LETTER: Potala Village - Kirkland Aqua: No Traffic Concurrency - Now What?


Dear Editor:



The name of the project seems to have changed, or is used interchangeably, and citizens ask why.  Is it Potala Village Kirkland?  Is it Kirkland Aqua?  The ownership is sometimes listed as Potala Village Kirkland LLC.  Sometimes it is Path America LLC.  Sometimes it is Lobsang Dargey, sometimes Path America LLC and Luella O'Connor.  Public records also seem to show some investment by Lakestreet Multifamily LLC, but I am not skilled enough at reading the records of the deed to understand where that group of investors comes into play.  Basically, it is hard to follow what the project is called and who owns the project.



That being said, a recent building application was submitted.  First submitted with owner's name listed as Path America LLC.  Later the application was changed to reflect owners Path America LLC and Luella O'Connor.  The online permit currently lists the owner as Lobsang Dargey.  All seems confusing.  What happened to Potala Village Kirkland LLC?  Isn't that the owner?



When submitted, the application was also missing a vital piece of documentation.  Accompanying a building permit there must be a valid Notice of Traffic Concurrency.  For those unfamiliar with the process, once a project has "passed" traffic concurrency, an applicant can ask for an extension.  If there has been no extension and the Notice of Traffic Concurrency expires, the process starts over.  New (updated) traffic data must be submitted.  The city must again evaluate and determine whether or not the proposal will pass traffic concurrency and an appeal may be made to the city's decision.  Either the applicant can appeal if the city determines that the project does not pass, or certain impacted parties may appeal a decision that indicates approval of concurrency.



At this time, the "project," by whatever name, had a Notice of Concurrency that expired in April of 2013.  And so the process starts over.

http://www.kirklandwa.gov/Assets/Public+Works/Public+Works+PDFs/Transportation/TIAG/tiag-complete.pdf (see pg 8 for City of Kirkland Concurrency Flow Sheet)



By now, neighbors and citizens have learned a great deal more about how traffic studies are done and how they can be done incorrectly. And how misrepresentations can be made.  We are also at the time of year (peak season) when true peak PM measurements can be made.  This is the time of year that citizens have identified to the city as the only true measure of Peak PM since the boulevard has strong seasonal variation.   Any casual observer can see that that roadway system has failed.  In city speak that is LOS F.  Just look at the long queue of cars any evening.  No gaps.  Long delays.  Even the evaluation of "queue" seems to say that the "queue has failed" since it backs up into surrounding intersections.

Lake Street


Will Kirkland neighbors and other citizens finally get accurately represented traffic data including Peak Season, Peak PM Data?  Will citizens get "gap studies" done by video since traffic consultants confirm that gap studies by the "rubber hose counter" fail when there are queues? Or will the traffic reports again be intentionally skewed using off-season data?  Will winter and spring data done in 2010 and 2012  be given a small multiplier rather than taking a true read of traffic?



Daily inquiry will be made by citizens as to the status of any new application for concurrency.  Citizens will evaluate the city's concurrency calculations, the existing traffic, whether the "pipeline projects" are correct reflection of what is considered a "pipeline project," whether the project's proportional share has been calculated correctly and whether any required mitigation is properly charged to the developer of the project, or the owner(s) whoever they may be.



Stay tuned for updates.  Hopefully the city will calculate things correctly and thus avoid another citizen appeal.  The appeal windo is short.  Only 14 or 15 days after the city issues an opinion.  This is not a time to take ones eye off the ball.



Karen Levenson