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?