On Tuesday, December 6th, several City staff and councilmembers met with WCC trustees, members of the Wedgwood Land Use Committee (WLUC), and members of the Ravenna-Bryant Community Association to discuss the Vision Plan and how to achieve several of its stated goals. We were fortunate to have been accompanied by:
- City Council President, Richard Conlin and his legislative aid Elaine Ko;
- Councilmember Sally Clark, who chairs the Committee on the Built Environment;
- Karen Ko with the Department of Neighborhood;
- Jim Curtin with Seattle Department of Transportation; and
- Chip Nevins with the Seattle Parks Department.
The WLUC requested the meeting to discuss the Vision Plan and what we hope to initiate in 2013, which is a neighborhood discussion of land use along 35th Ave NE. While the Vision Plan identifies some extremely useful general themes and shared goals, there is not enough detail within the document to make planning-level decisions for the neighborhood. Therefore, the Vision Plan’s first two suggested actions are:
- “Undertake a neighborhood plan that includes a review of current zoning standards and design guidelines with the City Department of Planning and Development. Revise development standards as appropriate in accordance with community preferences established in the neighborhood plan.”
- “Work with Seattle DPD to establish neighborhood-specific design guidelines that direct new development.”
Since the unveiling of the Vision Plan in 2010, these two suggested actions have been the Wedgwood Land Use Committee’s two primary objectives. Typically though, neighborhoods that pursue these two tasks are identified as “Urban Villages,” a classification within the Comprehensive Plan for neighborhoods that have been designated to accommodate more density. Given that Urban Villages are population dense, the City can justify funding the development of these neighborhood planning tools, or updates to these tools. Along with great potential for City funding, the Urban Village classification has a more defined path for Council approval of these tools. Therefore, over this past year, the WLUC has been meeting with councilmembers, talking with City staff, and brainstorming with Planning Commission members to identify a process to develop and obtain Council approval of these neighborhood planning tools.
During Tuesday’s walk, we shared our general process for completing these land use planning tools. We also discussed a lot more as well…too much in fact to go into great detail in a single post. However, during our walk we showed the City the new Wedgwood Apartment project that’s quickly taking shape at the former JCC site. We showed the City the Morningside Substation that the Parks Department is in the process of acquiring on our behalf (which requires Council approval). We discussed current zoning designations along 35th Ave NE relative to the goals described within the Vision Plan. We discussed the potential development of design guidelines and a streetscape plan for 35th Ave NE. We discussed traffic issues along 35th Ave NE (in front of the Post Office) and at the intersection of NE 75th Street. We discussed pedestrian safety issues, such as sidewalks and a crosswalk at NE 80th Street. And we showed off Wedgwood’s favorite Christmas tree lot and new gathering place, including the new Wedgwood Emergency HUB, where Councilmember Clark is planning on picking up her tree this year from.
It was an excellent opportunity to share the goals of the Vision Plan, discuss our identified process, and receive feedback from councilmembers and City staff. They all had extremely encouraging things to say about the work of our community. We are eager to share this process and proposed timeline with the community in January at our next community meeting on January 11th. More details and specifics on the meeting will be shared shortly. In the meantime, feel free to email if you have any land use related questions.
On Monday night, the Committee on the Built Environment hosted a public meeting at the Roosevelt High School auditorium. All 9 City Councilmembers were at the meeting to hear from the packed auditorium and the 80 who signed up to comment. The WCC does not currently have an official position on this issue (we’re still discussing it). So, this post is is intended to be an unbiased summary of what occurred for your edification.
After some introductory remarks and a brief summary of how the legislative rezone for Roosevelt began, Councilmember Sally Clark allowed a few minutes to the Department of Planning and Development to describe the proposed rezone and then Jim O’Halloran who chairs the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association’s (RNA’s) Land Use Committee to describe a revised rezone plan. NOTE: links to the video of the meeting is below for those that have +3 hours to spare!
DPD’s Proposed Rezone:
In April 2011, DPD issued a draft legislative rezone plan that largely resembled what the Roosevelt community prepared to meet the City’s density requirements for residential urban villages. In response to this April rezone, the mayor and others (e.g., Councilmember Burgess [Vice Chair of the Committee on the Built Environment] and local land use bloggers) requested that density is increased for Roosevelt given the future light rail station that will be centrally located in that neighborhood. Therefore, in June 2011, DPD issued a revised legislative rezone which was presented at this meeting. This revised plan does provide further density through two significant changes: 1) An increase from 65 to 85 foot height limit on the station overlay, which is essentially focused around the location of the current QFC grocery and 2) An increase from 40 to 65 feet on the ‘high school properties,’ which is essentially the properties immediately south of the Roosevelt High School where a planned development has been proposed. Click HERE to visit DPD’s Roosevelt Rezone Overview website.
RNA’s Sustainable Livable Roosevelt Plan:
On Monday, the day of the public hearing, the RNA issued their Sustainable, Livable Roosevelt Plan, which Councilmember Clark pointed out during the hearing has an acronym of SLuRP. This plan is a response from the Roosevelt community to satisfy the request for increased density from its earlier plan and also includes height increases to 85 and 65 feet. In the SLuRP, the 85 foot height limit would be shifted to the southeast relative to DPD’s proposed plan so it was located in ‘downtown Roosevelt.’ The 65 foot height (midrise) zone would be shifted to the northeast along Interstate 5 and south of Calvary Christian Assembly. The ‘high school properties’ would remain 40 feet. The SLuRP also proposes an east-west greenway bike corridor along North 66th Street. According to the numbers presented by Mr. O’Halloran, the SLuRP would provide even more density than DPD’s plan.
Below are some links to other sources who covered the public hearing.
- Publicola’s summary of the meeting (as well as other non-related local political stories). Note, they inaccurately identify Jim O’Halloran (chair of the RNA land use committee) as RNA President, Peter James.
- Roger Valdez with the Seattle Land Use blog, which has been the most vocal critic of the neighborhood’s earlier plan and their opposition to last minute revisions. (Post 1 and Post 2)
- Jim O’Halloran’s summary on the Roosevelt Neighborhood Seattle blog.
- An excellent “lesson’s learned” post by the Seattle Transit Blog which appears to capture the dilemna of this issue in an unbiased manner.
As promised, here are links to the video of the +3 hour meeting. Most of the content shared above occurred within the first 30 minutes. The later part of the meeting is set aside for public comment.
Roosevelt Rezone Public Hearing. Part 1 of 3 (Introductions, Stand Up Comedy by Sally Clark, DPD and RNA Presentations, and Public Comment). Special thanks to Councilmember Sally Clark for giving Wedgwood a shout out at minute 8:18 on our ongoing discussions to develop a neighborhood plan!
Roosevelt Rezone Public Hearing. Part 2 of 3 (Public Comment)
Roosevelt Rezone Public Hearing. Part 3 of 3 (Public Comment)
Not able to make it to tonight’s (9/19) public hearing at 6PM in Roosevelt High School’s auditorium on the proposed Roosevelt legislative rezone? There will be plenty of tweets to follow:
Councilmember Sally Clark tweeted earlier today:
Planning to tweet at the Roosevelt Rezone public hearing tonight (6pm, RHS Theatre)? Neighbors are using hashtag #RRzone
Also, according to the RavennaBlog (a fantastic hyperlocal blog by the way) has all the different sides represented via twitter:
For those of you who cannot attend, you have three live-tweeters to choose from: Us (@RavennaBlog), the Roosevelt Neighborhood Blog (@Roosiehood), and one of Seattle Transit Blog’s writers, Bruce Nourish (@brucenourish). If you ARE attending tonight’s hearing and would like to contribute to the Twitter conversation, we’ll be using the hashtag #RRzone. Folks at home can follow along here.
Those following local land use news in NE Seattle may be aware of this rezone and the controversy surrounding it. For those not familiar, this is a quick summary of the situation intended to be wholly unbiased (feel free to comment below to clarify as necessary):
The Roosevelt neighborhood is identified as an Residential Urban Village, a designation that comes with particular growth targets under the City’s Comprehensive Plan. Back in the ’90′s, the Roosevelt developed a neighborhood plan to help growth within their community occur in a manner that was comfortable and characteristic of the community’s vision. When Sound Transit began the siting process for the North Link light rail line, the Roosevelt community worked with Sound Transit to have the Roosevelt station located in the center of the neighborhood instead of closer to Interstate 5. In anticipation of this transit station, the community successfully received grants to update their neighborhood plan which took many years (2006-2011). Through this, the neighborhood came up with a zoning concept which the City Council appropriated money for the Department of Planning and Development to refine for Council’s adoption. After the DPD issued their recommendation, which was similar to what the community developed and met the City’s growth targets for Residential Urban Village, some called for even greater density due to the presence of the new light rail station proposed for their neighborhood. So, the debate is essentially whether the proposed legislative rezone is dense enough.
There are two vocal sides to this particular issue. One side is that of the community’s who are upset that they’ve spent many years working on something which meets the City’s growth targets only for them to feel as though their process is taken over at the last minute by a few vocal bloggers. Another side is that of those arguing for Transit Oriented Development (TOD) which focuses density around transit hubs, which Roosevelt will surely be with its new North Link station, as an effective way to encourage rapid transit and the benefits that come along with that.
The Wedgwood Community Council currently does not have a formal position on the rezone. Therefore, the following is a list of resources to help educate yourself on the issue. Please post below if there are other good resources that are not included.