Three major topics at this week’s monthly meeting of the Southwest District Council, comprised of reps from neighborhood groups and organizations, mostly around western West Seattle – Metro‘s first community discussion of its newly revised route-restructuring plan; Councilmember Sally Bagshaw talking about her priorities now that the committee she chairs is about neighborhoods as well as parks; and the first Gathering of Neighbors since 2010, with new coordinators this year. Details on all three topics, ahead:
METRO RESTRUCTURING PROPOSAL, SECOND DRAFT, FIRST MEETING: These are changes that Metro wants to implement when RapidRide debuts in West Seattle this September. The new draft came out just hours before the Wednesday night meeting; our first set of toplines is here, and a round of community conversations is ahead (see the calendar here). At the SWDC meeting, Metro planner Jack Lattemann told the council they were the first community group getting a briefing. The newest proposals for individual routes are linked from a dropdown menu on the right side of this page; here’s what he highlighted:
*Route 120 will not get additional service but will go to Westwood Village and connect there with other Metro routes.
*Route 125 would operate on weekdays matching SSCC hours, till 10 pm, with a “pretty full weekday schedule,” but no weekend service at all. It WILL go downtown, but it won’t connect to the 11, Lattemann clarified upon a followup question from SSCC rep Candace Oehler. The lack of weekend service also was questioned by Dorsol Plants, a council rep who also happens to be an SSCC employee and student.
*Route 128 has one new proposal in Round 2 – it would be extended as far north in Admiral as Atlantic Street; the route also would be upgraded to “every half-hour at all times, with service hours extended till at least midnight, 7 days a week, connecting the 3 Junctions at a pretty consistent service level.” The idea of running it on SW Genesee will not work because a signal is needed at Avalon/Genesee, and the money was in the “levy that didn’t pass,” Lattemann said (challenged by Admiral’s Karl de Jong, who said that SDOT told him that light is on the schedule for 2013).
*New Route 20 would start from California/Lander, where the 128 starts, and match its current routing from Admiral District to 16th SW, as an east-west connector, with more frequent service than the 128 now has there (this was previously proposed as Route 40)
*21 would still end at Westwood Village, but would become “the third route in West Seattle with a 15-minute service level”
*22 would retain some service between The Junction and Westwood Village via Gatewood, and then would loop the route through part of Shorewood/Arbor Heights, 7 day a week till 7 pm, once an hour, providing a “basic level of service” rather than going away entirely
*55 would retain service during peak hours, 5 morning and 5 afternoon, same current stop locations
*21 through Arbor Heights would keep 4 morning and 4 afternoon trips
*For those still concerned about RapidRide, Lattemann noted that it will operate earlier, later, and more frequently than the current Route 54, which it will replace.
Lattemann was grilled on how much of a change Metro will be willing to make in this round before finalizing its plan – particularly regarding the effects on SSCC. He said that for example, if weekend service were to be restored for a route serving SSCC, something else in the West Seattle area would have to go. Later, after the Metro reps had left, SSCC’s Oehler mentioned that it’s unheard of for an institution like SSCC not to have Saturday bus service, and she will be looking for support as they campaign to get Metro to include Saturdays in the plan. “We’re not asking for more (service) – we asked to maintain the current level,” Oehler said.
How will RapidRide get downtown? Lattemann was asked. For now, he says, they’re proposing that the C Line use the Alaskan Way Viaduct and get off at Seneca Street, as the 54 does now, though obviously that will be gone when the tunnel opens, so there’s a “question long-term about where transit should go.” The C Line would go up to 3rd Avenue from there and “become the D Line to Ballard.”
In addition to the upcoming meetings, you can also comment on the newest Metro plan by taking an online survey.
(P.S. The night after this meeting, Metro delivered its second community briefing, at the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting, which we covered for partner site White Center Now – you can read it here if interested.)
COUNCILMEMBER SALLY BAGSHAW: She now chairs the Parks and Neighborhoods Committee – she says those two functions were joined at her request, both “intrinsically connected with our quality of life.” So she’s making the rounds of neighborhoods “to find out what’s most important to them.” She says all neighborhoods want to be “safe, green, and connected” – so that’s her theme for the year. In particular, she’s excited about the “neighborhood greenways” concept, taking inspiration from Portland, which already has 60 miles of these non-arterial streets, focused on walking and biking. As reported here last fall, she’s already visited Delridge to talk about a possible one for 26th SW – here’s a photo from that visit:
(October 2011 photo by Mike Dady)
She says Seattle departments are coming together “to make this happen.” The first year, they expect to have 7 miles of greenways created in Seattle. North Seattle will get the first; private donors, such as Children’s Hospital in the north end, are participating too. … She also talked about the latest round of community-center cuts, which she says kept all the centers open (though she did not mention that Southwest Community Center is no longer a community center). She says the process that resulted in those decisions is one she would now like to apply to the Department of Neighborhoods, to find out what services people would most like to get out of that department.
She then went around the table to ask SWDC reps what they wish worked better, when they work with the city. And she got an earful – from neighborhood input on planning issues that doesn’t seem to have been taken into account, to departments not speaking with each other, to public-works projects that suddenly appear out of nowhere without local notification. The talk eventually came around to the recent Triangle rezoning process, in which the final result included elements that did not emerge from the citizen-advisory-group process. “We ended with a major upzone with no input,” flatly declared Sharonn Meeks from Fairmount, who had been on the Triangle Advisory Group. Meeks also mentioned the process two years ago when hundreds of West Seattleites participated in a neighborhood-plan-update discussion – and then never heard the results of their work, whether anything would ever come of it.
“15 years ago, the neighborhood engagement was genuine; now, it’s (part of a checklist),” noted Vlad Oustimovitch from the Fauntleroy Community Association, after Erica Karlovits from the Junction Neighborhood Organization underscored how recent “processes” – the Triangle rezoning, Junction parking reviews – seemed to have outcomes determined by the city regardless of what local participates showed and told them. “We all got blindsided by an upzone,” SWDC co-chair Susan Melrose of the WS Junction Association said, explaining to Bagshaw that the proposal came into the advisory-council “process” at “the end.”
Bagshaw listened and asked what would “better management” of the process “look like.” Oustimovitch suggested, for one, that it be clearly spelled out what the community would get for each additional foot of height a developer would get. “Maybe additional greenspace at the ground level, maybe additional parking for the business area …”
One other issue came up: Melrose brought up the fact that Junction Plaza Park is under siege from dogs and owners who don’t clean up after them. She wondered if something that small should just be off-limits to “pet pottying,” period.
GATHERING OF NEIGHBORS: (This briefing preceded the news release we published here on Friday.) April 21st is the date; event director Michael Taylor-Judd briefed SWDC on what’s in the works so far. It’ll run 11 am-3 pm for the public, preceded by a 2-hour neighborhood/leadership-building program with local leaders and featured speakers (Jim Diers of “Neighbor Power” fame). It’ll include a resource fair. It’ll be on a relatively low budget – they’d been seeking a grant but “just found out today we’re not getting it.” So it’ll be an all-volunteer production. (The event, originated by the now-defunct Megawatt nonprofit, was taken over by Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association when Megawatt called it quits, but DNDA is no longer able to stage it.)
ORGANIZATIONS REPRESENTED AT TONIGHT’S MEETING: Just in case you wondered. Unlike January, this meeting was a full house – the U-shaped table was full with reps from the West Seattle Junction Association, Junction Neighborhood Organization, Fauntleroy Community Association, Alki Community Council, Highland Park Action Committee, Morgan Community Association, West Seattle Senior Center, Admiral Neighborhood Association, Southwest Seattle Historical Society, Fairmount Community Association, South Seattle Community College, West Seattle Blockwatch Captains’ Network, West Seattle Be Prepared, .