Northwest NEWS

August 5, 2002

Editorial

It's not too late to make a difference I was at the first meeting for the Downtown Master Plan in February, where over 60 people braved the snow to give comments. I also attended the later meetings.

My impression from the meetings has been that there was real division in what people want. Several downtown land developers wanted buildings over five stories to be allowed (claiming they could not otherwise make a profit), while most residents wanted building heights to be more than the one or two stories of most of the existing buildings, yet remain four stories or less.
   Many residents said that they wanted to keep a small town feel. Woodinville's current regulations already allow four stories as well as anywhere between 18 to 48 dwellings per acre in the general downtown area.
   In fact, the Downtown Master Plan consultant's own slide show of maximally successful pedestrian-oriented city streets showed mostly buildings of three to four stories. The official report about the comments at that first meeting said that one of the top five improvements residents wanted in downtown was increased height and density. Now, the consultant's latest proposal includes six-story buildings along Little Bear Creek by Highway 522, and five story buildings in the general downtown area.
   As a former planning commissioner, I saw the written comments from the first meeting. A recount of those comments came up with some statistics which were different from those in the report. (You can visit www.awrweb.org to see what the actual citizen comments were.) But everyone agrees that the most requested improvements were to fix traffic and improve recreational opportunities.
   Instead, the consultant has come up with a plan to bring us more stores and housing downtown resulting in even more traffic. Dead-ending grid roads are proposed to solve the problem. They won't. The traffic problem is from the bottlenecks going in and out of downtown, not from lack of grid roads. No new or improved entrances or exits have been proposed.
   City taxpayers are already paying for road improvements that mostly benefit the new shopping center. The city has already exceeded its state and county GMA mandated job targets up through the year 2012. Why are we in such a rush for more development?
   Is it government's job to guarantee speculators a profit on their investments while asking taxpayers to support those profits by paying for new roads, parking structures and downtown parks, while losing their quality of life?
   It's not too late to make a difference. You can go to a council meeting and speak during one of the two times allowed for public comment, or mail your comments, or send e-mails to your Council members asking that your comments be included in the public record of the next Council meeting.
   Maria Morris, Woodinville