Kurt Triplett responds to Park Lane Sidewalk Cafe Concerns

 The following is a message from Kurt Triplett, Kirkland City Manager:

As the City Manager I wanted to clarify some of the issues around Park Lane sidewalk cafes.  Based on some of the comments there appears to be a misunderstanding of what is happening.  The City is proposing to FIX a problem with our current codes to allow the spacious sidewalk cafes that were in place prior to construction.  I also want to emphasize that the City Council was not aware of the code restrictions until just last week when it came to the attention of the City administration.  This code conflict was identified only as we were moving to final certification for our federal funding as the project moved to completion.  There was never any recent action taken to restrict sidewalk cafes.  The Council never intended to restrict sidewalk cafes and had every expectation that when Park Lane reopened sidewalk cafes would return to at least the level allowed prior to construction.    We found old code regulations that required  six feet of pedestrian space next to any sidewalk café.  Applying this uniformly would restrict the space available to cafes.  That code had not been applied to some of the previous café permits and those sidewalk dining areas did not always allow six feet of pedestrian passage.  In addition the ADA requires at least 4 feet of passage on sidewalks using federal dollars.  Again, some of the previously issued café permits did not comply with these ADA requirements either.   But once these conflicts were identified, the code needed to either be changed or enforced to ensure compliance with our federal funding for Park Lane.  

The City is moving swiftly and responsively to correct the problem.  As soon as the code conflict was identified I convened a meeting of the City Attorney, Planning and Public Works staff to put together options for the Council to fix the problem.  The great news is that because of how Park Lane has now been built as a flat street with no curbs, it is possible to change the code to allow plenty of space for sidewalk cafes and still have ample pedestrian passage to comply with federal ADA requirements.  This may not have been possible with the old street.   So the new flexible Park Lane really is creating more options for the community.    The Mayor agreed to immediately schedule the code changes at next Council meeting, which is June 2.nd  The City is acting decisively and responsively to preserve sidewalk cafes and to make Park Lane an exceptional shared street for pedestrians, restaurants and retail that will be a model for the region.  

Kurt Triplett

Kirkland City Manager