Sam Rubin planned to die in the four-bedroom Sammamish home he built more than 30 years ago. But age and medical problems have crept in...

Share story

Sam Rubin planned to die in the four-bedroom Sammamish home he built more than 30 years ago.

But age and medical problems have crept in, and he and his wife, Betty, can’t maintain the five-acre property anymore. They want to sell to a developer to get the best return.

That won’t happen anytime soon, though.

The city of Sammamish held a unique lottery Monday — with the winners allowed to develop their property in the next two years and the losers having to wait until August 2007 to even submit another application. The Rubins lost.

This week, save 90% on digital access.

“We’re just stuck,” said Rubin, 77. “I hope I’m still alive in 2007 to even apply for it.”

The lottery is the latest step in Sammamish’s attempt to control growth in the high-demand market east of Lake Sammamish.

The first of its kind in the state, the lottery is designed to meter development by allowing only 840 parcels to be developed for housing over the next two years based on a lottery system.

The city studied communities in Colorado and California before drafting the ordinance this summer, said Kamuron Gurol, the city’s community-development director.

“Something was needed to manage the pace of growth,” he said, adding that Sammamish — already one of King County’s fastest-growing communities — has grown by 2,500 households since 1999 because of projects that were in the pipeline before it incorporated.

Since incorporation in 1999, city officials passed a series of growth moratoriums to catch up on those projects while building the city’s infrastructure, Gurol said. The last moratorium expired in August, and that’s when the growth-phasing ordinance took effect.

The new measure sparked the ire of a group of developers who sued the city in August, saying such a system is unfair and infringes on builders’ constitutional rights to develop. The group also challenged the ordinance to the Growth Management Hearings Board; a hearing is scheduled for Jan. 24, said City Attorney Bruce Disend.

If a court finds the ordinance invalid, the city will appeal, Gurol said, adding: “I believe the ordinance is fully defensible.”

In a small, crowded room at City Hall on Monday, anxious property owners watched as a certified public accountant — hired by the city for this lottery only — read off numbers generated randomly by a computer program. The numbers ranked those who would be allowed to submit applications over the next two years to build on the 840 parcels — 168 small lots of four units or less and 672 subdivisions of four units or more.

Some, like Carrie Haymond, whooped after she heard the results.

Haymond works for Windermere Real Estate/East and represents three property owners who own 6.2 acres on the Issaquah-Pine Lake Road. She figures the property, which could yield about 30 homes, will get offers from developers of more than $4 million, she said.

One of the owners, the Plateau True Light Christian Church, owns land that now could sell for $1.8 million to $2.2 million, Haymond said, adding that the members plan to use that money to buy their own church.

“I know [the church members] prayed and prayed for their number today,” she said.

As for Rubin, he said he could get $650,000 to $850,000 if he sold now. By selling to a developer, however, he thinks he could net at least $1 million more for the five acres.

“We either sell the house as is and lose a million, or we wait it out,” Rubin said. “But [caring for the property] is almost a full-time job, and we just physically can’t do it anymore.”

Sonia Krishnan: 206-515-5546 or

Custom-curated news highlights, delivered weekday mornings.