LETTER | Questioning City's Response to Traffic Petition Regarding Lake Washington Blvd

Letter-Stamp Dear Editor:

 

The staff has prepared an answer to the citizen's petition about unsafe ingress and egress onto Lake St S / Lake Washington Blvd with a "Response to Traffic Petition Regarding Lake Washington Blvd."

 

http://www.kirklandwa.gov/Assets/City+Council/Council+Packets/100113/10d_UnfinishedBusiness.pdf

 

Why does the staff change the focus of the issue from whether there are "safe gaps" to get into and out of traffic flow, and instead redirects the discussion to one of "traffic volumes?"  Even high traffic volumes can be modified to provide safe ingress and egress.  It is the safety, and the ingress and egress difficulty at 10th Ave S and Lake St S (location specifically identified in city documents) that is the focus of the petition.  A discussion about "traffic" COMPLETELY misses the safety issue that has been raised by more than 250 citizens.

 

Why does staff lean on "Concurrency?" Staff explains that almost any development proposed for Lake St S / Lake Washington Blvd would pass concurrency.  This is because there are NO  concurrency intersections along this area of the street .... So of course ANY project will pass concurrency.  This has NOTHING to do with showing that ingress and egress is less dangerous than the petition claims.  It does nothing to erase the fact that city documents identify the "southeast corner of Lake St S & 10th Ave S" and the unique challenge of that location.

 

Why does staff again use city accident report for the location when citizens have shown that the city data is incorrect and that WSDOT shows an accident rate more than 500% the staff report.  These accidents are even at the site of the driveway in this location.  these accidents even include vehicles with bicyclists or pedestrians?  Does staff feel that they can just ignore the higher level of incidents and the fact that their data seem flawed?    http://www.kirklandviews.com/archives/35892/

 

Why does staff comment that "The City of Kirkland also conducts traffic counts at key locations several times a year in order to develop seasonal factors" yet staff provides NO DATA of peak season volumes or ingress/egress and "gaps." If they have this information, why didn't they provide it?  Moreover, staff previously indicated that peak season traffic data DOES NOT EXIST for this area.

 

The city seems to have disregarded industry comments indicating that the only usable traffic data on a street that has traffic in queue (as documented by citizens) must have video tape and analysis.  Why did staff not do the video study?  Why did staff accept a flawed traffic study for this location.  Shouldn't our traffic engineers be aware of the traffic queues and the appropriate test for safe "gaps" for ingress and egress?

 

Staff provides no discussion of the MANDATORY driveway policies which protect those making ingress/egress at driveway locations that are adjacent and across the street?  Why are they just ignoring?

 

Staff provides no rebuttal to the restrictions in the Comprehensive plan that are  identified by the attorney for S.T.O.P. (Support The Ordinances & Plan).  Attorney, David Mann commented in his March 15, 2012 letter to the city that the high volume of cars "contradicts the text [of the Comprehensive Plan] restricting the subject property (the specific property at 10th Ave S and Lake St S) to 'Limited Commercial' due to problems with vehicular ingress and egress."  This specific location has been of such great concern over the years that it is the ONLY  location in the entire city that was specifically identified as having problematic ingress and egress!!! Why does staff not answer the issue raised by citizen's attorneys?

 

In closing, why is staff trying to redefine an ingress and egress safety issue as a traffic issue?

 

Why does staff use discussion of concurrency when there are no concurrency intersections any where near the site?

 

Why doesn't staff use the more accurate WSDOT accident data?

 

Why does staff comment about seasonal review when they have said that they don't have seasonal data for the site?

 

Why has the staff not preformed the inexpensive video study that is know in the industry as required when traffic is queued?

 

Why does staff not comment on the conflicts with the city's MANDATORY driveway policies?

 

Why does staff not comment on the Comprehensive Plan and the fact that the location of the Potala Village proposal is on the only location in the whole city that is documented, therein, as problematic for vehicular ingress and egress and thus only suitable for LIMITED use?

 

Staff may want Council Members to act like ostriches and put their heads in the sand, but City Council Members have a fiduciary duty or similar responsibility to address the specific concern of the citizens (rather than the redirected focus attempted by staff).  They have responsibility to ask for tests that are relevant, that are designed to provide accurate information.  They have the responsibility to make decisions an true facts and they have the responsibility to hold staff to the MANDATORY regulations and they cannot ignore that the site in question has been identified as an area with ingress and egress problems (only such site in Kirkland) for decades.

 

Karen Levenson

On behalf of Citizens Providing Notice of Known Unsafe Ingress and Egress: City’s Duty to Cure Known Dangerous Conditions