Sunday, April 1, 2007

Federation Blog Launched Today

The Seattle Community Council Federation ("Federation") has launched its Blog,
The Federation is a coalition of neighborhood groups and community councils throughout Seattle, and welcomes guests and representatives from community-based organizations in the Seattle area. We meet most months on the third Thursday at 7 p.m. at the NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency) Pacific Marine Center on Lake Union, 1801 Fairview Avenue East.
As a federal facility, NOAA is on high security alert, so attendees must enter by the security gate and may be asked to present photo ID. If you haven't attended a recent Federation meeting, please e-mail your name, contact information, and address to to be added to the Guard's entry list. (No e-mail? Call 206 365-1267.) The building is ADA compliant and there's ample parking in front.

Here are the notes from our February meeting, the March meeting notes will be posted in a couple of weeks.
Meeting Highlights - February 22, 2007

(These papers are based on the editor's notes --- they are not official minutes)

President's Report:
(1) The Seattle Community Council Federation joined with three other organizations in a brief Amicus Curia to the Washington Supreme Court in Bellevue John Does v. Bellevue School District in favor of disclosing names of teachers accused of sexual misconduct with children. The Seattle Times made disclosure requests of the Bellevue and the Federal Way School Districts; various anonymous teachers filed suit to block disclosure. The Superior Court ordered release of those teachers' names where allegations were substantiated, but kept secret the names wherever the school district found the allegations unwarranted. The Amicus brief argues that the public has a right to know in order to protect their children, to evaluate the performance of educators, and to keep the disciplinary system honest. (2) Chris Leman was nominated to represent the Federation on the "Bridging-the-Gap" Transportation Levy Oversight Committee.

Proposed new sidewalk standards: Cheryl Sizov, Manager of Urban Planning, Department of Planning and Development ("DPD") explained the DPD draft proposal for requiring developers to put in sidewalks with new multi-family or business construction where none exist now. It would come in two phases: Phase I would be interim until 2008; Phase II would then take effect and be permanent. Seattle Municipal Code Chapter 23.53 now requires the traditional concrete sidewalks with curbs be built with new multi-family construction of ten units or more; business buildings of 4,000 square feet or more; and parking lots with 20 spaces or more. Seattle Municipal Code 23.53.015. The Transportation Department Right-of-Way Improvement Manual tells the contractor the standards for construction: width, curb height, gutters, grading, trees and landscaping etc. That too is under review.
The proposal would authorize two types of sidewalks: (1) the General or Standard sidewalk as now; and (2) An Alternative Design(s) for use in creek watersheds and other suitable areas, e.g.brick and sand surfaces and "SEA streets" which have "wavy" sidewalks.

Phase I would work like this ---

Location: Requirement: Threshold and

In Urban Centers and Villages; General or standard All new construction

all P-zones; and along arterials sidewalk, curb, gutter commercial, except

(all zones and streets) additions to existing

All other areas/zones Existing ordinances Lower threshold to
3 units;
No change existing exemptions

Creek Watershed areas No change; code No change
allows exception

Phase II would make these changes to the Phase I requirements (above) ---

In Urban Centers and Villages; Alternate sidewalk design
all P-zones; and along arterials No changes would be required in creek

All other areas/zones Applicant's choice Areas within creek
standard or alternate must do alternate

Creek watershed areas Alternate only None; exceptions gone

DPD's objective is a "safe, contiguous and geographically appropriate pedestrian network throughout Seattle." The changes increase flexibility. During most of 2007, DPD will be looking at design alternatives and preparing standards for them. The requirements will not be retroactive. Comments of community representatives: The guidelines need to prevent encroachment by developers into sidewalk right-of-way, especially along arterials and streets used by school children. Higher standards for locations within Urban Villages than those outside will encourage developing outside Urban Villages. "Arterial" should include "neighborhood collectors," traffic engineering jargon for four lane arterials with lower traffic volumes. Some Urban Villages end at an alley; a development on a block end may be partly within an Urban Village and partly outside; it should comply with the Urban Village requirements; the same development should not be allowed to develop half a sidewalk one way and half another. The higher standard should apply whenever a developer puts in a cumulative total of 4 or more units continguously within a span of three to five years; otherwise developers will apply for a permit to put in three units, and then another three, and then another three to avoid building sidewalks. There needs to be a no degradation rule so that developers fix up to standards any existing sidewalk that they damage with their heavy equipment during construction; currently bulldozers and loading trucks crack the sidewalk and leave it. In Broadview, the City wants to take a sidewalk away on 1st Avenue Northwest; it's heavily used by school children, the elderly, bus riders, etc. The sidewalk was shown in the plat and the City needs to keep it there --- besides the City promised to pave streets and put in sidewalks during the annexation election in 1954 and residents need them. The word, "remodeling," is too broad; DPD interprets "remodeling" as anything within an earlier footprint or built with the framing of half a wall still standing. The "remodeling" exception needs to be limited by requiring that the structure add no more than 400 square feet to the existing square footage. Uniformity assists enforcement and makes preparing plans easier; developers always seek the most favorable treatment given anyone in the vicinity and thus flexibility erodes standards over time; a hard and fast rule gives good guidance and holds them accountable. Proposed Revisions to the Right of Way Improvement Manual should be put on line so that the public may comment. Our March meeting will review a draft comment letter.

Spring Workshop:
Pat Murakami will report which dates, if any, that the Mount Baker Community Clubhouse will be available. A committee (Jeannie Hale/Pat Murakami Co-Chairs, Chris Leman and Jorgen Bader) will set to preparing the agenda and publicity. Send in suggestions on an agenda that would attract citizens to come, e.g. the Fire Department with a CPA training follow-up; the City Attorney and DPD on code enforcement with rundown housing; code regulation of major institutions; traffic and highways with SDOT and Sound Transit.

Pending Legislation:
SB 6099 would require the Washington State Department of Transportation to hire a mediator and urban planners to assist with a plan for mitigating the impacts of the proposed new Evergreen-Montlake Bridge on Seattle neighborhoods, the Arboretum, and the U of W Campus. The plan should be ready by September. Motion passed to support with amendments.

HB 1139 allows cities a tax credit against the state tax to offset municipal service costs in annexing areas. Motion passed to oppose, Broadview abstaining.

SB 5986 assigns a portion of the state sales taxes, hotel-motel taxes, rental car tax, and restaurants tax in King County to support an arena for the SuperSonics. Motion passed to oppose.

HB 1929/SB 6046 authorizes municipal utilities to give utility funds to other city departments and governments, associations, and private companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and offset a utility's impacts on the environment. It authorizes an open ended grant of utility funds. Motion passed to oppose the bill as far too broad among other reasons.

HB 5278 amends Initiative 134, passed by the voters in 1992, to allow municipalities to provide public funds for financing campaigns for local office. Motion passed with three abstentions.

HB 1444/SB 5435 create a Public Records Exemptions Accountability Committee to review the mushrooming number of exemptions to the public disclosure laws and report back by year end. Motion passed to support.

HB 1446 reduces the time to bring actions for access to public records. Motion passed to oppose shortening the time.

SB 5535 would set up a system for appointing a school board rather than electing it as currently. Motion passed to oppose the legislation.

SB 5576 and other legislation designing to prevent condemnation by government for conveying the property to private development in the name of economic development died under legislative deadlines.

SEPA Thresholds:
Motion passed to write to appropriate governmental authorities opposing an increase in the exemptions of developments from SEPA review for the reasons given by community representatives at our January meeting.

Pedestrian Safety:
Motion passed to write to the City's Pedestrian Master Plan Advisory Group our concerns about pedestrian safety expressed at our recent meetings.

Nominees for Board of Park Commissioners:
The Federation endorses for appointment to the Board of Park Commissioners (names in alphabetical order):
Jim Anderson, Loyal Heights Community Council, physician's assistant and trainer, author.
John Barber, Leschi Community Council, Open Space Advocates, ProParks Levy Comm.
Kristine Fuller, Woodland neighbors, voice for neighborhoods in skatepark planning.
Don Harper, Queen Anne Community Council, neighborhood spokesman on QA playfield.
Diana Kincaid, Friends of Magnuson Park, active in preserving open spaces, natural areas.

1 comment:

Chris Leman said...

Congratulations to Rick Barrett on the inauguration of this wonderful new web log! Through your efforts, more people will hear about and participate in the important work of the Seattle Community Council Federation.