Tonight I feel like I live in a community more than ever before.
Up until last week I lived on 8th Street South in Kirkland, right next to the Little League baseball fields - the street is part of a Kirkland known as the Everest Neighbourhood.
Recently, longtime neighbours of ours, the Aubrey's, decided that it was time to downsize after living here since 1972 and raising their kids in their house on 8th. They applied to subdivide their land, but permission came with the stipulation that 5th Avenue South that connects 6th to 7th should be extended through to 8th - obliterating a footpath and lovely area of the neighbourhood in the process.
Not to mention the fact that commuter traffic generated by such a cut-through would destroy the quiet and kid-friendly street one block west.
An appeal was lodged and tonight a quasi-legal hearing was held at Kirkland City Council. It was quasi-legal in the sense that the council members were effectively judges and jurors on the issue and were not allowed to hear any arguments about the case beforehand. Arguments would be presented for and against and entered into the record and most frustratingly, audience members had to be quiet and respectful - no clapping and no standing up and shouting “WTF!”.
You can understand that I was sitting on my hands and biting my tongue throughout the whole proceedings.
There were many empassioned arguments including one by a neighbour who had done some severe homework, turning the city's own planning policy against itself.
So many friends from the neighbourhood showed up. Many with kids. Everyone supporting the appeal. Did I mention that 7th Street has almost forty kids under ten years of age living on it? It's an old school neighbourhood with young parents; kids playing on the street side of their houses with other kids; neighbours chatting and doing favours for each other.
A community that would have been destroyed by a short-sighted, follow the rules, planning policy.
The end result? A unanimous vote by the council1 in favour of our neighbourhood.
Surrounded by neighbours, I have never felt so much a part of a community.
1 Incidentally, there is a certain council member who urgently requires that a bureaucratic stick be surgically removed from their arse. ↩