Lakepointe is one of the most visionary and exciting prospects, that has continued to command rapt attention and interest; from Councilmembers, Council hopefuls, and the community, alike. At last night's Candidate Forum, the prospect of a bond measure got some air time, so while that particular question wasn't posed directly to me, I want to add my own thoughts on it. Let me also say that: joining the Council will give me a new purview and insight into the particulars for the path forward here, which may refine the tack I take in office; regardless, I do want to lay down a few markers of intent for my own high level vision for Lakepointe.
Given that Lakepointe is a sprawling and storied topic, perhaps the best way to talk about it is to start with recognizing what it has been for a long time: an industrial site. Situated on the North end of Lake Washington at the mouth of the Sammamish River, Lakepointe is currently home to a cement / asphalt plant. Previously, it was a dump / landfill site, and prior to that, during the timber boom, a mill.
It's been something else for a very long time, too: a much-sought-after, and equally elusive, site for future development. As 2003's Kenmore By the Lake puts it:
It's absolutely as true today as it ever was, and just to drive the point home — that book was published *twenty* years ago. For decades, the City has courted a variety of developers on a wide variety of dazzling-sounding projects — higher-rise office buildings, housing, hotels, among others — but none have ever come to fruition, and I'm not seeing any clear signals that we should expect a different outcome from additional attempts at the same failed strategy.
So instead of waiting for the perfect, Prince Charming-esque developer to show up with their own vision and plans, we need to get more serious about creating our own future plan for development. It's time for Kenmore to drive this more directly.
If the ideal partner shows up tomorrow with a check to buy and develop Lakepointe in a preferred manner: great, let's talk to them. But assuming that's not in the cards, let's talk more seriously about a realistic Plan B that puts the community in the driver's seat. Going forward with a bond is a strong bet I'd be very inclined to support. Lakepointe stands to be a monumental treasure for the community, and has continued to command a lot of interest from residents to size up what might come there. As a firm believer in robust civic engagement, those residents also deserve a more direct say in the matter: putting forward a bond proposal will necessarily stimulate a vigorous community discussion to coalesce our hopes and dreams into something tangible and actionable.
Perhaps the biggest outstanding question for me is paying for it, so let me be clear: while modest property tax increases are palatable for me, they are not my first preference, as I consider property taxes to be fairly regressive. There are other tools in the toolbelt, and I will continue to seek and advocate for more progressive revenue streams that do not put continued strain on our residents — tax policy is a whole deserving topic unto itself, but you have my word on this: if the project success does come to necessarily lean more heavily on property taxes, we'll put together a plan that the community believes in, feels good about, and is excited to support — that buy-in is everything, and everyone gets a seat at the table. It would need 60%+ support to pass, so this will be a true expression of community intent, which is what this campaign is all about.
I don't want to sugarcoat it: the McMaster shingle mill opened in 1909. Pushing on a century+ of various industrial uses probably means a long climb out on cleanup and restoration efforts. We've gotten some insistent assurances that everything's safe, but lingering community concerns casts a lot of heavy doubt on those claims, which never seem to get properly addressed to residents' satisfaction.
I pledge to take a different tack on Council: we either need to put forward a clear, data and science-driven case to conclusively prove that Lakepointe is safe, or we need to get more honest about it's current state, and put together a candid and serious plan to restore or mitigate any lingering concerns. To adapt the 'Sagan standard': big claims require big evidence.
Bottom line: we've got a planet and a community to heal. Sometimes that means confronting tough truths with transparency; sometimes that means charging directly at our big problems with resolve and purpose, and grit for when the going gets tough. Most often, that means bringing the community together around a shared vision for the future. My commitment is to creating the best city we can, and helping Kenmore decisively will its future into existence.