Alki Council: Sidewalk squabble, McMansion rules, more

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That’s newly elected Seattle City Council President Richard Conlin, speaking tonight to the Alki Community Council. “Every neighborhood counts,” he declared, and hit on several hot topics. But the hottest topic of the night took center stage before he spoke, when a large, displeased group of Alki Point residents tried to pass a resolution about the one issue that had brought them all to the meeting:

Call it the Sidewalk Squabble. More than 2 dozen people showed up at the meeting because they’re upset that the city plans to put in a sidewalk on the north side of Alki Avenue covering the sidewalk-less spots between Alki Point and the west end of the beach promenade. They say they didn’t get notice of the project before it was decided (as we’ve reported, it was part of a neighborhood-determined Bridging the Gap fund determination process, and everyone in the city had the chance last fall to vote on prioritizing projects); the group, led by Richard Warren, contends parking and landscaping will be destroyed by the new sidewalk. (We reported on some of the concerns last month.)

They tried to get a motion passed tonight, putting the Alki Community Council on record as no longer supporting the project, but most of them weren’t voting members, and 17 of the 18 meeting attendees who were, rejected it. There were tense moments, even outbreaks of booing at one point; board member Gary Ogden explained that there is sure to be more public outreach by the city before work actually begins (as reported here), but bottom line, he told them, “I don’t want to see you lose your parking, but if it is in the public right of way, it is a matter of public safety.” Most of the sidewalk opponents got up and left the meeting once their motion was defeated. (If you are an Alki-area resident and want to join the ACC so you can make motions and vote at future meetings, you can sign up online here.)

Also at the Alki Council meeting tonight:

CONLIN ON MC-MANSIONS, TRANSPORTATION, AND MORE: Visiting the ACC for the first time as City Council President, Richard Conlin promised a new philosophy for the council’s attitude toward neighborhoods, and more attention for every neighborhood, not just the few that always seem to get attention galore. But he didn’t waste too much time on platitudes, moving quickly into specifics. He says he’s interested in pushing for a new Pro Parks Levy, though not one as big as the last; regarding West Seattle-specific transportation challenges, he believes he and his fellow council members will designate the Spokane Street Viaduct (east of the WS high-rise bridge) as “highest priority” for improvements, even though the money previously slated for those improvements was turned down by voters who rejected Prop 1 last fall. “We think we’re going to be able to put a package together and keep the project on schedule,” he told the ACC. He also mentioned the exploratory talk you’ve probably heard about another mass-transit option for West Seattle — “Monorail?” said a voice in the crowd — no, Conlin chuckled, but perhaps a streetcar or light-rail extension; the latter might even make it into the next Sound Transit funding vote. Last but by no means least, he talked about what he called legislation of personal interest as opposed to a full council priority, putting restrictions on the so-called McMansion mega-houses that are springing up around the city. Requirements such as open space, setbacks, height and bulk limits will be part of his proposed “Sustainable Single Family Neighborhood Ordinance.”

ALKI NEIGHBORHOOD GOALS: ACC board member Tony Fragada says community help will be needed to prioritize neighborhood goals for the year. A “wish list” will be linked from AlkiNews.com by sometime tomorrow.

STATUE OF LIBERTY PLAZA PROJECT RECAP: As we reported earlier this week, the Seattle (Alki) Statue of Liberty Plaza Project has exceeded the fundraising goal it set for what would be needed to build a plaza around the new pedestal planned for the Alki icon. At tonight’s meeting, SSLPP co-chair Libby Carr gave the ACC a brief update, declaring proudly, “We are done!” Fundraising, that is — their work’s not done; she says the group won’t disband until the project is built, and they’ll be working with the city to make sure that happens this year, in hopes of a July 4th dedication. She says the next step is “setting up meetings with the Parks Department to get final, final approval on the design that you’ve seen.” She also mentioned that any left-over money would go to Urban Sparks, the nonprofit group that’s been working with the SSLPP.

ALKI COMMUNITY COUNCIL BOARD OPENINGS: Three openings are expected on the ACC board in March — president Jackie Ramels, secretary Peter Stekel, and trustee Gary Ogden all say they’ll be leaving the board this year. They’re hoping more area residents will step forward to get involved with the group and Alki neighborhood issues. Read more about the ACC here.

9 Replies to "Alki Council: Sidewalk squabble, McMansion rules, more"

  • Erik January 17, 2008 (11:54 pm)

    It was my first time at an ACC meeting and I found it quite amusing with the anti-sidewalk crowd there, and Alice’s constant interuptions…lol…just keep giving her candy! I kept thinking it was a good thing the police lieutenant was there to at least have a presence. Being half-deaf and sitting in the very back of the room I missed some of the intracacies of the almost-motion they tried to push through…thanks for clearing that up. At least I was able to sit a bit closer after the pointers all left.

  • Cami January 18, 2008 (8:45 am)

    In 2003, I attended my first Alki Community Council meeting and quickly fiqured out that important topics that might effect me as a home owner were being discussed. I became a member that night and to this day, my neighbors that don’t attend meetings rely on me to inform them of anything that might effect out street.

    As an individual, it’s my responsibility alone to keep informed of city projects and proposals that I may or may not support. Reading 1,000 pages of city code is not my idea of fun, but I do it when necessary.

    Bridging the Gap was in open, public discussions at the Alki Community Council meetings for several months. Those of us who regularly attend were aware of it. The voting members approved applying for a long list of projects, including the sidewalk expansion in this summer. Many of the projects had been approved and submitted in past years without being chosen by the City of Seattle for approval.

    The Alki Community Council is many times confused with the Alki community at large. The Council only represents the members of Council, and in voting matters, the decisions are made by those that show up to meetings on a regular basis and have paid dues.

    On the Bridging the Gap web site, there is ample information about the history and process. Hopefully, a “City” public hearing can address the concerns of those that are opposed to the sidewalk expansion.

  • CRo January 18, 2008 (8:58 am)

    I was too busy cleaning up the alley last night so you wouldn’t find evidence of my party and thus I missed the meeting – and a good one too! Dang it all!

  • WSB January 18, 2008 (9:15 am)

    Another note re: Bridging the Gap. Not sure if it is an appropriate forum for the attendees from last night to bring up their concerns – they can check into that first – but the city press-release page has an announcement of a citywide Bridging the Gap Citizens Oversight Committee meeting next Tuesday in the North End, public invited. Info here.

  • Cami January 18, 2008 (9:32 am)

    Those opposed/concerned/interested can also sign up for emails from the Citizen’s Oversight Committee here:
    http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/btg_oversight.htm

  • Michael January 18, 2008 (9:50 am)

    L-O-freakin’-L at the Alki-ers: “we don’t care about no damn neighborhood, just leave us our parking!”

    I wonder if they’ll lie down in front of the bulldozers…

  • Elizabeth January 18, 2008 (11:09 am)

    I’ve attended several of these meetings in the past and one thing that unfortunately becomes glaringly clear is how self-serving most people are in general. They want sidewalks UNLESS they’ll lose their personal parking or plantings (even if they’re in the public right of way). They’re perfectly fine with new development UNLESS it impacts their personal home or convenience (even if the new development is perfectly legal). They don’t want tightened building restrictions on what they (or their loved ones) may want to build (or on property they may want to sell), but they DO want restrictions if potential development will impact their personal comfort, views, or property values (even if the proposed restrictions may deny someone else legal rights over their property and impact their personal wealth). There’s just so little sense of people supporting anything for the “better good” for the entire community, or basic “do unto others” fairness. Too many people just care about their own personal comfort and wealth. It’s sad.

  • m January 18, 2008 (11:56 am)

    Well said Elizabeth!

  • acemotel January 18, 2008 (3:09 pm)

    so these people on Alki Ave, is their landscaping in the public right-of-way? are their parking spots in the public right-of-way? I don’t get it.

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