Reject zoning changes for Houghton and Everest | Letter

We live just south of the Houghton Neighborhood Center, and we would like to convey our concerns with the proposed zoning plan for the Center. With the latest five-story (55-foot tall) aggressive growth plan, we believe the following factors would negatively impact the infrastructure and livability of our treasured neighborhood areas of Houghton, Everest and Lakeview.

Traffic Congestion – Unlike Kirkland Urban and Totem Lake, the existing roadways are not sufficient to support greatly increased traffic in this area. Per the transportation consultant’s estimates, existing trips will increase 38 percent by 2035 with no zoning change, plus another 22 percent with the proposed zoning change. But that “22 percent additional” estimate due to zoning is ridiculously low. The only way it could be correct is because there would be so much gridlock that the actual increase in traffic flow could not be measured using current techniques. Please read this assessment from local architect Steve Cox, based on an established relationship between Floor Area Ratio (FAR) at the Center, and traffic volumes:

“[The current FAR] is about 0.3…[Buildings with three to five stories] could easily [make the] FAR 3.0 or higher. That’s 10 times the current density, and that’s where the trips come in…increasing the number of trips right at the intersection by a factor of 10. The intersection is [already] so clogged that they can’t calculate the peak hours’ level of service.”

We are especially concerned about the plan for 106th Avenue to be the only access point to the Center from the south. This is a residential street with three speed bumps and parking on only one side – parking that is already clogged all day by employees from the Center.

Over growth and excessive density – according to the Growth Management goals, the city has already exceeded housing goals and there are 4,500 housing units already in the pipeline. Increasing the area’s density by seven to nine times is excessive and unnecessary. Stop trying to chase Bellevue – we don’t want or need to be Bellevue. We are primarily a low-rise residential/bedroom community and we want to stay that way. We rejected the Aquatics Center, Potala Village, transit on the trail, and we will reject this zoning.

Multi-family on 106th Avenue NE should remain at its current zoning. 106th Ave NE is an unusually narrow street and large scale buildings on both sides would tower over both the street and the beloved Cross Kirkland Corridor Trail. The multi-family here is a transition zone to nearby single family homes.

We understand that growth is inevitable as Kirkland is a desirable place to live and work; however, as elected officials of the residents, we urge the Council to listen to their constituents input via survey, letters and workshop and manage growth to take place where and when it is needed. Don’t change this already successful center.

Now that Everest Neighborhood has weighed in, the Houghton Everest Neighborhood Plan should be updated to a design that suits the neighborhood and then zoning guidelines should be carefully developed along with additional community input. Ideally, you would re-visit these plans after Kirkland Urban, Totem Lake, and Northwest University projects are completed to be able to more accurately evaluate the impact to the current infrastructure and livability to the proposed area in question.

John and Beth McCaslin, Kirkland

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