5 days till the most important 4 questions you’ll answer all summer

Sharonn Meeks from the Fairmount Community Association went to last night’s Highland Park Action Committee meeting to hit the point home: West Seattle neighborhoods need to represent in a big way at next Tuesday night’s Neighborhood Plan Status Report” meeting at Delridge Community Center (where she’ll be a facilitator). Five West Seattle neighborhoods have Neighborhood Plans crafted a decade ago — The Junction, Admiral, Morgan Junction, Delridge, Highland Park/Westwood (all linked in the right sidebar here). Some have called for revisiting them in a big way – that’s not on the drawing board yet, but next Tuesday’s meeting is designed to revisit them all in a small way, with official “status reports” and gathering of residents’ opinions.

There’s no shortage of those opinions, as evidenced in discussions here on WSB and in the few public meetings that relate to planning processes, such as Design Review Board meetings. But if ever you’ve wanted to say something about the future of West Seattle – and its state right now – this meeting is the place.

Meeks will facilitate one of the discussions at the session – each of the five neighborhoods will have its own discussion, and Georgetown will be part of this gathering too. Advance reading material, from the original plans to “status reports,” is now available on the city site – we’ll get to the direct links at the end of this story.

What Meeks told HPAC last night gets to the heart of why this meeting matters: She listened to what was discussed in the meeting before it was her turn, and she heard concerns about issues like traffic and safety. They all play into long-term planning, she stressed.

Delridge Neighborhoods District Council chair Pablo Lambinicio (seen in the background of our photo, facing the camera) then spoke. He said he’d been part of the process 10 years ago as a Westwood resident. At the time, he noted, the “urban village” was the central idea and all neighborhood planning was to revolve around the “urban villages.” That idea didn’t really draw Highland Park residents into the process a decade ago, Lambinicio noted, but now it’s a chance to take a step toward building a plan from the ground up, rather than the top down.

Rory Denovan, former HPAC vice chair, said it’s vital for this to be handled at the neighborhood level, since the neighborhoods live with the consequences. He urged others to get involved and make sure Highland Park residents are at Tuesday’s meeting to be heard. HPAC’s current chair Dan Mullins said he plans to follow up by gathering members to try to arrange a meeting with City Councilmember Sally Clark, who chairs the Planning, Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee. He also offered to accept questions/concerns from anyone who cannot make next Tuesday’s meeting.

The city is taking online comments too – but it can’t be stressed enough, there’s no substitute for being there, if there’s any way you can spare 2 hours next Tuesday night. Even if you don’t live in one of the five neighborhood-plan zones, you have a stake in one or more of them – particularly The Junction, with another major new building about to open and more in the wings once the economic bumpiness is past.

Each group at Tuesday’s meeting – again, those groups are Admiral, The Junction, Westwood Village/Highland Park, Delridge and Morgan Junction – will tackle four questions:

1. Most of the neighborhood plans were adopted about 10 years ago and are in their mid-life. How has your neighborhood changed in the last decade since the plan was adopted, (or since you’ve been there)?

2. What changes or aspects of your neighborhood are you most pleased about? Most dissatisfied about?

3. How well are your Neighborhood Plan vision and key strategies being achieved? Are they still the priority?

4. The city is completing neighborhood plan status reports focusing on demographics, development patterns, housing affordability, public amenities and transportation networks. What should there be more focus on (or less focus on) as the neighborhood status reports are completed in the coming months? Are there any important gaps in the draft status report?

See the draft status report and other documents by following links from the “Status Reports” list at the bottom of this page – note that the West Seattle neighborhoods are woven in with others. The documents are at local libraries, too. Again, the meeting is 6-8 pm next Tuesday (7/28), Delridge Community Center (map). But if you absolutely cannot make it Tuesday (again, going in person sends a major message that you care about your neighborhood’s future) — participate online by going here. Then watch for word of followup meetings this fall.

11 Replies to "5 days till the most important 4 questions you'll answer all summer"

  • TP July 23, 2009 (6:56 am)

    I appreciate Sharon’s work, she is doing all of this as a volunteer!

    This planning is really essential. I encourage everyone to answer the questions! I will be working on mine as well.

  • J July 23, 2009 (10:06 am)

    My neighborhood (Arbor Heights) is not represented; how does a neighborhood get a plan? Does there have to be an organization in place, first? Is it because we have few businesses? I understand I can participate in any of the discussions, and, as you point out, the Junction neighborhood certainly affects us all, and the Westwood neighborhood is nearby and affects Arbor Heights–but I’m just curious about why we don’t have one, and how we could get one.

  • Katie Sheehy July 23, 2009 (10:32 am)

    Thanks for posting this article! I’d like to encourage folks to fill out the questionnaire even if you are able to attend the meeting. There will be a summary report of the community discussion AND a summary of the on-line comments. Verbatim responses to the questionnaire will also be an appendix to the “State of the Neighborhoods” report, which should be completed by the end of the year.

  • MargL July 23, 2009 (3:56 pm)

    J – Good question. It’s probably ’cause there’s not much to ‘develop’ down here. Sidewalks, yeah. Maybe some more park space… No businesses to speak of, really. The pottery shop on 100th? The weird market that may or may not ever be open? (what is that place anyway?)
    I’m going to fill out the questionnaire on Westwood ’cause that’s the closest.

  • WSB July 23, 2009 (4:01 pm)

    My understanding is that in some areas, they chose to opt out of the process back when – as Pablo is quoted in this story – “urban villages’ were the big discussion and that didn’t necessarily apply to all areas. For example, Fauntleroy and Alki apparently both chose to opt out. Although I’m sure someone else will have much better history and perspective to contribute … we’ll be writing several more preview stories before the big meeting next Tuesday – TR

  • d July 23, 2009 (5:47 pm)

    thanks WSB for the spotlighting of neighborhood plans. West Seattle density and demographics have shifted so much since the last plans were developed, that when I think about my own hood of Highland Park, issues such as nonindustrial and business development goals and limitations (outside of Westwood Village), Duwamish Greenbelt and Westcrest stewardship, multiple family and townhouse design codes, and more…were they even addressed ten years ago. Certainly here in HP, the demographics and needs have changed! I hope i see lots of my good neighbors in attendance. Old and new
    voices of Westwood and Highland Park residents must be heard now to get it all “on the record”.
    Recruitment and development of dynamic neighborhood-focused small businesses and services with a positive, liveable long term residents vibe – that’s part of what I would like to see. I’m looking forward to hearing how my neighbors envision the next ten years for Highland Park, The Greenbelt Gateway to West Seattle. :). GO HP!

  • Alvis July 23, 2009 (7:23 pm)

    I’d be interested in what the Alki Community Council officers and members have to say about choosing to “opt out” of the neighborhood planning process 10 years ago. Of the Alki advocates who talked to me at the time, many said they had lobbied the city to be included in the process, and the city shut them out. At the same time, the city forced Admiral into the process by threatening to impose a plan of its choice unless Admiral residents volunteered to write and submit one of their own for city council approval.

  • WSB July 23, 2009 (7:27 pm)

    I may be completely wrong, then, and better go rustle up some archives and edit myself if that’s so. It’s the story I have heard told but that doesn’t make it true! Way back then I wasn’t even focused on Seattle news – it was my 2-year break with Disney Internet – but even before I jumped out in ’99, all I remember is the big fuss over urban villages, and of course in TV that just meant we went to wherever people were protesting and screaming (I beg forgiveness for past sins) … TR

  • Fred July 23, 2009 (10:02 pm)

    So much has changed in the last 10 years I think the existing plans are obsolete… mainly based on our emergent understanding of global warming and the critical need to re-engineer our transportation system, but also the failure of the monorail and the sell-off of its right-of-way.

    For example, the Admiral “Vision” states, “We have faith that the future holds solutions to the traffic congestion in the neighborhood and on the West Seattle Bridge, whether through alternate routes to I-5, rapid transit, alternate transportation modes, or changes in technology or travel habits”.

    This is inadequate– we need results not faith.

  • J July 24, 2009 (12:26 am)

    I did wonder about the lack of businesses here–but it does seem to me that’s part of what could change for the better. AH is quite walkable, but it’s recreational walking; almost any business we need to do must be outside the neighborhood. But I have no idea how feasible such a thing would be–how many people in the neighborhood it requires to sustain useful businesses, for example.

  • Forest July 24, 2009 (4:06 pm)

    MargL –

    In case you’re curious about local history, the pottery shop building on 100th was at one time Johnny’s Pharmacy and the building next to it was Sig’s Thriftway. We’re talking a good four or five decades ago, but those two adjacent stores, when they were both open, were the closest thing to a retail core that Arbor Heights has ever had. The primary mom and pop business was Vern Larson’s Seacrest Market on the west side of 35th at 112th.

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