Kirkland City Council’s vote on density cap | Letters
September 12, 2012 · Updated 11:55 AM
Well, it’s not the 12 units/acre residential density cap the Planning Department gave Lobsang Dargey on Dec. 3, 2009, before he entered into any purchase or lease agreements for the three-parcel patchwork of properties he cobbled together for his proposed mega-block Potala Village on Lake Street South, Lake Washington Boulevard and 10th Ave. South.
But the Planning Commission’s current recommendation for a residential density limit of 36 units/acre for Neighborhood Business (BN) zones (e.g., the Potala properties) is a far cry from the novice apartment developer’s demand for an unprecedented 116 units/acre. That’s the density equation of the proposed 143-apartment, 316-car garage, plus office space complex he’s been trying to ram through Kirkland for over two years. From the get-go, he threatened to sue the City if he didn’t get his way. He has, along with his wife, Tamara Agassi Dargey, who apparently is his partner in the project. They’ve had the support of a series of high-powered lawyers and a fact-challenged, Dargey-friendly, Draft EIS from Inova Planning Communications Design LLC.
The (Kirkland City) Council passed the Potala hot potato to the Planning Commission, in the form of a BN zone review, to study and make a recommendation on residential density. A vote on that recommendation is expected at the Oct. 2 council meeting. Everyone concerned about the future of our waterfront should plan to attend this landmark council meeting, which begins at 7:30 p.m.
The Commissioners conducted public outreach, receiving hundreds of written comments from Kirkland residents, along with oral testimony at a public hearing – the vast majority, of which I’m aware, call for adherence to the current surrounding property maximum of 12 units/acre (or 24, the previous limit should a property need to be rebuilt as originally constructed).
Citizens can show that a legal case can be made for holding the project properties to the City’s own 12 units/acre restriction. But as a significant compromise, after a couple years of the community’s time, money, energy and effort spent on this thing, I could see 36 being acceptable. It’s hard to imagine that the city council wouldn’t accept the recommendation from the Planning Commissioners who worked hard at council’s direction, applying their collective expertise and doing exactly what the council asked of them.
So, it seems this episode in developer bully-boy tactics may soon be drawing to a close.
Lobsang Dargey may get to add a second apartment complex to his thin portfolio (joining the one apartment building he put up in Everett). While still large, 36 units/acre is significantly less harmful to the environment, pedestrian and vehicle traffic, and quality of life for residents and visitors to the City’s waterfront than the current proposal. Hopefully, this fight will soon be over, and we can resume our lives without the constant threat of that absurd 143-unit leviathan on the corner of Lake and 10th looming over our heads.
Robin Herberger, Kirkland