Sunday, December 9, 2007


Holiday Greetings

Vivian McLean and the Seattle Community Council Federation
invite you to Our Holiday Party

Friday, December 14th at 7:00 P.M.
at the home of Vivian McLean,
3814 20th Ave SW


Enjoy refreshments and meeting old and new friends and the delights of Delridge at its best.

Driving Directions

Take the Delridge off-ramp from the West Seattle Freeway,
Go south on Delridge Ave SW to the traffic light, then (left) east to 21st Ave SW,
North (left) to the street end, East (left) to 20th Ave SW,
and Finally south (right) just a tad on the east (left) [even-numbered] side of the street.

It's the big white house with the Christmas lights on the porch!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

November Meeting Highlights - November 15, 2007
(These pages are based on the editor's notes, they are not official minutes).

• President's Report:

• The City Council added $ 2 million to the collections budget of the Library for 2008 to buy new books, and it added a "guidance statement" declaring an intention to set a base level for collections $l.5 million higher.

• The Federation, along with a coalition of others in support of increasing the 2008 budget by $2.5 million, had written to the City Council. Councilmembers Richard Conlin and Richard McIver replied to the Federation thanking it for its support of the appropriation; Councilmember Sally Clark sent a generic acknowledgment. Five members of the City Council (Clark, Conlin, Della, Godden and Steinbrueck) voted to add $25,000 to the 2008 City Budget for the Cascade People's Center and include an additional challenge grant of $75,000 to be matched. The Federation wrote to the Council urging the City to restore funding for it. The Cascade Community Council welcomes contributions for the match.

• The Federation wrote to the City Council's Urban Development and Planning Committee and the full City Council supporting the Mayor's proposed legislation to preserve industrial lands, and going further to preserve the bocks in the SODO area owned by developer Nitze-Stagen. Our letter pointed out that industrial land makes contributions to the economy, provides living wage jobs, and supports our port and rail network. Industrial land is scarce, especially in such a strategic location, while the City has ample commercial zones and commercial uses can be located elsewhere. The Manufacturing Industrial Council and others involved in manufacturing thanked the Federation for its support. (NOTE: Dennis Saxman spoke for the Federation at the November 29th City Council Public Meeting).

Zoo Garage: The City Hearing Examiner declared the proposed 700-car Zoo Parking Garage illegal and reversed the City's decision to allow it in a park zoned single family. Unanimous accord to send a letter of congratulations to the Phinney Ridge Community Council.

• Children's Hospital: Staff of the City's Department of Planning and Development (DPD), working with Children's Hospital, had proposed another alternative development plan which has the same gross square footage as earlier plans, but makes buildings squatter and spreads them over more area. It would reduce building heights from 240' to 160', take over the adjacent Laurelon Terrace (136 condos), and add entrances. DPD refuses to let the Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) consider the Laurelhurst Community plan because it reduces the square footage Childrens wants. Laurelhurst had pointed out that Children's methodology sent to DPD differs from information it had sent to the State Board of Health. The Federation had written to DPD on November 6th asking DPD to reconsider its rejection, the new entrances, and acquisition of Laurelton Terrace. The 160' height would be 105' higher than any institution next to a single family residential area. Motion passed to question the need for expanding the facility by doubling the current size and the new entrances and again called for for allowing CAC consider all alternatives, not just those pre-approved by Children's Hospital. Other hospitals have branches and clinics off campus. Copies of the letter will go to other appropriate officials.

Green Legacy Levy: A coalition of community groups is asking the City to empower a citizens' committee to prepare a successor for the ProParks Levy expiring in 2008. Projects would include parks, green infrastructure improvements (open space, bike trails, streams, green streets etc.) City staff wrote the Urban Forest Management Master Plan; and it failed to stop the downing of trees on Broadway, in Occidental Park, and on lots developed for housing. A good plan needs citizen input and direction. Projects will be selected for multi-purpose activity.
Community representative ("C") comments:
C-1: projects must include neighborhoods outside neighborhood planning areas. The Mayor plans to exclude non-planning areas from proceeds of levies.
C-2: The Mayor's update of neighborhood plans appears to be a top-down effort by City staff to "standardize" plans; the City Council has cut back on his proposal. The levy needs to take the revising of plans into account.
C-3: ProParks and other recent levies have appropriated pockets of money for platitudes. The ability to shift money is so loose that the levies are really a general tax increase for park or street purposes. People vote for a levy thinking that they'll get a particular project in their neighborhood or one they really want, and then spends the money elsewhere. Funds for Magnuson Park have been abused. The Superintendent of Parks was allowed to move money under a set limit around without oversight; and he broke projects into pieces and shifted funds to accomplish larger projects without any review. Named projects have yet to be accomplished and the voters' will was frustrated.
C-4: The "Opportunity Fund" was misused in its first allocation: half the first year's money was allocated to three neighborhoods to carry out private deals by the ProParks Committee. There must be very strict criteria, applied Citywide, with competition open always to all neighborhoods and citizen ranking through the City Neighborhood Council and District Councils. No set-asides.
C-5: The levy should be a shopping list clearly stating what the public will get and the City required to make sure that the public gets it using General Funds if necessary. C-6: The City Auditor found abuses in a case study at Loyal Heights and a lack of accountability.
C-7: There was so much unhappiness at the way that ProParks was administered that the City Neighborhood Council won't approve a new levy until the abuses in ProParks are remedied. The same applies to the Bridging the Gap levy. The Library Bond issue had the Citizens Implementation Review Panel and it has worked.
C-78: The South East District Council was told that although funds were donated for renovating the Mount Baker Community Center, the City won't proceed because it has no project manager.
The City is putting artificial turf over the peat bog of Montlake Playfield as a soccer playfield with night lighting. The community opposes it.
Motion passed for the Federation to join as a member of the Green Legacy Coalition, to participate in a citizen committee to set up the levy, and to appoint Diane Kincaid, David Miller and Lynn Ferguson as Federation representatives.
For information, contact Bryce Marryman

Parks "Strategic Business Plan:" Parks is holding a series of meeting at all community centers in Seattle asking for for input about private interests operating park facilities. Members of special interest groups are coming in force to the meetings and skewing the input. Parks gives those attending a questionnaire that asks what is Parks doing right? What is wrong? What are the challenges?
Motion passed to present the guidelines adopted at our July 26, 2007 meeting as the Federation comment on the Strategic Business Plan.

• Magnuson Park: Parks is planning more commercialization at Magnuson Park:
• Parks wants to sign a 30 year lease of Building 11, a two story, narrow building next to the water in the North Shore Sailing area. The for profit developer envisions office use upstairs, two restaurants, sales of marine products for use outside the park and other uses. • Parks wants to lease Hangar 27 to Arena Sports, the developer of another building, for thirty years and to let it manage the sports fields. Arena Sports envisions gym equipment operated like a health club, pay for use indoor sports, restaurants, handball courts, etc. Hangar 27 hosted the Friends of the Library Sale, Rat City Rollers, Best of Northwest Arts exhibition, rummage sales including the annual Lakeside sale, some charity auctions and other activities. Arena Sports wants the City to contribute to repair of the Hanger. A non-profit organization, H270, composed of various users, with a sprinkling of citizen activists, is also seeking use of the site; its program would be lower key and have more public activities. Motion passed to endorse H270 and urge the City to reject the application of both for- profit organizations for commercial activities. These for-profit bids violate the underlying single family zoning and the approved Magnuson Park Plan.
For more information see and
• Multi-family Code Changes: Time [and space here] precludes outlining the proposal in full. It increases density, cuts backs open space, raises heights, reduces parking, and generally reflects the development lobby wish-list. Developers pushed these ideas back in 1989, and citizen opposition caused the City to back off. The Department of Planning and Development is considering issuing a Determination of No Significant Impact (DNSI) on the Code changes. In the past, the City has done an Environmental Impact Statement.
Motion passed to write to the City insisting that it prepare an Environmental Impact Statement and to threaten an appeal to the Hearing Examiner if a DNSI is made.
• 12 Year Tax Holiday: The Mayor is proposing a 12 year tax holiday for new housing if (a) in condo projects, 20% are sold for $350,000 or less to people with an income no more than 124% of median income ($77,348 for two); and (b) if a rental, 20% to people of median income at median rents for the area, currently $1,500 on Beacon Hill. A developer may leave the program at any time, and the exemption goes to the entire site. Thus, a ten unit condo developer could offer two small units at $ 300,000, and eight units at $ 550,000. Now assume property taxes at 1% of market value and no inflation. The project would then have a value of $6,000,000, and net the developer tax relief worth $60,000 each year for 12 years, or $720,000 total –more than the developer's market price. No demographic data supports the program and many units sell or lease for less. There's no incentive for families to settle here. If the objective is to get police officers to settle here, the money would be better spent by increasing their pay to enable them to afford to live inside Seattle. The plan detracts from programs for the homeless and the genuinely low income. It also decreases the local tax base; which increases the taxes on everyone else. The $60,000 in the example above could pay for a police cadet, a new fireman, parks maintenance etc. It's inherently unfair to let the upper income renters or owners draw on City services without paying for them. The program offers incentives for tearing down older housing used by lower income residents. The Seattle Displacement Coalition strongly opposes the plan.
For More Information see
Motion passed to oppose the program and authorize Dennis Saxman to represent the Federation at City Council hearings.

• Incentive Zoning:
Motion passed to update our May 24th letter to the City Planning Commission and send it to the City Council as a comment on the Mayor's very similar proposal.

• Elections:
Motion passed to send a letter to King County and to the Secretary of State protesting the Notice of Elections in type one-sixteenth inch high in the Seattle Times, October 31, and asking that with mail-in elections the notice be at the size of type on the ballot. It will also ask that when ballots are issued and may be deposited election headquarters be considered as a "polling place" where campaigning is forbidden. The Federation has objected to such tiny print in the past without avail.

• Christmas Trees at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport:
Motion passed 15-to-3 asking that Sea-Tac Airport include Christmas trees in its holiday decorations. The Port ejected them just before Christmas in '06, but overwhelming public protest caused their return. In August, the Port Commission voted to exclude them; the November elections retired both incumbents up for re-election. As the entranceway for air travelers to the Northwest, Sea-Tac should be an inviting, festive terminal during the holiday season, respecting the diversity and inclusiveness of our traditions. Christmas trees are a Northwest tradition and comforting to many people during long anxious waiting. Trees may be enjoyed by anyone of any religion just as can Santa Claus, matzo bread, or a lotus blossom. Seattle City government hosts a Menorah in Westlake Square to complement the Christmas tree in Stewart Street; shopping centers also do so; and the Postal Service offers stamps for Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, and Muslim holidays.

• Pinehursrt Neighborhood Rezone: Safeway owns three lots in Pinehurst close to Northgate and asked for a rezone of its lots for a new supermarket. Some Pinehurst residents, the Mayor's office, and City Council member Peter Steinbrueck reached agreement on rezoning those particular lots with various development restrictions. The Department of Planning and Development is proposing a legislative rezone for the entire Northgate overlay zone, an area many times larger than the Safeway lot which includes all or most of five North Seattle communities. The Maple Leaf Community Council asked Richard Aramburu, a Land Use Attorney, for advice. He opined that this rezone would set a dangerous precedent of (a) ignoring neighborhood planning in the Northgate, Lake City, and Haller Lake areas; (b) evading the rezoning process contained in the Code; and (c) converting spot zoning into legislative Code changes.
Motion passed to oppose the legislative rezone, to support the Maple Leaf Community Council, and to designate Pat Murakami to represent the Federation at the November 28th City hearing. NOTE: David Miller spoke for the Federation at the meeting, Representatives from the Haller Lake Community Club and the Maple Leaf Community Council also spoke against it.
NOTE: Council Bill 116066 (CB116066) was passed on Dec 3rd, 2007.
For more information see Donations are gratefully accepted.

• Goodwill site development: The developer is asking for the largest street vacation in Seattle's history -- about 10 acres. By ordinance, street vacations need to show a public interest, i.e. benefit, from the vacation. The developer says the project itself does so, and some amenities will be on site. The project has many negative impacts that far out weigh the amenities. The neighborhood asks that the large sums paid as street vacation fees be spent in the impacted neighborhood. Motion passed to send a second letter re-affirming the Federation opposition to the street vacation, asking that the process be followed, with appropriate public participation.
For more information see
• Central Area Senior Center: The City budget appropriated only $200,000; the Senior Center needs donations

• Wallingford Community Senior Center: The Wallingford Community Senior Center also needs public support. It will have a $42,000 deficit because Historic Seattle raised the annual rent for its basement quarters in the Good Shepherd Center to $53,000. It’s the last of the community organizations in the increasingly commercial building. Hamilton House in the University District has closed; the Greenwood Senior Center is also in jeopardy. Wallingford is the only center in the district for various senior services and offers many seniors living on social security and canned soups and veggies their only full course hot meal during the week. Motion passed authorizing a letter to City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen and King County Councilmember Larry Phillips for continued and expanded support.
Neighborhood Planning update: The Department of Planning and Development and the Department of Neighborhoods are in discussion about who will control what, what is to be done and what is not to be done, and the role of consultants and City staff. The first step will be to make a report on those projects the City has completed and those that remain. The City Neighborhood Council approved a letter on updating neighborhood plans based on its May workshop. City Councilmember Sally Clark said that the City Council will chart its own course. It would like student volunteers from the U of W to help out.

• City Light surplus property: The City is planning to sell sixty parcels by 2010 as surplus. The Ballard District Council would like the Sunset substation in Ballard as a park. An expert said it could have a utility use for solar panels.
Motion passed authorizing a letter asking that district councils be consulted in the process of circulating among City departments surplus City properties for disposition.
• South Lake Union upzone: The City has scheduled a hearing on December 10th for an up-zone proposed by Vulcan properties, Paul Allen's development company, in order to accommodate a building sought by Amazon. By consent, if the President, the Land Use committee above, the Cascade Community Council confer and are so inclined, they are authorized to appear at the hearing on behalf of the Federation.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

November 30, 2007
Zoo won't appeal parking garage ruling


Woodland Park Zoo has decided not to appeal a city decision prohibiting construction of a controversial 700-car parking garage that has been the center of a dispute between zoo leaders and neighbors for years.

In October, Seattle Hearing Examiner Sue Tanner ruled that a parking garage isn't a "customary" use for city parks, and would not be legal at the zoo.

"We decided that in terms of resources, it isn't worth appealing it now," said spokesman Jim Bennett.

Activists opposed construction of the four-level garage as too big, too expensive and unnecessary. The construction cost of the garage was estimated at $18 million. Interest and other costs would have added to the total price over 20 years. The city agreed to pay 75 percent of the garage cost.

"We have a lot more talking to do internally," said Bennett.

For now, zoo officials will continue to look for ways to get the most out of surface parking, and encourage their employees to find other transportation to work, in order to open those parking spaces up to visitors.

The garage would have been built off Phinney Avenue North near North 56th Street.

Last spring, several City Council members said they had misgivings about the zoo garage, especially as citizens are being urged to reduce their use of cars. But they approved bond financing for the garage, saying they were bound by their contract with the zoo society.