Sunday, April 15, 2012

Coffee Talk 3 - Design at a Human Scale. A Primer on Urban Design Concepts and City of Seattle Design Review Guidelines

Coffee Talk: “Design at a Human Scale. A Primer on Urban  Design Concepts and City of Seattle Design Review Guidelines” - Thursday, April 26th, from 7-8:30PM at Wedgwood Presbyterian Church (8008 35th Ave NE)

What makes a great building design? We've all seen buildings that we like and don't like, yet we're not all architects. As 35th Ave NE is inevitably redeveloped in the future, the question is how can we collectively articulate what types of building forms and design our community wants to see. The purpose of this Coffee Talk is to improve our understanding of design and the design review process.  This is the 3rd of a 7-part series of Coffee Talks sponsored by the American Planning Association's Washington Chapter's Community Planning Assistance Team (CPAT).

John Owen will be presenting a primer on important design principals that our community can use as we plan for the future of 35th Ave NE.  Not only is Mr. Owen a partner with MAKERS Architecture + Urban Design, he also led the Wedgwood Vision Plan.  Cheryl Sizov is a Senior Urban Planner with the City of Seattle's Department of Planning and Development who managed the drafting of the City's most recent Seattle Design Guidelines. Ms. Sizov will present the City's design guidelines and describe the City's design review process.  A process that some on the Wedgwood Action Group became familiar with during the design of the Jasper Apartment Building.

Thanks again to
Top Pot Doughnuts for their support and providing delicious coffee and baked goodness for the Coffee Talks.  Make sure to put the remaining Coffee Talks on your schedule:
  • Coffee Talk 7:  ”The Trade Offs of Land Use Planning” – Thursday, Aug 23rd, at Messiah Lutheran Church (Fellowship Hall - Downstairs)  from 7-8:30PM - Speaker:  Erin Christensen, AIA, LEED AP ND, Mithun

Thursday, April 12, 2012

UW Presence in NE Seattle

According to the University of Washington, more than 60% of students, 10% of employees, and 20% of alumni living within the City are located in Northeast Seattle.  Admittedly, the boundary for NE Seattle includes the campus itself.  Nevertheless, this also means that there is a large portion of the NE Seattle community within Ravenna-Bryant, Roosevelt, Laurelhurst, View Ridge, and other neighborhoods that is supported by the UW.  A summary of the website's results has been tabulated below.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Puget Sound Regional Council's Draft Land Use Forecasts for Communities Surrounding 35th Ave NE

The Puget Sound Regional Council has recently released its Draft Public Review Version: 2012 Land Use Forecasts.  Based on this report and its forecast results, the "Wedgewood/View Ridge" Forecast Analysis Zone (FAZ) is projected for growth over the next 30 years. The information within this report reinforces the reality that change is inevitable for the 35th Ave NE corridor.

Before we summarize the results for the "Wedgewood/View Ridge" FAZ, there's a few things that need to be explained. First, I've already pointed out to the PSRC that Wedgwood is spelled incorrectly.  Secondly, this FAZ (6226) includes all of Wedgwood and portions of the View Ridge, Maple Leaf, Meadowbrook, and Ravenna-Bryant neighborhoods (Census Tracts 20, 21, 22, 26, 25, 24, 38, 39, and part of 40).  So, despite its name, it is comprised of numerous communities that surround the 35th Ave NE corridor.

According to the PSRC's data, the total population of this FAZ grew 104% between 2000-2010, from 28,982 in 2000 to 30,094 in 2010. During this same period, total households grew 103%, single-family households grew 104% and multi-family households decreased to 94% of what it once was.  While this is interesting, the forecast for the next several decades shows significant growth.  The PSRC's draft results are summarized below in Table 1.
Of particular note is the jump in total population (127%) and multi-family households (167%) between 2010 and 2020. While these numbers may change (they are only in draft format) and are only forecasts, we can be reasonably confident that growth is going to happen. Our City and our part of the City is too wonderful for people not to want to move, live, and work here. The question that we need to ask ourselves is where and how it happens. 

What's not shown in Table 1 but is discussed in the PSRC's draft report and forecast results is employment forecasts for the "Wedgewood / View Ridge" FAZ. According to the PSRC's draft results, "Retail" is projected to grow nearly 200% within the FAZ between 2010 (650 jobs) and 2020 (1,296 jobs). The highest growth rate for any category of employment. 

35th Ave NE Planning Boundary

One of the first things necessary for any planning exercise is to establish boundaries.  That's exactly what was done at the last 35th Ave NE Steering Committee meeting.  Earlier, the committee had decided to look at three specific elements for the 35th Ave NE corridor as part of the community's planning.
  • Zoning - Does the existing zoning provide the framework for the community's desired outcome looking 20 years into the future?
  • Design Guidelines - What guidelines does the community want to provide to help shape development and provide a desirable pedestrian environment along 35th Ave NE as growth occurs in the future?
  • Transportation - What are critical transportation features and needs to support the community's desired outcome for 35th Ave NE looking 20 years into the future?

With this in mind, the committee established boundaries for the 35th Ave NE corridor planning.  It's important to note that just because there is a boundary doesn't mean that anything or everything within that boundary is going to change.  It simply defines the geographic extent to which the community and 35th Ave NE Steering Committee will be addressing the above planning elements, or at least the zoning and design guidelines elements.

So, what went into defining the boundary?  Great question. There were numerous factors that went into defining the extent of the 35th Ave NE planning boundary.  The 2 primary factors though were:
  • Existing land use and zoning (e.g., location of existing commercial "nodes" and multi-family housing)
  • Proving sufficient width to consider how the existing and potential development along 35th transitioned to the single-family neighborhoods.
Let us know what your thoughts are in the comments section below. This is a community-driven planning effort and it is paramount that the community's voice is heard throughout this process.

View 35th Ave NE Neighborhood Plan in a larger map

Sunday, April 1, 2012

What Makes A Neighborhood Walkable? Revisiting Coffee Talk 2.


Very Walkable
Walk Score

Here in NE Seattle and other Seattle neighborhoods north of NE 85th Street, the most frequently heard answer to this question is "more sidewalks." While sidewalks is certainly a critical component of walkability, the more complete answer is more complicated.  Traffic calming, destinations to walk to, land use, pedestrian scale lighting, ADA-accessibility, maintained vegetation, and numerous other design elements go into making a neighborhood more walkable. 

How do I know this?  Well, I was at the most recent Coffee Talk in a series of Coffee Talks that the 35th Ave NE Steering Committee are putting on thanks to the W
ashington Chapter of the American Planning Association’s Community Planning Assistance Team (CPAT)

On Thursday, March 22nd, Paula Reeves with WSDOT, Kevin O'Neill with SDOT, and Lisa Quinn with Feet First shared their thoughts on walkability and the importance of proximity at our 2nd
Coffee Talk. The presentations and following discussion was exceptionally useful for those neighbors and 35th Ave NE Steering Committee members that came.  In case you missed it, have no fear, you can relive the Coffee Talk (
in far-from-high-definition and minus the delicious coffee and donuts provided by Top Pot) here:

Download the presentations in .PDF form below:
See the results of the post-Coffee Talk survey completed by all attendees HERE.
Don't miss the 3rd Coffee Talk, “Design at a Human Scale. A Primer on Urban Design Concepts and City of Seattle Design Review Guidelines,”on Thursday, April 26th from 7-8:30PM at Wedgwood Presbyterian Church (Fellowship Hall).  The speakers will be John Owen with Makers Architecture and Urban Design and Cheryl Sizov, Senior Urban Planner with City of Seattle DPD.