Northwest NEWS

December 27, 1999

Front Page

Top stories in 1999 that most impacted the Northshore area

by Marshall Haley, staff reporter

   The following top stories were judged those that had the greatest impact on the largest number of Northshore citizens, or those about a Northshore resident which had the most far-reaching impacts. The order of impact was drawn from a survey of editorial staff and various public officials. Priority was given to stories that impacted the entire Northshore.

   #1. ESA (Endangered Species Act) Chinook salmon listing: a federal mandate that affects every Northshore citizen, because of living so close to streams and the Sammamish River. The listing heightens ecology restrictions on local government projects, existing businesses, and developers, as well as what is allowed to drip on individual driveways.

   "This issue will have the longest-term effect," said Woodinville City Manager Pete Rose. "It will change the way cities approach land development and environmental stewardship for decades."

   For example, the City of Woodinville was prevented from repairing damage from tree roots on 140th NE, just south of the NE 175th intersection. They went into project planning worried about restrictions over how paving materials would pollute runoff water so close to Woodin Creek. Instead, they were squelched because some agency determined that the offending trees were part-time habitat for an endangered species of bats. While that has nothing to do with salmon, it illustrates the extreme degree of restrictions faced by cities.

   "People haven't realized it yet, but the National Marine Fisheries Service's (NMFS) March 9 Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing Chinook salmon can do to the Puget Sound region what the spotted owl issue did to the economy of Forks," said Woodinville Planning Commission Chair Gareth Grube in May. "This is a very serious threat that isn't 'way out on the Peninsula' anymore; it's right here in Woodinville. This is the first time the (NMFS) has threatened an entire region, the Puget Sound Basin, with this kind of action.

   "The federal government could enforce a complete moratorium on building or other salmon habitat-threatening activity in the Puget Sound basin. The result of that could be as extreme as to give every citizen the power to file suit against any other person who potentially harms a spawning area by walking through it in rubber boots, or causes dirt to be washed into a stream from landscaping their yard.

   "As long as local governments continue to enact solutions within the guidelines they've all agreed upon, they are protected under a legal umbrella from litigation by the federal government. With this serious issue, we all must move faster toward a solution than governmental agencies normally move.

   "Little Bear Creek is a stream that is very healthy at the upper end, in Snohomish County, but it gets pretty muddy on our end. If citizens start reacting to these regional responses to the ESA by filing suits over their personal property rights, they could be engaging a much larger issue than they might imagine," said Grube.

   The "Global ReLeaf" projects along the Sammamish River in October were examples of the pro-active, local government solutions to which Grube referred. Those brush-clearing, tree-planting efforts were fueled by volunteer participation from hundreds of concerned citizens. Planting trees and shrubs along rivers improves salmon habitat by reducing runoff and shading the water, thus keeping it cooler.

   #2. Passage of Initiative 695: threatens to increase regional traffic problems already rated among the nation's worst, because transportation funding on the state and local levels--which includes road projects and public transportation--was the primary beneficiary of MVET revenues.

   A recent summation by Woodinville City Manager Pete Rose provided a rare, positive spin: "I-695 will have a long-term effect, but will require restructuring, which can be good. Also, I view the money taken out of road construction as a delay, not a denial. The system that replaces the MVET for road construction may be better than what it is replacing."

   "The question is, will the legislature come up with a sustained long-range plan to replace MVET?" asked Bothell City Manager Jim Thompson. "Colorado and California made good short-term adjustments to similar initiatives, but had problems with long-term solutions. So I'm not yet confident that we'll be able to sustain short-term fixes."

   Before the election, I-695 sponsor Tim Eyman and his followers dismissed projected service cuts as "scare tactics" by politicians. Now they say any cuts will simply be examples of politicians "punishing" citizens for approving I-695. They suggested the $1 billion emergency fund could replace MVET losses. They might be partly right.

   Last week, Gov. Gary Locke released his 2000 revised budget, saying the legislature must cut into the emergency fund to mitigate at least part of the MVET losses affecting public health, public safety, and transportation needs.

   But the emergency fund was created for extreme emergencies such as earthquakes. At the current MVET loss of $750 million per year--and if the state were allowed to use all of that fund--covering all state and local government MVET losses could exhaust the fund in about 18 months. But Locke and others say that is not legally possible.

   "Under the law, funds have a dedicated use and cannot be moved from one program to another to cover the loss of funds," said King County executive Ron Sims on Nov. 2. "That is why these three areas will be reduced: voters repealed the revenues that funded them. We told the public that there were limited reserves from which we could draw at the local level to continue providing service to our citizens, until the legislature provides solutions. This measure decimates critical services that were dependent on the MVET for funding, such as our transit system, public health services and criminal justice programs. Public health programs will be reduced or eliminated. Administrative services and staff will be reduced commensurate with service level reductions."

   "I-695 eliminates one-third of our transportation revenues, so we are forced to make cuts to those areas," said Sims spokesperson Elaine Kraft. She denied reports that Sims wanted to raise bus fares, because "that would most hurt the people who can't afford cars."

   The cuts would noticeably affect Northshore cities, especially Kenmore and Woodinville, because they rely on county-supplied MVET revenues for road improvements and for contracting police, fire, and emergency services. The prospects for the state's completion of improvements to State Route 522, affecting Woodinville, Bothell, and Kenmore traffic problems, are also under a dark cloud.

   Rose said annual MVET revenue losses to Woodinville would be around $180,000, but that the sales tax revenues from the city's strong commercial base should allow Woodinville to survive the cuts better than a largely residential city like Kenmore, which has relatively little commercial revenue. Rose said he doesn't expect any staff cuts, but the issue could affect future hiring, and the City will have to prioritize road improvements more carefully.

   "This vote takes away our flexibility," said Kenmore's City Manager Steve Anderson. "Based on our 1999 and 2000 budgets, our $1.5 million annual MVET loss would represent 25 percent of our 1999 general fund revenue and 20 percent of our 2000 general fund revenue. That dampens, but not dashes, the dreams Kenmore citizens had of what our city will be. The City Council adopted a transportation plan counting on annual R-49 monies of $200,000 that the state planned to supply from the MVET. Now, WSDOT (State Dept. of Transportation) will not be able to fund that. We will continue to fund our Transportation Improvement Plan, but we'll have to fund future projects with our own money."

   Manny Ocampo, Bothell's Assistant City Manager, said Bothell is luckier than Kenmore, with a lost MVET revenue of around $285,000 in 2000.

   "We planned our 2000 budget in anticipation that I-695 would pass," said Ocampo. "But our loss for 2001 will be about $425,000. Our 2000 loss is less because the first quarter's MVET revenue is collected from the last quarter of this year. We will definitely not be able to carry out some projects we could have done with the state-supplied revenue. The indirect impacts, like the one-third cuts in Metro bus service, will definitely hurt Bothell."

   Expected County layoffs could total 1,000 employees by June 2001, said Kraft.

   Initial bus route cuts, next February, would affect the least productive routes, off-peak hours and weekend runs. Downtown bus tunnel hours will be reduced to 5 a.m.-7 p.m. (was 11 p.m.) weekdays, with reduced Saturday hours and closed on Sundays.

   By June 2001, a total of 1,100,000 annual bus service hours would be cut, from the current 3.3 million annual hours. ACCESS service for the elderly and handicapped would be reduced to comply with minimum federal standards. Decreased fare box and grant revenues could affect other programs and projects.

   #3. Y2K: Anyone sick of hearing that acronym yet? Less than five days left to say it! Go ahead, get it out of your system: "Y2K, Y2K, Y2K, Y2K, Y2K!" Doesn't that feel better?

   Of course this won't technically be "news" until one second after midnight next year. But will we even be able to use the same term then, since we'll be living it rather than talking about a future event--or non-event? Instead of "Y2K," we could hear loud choruses of "I told you so." The only question left: who will be leading the chorus--the doomsdayers or the naysayers?

   The point is, a lot of governmental and private agencies have gone through excruciating gyrations to solve the problem before it becomes one. This is an unprecedented, potentially surreal event in history, due to a simple oversight by geeks who apparently thought the world would end before Y2K ... Ha! Got you again!

   As one knowledgeable geek explained it--other than finding the manpower and time to upgrade every chip--the real problem was finding enough older computer technicians who could identify and locate the ignorant chips within mainframes, so they could be replaced. Many companies that made the original chips had gone out of business and their parts records had been lost or destroyed, making identification more difficult.

   [Ed. Note: Please see accompanying story, Y2K: What NOT to do.]

UW-Bothell

The new UW-Bothell building has a brick exterior and glass-enclosed stairways on both ends. Construction on the combined UW/CCC campus is on target for Fall 2000 classes.
Staff photo by Marshall Haley.

   #4. Cascadia/UW construction on schedule: Exterior work on the main buildings is nearing completion at the UW-Bothell and Cascadia Community College shared campus. State project manager Mike Maher said he expects interior finishing to begin around the first of the year. Maher said he sees no reason the campus won't be ready to welcome 3,000 students next September, as planned.

   The superstructure and exterior work for the three main buildings--Cascadia's first classroom building on the north, the first UW building on the south and the shared library in between--should be done by the end of December, said Maher. The buildings have three stories, and the UW building has glass-enclosed stairways on both ends.

   The campus' north-south, oblong circular road will mainly be for UW personnel to access their south end parking garage, via the upper roadway west of the buildings. Cascadia students will use the north garage located on the east side of the lower roadway, closest to their building. South of the north-end garage, the lower roadway will be strictly for mass transit traffic, with several bus stops and a layover and turnaround area at the southeast end of campus.

   The current construction marks Phase I of the project, said Maher. Phase II will include a second UW building right in back (west side) of the first and a library/cafeteria/bookstore addition, with two floors of library space forming a bridge over the lower roadway and 3-4 floors in the main part of the building, east of the roadway. Construction on those buildings will begin early next year. They are scheduled to open by Fall quarter of 2001. Any future expansion for Cascadia would occur northwest of the first building.

   A mall spanning the west side of the initial buildings will be the main pedestrian corridor. Several acres of wooded and landscaped property between there and the upper roadway will contain pathways and open spaces for leisure use.

   "We have preserved as much of the landscape as possible," said Maher. "We had to remove some of the big firs we planned to keep, to prevent root mold spreading to other trees, but we will be planting trees and shrubs in all areas where construction required removal of natural shrubbery." That will include heavy planting in a 50-foot buffer zone where the southwest corner of campus abuts several homes. The five-level garages allow more landscape preservation than would a sprawling parking lot, he said. Placing the garages on the north and south fringes of the campus will allow a more pedestrian-friendly center of campus.

   The project accommodates the natural landscape, with the buildings structured to form a gentle curve-out toward the east, following the contour of the hillside, said Maher. The 60-acre wetland area between campus and I-405 will be restored to its natural state and become a nature preserve. The state will restore the stream's original meandering path that was straightened decades ago to create more cow pasture. Snohomish County's Regional Trail will pass through the nature preserve, forming a link from Beardsley Boulevard to King County's Burke-Gilman Trail. The trail will eventually run under 522, through a tunnel or some other means, said Maher. The old Chase House, family home of Bothell's first doctor, will be remodeled and used as a visitor center and wetland interpretive center.

   Although initial access will be from Beardsley Boulevard, the combined State-Bothell Master Plan calls for a cloverleaf interchange at the south end of campus that will accommodate access to and from I-405 and I-522. That design is underway, but construction depends on future transportation funding.

   To protect the existing wetland and stream from hillside construction runoff, the state has heavily employed hay bails, silt fencing, hydro-seeding, loose straw, and erosion-control matting. They check for runoff after each heavy rain to prevent muddying the stream, Maher said.

Marques Tuiasosopo

Photo by Russ Paris.

   #5. Tuiasosopo runs, passes for NCAA record: Woodinville would still like to claim him as its own. But Woodinville High grad Marques Tuiasosopo (pictured above) became a national figure when he boldly went where no college football player had ever gone before--into the stratosphere of the NCAA record book. Marques passed for 302 yards and ran for 207 yards in leading the Huskies to victory over Pac-10 champion Stanford in Husky stadium on Oct. 30. Three other NCAA Divison I quarterbacks had thrown for over 200 yards and run for over 200 yards, but none of them played against major competition (they played for Penn, Tulsa, and Southwest Louisiana).

   Tuiasosopo's 509 yards broke the school total offense record of 417 yards set by Cary Conklin in 1989. His 207 yards rushing was the 12th highest total in Husky history. He became the first Husky quarterback to pass for 300 yards in consecutive games since Sonny Sixkiller in 1970. During that span, the Huskies have sent 10 quarterbacks to the NFL. Tuiasosopo broke Conklin's school record of 2,502 yards total offense for one season by six yards, finishing third in Pac-10 passing with 2,015 yards and eleventh in rushing with 493 yards.

   Against Stanford, Tuiasosopo rallied his team from another improbable comeback in what has become his modus operandi: giving opponents early leads from interceptions and fumbles--apparently to make them overconfident before ramming defeat down their throats. After having his butt slammed hard (literally) on the artificial turf on the game's second play--a trauma that would put most players on the bench for the day--the brilliant junior drove his team back from deficits of 14-3 and 23-12, after giving up two early interceptions to Stanford safety Tim Smith.

   ABC announcer and NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts said the injury had to have affected his throwing. When the coaches handed Tuiasosopo the game ball in the locker room, in typical Marques fashion, he immediately handed the ball to his offensive line. While commenting on Marques' equally heroic performance during the Nov. 6 win over Arizona State in Tempe, while still injured, Fouts touted him as a likely Heisman candidate next year.