Here’s what Jim O’Halloran, Chair, Land Use Committee of the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association said recently about the discussions leading up to meetings around station area design and zoning in Roosevelt. Everything was going along fine said O’Halloran with neighborhood zoning efforts but
Then, something interesting happened. A number of committed bloggers and organizations started complaining to DPD, Mayor McGinn and City Councilmembers that the rezone plan published by DPD was not enough. In any light rail station area, they said, building heights should be much higher; 8 stories, 12 stories or more would be necessary all around the station to achieve population density sufficient to “support” the taxpayer’s investment in mass transit. Never mind the Neighborhood Plan
At last night’s town hall hosted by Mayor McGinn, loud voices from Roosevelt opposing the suggestions of “committed bloggers” never materialized. In fact, the meeting was a pretty straightforward affair. City staff indicated that it was a typical, maybe even smaller than usual, crowd. There were no upset residents of Roosevelt decrying density. The issue never even came up.
Let’s clear a couple of things up. First, I have no problem with Roosevelt’s neighborhood plan or the work the neighborhood did with the Department of Planning and Development on proposed rezones. The issue I have is a rather narrow one and that has to do with the panhandle formed by Hugh Sisley’s properties east of the station. And even there, my hope is that there could be some facilitated discussion that could lead to acceptable up zones for both the developer and the neighborhood and those of us who know that light rail only works when there are lots of people to use it. I left some blood on the battle field of neighborhood planning myself in Beacon Hill and in South Park. I don’t take neighborhood plans lightly. This isn’t about abrogating the neighborhood plan.
The second point is we do all have a stake in what happens in Roosevelt. As I pointed out over the weekend, bloggers or not, we all should be committed to making light rail and our neighborhoods together. Here’s O’Halloran again:
DPD is now trying to decide if the Roosevelt Legislative Rezone process should be “paused” so that a new rezoning process could be initiated, as the density advocates have requested. This step would be a grave insult to the Roosevelt community, and the countless hours of good-faith volunteer effort to plan responsibly for smart growth. We need to weigh in now, in numbers and with passion, to ensure that the Roosevelt Legislative Rezone process is continued and concluded. Here is how to do that for maximum effect…
Of course folks from Roosevelt should express their opinion. But to call what “density advocates” are trying to do an “insult to the Roosevelt community” is absurd and unfair. Our involvement isn’t an insult. It’s called dialogue, discussion, and advocacy. O’Halloran should skip the bluster and take concerns about density for what they are: genuine interest in making our city, light rail, and the neighborhood a better place.