LETTER: HENC Development and 6th Street Corridor Plan

Sent by: Nives Stanfelj

On: November 21, 2017

Dear Mayor Walen and City Council Members,

 

I am a Kirkland resident who has spoken at one of your council meetings regarding the HENC development plans, and when business travel prevailed, I have also written to you on this subject.  Unfortunately, I am not able to attend the Nov 21st council meeting, where I could again raise my mounting concerns and disappointment at the decision processes of this council.  Speaking from a constituent’s point of view, it appears that you continue to disregard the unwavering opposition from the citizens of Houghton and Everest, by presenting yet another tactic, in an attempt to force high density development into the Houghton and Everest communities.  It does not come even close to expressing my feelings to say I am completely outraged at this council’s flagrant attempts to push what must be self-serving interests on a community that has:

 

  1. Sent hundreds of letters sent to the Council, had multiple dozens of residents speaking up against high density development at your council meetings, and close to 300 people attending a public hearing in March (with over 95% of the residents against development over 3 stories at the Center).
  2. Clearly communicated its concerns about overgrowth on an already constrained infrastructure, especially given that Kirkland has already met and exceeded its stated growth plans (and is the 6th densest city) with the Kirkland Urban and Totem Lake developments.  Additional high-density growth will only exacerbate the health, safety and traffic issues we currently experience, yet this council has done nothing to provide a plan on how to even address existing concerns.
  3. Clearly and frequently expressed its desires for well thought out, holistic growth plans, taking into account environmental responsibility, citizen safety, transportation, economy, disaster response and livability.

 

The City Council asked the Houghton Community Council (HCC) and the Kirkland Planning Commission (KPC) to study this issue and make their recommendations. Both the HCC and the KPC agreed that the height should be kept to 3 stories (with limited density) and allow an increase to 35 feet only if a grocery store (of at least 20,00 sq. ft.) was included.  Yet, certain members of this council continue to try any angle to force their own agendas.

 

The idea that a southbound turn lane by Menchies will alleviate any traffic congestion is ludicrous, and obviously another ploy in someone’s agenda.  I challenge you to have a city planner/traffic consultant study this intersection in the afternoon rush hours and determine any positive impact with this addition.  The traffic flow is often congested for one (1) mile and more in the northbound direction along 108th Ave NE, approaching the 68th St intersection.  Eastbound on 68th St towards 405 is also bumper-to-bumper traffic starting at this intersection; as is the flow in the opposite direction, coming from 405 into Houghton/Everest.  This congestion exists even though there are both left-hand and right-hand turn lanes.  The addition of the Menchies turn lane will do absolutely nothing to improve our existing traffic issues.  However, the addition of 5 story, high-density residences will further exacerbate a very real traffic problem, which is also very real safety concern for school children walking to/from school, public transit commuters walking to/from bus stops and cyclists needing to weave their way through inobservant drivers.  I am very thankful for Council members Pascal, Arnold and Asher recognizing this flawed logic in the last council meeting with their vote against the proposal.

 

It is inconceivable and completely unacceptable to hear Council member Nixon, back in September, saying that the Council would go against the recommendations of its own Planning Commission, our HCC, and the citizens in order to “do the right thing”.   With all due respect, Council member Nixon has not been given unilateral authority to decide “the right thing” – unless he is speaking about doing the right thing for himself, in which case you would all agree this to be a conflict of interest.  For the remaining members of this council, allowing your fellow council members to speak and behave this way is an outrage, one which you are accountable to resolve promptly.

 

A vibrant and prosperous city is made up of diverse communities, each offering their unique flavor of housing and lifestyle, that together address the broad needs of its citizenry.  Your constituents in Houghton and Everest specifically chose these communities because of the low density, family-friendly, outdoor-friendly environment.  There are other communities within Kirkland that offer a lakefront lifestyle and a yes, a more urban lifestyle.  This is what Kirkland uniquely has to offer, which Bellevue, Redmond and other Eastside cities cannot.  This is what makes Kirkland exceptional and desirable.

 

I beseech the Council to fulfill your duty to the citizens of Houghton and Everest, as well as to the citizens of a holistic Kirkland, by deploying a responsible, phased growth plan, which allots time to experience the effects of each large-scale development on the overall function, comfort, livability and sustainability of the city, before force-fitting an ill-conceived new development.  This is the responsible, prudent approach to determine the ultimate “right thing” for the city of Kirkland.

 

Thank you for your time and well-considered deliberation.

 

Sincerely,

Nives Stanfelj

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