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Friday, June 3, 2011

Here's a Refreshing Change: Group Lobbies City for More Density Around Light Rail

Posted by on Fri, Jun 3, 2011 at 3:37 PM

In stark contrast to other neighborhoods, Roosevelt neighborhood residents and transit-oriented progressives are lobbying the city to step up and increase density zoning around the future Roosevelt light rail station.

In a letter sent to Mayor Mike McGinn and City Council today, stakeholders argue that the Department of Planning Development's current plan "constrains development in the station area, a 5-10 minute walk, to primarily single family housing," and "will only result in an increase in housing capacity of only 350 units."

Here's an excerpt from the letter (.pdf):

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.

...DPD must undertake a full station area planning effort complete with an 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.

What a fucking joy it was to read that letter (cue the anti-density NIMBY squawking in three, two, one...). The DPD has not yet returned a call for comment.

 

Comments (25) RSS

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Will in Seattle 1
Plus it saves the single family zoning in the rest of the neighborhood.

Throw in a couple ground level daycare and it sounds like a plan.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on June 3, 2011 at 3:56 PM · Report this
vooodooo84 2
a lot of the community's problems could be solved if someone eminent domained the Sisley-Slums
Posted by vooodooo84 on June 3, 2011 at 3:59 PM · Report this
Cui Bono 3
If you don't like density, MOVE. There are only around 7M people in Washington State, plenty of land left just beyond the Cascades and it's ALL yours.
Posted by Cui Bono on June 3, 2011 at 4:02 PM · Report this
Dougsf 5
What are the current limits for the neighborhood and how do they want them changed?

I'm definitely pro-density, but Seattle's residential development in the last decade has been so awful it's hard to imagine relaxing anything that allowed for the proliferation of this sort of thing

I'd suggest if given the chance to rewrite these guidelines to favor density, also add measures that would discourage these sort whole-block takin', Juliette-balcony havin', multi-colored to pretend it's more buildings than it is bein', eyesores that already pepper the city.
Posted by Dougsf on June 3, 2011 at 4:11 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 6
The main thing to avoid is sprawl away from the station zone.

Colocation works due to the twin magnets of Northgate (with easy connections to other areas) and the UW (with lots of UW students who would love to live next to the station there, and party elsewhere).

Also works for eventual high capacity transit to Everett and the Eastside. No need for a car so long as you know the light rail is there.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on June 3, 2011 at 4:14 PM · Report this
Fnarf 7
No! The density of Roosevelt should be ZERO! Like those awesome boarded-up houses!

@5, Seattle's residential development in the past decade has been a massive improvement over that of the 90s, 80s, or 70s. You just don't notice because THOSE awful buildings have faded into the background by now. But if you look for them, they're still there -- Ballard, too, is packed with hideous, shoddy buildings from every era. That's mostly what cities are.

And there is no process known to man by which attractive buildings can be substituted. It's certainly not money; if you were making a list of the ugliest buildings of the past decade the ones at the top would all be mega-million jobs from top architects.
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on June 3, 2011 at 4:18 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 8
@7 I'd settle for 40-story towers.

But in a pinch, 100-story towers might be nice too, provided they have rooftop gargoyles for staring out at the city from.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on June 3, 2011 at 4:30 PM · Report this
Dougsf 9
@7 - You're probably right, I think I'm letting a few awful examples float to the top of my mind... I was even thinking what we always less-than-affectionately referred to as "homtels" that pepper Seattle are downright quaint compared some of what's been built since. Except for when their not.

I don't know what the answer is either, ya can't regulate taste, and cities that have mostly staved off the particular plague I'm referencing are cities that just happen to never have more than two 30'x100' contiguous lots for sale at the same time.
Posted by Dougsf on June 3, 2011 at 4:32 PM · Report this
Dougsf 10
@8 - I was wondering if you ever sang any of your songs.
Posted by Dougsf on June 3, 2011 at 4:33 PM · Report this
11
Letter would be much more effective, and useful, if it were signed by more than 3 people from the Roosevelt neighborhood.

The neighborhood is not a NIMBY haven; looks like the letter-writers just got lazy, just to get something out the door.
Posted by Citizen R on June 3, 2011 at 4:47 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 12
But won't the people moving into the denser section around the station be Roosevelt neighbors?

Nah, let's just let developers build to maximum 4-6 story heights throughout the neighborhood instead, no need to preserve local single family houses by concentrating zoning near the station ... and they can do most of that without ANY rezoning, so it's what they will do once the station is there.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on June 3, 2011 at 5:04 PM · Report this
13
Only problem is...the one thing that citizens have requested near light rail stations...is more free parking.

Densify and ridership will drop even lower then their currently anemic levels.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on June 3, 2011 at 5:29 PM · Report this
14
The Roosevelt neighborhood has supported a lot of upzoning through their neighborhood planning process, and the list of usual developer suspects (and their water carriers) who signed this letter can go fuck themselves.

Posted by Mr. X on June 3, 2011 at 5:32 PM · Report this
15
...oops, I forgot carpetbaggers.
Posted by Mr. X on June 3, 2011 at 6:39 PM · Report this
16
...and the so-called Roosevelt "stakeholders" Cienna gushes about (all three of them) include an employee of Mithun and another who is a frequent blogger at Seattle Transit Blog. Nobody who has actually had much involvement in the long neighborhood and station area planning process there that I can see.

Talk about a New Urbanist circle jerk....
Posted by Mr. X on June 3, 2011 at 6:44 PM · Report this
TVDinner 17
@2: To get ridiculously nerdy here, there's an even better option for those properties. Taking property under eminent domain requires compensation. I think they could be declared "blighted" and the city would have to right to condemn them.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on June 3, 2011 at 7:28 PM · Report this
20
The only areas that need densifying are in Urban Centers and Urban Villages, especially those that have rail transit stations. And the density should be confined to "walkable" neighborhoods, not spread all over.

Unfortunately, the City's early work setting Urban Village boundaries went well beyond walkable -- in the case of Roosevelt, boundaries go all the way north to Lake City Way -- NOT a comfortable walk to Roosevelt Station.
Posted by Citizen R on June 3, 2011 at 10:44 PM · Report this
21
Fact is, when development happens and you try to engage people about it, they don't show up. This is true for public meetings of all kinds. We like to bitch in comment forums from our couch, but ask us to show up to a neighborhood meeting and only the lonely, old, and free refreshment trawlers show up. How many planning reviews have average, no skin in the game cept I live here people on this forum actually been to? And what about your friends or neighbors?

Want to know why these planning meetings are tiny, non-representative "new urbanist circle jerks?" because none of the rest of us show up.
Posted by nullbull on June 3, 2011 at 11:08 PM · Report this
22
@21,

The thing is, in Roosevelt, the neighborhood and station area planning meetings WERE well attended by a pretty good cross-section of regular folks, and those people were generally supportive of fairly significant upzones. Not that Dan Bertolet, the DSA and/or the Stranger cares about (or is even willing to acknowledge) that history.

But yes, in general, you're right. And a big part of why regular folks often don't show up though is that they know full well that city planners will basically do whatever the hell it is they want to anyway, and that any promises of amenities/design review/setbacks/etc etc that they agree to in order to get community buy-off aren't worth the paper they're written on.
Posted by Mr. X on June 4, 2011 at 10:27 AM · Report this
Tingleyfeeln 23
It makes sense that there should be higher density of residents and/or jobs near rail stations. This goes not only for Seattle, but for all of the metro area served by major transit lines. It's time for the suburbs to pitch in and do their part against sprawl.
Posted by Tingleyfeeln on June 4, 2011 at 11:33 AM · Report this
Glenn 24
Who are all these people that know how to fix everything? Why doesn't anyone use their real name? The point being the if you've lived in Roosevelt for the past ten+ years and went to meetings and lobbied for density in the right places, you shouldn't mind saying so. But if you're hiding behind some pseudonym, never invested in real estate, and think you have some really clever stuff to say, well then blurt it out. There is no accountability for that.
Posted by Glenn http://glennroberts.wordpress.com/ on June 4, 2011 at 6:37 PM · Report this
25
Hey Mr X @22, glad to know I've made your villain list! I thank you for the honor.

What if the neighborhood planning process didn't get it right? Is it written in stone somewhere that that is an impossibility, Mr. X?
Posted by Dan Bertolet on June 4, 2011 at 8:12 PM · Report this
Glenn 26
@ DB #25 What if someone working for the company that is working for the developer is making the claim that the neighborhood didn't get it right? Where were you, the land owner and the developer when the 5 years of planing was in progress?
Posted by Glenn http://glennroberts.wordpress.com/ on June 4, 2011 at 9:06 PM · Report this
27
@25,

The only things that have changed since DPD and the City signed off on the neighborhood plan are that light rail is going to be more than 10 years late in coming and a longtime slumlord has decided that he wants to build absurdly out-of-scale buildings that no one in the neighborhood wants.

Neither of these things support your assertion that "the neighborhood planning process didn't get it right" - and in fact I think they both tend to prove the opposite.

Posted by Mr. X on June 4, 2011 at 9:14 PM · Report this
28
A whole lot of bickering about nothing. The upzone is pretty small.

The vast majority of the area will stay SF5000 - one unit per 5000 square feet, mandatory lawns and off-street parking.

There'll be a couple blocks worth of lowrise with the same height limit as the single-family. We will probably see townhouses at around 1 unit per 1500 square feet, but this will really be a test to see if any developers are interested in exploiting the new rowhouse rules. Small, short apartment buildings would be allowed. No on-site parking is required in this area.

And there are a couple block-wide ribbons of commercial along both 65th and Roosevelt, extending just 2 blocks from the station in all directions. The vast majority of this commercial has a 65' limit. There's a smattering of 40' to the east, and the only 85' is practically on top of the station. No on-site parking is required in this area. This is only a slight bump up from the current commercial zoning on the Roosevelt & 65th corridors.

If 9 blocks of commercial are going to kill the neighborhood, then the neighborhood is in trouble no matter what the city does.
Posted by Lack Thereof on July 7, 2011 at 1:25 AM · Report this

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