Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Walk Down 35th Ave NE With the City

(This originally was posted on the Wedgwood Community Council's website)
On Tuesday, December 6th, several City staff and councilmembers met with WCC trustees, members of the Wedgwood Land Use Committee (WLUC), and members of the Ravenna-Bryant Community Association to discuss the Vision Plan and how to achieve several of its stated goals.  We were fortunate to have been accompanied by:
  • City Council President, Richard Conlin and his legislative aid Elaine Ko;
  • Councilmember Sally Clark, who chairs the Committee on the Built Environment;
  • Karen Ko with the Department of Neighborhood;
  • Jim Curtin with Seattle Department of Transportation; and
  • Chip Nevins with the Seattle Parks Department.
The WLUC requested the meeting to discuss the Vision Plan and what we hope to initiate in 2013, which is a neighborhood discussion of land use along 35th Ave NE.  While the Vision Plan identifies some extremely useful general themes and shared goals, there is not enough detail within the document to make planning-level decisions for the neighborhood.  Therefore, the Vision Plan’s first two suggested actions are:
  1. “Undertake a neighborhood plan that includes a review of current zoning standards and design guidelines with the City Department of Planning and Development. Revise development standards as appropriate in accordance with community preferences established in the neighborhood plan.”
  2. “Work with Seattle DPD to establish neighborhood-specific design guidelines that direct new development.”
Since the unveiling of the Vision Plan in 2010, these two suggested actions have been the Wedgwood Land Use Committee’s two primary objectives.  Typically though, neighborhoods that pursue these two tasks are identified as “Urban Villages,” a classification within the Comprehensive Plan for neighborhoods that have been designated to accommodate more density.  Given that Urban Villages are population dense, the City can justify funding the development of these neighborhood planning tools, or updates to these tools.  Along with great potential for City funding, the Urban Village classification has a more defined path for Council approval of these tools.  Therefore, over this past year, the WLUC has been meeting with councilmembers, talking with City staff, and brainstorming with Planning Commission members to identify a process to develop and obtain Council approval of these neighborhood planning tools.
During Tuesday’s walk, we shared our general process for completing these land use planning tools.  We also discussed a lot more as well…too much in fact to go into great detail in a single post.  However, during our walk we showed the City the new Wedgwood Apartment project that’s quickly taking shape at the former JCC site. We showed the City the Morningside Substation that the Parks Department is in the process of acquiring on our behalf (which requires Council approval).  We discussed current zoning designations along 35th Ave NE relative to the goals described within the Vision Plan.  We discussed the potential development of design guidelines and a streetscape plan for 35th Ave NE.  We discussed traffic issues along 35th Ave NE (in front of the Post Office) and at the intersection of NE 75th Street.  We discussed pedestrian safety issues, such as sidewalks and a crosswalk at NE 80th Street.  And we showed off Wedgwood’s favorite Christmas tree lot and new gathering place, including the new Wedgwood Emergency HUB, where Councilmember Clark is planning on picking up her tree this year from.
It was an excellent opportunity to share the goals of the Vision Plan, discuss our identified process, and receive feedback from councilmembers and City staff.  They all had extremely encouraging things to say about the work of our community.  We are eager to share this process and proposed timeline with the community in January at our next community meeting on January 11th.  More details and specifics on the meeting will be shared shortly.  In the meantime, feel free to email if you have any land use related questions.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Your Priorities – What We Learned

(This originally was posted on the Wedgwood Community Council's website) 
On October 31st, we released a poll on our website in the hopes of hearing what your single-most priority was.  The purpose of this poll was to see what generally is important to our neighbors.  After being open for 1 month, 41 people completed the poll, which is a small sample set.  Also, we only asked 1 question, so there are bound to be nuances that weren’t captured.  Nevertheless, this poll is helpful to make sure that we are a more effective advocate for our neighborhood.  Here is what we learned.
The Wedgwood community’s top priorities, generally, are as follows:
  1. Public safety (police presence, block watch, emergency preparedness) (32%, 13 Votes)
  2. Neighborhood Plan (design guidelines, 35th Ave NE zoning, streetscape) (27%, 11 Votes)
  3. Pedestrian improvements (sidewalks, crosswalks, pedestrian overlay zone) (20%, 8 Votes)
  4. Open Space (park acquisition, trails, recreation facilities) (15%, 6 Votes)
  5. Traffic and Transit (traffic calming, bus service, bicycle infrastructure) (5%, 2 Votes)
  6. Other (2%, 1 Votes)
  7. Utilities (stormwater, water/sewer lines, low impact development) (0%, 0 Votes)
Thank you to everyone who completed the poll!
These results reaffirm our commitment to public safety, land use planning, and pedestrian improvements.  Our neighborhood has a strong Block Watch program and the WCC recently began focusing on emergency preparedness.  In the coming weeks, we will be sharing exciting plans that the Wedgwood Land Use Committee has been working on for over a year.  We also continue to pursue pedestrian improvements likenew sidewalks and crosswalks, especially around our schools.