Fred Butler launches campaign for Issaquah mayor

January 17, 2013

NEW — 6 p.m. Jan. 17, 2013

Fred Butler, a City Council stalwart for 13 years and a voice in important debates about the future of Issaquah, entered the race for mayor Thursday.

Fred Butler

Fred Butler

The contest could hinge on the vision for the decades ahead, as city leaders seek to position Issaquah for redevelopment and attract more jobs to the community.

Butler, 72, served on the council at major junctures in recent history, as members debated the defunct Southeast Bypass road link, how to preserve forested Park Pointe on Tiger Mountain, and late last year, a 30-year redevelopment blueprint called the Central Issaquah Plan.

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City OKs buildings up to 125 feet tall in business district

December 25, 2012

Redevelopment plan calls for more than 7,000 residences

City leaders raised the building height limit to 125 feet in the business district and raised the stakes for redevelopment in the decades ahead.

The roadmap to redevelopment — a document called the Central Issaquah Plan — also creates a framework to add more than 7,000 residences on about 1,000 acres stretched along Interstate 90.

In a series of decisions reached Dec. 17 after years spent re-envisioning the business district, a relieved City Council adopted the Central Issaquah Plan, but delayed action on a key piece until at least April.

“It’s the right plan at the right time,” Councilman Fred Butler said. “It will not happen overnight, but when the time is right, we will be ready.”

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Expect reduced transit service on Christmas

December 23, 2012

NEW — 6 p.m. Dec. 23, 2012

Expect reduced transit service from Christmas Eve until after 2013 arrives, as King County Metro Transit and Sound Transit adjust schedules for the holidays.

Metro Transit operates on holiday and reduced weekday schedules Christmas week and during the New Year’s holidays.

The agency operates on reduced weekday bus service Monday, Christmas Eve, and on a Sunday schedule for Christmas. Then, transit goes to reduced weekday bus service from Wednesday to Friday.

Using a limited schedule over holiday periods from November through January is estimated to save Metro Transit about $1 million each year. The agency typically experiences a drop of about 15 percent in ridership during the holiday week.

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City Council could delay part of Central Issaquah Plan

December 12, 2012

NEW — 10 a.m. Dec. 12, 2012

City leaders recommended Tuesday to delay the implementation of important development rules in a long-term plan to transform the business district from strip malls and parking lots to a dense urban hub.

In the last public meeting for the proposed Central Issaquah Plan before the document reaches the City Council for consideration, a council committee called for more time to refine and review the design and development standards outlined in the 30-year blueprint for redevelopment.

The design and development standards set rules for buildings, community spaces, landscaping, signage and more.

Overall, Council Land & Shore Committee members forwarded to the full council the four pieces of legislation to enact the Central Issaquah Plan. The full council is scheduled to consider the legislation and listen to public input Dec. 17.

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Sound Transit alters Issaquah bus route

November 13, 2012

Sound Transit bus riders on Route 554 between Seattle and Issaquah should prepare for a route change in downtown Seattle.

The regional transit agency rerouted buses on Route 554 and other routes to a bus stop at Fourth Avenue, just north of Pike Street and adjacent to Westlake Park. The change went into effect Nov. 5 to help speed evening rush-hour trips.

Officials closed the former bus stop at Fourth Avenue and Union Street to accommodate a change on Route 522 between Seattle and Woodinville.

Transit planners said the change should save several minutes getting out of downtown Seattle during evening rush hours.

Sound Transit alters Issaquah bus route to speed rush-hour trips

November 3, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. Nov. 3, 2012

Sound Transit bus riders on Route 554 between Seattle and Issaquah should prepare for a route change in downtown Seattle.

The regional transit agency rerouted buses on Route 554 and other routes to a bus stop at Fourth Avenue, just north of Pike Street and adjacent to Westlake Park. The change goes into effect Monday to help speed evening rush-hour trips.

Officials closed the former bus stop at Fourth Avenue and Union Street to accommodate a change on Route 522 between Seattle and Woodinville.

Transit planners said the change should save several minutes getting out of downtown Seattle during evening rush hours.

The change is a result of changes to Regional Express Route 522. Planners said Route 522 buses should turn right onto Pike Street from Fourth Avenue, and use the Pike Street entrance to the Interstate 5 express lanes in the afternoon.

The route’s last stop downtown is on Pike Street just west of Sixth Avenue.

Gubernatorial hopefuls support hatcheries, parks

October 23, 2012

Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna clashed in a recent series of debates, but the candidates vying to serve as Washington’s next governor share similar positions on local issues, such as support for the state parks system.

Jay Inslee

Rob McKenna

The race at the state level is focused on the candidates’ policies on education and transportation — hot topics on the docket as Inslee and McKenna met in recent weeks.

The Issaquah Press asked the candidates about funding for state parks, salmon restoration and growth management — key concerns in Issaquah and the surrounding area.

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Next King County sheriff faces tough decisions to reform agency

October 16, 2012

The contest to lead the King County Sheriff’s Office could hinge on a series of audits into how the agency operates.

The sheriff oversees a budget of about $150 million and about 1,000 employees, and leads the largest local police organization in the state after the Seattle Police Department.

John Urquhart

Steve Strachan

The contentious race pits Sheriff Steve Strachan, a former Kent police chief, against John Urquhart, a former sheriff’s office sergeant and spokesman.

King County Council members appointed Strachan as sheriff in April, not long after former Sheriff Sue Rahr resigned to lead the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, or state police academy.

Though the election is to fill the Rahr’s unexpired term through 2013, the next sheriff faces a landmark effort to reform the agency in response to audits critical of policies put into place under Strachan’s predecessors.

Strachan, a SeaTac resident, served as a police chief and state legislator in Minnesota before accepting the Kent post in 2006. In the Minnesota Legislature, he helped pass legislation to reduce the blood-alcohol limit to 0.08 percent. Rahr tapped Strachan as the chief deputy, or No. 2 spot, at the sheriff’s office in early 2011.

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Labor Day means limited Metro Transit, Sound Transit service

September 1, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. Sept. 1, 2012

Sound Transit and most King County Metro Transit buses operate on a Sunday schedule Monday for Labor Day.

If a route does not usually run on Sunday, then the route does not operate on the holiday, Monday. Riders should expect to pay holiday and Sunday fares on Metro bus routes on Labor Day.

Metro offices remain closed on the holiday, including the Customer Information Center phone lines. Customers should turn to Metro Online for updates about transit service.

Riders headed to Seattle should prepare for Bumbershoot at the Seattle Center. Use the Trip Planner to determine the best route.

Sound Transit also operates on a Sunday schedule for Labor Day. On holidays with a Sunday schedule, only certain bus routes operate, including Route 554 between Issaquah and Seattle.

Sound Transit earns highest possible bond ratings

July 3, 2012

Sound Transit received the highest possible ratings from major bond credit rating agencies June 27, despite a challenging economic environment.

Officials said the ratings mean savings for taxpayers in Issaquah and other communities served by the agency. Sound Transit is preparing to save at least $12 million by taking advantage of lower interest rates to refinance about $350 million of outstanding bonds.

In a June 28 decision, Sound Transit board members unanimously approved motions to set parameters to proceed with the transactions. Issaquah City Councilman Fred Butler serves on the board.

Moody’s Investor Service continued the Aa1 rating for Sound Transit’s senior bonds and the Aa2 rating for the agency’s junior “parity bond” obligations. The action maintains Sound Transit as one of the highest-rated transit agencies in the nation.

Sound Transit also carries the highest possible rating on both bond obligations, AAA, from Standard & Poor’s.

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