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Capstone amendment public meeting
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I never noticed that urban growth is well represented on our city official logo. It is actually right there, one just must look closely. Now we just need to make sure that the growth does not get out of hand :)
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Rainy and gloomy outside? Perfect day for voting!
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Yesterday, our new council members Tanika Padhye, Jeralee Anderson and Steve Fields were sworn in.
I have no doubt that our newly elected officials will do their best to represent the residents. I wish them best of luck during the upcoming term and was happy to be part of the election campaign and democratic process in our city!

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Regardless of my personal results in this election, I am very happy to see new faces on the council, as it is in dire need of new generation of leaders who care about the community and involve the residents in decision making process.

Just yesterday, on election night, the Council was supposed to listen to public testimony on proposed amendment for Capstone development (old Group Health site) in Overlake neighborhood. The amendment changes zoning of future buildings from comm...ercial to residential (with potential new 750 units built), and increases allowed maximum height from 6 to 8 stories.

The meeting notice was sent to the neighbors in 500' vicinity of development (that's Microsoft and few other corporations) and also put on the wall in the library and on the city website. Unsurprisingly, the public for the public testimony was not there and the deliberation process took whole of - wait for that - three minutes, at which point the Council voted in favor of the amendment 6 to 0.

Overlake is home to over 7,000 Redmond residents. To set up public meeting no one is aware of, then ignore even those few comments that were provided, and spend three minutes total on the change that may affect lives of hundreds of people in Redmond and Bellevue - this is how the current council operates. The reasons why developer would want to build more units and build higher are abundantly clear, the reasons why the elected officials are not interested in their constituents opinions - much less so.

I sincerely hope that newly elected council members Jeralee Anderson, Steve Fields and incumbent Tanika Padhye will work to ensure that residents are consulted in decisions that affect their lives. And looking into this hastily approved amendment is a good first step in this direction.

Check out attached video of the meeting for yourself.

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It is time to congratulate newly elected Redmond Council members (even though count is not yet complete)!

Great thanks to everyone who took time to vote, and special thanks for those who voted for me As of tonight's count, the Council position #4 goes to my opponent, Tanika Padhye, with 61% of the vote. Here is to hope that the election promises are kept and the citizens involvement becomes a priority for our new elected officials!

The results are not final and are updated daily at 4 PM; check out King County elections web site http://results.vote.wa.gov/results/20171107/king/

King County Elections
results.vote.wa.gov

During my campaign, I was fortunate to meet hundreds of residents. In our conversations, I learned time and again that all of us are affected by recent growth and development. And while we may disagree on specifics, I believe that together we can plan ahead for the future of our city.

As your representative, I will work on balancing the needs of new development with those of existing neighborhoods. The investments into transportation infrastructure and smart traffic planning ...and monitoring are sorely needed, and this will be one of my priorities.

And most of all, I will focus on involving the citizens of Redmond in our city decision making process. We can implement inclusive practices that will let the residents influence the city growth directions.

Dear Neighbors! Thank you very much for the questions, opinions and ideas you have shared with me during last few months. I look forward to serving you and being your voice on Redmond City Council. I would appreciate your support and your vote.

Please vote by November 7th!

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What qualities are you looking for in your councilmember?

This election season we have business owners, civil servants, engineers and an attorney among candidates running for the City Council. We have people of different ages, creeds, gender, cultural and educational backgrounds. So what should one, as a Redmond resident, look for in elected representative?

But then, should we look for professionals, our council would consist entirely of lawyers and civil planners. The reason... for having elected representatives is not a professional guidance on civil planning (the city staff has plenty experts for that), it is to provide a channel for the residents to influence the city policies of the future and of today.

To pick an analogy, your council member should be like that neighbor, who you ask for recommendation on lawn maintenance service or borrow couple of eggs from, with whom you share gripes about lack of parking on the street or set up a neighborhood potluck. This is not the post of a benevolent ruler surveying the domain and wisely deciding the affairs of subordinates, holding monthly court to air the grievances.

The ability to represent the opinions of many without falling into one's own agenda, to provide checks and balances for multitude of interests in our city - this is what I am looking for in a council member.

And this is what moved me to run for an elected position. The essential principle of my campaign is to ensure the proportional representation of existing residents' interests as our city grows and changes. The cities are incorporated for the community to get a strong voice to define its own future, and to represent multiple interests is my commitment to you as a candidate.

A lot has been said about how the members of the council are elected servants of the residents of Redmond. But to truly represent the community, our representatives should be out there listening to the concerns and discussing pending decisions throughout their term, not when doorbelling for reelection campaign.

Ask yourself - do you know who is your local representative (and did you know before the election)? And do you feel that your opinion is incorporated into the city policies?

As always, would appreciate your opinion. And regardless of who you support, do not forget to vote!

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Rainy and gloomy outside? Perfect day for voting!

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Bought an important accessory, a must for political candidates out there on rainy October in Redmond. Stay safe, be seen!

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Affordable housing seems to be one topic that no election can do without in last few years.

Imagine a business in Redmond, and not Microsoft or Nintendo kind of business, but a business that can pay wages of $15-20 per hour. When you start hiring for your business, you'd discover that most candidates live elsewhere, and have quite long commutes. And with their salary the workers will not be able to move into one of the apartments in Downtown (where studio apts go for $1,600 ...

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Did you get out of the house today? If you did, it will be a safe bet that you spent at least some time in traffic (and yes, that includes riding a bus - you still sit in traffic).

Spending time that way is certainly not a desirable outcome for most. No wonder that traffic is #1 issue in local elections this season - in Redmond, Sammamish, Kirkland and everywhere on Eastside.

In Redmond, our elected leaders like to blame surrounding cities, the county or the state for the ca...

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Every election we hear the candidates talk a lot about community engagement. In my doorbelling, one of the questions I ask Redmond residents is: "Do you feel that the city is listening and is aware of your opinion?". And unfortunately, it appears that not many residents have had satisfactory experience in getting their voice heard.

How should the city engage with the residents? Recently, our city administration started neighborhood conversations program. And to get feedback o...n community centers, the city hired outside consultant (at the cost of tens of thousands dollars). But that is certainly not the only way to reach out.

There are ways to truly engage the community that are working in the cities around us. The City of Kirkland has thirteen neighborhood associations - not HOAs, but grass root organizations that bring together members of the community in a neighborhood. Kirkland supports and encourages such associations, and the city also maintains contacts with all home owner associations. That allows the city to draw on the experience of the local residents when in need of feedback on such issues as budget priorities or community centers updates.

In another example, the City of Bellevue provides a helpful guide to those who'd like to start new neighborhood association (https://goo.gl/eyV7fU)

Redmond has only one neighborhood association, and it is not promoted or supported by Redmond in any way. The city does not even have a list of active HOAs. The neighborhood pages on Facebook were last updated in 2016

It is hard to engage community without building bridges between the residents and the administration. In many cases, the residents are able to provide most valuable data about issues relevant for the area and priorities for the neighborhood.

When elected, I would like to foster and promote the organizations that represent the neighborhoods. The city can help with locations for the meetings, establish communication channel with the city staff on the neighborhood priorities issues and connect the activists with like minded individuals across the city. Our residents have plenty of opinions, and Redmond can do better listening and adjusting city direction based on the citizens' input.

As always, would love to hear your thoughts on this.

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OCT5
Thu 6:30 PM PDT16700 NE 95th Street, Redmond
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I never noticed that urban growth is well represented on our city official logo. It is actually right there, one just must look closely.

Now we just need to make sure that the growth does not get out of hand

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Community recreational facilities are important to many of us. And you may know, our city recently lost its lease on Old Redmond Schoolhouse, and Hartman pool is falling into disrepair so the need for development in this area is immediate.

Today we are the city of more than 60,000 residents, and it is important to determine what does the majority of the residents expect in our future community centers, and where the facilities will be located.

To figure those out, our city ha...

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In continuing with recreational pot stores conversation, let me make my position clear regarding safe injection sites.

In 2016 King County Board of Health has voted to establish two safe injection sites in King County. Later this year, King County Council voted to place the sites only in the cities where they are supported. Thus far, many cities in King County voted against locating such injection site in their boundaries; our city did not issue any resolutions so far.

Safe i...

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One question that inevitably comes up in conversations with neighbors is recreational pot stores. Since our state has voted to legalize marijuana, Redmond has taken its time finalizing the regulations on allowed store locations. And then, after much debate, in summer 2016 the city council has voted to allow stores in commercial zones as well Overlake and Downtown urban centers.

The discussion regarding possible locations of the stores caused much controversy as a significant... portion of community had concerns about potential crime and kids exposure to recreational pot. Today our city has two stores in operation (one Downtown and one on Avondale), and two stores in process of being opened. The store on Sammamish Way is apparently working through the permits, and the permit for the second store in Downtown is being appealed (by neighborhood businesses).

Personally, I believe that since the state have de-criminalized marijuana use, our city should allow those legitimate businesses to operate within its limits. On the other hand, the city went from moratorium to very restrictive location to general commercial zoning as location of choice for the stores. While I do not share the concerns of some residents regarding the effect of pot stores on our kids and crime, I believe the city that is home to those different opinions can be much more considerate when selecting potential locations. Especially since new Downtown park is supposed to be shared by all residents of Redmond, and there are (potentially) two marijuana stores within very short distance. The locations are convenient for nearby apartment dwellers, what about the rest of the city residents?

Another interesting aspect of this use is the parking requirements. The permit (issued by the city) to place the store at 16390 Cleveland St is currently appealed by the neighborhood property owners who cite insufficient parking, excessive traffic impact and irregularities in permitting process.

The City Council is the body that is expressing the opinion of all city residents as policies. As a candidate for the council, I feel that even in controversial cases, such as recreational marijuana store locations, we can find a healthy compromise. The current zoning does not represent such compromise, and may need to be updated to serve the whole community.

As always, would love to hear your thoughts on this.

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Just saw the news about Nara restaurant closing on Oct 31st.

Nara is located in the business complex that was sold to real estate investor in December 2016. The building complex plays host to over 20 businesses today, and you probably been to at least one of them: Great Play, La Isla Puerto Rican Restaurant, Midori Bakery, Nara Japanese Restaurant, Flying Apron and many more!

Unsurprisingly, we are starting to see some of these businesses closing or relocating today, and oth...er businesses will likely to follow the suit as the property is redeveloped into 600+ units apartment complex.

The stories like Nara’s is one of the reasons I decided to run for the City Council. In the past few years, we all observed some of long time local businesses leaving Redmond or closing altogether. While new successful businesses such as Tipsy Cow open their doors and enliven the downtown, the variety of small local businesses is lost (not to mention that price point is decidedly moving up).

Redmond Town Square is prime example of this process. While the new owners are offering businesses to stay (in eventual new retail space), majority of businesses will probably leave Redmond. The reasons are pretty clear – the uncertainty of the current lease as redevelopment looms, lack of available retail space in Downtown and ever increasing lease payments (no guarantees are given to future lease availability or amounts).

As Nara’s owner put it: “I feel like we’re getting pushed out, that small businesses are getting pushed out“.

Can we do something about it? I believe we can. There are few avenues where the city can support long-time local businesses (Nara restaurant opened in Redmond in 1989).

For one, the City Council can help with the existing businesses retention. It can institute polices ranging from subsidies to long term businesses to tax exemption to developers who can guarantee future commercial space for displaced long-term businesses. There is a wide range of options if we decide to address the need.

Secondly, the city officials sit on board of OneRedmond partnership, the heir of Redmond Chamber of Commerce. So far, this partnership emphasis was on getting new businesses to our area. The city is the founding member of the organization and can certainly influence its mission; support of small local businesses is as important to the community as getting new hi-tech jobs to Redmond.

I believe that supporting the development (and developers) is important, but no more important than retaining cohesive community. And small local businesses are integral part of our community and need our help on policy level. With amount of new development in our city, “buy local” is not going to be enough.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

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Nara Japanese Restaurant in the Redmond Town Square has been serving up food since 1989, but come Oct. 31, the eatery will be calling it quits and closing up shop.
redmond-reporter.com