Seattle Times: Highlands residents to get say in upgrade

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Highlands residents to get say in upgrade
By Karen Johnson

Times Southeast Bureau

How do you revitalize a neighborhood? That's what Renton city leaders will ask residents of the Highlands neighborhood during the second phase of a task force that will launch as early as this fall. Collapse ) The committee comes after the city was criticized last year for not doing enough to engage residents, City Councilman Randy Corman said. A similar task force was formed last year to address rezoning in the aging neighborhood.

With sweeping views of the Cascade Mountains to the east and Mount Rainier to the south, the Highlands neighborhood has received increased attention from developers and investors.

The task force will recommend ways to use $1.5 million the city set aside to update parks, sidewalks and safety features in the neighborhood. The group also will provide information about city plans to expand libraries, trails and transportation.

Recommendations from the task force will be considered by the city's Planning and Development Committee next year.

Renton Reporter: Renton Library Master Plan

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Staff writer

Randy Corman's family is a frequent library user.

"I think at any one time we have 50 books at our house," the Renton City Council member says.

Corman and his wife Cathy homeschool their five children, ages 9-21. (Their oldest son has since left for college). So they check out many materials from Renton and King County libraries.

The Cormans have noticed an increase in patrons during their frequent visits to Renton's two city-operated libraries.
As has Aaron Oesting, assistant director of Renton Public Library.

"It's definitely gotten busier," Oesting says. "It seems like there's a lot more people in here to use the computers and a lot more people in the afternoons." Collapse )

Renton Reporter: Council again puts off vote on Kennydale Blueberry Farm

by Emily Garland

It’s been almost a year-and-a-half since Sue Larson-Kinzer and her husband, Darrell, asked city staff for a rezone of their property, known as the Kennydale Blueberry Farm. They’re still waiting for a decision to be made.

“It has gotten to the absurd,” Sue Larson-Kinzer said after Monday’s meeting.

City Council’s Planning and Development Committee recently voted unanimously that the farm should be upzoned from Resource Conservation (RC) to Residential-4 (R-4), but City Council has not ruled on the upzone.

The council was to take action at its meeting Feb. 12 and again at Monday’s meeting, but it will not revisit the issue until a Committee of the Whole meeting Feb. 26.

At this week’s meeting, council member Randy Corman said the council asked city staff to ask the Kinzers if they would allow the city to have an expert analyze the wetlands on their property. The city would pay for this analysis, Corman said.

A wetland delineation has never been done on the blueberry farm land and is not required for a rezone, city staff have said. The Kinzers must give permission for an analysis.

Corman said an analysis would better equip council to make a decision on the upzone.

“If we had better clarity on how much (of the property) is wetland and how it’s going to be protected, we probably wouldn’t have as many remaining concerns about allowing the rezone,” Corman said.

Although R-4 allows four houses to be built per acre of land, and RC only allows one house per 10 acres, city staff say that zoning the farm R-4 actually offers better protection of the wetland. The wetland only leaves room for one house to be built on the land, staff said.

The Kinzers want their land rezoned to R-4 so they can sell the property and start over as farmers up north. An upzone would allow them to make a larger profit on the sale. They claim that adverse effects from development surrounding the land has made it near impossible to continue operating their U-Pick farm.

Corman said City Council may also discuss purchasing the wetland portion of the farm.

Since the rezone application was turned in, many of the Kinzers’ neighbors and other community members have spoken against an upzone at City Council meetings.

Corman said he regrets that the proposed rezone has churned up so much contention, but said he is glad council has not rushed into a decision.

“I think we’re doing the community a service,” he said. “There’s so much concern about the wetland, and I think if council had not had had this in-depth discussion and just rezoned it, that very likely would have been appealed.

“If we come up with a workable solution, that will just allow everybody to move forward and on with life, which would be good.”

The Committee of the Whole meeting on Feb. 26 begins at 5 p.m. in council chambers at Renton City Hall, located at 1055 S. Grady Way. The meeting is open to the public.

Emily Garland can be reached at or (253) 437-6009.

USA Today: City Council member Randy Corman plans to make his official e-mail available for anyone

Washington State

Renton - City Council member Randy Corman plans to make his official e-mail available for anyone to read at City Hall. Corman said he hopes it will reduce the number of public records requests and take the mystery out of government decision making. Last year, the city received about 190 requests for public records, twice the number in 2005.

Copyright 2007 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

Associated Press: Renton councilman provides access to e-mail

Renton councilman provides access to e-mail

Associated Press

RENTON — City Council member Randy Corman believes in open government in this city — so much so that he has asked that his e-mail be made available for anyone to read at City Hall.

Corman, who also has a Web site on which he explains some of his votes, said he hoped the move would reduce the growing number of public disclosure requests and help take the mysque out of decision making.

Last year Renton received nearly 190 written requests for e-mails and other public records, the most ever and more than twice as many as in 2005.

"I want it to all be as public as possible," Corman said. "We're going to look like a more open and happening city."

To satisfy open records laws, other municipalities in the state typically make council members' e-mail available only in response to public record requests that specify a particular issue or subject. Personnel matters, legal issues and other confidential material are exempt.

Some of Corman's colleagues in Renton are following his lead.

Council member Dan Clawson said some citizens have misconceptions about the nature and content of government-related electronic communication.

"I think people have an idea that we are trading a lot of secret information through e-mail," Clawson said. "Really, a lot of it is very mundane."

Corman said his move was sparked by the state attorney general's office, which has pushed for greater accessibility to local government records in recent years. Some municipalities have responding by posting more documents online, while others keep council members' e-mail on CDs that can be requested by the public.

Greg Overstreet, special assistant attorney general for government accountability, said he had not yet heard of Corman's move.

"I think it's a great idea," Overstreet said. "It takes the middleman out of the process of getting public records."

Not everyone agrees.

Inez Petersen, 61, a retired computer programmer who has written about 45 percent of the requests filed in Renton over the past year, said Corman's arrangement would make it harder to find pertinent information.

One of her requests, for all correspondence over the past six years that mentioned her by name, was based on a tip that a council member had written, "I hate Inez," repeatedly in e-mail. She never found it.

Corman, however, said that episode showed another potential benefit of releasing all e-mail — making public officials more civil.

"Inside e-mail, there's name-calling that occurs, there's crazy assumptions that people make, there's unsubstantiated reframing of issues," he said, "and I'm not just talking about constituents. Often it's other public officials that are doing it."

© 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Last modified: January 16. 2007 12:00AM

Renton Reporter: Task force continues to work on tackling Highlands issues

Task force continues to work on tackling Highlands issues

By: EMILY GARLAND December 20, 2006

Change don't come easy - especially to the Highlands.

The redevelopment that has been planned for more than a decade still hasn't happened. And because of two recent appeals, zoning for about 150 acres in one of the oldest parts of the neighborhood still hasn't been finalized. But progress is being made.

"We definitely accomplished a lot from mid-2006 - where it seemed like we had really lost the support of the community - until the end of 2006, where we have support from almost everyone in the community," City Council President Randy Corman said.

This support was gained largely because of the appointment of the Highlands Task Force (HTF) in October. The community advisory group's creation quelled the storm of criticism city staff members had been deluged with since early this year when residents caught wind of an aggressive redevelopment scheme for the Highlands.
After a month of work, HTF recently made its zoning and land-use recommendations, and they were approved by City Council with only minor changes.

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King County Journal: Renton council approves $213M budget

Renton council approves $213M budget

Journal Staff

RENTON — The City Council has approved unanimously a nearly $213 million budget for 2007 that includes 19 new employees and one of the city's largest-ever capital improvement programs.

This year's budget is about $172 million and the increase is mostly due to the $58 million the city will spend on transportation, parks and trails, the airport and utilities.

"This budget represents the values of our community and this council," council President Randy Corman said in a statement. "The council focused on a budget that will contribute positively to our community's quality of life."

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King County Journal: Renton council committee to consider airport update

Renton council committee to consider airport update

By Dean A. Radford
Journal Reporter

RENTON — While noise still concerns some airport neighbors, a City Council committee will look at the plan to update the layout of the Renton Municipal Airport.

That update is part of a larger revision of the Airport Master Plan as the city tries to attract corporate jets to a new aviation center.

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Technology changes flight paths

However, using new technology, the city is moving toward instrument landings and take-offs at the airport that will change flight paths in and out of the airport, according to council President Randy Corman.

The new technology means that airplanes can approach the airport over water, likely between Mercer Island and Seattle's Seward Park, rather than over land, Corman said.

"What the public doesn't understand is that will change the nature of the traffic at the airport in a very positive way, in terms of noise," Corman said.

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KC Journal: Panel backs trail use for rail corridor

Panel backs trail use for rail corridor

By Dean A. Radford
Journal Reporter

A regional committee voted Friday to keep the Burlington
Northern rail corridor through the Eastside in public hands for use as a trail,
at least initially.

The vote by the BNSF Corridor Advisory Committee, which met in Bellevue, also leaves open the potential for the corridor to revert to rail in the years ahead. Collapse ) There is still some confusion among its members about what exactly the committee is recommending. The recommendation is still in its draft form, and a Renton City Council member said she still has time to get her questions answered.

The committee took votes on the fate of four segments of the corridor. The council member, Marcie Palmer, voted no on the committee's recommendation for the segment from Bellevue to Renton because to her it precluded using the corridor for trains in the next 5 to 10 years.

She's still hoping to keep the Spirit of Washington Dinner Train in Renton, but there's no chance of that happening if the track is gone. Eric Temple, the train's owner, is already talking to Woodinville about moving the jumping off point there.

But keeping the rail possibility open in a shorter time frame "would leave the door open a little more," Palmer said.

Patterson stressed that the draft recommendation keeps the corridor from Bellevue to Renton available for rail use in the future.

Temple's fate likely is sealed anyway because BNSF Railway Co. is going to abandon a section of the line at the Wilburton Tunnel in Bellevue. That will allow the state transportation department to save millions of dollars in construction costs in the Interstate 405 widening project because it wouldn't have to accommodate trains through the project.

The Renton City Council voted to protest the abandonment but has not formally done so. Burlington Northern is addressing some of its concerns about ensuring that The Boeing Co. will continue to get its 737 fuselages delivered to its Renton plant by rail without disruption, according to council president Randy Corman.

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Renton Reporter: Hendrix lives

Hendrix lives

By Emily Garland, Staff writer November 13, 2006

Jimi Hendrix would have been 64 this month.

For many who make the pilgrimage to his grave in Renton, he's still around
Jimi Hendrix wasn't born in Renton, he didn't live in Renton and he didn't die in Renton. Yet Renton is fast becoming the destination for Hendrix fans. Collapse )

Renton City Council member and Hendrix fan Randy Corman is thrilled that Renton has become the rocker's postmortem home.

"I'm very proud of our city's role," Corman said. "It's probably the unanimous view of the City Council that the Jimi Hendrix legacy deserves the utmost respect. He was a prodigy."

A prodigy who still brings thousands of fans to Renton every year.

"I think one would have to say, without question, that Jimi Hendrix's gravesite and memorial is the most well-known Renton destination," Corman said. "It's kind of the equivalent of (rock legend) Jim Morrison's gravesite in Paris."

While visiting Morrison's grave last year, Corman and his son, Andy, ran into a pack of British tourists who said that their next stop was Hendrix's grave.

Rentonite Pete Sikov owns Hendrix's childhood home. Sikov, 52, had a memorable Jimi experience on an overnight flight from New York to Seattle in 2003.

"The guy behind me turned to the woman next to him and said, 'Where is Jimi Hendrix buried?'" Sikov recalled. "It was a six-hour flight, and he'd just woke up, and it was the first thing he wanted to know. And he expected the woman to know. I let them go back and forth for a while before telling the guy where it was."

A visit to Hendrix's grave is on the to-do list of most everybody who visits Seattle, Sikov said.Collapse )