Big-picture planning, project-by-project review, historic survey: Southwest District Council talks land use

Much of the major development happening now is the result of zoning decisions made more than a decade ago. Changes, Mayor Murray suggested in his recent WSB interview and again at the Westside Awards breakfast last Thursday, are most likely to be made as a result of the Seattle 2035 comprehensive-plan-review process that’s just begun. While the first official West Seattle open house/meeting is Wednesday night, the Southwest District Council got a preview this past week. The SWDC also took further steps toward forming a West Seattle-wide Land Use Committee to seek early, public looks at major development proposals, as happens in other Seattle neighborhoods. Details ahead:

About 20 people showed up at the Senior Center of West Seattle – which has increasingly become a public-meeting hub for this area – on Wednesday night for the April meeting of the SWDC, made up of community councils and a few other major organizations in western West Seattle.

SEATTLE 2035: City rep Patrice Carroll came to speak about the Comprehensive Plan-update process that’s just getting kicked off. The plan was first created, she said, in 1994, then updated in 2004, and they try to update it every 7 to 10 years. What policies do we need to have in place, or to tweak, as the city grows? That’s part of the mission. The growth since adoption was as expected for households, below expected for jobs, she said in response to a question. “Over the next year we’re going to be looking at all these policies,” she said. “Right now it’s written for geeky policymakers, but we want to make it accessible to everyone.” None of the individual Neighborhood Plans will be changed as a result of this, she noted. “Any schedule for funds available to update our Urban Village Plan?” asked SWDC co-chair Sharonn Meeks from the Fairmount Community Association south of The Triangle. What about jobs? asked Chas Redmond from the Morgan Community Association, noting that transportation challenges would lessen if more people could work closer to home.

“We’re going to be looking very broadly at different patterns of development,” said Carroll, in the Environmental Impact Statement they’ll be developing. But, “All the urban villages will grow; areas outside the urban villages will grow,” so they’re looking for different variations. And, “are we looking at the right alternatives … before we get our consultants cranking?”

So let’s say an alternative is chosen. Susan Melrose of the West Seattle Junction Association asked, “What tools will the city use to guide growth?” pointing out that the Junction is already way past its growth/density estimates. (She) said the EIS is meant to answer questions such as, what is the implication of having all that growth?

Who are the consultants? asked Meeks. “Studio 3 MW,” said Carroll, saying that firm – whose website is here – emerged from a Request For Proposals process.

Other issues came up, such as our area’s lack of a hospital and other matters vital to preparedness.

Overall, Carroll said it would be likely the result might be a “hybrid” of the listed alternatives. She said you can expect more online questions soon, too (there’s a survey online right now, for starters).

What alternatives didn’t they consider? asked Morgan Community Association’s Deb Barker. They didn’t get aggressive with transit, so no envisioning so far of Ballard/West Seattle light rail. How does the plan tie in with Seattle Public Schools‘ growth and planning? someone else asked. It doesn’t, replied Carroll, but it has some general “human development” elements.

What about the road-maintenance backlog? asked Dennis Ross from Admiral. What’s envisioned includes transportation of “all modes,” Carroll replied.

Redmond suggested there should be a “winter daylight” consideration so that building activity happens more east-west than north-south and doesn’t block all the winter sun. That sort of thing was written into the code in New York a century ago – “light and air” – noted SWDC co-chair Vlad Oustimovitch.

As mentioned here, there’s a West Seattle open house 6-8 pm on Wednesday (April 9th) at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center (4408 Delridge Way SW); the meeting will be informal, with boards for comments, and no presentation likely. And Carroll said social-media and other channels are available for sending info and receiving feedback. How is that all received and taken into account? asked one attendee. “We have a big giant spreadsheet,” she replied.

LAND USE COMMITTEE: The SWDC declared last month that it would form one (as reported here). Now the question – how? Who? David Whiting from the Admiral Neighborhood Association reported back on his fact-finding trip to Queen Anne to see how their committee worked. Diane Vincent said she had been there as well. This type of committee has more freedom, though it may not have teeth. But it becomes a must-go, explained Deb Barker – “something you can use as an early vetting.”

On Queen Anne, it’s a Land Use Review Committee, but for here, it was suggested that a West Seattle Land Use Committee would be more appropriate. Delridge could be invited to participate too.

Whiting said it seemed like they should model it after something that had success elsewhere in the city.

This also could replace the non-public ad-hoc groups that have evolved for almost every major project (usually with the developers contacting various community reps and convening meetings). This one “should be completely transparent (and) the more people that show up the better.” Many of those present volunteered to help form it; they debated a meeting night, separate from the monthly first-Wednesday SWDC meeting – no decision was reached, so that’ll be made later. We’ll publish an update when there’s news of when the committee will launch.

HISTORIC STUDY OF CALIFORNIA: They’re awaiting word on a grant of up to $12,000 for the California Avenue properties survey (reported here in January); word is due within the next month.

NEIGHBORHOOD PARKS AND STREET FUND: Only three proposals were submitted so they all get to advance to the city review stage. Coordinator Jenny Frankl didn’t have them handy, though, so no briefing was available on exactly what they were.

The Southwest District Council meets first Wednesdays, 7 pm, at the Senior Center of WS (California/Oregon).

6 Replies to "Big-picture planning, project-by-project review, historic survey: Southwest District Council talks land use"

  • Karen Lyons April 7, 2014 (9:54 am)

    WS Blog. Thank you! I was at this meeting and I took notes so that I could report back to my neighborhood council. But so much was discussed at this meeting and I, apparently, missed a few comments. I hope you don’t mind if I quote the WS Blog a few times in my report.

    • WSB April 7, 2014 (9:55 am)

      That’s what we’re here for … As long as it’s attributed, please quote away. – Tracy

  • Curious April 7, 2014 (2:37 pm)

    Susan Melrose’s comments about density- Does this mean that the junction association feels that the Junction is already way past its growth/density estimates?

  • bolo April 7, 2014 (9:29 pm)

    “Does this mean that the junction association feels that the Junction is already way past its growth/density estimates?”
    That seemed like it was common knowledge to the majority of the participants– even the city rep nodded in agreement to the comment.

    • WSB April 7, 2014 (9:36 pm)

      It’s not a “feels” – it’s widely quoted that the Junction area is already past what was supposed to be the 2024 target. I’ve seen various numbers quoted and can’t find the city source at the moment, crashing, ironically, on another development-related story, and will have to look later.

  • Rick April 8, 2014 (7:39 am)

    Well heck, if the Junction density is already past the 2024 target we’d best ramp it up and destroy what was(is,soon to be was) a great neighborhood. Remember kids, It’s all about the $$$’s.

Sorry, comment time is over.