Madison Miller/staff photo
                                Kids sledding earlier this year.

Madison Miller/staff photo Kids sledding earlier this year.

How is Kirkland preparing for winter weather?

At its Nov. 6 meeting, city council received an updated on the 2019-20 snow plan.

“Snowmageddon” — the extreme weather event that impacted the greater Puget Sound area in February — has left many cities in the area, including Kirkland, planning out how to respond in case history repeats itself.

Following a council conversation on the winter event in April, discussions around winter weather continued at council’s Nov. 6 meeting. Because the city and public works department ultimately spent a combined $545,000 on the event — a number much higher than the latter department’s annual $50,000 snow and ice budget — the city is preparing for an extreme weather event if one occurs the future.

At the Nov. 6 meeting, Ray Steiger, public works superintendent for the city, and Nathen Hower, street and grounds manager for Kirkland, shared with council an updated draft of the 2019-20 snow and ice plan. Once the 2021-22 budgeting process begins, city staff intend to both finalize the plan and come back to the council with potential funding options as applicable.

“We’re not expecting the same 40-year snowstorm that we had in February, so that should be a good thing,” Hower said.

As shared at the meeting, a number of changes have been made to the plan’s new draft to be better able to support extreme weather events down the line. Resource lists have been updated in order to accommodate any new equipment that might be used, reflect crew shift lists and clarify new-found dispatching practices.

To further support areas that may be more vulnerable to the adverse effects of a snowstorm, priority routes have been revised. Parts of State Street South, 6th Avenue and 120th Avenue Northeast have been added; Northeast 52nd Street and Northeast 97th Street have been delineated as areas that might have potential road closures.

Additionally, a new coordinated plan is being worked on so that garbage pickup routines and locations are not as dramatically affected during long inclement weather events. A full communications plan is also being finalized, with special attention toward extreme weather situations and their relationship to the emergency operations center.

Something that became apparent to the city during the February event was that clearing roads often isn’t enough. As it stands, the city code clarifies that sidewalk maintenance is the responsibility of the adjacent property owner. But Snowmageddon showed that many city residents and business owners didn’t have the tools necessary to do the job and weren’t aware that the code delegated the responsibility to them in the first place. After councilmembers asked staff earlier this year to see what it would take to clear sidewalks around schools and transit routes, it was found that $30,000 worth of equipment would be needed, as well as $150,000 in labor costs.

“We do want to remind folks that it is their responsibility,” Steiger said. He added that city staff are working on an outreach plan and have looked at potentially using private contractors for sidewalk clearing.

Council had general clarifications about the plan — most involving how the city might approach sidewalk clearing, both in terms of communication and active mitigation — but did not voice any qualms about the staff’s draft.

Mayor Penny Sweet noted that, even if a Snowmaggedon-like event doesn’t happen in the near future, it’s important to be prepared.

“I would like to see it sort of staggered,” she said. “Because we’re not going to see events like this a lot. But I think we need to test our ability to respond.”

For the full conversation around the 2019-20 snow and ice plan, go to the Nov. 6 council meeting recording at bit.ly/2KG9caT. For more information about the draft plan, go to the meeting agenda item at bit.ly/2O4B7Dr.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@kirklandreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kirklandreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

State Capitol Building in Olympia. File photo
Politicians get pay raises, state workers get furloughs

A citizens panel approved the hikes in 2019. Unable to rescind them, lawmakers look to donate their extra earnings.

Human remains in West Seattle identified

Bags of body parts were found in a suitcase along a West Seattle beach on June 19.

Governor Jay Inslee smiles and laughs Sept. 3, 2019, during a speech at the Lynnwood Link Extension groundbreaking in Lynnwood. A Thurston County judge ruled he exceeded his authority when he vetoed single sentences in the state transportation budget in 2019. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)
Judge invalidates Gov. Inslee’s veto in roads budget

Lawmakers said the governor crossed a constitutional line.

King County cases among younger adults drives increase in COVID-19 numbers

Over half of all new cases are among people ages 20-39

Kirkland man found guilty of promoting prostitution in Eastside sex trafficking ring

Authorities say suspect ran “successful enterprise” for greater half of a decade.

Kirkland allocates CARES Act funding

The council approved the city manager’s plans for the $2.6 million

Celebrate Kirkland festivities on previous July 4. Reporter file photo
Kirkland hosting virtual ‘Celebrate Kirkland’

The Independence Day virtual event includes footage from previous parades and firework displays

Public and private universities, colleges, technical schools, apprenticeship programs and similar schools and programs may resume general instruction, including in-person classes and lectures, starting Aug. 1. Pictured: The University of Washington-Bothell campus. File photo
Universities and colleges may reopen in fall, governor says

His order requires masks and physical distancing, among other measures, to help prevent infections.

Locals enjoy the water at Juanita Beach Park, where the Friday farmer’s market is located. Katie Metzger/staff photo
Juanita Beach to close at least a week from bacteria

This closure is in addition to the previous week’s closure that was caused by a toxic algal bloom in the water.

Most Read