A different kind of common sense solution

I read last week’s letter to the editor thanking the council for standing for common sense. It seems to me that there needs to be a broader interpretation of common sense. Houghton and Everest are very welcoming communities and there are residents living in apartments, condos, single family homes, dorms, and ADUs at this time.

I felt the letter gave off an impression that there are only single family homes in the Houghton and Everest neighborhoods. How many new units are needed in a neighborhood for that neighborhood to be considered “welcoming”? The height limit of 35 feet on the Houghton side already allows for quite a few new multifamily units despite what the letter implied.

No matter what the plan is for the HENC, there is always room for a developer to ask for a private amendment request in the future and build a tall apartment building. If housing is so tight a developer wants to build an eight-story building on the HENC site in the next 20 years, that is always a possibility.

Look at what happened on the Park Place site. The plans for that site continue to evolve and have influenced the development in the surrounding area. We are all taking sides about a development plan in Houghton when no developer has actually come up with a project proposal for the Houghton Everest Neighborhood Center.

There are several owners and it may not be possible for them all to work together to produce a development with the amount of housing required to call us a “welcoming” community. Maybe Mayor Walen can let us know what the threshold is for that designation.

I try to go out of my way to keep the Seattle freeze from taking over Houghton, and I happily greet all newcomers, even those who have purchased the large expensive single family homes that have been built in the last 20 years.

We can all be grateful that the property taxes they pay are improving our community, whether we are a homeowner, an apartment dweller, or just someone passing through. Thank you, neighbor!

In my humble opinion, I feel the common sense solution would be to encourage housing options within a neighborhood rather than five-story apartment buildings with coffee shops, dry cleaners, and beauty salons. As one of the vocal residents who is being accused of making Kirkland’s housing crisis worse, I would like to stand up for the common sense solution of utilizing the current housing stock more wisely.

In most of Kirkland, there are single family homes that can be altered to include an ADU or a DADU (mother-in-law or nanny apartment). Kirkland allows ADUs, and that is a solution that can be beneficial to both a new person to Kirkland as well as a resident who already owns a home. House sharing is a great idea because the building already exists. Instead of one or two people in a house, you can have up to five unrelated people living in a house.

Those of us who own houses know how much maintenance is needed, and often someone can rent affordably by offering services like gardening, home repair, or childcare. Many people run a small business out of a single family residence. This is also a good way to utilize housing stock and spread services throughout the community. It makes the neighborhood less dependent on vehicle transportation if a resident can walk their child to a family home daycare, or stop by to see the lady down the street for a haircut, or go to meet the person two blocks over that does tax accounting.

It is more important to me that we are trying to build community rather than only looking at the popular model of multi-use five-story buildings that we see popping up all over the Eastside.

Margarette Bull


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