Mayor Walen: Being responsive to concerns about marijuana licensing

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In recent months, many residents have expressed opinions to city leaders both for and against certain recreational marijuana retail locations in Kirkland. This letter to the community expresses the City’s pledge to continue to thoroughly evaluate appropriate locations for marijuana retail, production and processing uses while ensuring the safety of those who live, work, and visit here.

The City Council is mindful of maintaining viable places where marijuana retailers, processors and producers may locate in Kirkland in support of the decision expressed by a strong majority of our citizens for the passage of Initiative 502 (I502). However, we are further mindful of the concerns expressed about potential traffic impacts, safety, and unknown impacts of marijuana retail locations in Kirkland. We are working hard to find a balance between these competing interests.

On January 21, the City Council decided to consider interim zoning regulations that would prohibit the sale of recreational marijuana in certain zones; the proposed interim regulations were carefully measured on February 4 during a public hearing on proposed Ordinance 04434. Following testimony in favor of and in opposition to the interim regulations, the Council approved prohibiting marijuana sales in one zone (the Market Street Corridor Zone 1) within the City.

To better understand the heartfelt concerns of those who addressed the City Council , the thoughtful deliberation of the Council as a whole and the perspectives of individual council members, we encourage you to view the video from the February 4 public hearing proceedings at http://www.kirklandwa.gov/Community/I502.htm.

There is more work to be done in order for the Kirkland City Council to balance the intent of I502 to decriminalize recreational marijuana with the needs of Kirkland families, businesses, and visitors. On March 18, the Council will further consider whether to place other restrictions on certain marijuana retail locations as well as whether to allow marijuana retail locations in the Light Industrial zones of the City. We will also receive additional information on the Washington State Liquor Control Board’s (WSLCB) definition of “park.” Public comment is encouraged at the beginning of the meeting which begins at 7:30 p.m., City Hall.

Additionally, Kirkland will continue to seek clarity from the WSLCB on the rules it implemented in December 2013. The City submitted a letter to the WSLCB Board members expressing general concerns about pending marijuana license applications in Kirkland.

In the coming months the Kirkland Planning Commission will begin its work, in consultation with the Council’s Planning & Economic Development Committee, to develop permanent zoning regulations regarding marijuana retail uses.

Your voice about this issue is important to us. We encourage you participate in public hearings and public meetings as interim and permanent regulations are considered. Your emails, correspondence, and testimony matter greatly. To receive City Council and Planning Commission agendas, subscribe at www.kirklandwa.gov/ebulletins.

Amy Walen, Mayor