The Kirkland City Council at its Feb. 4 meeting continued discussions around potential amendments to the Shoreline Master Program (SMP).
Final considerations will be made at council’s March 3 meeting.
The SMP is responsible for establishing regulations for new properties sitting within 200 feet of the ordinary high water mark of Lake Washington. It also affects lake-adjacent wetlands such as Juanita Bay, Forbes Valley and Yarrow Bay. The program intends to regulate preferred use, ecological protections and public access.
Every eight years, it is mandated by the state’s Shoreline Management Act that the city have a periodic review of the program to ensure that it is up to date. Washington’s Department of Ecology (DOE) ultimately has final approval authority over Kirkland’s SMP and its amendments, according to meeting documents.
At the Feb. 4 meeting, the council went over nine proposed amendments to the SMP, termed items in the presentation by planning supervisor Christian Geitz. Geitz led the discussion and highlighted recommended actions from the city’s planning commission (PC) and the Houghton Community Council (HCC).
Council was then given the option to adopt the recommendations from the PC/HCC, stick with the current code or make adjustments to the PC/HCC recommendations based on city staff opinion.
While making updates, staff depends on, according to Geitz, the “best available science” via data from agencies including the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, DOE, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Water Resource Inventory Area 8.
Geitz said the city is reliant on supplemental studies as Kirkland doesn’t have biologists on staff.
“We do the same thing with other codes that we establish…We rely on those,” Geitz said. “We rely on those white papers and reports.”
Amendment areas addressed during the meeting’s SMP discussion included pier length, ell depth, moorage buoy options, administrative approval changes, boat lift allowance increases, non-conforming over-water structure rules, boat ramp regulations, a potential new code addition of pier bumpers and an amendment to possibly provide an added incentive to remove bulkheads.
Before the council discussion, three representatives from the newly formed Kirkland Sensible Shorelines Coalition (KSSC) — a group that is challenging some of the proposed changes — spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting.