Moss Bay Co-Chair Mark Eliasen called the meeting to order. David Godfrey, Kirkland's Transportation Engineering Manager gave a presentation, along with a PowerPoint slide show, about Parking requirements in Kirkland and how they are determined for new condo developments. The current Kirkland regulations require 1.7 parking spots per unit or a study to be done to calculate the correct ratio of parking spots to units based on the mix of living units in the project. This often results in less than 1.7 per unit in projects that are built. David mentioned that parking management can be optimized by creating a market among residents for surplus owned parking spaces. Street parking issues are complex. Some want free street parking, but that may encourage high rise residents to opt away from buying enough space for their vehicles. Some in the audience wanted the city to require sufficient parking for the residents of a building. Do not give them an option to not buy parking and park on the streets. Others thought that some type of ban on street parking might be implemented, but David mentioned that enforcement of such rules can be problematic.
David discussed pedestrian issues at the intersection of State and Kirkland Ave, that several Moss Bay members have mentioned in recent months. Lighting will be dramatically improved when the Kirkland Central condo and the "Heathman Kirkland" hotel projects are finished. In addition, a traffic signal is scheduled to be installed at the intersection in 2009, when it will be incorporated into the design of the new 3rd Street Transit Center. David said that public comments and pressure on the city council may help prioritize this project sooner.
We reported on ongoing projects. Don Winters noted that the former Pace Chemical building on 7th Ave. S. has been demolished, though the sale of the property is still awaiting resolution of environmental issues. Moss Bay received email from Seattle developers, SRM Development, who are in the process of buying the old Assembly of God church property on the corner of State St. and 2nd Ave. S. The proposed project would be a two story office building. We will be meeting with the developer to get further information. It was reported that the Chaffee project proposed for the corner of Lake St. and 2nd Ave. S. has been taken off the table for now.
Kurt Clark, of www.savetherailroad.org was next to speak. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad is selling the 47 mile right-of-way between Renton and Snohomish. If the trail is purchased by a regional entity, most likely under the lead of King County, Kurt would like to see the corridor developed in a "multi-modal" way, so that the existing rails are left in place. This would preserve the Dinner Train, which does $10 million dollars in business yearly and creates jobs. The unusually wide 100’ right of way would allow rails and trails to coexist, with proper safety fencing. The County has until April 30 to negotiate an exclusive bargaining agreement for of the right of way. Cost figures being floated are in the $5 billion range. Mayor Jim Lauinger was in attendance and mentioned that councilman Tom Hodgson and Daryl Grigsby of Public Works are the Kirkland contacts for the project. The council wants to preserve all options as far as trail usage.
Carolyn Hayek, chairperson of both the Kirkland Planning Commission and the Downtown Action Team (DAT) was our next guest. The Planning Commission has been reviewing the Market and Norkirk neighborhood plans, but has found that most people do not want change, so a "vision statement" will be the result of the review. Attempts to increase density in these neighborhoods, via measures such as smaller lots and innovative housing, are probably out, due to guidance from the city council
There is a suggestion to decrease Floor Area Ratio regulations in an attempt to reduce the size of houses being built. The change, however, could have some unintended consequences relating to Accessory Dwelling Units and historic homes
Carolyn mentioned that the Downtown Action Team meets quarterly and deals with the future of downtown. DAT created the Downtown Strategic Plan as a vision for Kirkland, but now is searching for its role. The Marina Park lid was conceptualized, but needs a champion, possibly a City Council member, to see it through.
The revision, "staged narrowing", of Central Way is under way and will be finished in the next few months. It will be done in a way that can be reversed if traffic problems are created. The new 3rd Street Transit Center planning is coming up!
Our next meeting will be May 15, 2006.