Letter: Potala Village Proposal Inconsistent With Kirkland's Laws

Letter writer says the project would put too many people in too small of a space for a residential neighborhood.

Editor's Note: The letter writer is referring to the proposed Potala Village development on Lake Street. For Kirkland Patch stories about the project, click here and here.

Dear Editor:
As Kirkland residents we are very concerned about this ultra-high density project proposed for a neighborhood that was previously "downzoned."  This means that those who could previously build up to 24 units per acre can now only build 12 per acre due to the inability of the local infrastructure to handle density.  The change was made in 1977 and the infrastructure hasn't improved enough to restore 24 units/acre to those properties that formerly had such designation.
We respectfully ask that the project be re-examined as it seems to cram too many folks into too tight a space.  If it is seen as a great project, perhaps neighbors of the developer would welcome it into their midst since Kirkland neighbors are flat out rejecting it.
While Mr. Dargey may be affable, warm, friendly, likeable, etc... The issue here is not his personality, but whether the proposed project is consistent with the laws of Kirkland.  Being a "good guy" doesn't allow someone to skirt the rules and regulations.  So let's take a look at the facts... and what Mr. Dargey and his architect knew ... and when they knew it... and whether the current plans are respectful of the city's regulations.
"Ordinances are legislative acts or local laws.  They are the most permanent and binding form of Council action, and may be changed or repealed only by a subsequent ordinance.  ... You'll find this quotation in each City Council Packet...See pg 2 in the left hand margin.  Click here:
Ordinance 3974 has been mentioned frequently since within that ordinance, it provides that "decisions and actions in the present are based on the adopted [Comprehensive] plan." "State agencies and local governments must comply with the Comprehensive Plan." and "The City's legislative and administrative actions and decisions MUST be in compliance with the adopted plan." If you know "city-speak," the word MUST is a powerful word.  It is mandatory and not optional.
O-3974, as approved, discusses commercial properties and what types of commercial use is allowed in each area.  The lowest intensity commercial zone is termed "Residential Market" and the Commercial Uses Land Use Map (LU-2) is provided on pg 86.  There are two properties circled and identified on the map as "Residential Market."  One is at the site of the 24/7 mini-market and the other is identified with text "10th Ave S./Lake Washington Blvd.--Residential Market" (the property subject to Potala Project).
Pg 87 Ordinance 3974 provides the definition  "A Residential Market is an individual store or very small, mixed-use building/center focused on local pedestrian traffic.  Residential scale and design are critical to integrate these uses into the residential area."

  • Is the Potala Project an individual store or VERY SMALL mixed use building?
  • Is the Potala Project focused on local pedestrian traffic (i.e. to reduce traffic as neighbors can walk there)?
  • Is the Potala Project of a residential scale?  Residential design?  Does it integrate into the residential area?

Also included on pg 87 of O-3974 are the uses that will be allowed in these two Residential Market Commercial Areas "Uses may include corner grocery stores, small service businesses (social service outlets, daycares) laundromats, and small coffee shops or community gathering places."

  • Are any of the above allowed uses going to be in the Potala Project?
  • Can anyone find the word residential, or apartment anywhere in the allowed uses?

The Moss Bay Neighborhood Plan (also part of Comprehensive Plan approved by Ordinance), restricts residential development on the east side of Lake Washington Blvd/Lake St S to a maximum of 12 units per acre if south of 7th St S.

  • It is indisputable that this property is S of 7th St S, and on the east side of Lake St S / LWB
  • It then follows that the maximum density is to be 12 units per acre not 116 / acre.

The ordinance approved neighborhood plan also describes the area as largely unsuitable for commercial use due to vehicular ingress and egress problems.  It clarifies that a small market currently onsite serves as a convenience to local residences... and therefore "Limited" commercial use should be allowed to remain.

  • Is the Potala project consistent with this?
  • Neighborhood svc businesses allow walkable neighbor/pedestrian access & reduce car trips. Consistent?
  • Will the 300 cars help, or hurt, the identified issue of vehicular ingress and egress?

Kirkland Zoning Code KZC170 requires planning officials to interpret using "common meaning of words."

  • Is this a "Neighborhood Business"
  • What neighborhood retail or service business is being provided?
  • Could this be a matter of the developer being uninformed by the city?

In summary, I believe the expectation of those that live here is for "goodness" be measured both in friendliness and in one's respect for the local laws and the established neighborhood.
If this project is something that should be welcomed in a residential neighborhood, perhaps Mr. Dargey should relocate the project to Bellevue on NE 28th Place.  Please do not place 116 units per acre in our residential neighborhood while you live in an area that is 4 units per acre.  Do unto other neighborhoods only that which you would first do to your own.

--Karen Levenson

lvhmb October 31, 2011 at 09:05 PM
Here's the document that shows what and how Mr. Dargey, his staff and hopefully his investors were informed of the limitations to development on the parcels. Here's a link ... http://www.kirklandpermits.net/tm_web/doc/201007/PRE0900072/PRE09-00072%20MATERIAL%20GIVEN%20TO%20APPLICANT%20120309.pdf Also, this information can also be found in the public records through KirklandPermits.net ... However finding one's
bigyaz November 01, 2011 at 05:03 PM
Your legal grounds seem solid, but you sound petty and vindictive when you attack the developer for choosing to live where he does. Your beef should be with the city. Otherwise you sound pretty childish.
lvhmb November 02, 2011 at 02:10 PM
I really don't care where he lives. He could live anywhere... Just as long as he puts his sardine can apartments in his own neighborhood not ours. The point was that this giant building and hundreds of people doesn't fit in either our residential neighborhood or his. Was hoping to appeal to the "Golden Rule" principle that seems to be part of most faith based folks. Also ... have you read the review posted online over the last few months since Potala Everett opened???
Potala and BN Meeting September 17, 2012 at 12:42 PM
Potala neighbors must attend 9/18 meeting 6pm Peter Kirk Room. After more than a year of citizen outcry and attempt to get the city council to follow the rules that THEY voted in by Ordinance for the properties at 10th and Lake St S .... Well attendence at this study session with folks wearing red is very important!! While the 6pm start time may be a little early for some folks who work and then need to fight traffic to get to city hall.... we welcome you at the start of the meeting or anytime during the meeting. Go to the south side of the building at 123 Fifth Ave and look for Peter Kirk Room. You'll know you are in the right place when you see other red shirts. The City really botched this thing up but now has a chance to fix this and make things how they were approved by past councils instead of ignoring our local laws and letting a developer proceed with an inconsistent project that will pack hundreds of residents into a much much lower density area. Come and see your council members at work and see how each of them thinks and votes. Four of them are up for re-election next year. Do they represent us as citizens or do they overlook the rules for a developer... Come see!!!
Potala and BN Meeting September 17, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Potala is one of 3 Neighborhood Business locations being looked at together as part of the Commercial Code Updates


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