Announcements and Public Comment Opportunities
URGENT! PLEASE CONTACT CITY COUNCIL TO DEFEND LAKE UNION AND SPACE NEEDLE FROM GREATLY INCREASED BUILDING HEIGHTS!
Your letters, e-mails, faxes, or phone calls are urgently needed to the City Council to protect Lake Union from completely unreasonable building height increases now being considered. Current zoning in the South Lake Union Urban Center is already sufficient to well exceed all existing growth targets. Only much more modest rezones than Mayor McGinn has proposed can ensure that the diverse and historic South Lake Union ambiance is not overwhelmed and that a wall of downtown-like buildings does not deny the public its current visual access to Lake Union, the Space Needle and the other wonderful features of the area. The blocked views and the shadows caused by the Mayor’s proposal would essentially privatize this unique and currently very public urban lake.
Authentic planning principles and generations of Seattle zoning practice have carefully stepped down building heights in approaching bodies of water. The Mayor’s proposed heights so close to Lake Union are much higher than what is allowed along the downtown waterfront, which at most is zoned for 160 feet through the downtown core, dropping off to 85 feet north of University Street and south of Columbia Street. The current proposals are far higher, and wildly out of scale for anywhere in south Lake Union.
Although the City Counci has heard plenty of opposition to towers up to 240 feet due south of Lake Union, it is urgent that we in Eastlake contact them in large numbers also to oppose the 125-foot upzone proposed for just east of Fairview Avenue North (whose north end is at Seattle Seaplanes), north from Mercer Street to the border of our Eastlake neighborhood. This upzone would be forty feet higher than allowed along the downtown waterfront north of University St. and south of Columbia St.! Being just a few yards away from the southeast Lake Union waterfront, the proposed 125-foot upzone represents no meaningful stepping down to the lake, and the City Council should reject it out of hand. This dramatic height increase to 125 feet is out of character for the area, and in one blow will negate public enjoyment and access of waterfront amenities built through generations of cooperative efforts by City government, developers, and community groups like ECC.
Please contact the City Councilmembers TODAY to oppose the Mayor’s upzone proposals for South Lake Union and, if any upzoning is to be adopted, to ensure that it is carefully stepped down to the lakeshore. Upzones even remotely similar to the Mayor’s proposals will for all time compromise public enjoyment of this unique urban lake, privatizing sunlight and views while losing the diversity that is Lake Union’s special charm.
City Councilmembers (write them individually, not in a group e-mail) can be reached by U.S. mail at PO Box 34025, Seattle, WA 98124-4025 and by fax at 206-684-8587. Names and e-mails are email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, and email@example.com.
The Eastlake Community Council invites you to forward a copy of your messages, and responses you get, to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Lake Union Mail, 117 E. Louisa St. #1, Seattle, WA 98102-3278, or call (206) 322-5463. Volunteers, questions, and suggestions are always welcome. For ECC’s own letter, click here.
ECC OPPOSES “RIDE THE DUCKS” FACILITY AT CORNER OF FAIRVIEW AND NEWTON
In a Feb. 13, 2013 letter to City officials, the Eastlake Community Council argues strongly that “a Ride the Ducks facility for 1949 Fairview Avenue E. is not compatible with Fairview’s character as a shoreline street to be shared by pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicle traffic and parking.” ECC observes: “Ride the Ducks advertises itself as a ‘crazy captain with a party on wheels,’ and there has been a serious injury accident involving a Duck and a motorcyclist that is now in litigation. The peak 75 round trips daily by Duck amphibious trucks pose a serious safety issue for bicyclists and pedestrians who will also be at peak numbers during good weather, as well as for local residential and business vehicles. … For bicycle and pedestrian safety, the Sunnyside Ave. N. public boat launch (on N. Northlake Way), which Ride the Ducks currently uses to access Lake Union, is far superior to the proposed Fairview site. Because the Cheshiahud Lake Union Loop follows the Burke-Gilman Trail (which is across Northlake Way from the lake), the Ducks entering and leaving the lake do not cross the bicycle and pedestrian route.”
The ECC letter also protests that “Diesel and gasoline exhaust from the Ducks will be a negative for pedestrians and bicyclists as well as for nearby residents such as houseboaters, and especially for users of the park, which is a popular place for swimming and enjoying the lake views and breezes.” And the letter warns of unacceptable noise, urging that City analysts “not assume the fiction that the Ducks obey the noise ordinance, when the reality is that noise levels are far higher.”
ECC’s letter also objects to the City’s broken promise to engage in a public planning process regarding the future of the proposed Ride the Ducks site, including specific study of the houseboat and recreational impacts of possible uses: “Recognizing the possibility that NOAA could leave, the Eastlake Neighborhood Plan obtained a unanimous commitment from the City as follows (p. 20 of the attachment to Res. 29932 adopted by the Mayor and City Council in 1999): ‘Plan for the re-development of NOAA and other major properties along the Fairview shoreline in a way that strengthens Eastlake’s existing industrial maritime uses, recreational users, shoreline habitat and floating home community.’ In the referenced attachment to Res. 29932, the Mayor and City Council in 1999 assigned to the City’s Office of Economic Development the lead for this promised planning process. But when NOAA made the decision to leave, the Office of Economic Development continuously and completely abdicated in its responsibility, refusing to undertake this public planning role. And to make matters worse, this same Office of Economic Development instead worked secretly with Ride the Ducks to make its land purchase a ‘done deal’ before the community could learn of the new owner or use. The consequent lack of planning and public involvement shows glaringly in the Ride the Ducks proposal, which fails to address the welfare of recreational users and of the floating home community–stakeholders specified in the City legislation. … Had the required planning process occurred, it would never have allowed constant truck traffic (whether on land or in the water) so close to recreational users or to floating homes.”
The City is reviewing Ride the Ducks’ application to relocate its operations to 1949 Fairview Avenue E. The project is MUP project #3013612 at http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/onlineservices, where you can view the project documents and the comments sent by the public so far. Your comments are also needed; send them to the Department of Planning and Development at PRC@seattle.gov and email@example.com; and to SDOT at firstname.lastname@example.org. ECC continues to review the issue and welcomes your questions and suggestions, to email@example.com.
A March 23, 2013 article in the Seattle Times reports that internal City documents obtained under the state Public Disclosure Act show that Seattle’s Office of Economic and Development and Department of Planning and Development, with the involvement of Mayor McGinn, worked to thwart a 1999 City Council resolution requiring a public planning process for the ten-acre NOAA site if NOAA were to leave (as it did in 2011)–and shared their internal correspondence with Ride the Ducks and its attorneys before the public even knew of that company’s interest in the site. The documents show that despite public claims that the promised planning process could not go forward because of a lack of funds, they were spending huge amounts of staff time secretly assisting Ride the Ducks, and wanted to avoid the planning process because it would consider open space and recreational uses and would consider the welfare of the nearby houseboats. To see the documents, along with a chronology and a guide to the names of the particpants, click here.
MESSAGES URGENTLY NEEDED TO CITY COUNCIL FOR A MORATORIUM ON MICROHOUSING (”APODMENT”) PROJECTS SO THAT LOOPHOLES IN THE LAND USE CODE CAN BE CORRECTED TO STOP THE DAMAGE TO NEIGHBORHOODS NOW OCCURRING.
Eastlake is getting hit hard by poorly planned microhousing projects (trademarked by one developer as “apodments”) , and it’ll get worse unless the City Council passes a moratorium on new applications. Developers are rushing to take advantage of Land Use Code loopholes that the City Council must fix before more are permitted.
As now being permitted, the units are cramped, lacking living space; kitchens can even be on a separate floor. There’s no on-site car parking and little bicycle parking, so residents flood the streets with their cars. There should be minimum bedroom size requirements, limits on projects per block, required on-site parking, and public notice, comment and appeal opportunities (none now!). These and other improvements won’t happen in time without the City Council passing a moratorium.
The Eastlake Community Council’s June 28, 2012 letter to the director of Seattle’s Dept. of Planning and Development can be found by clicking here. Despite our efforts, the 39-unit project is now under construction on one (!) lot on the already parked-up Franklin Ave. E., just two doors away from TOPS-Seward School. Click here for the August 2, 2012 letter that ECC received in response from Diane Sugimura, the director of the Department of Planning and Development. Web sites of two other groups that are following this issue can be found by googling Count Units Properly Please; and Reasonable Density Seattle.
Please urge all City Councilmembers to pass a moratorium so that the Land Use Code and DPD’s regulations can be revised to better govern these projects. City Councilmembers (write them individually, not in a group e-mail) can be reached by e-mail; by U.S. mail at PO Box 34025, Seattle, WA 98124-4025; and by fax at 206-684-8587. Names and e-mails are firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please share with ECC your message and any City Councilmember’s reply–send to us at email@example.com, or c/o ECC at 117 E. Louisa St. #1, Seattle 98102-3278. The ECC board also welcomes comments and suggestions on next steps.
COMMENTS TO CITY OFFICIALS URGENTLY NEEDED TO SAVE 35 PUBLIC PARKING PLACES ADJOINING THE PROPOSED BIOTECH PROJECT AT 1818 FAIRVIEW AVE. E.
Through neighborhood advocacy, the recently completed Fairview Ave. E. pathway and street redesign project south of Blaine St. sacrifices a minimum of parking places, but now we face the need to persuade a different set of Seattle Department of Transportation staff not to sacrifice a net of 35 existing public parking places that are now heavily used on the public portions of Blaine itself and in the block of Fairview just north of Blaine.
The issue is with SDOT requirements for the public right of way adjacent to Project #3012732 (see it at http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/onlineservices). On private land there will be a biotech lab at 1818 Fairview Avenue E. (former location of the Siam restaurant, at the intersection of Fairview and Blaine). But SDOT has drafted a Street Improvement Plan that sacrifices most of the public parking adjacent to the project. After having persuaded all levels of SDOT to adopt a balanced parking format south of Blaine, now we need that parking format to be adopted for the block north of Blaine, in place of the anti-parking format favored by the SDOT staff who are reviewing the 1818 Fairview project,
The Fairview Ave. E. and E. Blaine St. public rights of way that abut 1818 Fairview now provide 78 head-in parking places. SDOT is, so far, requiring or allowing replacement of almost all of this public parking with what the developer (Washington Real Estate Holdings, which invests the state’s pension funds) calls a “meadow” and sidewalks up to 40 feet wide (!). Only parallel parking places (12) would remain–for a net loss of 66 places!
Some loss of parking from the 1818 Fairview project is inevitable (driveways, etc.), but without any changes in the proposed building, SDOT can choose head-in parking that would leave 47 public parking places–35 more than the proposed design. Head-in parking for this part of the public right of way will be entirely consistent with the head-in parking format that SDOT approved and has recently built just south of this site, on the Fairview corridor project between Blaine Street and Fairview Avenue North. The 35 public parking places that would otherwise be lost are essential for businesses, employees, and residents alike, as well as for people who come to enjoy our shorelines.
Please urge these officials to stop the loss of 35 public parking places on Fairview and Blaine from SDOT’s current street plan for the 1818 Fairview Ave. E. project: SDOT Director Peter Hahn at firstname.lastname@example.org and his staff members Luke Korpi (email@example.com) and Leo Kaarrekoski at firstname.lastname@example.org. (SDOT’s U.S. Mail address is SDOT, PO Box 34996, Seattle, WA 98124-4996.) Also, write the Mayor at Michael.Patrick.McGinn@seattle.gov and City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, Transportation Committee chair: Tom.Rasmussen@seattle.gov. Please also send ECC a copy at email@example.com. For ECC’s own letter, click here.
HELP CONVINCE SDOT, MAYOR, AND CITY COUNCIL TO INSTALL THE MISSING SIDEWALK AND RETAINING WALL ON LAKEVIEW BOULEVARD
See below for where you can write to support a sidewalk and retaining wall where they are missing on Lakeview Blvd. between the E. Blaine and E. Howe Street stairs. Click here and here for photos and the details. Here’s a summary: Between the E. Blaine and E. Howe Street stairs, a sidewalk is missing on the east side of Lakeview Blvd (see photos). Its absence–on what the Seattle Department of Transportation classifies as a principal arterial–is a risk and barrier for pedestrians who use this area for commuting, exercise, sight-seeing, and to reach homes, businesses, or parks. Lakeview Blvd. is a walking route to downtown via Melrose Ave. and to the University District via either Eastlake Ave. or Harvard Ave. In both directions, Lakeview offers access to Eastlake, Capitol Hill, and Lake Union, including the nearby I-5 Colonnade Open Space, a City park rated worldwide among the ten “coolest parks under a freeway.” True to its name, Lakeview Blvd. has spectacular views of Lake Union, the Space Needle, Elliott Bay, and the Olympic Mountains.
The missing sidewalk is especially needed by users of the E. Blaine and E. Howe Street staircases that extend east from Lakeview Blvd. up Capitol Hill to 10th Avenue East, and west to Lake Union via the Park Department’s Colonnade public staircase under I-5. Many people (including members of the Seattle Fire Department) exercise on the staircases as a circuit.
To traverse this block, pedestrians must either walk in the roadway on the east side of Lakeview Blvd., or make two crossings of Lakeview to and from the sidewalk on its west side. Either way, they face fast-moving traffic, including from the I-5 northbound off-ramp. It’s a tragedy waiting to happen. Just 340 feet of sidewalk would solve this problem.
The sidewalk would have been installed by now, except that a retaining wall is also needed–and needed even without a sidewalk, as landslides have repeatedly blocked Lakeview Blvd. In the photos, one can see that the hillside has slumped across the curb into the roadway, forcing pedestrians further into the line of traffic and hampering parking that is much needed by users of the stairs and park.
In past generations, SDOT built retaining walls all over Seattle to prevent landslides onto streets and sidewalks, but somehow missed this site. Incredibly, SDOT no longer has a landslide prevention fund, now spending only after landslides to repair the damage, and ignoring the risk that someone could be in the landslide’s path. SDOT should again be proactive, and this block of Lakeview Blvd. is where to start. Pedestrian funds should not bear the cost of the retaining wall, which is needed whether there is a sidewalk there or not. The missing retaining wall and sidewalk should be included as a part of the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) that SDOT will soon propose to the Mayor, and which, based on the Mayor’s September recommendation, the City Council will adopt in November.
Please urge that a retaining wall and sidewalk on this block of Lakeview Blvd. between Blaine and Howe streets be included in the CIP and be fully funded. Write to:
Mayor McGinn, firstname.lastname@example.org, PO Box 94749, Seattle, WA 98124-4749 and SDOT Director Peter Hahn, email@example.com, c/o SDOT, 700 Fifth Avenue, Suite 3900, Seattle, WA 98124-4996
City Councilmembers (write them individually, not in a group e-mail), PO Box 34025, Seattle, WA 98124-4025. Names and e-mails are firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Eastlake Community Council invites you to forward a copy of your messages, and responses you get, to us at email@example.com or c/o Lake Union Mail, 117 E. Louisa St. #1, Seattle, WA 98102-3278, or call (206) 322-5463. Volunteers, questions, and suggestions are always welcome.
ENTERING EASTLAKE: WHAT SHOULD THE SIGNS SAY AND LOOK LIKE?
Eastlake lacks signs on roads into the neighborhood to welcome arrivals. We need up to five of them (two for Eastlake Avenue, and possibly one each for Fairview Ave. N., Boylston Ave. E., and Roanoke Street). The City charges $950 for making and installing each sign; donations are welcome (we’ve received $300 so far). It is up to the neighborhood to submit the design, including the words. Thanks to the many, many people who submitted proposals or commented on the suggestions of others.
Articles inviting submissions and inviting comment on those already received have appeared in five issues of the Eastlake News. We received 70 possible phrases for the sign, and several possible motifs; see them in the PDF file attached to this post. No wording is without its detractors, but nearest to consensus is the following: “EASTLAKE” will be in the image, and below it will be the words, ““Welcome to our community. Founded in 1883.” Let us know what you think, but if it isn’t to your liking, please suggest a revision or an alternative that would have more support.
The signs’ graphics and motifs may be more important than the words. Most neighborhood signs around Seattle are plain green with white lettering, with no motif or a standardized one. More lively designs can be found in a web search for “neighborhood welcome signs,” such as the hundreds in Minneapolis and St. Paul at http://johnweeks.com/menu/hwy.html. ECC is proposing that the word “EASTLAKE” will be embedded in a sailboat motif in such a way that the letter “A’s” will be in the form of sails. Your comments and suggestions are welcome, to firstname.lastname@example.org, (206) 322-5463, or ECC, 117 E. Louisa St. #1, Seattle, WA 98102. To donate for the signs, checks made out to ECC can be sent to that address, or use your credit card at www.eastlakeseattle.org. Let’s get this done!
Click here for the complete list of suggestions for what the signs should say.
HELP DESIGN THE FAIRVIEW GREEN STREET
Your suggestions are welcome and needed for a Green Street concept plan for the segments of Fairview between Fuhrman and Hamlin streets and between Roanoke and Newton. Fairview Avenue E. is one of the best things about our neighborhood–a quiet, leafy place to walk and enjoy the lake. But Fairview needs improvements allowing pedestrians, bicycles, local traffic, and parking to coexist safely while solving drainage and flooding problems. In response to the Eastlake Neighborhood Plan, the City classified Fairview between Fuhrman and Hamlin streets and between Roanoke and Newton streets as a “neighborhood green street,” but to protect Fairview from unwise changes and qualify for City-funded and developer-funded improvements, the neighborhood needs to work out a Street Design Concept Plan and get SDOT to adopt it. Also we are seeking donated help from a drainage engineer.
Based on the comments received, ECC will draft a Street Design Concept Plan for the two segments of the Fairview Green Street, to be submitted for public comment and eventual adoption as a joint director’s rule by the directors of the Department of Planning and Development and the Seattle Department of Transportation. Please help by sending your written or drawn suggestions for Fairview Ave. E. Click here for an outline map of Fairview and other streets that you can mark up and send, or just write us a message: email@example.com or to ECC, c/o Lake Union Mail, 117 E. Louisa #1, Seattle 98102-3278. Questions are always welcome to those addresses or to (206) 322-5463.