@ Highland Park Action Committee: 16th/Holden ex-substation update, and more:

September 30, 2016 11:11 am
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 |   Highland Park | West Seattle news

Will the former Seattle City Light substation at 16th/Holden get rezoned as requested? The potential next step was a late addition to the agenda at Wednesday night’s Highland Park Action Committee meeting:

(Aerial-photo graphic via Seattle City Light)

EX-SUBSTATION REZONING? City Councilmember Lisa Herbold was a surprise guest to talk about the latest regarding this community-instigated proposal for the former Dumar substation in the heart of Highland Park’s main business district. As noted here last year, there had been suggestions that it should become commercial to complement the other three corners of the 16th/Holden intersection.

Herbold went through the options in the report she had received after asking that it be evaluated.

Of the four options, “one that’s most timely,” she said, would be “as part of the implementation of the Mandatory Housing Affordability plan – the city is looking at a small upzone of areas throughout the city – about one floor. The idea would be, since we’re already doing this citywide, to roll in this particular parcel into that discussion. I could make a request of the mayor’s cabinet to consider that.” The OPCD will release its upzone plan for this area in the second or third week of October, she said. The report says the Dumar site is currently zoned single-family so would not be included otherwise, but the other three parcels at the intersection would be included so there’s “an opportunity” if a “community-based request” is made. The request could be made now, with a final decision later. “If I could get a yes or no answer, that will let me have a better idea of whether to pursue any of the other options,” which could include getting her colleagues to ask the OPCD to put it on its work plan for next year. If it needs to go into the budget process, Herbold would have to do that by October 11th, so if she pursues the upzoning alternative through the mayor’s office, she would need to get an answer before then. “Would we have to give away something for that?” asked one attendee. “I don’t think so,” Herbold said.

At meeting’s end, those present voted unanimously to support having the site rezoned to NC-2.

WHAT ELSE COUNCILMEMBER HERBOLD SAID: She was asked about the future of neighborhood councils ranking Street Fund applications and how they’ll be evaluated if the city cuts its official ties with those groups. She said the mayor’s budget lays out how the proposed citywide Community Engagement Commission would be set up. “I’m going to keep asking questions and proposing tweaks,” she said, while noting that other members of the council don’t seem to be “engaged” on the neighborhood-district-council issue so far. She also pointed out something we had mentioned in our initial report on the budget, that the Neighborhood District Coordinators are to be repurposed. And she mentioned that many neighborhoods are “clamoring for neighborhood planning,” but the council needs a way to prioritize, and is awaiting the Department of Neighborhoods’ recommendation for a process.

HALA FOCUS GROUP: This goes back to the Mandatory Housing Affordability plan, mentioned earlier by Councilmember Herbold, part of HALA (the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda). HPAC chair Gunner Scott is on one of the city’s “urban villages” focus groups, as is Kim Barnes from Westwood. They were provided a map of what kind of rezoning is proposed for five of the city’s urban villages; no plans are public yet for any of West Seattle’s four urban villages (Junction, Admiral, Morgan, Westwood-Highland Park), but the maps made public so far include South Park will be an Urban Village, Scott noted, upzoning from single family to “residential single family” – three units if it’s a 5,000 square foot lot, 10 on a 10,000-square-foot lot, he said. Concerns he raised included pre-existing air pollution, and parking.

TRAFFIC CIRCLE AT 12TH/KENYON: HPAC chair Gunner Scott said this community proposal has been recommended for funding.

SANISLO-DENNY/SEALTH MOVE: Craig Rankin suggested a discussion about the plan to move Sanislo Elementary back into the Denny International Middle School/Chief Sealth International High School feeder zone, after two years in the Madison MS/West Seattle HS feeder zone. He talked about ongoing concerns that this would increase the “polarization” of local school populations – with the wealthier north-end schools together in one feeder zone, the not-so-wealthy south-end schools together in the other. The official district meeting to discuss it is set for October 11th.

COMMUNITY ANNOUNCEMENTS: Some of what’s coming up in Highland Park:

*October 15th RainWise contractor fair and tree giveaway at HPIC (12th SW/SW Holden) – “really big healthy trees,” with water in bags, and assistance available for getting the tree to your house. So far, RainWise is capturing 31 acres worth of rainwater, according to the rep who spoke at the meeting – just over 60,000 square feet in Highland Park – $133,000 in rebates. More than 1,000 people are participating all around the city. No “capital project” will be needed for stormwater in Highland Park because so much of it is being captured already. The corps of contractors is expanding, by the way, including four who speak Vietnamese.

*More upcoming events at HPIC – October 14th, 21+ movie night with open bar. … October 15th, Harvest Dinner, open microphone, and food drive. Watch HPIC’s website and event calendar at hpic1919.org for more.

*Also ahead at HPIC: The next phase of overhang-replacement work is expected in the next three weeks or so, to beat the rainy season. HPIC has a larger plan for improvements on the west-facing side of the building, and is hoping for material donations, so listen up for more on that soon.

NEXT HPAC MEETING: At 7 pm on October 27th, the next HPAC meeting will be a forum to try to debunk some of the myths about homelessness and the people experiencing it. They are putting together an educational panel. This came up while Herbold was still at the meeting, and she said that she felt it important to focus on the fact that homelessness is a regional problem, not just a “Seattle problem.”

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