The City Council last night (Feb. 16) voted 5-2 against the plan by some landowners in the SE Quadrant to add a Docket Request in increase the commercial density in their quadrant to 300,000 sf from 90,000 sf and to add about 300 residential units to their allocation.
They back-peddled from their request that the entire Town Center be upzoned so that they would get their “proportionate” increase after this column read their Docket request closely and discovered what they were truly asking for was 2 million sf in commercial zoning throughout the entire Town Center and a 28% increase in residential zoning, or an additional 540 units across the entire Town Center.
John Galvin, chief spokesman for the group who less than two years ago supported the original preferred alternative that allocated 45,000 sf for his quadrant, called the application for 2 million sf “an error.” Fellow applicant John Hansen said they were truly asking for 300,000 sf only for their quadrant. Several other landowners spoke in favor of the plan, but none actually clarified whether what they truly meant was a general increase that would take the Town Center Plan adopted on a 7-0 vote by the City Council in 2008 from 600,000 sf to 810,000 or were reallocating the zoning from other quadrants to theirs.
During questions and discussion, Council members alternatively referred to shifting the allocation to the detriment of the other zones to increasing zoning.
Mayor Don Gerend, who voted for the adopted plan in 2008, continues to advocate dismantling the plan by upzoning it. He, along with Council member John Curley, voted against the resolution denying the Docket request. Gerend vowed to continue his effort during review of the regulations recommended by the Planning Commission to implement to 2008 Adopted Plan to increase zoning in the SE Quadrant.
Michael Rutt, a Galvin ally who lives in the adjacent NE Quadrant which would have benefited from the steroid plan but does not from a SE Quadrant increase and would be harmed by a zoning reallocation, supported the SE Quadrant upzoning and called the previous process “corrupt,” declaring that he was “angry.”
Rutt was an applicant for a vacancy to the planning commission. This City Council, including two new members he supported in November’s election (Curley and John James) appointed others to the commission; Rutt did not receive a single vote.
James voted in favor of the resolution nixing the Galvin application. Galvin attempted to disrupt the Council meeting after the vote.
Council members Mark Cross, Curley and Michele Petitti specifically noted during their remarks prior to the vote that the Pine Lake Village (QFC area) should be the next area considered for an upzoning, specifically utilizing the air rights over the park-and-ride, for upzoning and redevelopment.
Gerend, who likes to portray himself as a forward-looking, out-of-the-box thinker and who has been a strong advocate for transit oriented development, opposed the idea. Redevelopment, he said would be decades away (true enough) and he is on record opposing transit oriented development.
In future columns, I’ll discuss why sub-area planning for the Pine Lake, Sammamish Highlands (Safeway) and the Notch adjacent Trossach has merits.