Updated on City Hall Furniture PLUS Traffic Studies Expiration dates

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I’ve asked several questions of the Council and City Staff members in the past few months; most of them have had less than stellar responses.

August 24th, 2016 via email to Council (Council@redmond.gov)

Good morning!

Of course I have questions…some from last night’s study session and some just in general. 

As a council, about how many hours a month are spent in council business?  Committees, meetings, research, study, etc.

What was (is?) the impetus for the ESCO/Climate Action Plan?  Why the Public Safety Building?  What is the end game for this?

 How will the City encourage PSE to comply with requests for correct consumption figures?

 Where is the criteria listed for weighting priorities in CIP?  CIS?

 Is there a standard expiration date for studies, projects, etc.?  For instance if a traffic mitigation study is created; how long before that study is not an adequate representation of the study area?  There was discussion last night about expiration dates for projects – waiting for funding, grants, etc.  But how long can a project be on wait list before being dropped? 

There is a lot of information (apparently) in the packets council members receive at study sessions.  When is this information received?  Do you as a council discuss it other than during Study sessions and council meetings?  It would seem to me that you would have to – in order to take in all the information.  How long is information in the packets current?  Can you ask for further information other than in Study session or Council meetings?

And a general question, regarding City Hall…The furniture in the lobby is still gone.  In June, when I asked it had been sent out for cleaning and “With the furniture removed, City staff have been evaluating the layout and potential use of first floor lobby space for a “one-stop” Customer Service Center, an ongoing study effort that is expected to conclude later this summer.”  What are the results of the evaluations and when can we expect the Service Center to be installed or the furniture/lobby to be restored?

Thanks as always for your responses.

The first response received from the Ombudsperson of the month, Councilmember John Stilin:

I am still working on securing answers for your questions.  In this message I will answer the following question:

And a general question, regarding City Hall…The furniture in the lobby is still gone.  In June, when I asked it had been sent out for cleaning and “With the furniture removed, City staff have been evaluating the layout and potential use of first floor lobby space for a “one-stop” Customer Service Center, an ongoing study effort that is expected to conclude later this summer.”  What are the results of the evaluations and when can we expect the Service Center to be installed or the furniture/lobby to be restored?

I discussed your question with staff.  There is still an on-going effort to evaluate the lobby space as a new location for the Customer Service Center that is currently located on the 2nd Floor of City Hall.  Additionally, I learned that some of the furniture was water damaged and is out for repair.  The remainder of the furniture has been deployed to other areas in City Hall.  Having the furniture removed also, eliminated the need to remove it during the Derby Days and Ananda Mela Festivals.  So there is the question of whether it made sense to keep moving the furniture and carpet in and out of the lobby, with the high possibility that the area will be repurposed soon.  The results of the evaluation will be presented this fall as part of a budget offer for funding this project that is expected to be included in the 2017-18 Biennial Budget.  The offer will include scheduling information, my assumption is the implementation would occur early in 2017.

 

So, to back up a bit, I posted about the lobby furniture/homeless/day center issue a few months ago.  This issue STILL has not been resolved; but apparently the City has determined that keeping the furniture out of sight is a better use of space than allowing it for use by citizens or the growing homeless population that wanders around Redmond during the daytime.

I guess I was unaware that the furniture was moved during Derby Days and Ananda Mela; I’m unsure why these events would necessitate the furniture being moved.  With the City using the property more for events and festivals and the like, I’m sure the open space is more usable; but it still looks pretty empty on a daily basis.

 

My 2nd set of questions were answered by Councilmember Stilin in an email on September 8th:

Dear Ms. Norman,

 I am responding as the Redmond City Council Ombudsperson for August 2016.  Attached is another response to one of the questions you asked in your email dated August 24, 2016.

 You asked: Is there a standard expiration date for studies, projects, etc.?  For instance if a traffic mitigation study is created; how long before that study is not an adequate representation of the study area?  There was discussion last night about expiration dates for projects – waiting for funding, grants, etc.  But how long can a project be on wait list before being dropped?

I discussed your question with the Planning Department.

Planning responded:  There is no standard expiration date for studies. It depends on the nature and the use for the study.  If a study is going to be used to evaluate or validate a particular situation, we would first review its content and assumptions and determine if they are still valid or not.  We may then utilize it, have certain components updated [if they are out of date] or develop/require a new study.  Some studies may have a long life span and others may have a short life span. Again it depends on the nature of the study and the purpose for which it is being used.

In regards to future projects, we generally keep them on the list until they are completed or unless conditions have so changed that the reason for their inclusion has so changed that the project is no longer needed.  Rarely are projects taken off of lists although their priority may change as conditions warrant or change.

Three questions remain to be answered, (1) Climate Action Plan and (2) Transportation Master Pan which are currently assigned to staff.  (3) Council Time Commitment – I am working with the Council to quantify how much time is required of Council Members.  It turns out this question is not easily answered, as each member of the Council has their own approach to how they fulfill their role as a council member.

 

I asked this question because there has been a lot of discussion (rumors?) regarding when studies are completed vs. when projects are completed.  For example, the Education Hill Re-channelization project (4 lanes to 3 with medians down the center) was completed in 2015; however studies for the project were completed nearly 10 years earlier (possibly earlier than that)!!!   10 years ago none of the new homes on 116th were even in the planning stages (or WERE they?).  10 years ago we had not added all the multi-family buildings in downtown Redmond or seen the TREMENDOUS growth spurt brought on by our current mayor and council.

According to this, between 2000 and 2014 we’ve had a 31% INCREASE in population in Redmond.

Based on the City’s statistics  our population in 2016 is 60,560; up from 45,256 in the 2000 census.

Education Hill conversion packet from City Council meeting, August 2015 

So 10 years ago in 2006 we had somewhere around 50k people (my estimates); today we have TEN THOUSAND more in population alone.  And that’s not counting the number of cars who are coming into Redmond to use bus services, medical, schools, childcare.  THOSE cars are ALSO using Hwy 202 (Red-Wood Rd), OR Avondale, OR 166th Ave NE.
10 years ago a traffic study was done when there were TEN THOUSAND fewer people LIVING in Redmond; and they decided to move from 4 lanes (which was already packed) to 2.  I’m not even sure how to calculate the numbers of people using those 3 roads during “peak” hours; but it’s a whole heck of a lot of people trying to get to schools, work, errands all at the same time.

Am I the only one that thinks a traffic study completed ten years ago would be outdated in about 2 years?

The City is also using an old traffic study for a re-energized Microsoft-biased project on 51st Street NE; studies completed in 2008 and the buildings the studies were completed for have been in use for several years.  The City’s response to a citizen enquiry about the dates of the studies was “they think the data is fine and there is no need for further study.”

Seems the City is fine with using old data for old projects in the hopes of attracting new businesses and taxpayers.

 

I’ll post another entry on answers to the other questions above; plus I’ve asked questions about Historic buildings/downtown core, and the process for a project from start to finish.

 

If you are irritated or at least curious about things the City of Redmond is doing I encourage you to write to the council and to attend the City Council Business meetings.  Emails will be answered by the Ombudsperson of the month; you have 4 minutes during the beginning of Business meetings to speak about any issue you like.

Review of the Nissan Quest

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The Flex is at the dealership due to a paint defect on the roof; so I’m using a Nissan Quest during the time (their expense)

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.  Here’s a review of the vehicle.

What I like:

  • Large front window gives a really great view of the road in front of you
  • Comfortable seats with a nice glove box/divider between, a lot of nooks and crannies to store devices.
  • USB awp_20160921_002nd lighter jacks in various places (not as many as my Flex).
  • Dash and steering area is well laid out.
  • Trunk is HUGE! In addition to the shelves that lay over the deep wells behind the back seat, the well is VERY DEEP.
  • Seats are roomy and hold the booster seats well.
  • Gas mileage seems to do well; I’ve had it 8 days and put 121 miles on it and still have just less than a half tank of fuel left.
  • Low-profile side doors on both sides. This is great for getting the kids in and out. Although I cannot seem to figure out on the key fob which is left and which is right (obviously a senior moment).

What I don’t like:wp_20160913_020

  • The PRNDL is on the front middle dash. It’s awkward and not easily in reach.
  • Push-button start. I’ve had a couple of time where it hasn’t turned off.  My biggest issue is that I don’t know where the alarm radius is so I carry the key chain ON ME so I don’t lock myself out of the car. (It doesn’t have a key code entry on the door panel like my Flex in case I lock my keys in).
  • The seat-belts are laid out poorly for car/booster seat use. The belts are positioned BEHIND the shoulder of the seats.  For an adult this isn’t an issue (although they are set back pretty far).  But for a child in a booster seat, it’s impossible to reach their seat-belt and strap it themselves.

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  • The seat-belt connectors are nearly impossible for a child to do themselves. The one in the back is nearly impossible for me; if you don’t put the latch in EXACTLY straight, it will not go in.  AND, you need two hands because it pushes itself into the fabric sleeve that holds 2 of the 3 connectors.
  • The trunk shelves are flimsy. A thin particle board covered with fabric.  Also there’s no way to hold the shelves up so you need a hand to hold it up while moving things out of the trunk well.
  • Although there are 3 seat/belts in the back row, there is no way that 3 car seats/boosters will fit back there. To be honest though I have 3 seats in the middle seat of the Flex and 3 boosters won’t fit in there either.  (did in the Suburban, but it’s wider).wp_20160916_003
  • It took me 3 days to figure out how to fold the middle seats down flat.
  • I’m not sure I like the rear camera on the dash. Maybe I just don’t trust it or it’s new or I’d prefer to use my actual eyes to back out of a space.
  • The Windshield wiper control is on the wrong side. I’m used to the Flex.
  • There is no “auto” selection for the lights. I hardly every turn my lights on in the Flex as I leave them on “auto”.  If I want the lights on in the Quest, I have to turn them on and then turn them off.

 

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Overall, I like the Quest.  It drives well, has lots of room and is comfortable.  The down sides for me are the inability for the kids to get themselves in to the seat-belts which means I have to crawl in and out every time I have a stop.  As I have 6 stops a day minimum, that is a lot of crawling into the back and putting kids into seat-belts.

Some of the things I don’t “like” may be due to the feature list of the model I have; an upgraded model of the same vehicle might have different features.

Hopefully though I get my Flex back soon.  I miss it and all the features I’ve grown to love.  It’s been fun driving the Quest, but I’ll check it off my list of possible test drives when I turn the Flex in August 2017.

Home of the Free

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There’s been a lot of media attention over Black Lives Matter and athletes like Colin Kaepernick and Megan Rapinoe refusing to recognize the American Flag during sporting competitions.

I’m confused about this on many levels because I believe that all lives matter and that athletics should have nothing to do with politics.

I was raised in an era where the Pledge of Allegiance was still said in school every day (even my few years in public school).  I still put my hand over my heart and tear up a bit when the Pledge is said or the National Anthem is played.  I frown when people are talking or men don’t remove their hats during the Pledge or the Anthem.  I still believe this is the best country IN THE WORLD, regardless of how far we’ve fallen from the path of our ancestors.

I believe that abortion is murder.  It’s not choice, it’s not feminism, it’s not control of one’s self.  It’s taking something that is living and in the process of being created and stopping that process.  Call it what you will, it’s ceasing the living of a being. Margaret Sanger’s intent was to rid the world of poor black children.  I believe that Planned Parenthood may have put some shiny beads on the ideals of Ms. Sanger; but their intent is the same.  And more black children have been murdered by abortionists than murdered by other means.

“Nationwide, the black homicide victimization rate in 2011 was 17.51 per 100,000. The overall national homicide victimization rate was 4.44 per 100,000, and among white Americans, the homicide victimization rate was 2.64 per 100,000.”

 

“According to 2010 census data, African Americans make up 12.6% of the U.S. population2 but the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that black women accounted for 35.4% of all abortions in 2009.3 The Guttmacher Institute (AGI) puts the percentage of black abortions at 30% of the U.S. total.4″

If LIVES really mattered, abortions would be as illegal as killing a baby eagle or destroying an owl habitat.

 

I’m confused how protesting the symbol of the country that allows you the freedom to do so is in any way anything more than a slap in the face of all those who are currently serving and have in the past served this country to keep us free.  If you don’t like the freedoms that we have here, then I encourage you all to go to any other country that is not the US.  Enroll your kids in their schools, pay your taxes, drive your fancy cars and live in your houses.  Give up your citizenship to the United States and don’t come back.  Because I can guarantee you that you may enjoy some of the benefits of socialized medicine or equal pay or freedom from religion (don’t even get me started); but you will find that your means to complain about the things you don’t like will be squashed like a bug.  It may even cost you or your family your life.

If athletes were really concerned about people and lives (regardless of the color), then maybe instead of protesting the flag of the country that allows them to make MILLIONS of dollars (Rapinoe has a net worth of $2M, Kaepernick $10M); they should be protesting the legal system than allows men to abuse women without criminal charges.  Or the pornography or sex-trafficking industries that are more destructive than people who owned slaves over 150 years ago (1850 according to Wikipedia)

It’s certainly put both Rapinoe and Kaepernick in the news; I’ll admit I’m not much of a soccer fan and I had NO IDEA who Megan Rapinoe even was until I read about her kneeling stunt.  Sometimes I guess bad press is better than no press at all…

Furthermore, if athletes want to actually protest something of import, maybe it’s time they protest the hypocrisy that allows a man convicted of a federal crime to return to his job.  Yeah, I’m bringing up Michael Vick.  In what other country, in what other UNIVERSE; could any person of ANY COLOR get his or her actual job back and get paid for it after serving time for a FEDERAL offense?

Of course it’s okay to kneel or refuse to stand in respect to a country that completely trivializes you by allowing you to kick or throw or run a piece of leather from one end of a grassy field to the other; while raking in the dollars from sponsors like Jaguar or Nike or Subway.

It’s even within your rights, I suppose, to publicly humiliate that same country by calling another team “cowards” (Hope Solo) or lying about criminal activity (Ryan Lochte) while representing that same country in a multi-national sporting spectacle.  Because you can.

And so, it is with anxiety that I read articles like this where an entire TEAM is reportedly considering protesting the flag. And on a HISTORIC day that should NEVER be forgotten!

 

Because I am naïve enough to believe that no one actually hates our country enough to NOT stand for the flag and because I am loyal enough to believe that football players I respect might actually have some values, I am truly hoping that this is only the media, once again, blowing things out of proportion.

Perhaps we should take the symbol of our freedom and put it in the closet where all the values and principles that made our country a force to be reckoned with have been hidden.  Because if we can’t be loyal to the symbol that represents our freedoms, we no longer deserve to have those freedoms.

I suppose it will be nice to have more time to finish up those projects I’ve been putting off; after all there’ll be Monday and Thursday nights and all day Sunday, plus several holidays from August to January that will be open on my calendar.