LETTER | City Should Not Rubber Stamp Potala Development

UPDATED

Dear Editor:

 

Mr. Jack Rogers clued me in to what happened at last night's meeting. From what I understand, the city is trying to rubber stamp the previous staff report without taking into consideration the inconsistencies in what has been proposed.

 

I've lived across from the proper for 24 years. I've seen the city deny Lake Washington Blvd applications just because they did not want the traffic that businesses would create on the boulevard. For that reason, only the southwest corner of 10th Ave. S and Lake Street was zoned BN, not the larger adjacent parcel which was zoned multi-family. Then only a few years ago, not 30, they rezoned the land. Research is needed to determine when the did it and why.

 

Now, with the approval of the TOD at the South Kirkland Park & Ride, the City's adopted Level of Service for transportation has been exceeded several time and each time forcing the City to revise previously adopted Level of Service (LOS) plans because the were out of compliance with the concurrencey and consistency provisions of the Growth Act. Now they are doing it again because staff worded the City's resolutions and ordinances to give the Council and themselves the authority to act without public input. At least now, there will be an environmental review process.

The City's traffic Bellevue, Kirkland, and Redmond (BKR) analysis was written to prevent/prohibit the public from challenging staff's findings and to give the respective Councils unprecedented freedom to silence the voices of those who would object.

 

The traffic impact alone should be enough to cause an environment review. Will traffic barriers be put up to prevent left and right hand turns at the entrance of the development and at the 10th Ave. South? Will there be acceleration and deceleration lanes, and turnouts for future bus stops that without them would restrict traffic flow and slow cars, trucks, and busses thereby creating traffic jams that weren't there before?

 

Parking on 10th Avenue South will be a nightmare for those who live there and/or use the street as a crossroad between State Street and Lake Street South. Their concerns are real.

 

Will there be 2 lanes in each direction on Lake Street? Will the traffic from the project add to the traffic impacts of the 40 to 60 people getting off the bus every 15 minutes from the South Kirkland Park & Ride. Most of those cars need to go through Kirkland to get home. Rush hour traffic is greater than two hours and soon to be longer if the project is approved. To prevent that and to be in compliance and concurrency provisions of the Growth Management Act, the City needs to have a transportation plan backed by the Capital Facilities Plan that serves the citizen of Kirkland,

 

Kirkland has not added capacity to their transportation grid to accommodate METRO's loading and unloading impacts on local roads. The City cannot handle what is there now much less adding the couple of a hundred more cars to our already congested system.

 

And then there's surface water management. Private homes, businesses, and public facilities require oil/silt separators to help prevent polluted waters from entering Lake Washington. I believe the national standards (NPDES) requires it. I see no such requirement for Potala to provide oil/silt separation.

 

And then there the soil and ground water problem. As I noted before, I live across the street from the project. The ground water table is about 6 inches below the foundation of my home. For Potala to excavate enough soil to allow underground parking needs to be examined.

 

The property was once an Atlantic Richfield gas station during WWII. The underground tanks are still there. Removal/replacement or decommission of those tanks was mandated circa 1989. The rules for doing so were not established until then. Even after the rules were established, many gas station property owners took it upon themselves to ignore the rules and worked on weekends and late at night to avoid have the fire chief look over their shoulder to insure compliance with the law.

 

Adding to that, there was and still is a dry cleaning facility next door. Just what type of pollutants, how deep and how much has yet to be determined. If the ground water table is as high as mine, it may be a problem, especially if they remove much material and pumps are required to remove ground water to the hopefully newly installed oil/silt separators before entering the lake.

 

I've written much about my concerns before and some is repeated here. My letters should be part of the file.

 

Please disseminate this for those who need to know especially the Lakeview and Moss Bay neighborhood associations.

 

Sincerely,

 

Robert L. Style

 

The following is a second letter also about Potala Village, penned by Mr. Style.

 

Have Promises been broken?

For the 24 years that I've known the property owner of where the Potala Village has been proposed, she constantly and consistently refused to sell to developers. She's been an absentee owner of the property. She lives in Portland, OR. What changed her mind to sell?

 

As I understand it, she didn't sell the property outright. She signed a 99 year lease. How will the lease status affect potential buyers/sellers?

 

I would like to understand more about the terms of agreement. I don't understand why she signed a 99 lease at her age; after all, she's a woman in her 80's, going on 90. Personally, maybe what influenced her is worth knowing.

 

The most important reason why she sold out is money. She needed money. Cash flow for seniors is sometimes difficult. Repairs are needed, taxes are high and going up, and the cost of living has not kept up with inflation. Along with these, the owner needed cash for various other reasons and could not continue to hold out.

 

She was wined and dined by the developer who suggested ideas and may have made promises; promises that may have been designed to convince her it would be the crown jewel of her dreams. The owner is a romantic woman who likes to cite poems in her telephone conversations with me and others; a wonderful lady who is getting on in years.

 

After I talked with her about what was happening, I have concerns that what's being proposed is not what she was told. Now that the lease was signed. the developer has control of the property so we, the citizens of Kirkland have to deal with it. Could it be that she was mislead?

 

Why she settled for a 99 year lease doesn't matter in the processing of the application. The contractor controls the property. However, what was going to be her dream is now our nightmare.

 

Dealing with the city and developers is discouraging and difficult at best. I think there would have been far less difficulties if the property owner got what she was told. As she related to me, it was to be a grandioso development with far fewer residential units, even a pedestrian crossover bridge to the shoreline, less adverse impacts, a viewing area, and to be beautifully designed as to add to the ambiance of Kirkland. Did the developers show the plans of which they spoke to her?

 

I recall her saying the developer brought her up to Kirkland at their expense to discuss what was proposed and what they would do. If I remember correctly, I think she said they showed her drawings while having an appetizing dinner in Kirkland paid for by the developer.

 

We are trying to do the best we can using administrative procedures. However, if the developer made promises and doesn't do what he promised, there may be grounds for legal action. Were promises made? Were there plans and drawings shown to the owner but not the city? If promises were and put in writing, it would make an attorney's job easier. Since I don't know enough about what went on, I'm not suggesting legal action, but an attorney might.

 

Sincerely,

 

Robert L. Style