Councilmember Licata left office on January 1, 2016.
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Urban Politics #242: Downtown Sidewalks & City Hall Art

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By City Councilmember Nick Licata with assistance from my legislative assistant Frank Video.

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.



I have heard from a number of citizens that construction downtown has resulted in a crazy patchwork of sidewalk closures which discourages walking if not making it dangerous because of the additional street crossings.

In response I have asked our Seattle Dept of Transportation, SDOT, to be more aggressive in keeping these downtown sidewalks open as much as possible and to look at best practices that other cities are using to see if we could adopt them here.

It appears that sidewalk closures are taking too long. Why is that? Are street permits allowing the closure of a sidewalk being given to a developer for too long of a period or have street permits expired and SDOT noted the expiration date? Are there other reasons?

One remedy would be for SDOT to work with a developer at the outset of the construction project to figure out how to minimize the sidewalk closure period. This approach may need the City’s Department of Planning and Development, DPD, to be involved. They should be able to work together in their respective permitting processes to keep the sidewalk closures to a minimum.

We should explore the possibility of sidewalks being open during the busiest times of the day. Presumably that would lengthen the construction schedule but why not look at this approach if the sidewalks can remain open while construction continues and pedestrians are kept safe?

Finally Councilmembers Richard Conlin, Tom Rasmussen and I have requested the City Auditor to do an audit on Seattle Department of Transportation’s (SDOT) use of street permits and to report back to the Council by May with some preliminary findings and suggestions on how the City can meet the needs of pedestrians and still not tie up developers in needless red tape.



Artists, arts programmers, and community groups are invited to submit proposals for exhibiting art at City Hall. City Hall offers two gallery spaces in which to exhibit in 2008 – the City Hall Lobby Gallery and the Anne Focke Gallery.

Exhibits typically feature artworks that reflect the broad diversity of Seattle’s communities and highlight the work of local, regional and global artists, nonprofit organizations, and community groups. City neighborhoods and their residents, the work of city departments, the city’s architecture, its jazz musicians and sister-city relationships have all been showcased.

Group or solo exhibitions are welcome and will be displayed from six to eight weeks. Large exhibitions may be displayed in both the City Hall Lobby Gallery and Anne Focke Gallery.

The galleries are best equipped to display 2-D materials. 3-D exhibitions will be considered, providing applicants can furnish necessary display cases and stands. Unfortunately, video and other electronic media works will not be accepted.

The City Hall Lobby Gallery features eight, 6′ x 4′ double-sided, metal, and peg-board panels for display of artwork. The Anne Focke Gallery features a 120-foot long display wall incorporating a professional hanging system and is located on the L2 level of City Hall.

A panel of city employees administered by the Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs will review the applications and select 2008 exhibitions.

All applications must be submitted digitally. THE APPLICATION DEADLINE IS 11 P.M. PST, FRIDAY, DEC., 21ST, 2007. The 2008 exhibition cycle will begin in February. A link to the online application is available at For more information, contact Nate Brown, at (206) 684-4186 or

Anne Focke, for which the L2 level gallery is named, is currently executive director of Grantmakers in the Arts, a national membership organization for arts funders. She worked for the City of Seattle as assistant director of the Seattle Arts Commission (1971-73), as director of the Bumbershoot Arts Festival (1973, the year it got its name), and as the first director of the City’s Art in Public Places program.

The Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs is charged with funding and promoting arts and culture for communities throughout Seattle.

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