Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Kirkland Annexation, Part Two [UPDATE 2]

This being Seattle's Eastside, it's not surprising that there are a few other bloggers with some opinions on the proposed Kirkland annexation of my neighborhood. And of the three blogs I found about it, all three were anti-annexation. All three also happened to be located in Kirkland.

There's the rather alarmistly-named Save Kirkland [UPDATE: Since this morning, this blog has been taken offline; UPDATE 2: This blog might have been relocated to the still-rather-alarmistly-named "SaveKirkland.com, which has its own "Annexation Blog"], whose owner seems to have lost interest after last December, when the final update was made. And there are two others that express very rational opinions about the proposed annexation, both local bloggers who happened to blog their thoughts about it: the Kirkland Weblog and Steve Lacey's blog.

I'm not surprised that some Kirkland residents are against this; although the City Council's reason for annexation is to increase their tax revenue (and judging by the document "Dollars and Cents" (PDF) on their site, their current budget deficit needs to change somehow), the residents seem to think that the services they enjoy and we long for would be spread "far too thin" according to Steve Lacey.

Could be. I'd have to see some evidence of that either way, and the last thing I'd want is to go from crappy emergency service to crappier emergency services. The Kirkland Weblog goes into a little more depth:

Our small town would suddenly rival the size of Kent. Throw in another 30,000 people and we're Bellevue. That means big expenses to expand our police/fire services/city hall/sidewalks/sewers/garbage/etc. There is a proposed new 75 bed jail in the plan, but mysteriously no one seems to know where that would be located. The state offers a kickback type incentive to make annexation more feasible, but that's only for ten years. Then what? The financial picture is troublesome. Unfortunately, the 'PAA' is primarily residential and doesn't have many revenue producing/ economic development opportunities to offer up as an offset to the expenses it would create for our city.

But reading through some of the online conversation, there's also this meme:
[M]ost importantly, the small town feel of Kirkland is what makes it so charming.

To me, that smacks of the country club saying "well, there's plenty of economic reasons we shouldn't let them in, but the pale white color around the golf course is what makes it so charming (wink wink)." No, that's not an accusation of racism: it's a function of a close, united social group who naturally doesn't want to allow any newcomers into the group. It's no different than a social community online: how welcome are newcomers into tight-knit communities, especially specialized ones? Answer: not very.

Both blogs informed me of something I didn't know: that Kirkland residents don't actually get to vote on annexation. I don't know what I think about that. I feel like sure, I might be invited to the party, but the other guests really don't want me there.

I'm going to reserve further opinion until I attend one of the annexation meetings, but expect to see more discussion about this issue in this space soon.


Liz said...

Interestingly enough, the postcard we recieves states clearly that annexation must first be voted on and approved by Kirkland residents. We should scan a copy in.

Rob said...

For the record, www.SaveKirkland.com is a website in which you can learn a few things about annexation from a rather different perspective than that of the City of Kirkland. Annexation is not good for Kirkland. Too costly. Get informed. Decide for yourself.

Jason said...

Rob, I explored SaveKirkland.com in depth yesterday and found little in the way of hard statistics to back up many of your claims, especially the more hyperbolic ones (annexation would raise the crime rate? How exactly?) As I stated, I will learn more about all sides of the issue before I reach my own decision, but I have to say that your site does an excellent job of pandering to people with a certain mindset and a terrible job of laying out a logical argument based on provable data.

Furthermore, your repeated claims that you want to "keep the small lakeside town feel" of Kirkland fall flat when I drive into downtown north of 85th and watch cottage after cottage being bulldozed for more soulless multi-million dollar mansions and condo complexes. Kirkland is not a small Washington town and hasn't been for quite some time; if you were really interested in "saving" the "small town feel," I suggest you begin by putting limits on the number of historical homes bulldozed so more yuppies can move in.

Which, I suspect, is the crux of the "save Kirkland" argument - that you are masking your desire to keep your community "pure" (and rich) under the guise of local grassroots activism. I certainly hope that isn't the case, but as your argument is presented, that seems to be a logical conclusion.

Rob said...

Thank you for checking out SaveKirkland.com. I would like to reply to your comments, if I may. All of the statistics used in our website come directly from the volumes of data produced in reports made by the King County, the State and the City of Kirkland. They are available here if you choose to look them up: http://www.ci.kirkland.wa.us/depart/CMO/Annexation_Information.htm
They editorial portion is my own opinion. The comment about the potential rise in crime rate is such an example. However, I do challenge you to compare the crime rate of Kirkland today with that of other cities with a population of 81,000 (Kent and Federal Way come to mind as the most similar in population) and then we can further discuss the crime issue.
Yes, keeping the small town feel is very important to people in Kirkland. And you are correct, the current zoning that encourages small historic bungalows to be bulldozed in favor of megamansions is an outrage. We fight against this issue constantly through our neighborhood meetings with the City. We absolutely want to retain the charm we have as it is rapidly disappearing before our eyes. We who live in these neighborhoods don't want the smaller historic house next door blown away by a monstrous mansion. Who would?
Your comment, "I suggest you begin by putting limits on the number of historical homes bulldozed so more yuppies can move in." is exactly what we are trying to get our City to do. As you can see, we have little success in persuading them on these issues. My neighborhood, Norkirk, still has a few such historic houses and we desperately want to retain what we have left of that "small town charm."
Your class warfare comments are off base, however, I am not surprised to hear them. That is the first place people go as a gut reaction. I encourage you to continue to engage us on this issue. You will find that we are simply people who see their City acting against their best interests. Every other city fights for their own best interests. Why are we painted as attempting to "keep your community 'pure' (and rich) under the guise of local grassroots activism." when we are only doing what everyone else does for their home towns? Not wanting my home to drastically change does not make my intentions evil or worth vilifying. I am sure that your intentions are not evil when you fight for what you think is right. The financial risks are indeed real. The small town character of Kirkland is a real issue. Adding a 75 bed jail is really a part of the annexation plan. The annual deficit of the Proposed Annexation Area is really $4.8 million and Kirkland will really have to pay that. All of this is taken directly from the City reports on the Kirkland website. We encourage you to fact check if you like. Misinformation is not our goal. An informed citizenry is in everyone's best interest. One may not agree with our conclusions made from the facts, and that is okay -as long as everyone is informed on the issue. Keep up the good work. I appreciate your interest in the annexation issue.

Jason said...

Rob, it would seem I owe you an apology for my class warfare reaction, and I'm certainly glad that you guys have been fighting off the development that has (in my opinion, as I've seen just in the five years I've lived here) "yuppie-ized" Kirkland. I'll take another hard look at the statistics and certainly keep your comments in mind when I do so.

mythoughts said...

Kirkland Yuppie-ized? You obviously have only been here for 5 years. I've lived in South Kirkland for the last 15 years and have come to play at the parks for another 5-7 before that. Kirkland has been a Yuppie town for at least 20 years or more! What's the problem with that? All the people that are fond of Kirkland clearly were attracted to the area for what it is. If you don't like Yuppie, Kirkland is simply not for you.
Now, regarding annexation. The PAA knows what type of community Kirkland is as well. That being said, if you want to be incorporated, quit slamming that Kirkland is protecting it's Yuppiness if you want to be a part of it ultimately.
As a home owner I dare say the unincorporated folks beware of the Kirkland City Government's meddeling. It's quite unbelieveable. Don't be fooled by better services. You'll be fee'd all the way to the treasury. And don't touch a tree on your personal property. Especially the big ones that will fall on your home during the next wind storm.
Want to remodel? Shameless revenue producing permits/fees...
Finally- I agree with some that live in the PAA that logistically, they use and live closer to Kenmore/Bothell than Kirkland. Kirkland annexing these areas doesn't geographically make sense to me.
Hoping for a vote.

Janet said...

As someone in the Juanita woodlands, we aren't any happier about the proposed annexation that the people in Kirkland proper. And I say proper because my mailing address says Kirkland and we certainly pay the "Kirkland surcharge" when we hire services done even though we aren't actually in the City Limits. All the annexation will do for us is raise our utility taxes, our property taxes and leave us without representation on the Kirkland City Council for two to four years. Oh, and supposedly the Kirkland police would respond quicker than the Sheriff's department, which I dispute. What Kirkland is really trying to do is get more of a tax base. They can trot out every pie in the sky reason, but it's just that simple, with very little benefit for anyone currently living inside or outside of the city limits.

workaholic247 said...

If you're reading this in 2009, check out my website http://www.nokirkland.com . The FAQ page lists details I've collected over the last few months since I got involved. It's not a good thing.

Katherine said...

Reasons to vote NO!
-Kirkland is almost spend through its rainy day fund - debt is increasing, its AAA bond status is in jeopardy, services are being cut on all levels.
-The police service levels estimated to match city coverage back in 2005, under the current plan has been nearly halved. Per Joan McBride - PAA citizens should expect same services on day 1. The staff will be rookies fresh out of training.
-Past annexed areas are still waiting for service levels that were promised.
-This annexation nearly doubles the population of Kirkland - a lot to take on during economic down turn.
-King County IS making budget cuts, but they are staying within their means....Kirkland just keeps spending. Or as the council put it earlier in the year...we shouldn't make cuts now or else the positioning for increased taxes will be unclear to citizens.

The timing is wrong. Voting NO won't change where you live. I'm for being part of "Greater Kirkland" - I don't have to be Kirkland. Voting yes will change you pocketbook without significant services for years and years.

Katherine said...

The Joan McBride statement was:
PAA SHOULD NOT expect the same services.......

to fast of typing....