On January 11th 2012, the Wedgwood Land Use Committee (WLUC) presented a years worth of research and outreach on how to pursue a “neighborhood plan” for the 35th Ave NE business corridor. This process was again presented to the Ravenna-Bryant community on February 8th. Since the WLUC was formed, it has met with councilmembers, the City’s Department of Planning and Development (DPD), City Planning Commission members, and others to identify a process to pursue such planning tools. All of this builds on the excellent work the community began in 2010 with the completion of the Vision Plan, which provides several “Suggested Actions” to achieve the neighborhood’s shared vision. The first two of these “Suggested Actions” are as follows (see Page 14 of the Vision Plan):
- Undertake a neighborhood plan that includes a review of current zoning standards and design guidelines with the City DPD. 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.
The 35th Ave NE business district and its surrounding neighborhood has largely remained unchanged and unstudied since the City first zoned the neighborhood in 1947 and 1973 (see ’47 and ’73 zoning maps in the City’s Municipal Archive). Since that time, there have been controversial projects that have led to difficult neighborhood decisions, significant development in the concepts of urban planning; and a renewed focus on livable, walkable neighborhoods. For these reasons and others, we are beginning a process with the 35th Ave NE community to build on the Vision Plan and more fully describe a plan for our neighborhood.
A Community’s “Neighborhood Plan”
The purpose of all of this process is to develop a “neighborhood plan” to create the conditions for the community’s shared vision to become a reality.
So, what’s a “neighborhood plan?” you might ask. Great question. The City has a neighborhood planning process for community’s identified in their Comprehensive Plan as Urban Villages. This is a process that the City’s DPD develops with the communities in these Urban Villages so that the growth that is planned for these communities can be done in a way that is desirable for the community. The communities along 35th Ave NE, which includes Wedgwood and Ravenna-Bryant, are not Urban Villages and nor do they currently have the density to become Urban Villages. In fact, during the Vision Plan process, it was reiterated that Wedgwood isn’t necessarily looking to become an Urban Village. This means that the City doesn’t have the resources to support the development of our “neighborhood plan” as part of their well-defined process. It also means that our “neighborhood plan” doesn’t have a City-defined format and process for us to follow. Nevertheless, we have consulted with several City officials to develop what we believe will be an effective and acceptable process.
In many ways, a community-driven neighborhood planning process is much more liberating since the selection of the planning tools and their development process are up to us. Our “neighborhood plan” could include the following planning tools: a comprehensive plan amendment and change to the future land use map, neighborhood-specific design guidelines, a streetscape concept plan, and/or a transportation plan. Ultimately, the tools that comprise our “neighborhood plan” will be decided based on a volunteer steering committee which is currently being assembled. We will then be hosting Community Learning Seminars to both educate the community on land use planning concepts to help shape the discussion during subsequent Public Workshops where we’ll get into the meat of what the community does and doesn’t want to see.
Over the next year (throughout 2012), we will listen to the community and develop the tools within our “neighborhood plan.” In January 2013, we will present a draft neighborhood plan to the community and provide a 1-month comment period. We’ll then present the final plan to the community in March 2013. In March or April 2013, we will ask the WCC trustees to vote on the final plan. In May 2013, we will submit our “neighborhood plan” to the City.
How Can You Get Involved?
There are so many different ways that the community can be involved in the process.
- Spread the word by telling your friends and neighbors about this planning process. Especially if they live on or close to 35th Ave NE.
- Stay informed by checking this website, subscribing to the Land Use Email Listserve, “Like” us on Facebook, or “Follow” us on Twitter to stay current on upcoming events such as Community Learning Seminars, Public Workshops, and a future survey.
- Educate yourself about planning and streetscape concepts so we can develop the most effective plan possible.
- Come on out to our Community Learning Seminars on various planning topics thanks to the American Planning Association – Washington Chapter’s Community Planning Action Team (topics and schedule to be announced soon).
- Check out our Planning Articles and Posts board, Streetscapes board, and our Architectural Style and Design board on Pinterst if you don’t know where to start.
- Donate funds or professional services. (We are currently trying to find a fiscal sponsor so your donations can be tax deductible.)
- Volunteer on the Steering Committee. (Responsibilities include monthly meetings, participating in Public Workshops, making difficult decisions, and developing the land use tools.)
If you have any questions about this planning process or are interested in joining the steering committee, please email » the WLUC.
COMING SOON: We will be posting a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) soon. Stay tuned.