Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board
March 12, 2003
Mayor Greg Nickels
Dear Mayor Nickels,
The Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board (SPAB) encourages your office to embrace the "Blue Ring, Seattle's Open Space Strategy for the Center City" and incorporate it into plans for Seattle's downtown core.
At our February 12th, 2003 meeting we were joined by Robert Scully from CityDesign. He briefed us on the progress of the plan, and on the next steps that CityDesign hopes to take.
SPAB supports CityDesign's work on the Blue Ring plan. We are impressed by the impact it could have as the long-term goal for the urban core. Of particular interest to us is the emphasis on the reestablishment of pedestrian connections within the core, and the incorporation of design elements which reflect Seattle's unique climate and topography.
The Blue Ring plan should serve as the critical guide to the numerous plans currently underway downtown, and the many more sure to come in the next 100 years. Among others, the Alaska Way Viaduct replacement, North Waterfront Plan, South Lake Union Public Realm Plan, International District Urban Design Plan, South Lake Union Streetcar, Monorail, and King Street Station Area Plan must be approached as components of the same unified vision. As such, it should be a priority to complete the Blue Ring plan. Furthermore, adherence to the goals of the Blue Ring plan should be a basic criterion for review of these other plans downtown.
An unfortunate consequence of the lack of a championed, over-arching downtown plan can be seen with the South Lake Union Streetcar. Many editorialists and citizens see the streetcar plan as an unnecessary luxury demanded by developers. They argue that there is no problem in South Lake Union that needs to be solved. One way to answer those claims would be to point to an umbrella plan for downtown into which the streetcar fits. Indeed, the Blue Ring plan has an appendix focusing on a possible redesign of Westlake Avenue, giving it added relevance to the streetcar proposal. Linking the Blue Ring plan with a city-wide transportation plan should clarify the need for a streetcar.
SPAB recommends that the Mayor to support CityDesign's Blue Ring plan, and evaluate proposals for downtown based on their adherence to the goals laid out in that plan.