Also from Tuesday night’s Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting (see report #1, about a new concert series, here) – what City Councilmember Sally Clark had to say, on what she revealed was her first visit to an ANA meeting, plus a few other notes – read on:
“It’s unusual to find a neighborhood association I have NOT met with, either as a councilmember or (in a previous job),” Clark said as she began.
Before taking questions from the dozen-plus attendees, who were led by Jim Del Ciello in ANA president Mark Wainwright‘s absence, she offered quick updates on several major items, focused in particular on her area of emphasis as chair of the Planning, Land Use, and Neighborhoods Committee.
NEIGHBORHOOD PLAN UPDATES: Clark says it still hasn’t been decided just how many neighborhoods will get the chance to update their decade-old plans this time around. At the moment, she said, a “citywide check-in” is under way, but otherwise, Southeast Seattle remains the focus for more formal updating, with light rail about to change that area in a big way. Intriguingly, Clark said there was talk of possibly moving on to the “bus rapid transit” (Metro RapidRide) neighborhoods after that, but now she is wondering whether budget trouble might delay that service in West Seattle and elsewhere for a few years. (We’ll be checking on that at tomorrow night’s Morgan Community Association meeting, where a RapidRide update is part of the very busy agenda.)
MULTIFAMILY CODE: This is also known as the townhouse-zoning plan, though it’s about much more than just townhouses. Clark said the “lowrise” section of the code revisions – which do include townhouses – will be tackled first, starting around end of May/early June. “I think that’s where the fun is going to be,” Clark joked, with her trademark dry humor. She suggests watching the schedule for her committee, as she’s expecting extra meetings to be added while the multifamily code is under active review, and says some will be in “neighborhood locations.” One big thing on her list: “It’s really important to hear from folks about how the ideas we come up with to make things better might have other unintended consequences, which is what happened the first time around.” That’s an allusion to the rules that have resulted in “four-pack” or “six-pack” cookie-cutter townhouses with “auto courts.”
CITY MONEY WOES: We’ve been covering the latest “revenue forecast shortfall” and the first round of proposals for rebudgeting to reflect it; Clark says one thing to watch is how much of the city’s “rainy-day fund” the mayor decides to tap: “The question for him is, whether it’s raining right now, or will be raining really hard this fall, or given the 2011 projection, how hard it will be raining then …” Asked about the recent controversy regarding closed-door budget briefings with city staffers and small groups of councilmembers (which since have been discontinued), Clark didn’t take a strong position one way or another, observing that “it’s been a fascinating discussion” (she’s written about it on the city website). On one hand, she considers it a good thing that the mayor “wants to collaborate with council members” before going public with budget-cut proposals, “without people getting really wigged out (about possible cuts) immediately,” though she went on to say she could also understand the concern about lack of reporter/public access to the briefings. We asked about the role the council is taking, given that the budget-cut proposals are to officially come from the mayor; she said it seems like the council’s a little “late to the game” for not having, say, gone on the record a month or so ago with a resolution regarding what it hopes to see happen, but she says something like that may yet happen.
DELRIDGE “PROBLEM PROPERTIES” TOUR: Asked about followup on this (WSB coverage here; 4/3 photo of Clark and city planning boss Diane Sugimura at left), Clark didn’t offer specifics of what she’s proposing, but did discuss possibilities such as shortening the amount of time needed to process a complaint, or possibly making an exemption that does allow property owners to tear down rundown single-family homes even without an immediate replacement/rebuilding plan. “This only meets part of the problem, though,” she warned, “because you have to have gotten the attention of somebody who’s interested in the condition of their property in the first place.” West Seattle’s not alone with the problem and other cities are grapping with it, too, she noted, pointing to a New York Times magazine article last month about Cleveland.
Also at the Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting:
CALIFORNIA PLACE PARK DESIGN WORKSHOP PREVIEW: Attendees heard briefly and informally from Ann Limbaugh from Friends and Neighbors of North Admiral, the group that got a $15,000 city matching-funds grant to have an architect design possible additions to this small park by Admiral Church; the third and final “design workshop” for the proposal is coming up at 7 pm Thursday, Alki Community Center. “We’re really excited about what (landscape architect) Karen (Kiest) has done,” she said, adding that the controversy over possible park changes seems to “have settled down quite a bit” since the second design workshop (photo at left; WSB in-depth report here), when potential designs were shown — none including some of what had been rumored, like play equipment — “Some were surprised, some were stunned,” Limbaugh recalled, looking ahead to Thursday night’s meeting as an “opportunity for a really productive conversation.” (There is no money budgeted or raised so far for any changes to the park – that would have to happen after a design wins approval, which is ultimately up to the Parks Department, since it’s their land.)
NEXT ADOPT-A-STREET EVENT: Later this month — April 25th. More details to come!
Admiral Neighborhood Association meetings are usually the second Tuesday of the month, 7 pm, Admiral Church basement meeting room, everybody welcome.