Council Acts to Make it Easier to Walk, Bicycle and Bus; Tree Code Update; Kirkland's New Gnome House, and More!

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this week in kirkland

March 20, 2019

city of kirkland washington

City Council Takes Action to Make it Easier to Walk, Bicycle, and Take the Bus in Kirkland

City Council

The City Council approved three projects intended to make it easier for Kirkland community members to navigate the city, whether on foot, on bike, or on the bus.

Kirkland Transit Implementation Plan Adoption

The City Council also approved a Resolution adopting the “Kirkland Transit Implementation Plan” (KTIP). The KTIP was developed with the aim to improve transit in Kirkland to better meet increased service demands. For example, sometimes building a minor capital improvement or adjusting the way transit serves an area can make a bus ride faster or even increase its capacity.  Staff now will work to integrate the projects identified in the KTIP into the next Capital Facilities Plan and Capital Improvement Plan updates.  The City will work with our regional partners to identify opportunities to further evaluate, fund, and implement KTIP projects and programs as part of regional projects, such as RapidRide and Stride (i.e. I-405 Bus Rapid Transit).

In the coming years, the City will revisit the KTIP to assess changed circumstances after major transportation projects are built, such as the reconstruction of the I-405/N.E. 85th interchange, and to quantify measurable changes or improvements.

Bike Share Pilot Program

After extensive community outreach and input, the City Council adopted a twelve-month bike share pilot program for Kirkland during their March 19 meeting. The pilot program allows up to two companies to establish a minimum fleet of 100 and up to 200 electric-assist bikes in Kirkland. Staff will also request from companies how scooters might be introduced to the fleet sometime after the launch of the bike share pilot. This will allow staff to work through any specific challenges with shared scooters, since most of the program design work so far has been focused on bikes.

The mechanism for reviewing, approving or denying, and conditioning bike share operators and fleet locations during the pilot program will be a Terminable Right-of-Way Use Permit. During the pilot program, staff will evaluate whether this or another mechanism is the best instrument for regulating bike share. Also, each approved company will need to obtain a Kirkland business license.

Fleet parking locations will be specific and are proposed to be in the public rights-of-way, in parks, and in designated parking locations adjacent to the Cross Kirkland Corridor. Signs or other visual cues will be placed to remind customers to park their bikes in appropriate locations, and bike share operators will be required to educate and incentivize proper bike parking.

Staff will return to Council after the completion of the 4- and 8-month evaluation periods to review data and evaluate the performance of the operators. Near the end of the pilot program, staff will return to the Council to determine how best to proceed beyond the one-year pilot.

Throughout the duration of the pilot, there will be a direct phone line and email for the public to provide feedback. A webpage also will be created to provide up-to-date information regarding program changes and contact information for each of the permitted bike share operators. Near the end of the pilot, staff will release a city-wide survey to solicit feedback from the community on the bike share pilot.

The City will require the bike share companies to track the following: total number of rides; average ride duration; average time to resolve a complaint; location of bikes; and other data. This data will be used during and after the pilot to monitor, evaluate, and adjust the program. Additionally, the pilot will include a public education component for topics such as safety and proper bike parking.

The City will charge each selected bike share company an annual permit fee of $2,032 in order to use the City’s rights-of-way, and also will assess an annual administrative fee of $35 per bike to be used for minor program enhancements as needed, such as for special signage or painting designated bike parking areas. While the permitted bike share companies themselves will be required to move bike that are out of compliance or improperly parked, the City also will have the authority to invoice operators $127 per occurrence in the event City crews need to move bicycles.

100th Ave NE Improvements—Phase 1

The Council approved over $5 million in transportation impact fee funds and real estate excise tax funds to use for improvements on 100th Ave N.E. The 100th Avenue N.E. Corridor Improvement Project will result in roadway improvements along a one-mile segment of 100th Avenue N.E. from N.E. 132nd Street to N.E. 145th Street. The improvements include widening the current roadway to improve the flow of vehicle traffic from north to south and developing separated sidewalks and all ages and ability cycle tracks. The project will be advertised for construction bid later this year, and the project may be completed by mid-2021.

100th Ave NE Improvements

Tree Code Update: What's in our Tool Box?

Tree Code Update

In previous articles, we looked at what defines a healthy, resilient urban forest. In this article, we’ll look at the various tools we can use to maintain and enhance our urban forest while accommodating future growth and development, a challenge that many communities face today.

Let’s take an inventory of our “urban forest management toolbox.” One very useful tool is understanding the community’s long-range vision for its urban forest. That vision can provide clear guidance when determining how to manage the urban forest over a 20 year time span. Another tool is using incentives to encourage voluntary actions towards an intended result. For example, a Voluntary Tree Conservation Easement provides a homeowner a way to protect trees on their property voluntarily, which helps to slow the loss of tree canopy cover. Yet another tool is public education to create greater awareness of tree-related issues and opportunities for community members to engage in stewardship efforts. Even procedural changes, such as how inspections are conducted on development sites, can be a tree preservation tool.  

The most contentious “tool in the toolbox” are tree codes, the requirements that must be followed or a consequence such as a fine will result. Sometimes regulations are referred to as the “stick” while incentives, education and procedures are considered a “carrot,” or reward.

Incentives and public education may not be effective by themselves. However, when unreasonably strict regulations are heavily applied and enforced, without any incentives or public education, a lack of cooperation results, which can thwart efforts towards long-range goals. By monitoring urban forest performance we can adjust our code for greater effectiveness and take a balanced approach to meet our goals.       

In our next article, we’ll explore how specific changes to Kirkland’s tree code can address some emerging issues we have noticed with our monitoring efforts. An update of the tree code amendment project will be given at the April 25 Planning Commission meeting, then a more in-depth review of proposed tree codes will occur at the May 9 Planning Commission meeting.

Councilmember Tom Neir will not seek Re-Election in 2019

Councilmember Tom Neir

Kirkland City Councilmember Tom Neir announced earlier this week that he will not seek re-election to Council Position #2 this fall due to growing demands from his business. 

“I make this announcement with great sadness,” said Councilmember Neir.  “I love Kirkland. Serving on the Kirkland City Council has been one of life’s great honors."

Councilmember Neir stated that recently his business has required an increased level of commitment and focus, “It is clear to me that I simply won’t have time to meet the high standard of service I expect of myself as a Councilmember.”

Additionally, Councilmember Neir encouraged all qualified residents to explore running for the Council seat, “There is no better way to serve our community. Our recent Council appointment process has shown that we have many talented and dedicated residents who are ready to step up. I will help future candidates any way I can, and I am excited to see what they will accomplish.”

Neir was elected in 2017 for a two-year term and will serve through December 31, 2019. Neir is Chairman of the Kirkland Planning and Economic Development Committee and serves on the Public Works/Parks/Human Service Committee.  He also represents Kirkland regionally on the Eastside Transportation Partnership and the Water Resource Inventory Area (WRIA 8) Management Committee. 

Kingsgate Park and Ride Transit-Oriented Development

Kingsgate Park and Ride TOD

Ryug Frostinson’s Home for Fairies, Elves and Gnomes

Gnomes, fairies, elves and hobbits have new lodging available in Juanita Beach Park, thanks to an aging cottonwood tree and creative Kirkland Parks staff.

The roughly 6-foot tall stump is perched mischievously in the park’s grassy field, on the north side of Juanita Drive directly east of the tennis courts. The diminutive dwelling is suitable for all species of stubby stature, featuring a doorway, windows and even a tiny cedar shake roof. Parks staff put the finishing touches on the whimsical structure on Friday, March 15, adding brightly-colored flower-festooned window boxes and a crafty placard proclaiming the stump “Ryug Frostinson’s home for fairies, elves and gnomes.”

The tree’s potential as hobbit housing was revealed during a routine tree assessment, periodically done to ensure the safety of parks users. Cottonwood is notorious for brittleness with age and heartwood deterioration, so assessments are commonly done to identify high-risk trees and slate them for removal. During his assessment of the old cottonwood, Kirkland Parks’ Field Arborist Doug Hunter spotted a long narrow crack near the tree’s base, peered inside, and discovered that the tree was quite hollow.

He was immediately struck by the idea of repurposing the old tree. He had recently read a story about a similarly hollow cottonwood that had been converted into a “Little Free Library,” which kicked his creativity into high gear.

He pitched his idea to the Kirkland Parks Maintenance and Operations team and a plan was hatched.

“Parks staff unanimously fell in love with this project and we know the community will too,” said Green Kirkland Partnership Supervisor Jodie Galvan. “This was such a great opportunity to keep our community safe while adding something creative for families to enjoy. We couldn’t pass it up!”   

The tree’s tiny features were primarily built from repurposed materials, including the roof, which was constructed by Hunter and Parks Groundsperson Ian Frost. Additional project contributors included Jodie Galvan, Rob Martinson, Ryan Fowler and others.

“This was truly a team effort,” Parks and Community Services Director Lynn Zwaagstra said. “We are grateful to our staff for their innovative ideas and hope that everyone gets the chance to enjoy this fun addition to the park.”  

hobbit house

Upcoming Events

132nd Square Park



 132nd Square Park Community Open House

Tuesday, March 26, 6 to 8 p.m. 

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 13220 NE 132nd Street

City staff will be discussing major investments to 132nd Square Park. Attendees will learn about two projects happening at the park: design of a stormwater retrofit project underneath the park; and a Park Master Plan process. Community members will be able to ask questions and share concerns with City staff. For more information about the projects, please visit our website at: Kirkland News Room.

Town Hall Map



Upcoming Legislative Town Halls

Local Town Hall meetings are a great place learn more about what your lawmakers are working on in Olympia! Depending on where you live in Kirkland you reside in one of three legislative districts, each of which is served by a senator and two representatives.

To find out what district you’re in, please visit: Legislative District Finder

Town Hall meeting details:

District 48: Town Hall takes place 10:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 23, at Redmond City Hall. Rep. Walen Rep. Slatter Sen. Kuderer (Redmond City Hall is located at: 15670 N.E. 85th Street in Redmond. Doors open at 10.)

District 1: Town Hall takes place 1:30 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 23, at Cascadia College in Mobius Hall. Sen. Guy Palumbo Rep. Stanford Rep. Shelley Kloba (Cascadia College is located at: 18345 Campus Way N.E. in Bothell.)

District 45: Town Hall takes place 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 23, at the Lake Washington Institute of Technology auditorium (room W404). Sen. Manka Dhingra Rep. Larry Springer Rep. Roger Goodman (Lake Washington Institute of Technology is located at: 11605 132nd Ave N.E. in Kirkland.)

CKC Volunteers

Help Remove Invasive Plants on the Cross Kirkland Corridor 

Monday, March 25 9 to 11 a.m.

Location: At NE 55th St ​Parking available along NE 55th St east of CKC

What should you bring?​​

  • ​Water to drink (note that there are no bathroom facilities)
  • Wear long pants, long sleeves, sturdy traction boots or shoes (ground may be uneven or slippery)
  • Leather gloves if you have them (extras available)
  • Tools provided
  • Under 18 need signed parent permission (waiver form)

coffee with a cop

Coffee with a Cop

Tuesday, 8:30 a.m., March 26

Kirkland Starbucks, 12209 85th Street

The City of Kirkland invites you to attend Coffee with a Cop, an informal opportunity to meet your local law enforcement professionals. This event is hosted by the Kirkland Police Department and all are welcome to attend. We hope to see you there!

Race and Equity Summit

2nd Annual Eastside Race and Leadership Summit

Bellevue Presbyterian Church, 1717 Bellevue Way NE

Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., March 29  


Join the Eastside Race and Leadership Coalition for a day of information and inspiration!

The summit is geared toward people doing equity work in East King County, but all are welcome. We encourage equity advocates from throughout the Puget Sound region to come connect and learn from each other.

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS: Jimmy Matta, Mayor of Burien, WA, Kalika Curry, Community Impact Manager for Eastside Pathways

Attendees will participate in breakout sessions following each keynote to dive deeper into conversations, network, and explore tangible action steps they can take in their community work in the coming months.