Your To-Do List this Week

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 1.VOTE. I won't tell you how to vote just please make sure that you do. One of my kids that takes classes in portables and is crammed in a lunchroom with 800 other kids helped me send in my vote today.  This handy ballot box is at the City of Kirkland Building on 5th Ave (around back).  When we pulled up she exclaimed, "Oh well isn't THAT an inviting box!" Kid cracks me up.

 2.Eat at Park Lane Public House. They are open for biz and I'm hearing good things so far!  I still need to get over there- email me  your reviews and I'll include them in my future post.

3. Think about Valentine's Day.  It's right around the corner- time for reservations!  Or maybe you'll be able to stop in the new Shirzad Fine Jewelry store at 200 Central Way Ste 200 if it opens soon (the old Kobe Cafe).

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Don't Forget...

Ballot
 .....to VOTE!  Ballots need to be postmarked by Nov 8th.  So no more dinking around.  Steve and I just completed ours yesterday.  Dropping those envelopes in the mail felt like I had finally handed in a term paper I've been procrastinating on submitting for weeks.  Whew.  Lot of reading, discussion, research, and thought sprinkled with a side of confusion and uncertainty.  I have to thank candidates that run unopposed, because it feels especially good to fill in the little bubble next to those names where there is no decision to be made (hello Larry Springer!) .   There are 24 hour drop boxes if you don't want to mail yours in (City Hall, Kingsgate Library, and others)- no stamp required. Set aside the time to do this.  It's important. 

 

BookTreeBookClub photo credit: Carolyn M

.....Booktree is officially opening this Saturday Nov 5th.  A neighborhood book club stopped by to toast the owners, Mary Harris and Christopher Jarmick (photo center). Full article here. Go visit.  Buy books locally at 609 Market St.

 

Foodbox
.....to think of others.  Drop food off for those in need this season!  Waxing the City is hosting a Fall Food Drive through Hopelink this holiday.  Bring in 5 food items and get 10% off your service.  The client who brings the most food gets a $25 WTC gift card. Deadline is Nov 15th.  Also, Kirkland Nourishing Network will be having their Thanksgiving Foodbox Drop-off Day coming up.  The need is great in our community.  There are still hungry elementary school students showing up at school.  The free/reduced price meals help during the week.  Pantry Packs helps most weekends, but nothing covers the school breaks besides the Food Bank and this program.   

 SIGN UP TO DONATE A BOX:
Thanksgiving break drop-off:  Tuesday, November 22, 2016,  8:30am-12:30pm
http://nourishingnetworks.net/kirkland-food-boxes

You may also sign up to help receive and distribute boxes at the site:
North Kirkland volunteers: 
South Kirkland volunteers: 

Locations for Food Box Donations: 

NORTH Kirkland: LDS Church - 13220 NE 132nd St, Kirkland
SOUTH Kirkland: LDS Church - 7720 126th Ave NE, Kirkland

 

Candybuyback
.....to get all of that candy out of your house! My kids have over 20 lbs of it here. Not kidding. 2-0.  That's a small child or a decent kettle-bell workout's worth.  And now that I've picked out the Heath Bars and Baby Ruth's it's time to cash it in! Dr. Michelle Neal is going to 'save a tooth and treat a troop.'  Bring your candy in to her orthodontic office on Nov 10th and 11th from 8am-5pm for CASH. You'll earn $1/pound and they will match the $1/pound donation to your school's PTSA. The candy goes to US Military deployed in combat.  Call for details: 425-823-1234

.....to listen to my ramblings.  There are a few other things on my mind. Like how come when I excitedly went to try the 'new' Cactus all I could notice was the horrible stench that slapped me in the face when I walked in the door?  It was a combo of bathroom stink and bar rot (those of you who have waited tables know what I'm talking about- soggy wet floor drain/spilled drinks paired w/food odor).  We had a drink at the bar that was acceptable but not worth writing home about. Couldn't eat with that smell, but menu looked the same as before. Inside decor was way different, however seemed to be missing a certain cozy essence I was connected with previously.  Maybe the stink made me grumpy.   Will try again.  Not giving up on this one. I also tried Reunion.  And Jersey Mike's.  Posts soon.  Still need to get to the Pokie place where Plume used to be, but heard some good things!  ~j

 

 


Should Kirkland Elect a Mayor?

This letter was cut/pasted from the Kirkland Strong Facebook page.  Bob Sternoff, Kirkland resident and former Kirkland City Council member, let me know that the petition just went live yesterday and there will be a "signing kickoff" at Heritage Hall this Saturday 4/16 from 12-2.  

 

My fellow Kirkland Residents,

Direct accountability by somebody at City Hall is needed. The City Manager is not accountable and serves at the pleasure of 4 City Council Members, The Mayor is selected by 6 other Council Members. There are no checks and balances under the current system and we have seen the results.

It is nearly impossible for anyone living in Kirkland to not be aware of the serious issues that we face. Last week's Council meeting brought back memories from years ago. What didn’t work then doesn’t work now. Things don’t ever change if you don’t want them to. Case in point were comments from Council members regarding Kirkland’s relationship (or lack there of) with Sound Transit. The overwhelming solution mentioned was “change the Sound Transit governance”. Memo to Council and Staff: that isn’t going to happen however you should first look at your own governance structure! That is unlikely to happen without the insistence and assistance of Kirkland residents.

Since 1964 when Kirkland’s population was 6500 we have been living under a Council-Manager or “weak mayor” system of government. At the time it made sense to hire a City Manager to deal with a growing City staff and have someone who could devote full time to the job. Today most residents are surprised to learn that the Mayor does not run Kirkland day to day business. Residents do elect seven City Council members but the City Council meets and elects one of their own as Mayor and one as Deputy Mayor. The Mayor assists the City Manager with the Council meeting agenda, presides over City Council meetings and performs other ceremonial duties. But all City Council members including the Mayor have equal votes on all matters brought before them. There must also be a majority vote to have any Council Member including the Mayor represent any Kirkland position on issues. This is very limiting and at times works to the detriment of Kirkland on numerous matters but it is the system we have.

The City Manager is a person selected by majority vote of the seven City Council Members. The reality is the City manager may only have the support of four of those Council members to get hired and later to retain their job. All City departments report directly to the City Manager. He and his staff make decisions that effect all residents. This includes employees to hire, fire, reprimand and evaluate. The City Manager also sets internal policies and provides staff recommendations that influence City Council deliberations and positions on issues. The City Manager’s evaluation is done by the City Council during Executive Session behind closed doors without resident input. To recap: City Council is elected by residents and City Manager is only directly accountable to at most seven City Council members. For anyone to say that residents have a clearly meaningful and effective voice in those or any other decisions of Kirkland not requiring a City wide vote is not true.

It is not hard to understand why residents have been frustrated and angered by what comes out of City Hall. The City Council has seen numerous protests groups wearing different colored shirts emerge. These groups are our neighbors and friends who are passionate about issues that affect their neighborhoods and in many cases all of Kirkland. They have taken time to attended Council meetings only to walk away after their three minutes in front of the City Council with the feeling they weren’t heard and their comments not appreciated. On many issues the City Council appears to have already made up their minds before hearing the comments. The residents are left with the impression that the City Council and City Staff know what is best for us and their actions demonstrate just that. In the end the residents feel there is nothing they can do and nobody they can talk to who is accountable. Worse than that the belief is there is no way to change the system to be more representative and accountable.

What is clear that if we Kirkland residents truly want a change we have few options. The most obvious is that we can elect a different City Council. We have seen that it is hard to get qualified people to run especially against long time entrenched incumbents. In the past when we have seen new people get elected to the City Council not much changes. All the promises made during election time don’t happen. Even good ideas have to go though the grinder of seven Council members and an unelected staff. That is an interesting contrast to the high speed world we live in.

For anything to change you have to recognize the need to change. I noted above The City recognized ineffective Council and City Manager relationship with Sound Transit. They have at best been ineffective in that relationship. Having a Sound Transit Board Member is vitally important. Relying on other Cities to present and gather support for our needs is not in Kirkland’s best interests especially when our interests collide with those whose support we seek. Not having a directly elected Mayor who speaks for Kirkland’s 83,000 severely limits our opportunity to be represented on Sound Transit and other important Regional boards. I commend the Mayor for her efforts within her limited authority of one of seven Council Members. I also appreciate the efforts of the other Council Members but even collectively as we have seen that is not enough. And a City Manager doesn’t carry the same weight locally or regionally as an elected Mayor since they do not directly represent the residents.

The solution is to have an elected Mayor who is accountable to more than seven people, as is done in Redmond, Issaquah and other cities smaller and larger than Kirkland. Kirkland has a population of 83,000. Only two of the seven King County cities with populations over 65,000 do not elect their Mayor.

So how do we get from here to there? Petition the City Council to change the current City of Kirkland form of governance from Council-Manager to Mayor-Council as allowed by RCW Section 35A.02.060.http://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?Cite=35A.02.060 .


What is required to move this forward are verified resident voter signatures totaling at least 10% of the 20,097 Kirkland votes cast at the November 3, 2015 election. That is a minimum 2100 registered and verified Kirkland resident voter signatures to force the Kirkland City Council to put the question to the voters on the November, 2016 ballot. For those who have wanted direct accountability here is your chance to make that happen.


If enough verified signatures are gathered to hold an election to change from the Council- Manager to Mayor-Council form of governance, assuming certification of a majority vote on the change of governance, an election for Mayor would take place 90 days after that.

The following replicates Redmond, Issaquah and most other Mayor-Council governance models and highlights what to expect :

City Council stays at seven members with one member selected as President, the strong mayor position will be non-partisan and directly elected by residents to a four year term.

The Mayor will be responsible for managing day to day operations utilizing City Administrator, proposing City Budget that requires City Council approval.

Mayor has veto power that can be overturned with minimum five of seven Council members votes.
Mayor would cause no increase in salary or benefit cost

Mayor will be directly accountable to all Kirkland residents

Mayor will represent Kirkland interests Regionally with one voice

Mayor salary and benefits will replace current City Manager’s

There is a one time special election cost that needs to be determined

You should sign the petition because neither the Kirkland City Council nor the City Manager is going to suggest or facilitate a change. It is up to me and you if we want change.


For those of you who voiced opposition to the Potala Project, Plastic Grocery Bags, I405 Tolling, Cross Kirkland Corridor/Sound Transit or voted NO on Prop 1 Build the ARC this is your chance to let your voice and needs be heard loud and clear. This Petition will and is intended to promote discussion vital to Kirkland’s future.

Finally, this is not a partisan issue. I assure you that there are Democrats Republicans and Libertarians who support this effort. This is a grassroots effort currently financed by the undersigned that will not solicit nor accept any funds from any political organization. This is about how to get the accountability we deserve that will benefit all of Kirkland. Its time for Kirkland to unite and to move forward as other cities in King County did many years ago.

Do your part and sign the Petition in making Kirkland Strong again. Visit our Facebook Page Kirkland Strong or contact me at: KirklandStrong@gmail.com for more information and locations you can find Petitions.


Bob Sternoff,
Kirkland Resident
KirklandStrong@gmail.com

Ps: Will somebody at Kirkland City Hall please fix the KGOV channel. “Don’t forget to bring your bags” loop played back to back followed by 2 minutes of weather forecast 24/7 instead of notice of meetings and other valuable information is not useful!


Prepare to Vote on April 26th

Did you get a chance to attend Screenagers the other night? I thought it was interesting and informative with a splash of humor while being easy to relate to... and also troubling.  What did we learn? Kids spend too much time on screens when their precious brains are growing which impacts things like their grades and social development.  Some kids even become addicted.  I mean for REAL addicted where they can't make themselves stop. There is even a rehab center in WA State. The film discussed having a contract with your kids and also making technology and its boundaries an ongoing conversation in the household. And while we are on the subject of students that require the ability to focus and give their undivided attention, it turns out they need our attention on the upcoming bond measure. Here's the deal... 

 

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You will have an opportunity to vote on an upcoming bond for Lake Washington Schools on April 26.   No matter which way you vote, it is important for Kirkland residents to make their voices heard. 
 
Lake Washington School district has grown from the 6th to the 4th largest school district in the state in the last year alone.  The district has seen 7 years of growth, adding 625 students per year for the past five years.  That is the equivalent of a large elementary school worth of students every year, without classroom space to support them.  By September of next year the district will be using over 160 portables to educate students.  Portables are not a great long term solution, in that they do not address strain on infrastructure and shared spaces such as hallways, bathrooms, and lunchrooms. 

Overcrowded  <-- is this what OUR classes will look like soon??

 
A citizen-based, 63-member Long Term Facility Task Force spend nearly a year analyzing the facility's short and long term needs, looking at the most cost efficient building practices, and prioritizing projects.  They developed a recommendation to bring a bond to the public that if passed, would fund the most immediate, high priority overcrowding needs without raising the current tax rate.  This would be achieved by retiring the current bond, using cost-effective construction design principles, and by utilizing state construction assistance.   The need is critical, and without securing funding, the task force recommends additional portables, additional redistricting, and eventually year-round schools to accommodate growth. 
 
If you would like more information, you can check out this handy FAQ .  Lots of great info/specifics in here:  http://vote4lwsdkids.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/LWCLC-FAQ.pdf
 


Trick or Treat 2015

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Halloween in Downtown Kirkland wouldn't be the same without trick-or-treating at our local businesses! This Saturday 10/31/15 from 2-7 pm you'll find many of your local faves (and new ones too) participating. Kids under 10 need a parent with them.  Sorry if that foils your plan to drink at Hector's while your 8 year old collects candy. ;-)

Merrill Gardens (14 Main St. South) is throwing a little shindig for the kiddies too. Local families are invited to visit the Kirkland retirement community for some Halloween fun on Saturday 10/31, 2:00-4:00 PM. This free event will feature fun activities, games, a magic show (3pm), and lots of treats for trick-or-treaters. For more information, call 425-828-2570

Vote2
And let me just say that-yes, clearly, I have been avoiding the election and the political tornado that is spinning all around us. Check here or here for hours of passionate opinions from Kirklanders.  I think Noah's Ark got built faster than we can figure out what the real story is on our ARC.  And I'm curious to know who writes the little paragraphs on the ballots that explain what we are voting for? Do both sides agree on the verbage because they really tend to leave an impression for me one way or the other.  And I don't know about you, but I am always relieved when someone is running unopposed- what fun it is filling in THAT little circle with complete confidence in my decision. So my two cents about politics is.... VOTE.  You've got a say... use it. 


It's a Re-Election Year for Kirkland

Lauinger21921 Congratulations to Jim Lauinger, pictured left, for being voted in by our city council to serve his second  2 year term as Kirkland's mayor.   Joan McBride will again be serving as Deputy Mayor.  We're keeping on the cruise control this year actually- the people have also re-elected  Bob Sternoff  (un-opposed) and Dave Asher (un-opposed) and Jessica Greenway (beat out Penny Sweet by a hair) to our city council.   Thanks to all of you for your time and dedication to the city of Kirkland! ~j


Getting Involved in Kirkland's Future!

Heritagehalldark A few weeks ago I received a letter to attend a "Special Council Meeting" for the Market Neighborhood.  I have not attended many Kirkland City Council meetings, so I thought I would show up, snap a few pics, and see what happens at these things.  I also wanted to get a sense of how the city makes decisions and how it decides to spend our $278 million budget each year.  Seems like a lot of money,  no?  The meeting was held on March 15, 2006 at the Heritage Hall.   Mayor James Lauinger was the master of ceremonies and the goal of the event was to give residents the chance to be heard and to meet/greet the City Council members.   The agenda focused on the following topics:

  • Traffic update
  • Trees (how can we save them)
  • Size of houses relative to lot size (too many mega homes)
  • Cell phone towers (no one likes the T-mobile one on Market St.)
  • Parking (it sucks downtown)

Citycouncilmtg231506 Before the meeting dug into the topics above the Mayor asked if there were any other issues that the audience wanted to add to the list.   Here is where things started to get good.  Several folks brought up the topic of builders buying up lots, cutting down all the trees, building homes that are more like track homes (e.g cookie cutter homes), and in essence stealing the soul of our neighborhood.   At least three of the most vocal critics on this subject mentioned Lux Homes by name and used such terms as "...the Luxification of Kirkland" and "Luxville".    It wasn't pretty.   

Along those same lines folks are generally tired of all the builders and on-going construction in our neighborhood. Points were made that it's impacting the quality of life in Kirkland and that builders/contractors just don't care about the folks living around their projects. They drive too fast, park anywhere they want, work during non-approved hours, and compromise safety on our streets.

After the initial barrage we got back on track and focused on the agenda items.  We went through each one and various City Council members would interject updates on each topic.  Mostly I would say the Council talked much more than the residents.  Overall I was pleased to see a good set of Council members who were passionate about Kirkland and have been working hard to make it a better place.   That said, every one of the 40 or so residents who attended have differing opinions on just about every topic.   The key takeaway for me is that the squeaky wheel gets the most attention.     For this reason the council encourages residents to get involved if they want to influence the long term direction of the city.   They will listen. 

Here are some other interesting notes I took during the meeting:

  • They offered coffee, but only had decaf (major mistake or strategic decision?).  Cookies were marginal. 
  • 405 Expansion--it's only just begun.  Expect years of construction and slow, slow, slow traffic.  During this time traffic will continue to spill on to the city streets. The Council feels once it's done all of our traffic woes will be gone and the side streets in Kirkland will empty out.   Hmmm...can a study really predict the future?  I hope they are right, but I am a little suspect. 
  • Market Street traffic--we did a study that costs 15k and put together an eight person committee to reach some consensus on solutions for how to achieve "Traffic Calming".  What the heck is traffic calming?   They are going to present a "draft" in May that will focus on "reducing and slowing" the traffic.  Slowing?  I can't remember the last time I could drive faster than 5 mph on Market at rush hour.   After all this they better have some damn good solutions!
  • 116th is getting an overhaul to ease the traffic  jams getting  on to the  405 during rush hour.  The Council was pretty proud of this one.  Apparently they fought hard to get funding to make this happen.  Oh, BTW the new intersection (116th/405) will take two years before complete.   
  • Lot's of discussion on building codes.  Some folks want higher average elevations, some folks want larger setbacks, some folks don't like the FAR codes.  The City did concede that the ADU (alternate dwelling unit, otherwise known as mother-in-law apartments above a garage) was a bit of a mistake.  Did you know that these ADUs don't count toward the square footage (FAR codes)?  Yup, it's true.   The Council is working on re-evaluating FAR/lot  coverage, etc.   
  • Lot's of talk about the parking situation downtown.  I didn't get a sense of any brilliant strategies here.   I actually asked them how parking impacts local small businesses and if they met with the business owners to make sure their  input was heard.   This spawned a 15 minute response from the Mayor himself.  He was defensive about the question.  I came away thinking the City isn't very pro business.   I plan to do a separate story on this issue in a later post.  I wonder if the Mayor will give me an interview? I can tell you that local business owners will talk to me about this all day long if given the opportunity.   I will say the Mayor did have a good suggestion for local businesses...."stay open at night when the city is packed full of people".  This made total sense to me.   
  • Cell phone tower on Market--T-mobile has been dragging their feet to change out the tower.   Should we start a Kirkland boycott?   

Overall it was a good meeting and very informative.  If you care about what is going on in the city you should get involved and try to make a difference.   I plan to attend more of these...I will let y'all  know when I do...Steve

Comments encouraged!