Letters to the Editor

Staggering statements of traffic and 'non-significance' for Potala Village project | LETTER

Potala Village Kirkland is a mixed-use project consisting of 143 luxury apartment units with spectacular views of Lake Washington. - Contributed
Potala Village Kirkland is a mixed-use project consisting of 143 luxury apartment units with spectacular views of Lake Washington.
— image credit: Contributed

Many of the neighbors around the Potala Village proposed development are still scratching their heads and wondering how an area clarified as to the low impact uses that would be allowed in commercial "residential market" and (to have zoning changes implemented high priority) by Ordinance No. 3974 passed by city council is now proposed for very high densification unlike anticipated restrictions clarified years ago.

The proposal would put 143 units at approximately 100 per acre right within a stones throw of single family homes zoned at a maximum of five per acre and other local properties zoned at 12 per acre.

Others are wondering why the low intensity "urban residential 1" shoreline designation of two parcels now appears as high intensity "urban mixed" on the SMP maps when there was no notice or public review of the increased intensity.

A review of council packets and council discussions -which shows sparse, if any discussion on this topic - carries statements that the new shoreline designations will align with current uses and currently planned uses.

The final, approved SMP states "High Intensity - Designation criteria: Areas ... that currently support or are planned for high intensity water-dependent uses."

Now enters more information that seems contrary to planning and local experience: Kirklandpermits.net Web site shows new information posted on traffic impacts, parking, and a DNS (Declaration of "Nonsignificance").

If you were wondering about the logic in earlier revelations, you must really wonder now. Here's some interesting points:

1) Recently the community has been told that the developer will meet all standard parking requirements. Based on the documents online, these would be 244 (residential), plus 73 (guest), plus 29 (office), which equals 346 stalls.

Reading further there is the proposal for only 244 (residential), plus 72 (shared guest/office), which equals 316. It appears that 30 of the anticipated stalls will not be provided.

Then, interestingly, the transportation engineer advises "capacity to park 77 vehicles along 10th Ave S." Wasn't this street parking raised as an issue previously? And didn't we hear that keeping cars out of neighborhood streets was also a goal of the developer?

2) The study online shows 1,067 additional trips per day are expected from residents and commercial (likely approximately 280 residents). Somehow the expectation is for only 86 trips in peak a.m. doesn't meet the sniff test.

How is this possible? The total of the a.m. and p.m. peak would only amount to 18 percent of the travel. Eighty-two percent of the trips would be off-peak. How can this be possible? Do they expect that Potala Village will be filled with all early risers or require that everyone sleep in?

How will they attract those who don't drive during peak hours? Could this study be flawed?

3) The traffic impact analysis states that cars will be waiting for 34 seconds to enter Lake Washington Boulevard. As a current resident who must enter onto Lake Washington Boulevard, I cannot remember the last time I waited just 34 seconds.

Do others have a different experience? Between pedestrian traffic (which will increase), vehicular traffic (which will increase) and summer seasonal variation, I am stunned by this estimate and cannot believe this as the advice of experts.

By the way, I have gone to speak to our council members about these issues. For the record, it took me 30 minutes to get from the midpoint of Lake Washington Boulevard to City Hall. I just cannot agree that Lake Washington Boulevard or Lake Street can accommodate this level of additional traffic, especially once combined with the traffic from the newly approved Transit Oriented Development (approximately 500 residents) and the soon-to-be approved residential units in Yarrow Bay Business district (undetermined number).

If the current finding is one of "non-significance," when does the increased "crawl" become significant?

Is it significant to others like it is to us? I urge others who don't agree to appeal the DNS (Determination of Nonsignificance) and the Shoreline Development Permit and to present factual information as that is one of the appeal criterion.

Some appeal time frames close on Monday, June 20. Only independent letters or e-mails stating that they want to be party of record and addressing specifics of concern will qualify to speak if there is a future hearing.

I have been unable to find the Draft EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) or Environmental Checklist circulated (per SEPA) so that the public and other agencies are given an opportunity to comment on the accuracy and content of the EIS before it is finalized.

If anyone has been able to locate this, I'd be appreciative. Most of the forms that I've seen filled out don't list the zoning as "residential market" (which was to be implemented by staff in 2004 with high priority).

Most of the documents also cause some concern where the entry for Comprehensive Plan states "commercial" and a review of the Comprehensive Plan yields very specific restrictions in land use for these parcels.

While it is true that map LU-1 shows "commercial" the other land use map shows "residential market." So a proper listing should either show the more restrictive or should show both.

The specific properties are listed on LU-2 commercial map. The definition of residential market is in the land use portion of the plan and in the appendix. Why are we looking at development that does not seem to meet the restrictions on the parcels?

Karen Levenson, Kirkland


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