s Political Caucus; Affordable Housing Council
Campaign e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jack Bittner, 57
Occupation: Retired; former trainer for Boeing
Personal: Married, one adult daughter
Background: Chairman of Grass Lawn neighborhood citizens advisory committee; communications director for Washington Special Olympics Winter Games
Top endorsement: King County Republican Party
Campaign e-mail: email@example.com
And both said they need to see more details before deciding whether to support Mayor Rosemarie Ives’ proposal to restore and increase services by raising property taxes, development fees and business taxes.
Allen and her family moved to Redmond in 2000 from Arizona, where she served as an assistant attorney general. Since 2003 she’s served on the city Planning Commission, the group that monitors growth and evaluates revisions to Redmond’s land-use plan. Her work on the city’s comprehensive plan has given her a bird’s-eye view of where the city wants to go, she said.
“Now I want to implement the vision,” Allen said. That vision includes light rail, a fleet of high-speed buses or another form of high-capacity transit connecting downtown to the rest of the Eastside and Seattle — or at least better bus service between Redmond and Bellevue.
She’d also like the city to create a step-by-step guide to show residents how to share their concerns when development comes to their neighborhood.
Bittner has called Redmond home since 1985, and he remembers when traffic was so light he could drive from Rose Hill to visit his brother-in-law on Education Hill in 15 minutes.
“Try to do that today. There are 18 stoplights. When you figure the time of the lights, you might as well stop for lunch on the way,” Bittner said.
He attributes congestion in part to poor city planning, and said the region’s transportation agencies need to do a better job working and planning together to gain credibility with voters and win support for major transit projects.
Redmond could be friendlier toward business, he says, by streamlining the process for getting permits. He wants to encourage more small businesses to open downtown, and he says the city should spare police and firefighters if the budget needs cutting.
All those running for the council say Redmond needs to preserve its natural beauty and environment as major employers like Microsoft expand and neighborhoods grow.
“We’d better start acquiring every square inch of parkland and open space we can to serve that coming population,” McCormick said.
Karen Gaudette: 206-515-5618 or firstname.lastname@example.org