Urban Politics #68: People’s Lodge Public Hearing


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By City Councilmember Nick Licata.

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:

  • People’s Lodge Public Hearing
  • Pro-Parks 2000 Citizens Planning Commitee
  • New Citizen Group To Run Channel 29
  • Reducing Traffic Lanes From 4 To 2

People’s Lodge Public Hearing

The Department of Design, Construction and Land Use (DCLU) will hold a second public hearing on the People’s Lodge proposed for Discovery Park on August 11, from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. The hearing will take place in the Rainier Room at the Seattle Center, in the Northwest Rooms of the Seattle Center campus, just off 1st Avenue North and Republican. 500 seats will be available. The first public hearing took place July 22; due to the overflow crowd, DCLU scheduled a second public hearing.

More information on this topic is available in Issue# 67 of Urban Politics.

Pro-Parks 2000 Citizens Planning Commitee

At the suggestion of the Pro-Parks Committee I introduced and succeeded in having the City Council pass Resolution # 30003 which endorsed the creation of the Committee and outlined its mission. The City has directed the Committee to evaluate and recommend funding tools available, including bonds, levies and junior taxing districts (e.g. Metropolitan Park Districts).

The City also requested that the Committee develop a proposed package of parks, open space, programs, recreational projects and other items that could be funded by the options identified. This particular task created a bit of a stir among the committee members since some did not want to be placed in the position of picking and choosing specific projects to be funded.

A number of Committee members suggested that there was a need for the Committee to spend more time in an open discussion on how they could best accomplish their mission. There was still a strong sentiment expressed for identifying better funding tools for the City’s parks. But many felt it had to be within the context of understanding the needs that our parks are trying to meet.

Having attended all three of the Committee’s meetings and having heard the discussion develop I proposed that the next meeting begin a “scoping discussion” that could be structured around the following three items.

1. Review the Parks Department’s revenue sources and their budget expenses. Simple to-read charts and other documents should be provided to identify all revenue streams and major capital projects and operations that are funded from them.

2. Discussion of how this committee sees the Parks Department’s major duties in light of the different types of parks in the city: natural open space, neighborhood unstructured green parks, recreational facilities and regional facilities. Given that there is limited funding for acquisition and maintenance of land and facilities, how is the Parks Department prioritizing the funding for these different types of parks.

3. Discussion of what kind of future funding options should the city pursue (e.g. ballot issues, state legislation, grant sources, new taxing mechanisms, etc. ) in light of the priorities discussed in point 2.

The Committee Chair, James Fearn, (who has been doing a great job) has been facilitating very open and productive discussions, so the next meeting may cover some of these items.

The Committee next meets on Tuesday, August 10th at 6PM in the Parks Board Room in the 100 Dexter Avenue Parks Building. The upcoming agenda and past meeting minutes can be acquired from Parks staffperson Beth Purcell at 684-7143. You can also reach her by email and ask to be added to the Pro-Parks Committee email list.

New Citizen Group To Run Channel 29

Efforts are currently underway to shift control of Public Access Channel 29 away from TCI management to a Citizen Non-profit Organization to be called Seattle Community Access Network (SCAN).

The City of Seattle and the cable company TCI ( the initial designated access manager) are working towards shifting the management of public access television to SCAN by the beginning of the year 2000.

The SCAN will continue Channel 29 as a media that provides diverse free expression and community development through access to non-commercial television. SCAN will also operate and develop other media in one or more access centers in the greater Seattle metropolitan area and participating jurisdictions in King County.

Sufficient operational funding, provided by TCI, will be granted to the newly formed nonprofit organization in exchange for its services, through a contract with the City of Seattle. SCAN will request a tax exempt status from the IRS that will allow new sources of funding and donations for additional programs and activities.

SCAN is inviting dynamic citizens to apply for a position on the initial Board of Directors. Prospective board members should hold a broad vision for the potential and development of community access television and new media. They should have proven skills to govern the existing public access television center, ensuring the smoothest transfer possible to the newly formed organization. Applicants must also have strong skills and experience in the implementation and management of a nonprofit organization at a start-up stage.

The initial Board of Directors will consist of a minimum of 7 and maximum of 13 persons who will represent the racial, ethnic, geographic, social and economic diversity of the residents of the City of Seattle. The Board will also represent the broad base of community interests as reflected in the variety of non-profit organizations and institutions serving the City of Seattle, and will represent producers, and persons with knowledge, expertise and specific skills which will benefit the corporation.

Term of Office: Half of the initial Board of Directors will serve a two-year term, and the other half will serve an initial one-year term. Elected members may serve a maximum of 6 consecutive years. Board members are not compensated. They serve on a volunteer basis.

Time Commitment: Board members generally will give between 3 to 8 hours per month to the organization for Board and committee work. Board members will be expected to attend several activities during the year, as needed and established by the Board of Directors and the management of public access, including Board Orientation and Planning retreats.

Process and procedures: The initial Board members will be appointed by the organizational core group of citizens and formed in the beginning of fall 1999.

Fill and send an application with an updated resume and a cover letter describing why you qualify as a Board member and what contribution you can make by August 15, 1999.

Mail applications to: Volunteer Program Coordinator, Office of Cable Communications, City of Seattle, 810 Third Avenue, Suite 442, Seattle, WA 98104

For application packet and information check out the website, call 684-0252 or send email.

Reducing Traffic Lanes From 4 To 2

The issue of reducing some major arterials from 4 lanes to 2 lanes has been an issue raised in a number of neighborhood plans. Often local business owners are fearful that the reduction in lanes will translate into fewer customers. Advocates argue that with the addition of a middle turn lane the traffic moves just as smoothly and there is room to add bicycle lanes.

I’m sharing this recently received information from City staff regarding the issue converting MLK from 4 lanes to 2 lanes and the experience of San Francisco.

As you know, Sound Transit is planning to put light rail down the middle of Martin Luther King, Jr. Way S. As part of the project, MLK will be completely rebuilt. The current plan per the Locally Preferred Alternative approved by the Sound Transit Board in February is to widen the MLK right-of-way from 90 feet to 93 feet, with additional widening at intersections where turn lanes will be needed.

At the City of Seattle’s request, Sound Transit is evaluating both a four-lane and a two-lane operation for MLK. The decision as to four vs. two lanes will be up to the City to make. A presentation in the next month or so,will probably be made at Transportation Committee, on this topic. For more information on this proposal send email here.

Six months ago one of San Francisco’s main north-south arterials, Valencia Street, was restriped to reduce the number of travel lanes from four to two, while adding a median, dedicated turn lanes and bicycle lanes. Preliminary traffic counts show the new two lane street handling nearly the same amount of traffic as before, while traffic speeds have slowed and bicycle usage has nearly doubled.

The pilot project, initiated as a result of intensive grassroots campaigning from local neighborhood groups and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC), must still prove itself for another 3-6 months and be endorsed by the Board of Supervisors before the changes become permanent.

Predictions that the street would fail with only two through lanes have proven inaccurate to date. Initial traffic counts by San Francisco’s Department of Parking and Traffic (DPT) show a slight reduction in Valencia’s ADT, from 22,200 to 19,700, despite a 50% reduction in through capacity. Some of those trips have been displaced onto parallel arterials like Mission and Guerrero streets.

Bicycle usage has jumped after the addition of wide, continuous bike lanes. Counts show an increase of over 100% in bicycles, from 100 to 200 bikes per hour in the morning and evening peaks. DPT’s hotline for public input into the project has also been overwhelmingly positive according to staff, with more than 90% of all respondents praising the changes.

Anecdotal evidence from residents living on Valencia Street is also pointing to less speeding along the two mile arterial, fewer accidents and increased pedestrian activity. The project may prove to be a model for mitigating traffic impacts along other heavily traveled urban arterials that are often disproportionately traversed and populated by lower-income residents.

For more information on the Valencia Street project, contact Mary Brown at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, 415.431.2453, or Manito Velasco at the SF DPT, 415.554.2338. Also visit here. The paper “Road Diets” documents the national trend toward shrinking street lanes.

Keep in touch…

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