Potala, let the testimony begin | Letter
January 18, 2013 · 4:55 PM
What got us into the Potala Village mess was the arrogance of the Planning director trying to satisfy the demands of Mayor McBride.
It is not a waste of taxpayers’ money to right what is wrong. Once identified, the city has a responsibility to correctly apply prior decisions that were in existence at the time but ignored. The rezone of the property from 18 units per acre should have had a public hearing. Instead, the council allowed the Planning director to make questionable “administrative” changes without a public hearing. The council didn’t want a public hearing. Were they arrogant or not?
In regard to Potala, not all of the elements of the Growth Management Act have been complied with as well as the requirements of SEPA and the Shoreline Management Act. Underground fuel storage tanks are still there. Have they rusted through? Will construction disturb the tanks? If there, how much remaining fuel are we talking about?
A known underground stream exist. Where does it come from? Where does it go? How much will go into the lake? What is the quality? What weather conditions affect it? Does it back up when Lake Washington water level rises 18 inches in the summer?
Impacts have not been analyzed as to quality, quantity and source. Under various scenarios particularly in the winter, surface water management must be dealt with. Will underground parking need water pumps running 24-seven?
Mr. Lowe’s suggestion to allow Potala to proceed as originally proposed is wrong. Mitigation measures should be applied now, not later, before any building permit is issued.
I hope the attorneys for the city will also address the circumstances under which the property was acquired. Were promises made regarding design, density, and access to the waterfront with a bridge over Lake Washington Boulevard that later proved to be false when the developer submitted his application? While acquisition may not be an issue regarding development, he now owns the right to develop if he can.
How he got that right is not what I consider acceptable. Do all developers do the same? If the developer promised one thing and then submitted another project design, it doesn’t sit well with me.
After talking with the previous property owner who lives in Portland, she was wined and dined at the developer’s expense in Kirkland. What may have been promised in an effort to acquire the property might have been misleading. Maybe not.
The previous owner indicated drawings were shown. Perhaps we should see them if they still exist. Was there a bridge over Lake Washington Boulevard Northeast? It looks like what was said versus what was promised was different than what he proposed? However, the previous owner is a senior on fixed income and needs money for home repairs and other costs. She’s probably satisfied with the money regardless.
It’s taken a long time at great expense to correct what went wrong. The city should not be excused from its responsibility to do what the law requires and is acceptable to existing residents.
Let the testimony begin.
Robert L. Style, Kirkland