Puget Sound Energy restores power for 4,300 customers in Issaquah

November 1, 2011

UPDATED — 9:25 a.m. Nov. 1, 2011

Puget Sound Energy restored power to about 4,300 customers in Issaquah by 9:15 a.m. Tuesday.

PSE spokeswoman Allison Stanford said equipment failed at a substation occurred at about 8:15 a.m. and caused the outage.

The outage started after a power disruption at Newport Way Northwest and Issaquah-Renton Road. PSE dispatched a service crew to the area to investigate.

Residents reported seeing a flash and hearing a loud pop before the power failed.

In the meantime, homes and businesses — including the Costco corporate headquarters — sat darkened for about one hour. Residents in the Talus urban village and other Cougar Mountain communities reported outages.

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Joshua Schaer is not afraid to disagree

October 11, 2011

On a City Council often united in 7-0 decisions, Joshua Schaer is the occasional outlier.

The councilman opposed a hike in cable rates, a redo along Newport Way Northwest and proposed changes to the same street near Issaquah Valley Elementary School. The opposition earned Schaer a grudging respect from council members — and a reputation for outspokenness.

“I’m not trying to be contrarian, and I’m not trying to be difficult, but you can’t have 7-0 votes on every issue,” he said.

Joshua Schaer

Now, as a candidate for a second term on the council, Schaer highlights the no votes just as much as accomplishments.

The councilman, 33, spearheaded a food-packaging ordinance to require restaurateurs and other food sellers to use compostable and recycle takeout containers and utensils.

The legislation is a signature issue as Schaer heads from door to door to greet potential supporters. Newcomer TJ Filley is the other candidate in the race for the Position 4 seat.

“I can’t take credit for the original idea, because it started in a lot of cities. Portland has been doing it for 20 years. Cities in California have been doing it for many years. Seattle was really the model that I looked at,” Schaer said. “If it can work in Seattle with the size of that city, then certainly it can work in Issaquah, where we are leaders in environmental preservation and sustainability. To be the first city on the Eastside to do this, I think, is a tremendous accomplishment.”

The measure caused some heartburn among business leaders, and the rollout continues to face difficulties almost a year after the ordinance took effect. Still, Schaer said the ordinance is a milestone for a city focused on sustainability.

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Mayor Ava Frisinger unveils 2012 city budget

October 4, 2011

Construction could start on a long-planned park along Issaquah Creek, North Issaquah landowners and the city could partner to tackle transportation problems, and police could step up traffic enforcement if the City Council approves the 2012 municipal budget Mayor Ava Frisinger unveiled Oct. 3.

Frisinger offered a $32 million general fund budget — dollars used to fund police and fire services, community development and planning, parks and recreation, and municipal government.

The proposal is not as austere as the budgets Frisinger proposed in recent years. The council adopted a $30.4 million general fund budget in 2011. The increase stems in part from increased debt payments on council-issued bonds for city construction projects.

The proposal does not call for a property tax or rate increases. The council last raised the property tax rate in 2007. Under state law, council members could increase the rate 1 percent per year.

Frisinger’s announcement launched at least a month of deliberations between council members and city staffers to craft a complete budget. The council is required to adopt the budget before Dec. 31.

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City Council, school board meet to discuss shared safety issues

May 31, 2011

School-zone construction, illegal skate-park activities are top concerns

With communication in mind, the Issaquah City Council and Issaquah School Board met May 26 to talk about issues that concern them both, including road construction near schools, illegal activities at the Issaquah skate park and whether the school board could televise its public meetings.

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Council approves transportation plan

May 24, 2011

Proposal outlines repairs to weakened retaining wall

City Council members laid out a roadmap for Issaquah transportation projects May 2.

The council adopted the Transportation Improvement Program, or TIP, a guide to short- and long-term planning for road, transit and pedestrian projects. The document outlines possible transportation projects for 2012-17.

“Having a project on the TIP makes it eligible for certain types of funding, but more broadly, it signals to the community what improvements we’re considering for the future,” Councilman Joshua Schaer said before the unanimous decision.

The city Public Works Engineering Department lists transportation projects in the TIP, and then prioritizes the projects through a separate process to fund capital improvements.

Transportation planners outlined possible improvements to the timber retaining wall along Southeast Black Nugget Road behind Fred Meyer and The Home Depot.

Some timbers started to dislodge, rot is prevalent, pressure distorted some pilings and the fence atop the wall is failing. The city attributes the problems to shoddy construction. The timber was cut too short and too thin for the area. In addition, the structure was not properly treated.

King County could provide some funding to offset the estimated $496,000 repair cost.

“We’ve been talking with King County for a couple of years now, and we’re very close to reaching an agreement with them whereby we can receive some funds fairly quickly, with the possibility of additional funds over an undetermined period of time,” Public Works Engineering Director Bob Brock told the council.

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Joshua Schaer announces City Council re-election bid

February 22, 2011

Incumbent Joshua Schaer announced plans last week to run for a second term, setting off the campaign season for City Council seats.

The candidate highlighted environmental accomplishments in the announcement, including a first-on-the-Eastside food-packaging ordinance and polystyrene container ban.

“Shaping the future of our community is a great honor,” he said in a statement. “I look forward to another four years of creating practical solutions, while continuing to advocate for fiscal responsibility.”

Joshua Schaer

Schaer drafted and shepherded the food-packaging ordinance to fruition throughout 2009. Though the measure initially raised concerns about cost among local restaurateurs, the compliance date in October 2010 passed quietly.

The first-term councilman also leads the Council Transportation Committee and serves as the Issaquah representative to the Eastside Transportation Partnership, a regional group responsible for road and transit issues.

In recent months, as the transportation committee and the seven-member council tackled Newport Way Northwest upgrades, Schaer has been critical of the effort to remake a section of the road near the Bellevue city line and a separate proposal to widen the street near Issaquah Valley Elementary School.

In addition to Schaer’s post, the council seats held by Council President John Traeger and Councilman Fred Butler appear on the November ballot.

Candidates must file to run in Issaquah and other races by June 10. Schaer is the only council candidate so far.

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Joshua Schaer announces City Council re-election bid

February 17, 2011

NEW — 2 p.m. Feb. 17, 2011

Joshua Schaer

Incumbent Joshua Schaer announced plans Thursday to run for a second term, setting off the campaign season for City Council seats.

The candidate highlighted environmental accomplishments in the announcement, including a first-on-the-Eastside food-packaging ordinance.

“Shaping the future of our community is a great honor,” he said in a statement. “I look forward to another four years of creating practical solutions, while continuing to advocate for fiscal responsibility.”

Schaer drafted and shepherded the food-packaging ordinance to fruition throughout 2009. Though the measure initially raised concerns among local restaurateurs, the compliance date in October 2010 passed quietly.

Schaer also leads the Council Transportation Committee and serves as the Issaquah representative to the Eastside Transportation Partnership, a regional group responsible for road and transit issues.

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Off the Press

February 8, 2011

Greg Farrar Press photographer

A recent photo assignment for our Issaquah Living magazine coming in next week’s Press has shed some insight into what can only be described as our little local miracle, Issaquah Creek.

We all have seen the creek as it moves past the hatchery, or under the vehicle bridges on Gilman Boulevard, Newport Way or Front Street. We definitely get a good look when it floods. But that leaves more than 99 percent of the creek unseen by most people as it comes down from Tiger Mountain and north through the valley.

I’ve been wading knee-deep in water, pushing through hummocks of blackberry vines, hiking and climbing down hillsides of forest to find the headwaters, trickles, waterfalls, and brooks that give birth to our creek.

There are four main branches — Holder Creek, which starts on the southeast slope of Tiger Mountain; Carey Creek, which begins in Hobart and comes together with Holder Creek at the Bonomi Farm by Highway 18 to create Issaquah Creek; Fifteenmile Creek, which starts on Tiger’s southwest slope and meets Issaquah Creek at Southeast May Valley Road; and the East Fork, which starts at High Point and joins Issaquah Creek west of Darigold.

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Newport Way improvement plan includes roundabouts

January 11, 2011

City to redo stretch near Issaquah Valley Elementary

Roundabouts could someday punctuate Newport Way Northwest under a plan the City Council adopted last week to upgrade the bustling corridor in the years ahead.

In a lopsided decision Jan. 3, the council agreed to pursue a plan to add roundabouts at the Northwest Juniper Street, Northwest Holly Street and Northwest Dogwood Street intersections. Planners also recommend extending another southbound lane to the corridor from West Sunset Way to Maple Street Northwest. The plan is designed to address projected congestion on the street in the coming decades. Read more

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Press Editorial

January 4, 2011

2011 goals: Building on success of 2010

Issaquah reached numerous milestones in 2010.

In the steps to preserve Park Pointe on Tiger Mountain, the city inched closer to a lasting environmental legacy. The bevy of road upgrades offered real transportation solutions and quality-of-life improvements for Issaquah residents.

Though many of the main city issues attracted attention in 2010, the ramifications should continue to be felt in 2011.

Here, then, is our list of our goals — some significant and some small — for the year ahead: Read more

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