Cities adopt codes to protect the public and to set standards for building construction and design. Local codes set the tone for how our neighborhoods look. When somebody starts making their own rules and elects to ignore the codes that the citizens put in place, cities deteriorate. When citizens spend countless hours putting together a plan for their city only to have their wishes go to the wayside because the codes that they enact aren't being enforced, they lose faith in their officials. Citizens lose interest in city affairs if they feel that their efforts are wasted. Take a look at the Ford of Kirkland car dealership in the 11800 block of 124th Avenue NE in Kirkland. Was this the vision that citizens had in mind when when the plans for this business were approved? No. Citizens approved a plan that included a 5 foot visual buffer of trees, bushes, and vegetation between the dealership and the street.
If Kirkland has codes in place that require a 5 foot buffer between the business parking lot and the street, how did it happen that there are now cars lined up that block the buffer and totally defeat its purpose? The answer is, in my opinion, the Ford dealership is illegally using the publically owned right-of-way between their lot and the sidewalk as a display area and sales floor.
Kirkland council members are making decisions that affect how Kirkland will be developed. Kirkland council members set direction for city staff. Council members are the people we look to for making decisions that will make cities a great place to visit, a nice place to look at, and a place where laws and codes are enforced for the good of the residents.
The sad thing is that the Ford dealership is owned by Kirkland council member, Amy Walen. The dealership is being investigated by the Kirkland Code Enforcement Officer for violations of numerous city codes. Is this the vision that Amy Walen has for developing Totem Lake? Violating codes? Illegally using public property for personal use? Allowing businesses to set their own design standards? Making Kirkland look like Highway 99? Creating hazards for pedestrians by allowing vehicles to park on the sidewalk? Violating sign codes?
Kirkland officials are investigating this issue and I expect that very soon the vehicles will be moved and the buffer will be restored. In the meantime, somebody needs to keep an eye on elected officials that just don't seem to understand that rules are for everybody, including council members.