In landmark decision, buildings up to 150 feet in business district OK’d

December 27, 2011

Rowley Properties could someday build tall buildings on 78 acres in the business district, as shown in the rendering above. Contributed

Rowley Properties plans to redevelop land in decades ahead

Tall buildings could someday punctuate the skyline in the modest business district along state Route 900, after city leaders created a framework Dec. 19 to transform acre upon acre blanketed in storage units, low-slung office buildings and automotive service centers into a dense neighborhood for shops and homes.

In a landmark decision, City Council members approved a 30-year agreement between the city and longtime Issaquah developer Rowley Properties to overhaul almost 80 acres in the coming decades. The council agreed to allow buildings up to 150 feet tall and mixed-use development on up to 4.4 million square feet in Hyla Crossing and Rowley Center — parcels along Interstate 90 and state Route 900.

The landowner, in turn, is required to pay for transportation upgrades, affordable housing construction, Tibbetts Creek restoration efforts and storm-water system improvements.

Leaders said the potential for change in Hyla Crossing and Rowley Center offers a rare opportunity to reshape Issaquah as the city readjusts after a decadelong population boom.

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King County executive highlights accomplishments at term’s halfway point

December 27, 2011

Dow Constantine

County Executive Dow Constantine reached the midpoint in a four-year term as King County’s leader Dec. 21.

In the days before the milestone, Constantine highlighted accomplishments in the job thus far — including efforts to rein in spending through negotiations between the county and labor groups, reducing employee health care costs and adopting a performance-based management program modeled on a system at Toyota.

“The common theme of many of our accomplishments is partnership — finding a way for people to work together who maybe didn’t work so well together before,” he said in a statement released Dec. 19.

Constantine entered office in late November 2009 and outlined a bold plan to remake county government.

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Merry Christmas Issaquah needs help to reach goal

December 27, 2011

The team at Issaquah Community Services — 22 trained volunteers — opens the nonprofit organization’s office each week to offer a hand to people in need, but the volunteers might not be able to serve as many people next year if more donations do not arrive soon.

Issaquah Community Services is the all-volunteer nonprofit organization responsible for dispersing donations to families living inside Issaquah School District boundaries.

Merry Christmas Issaquah is the organization’s most important fundraiser of the year. But the fund is more than $20,000 shy of its goal for the year, and organizers need the dollars to offer rent assistance if eviction is imminent, help with utility bills if the provider is threatening shutoff or emergency transportation.

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University of Washington students organize medical care for Tent City 4

December 27, 2011

The community often donates clothing and food to Tent City 4, and a group of University of Washington public health graduate students is organizing medical care for the homeless encampment’s residents.

Tent City 4 settled in the Community Church of Issaquah parking lot in late October. The encampment — home to up to 100 homeless adults — is due to remain on the site until Jan. 21 before relocating to a Kirkland church.

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Transit is option during state Route 520 bridge tolling

December 27, 2011

King County Metro Transit and Sound Transit leaders encouraged commuters to use mass transit after tolling starts on the state Route 520 bridge Dec. 29.

The state Department of Transportation estimates tolls should cause thousands of motorists to use the Interstate 90 bridges or drive around Lake Washington instead. Officials encourage commuters to consider mass transit to cross the lake.

In the past year, Metro Transit and Sound Transit increased daily bus service in the Route 520 corridor by 20 percent — or about 6,500 seats and more than 130 additional bus trips. Find complete schedules and more information at http://metro.kingcounty.gov and www.soundtransit.org.

Commuters can use Metro Transit’s online “Seat Finder” service at http://kingcounty.gov/metro/seatfinder to find a vanpool.

Many transit service improvements came through a partnership with the state Department of Transportation and U.S. Department of Transportation to better manage congestion on Route 520.

DUI crackdown continues through holiday

December 27, 2011

Police urged motorists to consider a designated driver on New Year’s Eve as a statewide campaign to nab drunken drivers continues through the holiday season.

The effort runs through Jan. 2. The campaign means beefed-up DUI enforcement on Issaquah and King County roads, as the Issaquah Police Department and other law enforcement agencies join the crackdown. The seasonal campaign started on Thanksgiving.

Washington law enforcement officers advise all holiday partygoers to designate a sober driver, call a cab or choose not to drink alcohol.

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State is set to require rabies vaccine in dogs, cats, ferrets

December 27, 2011

Under a rule due to go into effect Jan. 1, the state is requiring dog, cat and ferret owners to vaccinate the animals against rabies.

The rule is meant to reduce the number of rabies exposures in Washington. Statewide each year, several hundred people must receive a series of rabies shots because of possible exposure to the rabies virus.

The state Department of Health’s Zoonotic Disease Program said the rule requires owners of dogs, cats and ferrets to have pets vaccinated against rabies.

Many cities and counties require rabies vaccinations for some pets, but vaccinations have never been required by the state. Vaccinating pets is one of the most effective ways of preventing rabies.

In Washington, bats act as the primary source of rabies. Many bats test positive each year for rabies across the state.

If a person is exposed to rabies, he or she should seek treatment immediately.

The most recent human rabies cases in the state occurred in 1995 and 1997. The last domestic animal in Washington — a cat — tested positive in 2002.

Meals program seeks cutting boards, towels, other items

December 27, 2011

In an effort to curb waste and cooperate with the city of Issaquah’s recycling initiatives, the local meals program is hoping to eliminate paper and plastic products from its dinner services.

The program recently has installed a high speed, sanitizing dishwasher and has been collecting donations of plates and silverware. Organizers now are set for dishes, according to Issaquah Meals Coordinator Adria Briehl.

However, Briehl said full-sized cutting boards would be helpful, as would kitchen and bath towels, the latter so staffers can make full use of the new dishwasher. Medical or food service gloves in which to serve food also would be welcomed.

Donations can be dropped off any weeknight from 5-6:30 p.m. at the firehouse on Sunset Way next to the Issaquah Police Department.

Call 679-0342 to learn more.

New Year’s holiday means closures at city facilities

December 27, 2011

Prepare for closures at the Issaquah Community Center and the Julius Boehm Pool for the New Year’s holiday.

The community center is scheduled to close from Dec. 31 to Jan. 2. Meanwhile, the pool is scheduled to close Jan. 1-2 for the holiday.

In addition to the community center and pool, City Hall and Issaquah Municipal Court close Jan. 2 for the New Year’s holiday.

State fines GEICO for overcharging customers

December 27, 2011

The state fined GEICO $100,000 for overcharging Washington customers, and the insurer agreed to refund $7.5 million by the end of the year.

In a Dec. 21 announcement, state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said the excessive charges affected 25,267 customers.

“A computer database error caused the problem, which the company reported to us promptly,” he said in a statement. “GEICO has also agreed to a two-year compliance plan that includes multiple audits.”

The state suspended another $50,000 fine on the condition the Maryland-based insurance company abides by the terms of the compliance plan.

The refunds average about $300 and many have already been paid to Washington customers. The company has been contacting active and former customers affected by the issue. GEICO expects to pay all of the refunds by Dec. 31.

In late May, GEICO representatives reported the computer error. The glitch resulted in 7 percent of the company’s Washington customers being overcharged for insurance between August 2009 and June 2011.

Fines collected by the Insurance Commissioner’s Office do not go to the agency. Instead, the money is deposited in the state’s general fund to pay for other state services.

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