Letter to Mayor Guernsey & City Council

in response to Dave and Mame Morris Comments below

June 26, 2017

Greetings,

We have respect for our neighbors Dave and Mame Morris who are fine people and valued members of our community.  However, while we respect their opinions we do not agree with their position on One Harbor Point. Our comments which offer an alternative point of view to the Morris’views (in italics) are listed below in bold.


6/23/17

To:  Mayor Guernsey & City Council

From:  Dave & Mame Morris(2809 Harborview Dr.)

RE:  One Harbor Point comments

Greetings:

We have previously sent in memo’s of “conditional support” for the Cheyney/Haub project, as we wanted time to assess the validity of certain claims or allegations about the project or its proponent, Brad Cheney.  In our opinion, the following “claims” have been proven to have of little or no merit, and should NOT be considered as rationale to deny or delay the One Harbor Point project. 

1.     Nesting Heron claim – not proven or true –

The Herons continue to use the woods next door to our house on a daily basis.  We see them flying back and forth every day.

2.     Multiple offers on the property – not proven or true –

I am interested in making an offer.  No offer has been made because after speaking with John Barline, the Haub’s attorney, about making an offer we were told that the Haubs could not accept another offer as they were already under contract with the Cheney Foundation.

3.     Developers desire to cut the trees, make a “profit”, with little consideration for the town;  not proven or true.  The Cheney family and Foundation have a proven and significant track record of financial & community support for a variety of community facilities and programs over many years.   

A claim that the Cheney Foundation is not trying to make a profit is not true. The Cheney Foundation is attempting to develop One Harbor Point to make a profit in order to maintain the family foundation’s financial strength.  The primary reason for clear cutting the forest and seeking deviations from the existing code is to increase density in order to increase rentable space in order to increase cash flow – like any developer they want to make as much profit as possible.  To claim the Cheney foundation is considering the town can also be questioned.  The citizens have overwhelmingly opposed the One Harbor Point development at all public comment meetings. 

However, there is no doubt that the Cheney Foundation, led by Brad Cheney, has made many generous contributions to Gig Harbor community.  However, providing charitable gifts to the city does not give them the right to live by a separate set of rules than their neighbors.

4.     Not in character with the neighborhood.  Not proven or true.  The size, scope, & density of the project is very similar to the multi-family ownerships just down the street in and around where we live. 

The One Harbor Point development seeks a deviation to increase the density 163% over what the existing code allows.  The density of 29 units in 2.31 acres of land or 12.55 dwelling units per acre is higher density than anywhere else in Gig Harbor.  It is clearly not in character with the neighborhood.  Clear cutting the trees and covering 90% of the property with an asphalt parking lot and apartment buildings is definitely not in character with the neighborhood.

5.     Will cause significant increase in “traffic.”  Not proven or true.  Most of us realize that the hundreds/thousands of cars that stream down Soundview on hi traffic times are simply driving thru town to get to the hi densityneighborhoods North of town (Gig Harbor North, Pt. Richmond, Crescent Valley, East Gig Harbor, Peacock Hill, Olalla, etc.  

What is the old saying?  “If you believe this I have some swamp land in Florida I would like to sell you.”  Do your own math.  29 units with two cars is 58 more cars in our neighborhood than we have now.  But it is worse than that.  The development contemplates 92 cars because it provides 92 on site parking spaces.  If the people owning those cars take only two trips a day that is 184 trips a day, or 1274 trips a week.  If they should do 4 car trips a day, which is probably closer to the actual, there will be 368 more cars on our local streets per day and 2576 per week.  But remember every trip is two-way trip.  They come and go.  Therefore 368 trips is actually 736 more cars on the streets per day.  Compound this with the fact that Harborview is already at service level F or gridlock. Everyone knows the traffic is terrible on Harborview, terrible at the Olympic Drive overpass and terrible at the Willochet overpass. Everyone knows that the city has no plan to address the traffic congestion problem.  Adding 736 more cars per day on those streets will only make the traffic worse.  Gig Harbor should not willfully increase its housing density (and automobile density) over and above the current zoning!

6.     Inadequate parking;  Not proven or true.  These proposed condos for an elder population have adequate “on site” parking. 

Parking for the onsite residents is ample – 92 spaces, 50 in garages and 42 in the parking lot.  On street parking for the other Gig Harbor residents that take walks on Harborview or visit businesses downtown is decreased from what it is now.  Look at the site plan and count the spaces on Harborview and Soundview.  We currently have 35 public parking spaces.  One Harbor Point provides for only 18.

7.     A great spot for a public Park – not proven or true.  

Judge for yourself.  What is better? A beautiful forest converted into a park all residents can enjoy or 2.32 acres clear cut and 90% covered as an asphalt parking lot for 42 cars and apartment buildings.

8.     Higher density developments are inconsistent with the Comp Plan & GMA.    Not proven or true.  The Growth Management Act encourages cities and urban areas to accommodate higher densities and discourages further dense developments outside the Cities growth boundaries. 

This is an out of context misrepresentation of what the Growth Management Act says that has been propagated by the current administration.  Actually, the Growth Management Act encourages Gig Harbor to reduce its housing density because the city is already 78% more dense than the Growth Management Act targets for the year 2030.  Increasing density in downtown Gig Harbor goes against the recommendations of the Act.

9.     If One Harbor Point is not developed by the Cheneys, there can only be constructed a few single family homes on the property.  Not proven or true. The waterfront could accommodate 5 houses, and the uplands 10 additional houses – so 15 homes in all.  Local builders would be elated to have available 15 high end homes for single family occupants.  These homesites would not need, or have very limited,  co-ordinated architectural controls, parking controls, view controls, and enforceable landscaping or yard maintenance controls, or street improvement requirements.   

Most residents would prefer the current zoning be enforced allowing single family homes with yards, trees and landscaping to an asphalt parking lot and apartment buildings covering more than 90% of the 2.3 acres.

Rationale to SUPPORT One Harbor Point

In our opinion the following points appear to us to suggest support for the approval of One Harbor Point compared to alternate uses for the property.   

1.      Expanded views;  The removal of the trees, supplemented by quality architectural buildings separated by view corridors, and lower profile rooflines—will create views where NONE exists today due to the view blockage created by the existing trees along Soundview.  

The view diagram in development agreement is misleading.  For example; they claim a northerly view corridor that is obstructed by the Boat Barn.  They claim an easterly view corridor that is obstructed by my house. Cutting down trees and replacing them with buildings that have two stories above a garage will provide little if any improvement in the view. 

2.     Expanded Public waterfront access.  The unprecedented offer by the Cheneys to “donate” the boatbarn waterfront and associated parking, docks, and public moorage—is beyond generous to the long term benefit of the public, the town,  and our neighborhood. 

Whether or not the gift of the Boat Barn will expand public access we do not know because the specifics regarding the conditional gift of the barn and the easements and reserved uses retained for One Harbor Point’s residents has not been disclosed in the development agreement.

3.     Quality project proponent;  The Cheney family is a role model for contributions to the Gig Harbor community – and having their name on this project guarantees a hi quality development. 

The Cheneys are a role model for the city as a charitable family foundation and the gifts they have provided the city are a value and are appreciated by the residents.  But that does not make them quality developers.  One would have many reasons to question the quality of a development that clear cuts the trees and replaces them with an asphalt parking lot and apartment buildings.

4.     Quality co-ordinated architecture and landscaping & perpetual maintenance of structures and grounds.  As a prominent point of entry to the Harbor, this site deserves a hi quality “look and feel” by the occupants as well as the neighbors, and general public.  An assemblage of single family homes, for example, could never offer the kind of “look and feel” assurances that the Cheney’s are offering. 

According to the city’s criteria for approval this development must “demonstrate enhancement of existing downtown character.”  Downtown’s residential character is a historic fishing village with an assemblage of single family homes.  A multi-family apartment complex with a large asphalt parking lot is clearly out of character with the rest of downtown and therefore could not enhance it.  According the development agreement there will be 1.5 parking spaces per unit outside of the garages.  As a prominent entry point for Gig Harbor, how does clear cutting an iconic forest and replacing it with parking lot for 42 cars plus 10 Multi-tenant apartment buildings provide a high quality “look and feel” as one enters Gig Harbor.

5.     Traffic, parking, street improvements, parking improvements.  Through the rigorous reviews required by a “co-ordinated” planned development such as the Cheneys propose—There are improved assurances that there will be major improvements to the existing streets, sidewalks, lighting, and other safety measures. 

How will traffic and parking improve?  Total parking spaces for the public on Soundview and Harborview will decrease from 35 to only 18.  Adding 736 car trips to Harborview, Soundview and Willochet will NOT improve traffic conditions.  It will make them worse.


The Katkes urge the Council to deny the One Harbor Point Development agreement for the following reasons;

1.     It is not consistent with the adopted vision for the Harbor.

2.     It does not preserve or enhance the existing downtown character.

3.     The project does not provide a superior design solution.  In fact the One Harbor Point development has not provided any specific design guidance and only pledges to work with the design board to achieve one.  This is not acceptable.  This is way too loosy goosy.

4.     The proposed deviations to existing development standards are not consistent with the public convenience or welfare.  Traffic will be increased by approximately 736 car visits a day without a plan to address traffic.  Public parking will decrease by 17 spaces in a city without enough public parking.  This will definitely inconvenience the public and it is bad for the downtown businesses.  No parking no business!