Lake Forest Park Town Center process gears up for final push

Friday, November 6, 2020

A conceptual map shows potential open space distribution
in a Town Center redevelopment, taken from a draft Town
Center Framework Design Guidelines Update, dated May 5


By Tracy Furutani

After passing two moratoriums to allow thorough consideration by city staff and the Planning Commission and to accommodate pandemic-related delays, the Lake Forest Park City Council is poised to take action in November on beginning the process of implementing changes to city zoning code to allow applications for work on the Sound Transit parking garage and the redevelopment of the Town Center.

Though City Council votes on finalizing these code changes will not take place until next February, the city is required to submit proposed code changes to the state Department of Commerce 60 days in advance of adopting any of the changes, according to city Planning Director Stephen Bennett, which means in order to beat the latest moratorium expiration date, they must be forwarded to the state by January 10, 2021. 

However, the proposal may include different options of those code changes, though the final code revisions must be drawn from those options.

According to city’s schedule, at a special Committee of the Whole city council meeting at 6pm on Monday, November 9, a Sound Transit representative is making a presentation about the parking garage and Sound Transit’s sustainability policy, such as green building practices. 

“I would like them to come talk about how deep these policies go,” said Deputy Mayor and Councilmember Phillippa Kassover, “so we can match city code with their policies,” adding that she would like to hold Sound Transit accountable to their own sustainability policy.

The next evening at 7pm, the Planning Commission will decide on its final recommendations about “Phase 2,” the part of the Town Center zoning code revisions not related to the parking garage, including issues of housing density (the number of residential units on the property) and open space requirements. 

Those recommendations will be presented by the City Planning Department at a city council work session at 6pm on Thursday, November 12, just before the regularly scheduled City Council meeting.

Though a public comment period is part of every city meeting, there will be two specific City Council regular business meetings dedicated to public comment: the first, at 7pm on Thursday, November 12, will be for the proposed parking garage code revisions, and the second, scheduled for Thursday, January 14, for the proposed “Phase 2” changes.

The Planning Commission’s parking garage code revision recommendations were presented to the City Council in June. The city council is tentatively scheduled to meet as the Committee of the Whole on Monday, November 23 to review the Parking Garage code revision recommendations.

When asked what she thought were the most significant changes in the proposed code revision, Kassover said, “Just the fact that there’s a garage, the inclusion of a park and ride at Town Center.” 

She added that she had posed questions to the Planning Commission, such as how much housing density in the Town Center was desirable and what provisions for open space were possible. “Open space is a climate change issue,” she said, emphasizing the zoning code connection to other city priorities.

“I think the most significant change we are recommending to the council… is the addition of language that defines and guides development of a parking structure in Town Center,” said Maddy Larson, the chair of the Planning Commission. 
“We have also made recommendations for the administration of any development application; however, I feel those recommendations depend on the council's thorough vetting of them since we did not resolve a few concerns a few commissioners had about the recommendations.” 
She hopes “the community is invested in any proposed changes to our Town Center code. Doing so ensures we end up with code that reflects our values.”

City council vice-chair Tom French, who is the council liaison to the Planning Commission, said that the Council was transitioning from deliberating over parking garage code revisions to considering the rest of the Town Center zoning code revisions. 

“I do not believe there will be wholesale changes to the code,” he said, because “the community has said that there don’t need to be such changes.” 
Beyond that, though, he hoped that what modifications made to the code would bring “benefits and considerations to the community is a whole,” such as having better standards than state and federal rules on pollution, thinking about a community gathering space beyond Third Place Commons, and providing more opportunities for green space.

Due to the state’s “Safer at Home” pandemic policies, all of these meetings will be held on the Zoom platform. 

To provide a comment on any of these topics to the city council, go to the city events calendar at https://www.cityoflfp.com/calendar.aspx?CID=14 and select the meeting for which you’d like to provide a comment, then click on the agenda pdf for the meeting, and there will be specific instructions about submitting a comment, and attending the meeting.

The code revisions are located under the Planning Commission Meeting documents, located at https://www.cityoflfp.com/593/Town-Center-Process (scroll down and find documents with the phrases “code updates” or “design guidelines”).




2 comments:

Anonymous,  November 6, 2020 at 4:12 PM  

The biggest issue previously was the amount of residential units the Merlone Geier wanted and the height of the buildings. They were proposing 7-8 story buildings which would have been totally out of character for LFP and left much of the Town Center in the shade.

Most residents prefer much smaller residential buildings of 4-5 stories instead.

Anonymous,  November 13, 2020 at 6:51 PM  

LFP would probably be better off if the ST3 funds for the garage were used to fund transit service in LFP and the land for the garage was used for an apartment building.

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