UPDATED -- LETTER | Unlimited Density Along Residential Shoreline Must Be Stopped

UPDATED  Eric Shields, Kirkland Planning Director has written the following to address this letter:

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Dear Rob,


There appears to be misinformation about the City’s shoreline density regulations posted in the letter to the editor, “Unlimited Density Along Residential Shoreline Must be Stopped”.  The City ordinance passed by the City Council in December, 2011 adopted amendments to the City's Comprehensive Plan, which the City Council regularly does at the end of each year. Among the amendments was deletion of language discussing residential density (i.e. number of dwelling units allowed) along the shoreline in the Moss Bay Neighborhood. This was done to eliminate inconsistencies with the City's Shoreline Master Plan (SMP) adopted in June 2011. The SMP is a document establishing policies  (which are part of the Comprehensive Plan) and regulations(which are part of the Zoning Code) for the use of land within 200' of the Lake Washington Shoreline.  The SMP must comply with strict standards established by the State.


Kirkland's SMP establishes specific maximum densities for all but two small portions of the Kirkland shoreline: the Central Business District (CBD) and a small area of Neighborhood Business (BN) zoning located on the east side of Lake St. S. The densities established in the SMP are consistent with and were based upon the densities that have long been established in the Kirkland Zoning Code. The densities and other development standards for each of the shoreline “environments” can be found in section 83.180 of the Kirkland Zoning Code.


The BN zone on Lake St. is currently subject to a development moratorium and the City Council has asked the Planning Commission to review regulations for the BN zone, including density. This will be the subject of discussion at the Commission's meeting on February 9.  The Commission is interested in hearing from the community about the current provisions in the BN zone and on Comprehensive Plan policies contained in the Moss Bay Neighborhood Plan.  The public meeting starts at 7 p.m., City Hall, Council Chambers.


It is also important to note that the SMP and other portions of the Zoning Code establish other regulations limiting the size and location of development, even where there isn't a residential density limit.


Thank you for sharing this information with your readers.  If they have specific questions about the density limits in any zone within the City, I am happy to talk with them.  However, I’ll be out of the office next week, so in my absence, I suggest contacting Deputy Director Paul Stewart (pstewart@kirklandwa.gov).


Eric Shields, Kirkland Planning Director





Letter to editor:


Kirkland City Council - UNLIMITED DENSITY ALONG ALL THE RESIDENTIAL SHORELINE PROPERTIES??? Do you know that you approved this on December 12, 2011???


Many of us doubt that this was your intention... and if it wasn't you need to call for an agenda item and vote for corrective wording at the February 7th meeting... otherwise ...the Kirkland we all know is changed for ever!!


On December 12, 2011 you voted to strike wording in neighborhood plans that provided a density cap of 12 dwelling units per acre along the shoreline. You agreed to just have the Shoreline Chapter deal with densities... Did anyone tell you this would provide UNLIMITED density to these mostly residential areas?


City staff confirmed today that this is the action that has been taken.


So you may want to review how the Shoreline Chapter talks about density... (remember these properties were restricted to 12 units per acre). Following the council vote, these permitted densities are now described as "up to 15 units per acre or more." ....Wait... did you catch the "OR MORE." What does that mean? 1 unit would qualify, 10 would qualify, 15 would qualify... but also...... 16 or 100 or 500 per acre ... they all qualify!!! Why not just say UNLIMITED???



Again, confirmed today with staff... this was not a mistake.



Perhaps this might cause some citizen distrust??

Perhaps we might have more chaos like that created with BN zones?

Perhaps we'll continue to spend money on city attorney and all the other lawyers in town???



So ... the question is then... How did this get through?



Several commissioners and council members have indicated they did not intend and had no knowledge that densities were being uncapped along the waterfront... They were shocked and surprised by the news... and especially shocked that they had somehow voted for this...!!!



But tiny covert step after tiny step this change has been moved forward... unnoticed...





So ...for amusement.. imagine you are in the mind of whomever would covertly change our shorelines...

If that person(s) exists... hopefully not...

Step 1) For the Shoreline Master Program ... Prepare giant (700+ page) meeting packets for the Planning Commissioners and City Council. ... Just think... who can even get through all that material??


Here's where there the diabolicals get the first "lucky break"... both the Planning commissioners and City Council members show up at their meetings and both inform staff that they were not able to get through all the reading... (They really said that)......Oh, yes... and this bodes well for making secret changes !!!


Oh help!!... Both the Planning Commissioner and the City Council members present a very direct question to staff... they want to know if all the new "Shoreline Environments" are in line with the Comprehensive Plan land uses for each area... (Again, both groups actually asked this direct question more than once) ... OK, diabolicals ...breath deep.... keep a straight face and answer yes.... you can do it... tell them the new designations are aligned with what is currently allowed under the plan ... Don't worry... no one will ever remember this or check the online tape of the meetings... Who would do that??


Wow... it worked.... Both Planning commission and City Council passed the SMP without catching numerous changes to land use... Oh the masterminds may now move on to step number two...


Step 2) Hold your breath for 60 days after passage of SMP. Let's hope some resourceful citizen doesn't catch the changes and contact the hearings board for an appeal... No one is likely to do that... Who even knows how to properly file an appeal???.....And then...on day 61 after notice of SMP they'll be doomed... yes ... I said doomed !!!! UNLIMITED DENSITY IS SOON TO COME TO A SHORELINE NEAR YOU!!!


... and we're on to step three...

Step 3) Oh yes... the holiday season... families in town, others travel out of town ... who is paying attention to planning commission and city council packets? Especially if there is also chaos about BN zones... !!! These residential zones will soon be joining the uncapped density world !!! We just need to do away with the sticky wording in neighborhood plans since it still has a limit of 12... Let's just direct folks to the Shoreline chapter... This is where we have added the new wording ("up to 15 ... and more) ... NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW HOW THIS CHANGE HAPPENED !!! I'm almost giddy over the newly designed waterfront !!! This must be the way GRINCH feels each year !!! Dr Suess you were a genius... Grinch lives !!!

Now in 2012 we will need to take the FINAL STEPS for this mass of densities where neighborhoods once stood... We could have changed the land use map and the zoning map and the zone use chart with step 3. But truly, that would have caused too much attention...... we held off..... It was not perfect to do it this way ... actually it created inconsistencies in the plan and zoning (and this is a big GMA no-no).


So for the finishing touches, we just need to keep things moving smoothly along... quietly... discretely...

Keep other distractions happening... so folks can't pay attention to this ...

Pray that no one alerts the city council ...



The crazy example provided above is perhaps fictitious, ... or is it???


CITY COUNCIL PLEASE CONSIDER YOURSELF alerted. Certain time frames will pass by after the February 7th City Council meeting, so someone needs to ask to have this item added to the agenda immediately. We need to have something changed so densities are not UNLIMITED... The future of Kirkland's waterfront is in your hands. Show us that we elected the correct people and that we can trust you.


The city staff repeated that these changes were not errors... We hope that you will say that UNLIMITED DENSITIES are an error vs. your intended waterfront and neighborhood that is currently single family homes and medium density condos. Show us how you want to be remembered ... this is your legacy ... what kind of city do you want to create?


Thank you,

Karen Levenson