Mark Mullet reflects on City Council term

January 8, 2013

Mark Mullet claimed a historic first in January 2010.

Mark Mullet

The entrepreneur and former banking executive ran unopposed for a City Council seat in 2009 and won election as the first Issaquah Highlands resident to serve on the council.

The highlands added thousands of residents as construction escalated in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but the neighborhoods existed for more than a decade before a resident achieved citywide elected office.

In the years Mullet served on the council, members hired City Administrator Bob Harrison, oversaw a major staff reorganization at City Hall, approved a long-term redevelopment plan for the business district, inked development agreements with Lakeside Industries and Rowley Properties, and approved a retail plastic bag ban.

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City Council hires lobbyist to represent Issaquah in Olympia

August 7, 2012

Issaquah needs a lobbyist to advocate in the marble corridors beneath the Capitol dome — and coax state legislators to support local projects, City Council members said in a contentious decision to hire a longtime Olympia lobbyist.

The council agreed in a 5-2 decision July 16 to hire Doug Levy to represent Issaquah in Olympia. Members spent $21,700 to hire the former congressional staffer and onetime journalist through December.

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City, state join forces to improve Lake Sammamish State Park

July 3, 2012

Issaquah and the state parks agency have agreed to coordinate efforts to create a better future for cash-strapped Lake Sammamish State Park.

Hugo Valdivieso, a worker for Lake Sammamish State Park, mows the shoulder of Northwest Sammamish Road in front of the park main entrance May 12. By Greg Farrar

The city could someday shoulder some responsibilities to maintain the state park, but the initial agreement between Issaquah and the Washington Parks and Recreation Commission is light on specifics.

The pact approved by the City Council in a unanimous decision June 18 calls for the city and state parks agency to “explore opportunities to improve community use” of park facilities, seek out funding to improve the park and dedicate staffers to develop recommendations for the park.

The agreement, or memorandum of understanding, is in effect through June 2013. The council decision did not allocate any funding to the park project.

“I’m delighted to see this partnership that we’ve had with Lake Sammamish State Park over the years continue in a more formal way,” Councilman Fred Butler said before the decision.

The effort, spearheaded by councilwomen Eileen Barber and Stacy Goodman, stemmed from a 2011 council retreat to set goals for 2012.

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Report: Crime declines in Issaquah

June 12, 2012

An Issaquah Police motorcycle officer writes a traffic ticket to a motorist during the afternoon commute May 31 on Front Street South. By Greg Farrar

Crime declined in Issaquah last year, although as the rates of violent crimes and property crimes tumbled, robberies and burglaries increased from the prior year.

The information for Issaquah — from a report on crime statewide — showed a 12.2 percent drop in the overall crime rate for the city last year. The violent crime rate dipped 26.8 percent as the number of reported forcible rapes and aggravated assaults dropped. The property crime declined during 2011 by 11.6 percent, as police responded to fewer arsons, larcenies and motor vehicle thefts.

Still, despite the overall decline, the city experienced a 40 percent increase in robberies, a violent crime, and a 19.8 percent increase in burglary, a property crime. The number of robberies reported to police inched upward between 2010 and last year. Police also responded to more burglaries in 2010 than 2011.

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Growth is focus as City Council, Issaquah School Board meet

May 1, 2012

City and Issaquah School District leaders pledged coordination and cooperation as the city outlines a bold plan to add thousands of residences in the decades ahead.

Chad Magendanz

Discussion about the Central Issaquah Plan — a proposal to transform more than 900 acres near Interstate 90 and state Route 900 — and possible changes to the school district, such as redrawing boundaries for schools to accommodate population shifts, dominated the annual joint meeting April 24.

City Council and Issaquah School Board members, plus Mayor Ava Frisinger and Superintendent Steve Rasmussen and other officials, gathered at Mandarin Garden a week after school district voters approved a $219 million bond to fuel a school construction boom. The planned projects include major changes for schools in downtown Issaquah.

The groups, seated beneath red lanterns and arranged around lazy Susans, sipped tea and nibbled on fried rice and roast pork as discussion unfolded about long-term development plans. (The city hosted the meal and spent $311.24 on food and beverages.)

“Both organizations have gone from fast-growing organizations to more stable, mature organizations with different sets of issues,” Council President Tola Marts said. “So, now the challenge is how do we manage the remaining growth that we have?”

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Mayor hires Prosser official as deputy city administrator

April 24, 2012

Charlie Bush

The city administrator for Prosser, a wine country destination in Eastern Washington, is the next No. 3 official at Issaquah City Hall

Charlie Bush, 37, is due to start as the deputy city administrator June 1, as officials reorganize departments and attempt to streamline city operations. Plans call for the deputy city administrator to oversee development and planning functions.

“I’m really looking forward to coming in and hitting the ground running, and working with everybody,” he said April 23. “I see this as a tremendously exciting professional opportunity. I really am interested in the opportunities that Issaquah presents at this stage in its history.”

Mayor Ava Frisinger announced the appointment April 18.

Bush joined Prosser City Hall as city administrator in 2008, after a long municipal government career in Washington and Arizona.

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Issaquah mayor hires Prosser official as deputy city administrator

April 18, 2012

NEW — 7:30 p.m. April 18, 2012

The city administrator for Prosser, a wine country destination in Eastern Washington, is the next No. 3 official at Issaquah City Hall, Mayor Ava Frisinger announced Wednesday.

Charlie Bush

Charlie Bush is due to start as the deputy city administrator June 1, as officials reorganize departments and attempt to streamline city operations. Plans call for the deputy city administrator to oversee development and planning functions.

Bush joined Prosser City Hall as city administrator in 2008, after a long municipal government career in Washington and Arizona.

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City combines planning, building functions to speed up permitting

April 3, 2012

Step is latest in big City Hall reshuffle

The reorganization of City Hall entered a more intense phase March 27, as officials announced a plan to bundle municipal departments into a Development Services Department — a super-agency meant to streamline planning and building functions.

The change is accompanied by a more muscular effort to attract and retain businesses. Leaders said the Development Services Department is meant to smooth the process to apply for a permit to construct a project or open a business in Issaquah.

The centerpiece is a plan to offer applicants the option to pay additional fees to expedite the evaluation a project receives. The setup is akin to Disney’s Fastpass. Only, rather than theme park guests standing in line for shorter stretches, permit applicants choose a speedier permitting process.

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Effort to boost local economy focuses on competitiveness

April 3, 2012

Issaquah faces ‘much more aggressive’ cities in hunt for businesses

In another step to attract businesses to Issaquah and encourage existing entrepreneurs to remain in the city, leaders promised a more robust economic development effort March 27 in a series of other changes to City Hall.

In recent months, officials unveiled a plan to streamline the permitting process for businesses, create a municipal Economic Vitality Commission and add employees dedicated to economic development.

The effort is meant to turn Issaquah into a more desirable place to do business than other Eastside cities. The competition among cities for businesses is fierce, especially since the recession caused construction to lag.

“Communities are much more aggressive and much more competitive for the amount of economic development that exists out there,” City Administrator Bob Harrison said in a presentation to the City Council.

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City combines planning, building functions to speed up permitting

March 28, 2012

NEW — 5:30 p.m. March 28, 2012

The reorganization of City Hall entered a more intense phase Tuesday, as officials announced a plan to bundle municipal departments into a Development Services Department — a super-agency meant to streamline planning and building functions.

Bob Harrison

The change is accompanied by a more muscular effort to attract and retain businesses. Leaders said the Development Services Department is meant to smooth the process apply for a permit to construct a project or open a business in Issaquah.

The centerpiece is a plan to offer applicants the option to pay additional fees to expedite the evaluation a project receives. The setup is akin to Disney’s Fastpass. Only, rather than theme park guests standing in line for shorter stretches, permit applicants choose a speedier permitting process.

City Administrator Bob Harrison said frequent questions from permit applicants influenced the project.

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