Ebright Creek is the last viable Kokanee Salmon stream in the City of Sammamish. It lies in the Thompson Sub-Basin, at about the middle point of eastern Lake Sammamish. The upper part of the basin begins at Skyline High School and encompasses the new City of Sammamish Commons property and several wetlands. Ebright Creek flows over land and finally the edges of the plateau into Lake Sammamish.
Saving Ebright Creek began in summer of 1999, when Friends of Pine Lake filed land-use appeals with King County on the developments of The Crossings at Pine Lake and Chestnut Lane. Both developments impact Ebright Creek. When the new City of Sammamish took over, Walter Pereyra and Vic Heller joined with appeals of their own. Appeals generally last a few months. Significant decisions have been made, but one of these appeals, Chestnut Lane, is still ongoing after five years!
The Chestnut Lane development of 35 homes, Edgar Martinez’s partnership with William Buchan Homes, Inc., is important because it was a failure by the county, and then the city, to apply the Special District Overlay (SO-190). The SO-190 protects Lake Sammamish by limiting developments which drain into erosion and landslide hazard zones. Chestnut Lane would have drained storm water runoff onto a steeply sloping hillside above Ebright Creek. (The development originally planned a 125' bridge across the Ebright ravine in the same erosion hazard zone, which would certainly have harmed Ebright Creek. Those plans were withdrawn due to the action of FOPL and the other appellants to the Chestnut Lane Development.)
The appeal of Chestnut Lane set a legal precedent in that the city changed its administrative interpretation of how the SO-190 is applied. It took a Superior Court decision to change the city’s mind, though. Friends of Pine Lake and Walter (Wally) Pereyra jointly filed an appeal, and Vic Heller separately filed an appeal of Chestnut Lane
Today, the City of Sammamish has interpreted the SO-190 Overlay in a manner which protects our streams and Lake Sammamish by limiting development in that zone to the extent that storm water can be infiltrated on site. That means no detention ponds or outfalls in this zone, as they can erode streams, harming fish and Lake Sammamish. However, there are many developments built in erosion or landslide hazard zones, approved by King County and the City of Sammamish before the Chestnut Lane decision, which did not impose these SO-190 restrictions.
In the summer of 2003, Friends of Pine Lake with neighbor Dan DeFranco appealed the SEPA Determination of Non-Significance, and the clearing and grading permit, for Ebright Creek Park. The pre-hearing conference on the appeal identified code violations by the city.. We are still in rather a state of disbelief about the admission by the city that they had failed to apply their own codes to the design for Ebright Creek Park! Of course, we’d been telling them this all along, and complaining mightily about the abbreviated public process in developing the park from the start. The city withdrew the permit for the park pending a redesign or code changes due to the appeal.
There were clearly errors in the planning of Ebright Creek Park. Neighbors complained when, in October of 2002, the City of Sammamish began the public process, but did not present the public with any alternatives, which did not include sports fields, both baseball and soccer. The 12 acre site is long and narrow. Park buildings intruded into buffers set by code. Trails and ball fields were designed in wetland and stream buffers, clearly a violation of the code. In addition, a majority of the significant trees in the center of the park would have had to be taken out. Neighbors wanted a passive park that would fit into the character of this rural and quiet section of Sammamish, and Friends of Pine Lake wanted a passive park to protect Ebright Creek and its salmon habitat.
Clearly the turning point for the City was the election, in which new council members were chosen by their willingness to listen to the people and cooperate with other governments for trails and ball fields in appropriate places. Now, citizens will get a chance to participate in a totally new design for Ebright Creek Park. We need to continue to work to see that an environmentally friendly park is created and Ebright Creek is protected.
We have to give much credit and thanks to our attorney, Richard Aramburu, without whose knowledge and experience we would certainly have failed long ago! But it is Vic Heller and Walter Pereyra, whose sacrifices and dedication have made them true heroes to many people in Sammamish. And of course, many thanks to the members of Friends of Pine Lake and others, for their contributions and dedication to the environment of Sammamish.
Ilene Stahl, President
Friends of Pine Lake
Help us discover the history of Ebright Creek.
We know that the Snoqualmie Indians often obtained fish from Ebright Creek. They would hold a potlatch near the mouth of Ebright Creek and celebrate the fish returning. Their name for the Kokanee salmon was “The Little Red Fish”. Many private homes now border Ebright Creek.
Part of the Creek Property belongs to the Ebright Trust. We need to find out more about this. Please email us .if you have some insights to the history of the Creek.
The first park in Sammamish dedicated to preserving the natural environment of the Kokanee Salmon.
The first park in Sammamish history to offer educational programs through docent lectures.
The first park in Sammamish with historical buildings.
A park that everyone in the community can enjoy.
A park that protects the diverse wild life and wild life habitat.
A park that respects the ambiance of the neighborhood.
If the current planning for the park is implemented (combination soccer/baseball field) Ebright becomes:
The park that puts ball fields on top of wetlands.
The park that will add 300 plus daily car trips to a rural area.
The park that will need a septic drain field of 1500 gallons of water a day that will drain into the wetlands and the last viable kokanee salmon creek of Sammamish.
The park with the most used ball fileds and the least amount of buffer space to the neighbors.
The park that adds excessive noise pollution to a rural neighborhood.
The park that will cut the majority of the trees on the park site (54) to create ball fields.
A park with ball fields that will drain fertilizers and other pollutants into the last viable salmon creek of Sammamish.