A 10 Minute Guide to Zoning

A 10 Minute Guide to Zoning If you want some control over the look and feel of where you live, you need to understand a bit about zoning ordinances. They tell your neighboring property owners (or developers) what they can build on a piece of land – how many homes, how big they can be, how many trees can be cut down.  And once a property owner files an application to develop a parcel in accordance with existing zoning, there’s really not much you can do to stop him or her so long as what’s being proposed meets the zoning criteria. In short, if the current zoning for your neighborhood allows too much construction, you’re essentially powerless to stop it – unless you change the zoning before neighbors and builders decide to exploit what the law permits. Is zoning a mystery to you? It can get complicated quickly. However, the basic principles are straightforward, and they’re all you really need to know to speak intelligently about zoning policy. Here are the key points: (pdf version) What’s the purpose of zoning?  Zoning laws were first enacted in the 19th century as cities became more industrialized and local leaders recognized that they couldn’t allow, for example, a meat packing plant to open up next to somebody’s home. Zones for houses, businesses, factories were originally created to keep compatible uses together and to minimize conflicts between incompatible activities. What do zoning ordinances do? Most zoning ordinances today specify not only what kinds of land uses are permitted in a given area, but also how intensive those uses can be – with the result that different zoning decisions have a wide range of aesthetic and socioeconomic effects. Many neighborhood zoning regulations allow only single-family, detached homes, and these residential zones vary according to the minimum permitted lot size. Some residential zones permit only...

Saturday, November 14 is Your Chance to Shape Finn Hill’s Future

As you know, the City and FHNA are collaborating to involve Finn Hill residents – that’s you! – in creating a long-term neighborhood plan for Finn Hill. We hosted a “listening session” at Finn Hill Middle School on October 15. Now we’ve scheduled a workshop for this Saturday, November 14, from 10 to 2pm at the Finn Hill Middle School, 8040 NE 132nd Street, Kirkland WA 98034. We’ll provide lunch, coffee, and other beverages. (More details are in the press release.) Please come!!! This is your chance to shape the future of where you live for the next several decades. If you are worried about new subdivisions, or safe streets, or traffic congestion, or better shopping alternatives on Finn Hill, this is the time to speak up. At Saturday’s workshop, you’ll join other Finn Hill residents in small groups to design the future of your immediate neighborhood as well as all of Finn Hill. Your recommendations will shape the housing, road, and other development decisions that the City will enact into zoning laws and capital improvement plans. Yes, there’s a Husky game at noon. And plenty of other things you have on your list. But this planning workshop is an opportunity you won’t get for years to come – so I hope you’ll make time for it. And did I mention that we’ll get you a free lunch? Here’s what you should do — Register In order to manage logistics, we’d like you to register using this Eventbrite link. We’ll get back to you in a few days to find out what part of Finn Hill you live in (so we can assemble teams of neighbors who live in the same area) and to get a food order for you. Take the survey. Between now and the 11th, you can offer your views about Finn Hill – what you...

Neighborhood Plan Listening Session Recap

Upcoming Workshop on November 14th, 10am – 2pm Will be held at the Finn Hill Middle School. All Finn Hill residents are invited to attend! Finn Hill residents had their first opportunity to weigh in on a long-term plan for their neighborhood last Thursday evening, October 15, at a listening session in the Finn Hill Middle School sponsored by the City of Kirkland and the Finn Hill Neighborhood Alliance (FHNA). The consultant leading the planning effort, UW’s Green Futures Lab (GFL), set up a dozen different stations, hosted by UW faculty members and grad students, at which attendees were invited to provide their input on zoning, traffic, open space, commercial development, surface water management and other topics that will be addressed in the neighborhood’s development plan for the next 20-50 years. GFL also conducted an instant poll – using text messages from attendees’ cell phones – to collect initial views on what a commercial center for the neighborhood (e.g., the Inglewood shopping center) might contain and look like in the future. Upcoming Workshop: GFL will digest the residents’ input and use it to frame the next stage of the process – a workshop to discuss key planning issues. This session is scheduled from 10am to 2pm on Saturday, November 14, also at the Finn Hill Middle School. All Finn Hill residents are invited to attend! In order to help us prepare for the meeting, we would appreciate your letting us know of your interest in participating. We plan to have drinks and food (pizzas, pastas, and salads) available. We expect to hold additional public meetings on the Finn Hill neighborhood plan next year before a recommendation is submitted to the City Council in the fall of 2016. It is vital that as many Finn Hill residents participate in this process as possible. The neighborhood plan will drive zoning, traffic, and other...

Fire Station Plan Meetings Recap

Finn Hill fire station plan – Public hearing on October 20 and recap of community meeting on October 12: As you may know, the City has been grappling with how to use funds that old Fire District 41 raised for a new fire station to improve response times in the district (which covered Finn Hill, north Juanita, and Kingsgate). The Fire District’s original idea was to shut down both Fire Station 25 (at the corner of Juanita Drive and the southern loop of Holmes Point Drive) and Fire Station 24 (on 84th and now closed) and build a new station to serve all of Finn Hill. But statistics show that no single location on Finn Hill will provide good response times throughout the neighborhood. At a community meeting this week at Finn Hill Middle School, City Manager Kurt Triplett explained the City’s “dual station” plan. The City wants to use the Fire District funds to rehab existing Station 25 and to acquire land at the corner of 100th and 132nd (cater-corner from Juanita Elementary) for a new station that will serve northeastern Finn Hill and north Juanita. The City will have to issue a bond to fund new station construction: the money that Fire District 41 raised isn’t sufficient for both land acquisition and a putting up a new facility. The City Council will hold a hearing on this “dual station” proposal at its October 20 meeting at City Hall. The meeting starts at 7:30pm. You can comment on the proposal then or submit comments to the Council beforehand by emailing citycouncil@kirklandwa.gov. The FHNA board supports the dual station proposal subject to the condition that, until the new station is built, the City continue its efforts to staff existing Station 24 with Kirkland and Northshore fire fighters or, failing that, keep a 4th fire fighter in Station 25. The...

Finn Hill’s Future – Two Critical Meetings This Week Oct 12 & 15

Dear Finn Hill neighbors and friends, This week features two meetings of great significance to our neighborhood – one concerns fire protection for Finn Hill and the other concerns nothing less than the future of where we live. I urge you to attend these meetings and participate. It is critical that you express your views. Please read on: Finn Hill Fire Station Plan – Community meeting on Monday, October 12 – Finn Hill Middle School from 7pm to 9pm The City is holding a hearing to explain its long-term plan for building a second station to provide better fire protection service to eastern Finn Hill and the Juanita neighborhood. See press release. The Finn Hill Neighborhood Alliance board supports the plan subject to certain conditions. We have sent Kirkland’s City Manager, Kurt Triplett, a letter setting forth our support for the City’s proposal to upgrade existing Station 25 and using remaining fire district funds to purchase land for a new station provided that the City continues to work on plan for Kenmore and Kirkland to staff Station 24 jointly or, failing that, to add a 4th fire fighter permanently to Station 25. But we encourage you to attend Monday’s meeting yourself: learn about the plan, ask questions and say what you think! Finn Hill Zoning Plan – Open house on Thursday, October 15 – Finn Hill Middle School from 5pm to 7:30pm Finn Hill is changing. Subdivisions are popping up. Density is increasing. Our zoning map is the product of ad hoc decisions made by King County over several decades. Parts of it are a mess. Left as is, our zoning will produce incongruous development and could spell the ruin of what’s best about Finn Hill. The City has agreed to work with FHNA on a new neighborhood zoning plan, and we are co-hosting an open house at Finn Hill Middle...

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