Community concerns aired as Seattle Planning Commission visits North Delridge

October 13, 2019 7:56 pm
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 |   Delridge | Neighborhoods | West Seattle news

The Seattle Planning Commission‘s meeting this past week in North Delridge was its first outside City Hall.

Commission members are appointed volunteers, comprising an advisory group that keeps watch on the big picture, including the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

But it’s currently devoid of West Seattleites, as attendees observed after chair Michael Austin – a Pioneer Square resident – led the round of introductions. He explained that along with being “stewards of the Comprehensive Plan” – with work starting next year on a major update planned for 2023 – the commission’s other current focuses include light-rail-extension planning and Neighborhoods for All, which proposes zoning changes including an end to single-family zoning.

Neighborhood/organization reps from east West Seattle were invited to introduce themselves and talk about their concern:

David Bestock, executive director of the Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association, noted that DNDA has seven “affordable-housing properties” including the one in which the meeting was held, Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, the 102-year-old Cooper School building, where one of Seattle’s first two Black teachers taught – Thelma DeWitty, after whom the theater was named after her. DNDA also has environmental and art components, such as the Delridge Wetland project (launched by now-retired Willard Brown, who was there too). “We do lots of things.”

Pete Spalding spoke for Delridge Neighborhoods District Council, noting that the NDCs “are in flux right now, across the city,” about half having folded. Former Mayor Murray’s move to cut city ties cost them some momentum, but Spalding said DNDC continues to meet and develop a voice for big eastern West Seattle issues.

High Point was represented by Jared Berg of the Seattle Housing Authority, which has more than 1,200 housing units, about half public housing. Affordability is a big concern.

From HPAC and HPIC, – Marianne McCord of South Delridge and Kay Kirkpatrick of Highland Park. McCord explained HPAC’s newly expanded sphere of influence after the merger with South Delridge Community Group. She talked about the work to ensue that the plan for the Delridge corridor doesn’t just address North Delridge. Kirkpatrick noted that Highland Park’s traffic woes matter because West Seattle only has three paths out “so when one fails, we’re done for the day.” She also brought up the issue of White Center becoming part of Seattle someday, and now booming. Highland Park has “no walkable retail,” she noted, no grocery store, “just really nothing” so self-sufficiency is big.

From the Puget Ridge Neighborhood Council, Tasha Mosher spoke: “We have an active neighborhood council … the largest contiguous greenbelt in the city …” and a lot of gardens, including the Community Orchard of West Seattle and Seattle Chinese Garden. The “tot lot” playground is undergoing renovation, and some drainage work is being talked about. Puget Ridge’s sidewalklessness is a big issue. Added PPNC’s Amanda Kirk, so is the declining enrollment at Sanislo Elementary – down to ~200.

Brown also spoke about Puget Ridge: It’s a “highyly residential area,” he noted, mentioning three current projects: Puget Ridge Edible Park, trail-system access, natural-drainage system. Speaking o which, he’s working on Roxhill Bog, which is “no longer wet” and was further compromied by the peat fire two years back (WSB coverage here), He’s also advocating for sidewalks. “Get on this!” he told the commission. He also brought up Delridge’s lack of a grocery store north of Westwood Village, though the Delridge Grocery‘s upcoming groundbreaking is a source of hope.

That was a perfect segue to the architect for the grocery space, longtime community advocate Parie Hines (whose firm LD Arch Design is a WSB sponsor) spoke of all the projects with which she’s been involved – the grocery store included (she mentioned the street cleanup on October 26th will precede the November 2nd groundbreaking).she mentioned the narrowness of Delridge limiting the area’s prospects. People in Delridge “are really in support of more density” but affordable housing needs to be part of it. She also voiced a common community concern, about the height of the future light rail guideways.

Spalding spoke about Pigeon Point and vicinity, talking about the 2008 Parks levy having “really invigorated this part of Delridge” with money for Delridge Skatepark, Delridge Playfield, etc. He has concerns about density without infrastructure support. He also repeated that light rail is a major point of concern – will it “come across the tip of Pigeon Point?” Will soil stability force the rail to move further inland and take out residences and businesses?

Other discussion points included: Ensuring youth involvement in planning, because, DNDA’s Bestock reminded the commissioners, “what we’re planning now” will affect them most. He also said that “as an affordable-housing developer we’re outgunned” (by for-profit developers) so they need more city support. … The fact that Highland Park is underserved by transit was pointed out, as well as the traffic nightmare of SW Holden, and other “funky little roads” in West Seattle such as Sylvan Way, “all these unfortunate east-west problems,’ as HPIC’s Kirkpatrick put it.

Before the meeting ended, there was an open-mic public-comment opportunity for other attendees. One person said he is interested in better integrating involvement, not just racially but also renter/homeowner, etc..

Then a few more things before the meeting ended: Brown spoke of the intensive green-stormwater infrastructure at High Point. “All that engineering is a marvel and a testament to what can be done when the city is focused oh having something work.”…. Commissioners clarified that they review the Comprehensive Plan but that’s a citywide document and not to be confusd with neighbrhoo panning

WHAT’S NEXT: The commission hopes to do this in other neighborhoods. Otherwise, it regularly meets at City Hall twice a month, and you can see the agendas/schedules here.

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