Op-Ed: Where do City Council candidates stand on Point Wells?

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Richmond Beach Drive would have 11,500 daily trips
Photo by Diane Hettrick
Tom McCormick is working with of a coalition of Shoreline residents and organizations opposing the proposed Point Wells development

By Tom McCormick

The Point Wells project in Snohomish County is expected to generate 11,000 or more average daily trips traveling on City of Shoreline roads.

(The City’s 2013 agreement with the developer (BSRE) assumes for study purposes that the Point Wells project will generate up to 11,587 average daily trips.)

The only road to Point Wells is Richmond Beach Drive, a two-lane road with just 500 average daily trips today. Richmond Beach Road would be used too; its current traffic volume would double to nearly 22,000 average daily trips.

The City and BSRE are on a collision course. Projected Point Wells traffic will exceed three City-adopted limits and contribute to traffic congestion throughout Shoreline:

  • City Limit 1: Traffic on Richmond Beach Drive is not to exceed 4,000 average daily trips (see the Point Wells Subarea Plan). NOTE: In 2011, BSRE filed a petition with the Growth Management Hearings Board challenging the City’s 4,000 average daily trip limit. The City and BSRE have mutually agreed on 27 separate occasions to extend (delay) the proceedings, apparently hoping that they can reach a settlement — BSRE would probably want a trip limit near 11,000 average daily trips.
  • City Limit 2: Traffic volume on arterials like Richmond Beach Road is not to exceed 90% of the road’s maximum capacity (this 0.90 V/C standard is in the City’s development code). NOTE: After Richmond Beach Road becomes three lanes next year, it will have a spare capacity at the top of the hill (west of 8th Ave NW) of about 4,000 - 5,500 average daily trips. More traffic than this would exceed the City’s 0.90 V/C standard. The spare capacity east of 8th Ave NW will be even less — perhaps 1,000 or so average daily trips. In contrast, the Point Wells project is expected to generate 11,000 or more average daily trips.
  • City Limit 3: Wait times at intersections with stoplights are not to exceed 55 seconds under the level of service “D” standard in the City’s development code. NOTE: After Richmond Beach Road becomes three lanes, one’s average wait time for eastbound morning traffic at the stoplight at the top of the hill (8th Ave NW) would jump to 187 seconds with Point Wells — a delay of more than three minutes! (Source: August 2016 Traffic Analysis done for BSRE, page 35)

How does BSRE propose that things be fixed (mitigated) so that it can shoehorn 11,000 or more average daily trips onto City roads without violating the City’s traffic limits? On page 88 of the Traffic Analysis, under the heading, ”Richmond Beach Road Rechannelization Impacts and Mitigation”, it proposes fixing some intersections, and getting the City to do the following three things (the Traffic Analysis does not address Richmond Beach Drive’s 4,000 average daily trip limit):

  • BSRE Mitigation 1: Allow traffic volumes to exceed 90% of maximum capacity. COMMENT: Mitigation typically involves improving one’s roads to increase capacity or, for example, downsizing a proposed development to decrease the amount of traffic that is generated. In contrast, BSRE’s idea is to convince the City Council to revise its rules to let traffic volumes exceed 90% of maximum capacity — that’s not mitigation, that’s congestion.
  • BSRE Mitigation 2: Undo the rechannelization of the segment of Richmond Beach Road west of 8th Ave NW, reverting back to four lanes. COMMENT: If, with current traffic volumes, the City Council deemed it wise to convert Richmond Beach Road from four lanes to three lanes for safety reasons, then one would expect that it would refuse to go back to four lanes when traffic doubles due to Point Wells. Reverting to four lanes would make Richmond Beach Road far more accident prone and less safe than before.
  • BSRE Mitigation 3: Widen to five lanes the segment of Richmond Beach Road between 3rd Ave NW and 8th Ave NW. COMMENT: It is not possible to build five lanes within the City’s 60-foot right-of-way, with sidewalks, bike lanes, and amenity zones. If the City keeps its promise not to condemn private property to widen Richmond Beach Road, then a five-lane road is not viable unless BSRE could acquire sufficient property or easements all along Richmond Beach Road to widen it.

What will the City Council do when pressed by BSRE? Will the City Council stand firmly behind its three traffic limits, reject BSRE’s three mitigation ideas as being contrary to City limits and policy, and fight in court if necessary?

Snohomish County, the permitting agency, has said informally that they intend to honor the City’s level of service “D” standard and perhaps the City’s 0.90 V/C standard, but will they?

Will the City Council fight any efforts by Snohomish County to let BSRE build a project that generates far more traffic than our roads can handle as determined by the City’s three traffic limits? It is well known that the City wants to annex Point Wells thereby deriving a new source of revenue (see the Point Wells Subarea Plan).

Will the City Council let our roads be congested in exchange for BSRE’s promise to let the City annex Point Wells?

Who we vote for in this year’s City Council election may affect what happens with Point Wells. 

To the candidates: Do you pledge to stand firmly behind the City’s three traffic limits, reject BSRE’s three mitigation ideas, and fight to ensure that Point Wells does not generate more traffic than our roads can comfortably handle?


Nanook October 22, 2017 at 11:12 PM  

How about two layers, one road on top of another viaduct style? Great for earthquakes, the pancake effect.

Anonymous,  October 22, 2017 at 11:12 PM  

It is entirely false to claim Richmond Beach Rd. Is the only accessible to Pt. Wells. In April BSRE included a new road to Pt. Wells. The is a pending application from BSRE to build over 30 single family homes along this road, so their 2nd road is real.

Jin-Ah Kim October 23, 2017 at 12:46 AM  

To the candidates: Do you pledge to stand firmly behind the City’s three traffic limits, reject BSRE’s three mitigation ideas, and fight to ensure that Point Wells does not generate more traffic than our roads can comfortably handle?

YES. Absolutely yes, I will copy + paste my response from another SAN post:

"West Shoreline: Point Wells

In short: I would resist any agreement from a developer that would exceed a 4,000 daily trip capacity for Richmond Beach Road. Under my opponent's administration, an agreement was made with developers that supported 11,587 trips. All indications point that he would support an agreement that would exceed this. I will fight for the people of Shoreline and for responsible development."

Anonymous,  October 23, 2017 at 2:25 AM  

Civil disobedience is all we have left.

Anonymous,  October 23, 2017 at 12:39 PM  

Jin Ah Kim wrote in another comment that she didn't register her car in Washington because she thought students were exempt. They are not. That means she didn't pay the tax that the rest of us pay to maintain our roads. She can talk about roads, but she doesn't represent me if she thinks she is somehow exempt or above the law.

Anonymous,  October 23, 2017 at 3:07 PM  

Jin-Ah - how will you force Snohomish County, who will approve any permit for that area, to adhere to any demands that a city in King County has?

Keith McGlashan October 24, 2017 at 8:56 AM  

Dear Tom,

Thank you for the opportunity to set the record straight again on the proposed development at Point Wells. As you know, the City of Shoreline is unfortunately not the city that can grant or deny permits for development at Point Wells. Since the Point Wells location is in Unincorporated Snohomish County Permitting is done via Snohomish County. The City of Shoreline has nonetheless, been aggressive in ensuring that any project minimizes adverse impacts on citizens who live in Shoreline.

In 2011 the council unanimously passed an ordinance significantly restricting the size of the Point Wells development. Since the area is accessed through our city's roads, we passed an emergency ordinance that minimized the daily trips allowed on Richmond Beach Road. Minimizing trips is a de facto way of minimizing the development. If the cars are not allowed to Point Wells, the development cannot be built. We cannot control the permitting outright, but we can to some extent control access via Shoreline's roads. Snohomish County must follow our rules when permitting projects.

I unequivocally pledge to support the Richmond Beach traffic limits to limiting the development at Point Wells. I owe nothing to the developer and I owe a lot to this community. The suggested mitigations are square pegs that have to fit into our round holes. I will do what is necessary to protect our community horrendous traffic impacts.

My opponent has misrepresented my position on Point Wells, and she has accused me of malfeasance with no proof whatsoever. She has stirred this pot, needlessly generating fear in the community as a ruse to get votes. I have tirelessly worked to better our community for 32 years, and I received the Shoreline Rotary Excellence in Ethics award.
Vote for the candidate who represents Shoreline with truth and integrity,

Thank you,

Keith McGlashan, Shoreline City Council

Tom McCormick October 24, 2017 at 9:44 PM  

Thank you Keith and Jin-Ah. It appears that you both are saying that you will stand firmly behind the City’s three traffic limits, reject BSRE’s three mitigation ideas, and fight to ensure that Point Wells does not generate more traffic than our roads can comfortably handle.

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