What is the Future of Issaquah Highlands? 

By Nina Milligan, Communications Manager, Highlands Council

The City of Issaquah hosted a meeting at Blakely Hall on Thursday, November 7, inviting all interested parties to discuss how future development might best serve the needs of Issaquah Highlands. Top leaders including Issaquah’s Mayor, Mary Lou Pauly, and Keith Niven, Director of Development Services, gathered input of some 50 attendees; almost all were Issaquah Highlands residents. This input will be placed into an official record to be shared with the City Council in January 2020, for their further consideration.

Issaquah Highlands is a planned community originally covering about 2,200 acres. The land was part of King County, outside Issaquah’s city limits, and zoned “rural” allowing one house for every five acres. No Grand Ridge Park, no Central Park, no trails. Through a change in ownership, a different kind of development was envisioned, one that compactly focused development on one quarter of the land and set aside three quarters for open space and parks.

This compact development would become an Urban Village in the City of Issaquah. It would embrace a “Live-Work-Play” balanced lifestyle objective. Port Blakely Communities, the master developer, contracted with King County and with the City of Issaquah to uphold guidelines and standards that would direct the construction of this village to achieve that three-part objective.

After 20 years of development, these contracts are now replaced with City code and regulations. As part of replacing those contracts, the City committed to work with the Issaquah Highlands community to review the vision and to determine whether the community wanted to stay the course.

At the November 7 meeting, city staff began by providing background information on the vision and described potential future development, noting that any changes to the vision would not only impact lands yet to be developed in Issaquah Highlands, but also redevelopment.

The city provided sticky “dots” to attendees who could then score, and poster sheets for each element of the vision: live, work and play. An “overall” category was also provided for thoughts that did not fall neatly into the three vision categories. Attendees were instructed to score the success of each vision category.

Attendees scored each element and provided additional comments through sticky notes in each category. Afterwards, Niven reviewed all votes and all sticky note comments aloud with the audience and welcomed further comments or explanations.

The “live” category scored the highest level of approval. “Play” come in a close second, with “work” getting the lowest scores. Discussion was wide-ranging from planning for employment for residents to the need for more schools. Several expressed a desire for recreation for teens, while others were concerned about traffic. The high “work” scores came primarily from those who work from home with our high-speed, community fiber, HFN.

Feedback from this workshop, and any gathered via email or letters submitted by the end of November, will be presented to the City Council in January 2020 for further discussions.

For questions or comments, please contact Land Development Manager Lucy Sloman at 425-837-3433. If you would like to add your thoughts on the vision of Issaquah Highlands, please email them to LucyS@issaquahwa.gov .

Watch the video of the meeting on the City of Issaquah’s YouTube channel. Search for “Workshop: Future Visioning of Issaquah Highlands” or access it here: youtu.be/0uxXlxW_LIQ (there is an underscore between the W and L.)

Watch the video of the meeting on the City of Issaquah’s YouTube channel. Search for “Workshop: Future Visioning of Issaquah Highlands” or access it here: youtu.be/0uxXlxW_LIQ (there is an underscore between the W and L.)

City of Issaquah Director of Development Services, Keith Niven, reviews attendees scoring of the effectiveness of development in Issaquah Highlands.

Feedback from this workshop, and any gathered via email or letters submitted by the end of November, will be presented to the City Council in January 2020 for further discussions.

For questions or comments, please contact Land Development Manager Lucy Sloman at 425-837-3433. If you would like to add your thoughts on the vision of Issaquah Highlands, please email them to LucyS@issaquahwa.gov .