June 28 Letter

To: Mayor Sweet, Deputy Mayor Arnold, Councilmembers Nixon, Pascal, Curtis, Falcone, and Black:

We urge you to delay approving Phase 1 of the Station Area Plan (SAP) until there is more clarity around how the growth would be mitigated and serviced. We realize that growth will come, but please let’s be smart about it. We cannot be confident that relying on time will resolve these issues. We must plan ahead with more certainty than that.

How will Kirkland avoid the budget problems of Seattle and Bellevue? The draft Incentive Zoning program might help, but is it big enough and where is the on-going support?

“We have this wonderful urbanization and growth that’s occurring in the city, and that will require more new and enhanced services,” said Toni Call, Bellevue’s finance director, describing to the council how in the world an unprecedented business boom could simultaneously leave Bellevue staring at red ink into the future. [Seattle Times, June 23rd, “Now Bellevue is Talking About Taxing Amazon too”, by Danny Westneat]

The SAP has some very laudable goals and some good ideas for implementation, but there are significant holes in the plan.

For example:

  • Traffic – We request a detailed traffic study on the impacted neighborhoods and travel time increases to the citizens of Kirkland because of the proposed upzoning.

  • Congestion – Will hundreds or thousands of bikes and pedestrians gridlock the roads? Is there enough buffer space for traffic to backup without blocking intersections and the roundabouts on the new interchange?

  • Schools – Growth is happening throughout the city, with concentrated growth anticipated in the Station Area. How will existing schools absorb this growth? How can we guarantee into the future the existing quality of education and space will continue for ALL Kirkland students without SOLID plans for where these students will attend school. The Planning Commission’s recommendation that height incentives should pay for school costs should be implemented to avoid the burden of the increased students on the local taxpayers.

  • Parks – Not only will open space be critical for quality of life for Station Area residents, but the population growth will also impact existing parks. Where will the on-going support for programs and maintenance come from?

  • Public Services & Public Safety? – Are there holes in the Fiscal Impact Study? Looking at the struggles faced by Seattle and now Bellevue, how can be we sure there will be sufficient funds for the most basic and critical services provided by a city to its residents?

We know and appreciate the amount of time and resources already invested in this project. That investment makes it all the more critical that we, as a city, get this right, and get it right the first time. Mistakes or details overlooked in the first phase will impact all other phases with increasing force and consequences as we move forward. We all love this city and want the best for it, now and always.


A concerned resident.