Do you own a property in Lakeview or Central Houghton? You likely have the expectation of "due process" if the city wanted to change what or how you could develop your property. Would you be surprised if you weren't contacted by the city and they just changed how you could use your land?
Would you be equally surprised if you didn't receive notice that the property next door was being reclassified from a single family home designation to a High Intensity commercial development?
Since there are arguably dozens of zoning changes about to happen with no "Official Notice" of specific zoning changes, you may want to quickly inquire about properties around you that are currently in the final stages of rezone. If your property or neighbor's is being rezoned in an objectionable way you have only until this Friday to send written comments to the Kirkland Planning department. They have stopped accepting public spoken testimony.
To provide some insight, during the Lakeview Neighborhood Advisory Committee Meetings we had many large zoning changes come before us. Many of the land use and zoning changes were ones that the committee was not in favor of implementing. Many seemed as though they would create hardship or unanticipated changes to residents and we objected but they were pushed on through the rezone process. We asked that specific public notice be mailed to impacted owners and their neighbors. We were told "They will be informed."
Now we are in the 11th hour. I believe that the city is relying on things like notice boards that say "Comprehensive Plan and Code Updates." I have been unable to find anyone who has received specific, official notice maileand I fear that most folks don't realize that these broad terms may have a very specific change on the property that they own. "Code updates" = Zoning Code updates, is a fact that has likely escaped the radar of most residents.
I read with interest where Supreme Courts have held that due process requires more than newspaper notice of a zoning change. It seems unfair if standard "Notice of Zoning Change" with the particulars is not sent out by mail or any other delivery method, particularly since our resident's are easily contacted with their property tax bills. Supreme courts have held that even though the minimum required legal standard may be met, this does not comply with constitutional madates. "(T)he Mullane [US 1950] Court held that notice by publication is not sufficient with respect to an individual whose name and address are known and easily ascertainable.” The Court noted, “Here, under all of the circumstances, we do not believe that service was reasonably calculated to inform the plaintiffs of the pendency of the zoning meeting.
My experience goes farther with the recent Shoreline Master Program Amendments. Somehow a major reclassification of a property happened so that a Residential Single family designation of low impact became a High Intensity 116/acre High Intensity Commercial use. When I asked for a copy of the "Notice Postcard" that the city claimed to have sent it was titled and written as follows:
"Shoreline Master Plan Update"
"We will be soliciting feedback on issues such as: Setback provisions; Piers and Shoreline Protection Structures, such as bulkheads; Incentives for restoring shorelines."
The property that was changed from use similar to surrounding Single Family homes to High Intensity Use Commercial is across Lake Washington Boulevard from the shoreline. It doesn't have a pier, a dock, a bulkhead, etc. There was nothing about this 180 degree change in use that made it more protective of the shoreline. How was this a part of what neighbors were "Noticed" about?
Central Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board has stated that Notice "that is reasonably calculated to reach the intended public ...must be measured against whether it is effective in alerting the public to the key questions in play." "If existing land use designations are potentially being changed this should be so noted [in the Notice]."
I urge neighbors to inquire as to any land use or zoning changes that may currently be in the approval step. You have but 3-4 days to get your public comments before the Planning Commission and the Houghton Community Council. I only wish we'd been more successful getting the city to notify you directly.
Member, Lakeview Neighborhood Advisory Committee