Update on the City's response to COVID-19, COVID-19: Fact or Fiction, Coming up at Council, 85th Street Station Plan, and More!

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this week in kirkland

March 12, 2020

city of kirkland washington

Update on the City's Response to COVID-19

The City continues to operate its Emergency Operations Center to coordinate our response to the presence of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in our community.

Update on First Responders 

The Kirkland Fire and Police Departments remain fully staffed and responding to calls as normal.  City first responders have CDC recommended personal protection equipment and are following recommended protocols.  

The City of Kirkland currently has nineteen firefighters and zero police officers in quarantine.  Twenty-seven firefighters have now been released after completing their recommended quarantine period. Most first responders are in isolation or quarantine at home. Fire Station 21 continues to be kept offline and is available to firefighters for isolation, a second facility is being used for quarantine.  

“We are grateful that we’ve been able to release many firefighters back to duty.” said Kirkland Fire Chief Joe Sanford. “I continue to be impressed everyday with our first responders and I can’t express how proud I am of their dedication to serving the community”. 

All of our first responders that are currently symptomatic are in the process of being tested. We’ve had twenty-two tests come back negative, and one positive test for COVID-19. For the tests results that have been negative, first responders will remain in quarantine for the entire 14-day period recommended by Public Health Seattle-King County. While the City appreciates the outpouring of support and concern from the community for our first responders, the City cannot accept donations at this time.

Update on Guidance from the State and County 

Under the order of the Governor, events that take place in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties with more than 250 people are prohibited by the state. This order applies to gatherings for social, spiritual and recreational activities.

These include but are not limited to: community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based, or sporting events; parades; concerts; festivals; conventions; fundraisers and similar activities. 

The decision to prohibit large-scale events was not taken lightly – and involved discussions with many leaders. This is a strategy to slow the spread of the virus, reduce the number of those infected, and help prevent serious illness. This strategy is referred to as flattening the curve, reducing the rate of spread to avoid overwhelming the healthcare system. 

In addition, the local health officer provided the direction that public events with fewer than 250 attendees are prohibited, unless event organizers can take steps to minimize risk. Event organizers must ensure that: 

  • Older and vulnerable individuals have been encouraged not to attend
  • Recommendations for social distancing and limiting close contact are met
  • Employees or volunteers leading an event are screened for symptoms each day
  • Proper hand washing, sanitation, and cleaning is readily available
  • Environmental cleaning guidelines are followed (e.g., clean and disinfect high touch surfaces daily or more frequently)

For retail businesses — such as grocery stores, drug stores, movie theaters, restaurants, and other retail establishments— Public Health has issued a Guidance document that details how to comply with the new order.  

Some key elements of the new guidance now encourage employees, onsite contractors and customers to: 

  • Stop handshaking – use other non-contact methods of greeting
  • Clean hands at the door and schedule regular hand-washing reminders by email
  • Promote “tap and pay” to limit handling of cash
  • Create new habits and reminders to avoid touching their faces and cover coughs and sneezes
  • Disinfect frequently-touched surfaces like doorknobs, tables, desks, and handrails regularly
  • Increase ventilation by opening windows or adjusting air conditioning

Businesses are encouraged to avoid crowding through using booking to stagger customer flow, using online transactions, and following guidance to limit attendance at larger gatherings. Businesses are also encouraged to strengthen health screening for staff who handle food directly and ensure have staff practice strict hygiene. 

More information is available on the Public Health Seattle-King County website. 

Update from Lake Washington School District 

The Lake Washington School District (LWSD) has made the decision to close all schools from March 12 through March 27, and re-evaluate any further closures during that time.  

For more information visit the Lake Washington School District website.  

Update on City Operations 

Following current direction from Public Health—Seattle & King County, and our ongoing needs to have the capacity to staff our emergency operations center we have concluded that the City will be cancelling all City evening meetings except for City Council meetings until the end of March. This includes Commissions, Boards, and all Neighborhood Association meetings. The City of Kirkland Passport Office will be closed from Monday, March 9th through Friday, March 20th.  

The City has also cancelled all recreation programming and classes and closed community centers to the public through Tuesday, March 31. 

Further, the City has closed athletic fields for organized sports through Tuesday, March 31, and has cancelled all organized events at our picnic pavilions, also through Tuesday, March 31. While the City encourages informal use of the parks, please be mindful of the recommended social distancing and proper handwashing and sanitation.  

The Kirkland Municipal Court is modifying their court schedule. Effective Monday, March 16 - March 27, 2020, the court will reschedule all hearings except for mandatory DV/DUI charges (which must be heard the next judicial day) and in-custody defendants.  The Court will tentatively resume normal operations on 3/30/20. More court details are available at: https://www.kirklandwa.gov/depart/Municipal_Court.htm 

More information and full list of recommendations are available from Public Health—Seattle & King County  https://kingcounty.gov/depts/health/news/2020/March/4-covid-recommendations.aspx 

The City will continue to update its website with information on the COVID-19 outbreak 

CDC image for Goals of Community Mitigation

COVID-19: Fact or Fiction

COVID Fact or Fiction image

We are committed to keeping the public informed and up-to-date as information becomes available to us. In light of that, we wanted to take a moment to help you distinguish between the facts and fiction.

Fiction: The City is planning to shut down local businesses

Though the City Manager has the authority to close businesses under a proclamation of emergency. The City has have no plans to do so at this time. In fact, the City is preparing informative packets for local businesses to help maintain operations through this incident. Please go to Resources for Kirkland Businesses Impacted by COVID-19 for information. Resources include workplace health recommendations, business continuity guidance, unemployment information, insurance information and financial assistance. Additionally, the City of Kirkland is mailing a COVID-19 resource packet to all Kirkland businesses.

Fiction: The City is going to require that all community members be in home quarantine

The City does not have the authority to require community members to go into quarantine. This power rests with the Local Health Officer Dr. Duchin from Public Health - Seattle & King County. We have not been made aware of any movement toward a widespread mandatory quarantine at this time. We encourage community members to follow all public health guidelines.

Fact: All of our first responders that were symptomatic have been tested. We have had 22 first responders test negative and one test positive for COVID-19.

Fact: The City is focused on supporting our first responders and community members at the local level. Over the last two weeks our Emergency Operations Center has been able to support our response to this incident through activities such as purchasing additional equipment, making needed resources available, and communicating with the public.

Fact: The Council and Mayor have been advocating for resources for our community at the county, state, and federal levels so that our businesses, community members, and first responders are supported.

Fact: The Kirkland Life Care Center is receiving support

In response to requests from the City, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has sent a strike team – consisting of physicians, physicians' assistants, nurses, technicians and other medical care personnel at the request of the state, to augment the clinical staff at Life Care Center of Kirkland, a skilled nursing facility.

Fact: One of the most important things you can do to help us respond is to stay informed. Check guidelines for Public Health, CDC and DOH frequently for the latest information https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health.aspx. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with questions through social media.

Coming up at Council

Kirkland City Logo

The City Council will be discussing a variety of important topics during its meeting on Tuesday, March 17. As always, the Kirkland City Council welcomes public involvement at its meetings, but in response to the COVID-19 outbreak is taking every precaution to ensure compliance with Public Health – Seattle & King County recommendations to minimize close contact and implement social distancing practices. We are still working through what public attendance at Tuesday’s council meeting will look like and appreciate your patience as we strive to be nimble, accessible and safe. The safety of our community remains our top priority.

Please remember that Council meetings can be watched in real time on the Watch Council Meetings webpage, and that comments can be submitted to the Council in advance of the meeting via: citycouncil@kirklandwa.gov. Once the agenda is finalized, it will be available on our website at: Kirkland City Council Agendas.  

Here are a few highlights from the agenda:

Downtown Parking Garage Update

The City Council will receive an update on the ongoing safety improvements at the parking garage under the downtown library at 308 Kirkland Ave. This project is replacing inoperable or damaged vehicle and pedestrian doors and is making other safety improvements such as replacing the cameras and other technology. Council will also discuss operating hours for the garage including potential ongoing nighttime closures between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. For more information about this project, or to sign up to receive updates via email, please visit: Library parking garage upgrades. 

Community Safety Advisory Group (ComSAG) Report

Due to resources being redirected to the City’s response to COVID-19 staff is bringing only a summary of the ComSAG report to the March 17 Council meeting. Given the magnitude of the potential investments staff felt it was important to get the most relevant information to the Council and the public as quickly as possible. The full ComSAG report will be transmitted to the Council in April.

The ComSAG’s recommendation to the Council is coming after five months of meetings to educate group members and discuss what elements of this potential ballot measure the ComSAG believes are most important for the City. The ComSAG is recommending two measures be placed on the November 3, 2020 ballot for Fire and Emergency Medical Services.

  • A permanent levy of $0.124/$1,000 to fund 24 new firefighter/EMTs.
  • An excess levy (bond) of $0.101/$1,000 to pay for capital improvements to existing fire stations and the construction of a new station.

Together these measures would provide for a new Fire Station 27, station renovations and seismic retrofits for Fire Station 21 (Forbes Creek), Fire Station 22 (Houghton) and Fire Station 26 (N. Rose Hill), as well as improved response times, and firefighter/EMT health and safety improvements.

The Council will be reviewing these recommendations over the next three months and will initiate an extensive public outreach program, including a community survey, prior to making any final decisions. 

If the Council authorized both ballot measures as recommended, the total for both would be $0.225 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, and an annual median-home cost of $164.34. For more information on the ComSAG, please visit the ComSAG webpage. 

Missing Middle Housing

The City Council will consider adoption of amendments to the City’s Zoning Code to encourage the development of new neighborhood-compatible housing that is more affordable by nature of its more compact size – including Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), cottages, duplexes and triplexes. If adopted, these changes would allow these housing types to be developed in all single-family zones and would foster additional housing supply by reducing parking requirements in locations well-served by transit. Further, the code amendments would eliminate the requirement that owners live on a property with an ADU, allow two ADUs per property, and make the permit review and approval process more streamlined.

Take Our NE 85th Street Station Area Plan Survey

The City Council is holding a study session on Tuesday, March 17 at 5:30 p.m. in the Peter Kirk Room to discuss the N.E. 85th St. Station Area Plan. The study session will consist of a project introduction and process overview as the City begins work on the plan. An initial “Opportunities and Challenges Analysis” is underway, and part of that includes a business/employee-specific survey. If you work in Kirkland or own/operate a business in Kirkland, please participate in our 5-minute survey by visiting: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BusinessNE85th.

Your participation in this survey helps us leverage this regional investment to create the most value and quality of life for Kirkland. We are excited to provide the community with an opportunity to envision the future for this area.   

Future public engagement opportunities will be announced in upcoming months that extend to all Kirkland residents and interested parties. If you are interested in learning more, please visit the project website at www.kirklandwa.gov/stationareaplan and sign up for email alerts through the link on that page.

Kirkland Station Area Plan Image for TWIK March 12

Traffic Alerts for March 12 – March 17

Totem Lake Boulevard daytime and nighttime work continues (Totem Lake)

Totem Lake drivers will experience traffic delays on Totem Lake Boulevard and Northeast 124th Street this week while contractors from the City of Kirkland and the Northshore Utility District continue to prepare the urban center for its expanding population of workers and residents.

Marshbank Construction is closing two of Totem Lake Boulevard’s five lanes between 120th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 124th Street until May while its crews rebuild the road and install a new retaining wall that will help support the road. To build that wall throughout the next few weeks, Marshbank Construction will be closing Bank of America’s north entrance, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

As such, drivers will have access to one northbound and one southbound lane. A pedestrian detour is in place along the southwest side of Totem Lake Boulevard. King County Metro has temporarily relocated the northbound bus stop along Totem Lake Boulevard to 120th Avenue Northeast.

Meanwhile, the Northshore Utility District is closing a short section of Northeast 124th Street during the next two weeks so its contractors can upgrade the area’s sewer and stormwater systems.

The 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. closures began March 10 and will end on March 24, near 124th Street’s intersection with the Cross Kirkland Corridor. 

For more information, visit: www.kirklandwa.gov/totemlakeconnector or www.kirklandwa.gov/totemlake

Northeast 132nd Street surface water project (Kingsgate)

Totem Lake area drivers should expect lane-shifts this week on Northeast 132nd Street near Evergreen Health Medical Center while the City’s contractor repaves the sections of the street its crews dug into to repair a failing stormwater pipe.

Forma Construction will keep two lanes of Northeast 132nd Street open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., between 121st Avenue Northeast and 122nd Place Northeast. The bicycle lane on the street’s south side will re-open early next week.

108th Avenue Northeast water and sewer upgrade

A City of Kirkland contractor plans to begin on March 9 the eight-month process of upgrading an aging water and sewer main along 108th Avenue Northeast.

Marshbank Construction is replacing the two systems—both more than five decades old—to increase their capacities to serve Kirkland’s growing population and to reduce the systems’ needs for maintenance.

That need is most urgent in the sewer line, which runs from Northeast 68th Street to Northeast 53rd Street. Settling soil has created a sag in the sewer line, allowing sewage to accumulate there and requiring maintenance crews to periodically flush the line.

The contractor is also replacing the water main between Northeast 68th and 60th streets.

Marshbank expects to complete the upgrades by November 15. 

VISIT: www.kirklandwa.gov/108thavewatersewer

Map of Totem Lake for March 12 Traffic Updates

Cancelled Events

Out of an abundance of caution and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community, the following events are canceled:

Kirkland Shamrock Run
Saturday, March 14, 7:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. 
Downtown Kirkland and Marina Park
*This event has been converted to digital! For more information, visit: http://www.kirklandshamrockrun.com/

KU Kids at Kirkland Urban
Saturday, March 14, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. 
Kirkland Urban 
For more information, visit: https://www.kirklandurban.com/event/ku-kids/2145540093/

Nowruz Celebration
Sunday, March 15, 12 to 5 p.m.
Marina Park
For more information, visit: http://isows.org/

ORCA Card Service
Wednesday, March 18, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. 
Kirkland City Hall
For more information, visit: https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/transportation/metro/fares-orca/neighborhood-pop-up.aspx

Kirkland Parks and Community Services Job Fair 
Wednesday, March 25, 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Kirkland Parks Maintenance Facility
For more information, visit: http://www.kirklandwa.gov/parksjobs

The Kiwanis Club of Kirkland's 46th Annual Easter Egg Hunt
Sunday, April 12 1:30 p.m.
Peter Kirk Park
For more information, visit: https://kirklandkiwanis.org.