Letters to the Editor

Citizens ask city to clarify sidewalk, bike lane closure with Potala Village | Letter

This photo is of the construction in Everett as submitted by a Kirkland resident. - Contributed photo/Karen Levenson
This photo is of the construction in Everett as submitted by a Kirkland resident.
— image credit: Contributed photo/Karen Levenson

Please share with readers that citizens will be asking for clarification of comments issued by John Burkhalter, Kirkland Public Works, in the recently released Feb. 24 "City comment letter on building permit application for Potala Village":

Dear Mr. Burkhalter,

Citizens previously asked about, and were reassured, that there would be no sidewalk closures or rerouting, and no bike lane closures or rerouting allowed during the Potala Village Construction.

Now your comments seem to indicate some closures and rerouting will be allowed. Citizens find the second quotation to be very confusing and are asking for clarification.

In the Feb. 24 "City comment letter on building permit application" you state, "This project needs a mobilization plan to address the following: Pedestrian routing plans for detours and closures during construction, ... Work hours in the right-of-way as it relates to these issues."

"The sidewalk cannot be blocked to pedestrian access long term, revise clearing limits. The sidewalk will need to be temporary closed during construction, but should always be opened up at the end of the work day. The only time this will not be true is during sidewalk replacement, in which case we may be routing pedestrians to the parking lane. There will be much more discussion on this."

The hundreds of citizens involved have repeatedly mentioned their concern about sidewalks, bicycle lanes, pedestrians, cyclists and all forms of non-motorized transportation at this site.

The concerns stem from the fact that this is only the third ground-up development of Lobsang Dargey and site review of his second project revealed massive intrusion into sidewalks, bike lanes and potentially vehicular lane closures.

There is fear that the development of the Potala Village site may take several years. Citizens noted that Everett newspapers originally indicated a spring of 2012 completion date (on a project in that city by the same developer). Now the papers note an anticipated spring of 2015 completion date.

There are many other things observed by the citizens increasing concern that Potala Village might be particularly slow in its construction phase.

There are city rules and policies prohibiting obstructions in right-of-ways. Lake Street South and Lake Washington Boulevard are noted as principal arterials with principal bike and walk routes in the non-motorized transportation plan and the comprehensive plan. There is city zoning prohibiting obstructions in right-of-ways. Many citizens have been asked to trim back bushes that barely intrude into a right-of-way and are threatened with fines and other city actions if they do not remove barely significant obstructions.

As a city, we made major investments in our sidewalks and in our bike lanes. We cannot deny citizens their right to use these areas without any impediment to their commute or their recreational use of these areas.

The wording that the sidewalk may need to be temporarily closed provides no discussion of the bike or parking lanes, or any indication whether this is to be for a day, a few days, or for the entire duration of construction.

The wording that the sidewalk "must be opened up at the end of each work day" also does not include wording about the bike or parking lanes.

With the city already stating that work hours are from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., if the city then allows sidewalk, bike or parking lanes to be blocked during these hours then both the morning and the evening commutes will be completely impeded for non-motorized transportation.

We believe permits, bonds and daily fees, are charged if permission is granted and there is no mention of this in your letter to the developer.

Mr. Burkhalter, we are looking for more clarification from you. Perhaps we have misunderstood the February comments since the wording was very confusing. Citizens were previously told that there would not be any allowed obstruction of these areas. We hope that is still the case and that our fears are thus unnecessary.

Karen Levenson, Kirkland

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