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FAQs and Public Comments


How do you and the team determine or evaluate the best science available? 
The criteria for determining what is considered best-available science is established in WAC 365-195-905. Counties and cities must include the "best available science" when developing policies and development regulations to protect the functions and values of critical areas and must give "special consideration" to conservation or protection measures necessary to preserve or enhance anadromous fisheries (WAC 365-195-900).
How will Best Available Sciences be applied to analyze the intent and regulations regarding No Disturbance Areas? 
 BAS and regulations for No Disturbance Areas were reviewed by geotechnical engineers for this CAO update. The online GIS maps, including the No Disturbance Areas, will be evaluated and updated, as necessary, during this periodic update of the CAO. 
Are prior pilot programs or settlement agreements considered as part of the update to the Critical Areas Ordinance?  
The update to the Critical Area Ordinance (CAO) will be based on current Best Available Science. Science is evolving and the most recent best available science is required to be considered during each periodic review of the CAO. As such, prior pilot programs or settlement agrees have no relevance to these updates.  
How will the CAO update address appropriateness of septic systems in critical areas?  
All impacts to critical areas are regulated under the CAO. The update of the CAO will evaluate if improvements can be made in the existing regulations to address disturbances to critical areas, including septic systems and utilities.

Will there be parts of the City left undeveloped that will be protected once the updated regulations are in effect?  

The current CAO regulations will be in effect until the periodic update is complete. Critical areas are required to be protected under current regulations. Regulatory protections are expected to be equivalent or greater than current standards under the amended regulations.

How will no-net loss (NNL) be included in the updated COA regulations?  

No-Net-Loss of ecological function is an important standard when avoiding impacts to critical areas and is part of mitigation sequencing. This standard will be included in the updated CAO.  

How will Transfer of Development Rights (TDRs) be utilized to reduce impacts to critical areas? 

Evaluation of TDRs is currently on the workplan for 2024, but the scope and timing depends on a variety of factors, including the update to the CAO. 

Is local knowledge of natural resources and geological hazards (from residents) considered valid and how can it be provided to the City? 

Property owner information can be pertinent to an assessment. Anecdotal information can be cited but needs to be paired with a site-specific assessment following science-based best professional practices. The source and date of any information provided by a property owner must be referenced if included in site documentation. Study conclusions must be supported by a scientific assessment.


 Does this update affect the City’s Shoreline Master Program?

This update will be completed independently of the SMP. The SMP incorporates by reference SMC Chapter 21.03, with the exclusion of certain sections. The applicability section can be improved by making a clearer SMP-CAO connection.  

How does the Critical Area Ordinance update tie in with City’s Shoreline Master Program?  

As covered in the Gap Analysis Report, areas of the city within shoreline jurisdiction are subject to the Shoreline Master Program (SMP). For critical areas in shoreline jurisdiction, the SMP incorporates by reference SMC Chapter 21.03, with the exclusion of certain sections. The applicability section can be improved by making a clearer SMP-CAO connection.  


How are gaps in mapping data going to be addressed?  

The City’s existing critical area maps will be reviewed to evaluate potential mapping gaps. A future work plan will be drafted to identify mapping update priorities, cost estimates and funding opportunities. Requirements for site-specific studies and regulatory protections under the CAO ensure best available science is being incorporated.

How is mapping of wildlife corridors going to be addressed?  

Wildlife corridors will be protected through the incorporation of new BAS-based guidance in this CAO update. Mapping recommendations will be identified in the future work plan, including budget estimates and funding opportunities.

Will the City do a property-by-property assessment of the entire city to determine locations of critical areas?  

The City of Sammamish references online GIS maps as an indicator of where critical areas are known or likely to be present. However, not all critical areas are mapped. Therefore, property owners are required to provide site-specific assessments to determine the presence or absence of critical areas that may be relevant to their permit application.

How will LiDAR (Light Detecting and Ranging) be used to map critical areas?  

LiDAR is a valuable resource that can be used to improve mapping efforts. The current GIS maps will be evaluated and recommendations for updates will be provided in the future work plan.


Where are Frequency Flooded Areas located within the City of Sammamish?  

Frequently flooded areas are located along the eastern shoreline of Lake Sammamish. King County’s iMap includes a GIS layer that displays the location of this area.  


How will steep slopes be addressed as part of the update to the Critical Area Ordinance?  

Certain steeps slopes are designated as landslide hazard areas and are regulated under the CAO. The CAO requires specific development standards, including buffer and setback requirements to protect public health and safety. Additional clarity of the designation criteria will be incorporated into the CAO update.

How will the City of Sammamish define and identify the Erosion Hazard Near Sensitive Water Bodies area?  

Updates to the definition of the erosion hazard near sensitive water body overlay are proposed for clarity. Identification of these areas are mapped by the City of Sammamish. These maps are intended to be advisory only and should be field-verified.


What species of plants, animals, and other life are included in riparian species?  

Riparian habitat supports both aquatic and terrestrial species. Fish and Wildlife Habitat Conservation Areas also include areas with which state or federally designated endangered, threatened, and sensitive species have a primary association.

How will “connected canopies” be addressed as part of the update to the Critical Area Ordinance?  

Depending on location, connected canopies may be protected by Fish and Wildlife Habitat Conservation Area (FWHCA) or wetland buffering and corridor protections, tree retention requirements, or the City’s Urban Forest Management Plan. Current BAS-based CAO update recommendation includes additional protections for habitat corridors.



Yes, [to] Best Available Science (BAS).  

Lake Sammamish, Pine Lake, and Beaver Lake are "lakes"... all the other lakes are "wetlands" due to their (insufficient) depth.

 Small shallow lakes are commonly regulated as wetlands. 

There are two water & sewer districts that serve all of the City of Sammamish. Northeast Sammamish Sewer & Water District and Sammamish Plateau Water & Sewer District both have wells  [within the City of Sammamish jurisdiction].