Urban Politics #161: Monorail and City Codes


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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:

  • Monorail Land Use Code And Street Use Amendments
  • Reasons For Amendments
  • July 8 Informational Meeting
  • July 22 Public Hearing
  • Notice Of Land Use Code Text Amendment

Monorail Land Use Code And Street Use Amendments

The Department of Design, Construction and Land Use (DCLU) has proposed amendments to the Seattle Municipal Code to establish the permit approval process for monorail transit facilities that will be necessary to support the establishment and operation of a monorail transit system. The proposal allows heights of monorail stations to be up to 65 feet.

It’s important to understand that these are amendments that apply to monorail facilities only, and not a proposal to rezone neighborhoods adjacent to the monorail line or monorail stations. I have already suggested some changes to the ordinance received from the Mayor to ensure this restriction.

At some later date some communities may want to increase the height limits around the monorail stations to accommodate or attract future development. However, that would require separate legislation and none has been proposed for any station area by either the Mayor or any Councilmember.

A separate station area planning process is taking place (see UP 159 at http://www.seattle.gov/council/licata/up_159.htm ). This planning is still in the early stages.

The ordinance also clarifies that permits can be issued only if the City Council approves, by ordinance or resolution, the monorail guideway alignment and station locations.

Reasons For Amendments

There are three key reasons for the amendments.

First, monorails are not currently permitted uses under the land use code, and the Green Line can only be built is it is made a permitted use.Ê

Secondly, the amendments also would clarify that DCLU will be responsible for permitting on private property, while Seattle Department of Transportation will be responsible for permitting on City right of way.

This helps fulfill the intent of Resolution 30486 that “the City intends to establish clear lines of authority to coordinate among all City departments and between the new monorail authority and the City.”

Third, there are eight areas where height limits are currently below 65 feet on private property. There is no limit to guideway height in City right of way, which means over streets and sidewalks.

Four station locations have zoning below 65 feet (Crown Hill at 85th on 15th Ave. NW, NW 65th, Dravus Ave. in Interbay, and the Morgan Junction station in West Seattle).

There are four additional areas where the guideway height would exceed 65 feet over private property: the approach to the Ship Canal bridge in Ballard from the north; east of the stadiums as it crosses over the SR 519; over property in Delridge; and a corner of the West Seattle Stadium property.

July 8 Informational Meeting

I asked DCLU to sponsor an informational meeting, with participation by the Seattle Monorail Project, on the proposed amendments prior to the public hearing on the amendments scheduled for July 22nd.

The meeting will take place:

Tuesday, July 8, 2003
5:30pm – 7:00pm
Seattle Center’s Northwest Rooms (Fidalgo)
305 Harrison Street

July 22 Public Hearing

The Neighborhoods, Arts & Civil Rights Committee of the City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed ordinance on Tuesday, July 22, at the regular 2 p.m. meeting.

The proposed amendments can be viewed at http://www.seattle.gov/dclu/news/20030619a.asp . Or you can contact my aide Newell Aldrich at :newell.aldrich@seattle.gov to get a copy.

Notice Of Land Use Code Text Amendment

For those who would like additional information, the full notice of the land use code amendment is listed below.

Notice Of Land Use Code Text Amendment, Environmental Determination, And City Council Public Hearing

The Department of Design, Construction and Land Use (DCLU) is proposing to amend Title 23, Seattle’s Land Use Code, and Title 15, Street and Sidewalk Use, of the Seattle Municipal Code to establish the permit approval process for monorail transit facilities that will be necessary to support the establishment and operation of a monorail transit system.

The main elements of the proposal are:
– to establish responsibility for review and approval of monorail guideways under the authority of the Director of Transportation;
– to establish responsibility for review and approval of all other monorail transit facilities, and all monorail transit facilities in a Shoreline District, under the authority of the Director of DCLU;
– to clarify that permits are contingent upon approval by the City Council of the alignment of guideways and the location of other facilities; and
– to define a monorail transit system and associated uses.

Environmental Determination

Pursuant to SMC 25.05.630, DCLU has determined that the July 2002 Final Environmental Impact Statement prepared by the Elevated Transportation Company for the Seattle Popular Transit Plan meets the City’s environmental review standards and needs for the proposed Code amendments. No further environmental analysis is required. DCLU will circulate a Notice of Adoption as required by SMC 25.05.630.C.1 and will make a copy available as described below.

Public Hearing

A public hearing on the proposed legislation is scheduled before the City Council’s Neighborhoods, Arts, and Civil Rights Committee on Tuesday, July 22, 2003 at 2 p.m. in the City Council Chamber, 11th Floor of the Seattle Municipal Building, 600 Fourth Avenue. For those who wish to testify, a sign-up sheet will be available outside the Council Chamber one-half hour before the public hearing. Questions concerning the public hearing may be directed to Newell Aldrich in Councilmember Licata’s office, by calling (206) 684-8803 or via email at newell.aldrich@seattle.gov or to Martha Lester on the Council’s Central Staff at (206) 684-8149 or via email at martha.lester@seattle.gov .

The City Council Chamber is accessible. Print and communications access is provided on prior request. Please contact Councilmember Licata’s office at (206) 684-8803 as soon as possible to request accommodation for a disability.

Written Comments

For those unable to attend the public hearing, comments will be accepted through Tuesday,
July 22, 2003 at 12:00 noon. Please email your comments to newell.aldrich@seattle.gov or fax your comments to Councilmember Licata’s office at (206) 233-0054, or mail comments to:

Information Available

Copies of the proposed legislation and the DCLU Director’s Report and the SEPA Notice of Adoption are available from DCLU on-line at http://www.seattle.gov/dclu/ or at the DCLU Public Resource Center, 700 5th Avenue, Suite 2000 in the Key Tower, 684-8467. The Public Resource Center is open 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday.

Copies of the adopted environmental document are available from DCLU’s Public Resource Center, on-line at the website of the Seattle Monorail Project at www.elevated.org, or from the offices of the Seattle Monorail Project,1904 Fourth Avenue, Suite 105, Seattle, Washington 98101, phone (206) 382-1220.

Questions about the proposed amendments should be directed to John Skelton at (206) 233-3883 or Martha Lester at (206) 684-8149 or via email at john.skelton@seattle.gov or martha.lester@seattle.gov Questions regarding the environmental determination should be directed to Cliff Portman at (206) 684-5593 or via email at cliff.portman@seattle.gov.

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