Header photo: Traffic stretching to Carillon point, looking south from NE 62nd Street, June, 2012, by Mark Taylor
Kirkland City Council rejects settlement offer in Potala Village lawsuit.
“Settlement Agreement” fails to get a motion, much less a vote
48 units per acre appears now to be the “worst case scenario”
In a historic meeting at City Hall, no member of the Kirkland City Council moved to accept the agreement proposed by developer Lobsang Dargey to settle his land use lawsuit against the City. The Council then moved on to the next item on the agenda, a reconsideration of the moratorium on BN (Neighborhood Business) zoning. No one moved that item either, so they moved on to the next order of business.
However, before doing so, several members of the Council discussed options available for ALL BN zones in the City. No one (other than the Mayor) seemed to be able to find a rationale for the number 48. One suggested this be referred back to the Planning Commission. One referred to the Comp Plan language of “very small mixed use development compatible with the neighborhood.” Another said that the Planning Commission didn’t even have a reason to pick 36, so 48 made even less sense. Another commented that there was only one person on the PC that supported a density of 48; all others were lower.
There appeared to be a consensus developing for a maximum residential density of 48 residential units per acre on such zones.
The Council asked staff to develop a proposal around 48 units per acre for consideration at the December 11 meeting. The Council noted that this density was 4 times higher than that originally proposed by STOP.
In a last ditch meeting at City Hall 4 days after the citizen group was granted intervenor status by King County Superior Court in the developer’s lawsuit against the City, and only hours before the Council Meeting, the City indicated a willingness to find a solution that both it and the community would support. The City felt that a consistent density of 48 units per acre (or less) on all BN zones would show the court that the City 1) had a consistent plan that made sense, 2) was not “spot zoning,” and 3) would reduce the amount of the City’s damages should the City lose a developer lawsuit, because this number is closer to the settlement agreement proposed by the developer than the 12 units per acre argued by the citizens. (That the City would actually lose such a lawsuit is very unlikely, given the history of land use cases in Washington and the nation.)
Some 30 or more “Red Shirts” packed the Council chambers in a remarkable show of commitment after nearly 2 years of negotiation. Citizen remarks at the beginning of the meeting were again cogent and persuasive, using such words as “finding healing.”
Because of all your hard work for 20 months – hundreds and hundreds of emails, multiple phone calls, research, funds for legal expenses, meeting after meeting, conversations with city leaders and neighbors, etc. – the Kirkland City Council finally found their courage. The citizens and the Council are now a team, and will work together should the developer choose to pursue a lawsuit.
This is not the end of the process, but STOP now might be looking at a “worst case scenario” of 48 units per acre.
Over a year ago, one of our STOP team members met with a former City Council member (the one who spoke in favor of the developer at the November 7 Council meeting.) The purpose of the meeting was to seek out his advice on how best to “fight City Hall.” That advice? “Show up! Speak up! And keep it up!”
We did. It made a difference. It’s been a long slog. Thanks to all for your support. Stay tuned.
And be at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, December 11, 7:30 PM, when it is likely that a staff proposal of 48 units per acre or less may be voted.
Background (for new visitors to this website):
Over 1000 citizens and other friends of Kirkland have expressed concern about Potala Village. Check out the tabs above to learn even more about this off-the-wall project, an ultra-high density residential project on Lake Street and 10th Avenue South (Michael’s Dry Cleaning lot).
This site is provided by “STOP” (“Support The Ordinances & Plans”), a group of over 500 Kirkland citizens concerned about the City’s failure to limit residential density on any Commercial zoned property in our neighborhoods, particularly that in BN (Neighborhood Business) zones. Inconsistencies, errors and oversights in zoning and planning are the problem, and “STOP” is helping the City of Kirkland correct the situation. Potala Village is just one example of the problem. It would have 143 tiny efficiency apartments on 1.2 acres, and a 2-story underground parking garage that would dump 315 vehicles onto Lake Street via a single driveway. To see just how huge this development will be, click here for an aerial view of the neighborhood. The project of 116 dwelling units per acre sits next to single family homes and medium-density condos of 12 units per acre MAX.
More about Potala and this website:
- To learn more about “STOP” and an example of the zoning problem, click “The Issue” tab above.
- To view a history of the subject property and recent actions, click the “History/Timeline” tabs.
- For answers to Frequently Asked Questions, click the “FAQs” tab.
- To view documents, such as the Kirkland Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Code, click the “Resources” tab above.
- To learn more about how to support this effort, including the online petition, click the “Support” tab.
- To ask a question or provide input, use the “Contact” tab above, or click here. This page also has email contacts for the Kirkland City Council and Planning Commission.
- If you wish to receive information about this project directly from the City Planning Department, click here and sign up for the ListServ by entering your email address and preference for the “Potala” information.
- If you have not yet signed the petition to cap the residential density, please click here to sign.
- If you would like to receive regular updates on this project from the STOP team, tell us via email at email@example.com.