A Walk in Wedgwood with Mayor Murray

Mayor Ed Murray was welcomed to Wedgwood by Brianna McDonald, president of the Wedgwood Community Council (at left), Dass Adams, community council volunteer (in hat) and Jennifer Stormont of the Future of 35th Ave NE committee.

On Tuesday, August 18, 2015, Mayor Murray of Seattle took a tour of Wedgwood’s commercial intersections along 35th Ave NE to look at issues of building use, pedestrian accessibility, traffic flow and the changes to city zoning requirements which could make for a more shop-able and walkable Wedgwood.

The process of deciding how we can build the future of Wedgwood began with a wake-up call, the “Condo Controversy.”  At a Wedgwood Community Council meeting in 2007, neighbors presented their concerns about a new building to be built at 8606 35th Ave NE.

A former grocery store at 8606 35th Ave NE had, since 1989, been used as the Jewish Community Center (JCC).  By 2007 the JCC was in process of moving out.  The building owner had sold the site to a developer who planned to build a four-story condo building.  We called it the “Condo Controversy” because at that time, even community activists in the Wedgwood Community Council were caught unawares — was it really legal for a four-story building to be built along 35th Ave NE in Wedgwood?

Mayor Ed Murray heard about Wedgwood's Future of 35th Ave NE Project from co-chairs Mary Beth O'Neill (left) and Jennifer Stormont.

The community got a chance to catch its breath when the condo project went “on hold” during the economic downturn of 2008-2009.  The Wedgwood Community Council then formed an initiative to take action on land use issues.  In 2009 a committee was formed to apply for grant funding through the City of Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods to create a Vision Plan for Wedgwood, completed in 2010.  This plan was in part a survey of how Wedgwoodians see the commercial district evolving and what services, street and land use planning issues are of concern.

The stalled condo project was sold to a different developer who built apartments instead, but using the same floor plans.  The Jasper Apartment building which opened in 2012 was a disappointment to the neighborhood because of the lack of storefronts and street-level interest for pedestrians.  At the street level, the Jasper does not have the built-in space for the venting and mechanical equipment needed by restaurants and coffee shops, so no shops like that will ever be put in.

Building on the Vision Plan and our frustration with our inability to influence the Jasper Apartment project, the next step was to form an alliance with nearby neighborhoods Ravenna-Bryant and Hawthorne Hills to advocate for needed improvements at the commercial intersections along 35th Ave NE.  This process, called the Future of 35th Ave NE Project, held meetings through 2014 and culminated in recommendations which have been presented to the City of Seattle.

Dongho Chang of Seattle Department of Transportation and Mayor Ed Murray discussed traffic and pedestrian issues in Wedgwood.

In 2015 the Future of 35th Ave NE committee representatives have met with members of Seattle City Council to request rezoning of the commercial intersections of 65th, 75th, 85th and 95th along 35th Ave NE, so that controls can be put in place for better buildings.  As buildings age and are replaced at these intersections, zoning can help bring in pedestrian-friendly streetscape in new buildings with storefronts, protected canopy over the sidewalks, and safer driveways into the buildings.

Stay tuned for more reports on the Future of 35th Ave NE process.  After a well-attended meeting on June 24, Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development has been taking input and implementing what rezoning could do to insure a walkable, shop-able environment along 35th Ave NE.

Getting more of what we want in Wedgwood’s business district, such as coffee shops, restaurants and small locally-owned businesses, can be helped by rezoning for the kind of buildings that are built in the future of Wedgwood.

In his visit to Wedgwood on August 18, Mayor Ed Murray indicated that Wedgwood could become the model for other neighborhoods in laying a good foundation of community input and planning, and in ensuring that future commercial development projects serve the needs of our neighborhood.

Other participants in the Walk in Wedgwood on August 18 were Ryan Moore of Dept. of Planning and Development (at left) and Chip Nevins of the Parks Dept. (at right.)

Mayor Murray stopped at many points along Wedgwood's commercial district to discuss traffic, zoning and businesses.

Mayor Murray: The State of the City

Mayor of Seattle Ed Murray on the State of the City:

You can attend Mayor Murray’s speech in Seattle City Council chambers on Tuesday, February 17 at 2 PM or watch live-stream on the Seattle Channel.  What? You didn’t know there was a Seattle Channel?  Well, there is, so tune in on Tuesday, February 17.

Mayor Ed Murray’s address will highlight the City’s 2014 accomplishments and will take a look forward to the year ahead.  See more here.

Next Steps Toward 2035

Open Houses are this Wednesday and Thursday, November 19 and 20, 2014.

Two Community Open Houses for the Housing Affordability and Livablity Agenda of the Seattle 2035 planning process:

Please join us at one of two community open houses this week. You’ll have an opportunity to talk with City staff about density, housing types, locating new housing, and what growth looks like, among several other topics. Your feedback will help inform the Housing Affordablity & Livability Committee’s recommendations to the Mayor.

Open House Details:

Wednesday, November 19
6:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Ethiopian Community Center
8323 Rainier Ave South

Thursday, November 20
6:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Garfield Community Center
2323 East Cherry St

New Date Added in December:

Thursday, December 4
6:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Olympic View Elementary School
504 NE 95th St.

Mayor Murray and members of City Council launched work on a new Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda, calling together leaders in our community to help develop a bold agenda for increasing the affordability and availability of housing in our city. Charting a course for the next 10 years, this agenda ensures the development and preservation of a diversity of housing for people across the income spectrum. The Housing Affordability & Livability Advisory Committee will review every piece of the housing puzzle, including innovative ideas to pilot new types of housing, accessory dwelling unit regulations, new efforts to preserve existing affordable housing, opportunities to stretch our valuable Housing Levy dollars, and more.

The agenda will be guided by the following goals and values:

  • Strengthen our city through housing affordability
  • Ensure equal access to housing to advance social and racial justice
  • Promote the livability of Seattle’s neighborhoods
  • Promote housing opportunity across Seattle
  • Promote equitable growth Continue our commitment to prioritizing those most in need
  • Embrace innovation and build upon current, proven programs and policies

Can’t make November 19 or 20?

You can still participate. Save the date for our newly scheduled open house on December 4, or keep an eye out for announcements about an online town hall.

Visit the Mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda website for more information.

Ask the Mayor

On Wednesday evening, October 22, the Seattle Channel will do a live Ask the Mayor program broadcast from City Hall, 7 to 8 PM.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray

The show format features a live audience and a topic of focus during the second half of the hour-long program. During the first half of the show, Mayor Ed Murray will join host Brian Callanan to discuss a range of city issues.  Murray will answer questions posed by a live audience as well as viewer inquiries submitted via e-mail and social media.

In the second half of the program, Brian Callanan and Mayor Murray will discuss the Mayor’s proposed 2015-2016 budget. Mayor Murray submitted a 2015-2016 budget that expands funding for priorities in education, worker protections, public safety and support for the homeless. The mayor is also proposing to bring new transparency to the city budget, including increased accountability for program outcomes and improved access to information on city finances. The City Council has begun their review of the mayor’s proposal and is currently receiving public feedback. Joining the mayor will be Ben Noble, director of the City Budget Office.

Watch on Seattle Channel cable 21 or seattlechannel.org.

To submit questions in advance or during the live broadcast, e-mail askthemayor@seattle.gov or tweet @SeattleChannel using the hashtag #AskTheMayor.

Pedestrian Improvements Coming to Wedgwood-area Schools

UPDATE: According to Jim Curtin with SDOT, the “Complete the Street” project would likely go to construction in 2015, assuming the Council approves the funding.

Over the last couple months, the City Council and Mayor have been working out exactly what to do with all the cash raised from the school-zone speed light cameras.  They’ve generally agreed that the money should go to improving safety projects around schools, but the exact structure of the funding mechanism was in debate.  However, recently the Council ended up creating a separate fund exclusively for these funds and these projects.

Yesterday, the Mayor proposed $14.8 million in safety projects from this special fund (see list of projects below).  Of the projects proposed for funding, several occur around Wedgwood!  The proposed $14.8 million funding does still need to be approved by Council and according to the Seattle Times, the Council already approved $2.9 million, would be asked for $3.3 million this fall, and $8.6 million next year.

Of the projects in or near our neighborhood, perhaps the largest and most exciting project is one that a former WCC trustee and Wedgwood Elementary PTA President, Katie Traverse, has championed for many years.  Katie’s project, which ended up being titled “Complete the Street,” would construct new sidewalks and pedestrian improvements from the recently improved Ravenna Ave NE up to Wedgwood Elementary School along 28th Avenue NE , NE 83rd Street, and NE 85th Street.  You can download the 60% plans HERE. Thanks to $730,000 from this funding and a $439,000 grant from the state, the City will be able to finally construct the Complete the Street project bringing much needed safety improvements to Wedgwood Elementary.  This is a HUGELY successful project and long-term effort by Katie Traverse and everyone associated with it.

In addition to Katie’s project, other pedestrian and safety improvements for nearby schools include:

  • Filling in gaps of sidewalk along 40th Ave NE between NE 75th and NE 76th Streets by Thornton Creek Elementary School to complement the frontage and safety improvements that the School District will be required to perform.
  • Constructing new curb ramps at NE 60th and NE 62nd Street along the new 39th Ave Greenway for improved safety and access to Bryant Elementary and Eckstein Middle School.

Many other safety improvements are proposed throughout the City where they’re desperately needed as part of the Mayor’s announcement, putting to good use the funds collected by those that fail to drive the speed limit through school zones.  So when you get your first speed camera ticket for going too fast along NE 75th Street in front of Eckstein Middle School, rest easy knowing your money will be spent to make it easier and safer for kids to walk and bike to school.

Here’s a smattering of additional information for those interested in reading more.

Mayor McGinn To Visit the Ravenna-Bryant Neighborhood to Discuss NE 65th Street

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinnNE 65th Street Town Hall
Monday, August 12th, 6:45PM -8PM
Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center

The Mayor is coming to the Ravenna-Bryant neighborhood on Monday, April 12th, from 6:45-8PM for a town hall meeting to hear from the surrounding community.  The mayor’s visit comes after some business owners and residents in the Ravenna-Bryant neighborhood opposed a cycle-track proposed on NE 65th Street within the City’s Draft Bicycle Master Plan (BMP) update (see Seattle Bike Blog and the Ravenna Blog for more).  A similar cycle track has been shown in the draft BMP for 35th Ave NE through Wedgwood as well.

To help explain the intention of the BMP and better understand the neighborhood’s concerns, the mayor is coming out to hear from the community. A brief presentation by SDOT on the Draft Bicycle Master Plan will begin at the start of the town hall (6:45PM ).  So, make sure to show up for the start if you’d like to learn more about the BMP.

Additional information on the town hall can be found on the town hall flyer (at right).

Relevant Side Note: The Ravenna-Bryant Community Association is also interested to learn more about what the community wants to see for the NE 65th Street business district as well.  They’ve set up an ONLINE SURVEY to hear from the community about what the neighborhood wants to see for NE 65th Street.

Saturday City Hall Open House

On Saturday, April 6 from 10 to 2 is Open House at City Hall, located between Fourth and Fifth Avenues at Cherry Street in downtown Seattle.  City departments will have info tables in the lobby and you can go for tours through the City Council and Mayor’s Offices.  Visit the Municipal Archives on the third floor and see documents of city history.

In the lobby and outdoor spaces of City Hall there will be activities and performances, including an acrobatic troupe at 11 AM (no city officials included in the performance!) and Massive Monkees Dance Crew at noon.  There will be food trucks, cupcake decorating, and a story time led by Seattle Public Library staff.  Parking is available on-street and in nearby garages – see event notice for directions.

Mayor McGinn Hosting Town Hall on Saturday, December 1st

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinnThe Mayor is coming to tour our friendly neighbors to the south, Ravenna-Bryant, and host a town hall meeting this Saturday.  According to the Ravenna-Bryant Community Association’s website, the Mayor’s visit will last 2 hours.  From 10-11Am, the Mayor will tour the Ravenna neighborhood and from 11AM-12PM the Mayor will host a town hall meeting at the Ravenna Eckstein Community Center.  If you miss the town hall, you can likely catch it afterwards on the Seattle Channel.

City Council Wants to Hear About Your Priorities Ahead of Budget

We’d like to think the Seattle City Council got the idea from us, but that’s probably not true.  However, ahead of upcoming and always difficult City budget deliberations and negotiations, the City Council is asking to hear from you on what are your priorities.

Last week, the mayor unveiled his 2013/2014 budget proposal to the Council.  It’s now the responsibility of the Council to review the mayor’s budget proposal and work with his office to develop a budget that both the executive and legislative branches agree upon.  So, the Council wants to hear from you in order to help them craft a strong 2013-2014 budget that reflects our City’s priorities, effectively stewards our City’s revenue, and addresses the fiscal difficulties that the City is still dealing with.

The Council has 4 different methods for you to share your thoughts on priorities:

  1. Complete a brief online SURVEY.
  2. Send the Council an EMAIL ».
  3. Call the Council.
  4. Share your thoughts at an upcoming Public Hearing.

Take a moment and share your thoughts with the City Council and help them craft a strong budget proposal.

Mayor McGinn Visits Wedgwood

UPDATE: The mayor’s office posted photos from their weekend, including their stop in Wedgwood.
UPDATE: Video of the town hall is embeded below.

Mayor McGinn paid Wedgwood a visit on Saturday, March 10th, for a walking tour of 35th Ave NE and to host a community town hall.  The mayor, who arrived on his trusted two wheeled chariot, was also joined by numerous City staff from the Mayor’s Office, Department of Neighborhoods, Seattle Police, Seattle Public Utilities, Seattle Department of Transportation, and Seattle Parks and Recreation.   Additionally, several community members joined the walking tour representing Sustainable NE Seattle, North East Seattle Together (NEST), Eckstein Bikes and Bryant Bikes, Ravenna-Bryant Community Association, and Wedgwood Community Council.

We started the brief walking tour by showing the mayor the new Jasper building and describing the history of recent Wedgwood land use issues including the evolution of the Vision Plan and the ongoing neighborhood planning.  We then walked down to Van Gough Coffeehouse to meet Janet Gibson, who owns the coffee shop.  The walk then carried on south to the Seattle Audubon where the mayor met Russ Steele (store manager), Shawn Cantrell (Executive Director), Cathy Jaramillo (current board president), and Charlie Kahle (incoming board president).  Lastly, we showed off the mayor the Hunter Farm Project and discussed all the different events that occur at the site such as the Wedgwood Art Festival, Planet:HOME, and the emergency preparedness drills.  As we walked, the mayor and City staff were very gracious to share their thoughts and ideas.

Following the walking tour, the mayor hosted a town hall at Wedgwood Presbyterian Church.  McGinn addressed a slew of questions to nearly 70 community members on a range of topics.  Thanks to all that came to the town hall.  A special thanks to Mayor McGinn and all the City staff that came out to Wedgwood and made time to listen to us and our NE Seattle neighbors. Watch the town hall below on the Seattle Channel.

The mayor’s office also posted photos from his weekend neighborhood walk and town hall here in Wedgwood.