Evan Smith: Kagi says that bill is aimed at getting Snohomish County to negotiate over Point Wells

Saturday, January 22, 2011

By Evan Smith
ShorelineAreaNews Politics Writer

State Rep. Ruth Kagi says that the aim of a bill she introduced Monday is to get Snohomish County to start negotiating with the cities of Shoreline and Woodway over development of Point Wells.

House bill 1265 limits development at a place like Point Wells to the density of adjoining cities unless the county it’s in reaches an inter-local agreement with nearby cities on urban services and the impact on those cities.

That means that Point Wells could not be developed beyond the density of Woodway unless Snohomish County’s government negotiates an inter-local agreement with Shoreline and Woodway on mitigation of the impacts of the development,

Kagi told me Thursday that the aim of the legislation is to get Snohomish County to start talking about a memorandum of understanding, and, she said, it’s already having that effect.

A Snohomish County councilman already has called a Shoreline official about Point Wells, she said Thursday.

Co-sponsors of the bill include State Rep. Cindy Ryu, who, like Kagi, represents Shoreline, Woodway and the rest of the 32nd Legislative District. Other co-sponsors are two Edmonds-area legislators and four members of the House committee on local government, including Committee Chairman Dean Takko.

Having Takko as a co-sponsor virtually guarantees a hearing before the Local Government Committee, Kagi said.

The owners of Point Wells, a former industrial property on the shores of Puget Sound in unincorporated Southwest Snohomish County, have proposed building a mixed-use development that would include 3,000 housing units.

Snohomish County recently re-zoned Point Wells for urban-center land use.
Property-tax money from the development would go to Snohomish County.

Point Wells is in Woodway’s urban-growth area, but the only access is along Richmond Beach Road Northwest in Shoreline.

The bill applies to “unincorporated portions of urban growth areas that: border Puget Sound; are surrounded on land entirely by one or more cities, are one or more miles from any other portion of an urban growth area that is in unincorporated territory; and are 50 or more acres in size.

Kagi said that Point Wells is the only place that fits the description.

The digest of the bill follows:

HB 1265 - DIGEST
Prohibits the maximum residential density of an unincorporated portion of an urban growth area from exceeding that of the immediately adjacent areas of the abutting city or cities.

Here’s a link to download the text of the bill, but the key section says the following:

(a)… the maximum residential density of an unincorporated portion of an urban growth area may not exceed that of the immediately adjacent areas of the abutting city or cities.

(b)  Subsection (a) of this section applies only to unincorporated portions of urban growth areas that:
          (i) Border the Puget Sound;
          (ii) Are surrounded on the landward side entirely by one or more cities;
          (iii) Are one or more miles from any other portion of an urban growth area that is in unincorporated territory; and
          (iv) Are fifty or more acres in size.

(c)  This subsection (9) does not apply to otherwise qualifying areas if the county has entered into an inter-local agreement under chapter 39.34 RCW with the city or cities surrounding the urban growth area that stipulates: 
          (i) Urban governmental services will be provided by the surrounding city or cities; and 
          (ii) limitations on and mitigation of transportation impacts on the roads and impacts on the park facilities of the surrounding city or cities.


Anonymous,  January 22, 2011 at 8:52 AM  

“(a)… the maximum residential density of an unincorporated portion of an urban growth area may not exceed that of the immediately adjacent areas of the abutting city or cities.” This part of the bill identifies the crux of the problem it is needed to solve.

The Snohomish County Council has been unwilling to acknowledge that their “Point Wells Urban Center” (PWUC) zone is grossly out of scale with its immediate surroundings. They gloss over the fact that Point Wells’ only access, Richmond Beach Road, is a narrow, low-speed, two-lane neighborhood street, far different from the broad, high-speed highways of State Route 99 or Interstate 5 (the locations of the other Snohomish County Urban Centers.)

Richmond Beach Road now carries about 500 vehicle trips per day, nowhere near the 40,000 per day on SR 99 or the 80,000 per day on I-5. The 3,500 units at the PWUC would add up to 15,000 trips per day to Richmond Beach Road, or thirty times what is there now.

Point Wells is entirely surrounded by single family residential neighborhoods in Shoreline and Woodway, not commercial or multifamily uses like the other urban centers. The 3,500 units is a truly staggering number. That is half of the number of dwelling units (7,000) now existing in all of downtown Bellevue, squeezed onto less than 15% of the land area (61 acres at PWUC vs. 411 acres in downtown Bellevue).

So far Snohomish County has turned a deaf ear to these realities. That is why HB 1265 is needed. Kudos to Representatives Kagi, Ryu, and their six House colleagues (including three from Snohomish County) for co-sponsoring this legislation.

Evan Smith,  February 2, 2011 at 4:46 AM  

Why would anyone want to live in a place where the only way in and out for thousands of people is along a narrow road?

Anonymous,  February 11, 2011 at 10:15 AM  

My family has owned a home on Richmond Beach for 60 years, I spent many glorious days as a child playing in front of this property. I would like to bring up a point that I feel is being overlooked. What about the impact on the marine ecosystem? We have an extensive variety of beautiful water birds year round including Blue Heron, wood ducks, mergansers, golden eye and many more. Not to mention three to four resident bald eagles and two Osprey. The marine life seems to be rebounding after years of pollution and overfishing. Over the last few years I have observed more beds of clams, muscles, crabs and even starfish recently. We have seals on the beach from time to time. A resident seal left its infant at the base of my stairs while she was hunting for food. (I have some great photos)

What does it mean if three thousand condos are built on this beach? Hundreds if not thousands of people walking at low tide disrupting the animals when they have their best chance to feed. Shellfish & crabs left vulnerable to ignorant people at low tide as well. Look at Alki beach, do you see anything that looks like a marine ecosystem? I will not even get started on the nightmare of having to deal with hundreds of people in my front yard every day or fighting my way thru and dealing with massive construction related traffic. It's beautiful down here and it should be shared, respected and enjoyed, but thousands of new people living on this beach is a death sentence to this fragile ecosystem.

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