Letter | Keep Kirkland Zoning blunders out of Houghton Jurisdiction; HCC we need you !!!

Dear Editor: Here's an incredible example of very poor zoning and planning. There is a permit request that has just come in to the city of Kirkland. Residents have only until the end of March to submit a comment in opposition or they will not be part of any future public testimony....

The property in question is likely well known to all Kirkland residents. It is just 2-3 properties north of the HCC boundaries and along Lake Washington Blvd where it becomes Lake Street (1006 Lake Street S). Currently there exists a low rise Michael's Dry Cleaners and a low rise restaurant. ... Now enters one glaring example of the City of Kirkland being stretched so thin that existing zoning is not adequately considered to prevent overbuilding, traffic disasters, etc.

A permit was filed February 23, 2011. It proposes turning parcels that are home to a dry cleaner, restaurant and a seasonal Kiwanis Christmas tree lot into 143 apartments and 6000 sq foot of non-residential mixed use. But according to City of Kirkland it is zoned Neighborhood Business, right? And they state that combined lots are only 1.4 acres. If my math serves me correctly that translates into a density of 100 units per acre (likely 286 residents in total... are these people or sardines????)

Next, let's talk parking and traffic. At the required 1.7 parking spaces per unit that would be 243 parking stalls plus even more parking stalls for any retail, office or other non-residential use. Those of us who already inhabit multifamily buildings find that any reduction below 2 per unit means cars park on the residential side streets. Even if someone has only one car, others will have 3, or a motorcycle, or have guests that visit (perhaps even overnight). And this is right where the traffic really becomes stand-still during the weekends and summer. How are these poor sardines going to get their cars onto the roadway? Hopefully there are some polite Kirkland-ites, Houghton-ites or visitors who will waive them in so that they can add nearly 300 extra cars (residential and business use) to the molasses.

How about appearance? This is our view roadway that "brands" Kirkland in the eyes of many visitors, and may influence home purchasers and those locating businesses. While the Houghton Community Council has been requiring a higher level of formal review over development within it's jurisdiction, the City of Kirkland reported that they require only a level 1 review for this property. Tragic.

There are a few more issues that will likely come up as this is zoned for Shoreline Master Plan review since it is so close to the lake.

On the flip side, those future Kirkland residents whose level of earnings qualifies them for "Affordable Housing" should pay close attention...Now is your chance!!! Providing lots of low cost units sounds like it will be a City requirement for with this project (unless they provide for units elsewhere)!!! What an opportunity !!! Now you can just be first on the list to ensure that within half a block you have two of the best Kirkland beaches!!! Sweeeeeeeeeeet !!!!

HCC, thanks for investing so much time and thought into what will best preserve the character of the LWB corridor and other areas where you have jurisdiction. You have been helping the City of Kirkland avoid some of these blunders so that character of this important gateway is maintained for all to enjoy.


Karen Levenson