Take a letter Maria . . .

. . . address it to the Mayor. Our good buddy Dan “Podowski” Bertolet waxes poetic about yet another letter some of us signed about land use. I should have posted it sooner but in case you haven’t seen it yet (and it’s been widely circulated) you can see it below.

I signed the letter. But there are things that I will express here as concerns. Given my street food cred, I am rapidly becoming an out-of-line kill joy on just about everything. I promise that I’ll talk to my therapist when I get one.

Here’s the deal. Roosevelt doesn’t really need more planning. They’ve got a neighborhood plan and they have a plan that DPD has put together with the neighborhood. The problem in Roosevelt is not lack of planning but lack of leadership. Often planning looks a lot like leadership, but it isn’t. I’ve already said what I think the situation needs, which is what the letter calls for too: The word leadership is in the first sentence! A heavy weight facilitator from the City who can make promises they can keep and hold others accountable for the promises they make is what we need.

I have also written about how I think the Urban Framework stuff that went on for Broadway’s station is wonderful stuff. Lots of great pictures and even models. Sadly, there isn’t a lot to back any of this dreamy stuff up. Capitol Hill is already working with some good density already, so there is less of a need for zoning changes. An urban framework plan in Roosevelt could lead to more delays and a plan that gets ignored. Let’s just get the up zones done in the context of the existing plans. Neighbors and developers need their concerns addressed and then there needs to be some accountability.

I signed the letter because I agree with it in letter and spirit. A framework plan might help. But we already know we need better zoning.

Awesome model! Now can you build one that shows what a leader looks like?


June 3, 2011

The Hon. Michael McGinn Mayor City of Seattle 600 4th Avenue, 7th Floor Seattle, WA 98124-4749

Re: DPD’s Proposed Roosevelt Rezone Dear Mayor McGinn:

We urge you to take a leadership role regarding DPD’s currently-proposed rezone in Roosevelt. As you know, several individuals and groups have written to comment on the proposed rezone, which will constrain development capacity within close proximity to the future Roosevelt Sound Transit Station.

The creation of transit-oriented communities supports the significant public investment in transit that will occur in Roosevelt as a result of the new station. Transit investments are most effective when combined with opportunities for more people to live, shop and work near the stations. The Planning Commission’s recent Transit Communities Report identified several communities, including Roosevelt, as areas in which more housing and infrastructure should occur to take advantage of the investment in transit. Futurewise’s Blueprint report made similar recommendations related to the Roosevelt neighborhood.

The current zoning plan as proposed by DPD constrains development in the station area, a 5-10 minute walk, to primarily single family housing, with only 2-3 blocks of additional NC-65 zoning in the neighborhood core. The core, areas currently zoned for NC3-65, have no proposed increases in density. Other proposed changes are primarily minor single level “step ups” to transition from the slightly larger core to surrounding single family housing (Ex. LR1 to LR2), or character changes (Ex. LR to NC).

All together the current plan will only result in an increase in housing capacity of only 350 units. A majority of this increase is immediately adjacent to I-5, where Sound Transit originally proposed to build the station.

The Roosevelt community successfully lobbied Sound Transit to move the station closer to the heart of the Roosevelt neighborhood in order to create a vibrant neighborhood center. DPD’s plan does not properly increase capacity in the correct locations to take advantage of the great work accomplished by the Roosevelt community in moving the station, and the plan fails to take advantage of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to leverage the creation of a transit community in Roosevelt.

We believe that in order to fully take advantage of the transit investment in the Roosevelt neighborhood, and the work accomplished by the Roosevelt community members in moving the station, DPD must undertake a full station area planning effort complete withan Urban Design Framework Plan, similar to the planning efforts in South Seattle, South Lake Union, West Seattle, and other transit-oriented locations. Such a planning effort must include much higher heights and densities than currently exist in the DPD plan, which will ensure the appropriate level of development in close proximity to the public’s $300 million investment in the Roosevelt Light Rail station.


Chuck Ayers
Executive Director, Cascade Bicycle Club

Stephen Antupit
Cowen Park neighbor of the Roosevelt Station

Craig Benjamin
Seattle Resident

John Coney
Seattle Resident

Martin Duke
Seattle Transit Blog

Zach Herrington-Shaner
Seattle Transit Blog

Sean Howell
VP, Friends of Seattle

Rob Johnson
Executive Director, Transportation Choices Coalition

Gary Manca
President, Friends of Seattle

Dan McGrady
Leadership for Great Neighborhoods

Ben Schiendelman
Seattle Transit Blog

George Allen
VP, Government Relations, Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce

Adam Bejan Parast
Seattle Transit Blog

Dan Bertolet

Eric de Place
Seattle Resident

Kevin Futhey
Roosevelt Resident

Brock Howell
King County Program Director, Futurewise

John Jensen
Seattle Transit Blog

Sherwin Lee
Seattle Transit Blog

Brice Maryman
Seattle Resident

Andrew McManama Smith
Roosevelt Resident

Jon Scholes
Downtown Seattle Association

Catherine Stanford
Chair, Great City

Roger Valdez
Seattle Resident

Renee Staton
Leadership for Great Neighborhoods

Don Vehige
Ravenna Neighbor of the Roosevelt Station

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4 Responses to Take a letter Maria . . .

  1. David says:

    Back in 2000 a guy named Roger Valdez wrote a special article to the Seattle Times entitled “Neighborhood Voice Key in Planning”. He said that the neighborhood planning “was a profound shift towards an urban democracy in which neighborhoods gained the self-determination to recreate their environments to reflect their unique qualities and visions of the future.” He said neighborhood planning creates “ideas that should be embraced by developers in both the public and private sector.” The planning has been done by the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association (RNA) and reviewed and approved by Seattle DPD. Anyone who has been involved in the Roosevelt community for any time understands the local issues and why the neighborhood plan is what it is. It is time for the Council to approve the plan. Now a bunch of high-density developers with the mantra “transit-oriented development” want to move in and have us redo the plan. Come on. The neighborhood spent years and years on this. How many of the people signing this letter actually attended the dozens of meetings and open houses that were held by the RNA? Roger, if you really believe in a neighborhood voice why didn’t you look into this before signing this letter?

    • Matt the Engineer says:

      “Now a bunch of high-density developers with the mantra ‘transit-oriented development’ want to move in and have us redo the plan.”

      Are you calling Roger a developer?

      “Anyone who has been involved in the Roosevelt community for any time understands the local issues and why the neighborhood plan is what it is. ”

      Why not spend a bit of effort and explain to us why it is what it is? There’s a time in any multi-billion-dollar project when design decisions need to be defended in public. This is your chance. Convince us.

  2. Pingback: Good news for Roosevelt zoning | Seattle's Land Use Code

  3. Pingback: Message received: Regulatory reform efforts underway | Seattle's Land Use Code

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