Notes from LFP City Council January meetings

Saturday, January 27, 2018

LFP City Council
Highlights from January meetings
By Donna Hawkey

Town Center/Big Five

Lake Forest Park City Council has been gaining ground on the Town Center redevelopment and all the City’s Big Five projects. The consulting organization, 3 Square Blocks, was hired and communication improvements are seen throughout the projects, including a new website.

A multitude of opportunities to attend various resident workshops and meetings shows a process that is flexible and the effort to seek further resident input is apparent. The planning time schedule has been aggressive due to Sound Transit 3 (ST3) deadline needs.

Town Center property owners, Merlone Geier Partners, have also been working hard to seek LFP resident input. While some of the survey results are online now at their website, it will take about another month for all the info to be included here.

At the January 18th Council budget meeting, City staff reported that Merlone Geier has shown excitement about the Town Center redevelopment, but they also want to make sure the required ST3 timetable stays on track. Information sharing and project coordination among all the parties involved have also been going very well. The Council will receive an updated schedule on all the Big Five project work in about one month.

“Three-Touch” Rule from Council Governance Manual - discussion about eliminating it

In the Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday, January 22nd, City Council held a robust discussion about eliminating the “three–touch” rule in their Governance Manual. (Article 4.1)

Any pending request or proposal for adopting or changing public policy, ordinances, resolutions or directives which will require a decision of the City Council or Administration should normally “touch” (oral, written or any combination thereof) the decision makers at least three separate times. 

The Council majority agreed that it does not apply in every situation and that it can cause resident confusion and expectations that don’t always exactly match the timing or policy needs at hand. Councilmember Mark Phillips said he thought it could be possible to keep the “three-touch” rule in the manual, but the rest of the Council appeared in agreement that some issues need three points, some four or more and some less than three. The Council will continue to update the manual as needed.

Communications Committee work complete

Communications Chair and Councilmember Phillippa Kassover presented a very thorough Communications Plan (Updated 3/2/2017) at the same Committee of the Whole January 22nd meeting. Council agreed that all work by this committee is complete and that the written plan was very well done. It was recommended that it now be turned over to City staff for implementation. However, Deputy Mayor Catherine Stanford noted that biennial staff budget cuts will make accomplishing this work challenging.

Shoreline District Prop. 1 and Prop. 2 receives unanimous support

At the January 25th regular council meeting, LFP Council all voted in support of Shoreline School District’s replacement levies.

An in-depth presentation had been previously made by Shoreline Schools Superintendent Rebecca Miner explaining the need for the levy replacements. Taxes are never what we want but is what we need to do especially in an underfunded school system. These are replacement levies and are the support services that are critical to our student’s success. School funding is also a difficult issue in multiple states in the nation. Council has also heard from and appreciates the citizens asking to keep the pressure on the State to fully fund education here, and they look forward to working together in the future to help find better ways of doing that other than property tax increases.

Councilmember Tom French reminded everyone that these levies are “not new” ones. And that he “strongly supports” these replacement levies. He is also a former Shorecrest graduate and knows from talking with various school principals, students, superintendents and our own LFP Youth Council, that Shoreline schools provide a very high quality education for students and that the district is a very well run one.

He further acknowledged how very important these levies are after visiting Olympia and having conversations with State Delegates that the full details of the implementation of the McCleary Decision is still unknown. How schools will be funded state wide is something everyone should think about and provide feedback and comments to our legislative delegation for their considerations.

Councilmember Semra Riddle said that these are two important levies that are essential to fully educating children and that she is “proud” to support them. She refers to citizen comments about the need for well-rounded education. While reading, writing and arithmetic is important to a student’s education, she recalls how her theatre days and her visits to the nurse impacted her education and who she is today. And she is very interested in the technology levy replacement.

Shoreline School District has been a known leader in how they have utilized and integrated technology in classroom curriculum. And nationwide we are a well- rated school district and the District has been a good steward of finance management. Many people move to Lake Forest Park because of the high reputation of its school district.

The school district has a presentation explaining the levies.

Conservation cluster housing policy questioned

Some neighborhood meetings have occurred regarding the controversial loosening of land use policies to allow home owners to sell their property to developers for the building of conservation cluster housing. Many residents feel that this negatively impacts and changes the nature of their neighborhood and are opposed to these policy changes. Others are for cottage housing and cite Washington’s Growth Management Act and that LFP needs to do its part to help the housing shortage crisis in the region. (So far this appears to be a smaller amount of residents based on attendance at recent Council meetings.) City Council has not made any decisions as to whether they will review this policy at future work sessions.
More information about the conservation cluster policy here.

Donna Hawkey is a 21 year resident of LFP and can be reached at

Correction 1-30-18: The discussion was whether to eliminate the 3 touch rule. The decision has not been made.


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