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Protesters take Potala Village controversy to the street
“No Ultra-High Density! No Potala!”
“200-Car Garage per one Driveway … No to Potala.”
“Respect the Community!”
“Call City Hall!”
This is just a small sample of the many handmade signs greeting drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians on Lake Washington Boulevard on Friday evening.
The signs carried protest messages from neighbors of the proposed Potala Village project and concerned Kirkland citizens who oppose the uniquely high-density apartment/commercial complex.
The picket line of protesters dressed in red - the signature color of the hundreds-strong opposition group that sprang organically in response to Potala - stretched across the proposed site on the corner of Lake Washington Boulevard/Lake Street South and 10th Avenue South.
Many drivers honked, gave a thumbs up, waved, cheered and whooped in solidarity with the protest. Cyclists also gave the thumbs up and waved as they rode along the bicycle lane in front of the project site where a single driveway to accommodate a 200-plus car garage is proposed – which, obviously, would be rife with unnecessary danger for all modes of travel along the boulevard.
Cyclists would be especially vulnerable. Walkers who wanted to learn more about Potala chatted with protesters, picked up fliers about the project, and many gave encouragement and expressed solid agreement with opposition to Potala.
While opposing the singular Potala Village project, many picketers are pro-development. They support sensible development that is compatible with its location – not the 194,000-square-foot “big box” structure proposed for Potala, which is just plain too big and clearly “out of whack” for the middle of Lake Washington Boulevard.
The first Potala picket was a success in bringing the community together and further raising awareness of the project that, four years after starting talks with the City Planning Department, still does not have a building permit, has flouted zoning regulations from the get-go and has been plagued by court cases and hearings – many still pending.
Not to mention massive community objection to what it believes would be a blight on Kirkland’s waterfront.
Developers Lobsang Dargey and Tamara Agassi Dargey have continued to experience almost unanimous community opposition to their proposed project, as well as public statements by some Kirkland City Council members that they never intended to have a project of this mammoth scale on Lake Washington Boulevard.
Potala Village is not the right project for Kirkland’s waterfront. The struggle continues. Stay tuned.
Robin Herberger, Kirkland