I want to call attention to the Public Notice for proposed Comprehensive Plan Amendments as posted online on the City website. At first I just noted the date Thursday June 28th and the time 7pm in City Council Chambers.
Then I read on and found some disturbing and misleading details as well as some brand new - just introduced - never studied changes that are apparently part of these proposed changes!!! These never studied, and barely discussed concepts, are akin to the suddenness that the Pantley SRO ideas sprang to life without adequate review. It seems more of the same attempt to bring in changes at last minute. Come on Kirkland, we residents deserve better.
Here's the Notice
Near the bottom you'll see a summary of proposed Comprehensive Plan amendments. The first is a STARTLING MISREPRESENTATION of the decision of the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission was pretty strong and uniform in their decision to go back to the City Council rejecting the idea changing the "Residential Market" area on Lake St S to "Neighborhood Center" or any other variation. Why does the NOTICE then say that the proposal is to consider CHANGING this? This misrepresents the Planning Commission's decisions to date. This is also concerning because the agenda and work flow for the "Public Hearing" seems to do more than validate or fine tune the PC work. It seems as if Staff is going to try for a third "at bat" trying to make this change to a much more intense development category - - - Let's keep in mind that "Residential Market" definition was studied, in depth and monthly by focused groups, planning commissions and City Councils over a period of 5 years in 1995 and then over a period of 3 years in 2004. It was again validated in 2007 and 2010. This study included adjoining property characteristics, traffic patterns, ingress/egress, height, scale, neighborhood fit, etc. Why would we dump years of intense study for a quick, unstudied change? - Can you say "Spontaneous Eruption of Developer Need" ???
Item number 2 in the proposed Comprehensive Plan Amendments is to consider amendments to the definition of "Residential Market." Some of the proposed amendments include removing the idea of small stores/businesses from the definition of "Residential Market." SAY WHAT? THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THE DESIGNATION WAS DRAFTED FOR!!! AND YOU WOULD REMOVE IT WITHOUT ANY SIGNIFICANT STUDY?? Putting small neighborhood serving stores into neighborhoods where folks might walk was the whole reason that planning originally came up with this designation. Again this was studied very thoroughly for 5 years as a main item of discussion. It was again studied for 3 years in 2004 and then reapproved and slightly modified in 2007 and 2010. The definition was developed specifically for the parcels where vehicular ingress and egress was an issue. At the time many argued that the property should revert back to residential use only due to traffic difficulties at the specific site. The group then decided that allowing commercial to remain at a very low intensity provided relief from traffic and relief from ingress and egress as neighbors often walked to established small business on the site. - WHY THE SUDDEN, UNSTUDIED "PROPOSAL" to change this intensely studied definition? - Can you say "Spontaneous Eruption of Developer Need" ???
Item 3 in proposed Comprehensive Plan Amendments is more of the same monkey business. Now we are talking about other areas that were studied and found to have characteristics different than the "Residential Market" areas. Chief amongst the different factors is that there are other commercial properties nearby and there are more major cross streets wherein one side is precluded from a cross street by the lake. Why are we suddenly, without study making such a major change to stuff that was well studied before?
And just one last comment before I wrap up today's comments. One of the final statements on the NOTICE is as follows "The proposal affects property city-wide." Earlier in the notice the claim is that the proposed amendments do not affect the Houghton Jurisdiction. Now, forgive me but if this affects property "city-wide" doesn't that include Houghton? - - And more specifically, if you monkey with the definition of "Residential Market" or consider changing the "Residential Market" in Lakeview neighborhood at all, you are specifically impacting the area within HCC jurisdiction.
At last meeting of Planning Commission, I thought the public was informed as to the direction towards BN-Residential Market being sent back as a strong recommendation to the City Council. I thought we were informed that more contemplation was needed regarding the number of units that would be included in a BN-Res Mkt density cap. Now it is all so jumbled with some much new, spontaneous, unstudied, mishmash being thrown in during the last half of the final inning.