Statement by Mayor Penny Sweet at the Feb 15 Council Meeting
As many of you in our community know, King County is considering the La Quinta Inn in Kirkland as a permanent supportive housing site. The County is conducting standard due diligence on that property before making a final decision and has not finalized the purchase.
The County evaluated all potential hotel sites in Kirkland and identified La Quinta. While the Council strongly supports permanent supportive housing in Kirkland, we have been clear with King County that our support of La Quinta requires extensive community engagement and that legitimate concerns when identified are addressed.
During our last Council meeting on February 1st, the City Manager summarized the statement he had issued earlier that day that outlined the City’s conditional support for the effort. The City Manager’s statement is available on the City’s website.
Since that time, the City published a comprehensive informational website about King County’s potential purchase of La Quinta. Our staff have updated and added information to the website in response to many of the various questions and concerns we have been receiving from the community. This includes what the City knew and when we knew it.
We also began direct engagement with stakeholders in the immediate surroundings of La Quinta, and we will expand that direct engagement if the County moves forward with the purchase. On February 9, Councilmembers Neal Black and Kelli Curtis and I attended a meeting with the school leadership, parents, and students of the Eastside Prep School. We were joined by the City Manager as well as King County representatives. We listened to the concerns raised, answered what questions we could, and intend to find more answers and solutions to the issues if the County moves forward.
Please be assured that we are paying particular attention to the fears and concerns we are hearing about the safety and security of the students and families of the schools and daycares in proximity to the facility. We do hear you, and your feedback is actively informing our engagement strategies with the County, if the project moves forward.
Our staff team has also been responding to many questions and concerns sent to the City by email, phone calls, and submissions to Our Kirkland. To date we’ve received hundreds from community members, and our staff are doing their best to respond.
Finally, our staff are in close contact with King County about the project status, ways to address concerns from the community, and preparing for further community engagement. If the County moves forward with a purchase, the City is fully committed to ensuring that the site and its residents are good neighbors and that all legitimate community concerns, especially those involving safety, are addressed. If the County moves forward, the City will require extensive community engagement. The City will use community feedback to develop an agreement with King County related to the operations of the site, including assurances of community safety, identification of the site operator, and the development of the code of conduct for residents.
The City’s highest priority is the health and safety of our community. We believe that permanent supportive housing can help improve the health and safety of our unhoused neighbors. We also believe that it can be accomplished while prioritizing the health and safety of our children, businesses, and everyone involved in the program. Together, we can be a model for other communities for how to get permanent supportive housing right.