Date: February 16, 2016
For Distribution to: City of Kirkland Council Members
With Copies to:
City Manager, Kurt Triplett
Public Works Director, Kathy Brown
Planning & Building Director, Eric Shields
Parks & Community Service Director, Jennifer Schroder
We are presenting you with a letter this evening to document environmental issues associated with your proposed transit development on the Cross Kirkland Corridor Trail (the Trail).
In response to recent wetland notices and environmentally sensitive area signage along the Trail, we were prompted to look into these issues further.
What we found was eye opening and disturbing.
Based on the City GIS maps, a July 2013 study by Widener & Associates and a January 2016 report by the Watershed Company, both commissioned by the City, it was found that many wetlands, salmon-bearing streams and other wildlife habitats exist within, near, or under the Trail. The last report even identified fish species that are considered ‘threatened’ and ‘species of concern’ under the Federal Status.
On January 20, 2016, a letter was sent to the Planning Commission and Houghton Community Council from members of the City’s Planning and Building Department saying that per Chapter 90 KZC Amendments, which are regulations for Critical Area Ordinance/Wetlands, Streams and Frequently Flooded Areas, the City must comply with new WA Department of Ecology guidance. The new guidance resulted in wider required critical area buffers and more restrictive buffer reduction allowances. The City now has until this June to update its wetland regulations and rating system to comply with DOE’s current guidance.
The current KZC 90 clearly preserves environmentally sensitive areas like we have along the Trail and restricts incompatible land uses. It further states that construction of public, non-motorized trails is exempt from preservation of the trail whereas construction of a motorized trail is not exempt and CANNOT be built in a wetland or its buffer zone. Based on the updated guidance, large areas of the Trail could not even be touched.
Modifications are allowed ONLY if there is no feasible alternative. However, in this case a clear alternative does exist and that is E-02, BRT on I-405. This not only parallels the Trail, but also crosses it at 116th Street and includes a stop in Totem Lake. Based on the current and updated regulations, the building of motorized transit on the Trail would clearly be outside the spirit and intent of the law.
Save our Trail has always been about preserving the precious natural environment that exists along the Cross Kirkland Corridor Trail. It’s now clear that the City’s own existing and updated regulations enforce this preservation. We look forward to hearing the City’s approach to the updated guidance rules later this evening.
In light of this information presented by the City’s own staff, we urge you, the City Council, to reconsider your support for mass transit on the Trail.
Thank you, Save Our Trail Organization
(Note: This letter will be distributed to over forty jurisdictions, organizations and individuals that we believe should be made aware of our concerns.)