As I understand it, our Washington State Growth Management Act is putting pressure on city officials to come up with ideas and changes in order for our city to become compliant with Growth Management requirements. That is understandable. Our planning commission has come up with an idea that might well help in that regard related to the rezoning of a large tract of land on Gravelly Lake Drive SW. I get that.
I do not have a problem with ideas. I love ideas. Conversely, it is my strong opinion that our planning commission and city council must step back to get a clear view of the big picture before changing the zoning for this well established quality residential entrance to our city.
The City of Lakewood still unfairly suffers from our old negative pre-city-hood reputation related to crime and slum conditions. A lot has been done on many fronts to change our city reputation. In fact crime is down 46% from pre-incorporation days. Hardly anyone knows that and our negative reputation as a city lives on.
Now we are faced with a Gravelly Lake Drive rezoning proposal that, if passed, can easily add an instant slum to one of the magnificent gateways to our city. Currently and historically the area in question is zoned as a large lot neighborhood which equates to a potential maximum of about ten homes for the land in question. If the rezone passes, there will be a potential for 33 homes.
Small cheap homes on small 7500 square foot cheap lots mixed in with high quality homes on large lots is a recipe for disaster that can impact on quality of life issues, property values, neighborhood stability, crime, city reputation and the ability of our city to move forward in a positive and progressive manner.
I am referring to an issue that was brought to our attention with great clarity by Lakewood resident, Mark S. Pfeiffer in The Suburban Times dated October 28, 2015, titled Stop Rezoning of Gravelly Lake Drive. Click on the link Stop Rezoning of Gravelly Lake Drive for more details and a chance to sign a petition and or make a comment.
If you agree the rezone is not a good idea, please review and sign the petition. Hopefully our city council and our planning commission will include the petition and petitioner comments as valuable citizen input during their deliberation before voting on this matter.
If you have direct contact with any council member(s) or planning commission member(s), please share your opinion with them.
A petition signer listed the Lakewood City Planning Commission Members as follows:
- Don Daniels
- Connie Coleman-Lacadie
- Robert Estrada
- James Guerrero
- Robert Pourpasand
- John Paul Wagemann
- Christopher Webber
My experience in these matters has been shaped by 46 years in the real estate business, twenty plus years as a police officer and as a home owner previously victimized by zoning decisions. I could share many zoning nightmares with you, but in the interest of time, I am going to present you with a 15 photo report that depicts what might well happen if we change the Gravelly Lake Drive zoning. These fifteen photos of the Forest Green neighborhood in Puyallup, Washington bring one word to mind, slum.
Before closing I wish to share an additional concept. We should focus on the fact that the rezone is the problem at hand. Our city council and planning commission are not the problem. They are simply searching for solutions and processing decisions.
If you agree with the petition signers, then share your concerns with our council, planning commission and take advantage of the petition.
In doing so, let’s be polite and courteous with our city officials. At the same time, let’s encourage our council and planning commission to think about the big long term picture and ask them to seriously consider the negative ramifications of the proposed rezone.
Andie Gernon says
I attended this week’s City Council Study Session at which the upzone of the parcel at Gravelly Lake Drive and Veterans Drive was very thoroughly and thoughtfully discussed. Your discussion here, Joe, and the unfortunate photos are a far cry from what is being considered and do a disservice to the efforts of the City Council and to the needs of our community.
If you have seen the developments in University Place, such as The Ranch and Boulders, that are attracting many former Lakewood civic leaders, you know that a smaller lot and a smaller home in a carefully planned development can be very attractive, high quality, and fill a significant niche that is lacking in Lakewood. I know personally of three such former Lakewood residents who have been unable to find such a home to meet their current needs in Lakewood.
Marilyn Henderson says
The matter is now out of the hands of the Planning Commission. Concerned citizens should direct their comments to the City Council.
While I am not in favor of the R3 zoning, I have heard some alternative plans being discussed – such as R2 zoning, which would be lower density. The problem is that Lakewood has to meet the mandates of the Growth Management Plan (whether or not you agree with it) else lose Federal and State funding.
Andie Gernon says
Well said, Marilyn. thanks for adding to the conversation constructively.
Steve S. says
Regardless of the topic in you’re column, your advice to the readers about remaining polite and courteous in their contact with city Council members is good and appreciated. Your fair-minded approach to the issue goes a long way toward maintaining a civil discussion on the matter. We would all be better off if everybody would only follow such a decent and courteous attitude. I think that it also helps establish a person’s credibility.
David Wilson says
Hey one of those pictures is my house. Daaaaaamn.