I have to admit that I am very disappointed with most of the County Council. I have written before on the development at Chambers Bay. For those that may be first time readers or may have missed previous blogs here is a little background. It has been proposed to build a resort with a hotel/lodge, restaurant, clubhouse and space for events and conferences tucked into the hillside under the current restaurant. In order to get financing the developers want to be able to build extended-stay leased housing units. Extended stay is anything longer than 30 days. The developers have not told us how long these leases will be for – a month, a year, or year after year. Although it is not agreed upon, the developers have suggested to us that the units may rent for $3000 a month and may be townhomes as large as 1800 sq ft.
Here is the latest. On Tuesday, September 12, the Council had in front of us the Chambers Creek Master Plan submitted for approval through an ordinance. This plan is an update of the 1997 plan followed by a 2007 update and provides guidelines on how we want the property developed for the next ten years. It covers Chambers Bay golf course, a resort/hotel, a restaurant, the meadows, and the trails and yes, even the dog park. The past Master Plans did not include housing and in fact, was deliberately excluded because the Executive and Council did not feel that it was appropriate to have housing on a public park. What is different about this one is that housing will be allowed.
Even though the Plan itself does not include housing language, the ordinance does and that allows the Executive to negotiate with the developers to build extended stay units. Twice I submitted amendments to do away with the extended stay language. Both times the Council voted my amendments down. We had a packed Council Chamber and over 40 people testified. The vast majority against allowing housing on the course. We have also received an overwhelming amount of emails and phone calls also expressing their opposition. They all were ignored!
I believe that this is bad policy. First, this property was built as a park for public use not to provide housing for an elite few. Second, there are too many unknowns. We do not know how long the leases will be. In fact, we don’t know what the County will be getting in return for the build-out of this development, even without the housing. The developers need assurances that housing would provide in order to get financing but the County is not receiving any assurances in return. What will we get for allowing housing on this park property? The Executive says that those details will be determined in the Ground Lease Agreement. So, basically, he is saying to us, “Trust me.” That is not a good enough reason for me.