2019/2020 Chamber Legislative Agenda
Issaquah Chamber of Commerce Legislative Agenda
Top-Priority and Key Priority Issues for 2019 - 2020
Mission: The Greater Issaquah Chamber of Commerce is the catalyst for business growth, the convener of leaders and influencers, and the champion for the business community.
The Greater Issaquah Chamber of Commerce Board endorses and strongly advocates for the following pro-business actions in support of the overall economic vitality of Issaquah. Successful implementation of these opportunities enables a strong, thriving business climate that helps make our community whole and provides for the needed jobs, services, and support citizens require. Our vision is to make the Greater Issaquah region the best place to do business on the Eastside and we call on the City to be a collaborator to this regard.
1) Collaborative Process
The Chamber values its relationship with the City and desires to work with the City and its Council to ensure Issaquah is a thriving and vibrant community. The Chamber asks that the city reaches out and asks the Chamber and the business community to provide input and comment on city actions, processes, and legislation with sufficient time to provide meaningful input so that the City can be informed regarding how its actions impact the business community.
2) Economic Vitality-Growth & Development, Housing & Jobs
As a collaborative effort, we must consistently work to support the local economy, local job base and local tax revenue that preserves Issaquah’s quality of life. Business matters because it supports everything we hold dear in our community, and with the City we must put forth our collective efforts to encourage and sustain the generators of jobs, innovation, and economic vitality in our community.
There is concern among the business community there will be unintended consequences of the changes to codes and process during the development of the CIP design guidelines and standards. The Chamber is concerned that these changes have become so stringent and costly, economic development for Issaquah will suffer. It is important that there be certainty as well as expedient, efficient and reliable review for those who desire to invest in our community.
NOTE: It is important to recognize moving through the legislative and administrative process; that business owners have limited time to commit to providing input while also still running their businesses. We encourage the city to make the process as efficient as possible.
We ask that as the Council formally reviews the CIP dashboard bi-annually, that it request feedback from Development Services and Economic Development on the type of projects in the pipeline as well as from its developer/broker forums.
If findings are such that nothing or very little is happening, we strongly encourage short-term and timed “incentives” be implemented to help facilitate and demonstrate to others the type of re-development Issaquah envisions on its valley floor – it’s central core for commerce and jobs.
Growth & Development:
The Chamber applauds the City for looking at the big picture, prioritizing identifying what’s most important, as well in its planning endeavors. The Chamber encourages the City to will look for ways to be action-oriented and innovative to:
Support regional opportunities and solutions coming from surrounding communities that will be of benefit to Issaquah and the Eastside
Oppose changes to the urban growth boundary as it will create additional potential tension for our community and its economic vitality.
Ensure the Urban Growth Boundary remains in its current location and provide support King County’s 4/1 program. This is important to economic vitality for Issaquah and its tax base, businesses and in ensuring its regional center vision is successful for the future.
More Reliable/Redundant Infrastructure and Investment in Infrastructure:
Ensure transparency to aid the public understand the pressures/ constraints/opportunities the City faces (see Bellevue Utilities “capital investment program” and “projects in my neighborhood” as an example). Communicate the prioritization of projects and the basis for its decisions. Provide information to residents and business owners regarding what changes are happening, when and why.
Ensure we have reliable utilities/update outdated systems, and maintenance of the aging infrastructure. Businesses and residents alike need to understand well in advance what road construction and utility impacts are forthcoming.
Ensure fiscal responsibility of our finite financial resources and seek grant funding/leveraging of dollars through public/private partnerships when the opportunities present themselves.
Support better power through Puget Sound Energy’s Energize Eastside. Issaquah needs a power grid that supports the needs of a high tech, web-based economy and as expected by our citizens.
Support preserving Issaquah’s aquifer as its main water source. Reduce our dependency on Cascade Water Alliance and costs associated with purchasing water.
Support better fiber access for Issaquah. Issaquah needs fiber connectivity/accessibility if it is to recruit and retain business, particularly large corporate headquarters that provide technology-centric and knowledge wage jobs.
Follow 5G phone service and look for best practices for its integration into Issaquah.
Position Issaquah to be a leader in promoting innovative zoning and product options for housing (both rental and owned) such as accessory dwelling units, micro apartments, dorm-style apartments, etc. Enabling the free market to work which allows the developer to assume the risk and potential reward will help foster a livable, complete, compact and connected town – a primary goal of the Central Issaquah Plan. It is important for a community to have multiple aspects of housing for each demographic and phase of life. Allowing the market to respond to supply and demand is the most effective way to stabilize rental rates over time as well as ensuring our businesses have access to a local workforce. To accomplish this, we are asking the City to:
Support removing the requirement to include affordable housing in every multi-family residential development through inclusionary zoning or mandated units without incentives, as it drives up costs to the consumer; and, therefore, higher rents are extended to users.
Support additional opportunities such as the ToD project and other ways to partner and/or incentivize the type and variety of development needed to accommodate housing needs.
Ensure that as the Council receives reports regarding the CIP that it also study inclusionary zoning without the MFTE. Should housing not follow suit as hoped, we request the Council consider extending the MFTE to all multi-family housing projects in its urban core area.
Support alternative styles of accessory dwellings that will create affordable housing options fostering support for extended families and allow family members (primarily older adults) to live independently at a reduced cost.
Oppose any local, county, regional and/or state initiatives to impose a head tax.
Oppose overburdening businesses with an increase to B&O Taxes
Ensure a Transportation Benefit District will not overtax our residents and business owners.
Support the implementation and success of the City’s Strategic plan and related efforts.
Support state and city tourism programs that drives events/ activities/information to a multitude of visitors from individual tourists to conferences and athletic competitions.
Support Visit Issaquah’s efforts and create a supportive review process that will ensure they remain on track and well-funded to strength the untapped opportunities of becoming a year-round destination.
3) Community/Strategic Planning
We encourage the City to simplify and add necessary staffing in order to streamline and shorten timelines regarding the permitting process so that Issaquah can compete effectively with surrounding communities. Predictability and consistency impact decision making regarding whether a business will consider relocation to Issaquah.
A city’s primary responsibility is to provide for services, safety and utilities. We encourage the City and its Council as part of its strategic planning process to prioritize these efforts and make the permitting process transparent and efficient.
Support business growth and development of both new and existing businesses that lead to new living wage jobs
Support niche businesses recognizing that it has its own unique character.
Support ways to co-locate important functions such as garbage service and storm water.
Support changes in the code and interpretations that would reduce restrictive parking requirements for businesses.
Support a parking resources plan.
4) Transportation Needs
As the number one cited issue (traffic/local circulation) in the City’s business retention survey, the Chamber asks that the City place a high priority and focus on improvements that keep traffic flowing; constricting traffic negatively impacts business with reduced access and presents a challenge for its workforce/recruitment efforts.
Create a master mobility plan that is supported with transparent data and maps. Incorporate the TIP, CIP, Walk & Roll, Parks Plan, etc. into one document and make it available online so the public can see when and why projects are anticipated to be constructed. This provides for the opportunity to leverage resources and in looking at the big picture for construction/development/growth of a neighborhood.
Ensure businesses voice is heard and incorporated in the study and design of WSDoT’s Interstate Justification Report (IJR) on Front Street/Gilman and the 10/12th street overcrossing.
Support WSDoT’s I-90 shoulder lane hardening/enhancement (West and East bound) project’s construction planned for 2020 as part of the Connecting Washington transportation package.
Support measures that will ensure funding and the timely completion of improvements to Highway 18. Highway 18 improvements will relieve congestion in Issaquah which will be essential to improved traffic flow and mobility. o
Engage the Chamber early in the study and re-design efforts for Gilman Boulevard. Any refinements should complement findings and recommendations of the IJR as noted above.
Ensure Gilman remains car centric as a local traffic circulator given proximity to goods, services, jobs and future transit access. Keep the need for business access top of mind as well as the elements. that make it unique, such as the trees at the west end that creates the iconic look of Gilman Blvd.
Ensure visibility and ease of access to businesses are priority considerations in all business districts.
Start planning now for Sound Transit 3’s Issaquah light rail location by:
Focus on projects that aid in connecting the north and south sides of our community and that facilitate inter City mobility first.
Support design plans on Gilman that include a local light rail stop central to I90
Support designs of a light rail stop that can be used to connect both sides of the City and provide a community hub.
Advocate for centrally locating one to two rail stops on the valley floor in the I90 corridor where the greatest density (urban core) will occur over time. Citing a rail stop should be about people first and as a value add amenity that compliments Issaquah (not that detracts from its character).
Advocate for Regional Transit Authority (RTA) to invest in infrastructure (parking structure(s) and effective bus service for commuters (Metro and Sound Transit) as key locations/jurisdictions currently outside of the RTA zone (Renton, Sammamish, Snoqualmie, North Bend, Maple Valley, etc.) to ensure that those areas that feed traffic through Issaquah are served. Ensure no net loss of bus service and advocate for increased access.
Engage in the Transportation Summit and work closely with neighboring jurisdictions, King County and differing agencies to address transportation congestion and levels of service aimed at the needs of Issaquah.
The Greater Issaquah Chamber of Commerce remains committed to Issaquah’s economic vitality and in helping to craft policies that will enable Issaquah’s business community and citizens to thrive.
We thank the City and its Council for your work on behalf of our community and for your commitment to Issaquah being the best possible city it can be. The Chamber and its Board look forward to being of service and collectively helping Issaquah -- we are proud of our community and its accomplishments. If you have any questions, concerns, or would like to meet to further discuss/brainstorm economic vitality and plans for the future, please do not hesitate to ask. We look forward to the opportunity.
Edited October 2018 by the Greater Issaquah Chamber of Commerce