Urban Politics #67: Arboretum-Lakeside Trail


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By City Councilmember Nick Licata.

With assistance from my L.A.’s  Newell Aldrich and Lisa Herbold.

Urban Politics (UP) blends my insights and information on current public policy developments and personal experiences with the intent of helping citizens shape Seattle’s future.

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CONTENTS:

  • Aboretum-Lakeside Trail
  • Housing Code Initiative
  • The Fall Levy Issue
  • People’s Lodge In Discovery Park

Aboretum-Lakeside Trail

The Culture, Arts and Parks Committee (CAP) will hold a public hearing on the Arboretum-Lakeside Trail on Wednesday, July 21 at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, located in the Municipal Building at 600 4th Avenue.

In addition, there will be a presentation and discussion on the Arboretum-Lakeside Trail in the CAP Committee on Wednesday, July 14. I have invited a supporter and an opponent to the table. The Parks Department is recommending not pursuing the trail because of environmental concerns.

The Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Arboretum-Lakeside Trail was released in May. Copies are available for public review at the Downtown, Madrona, Montlake and University branches of the Seattle Public Library, and the Capital Hill Neighborhood Service Center. A limited number of copies are available for $10 from the Department of Parks and Recreation, at 800 Maynard Avenue South, 3rd Floor, or contact the Public Information Office at 684-4075.

Housing Code Initiative

On June 21 the City Council voted unanimously to approve legislation that I sponsored strengthening enforcement of sections of the Housing and Building Maintenance Code. I proposed this legislation as part during the process of amending the Land Use Code, which I strongly supported, to allow for speedier enforcement of Land Use violations like junk cars parked in yards, vacant buildings, and lots filled with garbage and debris.

I believe that the City should support the public safety of both homeowners and renters, by trying to rid neighborhoods of eyesores and unsafe or substandard housing.

Both the Land Use Code and the Housing Code emphasize voluntary compliance. An overwhelming majority of the violators do comply voluntarily. But the small percentage of those who don’t present a difficult enforcement challenge for the City. Before the passage of these amendments the City would have to actually file a lawsuit against the property owner. Lawsuits are costly and time consuming and code enforcement cases aren’t always at the top of the City’s list of legal priorities. The amendments to the Land Use Code and the Housing Code allow for a citation process similar to that of a parking ticket.

The sections of the Housing Code that will now be subjected to this new citation process are SMC 22.260.130 and SMC 22.260.140, the sections of the code having to deal with fire and security regulations. A companion resolution was passed that requires a 6 month review of the new citation process and requires that DCLU, when planning to consider expansion of the new citation process, must consider each the Land Use Code and the Housing Code.

The Fall Levy Issue

There are many needs in our city. Choosing among them is not easy. With the 1991 Levy ending this year, City Council agreed to renew it. And after much discussion, the original 50/50 split between the Seattle Center and the Community Centers was retained.

If the Center had received a greater bulk of the levy funds, as was originally planned, I would not have voted in favor of the proposed levy issue. For that same reason I did not vote (along with Council Member Peter Steinbrueck) for the $8.4 million councilmanic bond to provide additional funds to the Opera House.

While the Opera House is in need of assistance, using general funds to pay for the councilmanic bonds could siphon money away from more needy projects. For instance, those funds could have gone to keep open most of our community center gymnasiums 7 days a week.

The City also missed an opportunity to allow voters a choice at the ballot box. Citizens should have had the right to vote for either the Seattle Center or the neighborhood centers, or both. Unfortunately, I failed to obtain the Council’s support for this arrangement, even though it appeared that the public would have preferred this option.

Nevertheless, I believe that Seattle Center deserves public support. And, I do not wish to second-guess the Center’s management as to how the Center’s planned Phase II development should proceed. However the Center’s Phase II Citizen Advisory Group, who approved the plan, should have involved more citizens reflective of the city’s general populace and less on those who are the primary users of the Opera House.

With regards to the neighborhood community centers portion of the levy, we all realize that the 3 year neighborhood planning process has involved well over ten thousand citizens, and has set high expectations on the city to deliver the goods.

Although this levy may only be a finger in the dike holding back a sea of those expectations, it is a significant action and it would be a betrayal of that extensive process to not support this levy’s contribution to meeting neighborhood needs.

Public polls reveal that this levy may face an uphill battle for approval. Unfortunately a number of folks may decide to pass on this one, having just voted last fall for the Public Library Bond. An educational campaign will be needed to show how the levy’s improvements and new construction will provide important public benefits.

In summary, I concluded that this levy deserves to be on the ballot. If it passes, the City will have begun to meet its commitments. But if it fails, I shall ask the Council to resubmit a separate neighborhood needs levy, not a bond, (because bonds would require a 60% vote) on the ballot next fall.

People’s Lodge In Discovery Park

On June 24, 1999, the Department of Design, Construction and Land Use (DCLU) released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the People’s Lodge proposal for Discovery Park. A public hearing is scheduled for July 22 from 7-9:30 p.m. at Demaray Hall (509 West Bertona) on the campus of Seattle Pacific University. In addition, there will be a 60-day public comment period through August 23. You can send written comments to Carol Proud, DCLU Project Planner, at Dexter Horton Building, 710 2nd Avenue, Suite 200, Seattle, WA 98104.

Copies of the DEIS are available at the Department of Design, Construction and Land Use (DCLU) Master Use Permit counter (Dexter Horton Building, 710 Second Avenue, #200), the Seattle Public Library (Downtown, Magnolia, Queen Anne Hill, and Fremont branches), and City of Seattle Neighborhood Service Centers. The DEIS can also be downloaded from DCLU’s website. Several months’ back, I requested that DCLU place the Draft EIS on its website-thanks to DCLU Director Rick Krochalis for doing this.

If you have comments, questions, or critiques on any of the environmental effects of the People’s Lodge proposal, I strongly encourage you to participate in the EIS process. All comments and questions submitted to DCLU during the public comment period will be answered and published in the Final EIS. The Final EIS will be used by the City Council to make decisions.

DCLU has also issued a Director’s Land Use Code Interpretation ruling that the proposed People’s Lodge fits the definition of a “community center” and is allowed as a conditional use. However, DCLU also ruled that “planned administrative office space” is not a community center use (it is not allowed in single-family zones), and must be removed from the proposal. The Coalition to Save Discovery Park requested the interpretation, contending that the People’s Lodge should be considered a museum, a use not allowed under current park zoning.

Issue 55 of Urban Politics contains historical and background information on the People’s Lodge project.

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