Urban Politics #184: Zoo Long Range Plan And Operations Agreement


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By City Councilmember Nick Licata.

With assistance from my L.A. Newell Aldrich

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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Zoo Long Range Plan And Operations Agreement

Yesterday, the Council passed Resolution 30701 adopting a Long Range Plan for the Woodland Park Zoo.

The Council also passed Ordinance 115011, which revised the Operations and Management Agreement between the City of Seattle and the Woodland Park Zoological Society passed by the City Council in December 2001 (see Urban Politics #119, http://www.seattle.gov/council/licata/up_119.htm , and #118 for background http://www.seattle.gov/council/licata/up_118.htm).

The Long Range Plan includes a number of elements. The areas that have garnered the most attention include a parking garage, an events center, and a new headquarters building.

The ordinance states terms for the payment of the garage, a residential parking zone, and an alternative transportation plan. Some neighbors and community groups expressed concerns about the impact of the proposed changes, in particular how the number and type of events might impact traffic and parking in the surrounding neighborhoods.

I proposed an amendment to meet some of these concerns. It required that the Zoo Society’s required alternative transportation plan, to be developed in conjunction with King County Metro and the City’s Department of Transportation, include the following elements:

1) Implementation guidelines for the number and types of events the Zoo intends to hold during any year;

2) A complaint procedure for neighbors to address parking and transportation issues; and

3) A formal involvement of residents within four blocks of the Zoo in advising the Zoo Society on implementing the alternative transportation plan

If the alternative transportation plan did not contain these elements when it is completed, the City could implement a seasonal residential parking zone around the Zoo. The Zoo Agreement with the City states that the plan should be completed by March 1st, 2007, but the deadline for including these elements in the plan is not until July 1st, 2007.

The amendment passed by a 5-4 vote. (Those voting in favor were: Della, Licata, McIver, Rasmussen, Steinbrueck). The resolution and ordinance both passed 9-0.

Thorton Creek Watershed Oversight Council

The Council approved Resolution 30709 to create the Thornton Creek Watershed Oversight Council.

This new body would be created by Seattle Public Utilities to continue the work of the Thornton Creek Watershed Management Committee, which worked on a draft action plan for the watershed.

The City now has produced a five-year action plan for the watershed. The oversight council will assist in implementation of the action agenda, review progress, provide a forum for public engagement, and advise the Director of Seattle Public Utilities on actions outlined in the action agenda.

Some property owners along the creek requested a number of changes to the resolution to provide better accountability to nearby property owners and the public. I proposed two amendments to address their concerns:

1) The membership on the Watershed Council must include adjacent property owners, one from the south fork, one from the north fork and one from the mainstream from Lake Washington to the confluence of those forks.

2) The Watershed Council’s meetings would be open to the public to the same extent as if it were subject to the Washington Open Meetings Act.

The amendments didn’t change the fundamental operation of the council; it had planned to have open meetings and riparian owners represented. However, the new language clearly incorporated these intensions into the City Council’s resolution creating the Watershed Council, giving greater assurance that it would adhere to them.

Both my amendments and the resolution passed by a 9-0 vote.

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