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Friday, December 14, 2007

Manufactured Crisis

posted by on December 14 at 15:54 PM

The email alert arrived this morning: “Our Mayor and the City Council are about to downzone our neighborhood (Georgetown) into an industrial wasteland (no kidding),” wrote Joel Ancowitz, a 42-year-old yoga teacher who owns a house in the neighborhood with his partner. Seemingly fast tracked, a bill introduced in the Urban Planning and Development Committee only three weeks ago goes for a vote before the city council on Monday. If it passes, the legislation will limit new commercial and residential developments to 25,000 square feet in Seattle’s 5000 acres of industrial-zoned land.

However, the rezoning wouldn’t exactly apply to Georgetown – a pocket of single-story bungalows, artist warehouses, and quirky shops zoned for mixed use, with roughly 1200 residents – but rather the swath of industrial land that surrounds it. Here’s a map.


Georgetown is that multi-colored blob in the blue industrial-zoned ocean.

Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck, who introduced the bill, says it’s not a downzone but a means to prevent encroaching commercial and residential conversions from displacing manufacturing businesses in an area intended to accommodate them. “We are trying to resist some of that [conversion] to protect our industrial job base, which is in excess of 100,000 jobs,” he says.

The issue for neighbors is whether further limiting commercial devlopment near Georgetown will adversely affect the burgeoning community there.

“Art co-ops would be prevented from using that space. The creativity happening down here could very well be stifled,” says Ancowitz, who urges people to contact councilmembers and ask them to stall the legislation or exempt the land near Georgetown. “I’d like to see studies done first.”

The mayor’s office and some members of the council think the city needs to pass binding legislation now. “We’re in the biggest building boom in this city’s history,” says Steinbrueck, who also introduced a companion resolution to study industrial zoning. “We’ve put some interim controls in to prevent a rush to vest while we take a little more time.”

But Kathy Nyland, who owns a small retail shop in the neighborhood, thinks the urgency is artificial. She cites six vacant warehouses in the area as an example that industrial businesses aren’t wanting for space. “This decision can’t be rushed, because you’re making a decision based on a color-coded map,” she says.

Nyland and Ancowitz have found an ally in Councilmember Richard Conlin, who will introduce an amendment on Monday to exempt the area around Georgetown and SoDo from the new regulations. “The problem is we’re doing this so fast, we’ll spend the next several years fixing the area,” says Conlin, who adds the city could place a moratorium on permits if developers apply for commercial permits in the interim. “It would be great to have grocery store, but even a normal size grocery store would not be able to be sited.”

“You do not want big-box retail moving in to Georgetown,” quips Steinbrueck. “It would kill the place.” Steinbrueck's current proposal would still allow commercial and residential developments up to 25,000 square feet. That’s the equivalent of the PCC in Fremont and enough room for a commercial business with 100 employees, he points out… more than enough room for an artist’s workspace. He also notes the irony of claiming the rezone would hurt Georgetown’s working-class community when the alternative is to allow developer-friendly zoning that will inevitably gentrify the area.

Mayor Greg Nickels originally proposed a version of the bill in September to restrict non-industrial uses from the 100,000 square feet currently allowed to only 10,000 square feet—a 90 percent reduction. Steinbrueck introduced his compromising proposal, after a public hearing and speaking to Georgetown neighbors, in November.

“We’re not saying nothing needs to be done,” says Nyland. “We have scrappy residential area down here. The fear is we’re not being recognized as a neighborhood because we’re surrounded by industry.”

RSS icon Comments


Steinbrueck is teh hotness.

Posted by Mr. Poe | December 14, 2007 3:56 PM

Whoa. Corrected by google images. Forgive me.

Posted by Mr. Poe | December 14, 2007 4:09 PM

Remember, just because the zoning has changed, doesn't mean your existing use isn't permitted. It's just your expansion and modification beyond the original zoning permit that's impacted, and even that has some leeway.

I for one look forward to a stronger industrial bias in a Green Seattle, as we become the enviro powerhouse of the world.

Posted by Will in Seattle | December 14, 2007 4:13 PM

It seems disingenuous for Steinbrueck to claim to want to preserve Georgetown, and that an exemption would contribute to gentrification, when he rejected Conlin's amendments outright. Clearly, this is an instance where a officeholder thinks he knows what is good for "the people" when the vast majority of said people are not being served by the expeditious nature of this legislation, and are saying so in explicit terms.

But one point that didn't come out in the article is that the majority of people fighting this are also opposed to gentrification of the neighborhood, and thus the omission perpetuates that people must either choose between toxic waste and condos in terms of quality of living issues.

It might be worth looking into as to why an industry leaders are claiming to embrace Georgetown (i.e. small businesses, artists, renters, homeowners) in public, but do the exact opposite behind the scenes. If the neighborhood succeeds in torpedoing this legislation--which might allow developers to gentrify jobs out of SoDo and other places, that business community might have to re-evaluate the leadership that represents interests such as the Manufacturing Industry Council, and whether or not ignoring a neighborhood that is politically active actually hurts industry in the long run.

Posted by tpn | December 14, 2007 4:16 PM

I don't really see the need for this type of action... we're at the end of the construction boom, recession is looming, and when I look at the DPD info I only see a handful of residential permits issued for that entire area - and that's including Georgetown.

Posted by happy renter | December 14, 2007 4:18 PM

forgot to mention that those handful of permits were over a 2-year period.
There doesn't seem to be anything really threatening the industrial area.

Posted by happy renter | December 14, 2007 4:21 PM

What Steinbrueck isn't getting is this isn't about Georgetown and gentrification. This is about inequity and fairness.

With other neighborhoods, such as South Lake Union and South downtown, Council decided to study potential zoning changes and the implications before action was taken. They are now rushing to do the complete opposite in South Seattle.

We simply don't know the implications of this legislation and unfortunately because it's being fast-tracked, we won't have time to examine what might happen.

Posted by ken | December 14, 2007 4:26 PM

I used to be a Steinbrueck supporter. But the way he has mishandled and fast tracked the largest re-zoning legislation in Seattle's history has changed my mind about him. He has been bought, and time will tell who the highest bidder was.

Posted by CJB | December 14, 2007 4:35 PM

Umm, this proposal has been studied for two years, including extensive review by the planning commission. If CM Conlin thinks it is rushed, then he should have paid attention to it sooner.

Today, there are applications for some 800,000 square feet of commercial and office development in industrial areas (think the equivalent of a columbia tower) that will force good paying, blue-collar jobs out of the city. Just look at who is behind the push to put this legislation on hold, or kill it -- downtown developers. If anything, this legislation will prevent gentrification of Georgetown by insuring this part of Seattle remains a base for good-paying industrial and manufacturing jobs.

Posted by Blue Collar | December 14, 2007 4:38 PM

Many of the communities in South Seattle are impacted by industry. I could go on about the environmental issues but will refrain. How about the dozens of semi-trucks parked in front of our homes on a daily basis. Is Steinbrueck addressing that issue? Probably not since many of our streets our zoned industrial.

Posted by SP | December 14, 2007 4:39 PM

Right on to the Council and Mayor for taking this action!! It is right for Seattle. We need to retain industrial land for industrial uses.

Henry Liebman should go build commerical and residential developments in the ample amounts of commerical and residential zoned land in Seattle.

The blue collar jobs, the competivie advantages we have in the global marketplace, and the tax revenue from this sector make it very worthwhile.

Councilmembers and the Mayor are right to take action now before we displace even more industry.

Posted by Go City Council! | December 14, 2007 4:43 PM

yeah, keep repeating the party line, Blue Collar and Go City Council. This is indeed a manufactured crisis, and you are all being used as pawns in Nickels drive to make sure that all new commercial ventures have to go to South Lake Union.
Wake up, folks. I support industry. We all support industry. This isn't about protecting industry, it's about protecting Nickels pet project.

Posted by CJB | December 14, 2007 4:52 PM

#9 & #11

A exemption for Georgetown proper is not the same as being "pro-developer". In fact, this a red herring. It is not a black and white issue, nor is it a "you are either with us or against us" issue. The fact is that the neighborhood got left out of the so called "studies" only known by industry leadership.

Georgetown and industry can both get their needs met. The question is, who will do the right thing and make sure that happens? The neighborhood is a long ways off the path of freight mobility. The people that live here know that, and know that the preservation of the neighborhood won't interfere with it.So don't try to play the blue collar card, we already know what it means to be blue collar.

Posted by t.p.n. | December 14, 2007 4:54 PM

Yes, there issue has been been "studied" by the Planning Commission. Some within ndustry was involved as well. But if you aren't in the know or if you don't regularly attend Planning Commission meetings, you didn't know about this issue.

It was brought forward by the mayor in September. The legislation we're talking about was introduced by Steinbrueck in November- November 26th to be exact.

To say that's ample time for discussion is absurd. Every Councilmember acknowledges that they don't have the needed data to make an infomred decision. But yet they are moving forward.

Posted by ken | December 14, 2007 4:57 PM

I am surprised that no one has mentioned the industry versus environment angle.

Or my personal favorite, how industry is such a good neighbor, said sarcastically as I see dozens of semi-trucks parked in front of my house.

Is Council working on those issues?

Posted by SP | December 14, 2007 5:10 PM

Great, so instead of allowing more tech companies to move in, we'll save the land for the industries of the 19th Century.

Posted by Gitai | December 14, 2007 5:35 PM

Geesh, CJB, you say that like it's a bad thing. Don't you want to live in a modern city where the nearby waterfront has lots of tall waterfront residential and commercial buildings around Lake Union?

And who's to say it's 19th Century industries? - all the data I've seen says we're looking at the green tech industrial revolution, and Seattle's going to be front and center in that.

Posted by Will in Seattle | December 14, 2007 5:40 PM

Geesh, Will in Seattle, no I don't want to live in a city that chooses one neighborhood over another. There's enough to go around, man. South Seattle should have the same opportunity for growth as South Lake Union.

Posted by CJB | December 14, 2007 5:49 PM

Why can't Georgetown from Lucile to Boeing field be excempt from the Industrial Land Use proposal? A preimeter could very easily be drawn to cut off our residential streets. Airport Way, were there is retail shops and eatiers should be left alone. What are you going to do put a machine shop in the Old Cold Storage? Everything that is Industrial is not in Georgetown proper. Lucile should be the cut off for the Industrial Land Use in Georgetown. I guess you citizans haven't been attending your City Council meetings. Georgetown isn't even included in any of the studies that would show impact from industrial land use, that is why council doesn't have the info to make an informed vote. Leave the residents out of the proposal. It's about social injustice. That is why the average citizien in Georgetown has the life expectancy of a person that lives in a developing country. Way to go Seattle! Don't believe this is about family wage jobs. Those are in Mexico and China for the most part.

Posted by gtown red | December 14, 2007 6:47 PM

Look - the fact is that legislation getting through Council in just over two weeks is unprecedented. So the issue is rushed. Steinbreuck wants to leave this as his legacy.

Those of us who live in Georgetown live here because we choose to, not because we have to. Georgetown is home to laborers, artists, Microsoft employees, UPS drivers, small business owners, young children, Starbucks employees, etc. What makes this neighborhood unique is that we've survived in spite of industry - certainly not because of it.

Gentrification is not a scary word if it means that Georgetown is privy to the same rights to cleaner air and water that other, wealthier neighborhoods are granted.

All we are asking is that Council take time to perform an independent study and survey what industries really exist in S. Seattle. And then determine what future industries, such as green ones, will need as they move into the area.

And most importantly, we are asking that we be given a seat at the table to talk about how industry and Georgetown can continue to co-exist.

None of these things make us anti-labor, or pro-developer. It just means that we want to really look at the impact such legislation will have longterm in an area of town that is often neglected, but one that we love and are proud to call home.

Posted by holly marie | December 14, 2007 7:47 PM

I'm sorry, I don't want to be snarky or dismissive, but I thought people bought in Georgetown because they wanted to be in a gritty industrial area. Do you live in Georgetown to live near a big box store? Because that's what the legislation is prohibiting. This legislation makes it sligtly easier for small scrappy businesses to continue to find a place in Georgetown. Yes, there will still be trucks on your streets. You're surrounded by an industrial area. It's part of what makes Georgetown interesting. If the developers that you're fronting for get their way, you'll be surrounded by office parks and big box stores.

Posted by you're in an industrial area | December 14, 2007 8:47 PM

Will--shut the fuck up. You are a NIMBY in your Fremont/Zoo neighborhood but feel quite comfortable opining about a vibrant residential and artistic neighborhood you know nothing about.

You might start with the understanding that your own world view is not the only one.

And Peter--despite many good things you have done --you are flat out wrong on annexing White Center and on Georgetown issues. Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out...

Posted by tiptoe tommy | December 14, 2007 9:23 PM

Peter Steinbrueck's lame ass line about ramming this legislation down everyone throats to prevent big box stores from descending on Georgetown is just another in a long string of baseless justifications that he and the Mayor and Karl Rove came up with in the bowels of City Hall.

Posted by CJB | December 14, 2007 9:45 PM

#21: Please explain why gritty has to mean breathing pollution, not having a say in the direction of our neighborhood, and why it means that people should accept what people who don't live here think is best. Please tell us why quality of life issues in Seattle is a mutually exclusive choice between 700k belltown condos and living in a shithole where the smallest effort to add value to a community is blown off by city hall (unless your Paul Allen with a $52m 1.3 mile street car). Because people here are trying to show that it doesn't have to be one or the other, that there is some middle ground. You can have gritty without poison; you can have a city were the standard is not "some neighborhoods are more equal then others".

Or, is political equality something people no longer feel is important?

Posted by tpn | December 14, 2007 10:41 PM

#21. Many of us bought in Georgetown because it was affordable. Gasp, the shame!

Affordable housing and quality of life should not be mutually exclusive. And that is a point we have been trying to make for years now.

And no one is saying we don't want trucks on our streets. Can industry say the same? There have been a few industry spokespeople that have said they don't want pedestrians on the streets, or bicyclists, or anyone. We're viewed as a nuisance.

The residents are the ones who understand the balance between mixed uses here. We are the ones who work to co-exist. We are the ones who extend the olive branch. But yet we are the ones not included in the discussion about what happens to our neighborhood.

We had to fight to have language in the resolution making sure we were part of the stakeholders groups. The mayor tried to nix that but we got back in.

Why does speaking out and questioning the process, or lack of one, make us a front for developers? Why can't it be we're speaking out on our behalf.

By simplifying this issue as for or against developers doesn't capture what the issue truly is about. That's a simple but inaccurate sound bite.

By the way, I would love to have a "big box" down here, specifically a grocery store. Would that make me pro-developer?

Posted by ken | December 14, 2007 11:35 PM

Big box store in Georgetown? Ha! And where is this store going to be built? Between the railroad lines? Or perhaps at Boeing Field? Oh, I know! It's going to be built on a barge in the Duwamish. Or, maybe at Boeing's old, and pretty much abandoned, headquarters site. Please.

The labor folks win us over because everyone loves blue collar. But, don't be fooled. Developers and labor folks are throwing out ridiculous amounts of money to lobby City Hall. The winner of this race will be the one who has more political clout to go along with their ability to fund politicians' campaigns. Right now, labor is winning. Both sides are playing dirty. And the residents who live in Georgetown are the ones who stand to lose the most.

As for these livable wage jobs...can someone tell me what these are. Because other than the ILWU, and perhaps the Teamsters, I'm at a loss. Have you ever looked at the wages some manufacturing jobs really pay? I've seen jobs posted around our "industrial area" that pay between $10 to $13 an hour. Is that really a family wage job? Really? Can people really own a home in Seattle making that kind of salary? Admittedly, I don't have much info on this issue and would like to learn more.

And that's the whole damn point. There is not enough data to pass this legislation: It's a good idea in theory, but without more info, it's certain to be a disaster in practice.

Ideally, manufacturing, freight, commercial, property owners, renters, residents and small-non-industrial business owners would all be forced to sit in a room and figure out how everyone could play nicely together in the sandbox.

Why can't we all just get along?

Posted by holly marie | December 15, 2007 12:09 AM

Earth to Georgetown- your population is 1,200? You're not getting a grocery store in your lifetime.

You idiots buying the housing down there are a total fucking joke. You buy into an industrial wasteland, then complain out quality of life issues, then you're surprised that industry wants you the fuck out of there? Get a fucking clue. The only reason you live in Georgetown is because you wouldn't admit to yourself that you'd have to move to Burien or Rainier Valley for acceptable affordable housing in an actual neighborhood. That or you were afraid of people of other colors.

Thankfully I don't have to wait for commercial flights to start at Boeing field for just desserts-- the market's going to crash, those that bought there will all have negative equity, and everyone will suddenly realize that living next to a fucking airport in the middle of that industrial wasteland is truly fucking insane.

Posted by Bah! | December 15, 2007 12:31 AM

Trying to ensure Seattle's oldest and most historic neighborhood survives makes us idiots? Choosing community over cookie cutter condo's makes us idiots?
Think about those things you wrote, Bah!
And then go apply to work in the mayor's office. He loves bigoted jackasses.

Posted by CJB | December 15, 2007 7:16 AM

Hey, #27: You should talk a walk down here during the evening hours, and see who actually lives here, before making assumptions on who does.

I hear that the Kent Valley is ripe for industrial development. Been to any zoning meetings lately?

Posted by tpn | December 15, 2007 8:47 AM

The discussion on here from those who live in Georgetown confirm the credibility of the need to have industrial zones dedicated to exclusively to industrial uses. When you allow residential, commercial and retail into an industrial area they start complaining about the trucks, the noise, the air, the lack of urban amenities like curb bulbs that are a hinderence to the funcyion of industry.

The Georgetown residential areas were originally allowed there as workforce housing since sold and bought and sold again. Now all the residents want to have a community like Market Street area in Ballard and think the industrial operations are unfair in their communities. What they need to accept is that they're the interlopers in this situation. It is their community that is encroaching on the industrial uses and not the other way around. If the people who have moved their cannot accept all the things that come with living there (like trucks, noise and 24/7 operations) then they will either move or contribute to driving industry out of Seattle.

THIS is the very reason that incompatable uses should be kept out of industrial areas. The legislation is trying to do just that - keep very large incopatable uses out of land that has been zoned industrial.

Posted by mesha | December 15, 2007 1:21 PM

Seattle has a pretty significant competitive advantage in the global market place because of its policies to retain its industrial sector. Zoning is one of the tools we have at hand. We have capital infrastructure investments and human capital as well.

As the rest of the county slides into recession Seattle's economy remains strong partially because we are a major player in the global trade and manufacturing economies.

The family wage union jobs are certainly a part of it but don't delude yourself into believing that we don't all benefit from an industrial retention strategy. This sector helps to diversify our economy during cyclical downturns (and saved our asses in the dot com bust). I also happen to think it’s a worthwhile policy goal to protect blue collar family wage jobs in Seattle. It’s certainly more than that but that’s good too.

Posted by Econ Junkie | December 15, 2007 1:28 PM

For those of you who are wonks or just intersted in this topic I would say it is worth reading the Planning Commission's report on the Future of Industrial Lands.

It is really quite good. Very thoughtful and fair.

You can find it here - listed under the headline "The Future of Industrial Lands Report Released"

Posted by Wonkie Wookie | December 15, 2007 1:35 PM

#30 & 31: repeat a fallacy enough times and it becomes the truth, doesn't it? Most of the housing has been here for 80 years. Some has been here 100+ years. Some have lived in that 'hood for three generations.

And what the hell does Ballard have to do with anything? No one here has mentioned it until you. Nice red herring. Next.

Clearly you non-questioning boosters for industry on this board don't care about polluting people's homes and the community. Your Bush EPA reflects that, doesn't it?

It will be funny when your zoning goes down in flames. Maybe the MIC board will get rid of Dave Gehring, and we can finally have a real conversation about community and industry co-existing. Until then, burn baby burn.

Posted by bob | December 15, 2007 1:53 PM

Bob, I disagree with you. I think you are just plain wrong. I think keeping blue collar labor jobs in Seattle is important. I know there is a lack of affordable housing too so I understand why so many people are willing to buy homes and live in Georgetown.

With that said I don't think we should sell out union jobs to let a couple of rich landowners make a ton a money building office parks in our industrial areas.

If you start looking into it you realize most of the anti campaign has been financed by Henry Liebman. That whole Wise Industrial Growth organization is funded by Mr. Liebman.

Would Georgetown homeowners benefit if industrial and was converted to office parks and retail uses? Probably so as it would increase the land values in your neighborhood, so I am sure neighbors there would love to see that land conversion continue. Unfortunately that would not be what is best for Seattle as a whole.

Peter and the other 5 Councilmembers who voted in favor of this are trying think about what is best for our city as a whole.

Posted by Labor family | December 15, 2007 2:14 PM

Industry is being used as pawns in the game this mayor calls governing. This isn't about protecting union jobs. Come down to the south end and see for yourselves, there are plenty of empty warehouses that industry could be currently happily occupying.
This is about ensuring that all of the good large commercial businesses have no place to locate except South Lake Union. That is what this is about. That is what everything has been about ever since Nickels took office. Wake up, folks. I thought Seattleites were suppose to be some of the most highly educated people in the country.

Posted by TRS | December 15, 2007 3:07 PM

Hey "Labor Family",

Labor is being used as a pawn by the employers in SoDo as part of their agenda to undermine quality of life for other working families and individuals. Why do you believe it is fair for labor to sell out one part of the work force's lives in favor of employers? It's a shame you buy into the idea that everyone in the neighborhood is "pro-developer", as if this is a black and white issue. It's not. Come down to the neighborhood and ask how people feel about Liebman, and Stagen (who by the way, got an exemption from the zoning...hmmmm). It shows that you have made no effort to understand the issue.

Do you think that people who live in the Duwamish Valley aren't members of unions? Why would labor ask their members to have their homes (owners and renters alike) downzoned for the benefit of employers, and have to deal with their pollution? Is this why people look at labor and think "don't really give a shit about us" making it easier for them to swallow an anti-labor line?

The meager protections that Gtown is asking for would not undermine anything. What this is really about is Gehring's objection to having to get along with people in "his" industrial zone. It's too bad that you too are being used for his agenda. It shows that you have very little understanding of all the issues at work; it's not black or white. It's not industry vs developer in this case. It's too bad you are trying to pit labor against neighbor, too.

Posted by bob | December 15, 2007 3:31 PM

It does feel like this is a chess move to maneuver all the office parks to SLU/Cascade and keep all the foundries in SODO/Georgetown/South Park and Interbay. The Port has wanted to do an Allentown makeover on their Interbay property for a while now and the city has steadfastly refused.

It's an interesting tug of war between the Port, which we elect commissioners to, and the City, which we elect councilors to. Sometimes I feel like the Port has the City's better interests in mind even when the City doesn't.

Maybe having the Port own Boeing, while keeping commercial flights out, would improve things. Isn't Boeing Field more of a Port function than a Municipal function, anyway? Yeah, yeah, same arguments as before. I'm just saying that I think the Port sometimes has the longer-range view.

Both entities are inefficient as can be, so there's no contest on that front.

Posted by chas Redmond | December 15, 2007 3:52 PM

My family has been in Georgetown for three generations and has seen the immediate area around our house turn from a working class neighborhood into rundown houses and a few businesses, many of them cited by the state Department of Ecology for polluting the aquifer. Why did this happen? Because decades ago the city council thought it would be a good idea to turn this area from residential to industrial. The result has been virtually killing the Duwamish River and poisoning this once fertile valley.

A big problem I see hear speaks to regional governance. Lately, Seattle has been a very hubris city and has failed to see itself as a leader in the greater region. Why does the city of Seattle need industrial jobs? Tacoma, Everett, Renton, Kent and Tukwila - just to name a few - all provide a huge source of employment for industry in this region. Many of the companies that are - gasp!!! - leaving Seattle are relocating just a few miles further south because those cities provide lower cost of business. Seattle should be leading the region in ensuring that Boeing continues production of the next generation of the 737 in Renton or Everett rather than China or Japan. Why do we continue to compete with each other in this region and fail to take action on key issues that matter (eg viaduct built on sand)?

The only thing I ask the council is, if this measure is passed, that we change the zoning in Fremont to farm and agriculture. Seattle needs food!!! Where else are we going to get it? And, the council will want to be pro-farm come election time....

Posted by G-towner | December 15, 2007 4:18 PM

I won't even comment about those who say that people who moved into Georgetown deserve the toxic environment and we're encroaching on industry. Such splendid revisions.

What everyone should be questioning is the process, if you can even call it that.

This bill was introduced not even three weeks ago. That is hardly adequate time to understand it, let alone the consequences of it. We are talking about 5000+ acres being permanently affected, plus the surrounding areas.

That's hardly something we should be taken lightly. And that's hardly something that should be rushed through.

Posted by SP | December 15, 2007 4:47 PM

I agree with SP. This whole thing has been rushed. And you know who else agrees? The City Council. That's why on Wednesday they unanimously passed a resolution attached to Steinbrueck's Bill that basically says, this Bill is a mess and we need to take a year and study it.

Posted by CJB | December 15, 2007 5:11 PM

Look, even when I moved to Seattle, all my friends in Georgetown knew it was a gritty industrial district.

So, sorry you seemed to think you got some kind of sweet deal, but I moved to a place that had lots of biker bars at first - and I was ok with that.

Not that it hasn't changed ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | December 15, 2007 5:12 PM

Free market theory aside, this is not a bill that is meant to reinforce the current zoning - this is a major change to the area, favoring a handful of business concerns over all other business, residential, and public concerns. That the text of the bill was basically written by the groups lobbying for its passing is another concern. That it was introduced quietly, with massive pressure from the Mayors office, and with very little public notice or input is a larger concern.

I do not want Georgetown to turn into the next Fremont or Belltown. I don't want it to turn into the next Tukwila office-complex wasteland. I want it to remain the great little neighborhood, where I know most of my neighbors and have friends starting businesses and employing people. I want parks that are not abandoned to drug users and cold, public bathroom sex fans. I want the businesses and companies around me to be successful, and the people who purchase the homes in the area to have clean ground water and air, just like the people who originally built homes here 80 to 100 years ago.

It doesn't seem like that far-fetched of a dream, but with a Mayor who appears to make decisions with a magic 8-ball and a grudge against anything South of the stadiums, it's getting really hard.

Posted by diggum | December 15, 2007 6:02 PM

In addition, even if all of Georgetown gets specifically exempted, this is STILL bad government - attempting to pass legislation LIMITING business to favor other business, without taking the time to actually study the short and long-term impacts of the proposal.

Apparently, the Mayor can not make a decent proposal to deal with the Viaduct, or sit back while the Monorail project collapses in on itself only taking a stand once we were all in for millions, but HAS to get 5000 acres a few miles past the stadiums rezoned NOW? Please.

Of course, I'm sure he's pre-occupied with family matters right now, so I'll lay off him.

Posted by diggum | December 15, 2007 6:08 PM

The people who have moved to Georgetown do not want a Ballard environment. In fact, I for one am sad that Ballard has lost its industrial roots. What you need to understand is that people have been living in this neighborhood for generations. And many of them are simply tired of fighting to prevent it from getting swept away by industry. They remember when this working class neighborhood had ameneties that are granted to other communities. They remember a time when Georgetown had grocery stores, a movie theater, and ice cream shop. We new folks are just carrying the torch for those who have grown tired of doing so. We're not trying to encroach into industry. We're keeping heavy industry from encroaching further into us. And we're still pretty much working class, at least salary wise.

That said. The real problem with the way this legislation is being handled is that it is bad process. And bad process leads to bad policy.

Conflict is not a bad thing. It often results in creative solutions to problems. But only if those in conflict are given a chance to talk to each other and work through it.

Our government has a process in place when it comes to passing legislation. And the process is gives the public and stakeholders ample time to learn about the issue and then provide their concerns and/or support to our local leaders. process. It gives lends itself to working through conflict. But, only if the process is adhered to.

So this issue is bigger than Georgetown. It's bigger than developers v. industrial jobs. This issue is about accountability and practicing good government. It's about making sure the people we've elected to office follow the process. Even if it means taking a bit more time to study something. Even if it means conflict. Even if it means that someone doesn't get to resolve an issue before leaving office.

I think we can all agree that it's well past time that Seattle create a plan for industrial land use. And I think we can all agree that blue collar jobs are an critical part of our economic fabric.

I also truly hope that, wherever each of us stands the issue, we can at least agree that City Council should adhere to following good public process, practicing good government and getting things right the first time around, even if that means we take a little more time.

Posted by holly marie | December 15, 2007 8:30 PM

Well said, Holly Marie.

Posted by CJB | December 15, 2007 9:56 PM

word, h.m.

Posted by tpn | December 15, 2007 10:59 PM

Please do some basic research about Georgetown before claiming that residents were "allowed there as workforce housing." That's bull. Georgetown was an agricultural/residential district for 100 years before industry was allowed to take over. Georgetown is Seattle's oldest residential neighborhood. It wasn't industrial first. To claim otherwise is absolute idiocy.

Posted by jamesbrian | December 16, 2007 2:13 AM

Accountability and good government ... I guess you've been drinking tiptoe timmy's tea ...


Actually, Alki is older, jb. Which you would know if you checked it out.

Posted by Will in Fremont | December 16, 2007 2:39 AM

My neighborhood's older than your neighborhood. What are we 10, Will?

Posted by TRS | December 16, 2007 8:49 AM

I don't know why Steinbrueck is pushing this legislation through so quickly. It goes against an entire career based on integrity and respect for process. The mayor has proposed another half-baked, divisive idea, and if Steinbrueck doesn't step back and let due process see its course, his legacy is going to suffer. And that would be a shame.

Posted by Ben | December 16, 2007 9:05 AM

The issue comes down to process.

It's an important issue. We all agree on that. Industry is valued. We all agree on that. But the process is flawed.

The fact that Council is acting on something where they have more questions than answers is a concern.

Let's take a step back and then proceed.

And what's wrong with wanting accountability and good government? We should all strive for that. To accept anything less would be a shame.

Posted by SP | December 16, 2007 10:01 AM

I think the complaints about lack of process and data are total red herrings. Whenever stakeholders don't like the outcome that is the complaint.

This one ordinance is merely a first step that will stop very large (100000 sq ft) stand alone commerical and residential from locating in IG1 and IG2 zones. Next year there will be more to come which includes looking at remapping and likley rezoning some areas.

I suggest you get involved in that process. Call the Mayor, call City Council, call the Planning Commission, and call DPD and make sure you are on their lists so you have a voice in the rezoning/remapping.

The zone designation will determine development standards such as the size of allowable non industrial uses, and the floor area ratios. This ordinance that will be voted in tomorrow determines the baseline zoning but the mapping will determine changes in the zones (IG1, IG2, IB, IC).

The Planning Comission & DPD held 4 well attended stakeholder workshops, I know because I was there. So was Leibman, Stagen, Gering, Burke, NAIOP, Sodo Businesses, Freight advocates, enviro groups, and Georgetown residents. In other groups, business owners, land owners, labor groups, port related businesses, all attended. These meetings took place over the whole year. The Commission released their report back in July. The Mayor than came out with his Industrial jobs retention recommendations in August which included a bill very similar (though much stronger) to Councilmember Steinbruecks. His bill is similar to the Mayor's but grants larger exceptions for non industrial related uses.

In other cities like Portland, Chicago and Vancouver BC they grant considerably less (like 3000 sq ft) for these non-industrial uses.

And, yes much of SLU was rezoned years ago to Seattle Mixed which is a designation that allows for Biotech, Research and Development, etc. The area was redesignated as an Urban Center which means it will take a lot more residential and job growth.

But, if you look around you will see that there is all kinds of commerical and retail zoning capacity being built all over the City. Downtown, SLU, Northgate, the U District. Growth Management is all about putting dense residential, retail and commerical in our Urban Centers and that is what is happening. It is not some big conspiracy, it's called 'planning' and it's outlined pretty well in the Comprehensive Plan for Sustainable Growth.

The City wants biotech and r&d in South Lake Union. That is no surprise. It's pretty well detailed in just about any policy document you pick up and it's in the papers for all to read about every single day.

Biotech and R&D like to be clustered together and have some specific needs in terms of infrastructure investments that make sense to focus in one area.

Okay, enough already with the geek speak.

Posted by Planner Geek | December 16, 2007 5:20 PM

I don't get it. What is it about limiting the size of non industrial related retail & commercial in land already zoned industrial that is so traqgic for Georgetown? WTF?

Posted by brainiac | December 16, 2007 5:25 PM

Hey Planner Geek. So you think the complaints of lack of process and enough data are red herrings? Tell that to the Council. They all said so themselves at the last two committee meetings. And last week they unanimously approved a resolution that requires this issue be studied further for the next year. So yeah, the largest re-zoning in Seattle's history needs a little more time to get it right. I don't have a problem with that.

Posted by TRS | December 16, 2007 6:10 PM

No one ever said this ordinance should be the ONLY thing that passes to retain industrial land and the jobs it supports.

I think the Council's resolution is great. The Mayor also listed a big list of work that should happen in 2008. He even funded the work in the 2008-09 budget.

The Planning Commission made something like 8-9 recommendations. In all of these recommendations there is a clear recognition that limiting excessive amount of non industrial related retail and commercial in IG1 and IG2 is just a first step.

The ordinance to deal with the large and excessive allowance of non industrial uses in Industrial General 1&2 will actually have very little impact on the nearby residents of Georgetown.

What was allowed before in terms of Industrial Uses and their related office and retail stays the same. Non related commercial and retail is still allowed too just in smaller packages.

With the 25,000 sq ft allowances you could still build a Trader Joes or PCC or a smaller (urban style) grocery store. You could still build restaurants, markets, coffee shops. Places like 9lb.Hammer, Smarty Pants, Stellars Pizza are all well under 25,000 sq ft (more like 5-10,000 sq feet).

Brainiac is right, this really is no big deal for Georgetown residential areas and will have very little effect on what is allowed now and what kinds of neighborhood amenities the community would like.

Posted by Planner Geek | December 17, 2007 9:28 AM

Dear Planner Geek,
You make great points. Problem is that under current legislation, the MIC will have the say as to what can go into Gtown and what cannot. If that happens, the residents are screwed.

Posted by holly marie | December 17, 2007 10:05 AM

Holly Marie,

I really don't see what you mean at all about how the MIC will decide. The MIC has no decision-making about who can buy land or who landowners can rent to.

If it is an industrial business that business can conduct itself in accordance with the standards and regulations outlined in federal, state and local laws including the Seattle land use code. The same is true for non industrial users.

The ONLY change is that in IG1 zones you can have a non industrial related business that is no more than 10,000 sq feet. Again, that would include most restaurants, markets, bars, and smaller offices (about 25 employees sitting at desks). And in IG2 it is 25,000 sq ft so non industrial related businesses that can operate there would be your Trader Joe's or an 'urban' sized grocery, larger (but not massive) office buildings.

This ordinance will have very little effect on nearby Georgetown residential and commercial areas. All it does it put limits on very large non industrial retail and commercial in areas that are specifically zoned for industrial uses. It's really not a big deal for Georgetown residents.

Posted by Planner Geek | December 17, 2007 12:31 PM

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