Sunny Georgetown: Is NIMBYism the sign a neighborhood has arrived?

It’s been awhile since I worked my beat as a Neighborhood Development Manager (NDM) in the Georgetown neighborhood. Back in the late 1990s the goal was to even keep the term “neighborhood” attached to the name Georgetown. Industrial interests and the King County International Airport had plans for Georgetown that would flatten the small residential community and budding commercial and retail businesses. Land use was a big part of this, with the Manufacturing and Industrial Council on the one side and the residential neighborhood on the other. It looks like the Georgetown Neighborhood is here to stay, and that makes me happy.

On the one hand, you’d think that the recent plan to move Nickelsville, an encampment of homeless people, into the Georgetown area might have been welcomed by the neighborhood. After all, more people in the area (and the change in use) would establish a precedent. “Georgetown is a residential neighborhood,” businesses and neighbors could argue to the city, “after all you’ve permitted a significant residential use.” The Sunny Jim site would be the residential camel under the industrial tent. Or maybe a pair of cowboy boots under the tent anyway.

However, Georgetown folks opposed the Sunny Jim site. What may be happening to Georgetown’s island of single family is what has happened in many other single family neighborhoods: NIMBYism. It might be proof that the neighborhood has arrived. And it’s success in fending off the Sunny Jim sight might put Georgetown right up there with Laurelhurst when it resisted Children’s Hospital and their efforts to expand services.

So the good news is that Georgetown has an awesome business district, great neighborhood advocates, and solutions to problems we thought were a distant dream (Hat and Boots restoration, Georgetown City Hall meeting space).

The bad news is that now they can be NIMBYs like all the other established neighborhoods. Yeah, I know, I don’t live there. And yes, it has been a long time since I worked there. And no, I have not been tracking this issue with laser focus. And maybe the Lake City location for Nickelsville is the best option. There’s a lot I don’t know. But I hope the day comes when the indicator of becoming a real neighborhood isn’t stopping change, but making it work.

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3 Responses to Sunny Georgetown: Is NIMBYism the sign a neighborhood has arrived?

  1. jelky says:

    Georgetown resident here, not opposed to an encampment down this way. I have been surprised at the vehemence of some of my neighbors though.

    Every day I dream that my part of Georgetown, the western edge bounded by Mead, Dawson, 1st, and 4th, will get a re-zone to allow for housing to be built. It’s shocking to walk these streets and see boarded-up houses, purchased years or decades back by industry thinking they’d expand. With frequent bus service on the thoroughfares and a close-in location, I hope hope hope to have more neighbors at some point in the future. The Nickelsville folks would have been a good start. Oh well.

  2. Mark Kerrigan says:

    I would think you’d be hard pressed to find any neighborhood that actively supports Nickelsville, although I do feel somewhat a sense of historical irony.

  3. Pingback: 23.91 Citation– Hearings– Penalties: Clean up your act! | Seattle's Land Use Code

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