Five members of the Kirkland City Council, Councilmembers Sweet, Marchione, Nixon and Arnold, and Mayor Walen, have pulled a fast one over the Houghton/Everest neighborhood regarding the Houghton Everest Neighborhood Center (HENC).
With what appeared to be a last minute amendment at Tuesday’s Nov. 21 council meeting, a carefully crafted procedure to circumvent the recommendations of the Kirkland Planning Commission (KPC) and the Houghton Community Council (HCC) was agreed on by a 5 to 2 vote. Kudos to Councilmembers Asher and Pascal, who voted “no” and would not be swept up in the almost hysterical plea by Mayor Walen that Kirkland must take an active part in solving the Puget Sound housing crisis.
The outcome of this vote is that the north side of NE 68th St. could be considered for a five-story apartment development (higher density) in the future if a developer came with such a proposal. The south side of NE 68th will have a 35’ height limit (three stories), which was the recommendation supported by the KPC and the HCC for the entire HENC.
Earlier in that meeting, the developer for The Village at Totem Lake, which includes thousands of new apartments, was given kudos and applause after a brief presentation and update on the status of the Totem Lake development. In that discussion, an illuminating fact was brought to light—that in that huge development, there is not a single apartment dedicated to “affordable” housing, or low income subsidized housing.
The statement was made that the Kirkland City Council was so desperate to have Totem Lake rebuilt that they were reluctant to put the “roadblock” of affordable housing in the way of a developer for that project. Interestingly, The Village at Totem Lake should have been the preferred location to address affordable or subsidized housing in Kirkland, as there is dedicated transit within several blocks, as well as very affordable retail shopping including Trader Joe’s, Nordstrom Rack, and Ross Dress for Less. These “guidelines” have been used for locating affordable and/or subsidized housing in other construction ventures, such as the apartments near the South Kirkland Park and Ride and the Aerate apartments in downtown Kirkland.
Our city council members, whose job it is to represent their constituents, are playing favorites so they can address their personal philosophies. I am afraid, Mayor Walen, that you are not listening to your constituents.