Letters to the Editor

Unlimited residential density in commercial zones threatens Kirkland neighborhoods | LETTER

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Send your letter to: letters@kirklandreporter.com
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Are you aware that Kirkland’s zoning code allows unlimited “residential” density in any “commercial” zone in the city?

This is a major problem for every Kirkland neighborhood. Potala Village in the Moss Bay neighborhood is just the most obvious current example. This huge loophole needs to be eliminated. Therefore, we are asking the Planning Commission to place caps on residential development in commercial zones, beginning with the smallest Neighborhood Business (BN) zone - immediately.

Please sign our petition to the Planning Commission or go to www.ipetitions.com/petition/say-no-to-unlimited-residential-density-in/ (Note: there was a petition to the Kirkland City Council last fall. This one is new.)

For nearly a year, the Moss Bay/Lakeview neighborhoods have been very active working with the city to reduce the size, scale, and density of the Potala Village project at 10th and Lake Street.

Specifically, the neighbors are working to ensure that our city’s zoning codes comply with our Comprehensive Plan, beginning with BN zones (BN, BN1, BNA).

While the Comprehensive Plan is clear in its description of a hierarchy of uses and intensities for  commercial development, the city is interpreting the zoning code permissively and allowing UNLIMITED RESIDENTIAL DENSITY on any piece of property in the city with a “commercial” land-use designation.

Those living in the annexation area are acutely aware of this issue. When Finn Hill was part of King County, residential density in commercial zones was capped at 8 to 16 units per acre. Now that Finn Hill is part of Kirkland, there is no density limit whatsoever.

Think of that ... If a property is designated for a COMMERCIAL use, a developer can currently build an almost entirely RESIDENTIAL project with as many tiny units as can be squeezed into a shell. Places where an unlimited number of small units could be built in residential neighborhoods include Bridle Trails, Inglewood, Kingsgate, Houghton ...  really anywhere there’s business-zoned property within, or adjacent to, a residential neighborhood.

And the density of the residences in that adjacent RESIDENTIAL area will remain capped at 5, 12 or a maximum of 24 units per acre. Is this fair? Or reasonable?

While your RESIDENTIAL zoned property allows only 12 units per acre, why should a Neighborhood Business-zoned property next door like Potala Village get an unbelievable 116 units per acre?

Do you need more traffic, more cars parked in front of your homes, more noise, more bright lights, more stress in your peaceful “residential” neighborhood? And finally, how does an ultra-high density apartment project serve your needs for a neighborhood business?

Potala Village is simply an immediate example. What is happening there could happen anywhere in Kirkland.

We need the Planning Commission to apply a residential density cap in commercial zones, beginning with the smallest of those zones, Neighborhood Business (BN, or BNA in the annexed area). Please sign the online petition asking them to cap the density: www.ipetitions.com/petition/say-no-to-unlimited-residential-density-in/.

This is URGENT, as a decision will likely be made by the Planning Commission at its meeting this Thursday, March 8 (City Hall, 7 p.m.)

For more information, visit www.stoppotala.com. Your help is needed now.

Chuck Pilcher, Lakeview Neighborhood member, Advisory Board, STOP (“Support The Ordinances & Plans”)

 

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