Bus progress, bog bureaucracy, and more @ Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council

Progress toward a safer Westwood “transit hub” was one of the updates at Tuesday night’s Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council meeting.

(WSB photo, December 2013)
BUS UPDATE: WWRHAH chair Amanda Kay Helmick said she’s “pleased they’re listening to us” – “they” meaning some of the agencies that participated in the walking tour of the Westwood Village/Roxhill Park “transit hub” back on December 30th (WSB coverage here). The first progress comes in the area shown in our photo above – 25th SW along the east side of the shopping center, where, Helmick says, she’s been told some layover zones will be moved. The Sound Transit 560, for example, will move further south next month, closer to the southeast corner of Westwood Village, for a little more distance between it and the driveway shown above. But there’s no word of a change yet for the “Wall of Buses” created by layover zones on Barton, alongside Roxhill Park; Metro said it needed a little more time to figure out if there’s anything they can do, Helmick said. But there will be a 70-foot no-parking zone by the crosswalk – “it’s not going to stop the stacking” but it’ll definitely give everyone a little more space, for starters, she said.

Speaking of Roxhill Park, it was the focus of two other items:

ROXHILL PARK BOG: The topic of bringing in enough water to return part of the area (actually a fen) to a wetland was brought back up again – as it’s believed that would also potentially chase out some of the problems. But the logistics are a challenge, including trying to figure out what caused a leak that is depriving it of its water – that would be expensive, even just to get to the point of a plan. Now they are trying to arrange a meeting with Seattle Public Utilities, and say it’s proving to be difficult to arrange. Since it’s not happening at lower levels, it was suggested that Helmick contact the director of SPU and request a meeting. Mat McBride mentioned some SPU hydrologists who live in the area have been doing a study and might be worthwhile to consult, since they were looking for community feedback. Several murmurings of support followed that.

Rory Denovan mentioned this is part of the SPU Strategic Business Plan on which you can comment and that people should use the opportunity to express support for fixing the hydrology of the local creeks such as Longfellow and Fauntleroy – “there are fish in those creeks.” You can take a survey right now to offer your thoughts, and/or go to a public meeting one week from tonight, 6 pm at High Point Community Center (6920 34th SW).

GRANT SUBMITTED: Helmick said they’ve submitted a grant to try to get some lighting, adult exercise equipment, and educational component for Roxhill Park. They’ll hear in the spring whether it’s advancing. They’re seeking $90,000.

PEDESTRIAN RETAIL ZONING: One week after briefing the Morgan Community Association (WSB coverage here), Aly Pennucci of the city Department of Planning and Development came to WWRHAH to talk about the project. This proposed zoning overlay is meant to promote “walkable neighborhood business districts.” Its components would regulate, for example, how parking is accessed – and could lead to further reductions in required offstreet parking. Wider sidewalks, overhead weather protection – those are the types of things that the zoning overlay would require. She explained that the background of the project lay in City Council direction about a year and a half ago to look at dozens of areas around the city, to “create focused nodes … for walkable neighborhood areas.” She noted that there’s not a lot of commercial zoning in this area, and it could over time be developed as multifamily if something isn’t done to encourage business development. But, she added, the study areas are open to comments from residents who might have something to say about certain uses such as drive-throughs or gas stations, should they be needed.

Is this only going to affect new construction? was the first question from an attendee. Answer: Yes. It would require a minimum amount of “floor to area ratio” in the area – which roughly equaled a two-story building, so that the zoning wouldn’t turn out to be something single-story like those drugstore proposals that drew so much controversy. Next question: How will the zoning affect religious facilities/institutions? Answer: They would still be allowed in a pedestrian zone, according to Pennucci. Another question: Would this kind of zoning overlay affect future safety improvements, say, along 35th SW? Pennucci said generally no – they are trying to work closely with SDOT to make sure of that.

Chair Helmick pointed out that the city’s map didn’t even acknowledge the huge commercial area that exists now – Westwood Village. She also reiterated that it would be vital for DPD to work with SDOT. Next question – had the city reached out to property owners? Not specifically, said Pennucci, but they had sent out some general information and are watching to see how the survey comes in. She noted that she doesn’t see many business owners at neighborhood meetings so far. “It’s fine to reach out to us, but if I owned the corner of 35th and Roxbury and was going to redevelop it …” said Pablo Lambinicio.

McBride wondered, “Is this being used to possibly create walkable commercial zones” where they don’t currently exist? Pennucci said she sees it used both ways – “to protect an existing area, like Alaska Junction” and “to promote .. with your future goggles on, while it might not look that way now, the vision for the future is that it becomes one of those.”

Another attendee said, “Decreased parking, I don’t understand, to increase customers … it makes it difficult.” Pennucci said that if an area was dominated by surface parking lots, it could make development more difficult; also, the city wants to promote various types of transportation, including busing and bicycles …

Helmick also pointed out that one of the areas on the map, 16th/Roxbury, could not be appropriately addressed without considering the White Center commercial area on the other side of the city-limit line.

Pennucci concluded by asking that people take the online survey, and also share comments with her by e-mail (her contact info is on the project home page).

ROXBURY SAFETY PROJECT: Infrastructure Committee chair Chris Stripinis had updates including the Roxbury safety project breakthrough, noted here earlier in the day — two meetings are coming up. Those are your chances to go suggest what you want to see, and what you don’t want to see.

35th SW SAFETY: WWRHAH secretary Joe Szilagyi mentioned the safety petition and said it sounds like the city is going to make sure something happens with 35th, this time.

DELRIDGE NEIGHBORHOODS DISTRICT COUNCIL: McBride, who chairs this group, said the meetings are open to the public and that this year, they’re going to try to bring in every current City Councilmember, even as the elections switch to districts starting next year.

EVERY OTHER WEEK TRASH? Szilagyi said 62 people responded to a Facebook poll about this proposed change, and a majority were against it. WWRHAH planned to send a note asking for the city to do more outreach before any decisions are made.

WEST SEATTLE TRANSPORTATION COALITION: Meets next Tuesday, attendees were reminded.

WWRHAH meets the first Tuesday of the month, 6:15 pm at Southwest Branch Library (35th/Henderson) – watch wwrhah.org for updates.

6 Replies to "Bus progress, bog bureaucracy, and more @ Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council"

  • anonyme February 6, 2014 (7:07 am)

    So now they want to spend $90k to install exercise equipment for the gangbangers in Roxhill Park? Oooh, that’ll take care of the crime problem, for sure…

    I heard from someone who attends the meetings (I cannot) that the focus would be on attracting ‘normal’ people to the park – the theory being that all those bad people would slink away back into the shadows. This is beyond na├»ve. For one thing, crime isn’t a big attractant for ‘normal’ people and families; if it were, we’d already have a stampede at Roxhill, instead of a gang takeover. There’s already a brand new play area at Roxhill, as well as a new skate park – yet criminal elements and criminal activity have only increased since these installations were completed. How much more money can be thrown at PC fairy tale solutions that don’t work?

    The Bloods will thank you, though.

  • Douglas Weaver February 6, 2014 (9:27 am)

    Its good to hear they are implementing a no parking zone 70′ from the crosswalk. That crosswalk is very problematic. It starts virtually in the bus stop on the south side. You really have to slow down because you can’t tell if people are waiting for the bus or waiting to cross. And with the busses parked right up to the edge of the stop, you can’t even see people. Not to mention Ive almost been rear ended more than once stopping for pedestrians at the crosswalk. A light would even be better. That crosswalk is used by a lot of students from the area as well as senior citizens.

  • Joe Szilagyi February 6, 2014 (10:09 am)

    @Douglas — we’re definitely not done. There remain ADA concerns for the fact that Rapid Ride ends runs BEFORE the stop and unloads onto the planting strip. We are still pushing for lighting on the crosswalk to be upgraded and in general, and to try to get the Wall of Buses broken up/limited in how many can be positioned there at any one time.

  • coffee February 6, 2014 (11:07 am)

    I hope that this progress is fast and not typical government slow. I for one have had many near misses in that area, which I travel by regularly. I have altered my driving just so that I dont have to go around the area as much as possible because its simply a horrible plan. Just like the bus bulb at 26th and Barton, that can hold traffic for up to 3 lights. Again, I use that route quite a bit. Significantly worse than the 20 second delay that was announced much earlier.

  • sophista-tiki February 6, 2014 (4:14 pm)

    If metro moves more buses to the east side of the mall there will need to be stop signs installed. Its impossible to see past the busses already sitting there to safely pullout of the mall lot onto the street. Accident waiting to happen. Especially with panhandler dude and his dog parked out there causing a driver distraction.

  • AmandaKH February 6, 2014 (8:57 pm)

    Hi Tiki – They are not moving more buses onto 25th, they are pushing them further North and South away from the Henderson entrance to WWV. We hope that will help, and will probably have another assessment in May to see how the March changes have helped/harmed. It’s a process for sure!

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