Letters to the Editor

Proposed Potala Village in Kirkland should relocate to Bellevue | LETTER

In a recent article, it was mentioned that ".. the developer of Potala Village, Dargey Enterprises, is as good as they come."

While Mr. Dargey may be affable, warm, friendly, likeable, etc., the issue here is not his personality, but whether the proposed project is consistent with the laws of Kirkland.

Being a "good guy" doesn't allow someone to skirt the rules and regulations. So let's take a look at the facts … and what Mr. Dargey and his architect knew ... and when they knew it... and whether the current plans are respectful of the city's regulations.

"Ordinances are legislative acts or local laws. They are the most permanent and binding form of council action, and may be changed or repealed only by a subsequent ordinance." You'll find this quotation in each council packet (see page 2 in the left hand margin).

Ordinance 3974 has been mentioned frequently since within that ordinance, it provides that "decisions and actions in the present are based on the adopted (Comprehensive) plan."

"State agencies and local governments must comply with the Comprehensive Plan." and "The city's legislative and administrative actions and decisions MUST be in compliance with the adopted plan."

If you know "city-speak," the word MUST is a powerful word. It is mandatory and not optional.

Ordinance 3974, as approved, discusses commercial properties and what types of commercial use is allowed in each area.

The lowest intensity commercial zone is termed "Residential Market" and the Commercial Uses Land Use Map (LU-2) is provided on page 86.

There are two properties circled and identified on the map as "Residential Market." One is at the site of the 24/7 mini-market and the other is identified with text "10th Ave S./Lake Washington Blvd.-Residential Market" (the property subject to the Potala Project).

Page 87 Ordinance 3974 provides the definition: "A Residential Market is an individual store or very small, mixed-use building/center focused on local pedestrian traffic. Residential scale and design are critical to integrate these uses into the residential area."

Is the Potala Project an individual store or VERY SMALL mixed-use building?

Is the Potala Project focused on local pedestrian traffic (i.e. to reduce traffic as neighbors can walk there)?

Is the Potala Project of a residential scale? Residential design? Does it integrate into the residential area?

Also included on page 87 of 3974 are the uses that will be allowed in these two Residential Market Commercial Areas.

"Uses may include corner grocery stores, small service businesses (social service outlets, daycares) laundromats, and small coffee shops or community gathering places."

Are any of the above allowed uses going to be in the Potala Project?Can anyone find the word residential, or apartment anywhere in the allowed uses?

The Moss Bay Neighborhood Plan (also part of Comprehensive Plan approved by ordinance), restricts residential development on the east side of Lake Washington Boulevard/Lake Street South to a maximum of 12 units per acre if south of 7th Street South.

It is indisputable that this property is south of 7th Street South, and on the east side of Lake Street South/Lake Washington Boulevard.

It then follows that the maximum density is to be 12 units per acre not 116 per acre.The ordinance approved neighborhood plan also describes the area as largely unsuitable for commercial use due to vehicular ingress and egress problems.

It clarifies that a small market currently onsite serves as a convenience to local residences ... and therefore "limited" commercial use should be allowed to remain.

Is the Potala project consistent with this?

Neighborhood service businesses allow walkable neighbor/pedestrian access and reduce car trips.

Consistent? Will the 300 cars help, or hurt, the identified issue of vehicular ingress and egress?

Kirkland Zoning Code KZC170 requires planning officials to interpret using "common meaning of words."

Is this a "Neighborhood Business" - What neighborhood retail or service business is being provided? Could this be a matter of the developer being uninformed by the city?

Let's take a look at the material given to the applicant during 2009/2010 pre-submittal meetings and let's see how well the current plans are aligned with the restrictions described during the early meetings.

• Page 1: "Attached is a copy of the neighborhood plan, which specifically applies to the subject property."

• Page 2: "Whenever there is a conflict between regulations, the most restrictive provision applies."

• Pages 6 and 16 in a red frame and shadow show this enormous project next to single family home and small condos.

• Page 10: BN zoning requires 75 percent of the ground floor to be offices or retail outlets oriented to the main arterial Lake Street South. Potala Project ground floor maps have the architect indicating there is only 20 percent.

• Page 141: Provides specific reference to 12 units per acre south of 7th Avenue South and along the east side of the boulevard and that there is to be consistency with the densities of properties to the North and South.

• Page 142: Provides that development of the commercial property is "limited."

NOTE: Comp Plan documents pages 141 and 142 are provided and they appear to have had the specific passages intentionally highlighted by city officials.

In summary, I believe the expectation of those who live here is for "goodness" be measured both in friendliness and in one's respect for the local laws and the established neighborhood.

If this project is something that should be welcomed in a residential neighborhood, perhaps Mr. Dargey should relocate the project to Bellevue.

Please do not place 116 units per acre in our residential neighborhood while you live in an area that is four units per acre. Do unto other neighborhoods only that which you would first do to your own.

Karen Levenson, Kirkland

 

 

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