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With the Kirkland Sensible Shoreline Coalition, we request that the Kirkland City Council take the following actions with respect to an update of the City’s Shoreline Master Plan (SMP):

  • Reject the proposal to eliminate the procedure for approval of a new pier through obtaining approvals from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife ( WDFW) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE);
  • Table the proposals for changing provisions on length of piers and consider at a later date changes for all dimensions of residential piers after further input from citizens and staff;
  • Repeal or place a moratorium on enforcement of the regulations which required removal of covered boat moorage structures in the annexation area when the primary residence is remodeled at a cost of more than 50% of its replacement cost. KZC 83.550.5.b(5); and
  • Repeal the regulations prohibiting both a pier and mooring buoy on the same residential property and requiring existing properties with both of them to remove one of them during a remodel

Reasons for taking these actions include, but are not limited to the following:

  • The procedure in KZC 83.260.4.b for approval of a new pier allows a property owner flexibility to customize pier design to a particular property. An approval by the WDFW and ACOE should be environmentally sound, since they have more expertise than the City on marine ecology. There is no good reason to take away the right of owners to use this approval procedure.
  • The contour of the lake bottom changes along the shoreline. One homeowner may have a 50-foot dock which can safely moor a boat, while another may require a 150-foot dock. Thus, water depth should be the guide in setting length of a pier, not uniformity with the neighbors as promoted by the proposed update. Many existing docks have a wider section for a sitting area, a use not allowed by the current code’s 6-foot width limitation. If both have 480 square feet of translucent decking, a long narrow pier has no different ecological impact than a shorter, wider one. The update should address both length and width dimensions to arrive workable and fair regulations.
  • No public purpose is served by forcing property owners to lose the benefit of covered moorage and incur the cost of removing it. Nor is there a nexus between remodeling a home and a covered moorage structure distant from it. The code provision requiring removal of covered moorage structures during a substantial remodel of the home is simply punitive. Moreover, its adoption was done without appropriate notice to and participation by affected property owners. It applies only to the annexation area, while there is covered moorage in the rest of Kirkland not subject to the same requirement. It is bad policy and likely unconstitutional.
  • At the Planning Commission hearing on the SMP update, the City’s expert from the Watershed Co. acknowledged that mooring buoys cause no environmental damage. Therefore, there is no reason for prohibiting an owner from installing an anchor for a mooring buoy on lake bed which he or she owns. Nor is there a rational basis for forcing a property owner to remove a mooring buoy as a condition of issuance of a building permit for a substantial remodel of his/her residence.

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