With the hearing examiner effectively green-lighting the Seaplane Scenics SEPA and SCUP permits for a commercial seaplane touring business out of Carillon Point, we should review what has transpired and why.
Despite many objections raised by residents living in the surrounding neighborhoods, the Kirkland Planning and Building Department deemed the environmental impact of this business to be insignificant, based on sound measurements that failed to capture the true maximum noise created by the aircraft. Now we get to experience this noise up to twice an hour upon aircraft takeoff and landing.
It certainly seems inconsistent that Kirkland, via KZC 83.170, denies lakeside residents the privilege of mooring private seaplanes at their homes for noise considerations while allowing this disturbance from an isolated commercial area. During takeoff and landing the aircraft is just as close to residences as the commercial zone it operates from. What exactly is the difference between the noise created by a private and a commercial seaplane?
The larger question is why the Kirkland Planning and Building Department is in a position to permit this impact to our city’s residential environment. While I am confident that they acted in good faith and with the best of intentions, this decision should not be theirs to make. The Planning and Building Department should be making decisions for repaving projects and the like, not enabling noise pollution from new commercial activities.
This is not the first time the city has followed dumb process in making a decision impacting the quality of life of its residents. We are still living with the Potala mess created by incompleteness and inconsistency in zoning and the comprehensive plan. But no one ever seems responsible for these bureaucratic decisions as long as i’s are dotted and t’s crossed. The residents of Kirkland deserve better from our city government.
Ultimately, the Kirkland City Council is responsible for this state of affairs. Kirkland needs a serious government with an elected mayor who is actually held accountable rather than one who simply wins the council’s internal popularity contest. It is time for Kirkland to stop pretending to be Mayberry.