Letters to the Editor

City of Kirkland approves Potala Village shoreline permit for 143 units | Letter

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The City of Kirkland Planning director recently approved the Potala Village shoreline permit for 143 units and fewer parking spaces. So this is the shoreline permit and not the building permit.

The Planning director did a good job making sure the developer knows he must still meet all zoning code requirements, etc. But there is much that is concerning about what could still happen since 143 units were approved AND EVEN MORE CONCERNING is less parking will be required!

The Planning director did a very good job with a couple things. First he made sure to let the developer know that this is only a decision on the shoreline permit, which is an “overlay” on top of all zoning and other Kirkland policies that will still have to be met when a building permit is submitted.

Also, at first glance it appears that the concern about contaminated soils may be pretty well addressed as the remediation and oversight seems mandatory. The concern here is that the city picks out who does the oversight and the neighbors have previously been concerned because those chosen for oversight of things were part of an “inner-circle” and the oversight seemed more like a rubber stamp. Let’s hope this time we have someone quite objective!

BUT FEWER PARKING STALLS? And NO requirement that stalls cannot be rented to unit occupants as a separate charge? This is always a benefit to a developer since providing parking is expensive. With tiny “budget” apartments, many are likely to forgo paying for parking and we will end up with 143 or 286 additional cars parked on Lake Washington Boulevard!

No other unit in the area is allowed to have as few parking spaces per unit as Potala. It gets a HUGE break in parking and these cars will most likely consume all the street parking. PARKING was a major part of public comment on the shoreline permit.

Potala cars will make it nearly impossible for current residents to have guests stop by and use street parking, which means there will be much fewer visitors to Kirkland who currently park near the site and walk (or jog) the boulevard and then enjoy a latte, or our shops or restaurants. VISITORS will have nowhere to park so will likely go to some other city.

As far as the INCOMPLETE application, there are sentences that were incomplete, signatures on the “hold harmless agreement” missing and it seems the Planning director may have mis-read the state requirement for information that the state requires “at a MINIMUM.”

WAC 173-27-180 states that at a MINIMUM the application must include “(1) The name, address and phone number of the applicant. The applicant should be the owner of the property or the primary proponent of the project and not the representative of the owner or primary proponent.”

In addition, the codes states, “(3) The name, address and phone number of the property owner, if other than the applicant.”

There were many other omissions in the submitted application, but these are pretty obvious in their absence.

There is also the question of the shoreline designation that was changed from urban residential to urban mixed when the city only noticed that they were talking about changes to “docks, piers, vegetation and protection for endangered salmonoids and bull trout.”

Since the city didn’t provide the GMA-required “meaningful notice” and since this was done as a change to only the developers parcels.... SPOT ZONE without notice?

We need more time to review and for the attorney to review to understand everything about where this approval leaves us, but clearly we are unhappy with an approval for 143 units and the shoreline changes that were made covertly.

Parking decisions are clearly going to be harmful and we would have loved to see more detailed “conditions for approval” based on the Environmental Impact Statement at this point rather than waiting to impose them later. We fear we will otherwise hear again the swan song of the developer “no one ever told me I couldn’t.”

The neighbors and numerous citizens from all over the city have come together opposing things like the failure of the staff to implement the approved Comprehensive Plan with its implementation conditions for the zoning to reflect lower intensity in Neighborhood Business zones (all of them), and the misinterpretations given to some of the rules passed by the state and the city, etc. We have enjoyed getting to know each other at City Hall and may soon be working on items for the Shorelines Hearings Board.

Keep checking in. We will let you know more once we have reviewed farther. You may sign up for email alerts at www.stoppotala.com.

Please no checks to attorneys right now, our coffers are full (thanks to numerous neighbors and non- neighbor Kirklanders. We don’t want a big task of refunding extra cash). We will keep you advised once we have reviewed things more.

Karen Levenson, Kirkland


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