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Forgetting Point Wells

Last Monday [January 7, 2013], the Court of Appeals overturned Judge Lum's November 2011 ruling on Point Wells. That evening, the City of Shoreline apparently forgot to mention it at its City Council meeting. Originally published January 11, 2013

Last Monday [January 7, 2013], the Washington State Court of Appeals overturned Judge Lum's November 2011 ruling on Point Wells. That evening, when the City of Shoreline City Council met, they apparently forgot to update the community on the Point Wells news. That is par for the course. The City regularly forgets about Point Wells. Meanwhile the Point Wells developer continues to "boil the frog."

Nearly 18 months after the City surprised the community with its Letter of Intent to negotiate with the Point Wells developer, bringing 200+ residents out of their homes to a jam-packed City Hall, no agreement has been reached. Meanwhile, lawsuits, Growth Management Hearings Board rulings, compliance feet-dragging, and appeals have been played out.  Monday's ruling by the Court of Appeals clears a major litigation roadblock to the Point Wells development.  But what of the negotiations?

Presumably, Point Wells has been discussed behind closed doors, in Executive Session.  If the City had any negotiating power, they didn't show it 18 months ago. What could possibly give the City a stronger hand now?

Consider the water business. Point Wells was completely downplayed throughout the SPU Acquisition "due diligence" last year. Yet infrastructure is obviously a major issue for Point Wells, and although the City's Comprehensive Plan includes a Point Wells Subarea Element, the SPU water system acquisition "due diligence" apparently forgot all about Point Wells. It was omitted from maps and other materials reviewed by the SPU Acquisition Citizens Steering Committee last spring. Even though Mayor McGlashan has said it makes sense for the City to provide services to Point Wells, they did not even take it into consideration in their engineering studies for the water system.  Would  acquisition of SPU and assumption of Ronald Wastewater District make an agreement with the City any more attractive to the developer? They forgot to say during the campaign for Proposition 1, which passed last November.

But that is not all they forgot about. Following the election, the City adopted its state-mandated major update to its Comprehensive Plan, a full 3 years ahead of schedule. They went for an admittedly ambitious timeline, with Staff arguing it was important to adopt the plan early, before Vision 2029 became stale-- as if accelerating implemention of a vision in danger of rotting makes any sense at all.  Planning Director Joe Tovar  cautioned the Commissioners at the start to be mindful of the community's  capacity for engagement, and other workplan "flow restrictors." Nevertheless the Commissioners and Staff later boasted the community was given ample opportunity to comment (though very few comments were in fact received).  They might have received more comment, were it not for a number of memory lapses by the City, which made it very difficult for the public to keep track of Point Wells.

The City forgot to include the Point Wells amendments in the Planning Commission's Public Hearing of that Plan on October 18, and Staff forgot to mention that fact until a Commissioner raised the point at the end of the meeting, leading to the scheduling of a second Public Hearing on November 15 just to take testimony on Point Wells. And in the City's website index of Planning Commission Meetings,  they forgot to indicate that second meeting was also a Public Hearing.  Then the Planning Commission forgot to approve the minutes of the October 18 Public Hearing prior to review and adoption of the Comprehensive Plan by the City Council on December 10 (a point raised by Councilmember Roberts (beginning at 00:51:13), but that they forgot to include in that Council meeting's minutes. The October 18 Planning Commission minutes have still not been approved, though they have been published.) And the Staff Report for the December 10 Council meeting cited only the October 18 Public Hearing, and forgot to mention the other Public Hearing on Point Wells on November 15.

When Point Wells is the subject, forgetfulness appears to be the order of the day.

So let us watch closely now to see if an agreement is soon reached between the City of Shoreline and the Point Wells developer. If after 18 months, the City suddenly strikes a deal, we might ask, what were the developers waiting for? Or has that deal already been struck, and the City just forgot to tell us?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Renee Roberta Haynes January 12, 2013 at 02:21 AM
I still don't understand how this is going to be good for Shoreline's Richmond Beach or Woodway. It sounds like a real clusterf** to me.
Wendy DiPeso January 12, 2013 at 10:32 PM
As usual Tom's research was very thorough. His writing is also excellent. Underlying all the issues we face is a city council that rubber stamps what the staff recommends with little or no oversight.
Tom Jamieson January 15, 2013 at 07:58 AM
I have been asked to provide the actual statement I attributed to Mayor McGlashan regarding it making sense for the City to provide services to Point Wells. Here is what the City's Planning and Community Development Department has posted on the Point Wells Letter of Intent page on the City's website: "The only access is through Shoreline, so they are going to be driving through our City and using our parks, libraries, roads and police services. It's only fair that future residents of Point Wells share, with City taxpayers, the burden of paying to maintain our shared high quality of life,' said Shoreline Mayor Keith McGlashan. "We recognize that this site is going to be redeveloped and we believe that the City is the most logical provider of services to the development," he added. "The best way to protect the City, to address the demand for increased services and the long-term impacts is through annexing the property into Shoreline." (http://www.shorelinewa.gov/index.aspx?page=814)
Tom Jamieson January 19, 2013 at 09:05 AM
The City of Shoreline suddenly remembers Point Wells. Did I manage to jog the City's memory. Not likely, considering I have been reminding them about Point Wells on multiple occasions over the last year--with zero effect. But now with Proposition 1 in the bag and the courtroom cleared, the City is ready to tell us what they have in store. Mark your calendars: On February 11, Assistant City Manager Debbie Tarry will update the Shoreline City Council on Point Wells. This was a meeting originally scheduled for December 3 that popped on to the Council's Agenda Planner (without explanation) in September (BEFORE the expected Court of Appeals ruling), and sat there quietly until it was pulled 1 week before the scheduled date and placed in the unscheduled future meeting queue (again, with no explanation). Now, AFTER the Court of Appeals ruling, it just as suddenly (and again without explanation) pops back up on the planner, scheduled for February 11. And while you are marking your Point Wells calendar, mark April 22 as well, when Public Works Director Mark Relph will lead Council in a discussion of a Point Wells Transportation Study. Staff has reserved 1 hr. and 45 min. for the 2 meetings. Now at last, they may have found their memory, and will fill us in on Point Wells.
Tom Jamieson January 19, 2013 at 09:36 AM
Here is how to make sense of all the date shuffling. Before the November election, the City schedules a Point Wells update to occur after the election and before the Court of Appeals ruling. One might conclude the update has no relation to either the election (i.e.,Proposition 1) or the Court case, except that the actual meeting never happens that way. The timeline shell that pea ends up under is the one after the passage of Proposition 1 and the Court of Appeals overturning of Judge Lum's 2011 decision. Of course this is pure conjecture on my part. All the City has to avoid the intrigue is explain why the meeting was scheduled in September for December, and why it was postponed indefinitely in late Novermber, and why it was rescheduled now for February. In other words all they have to do is remember they are agents of the people. "The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies that serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may maintain control over the instruments that they have created." RCW 42.30.010 (Open Public Meetings Act), RCW 42.56.030 (Public Records Act)

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