Point of View
In this issue:
Autumn has arrived in Puget Sound with cool mornings and more cloud cover. I still have tomatoes on the vine. I am hoping they will ripen by Thanksgiving.
I would like to share information on three projects I have been working on: the upcoming nine-day closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct; new land use regulations to keep the unique look and feel of the Pike-Pine neighborhood and also, new zoning for the "Fauntleroy Triangle" in West Seattle.
Seattle City Councilmember
Chair, Parks and Seattle Center Committee
Moving Forward with the Viaduct Replacement Project: Nine Day Closure Begins Friday October 21
Last week, I sponsored two open houses in Ballard and West Seattle to make sure Seattle residents know they have options for getting around during the nine day closure of the Alaska Way Viaduct that begins this weekend.
The closure is necessary to move traffic to the first of two side-by-side bridges that will replace the viaduct's southern mile. The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) will begin demolishing the southern part of the viaduct this weekend. WSDOT has a fascinating website with photos of its projects including the demolition.
When SR 99 reopens to traffic on October 31, both directions through SODO will travel on the new bridge. The state can then finish demolishing the viaduct's southern mile without disrupting traffic and begin building the second new bridge. This will be a real test of our capacity to adapt our travel patterns.
The City, county, state, and the Coast Guard, have been working together to make sure we're still able to get back and forth as easily as possible. Here's what you need to know:
WSDOT and SDOT have identified alternative north/south and east/west recommended routes drivers can use during the nine-day closure.
An even better option is to take the bus, rail or the West Seattle Water Taxi downtown. Metro Transit has added 92 new trips to the SR 99 corridor since last year in anticipation of these sorts of construction impacts. Metro will have buses waiting to begin service on a moment's notice if buses fill up. The Water Taxi has also added runs between West Seattle and downtown. King County can also help with carpools and vanpools. Now is the time to give these options a try and plan to use them beyond the nine day closure because construction on the project will continue until the tunnel opens at the end of 2015.
The City requested the Coast Guard's cooperation in temporarily limiting opening of the West Seattle swing bridge during peak evening commuting hours. This action will help ensure east-west commuter mobility during the closure, providing access for buses and drivers to get back to West Seattle from downtown.
SDOT and WSDOT are working together to provide constantly updated information to commuters. WSDOT's Twitter feed will provide the most-up-to-date information. But, you can also dial 511 for updates by phone. SDOT and WSDOT have electronic signs deployed throughout the corridor to provide real time information at key interchanges.
And when SR 99 reopens on Halloween, here's is a link to what it will look like.
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Neighborhood Land Use Changes
I've been working for the last few years on two exciting land use projects. Both will receive City Council committee review in the Committee on the Built Environment (COBE) by the end of this year.
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Pike Pine Conservation Overlay District: Transfer of Development Potential
The Pike/Pine neighborhood on Capitol Hill is one of the most unique and attractive business districts in the City. I have been working for several years to help the community realize their desire to preserve the unique character of the neighborhood.
Legislation has been enacted to create incentives to save and reuse the older buildings. Design guidelines were adopted to retain the character of the neighborhood. Now, the third phase of the effort is to create a Transfer of Development Potential (TDP) Program to create a financial incentive to save and reuse older buildings.
A TDP program allows the selling of the value of development rights from "sending" sites to "receiving" sites. Once the development rights are sold, they cannot be used on the sending site for redevelopment.
Funds from the sale of transferred development rights may be used to maintain or improve the structure on the sending site. Often a condition for allowing the sale of development rights is that the owner of the sending site agrees to limitations placed on the property such as saving an historic or unique building.
The receiving site must be in an area where the zoning allows the transfer of the development rights to be added to a new project. The new project gains the ability to have additional height or density above the limits for projects not using TDP. In short, the development rights purchased from the sending site are "transferred" to add floor area to a new project on the receiving site. This is all rather technical but a transfer of development rights program can be very effective in achieving community goals such as saving older buildings.
The specific details of this proposal and the previous phases are available for review at DPD's Pike/Pine Conservation Overlay District: Phase III webpage.
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West Seattle's Fauntleroy Triangle future development potential
Since late 2008 I have been working to ensure that the gateway area into West Seattle via Fauntleroy Way SW is a more attractive entry and a better environment for pedestrians, transit connections, residents and businesses. The area is called the "Fauntleroy Triangle" and is bounded and bisected by three major arterials - Fauntleroy Way SW, 35th Avenue SW and SW Alaska Street.
After the closure of a large auto sales business in the Triangle, large parking lots have gone unused and several buildings sit empty. Some residential development has begun and there is potential for much more. I have included a photo from the roof deck of one of the new apartment buildings. Who knew that the views were so great!
Over the last year, the City and a community advisory committee made up of neighborhood residents, business operators and property owners and developers have been meeting to develop goals and a vision for the neighborhood before more development occurs. As a result of this process the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) has developed new land use codes and zoning amendments that the City Council will consider.
The proposed zoning code changes are intended to carry out the following community goals:
- Support residential & commercial development consistent with neighborhood design and development objectives;
- Establish strong physical/ pedestrian connections between the Junction retail core and the Triangle;
- Accommodate various modes of travel: pedestrians, auto, transit, Bus Rapid Ride, and bicycles;
- Improve the appearance and function of public rights-of-way, including major arterials such as Fauntleroy Way SW;
- Identify potential improvements to public spaces and improve access to public parks ;
- Identify future uses that complement nearby business areas and that will expand goods and services available to meet the needs for a growing population.
- Integrate natural systems, particularly natural drainage systems that can help improve water quality within the Longfellow Creek/ Puget Sound watershed.
It is my hope that the final result of these efforts will result in a much greener, pedestrian friendly and attractive neighborhood that is the "gateway" to West Seattle.
The specific details of the proposal are available for review at DPD's West Seattle Triangle webpage.
--Both the Pike/Pine TDP and the Fauntleroy Triangle legislation proposals are next scheduled to come before the City Council committee (COBE) on November 16th at 9:30 a.m. at City Hall.--
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