Friday, December 4, 2009

City Council "Open Government" proposals would be a setback for open government, reform group says. It urges Mayor-elect to begin in office with open government initiatives.

The Seattle Community Council Federation is calling on the City Council to make major improvements in open government proposals it is considering at a Dec. 7 public hearing, Dec. 9 committee meeting, and Dec. 14 full Council meeting. Jeannie Hale, President of the Federation, said "It is strange that these proposals would have come out of the Council's 'Open Government Committee', because as a whole they are a setback for open government."

Hale did find some things to praise in the proposals. She thanked the Council for proposals that would: (1) Put on the web the materials to be considered by committees; (2) Begin audio recording of special meetings and special committees; (3) Have an attorney present during executive (closed) sessions to discourage Open Public Meetings Act violations; (4) And, from an interagency committee led by the City Clerk, rules and guidelines to ensure that Councilmember use of social media such as blogs, Facebook, and Twitter don’t violate public records, open public meetings, and campaign practices laws.

Chris Leman, who also represents the Federation on open government issues, detailed what is lacking in the Council proposals: (1) On Monday afternoons the Councilmembers can still pass measures that emerged from a committee as recently as the previous Wednesday (they will rush these rules through that way next week). At least a ten-day interval should be required, except when the Council declares why it must act more quickly; (2) There’s no providing beforehand to the public of amendments that will be debated at the afternoon Council meeting, the morning briefings meeting, special committees, or committees of the whole (Councilmembers mutually insist on this right for themselves only); (3) And committees can still pass legislation at the same meeting in which a public hearing on it was held.

And worst, Leman said, are the setbacks in the Council proposals: (1) Council briefings and standing committees would no longer have to meet in City Hall--or even in Seattle. The Council chambers are easily accessible, televised live and can be heard on the “listen line” at 206-684-8566; without such guarantees, meetings elsewhere hamper access. (2) Councilmembers would no longer be required to attend their assigned committees or have an excuse when they don’t. (3) Committees would no longer need a quorum to pass legislation (and apparently could act with no Councilmember present). (4) And future Council rules revisions would no longer need to be considered by a committee.

The Seattle Community Council Federation also urges the City Council to get started in developing a “coordinated plan and policy on open and participatory government,” as the Council unanimously committed to do in passing Res. 31049 nineteen months ago. A draft “Public Engagement Plan” doesn’t (as resolution 31049 requires of such a plan) consolidate and review existing policies and make improvements in them, and it applies only to the Council, not also the executive and judicial branches. Hale said, "With an incoming administration pledging openness and participation as watchwords, there’s no better time for the Council and Mayor to work out this new plan in partnership with the public. Public pleas having failed, maybe Mayor-elect Mike McGinn can get the Council to set a timetable, solicit written and oral suggestions, adopt a scope, circulate a draft, and get comments on it at a hearing."

The Federation also urged the City Council to require itself and agencies to save e-mails and other electronic documents for at least six years, as Pierce County government does. In Seattle, e-mails are automatically deleted after only 45 days, unless archived by the employee who sent or received them. Few take the time, and all have a conflict of interest to destroy the illegal, unethical or politically embarrassing messages before ethics- and law-enforcement officials, the press or public learn they ever existed. Hale said, "If the Council won’t act, the new Mayor should by executive order, just as Barack Obama began his presidency by opening up government practices that the previous administration had used to evade public scrutiny."

Founded in 1946, the Seattle Community Council Federation represents neighborhood associations from throughout Seattle. Its advocacy for open government in City government is of longer standing than perhaps any other Seattle-based organization.

For further information: Chris Leman, cleman@oo.net (206) 322-5463; Jeannie Hale, jeannieh@serv.net (206) 525-5135

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

SEATTLE COMMUNITY COUNCIL FEDERATION

http://seattlefederation.blogspot.com/

Regular Meeting

NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency), Pacific Marine Center on Lake Union

1801 Fairview Avenue East

Thursday, November 19, 2009

AGENDA

The Role of the City Attorney’s Office in Representing the Public Interest –

A Dialogue with City Attorney Elect Pete Holmes

Pete Holmes surprised many people (including himself) with a landslide victory in defeating incumbent City Attorney Tom Carr. Prior to his taking office in January, the Federation is pleased to host Pete for a preview of his four-year term. A key difference in the campaign was his stronger emphasis on the City Attorney as being a public interest advocate and guardian. That is, Pete Holmes sees his clients as being not just the Mayor and City Council, but also the public—a view espoused by many of the other elected city attorneys around the country. In a free-ranging presentation and question-and-answer session, Pete will discuss how he will approach his new position, including its potential as advocate for the public interest.

Highlights of Other Agenda items:

· An update from Chas Talbot, Operations Manager, Regional Commission on Airport Affairs—Why has there been an upsurge in aircraft noise? How has Sea-Tac and the Port addressed environmental concerns? Other issues.

· Is there hope for Open and Participatory Government in Seattle? The Council has issued no timetable for developing a “coordinated plan and policy on open and participatory government,” nor invited suggestions from the public for the plan, nor issued a draft for comment. A public hearing is scheduled on Monday, December 7 at 5:30 in the Council Chambers. Issues and possible solutions in a discussion led by Chris Leman. (http://www.seattle.gov/council/committees/open_gov_comm.htm)

· The future of the Pike Place Market—Joan Paulson, Urban Planner and Pike Place Constituency member, will provide a briefing about the legislation creating the Market Public Development Authority (PDA) which will sunset in 2014, after which the City Council and the Mayor's office will assume jurisdiction of the market zoning.

7:00 Call to Order and Introductions

Administration

1. Changes to the agenda

2. Treasurer’s report

3. President’s report

7:15 A Dialogue with City Attorney Elect Pete Holmes

8:05 An Update from the Regional Commission on Airport Affairs – Chas Talbot

8:25 Open and Participatory Government in Seattle – Promise or Reality? Chris Leman

8:40 The Future of the Pike Place Market – Joan Paulson

8:55 Round Robin (if time permits)

9:00 Adjourn

NOAA is a federal facility on high security alert, so attendees must enter by the security gate and may need to present photo ID. If you haven't attended a recent Federation meeting, please send your name, contact information, and address to rickbarrett@gmail.com to be added to the entry list. No e-mail? Call 206-365-1267. The building is ADA compliant, with ample parking in front.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

ALERT - JUST SAY NO! DADU ("Backyard Cottage") vote Monday, November 2nd

Map showing how one DADU (Backyard Cottage") adversely affects five neighboring properties.

New DADU ("Backyard Cottage") at 1911 16th Ave South.


New DADU ("Backyard Cottage") at 7520 Military Road South.


New Dadu ("Backyard Cottage") in rear, 8630 Beacon Avenue S.


New DADU ("Backyard Cottage") at 6522 48th Avenue S.


New DADU ("Backyard Cottage) in rear at 3043 S Dawson Street.



PRESS RELEASE
By Marty Liebowitz [mailto:marty@madronacompany.com]

Regarding- Upcoming Seattle City Council Vote on Detached Accessory Dwelling Units (DADUs)

Note: The City has recently decided to call these structures “Backyard Cottages”.

"DADUs" is a crazy sounding abbreviation for “Detached Attached Dwelling Units”. Spelled out in its entirety, the acronym is long, un-sexy, and not very catchy. But next week, on Monday, November 2nd, when the full City Council is slated to vote on whether to allow them throughout the city, you will find that their klunky name has been changed to the more friendly sounding “Backyard Cottages”, and this will be judgment day for the fate of each and every single-family neighborhood throughout the City of Seattle.

The ordinance they are voting on is flawed - maybe 30% flawed. In that amount of written legalese, much of what we all love about our City could be destroyed. The decision will be largely invisible since it presumably affects only rear yards, so the damage may not be visible from the sidewalk. However the damage will be done- primarily to the backyard privacy that we and our trees, and our backyard animals now all enjoy.

As currently proposed, a 2 story 800 square foot home will be allowed to be built in the rear yard of any property with an existing single family home - in all the single family neighborhoods in Seattle. The new home which can be built will be allowed within 5 feet from rear and side property lines. It can be 15’ high at its eave and 22’ high at the ridge of a peaked roof. It can tower over the abutting 5 neighboring lots when built mid block. What is gained by 1 property owner in building one new Accessory Dwelling Unit is lost by each of the five abutting neighbors. This ratio 5 1 to 1, winner to loser, should not be acceptable in the City of Seattle or anywhere else.

While hyped as being “sustainable”, this is really not since we already have an attached Accessory Dwelling Unit ordinance which allows the same thing if it is attached to an existing building and maintains regular setback requirements in side and rear yards. Hence, there will be no more units created by this ordinance. Also, they do not provide “affordable” housing since this is in general new construction at new construction costs.

The City planners are telling us that this is no different than similar ordinances on places like Mercer Island. However, on Mercer Island, the minimal lot sizes are 1/3 acre, while in Seattle, the minimum lot size proposed is 1/10 acre - hardly comparable.

One glaring problem with the proposed ordinance relates to a similar one passed a few years ago for SE Seattle, which was to be a test of the DADU concept in Seattle. SE Seattle was chosen since politically the concept was a hot potato for neighborhoods in the rest of the city and SE Seattle was politically under-represented and an easy test case for the City Planners. Hence, under the cover of darkness (not unlike today) the Council benignly passed the experimental ordinance under the guidance of City Planners. In the last 2 years, about 17 of these new residences have been built - the majority of which are eyesores. However, as mentioned in the top of this posting, they usually cannot be seen from the street, and hence are only a burden on their immediate neighbors who see these things out of their kitchen, bathroom and bedroom windows every day. So, we could say “out of sight out of mind” and just walk away from this issue. But if passed on November 2nd, none of our rear yard sanctuaries is safe. Our backyard privacy is a thing of the past. No longer can we and our backyard critters enjoy a moment or careless, peaceful, private piece of mind.

So folks - that’s what’s really coming down next Monday. Not many citizens are aware of this. There’s been little public disclosure on something so far-reaching. But noblesse oblige, “the Council knows what’s good for us”. Tell your Seattle City Council that this is a half-baked ordinance. Tell them that you believe in sustainability but that this is not the way to achieve it. Turn on the fans to their smoke screen, clear the air, and just tell them to vote NO on November 2 on the DADU Ordinance.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

SEATTLE COMMUNITY COUNCIL FEDERATION

Regular Meeting

NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency), Pacific Marine Center on Lake Union

1801 Fairview Avenue East

http://seattlefederation.blogspot.com/

Thursday, October 22, 2009

AGENDA

The Future of Seattle’s Libraries in Tough Economic Times –

A Dialogue with City Librarian Susan Hildreth

With a projected $72 million revenue shortfall in the city’s 2009-2010 budget, the Library was asked to identify approximately five percent in cuts—about $2.6 million. Proposed cuts include:

· Reduce branch operating hours (branch libraries closed on Fridays and Mondays): $1.2M

· Sustain 2009 management and administrative reductions: $562,000

· Close the Library system-wide for one week (unpaid furlough): $649,000

· Extend staff computer replacement cycle from 4 years to 5 years: $23,000

· Absorb citywide inflation, health care and rate adjustments that don't affect services or staff: $200,000 above the Library Board's proposed cut.

How will the Library continue to build on its history of excellence in serving citizens during these economic times? Get your questions answered from the City Librarian.

The Challenges of Running for Seattle City Council – David Miller’s Perspective

How does one raise the funds and support to run for City Council? In a field of six candidates, David Miller was rated “very good” by the Municipal League, a higher rating than three others vying for a spot on the November ballot, yet didn’t make it past the Primary. What are the pitfalls in running for city council? How does one deal with the media? Get your questions answered from community leader David Miller.

The October meeting will also include our monthly Round Robin of issues and projects in your neighborhood. It is your opportunity to brief our citywide membership about what you are working on and to share perceptions on what is going right and what isn’t with our city government. If you have informational materials you would like distributed at the meeting, please email electronic copies or links to Jeannie Hale at jeannieh@serv.net.

7:00 Call to Order and Introductions

Administration

1. Changes to the agenda

2. Treasurer’s report

3. President’s report

7:15 A Dialogue with City Librarian Susan Hildreth

8:00 The Challenges of Running for Seattle City Council – David Miller’s Perspective

8:20 Round Robin

9:00 Adjourn

NOAA is a federal facility on high security alert, so attendees must enter by the security gate and may need to present photo ID. If you haven't attended a recent Federation meeting, please send your name, contact information, and address to rickbarrett@gmail.com to be added to the entry list. No e-mail? Call 206-365-1267. The building is ADA compliant, with ample parking in front.

The effort to keep NOAA on Lake Union--and how to help

Can Seattle keep NOAA’s beautiful white ships and the many jobs they represent, or will they move to Oregon? Washington’s U.S. Senators and Representatives—and you--will make the difference.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is descended from the Coast and Geodetic Survey, which since the mid-1800s has made navigation possible on the Pacific Coast through its exploration and map-making. NOAA also has become central to prediction of weather patterns (including tsunamis) and in understanding global warming. NOAA’s ships have homeported on Lake Union since 1916, just a 5.6 mile drive from its scientific laboratories that were built in Sand Point in 1978. But under the Bush administration, NOAA began a process to consider other homeports, with the current privately owned and taxpaying Lake Union site facing tax-subsidized competition on (non-taxpaying) public land of the Ports of Bellingham, Port Angeles, and Newport.

NOAA is located in the Department of Commerce, whose Secretary is former Washington Governor Gary Locke. NOAA reports to a U.S. Senate Committee chaired by Washington Senator Maria Cantwell. Nevertheless, on August 8, NOAA signed a lease to move its home port to Newport, Oregon, turning down the lease renewal proposal for the Lake Union site. Newport has no guarantee of getting the state and federal permits needed to build new structures for NOAA in a sensitive natural area, estuary and salmon run of the Yaquina River. Relocation of the NOAA ships to Newport would cause millions of dollars a year in increased costs for fuel, personnel, and repair, undermining their safe and effective operation and the realization of their mission of science and national and global security.

The NOAA ships are an icon for Seattle. NOAA employees who sail on the ships make their homes in the Seattle area, as do many others in NOAA and the private sector who maintain and supply the ships. You can help keep the NOAA ships homeported in Seattle by urging action by U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray and our U.S. Representative Jim McDermott. To send e-mails or obtain their Washington, D.C. address or phone number, go to www.cantwell.senate.gov, www.murray.senate.gov, and www.house.gov/mcdermott. You can also leave phone messages with their Seattle offices:

Cantwell: (206) 220-6400;

Murray: (206) 553-5545; and

McDermott: (206) 553-7170.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

New Multi Family Update (MFU) information.
Anna Nissen (n/n architect) archives and presents Livable Seattle Links, reports and appendix for download, discussion and distribution.
They can now all be found at http://sites.google.com/site/livableseattle/Home/downloadable-files

Final nissen/nissen architect Evaluate MFU Report now at Livable Seattle/Google This report is material a rational person would need to evaluate the tests Sally Clark has set up as noted (see previous message below)
I had to submit it as an individual because there was no time to reach agreement, let alone discuss it.

NOW IS THE TIME TO LET EVERYONE KNOW OF THE FINAL REPORT'S POSTING
Right at the top—report and appendix http://sites.google.com/site/livableseattle/Home/downloadable-files Please note that citizens no longer have to make an appearance at City Hall or be a Comcast subscriber to know enough to input informed opinions. All that is really necessary is a page out of Bradburd's "rowing together"— let elected representatives know that citizens know and are widely sharing.

Begin previous message:

Councilmember Clark et al have called a special meeting for Sept 24th 4-6 PM on the Multifamily Update. Council chambers. http://www.seattle.gov/council/clark/clark_cal.htm

Three teams are to present tests of the proposed Update on sites that Clark selected after it was called to her attention that DPD had no such tests to offer.
Each team will have twenty minutes to explain a huge pile of required drawings. Greg Hill will be attempting that for Team 3.

Greg convened Team 3 composed of himself, myself, and Vlad Oustimovitch (West Seattle). Team 1 CORA, Team 2 Masterbuilders, or is it the reverse?

P.S. All of you: 1) trust me implicitly, or 2) have not the least interest, or 3) have not the foggiest idea what I am up to (normally the case) When you don't respond I assume you would trust me if I could ever get rid of the fog. I may never get there, but I sure try hard!

Many Thanks

Anna

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

REMINDER- FEDERATION MEETS THIS THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2009.

HERE’S THE AGENDA:



SEATTLE COMMUNITY COUNCIL FEDERATION

Regular Meeting
NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency), Pacific Marine Center on Lake Union
1801 Fairview Avenue East
http://seattlefederation.blogspot.com/
Thursday, September 24, 2009

AGENDA

Meeting the Challenges of those with Disabilities

How has Seattle fallen short in addressing the concerns of people with disabilities? Hear a panel presentation at the September Federation meeting and get your questions answered. Panel members include those with disabilities such as eyesight, hearing and mobility who are active with various advocacy groups, including the Alliance of People with Disabilities, Lighthouse for the Blind, and Committee to Establish a Seattle Disabilities Commission. Learn about social and political barriers they have encountered and policies they advocate. Join in this educational and inspiring discussion, and help us decide how the Federation should respond.

People who have a disability—just like those without one--have talents, insights, and values needed to make this a better world. But throughout history, they have faced prejudices and governmental barriers against their participation in decisions that affect them, their realization of full potential, and their contribution to the greater good. Seattle still has its share of barriers to the rights of people with disabilities to full integration and participation in all areas of economic, political, and community life. Portland, Tacoma, and most other large cities have a Commission for People with Disabilities, but Seattle does not, and in the past year, a coalition has formed to ask the City to create one. This coalition has asked the Federation to join other organizations in calling upon Seattle to establish a Commission for People with Disabilities.

The September meeting will also include our monthly Round Robin with items such as the voting on a position on the housing levy, an update on NOAA and the Parks and Green Spaces Opportunity Fund Criteria.

If you have informational materials you would like distributed at the meeting, please email electronic copies or links to Jeannie Hale at jeannieh@serv.net.

7:00 Call to Order and Introductions

Administration
1. Changes to the agenda
2. Treasurer’s report
3. President’s report

7:15 Meeting the Needs of those with Disabilities

8:15 Round Robin

1. Should the Federation take a position on the Housing Levy?
2. NOAA move to Oregon—Update
3. Parks and Green Spaces Opportunity Fund Criteria—Oversight Committee vote soon
4. Other issues/projects

9:00 Adjourn

NOAA is a federal facility on high security alert, so attendees must enter by the security gate and may need to present photo ID. If you haven't attended a Federation meeting this year, please send your name, contact information, and address that appears on your photo ID to rickbarrett@gmail.com to be added to the entry list. No e-mail? Call 206-365-1267. The building is ADA compliant, with ample parking in front.


People who have a disability—just like those without one--have talents, insights, and values needed to make this a better world. But throughout history, they have faced prejudices and governmental barriers against their participation in decisions that affect them, realization of their full potential, and their contribution to the greater good. Seattle still has its share of barriers to the rights of people with disabilities to full integration and participation in all areas of economic, political, and community life. Portland, Tacoma, and most other large cities have a Commission for People with Disabilities, but Seattle does not, and in the past year, a coalition has begun working towards that end. They have asked the Seattle Community Council Federation to join other organizations in calling upon Seattle to establish a Commission for People with Disabilities. (For more information, including an endorsement form for any organization, see http://megadutch.com/cesdc.)

As background, SCCF is hosting a panel discussion with leading advocates for people with disabilities at the Sept. 24 Seattle Community Council Federation meeting. Some have had their disability all their lives, and some have experienced it later in life (as many of us will someday). The panel members are active with groups such as the Alliance of People with Disabilities and the Committee to Establish a Seattle Disabilities Commission. They will speak and answer your questions about what it means to have a disability, the social and political barriers they have.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Seattle Community Council Federation meets Thursday, September 24, 2009, 7 pm

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Newsletter Re July 23 and August 8 2009 Meetings

Dialogue with Timothy Gallagher, Superintendent of Seattle Parks and Recreation

Opening Statement: The City is moving ahead with carrying out the $146 million levy passed on November 7, 2008 as explained in a brochure, entitled "Parks and Green Spaces Levy." Bids are coming in at less than estimates. Scheduled for 2009 are providing synthetic turf at Lower Woodland Playfields; renovating Bayview and Bhy Kracke playgrounds; work on Queen Anne Boulevard; Magnuson Park schoreline and entry improvements, and developing the Northgate Urban Center Park; Renovating Atlantic Street, Brighton, Little playgrounds and Jefferson Park Improvements, including a skate park. Also improvements to South Ballard and Commodore Way. The Seattle Parks Foundation is offering to assist neighborhood groups on parks projects.

Questions and Answers (C=Community Representative; G= Tim Gallagher)

Montlake Playfield:

C : The brochure shows "Renovate to improve and address safety issues at Montlake Playfield." Montlake is a natural peat bog. It's wrong to put artificial turf there. Droppings now permeate the turf and fester.

G: The Department has had 25 years experience with artificial turf. The turf laid 25 years ago had lead in the dye; the newer ones don't. To take in enough lead to exceed federal standards, people would need to eat a meal of the turf and they don't. The Department rakes the turf and collects leaves, pellets, and gunk. The big benefit of artificial turf is its durability. People can play about 3 hours longer and 350 days per year on it. Teams prefer artificial turf to sand or mud fields. The Department keeps natural turf where there are no night-lights. It is doing testing with artificial turf at Magnuson Park.

Toxic Turf?

C: The literature shows that synthetic turf is made from rubber tires and has hazardous materials in its pellet base. The Washington Toxics Coalition found lead in the pellets. Health professionals say it is a serious concern for children and may activate allergies. It can cause cancer that first manifests years later. The turf has a crumb rubber filter that has to be replaced at added cost; the filter serves to hold the "grass" upright. Fast play kicks up the crumbs into the air.

G: The manufacturers say that it is not a health hazard. The product has passed state and federal safety standards.

C: Will an environmental impact statement be done?

G: No.

C: Will you look at the scientific material if we send it in? G: Yes.

Bell St. Boulevard:

C: The newspaper (Seattle Times) reports that Parks will spend levy funds to convert a portion of Bell St. into a Boulevard. However, Ordinance 123027 appropriating $2.5 million fails to convert that segment of Bell St. from "commercial street" to "park, drive and boulevard purposes" and does not acquire the rights for that change of status from the abutting owners. Previous boulevard ordinances did both. All it really does is make the segments green streets and put maintenance under the Parks Department. Parks needs to complete the process or forego using levy funds.

G: The neighborhood wants a boulevard rather than the traditional park. It was not the intention to affect any commercial business activity there.

Regionalizing neighborhood playgrounds:

C: Without neighborhood input and often over strong neighborhood opposition, Parks has been putting up lights, seating, and artificial turf on neighborhood playfields, and by doing so, changing the users from nearby residents to organized athletics.

G: There is a national trend to "regionalize" parks and go for organized activity in order to get more usage. There's a tension there. Such an upgrading does not make a playfield "regional." "Regional" as used by the department means a large park that draws users from throughout the City even if no activities were scheduled there, e.g. Seward and Discovery. It prefers to classify parks by "city" vis-à-vis "neighborhood." .

Natural areas:

C: Discovery Park is the only park truly a natural area. Natural areas are shrinking in other parks. The constant nibbling adds up to significant losses that can't be replaced.

G: Some want an off-leash area for dogs at Discovery Park. To preserve natural areas, the Department needs to designate them as such. It is creating a classification system.

Community Input:

C: The Department needs to go out into the community and ask its opinions. It now seems to solicit only the opinions of organized groups. In adopting its policy plan, it made nuanced little changes that favored special interests.

G: The Department is completing a demand study. Walking is always on top. It is looking a demographics (e.g. age, race, sex, ethnicity), participation rates by groups, likely demand in 20 years, facilities (e.g. for seniors, pools), health and fitness needs, youth crime and teen programs etc. It will draw up a plan for 10 years.

C: Are Tennis Courts included?

G: There are 65 -- 3/4th of them are lighted. It's part of the study.

C: Outdoor basketball courts?

G: It has one and that's crowded.

C: Put hoops up in parking lots for after hours use like some churches and boys' clubs do.

Bitter Lake Reservoir:

C: People would like to walk around the Bitter Lake reservoir.

G: The Department is planning to adjust the fence to allow it.

Pedestrian Master Plan:

C: The Executive Summary shows trails, but lacks an action plan for parks.

G: The Parks department was a minor player in the Plan. It is doing its own.

Magnuson Park:

C: The adopted Magnuson Park Plan is not being followed. What will we see in 10 years?

G: The Navy is doing clean up. The Department is setting up an advisory committee of users, the University, and neighborhoods to replace the Communications Committee. It will have 9 to 13 members and a Park Board representative and it will be operating by the end of 2009. Magnuson Park has had a long series of plans. The objective is to get all interests at the table and reach a consensus. Many uses are already there -- the Cascade Bicycle Club, Mountaineers, etc. It has to have commercialization to maintain the big buildings. The tower of the Fire Station can serve as a viewpoint, but fixing the whole structure to code will be too expensive. The problem may be how to limit the people who want to be there. In San Francisco, the groups coalesced into a foundation to work together. Citizen organizations are often a pain to work with, but Parks needs them to get an independent view. Otherwise, government may lapse into a Russian view where "We do what we like, they like what we do."

C: It's been poorly treated these last ten years. The City needs to get state and federal funding and to assist that, to get the district listed on the state and federal historic registers.

G: The application is due August 14th. City officials are looking at it closely. There may be some hidden costs. So far, it looks okay.

C: At the Communications Committee, citizens just got to listen to lectures by parks staff. The current Stakeholder Committee has community representatives at all its meetings; but, the tenant users just show up when their own use is discussed and miss other meetings. All have to attend meetings for the San Francisco model to develop.

G: It also needs representatives for the City as a whole.

Outsiders' Use: C: Groups from outside Seattle dominate the use of some City park facilities. A check of reservations shows many suburban groups including some that use a city resident for a contact, although most live outside.

G: About 20% of the rental is non-residents. If the City tried to restrict their usage, the suburbs would retaliate.

Metropolitan Park District:

C: Is it being explored?

G: No.

Opportunity Fund:

C: How will the $15,000,000 in the Levy's Opportunity Fund be spent?

G: Any balances left after completing other projects also go into the Opportunity Fund. Current plans call for dividing the Opportunity Fund so that all areas of the City get some funds. The Levy Oversight Committee is looking at projects for the 2010, 2012, and 2014 budgets. The Parks website (http://www.seattle.gov/parks) discusses the Opportunity Fund. Projects have to be ready to go and have a strong community support.

Acquisition:

C: The levy brochure shows $ 30,000,000 for acquisition. How is that going?

G: The Department is making offers based on appraisals. Parcels are popping up, but some have mortgages greater than their assessed values and likely an evaluation by an appraisal. The Department cannot pay more than the market value. The City also has conservation futures money. Revenues from the real estate transfer tax are down. The City bought part of the former University Heights School and Crown Hill School; the rest was acquired for other purposes. Federal Economic Stimulus moneys may not be used for parks, swimming pools, or casinos -- all are considered entertainment.

ADA retrofitting:

G: The Americans with Disability Act requires access in all new facilities. Older buildings do not need to be retrofitted. The new Rainier Beach Community Center will meet the standards; the Bitter Lake Community Center does not need to be retrofitted.

Motion passed to authorize a letter to the Superintendent explaining the process used by earlier ordinances to convert commercial streets to "park drive and boulevard purposes" and the necessity to acquire abutters' rights. Park and green space funds may not legally be used for landscaping streets unless the use of the streets are so converted and the rights are condemned. Calling a street a boulevard does not make it such nor does beautifying it with a median or shade trees. A park boulevard has to have a servitude for pleasure walking or driving and restricts commercial uses. Ordinance 123027 falls short.

Motion passed to authorize a letter to the Superintendent submitting literature and website references on the hazards and problems of using synthetic turf for his consideration as invited in response to a question of a community representative in the paragraph captioned "Toxic Turf?" above.

Meeting Highlights - July 23, 2009 (These highlights are based on the editor's notes, they are not official minutes. Statements are approximations.)

President's Report:

The Planning Commission and the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) recommended rejection of all amendments to the Comprehensive Plan that were made by citizen groups, including the proposal of the Federation on light pollution. The Planning Commission and DPD both said that it should be rejected because it set up a working group to carry out the policy statement; Council staff said other means are available. They also rejected requests for amendments to the plan to provide for open government and public disclosure supported by the Federation.

The City Auditor published her report on the District Council system on June 22nd, which found that:

(1) Taking policy positions by District Councils on City issues undermined their primary purpose of networking and problem solving and led to divisiveness;

(2) The City's involvement in district council governance, especially in promoting diversity, contributed to conflict; and (3) The City is not carrying out some of its responsibilities. It recommended that the City should: Clarify whether the district council system should pass down information or "offer policy opinions."

[Ed's question: why not both?]; Rename "district council" as "neighborhood council;" Provide more guidelines; Set standards for ranking projects, Define the City's role in their governance and conduct of meetings, Condition City support on compliance; Specify City support; and provide for retention of records. Some cities only help organize neighborhood councils; others provide each district council a substantial appropriation ($37,000 each in St. Paul, $300,000 in Portland; $500,000 in Honolulu; $1.5 million in Minneapolis.) An appendix contains reviews. Those from South East Seattle reflect a conflict between those wanting district councils to be conduits for informing citizens about City Hall programs and those who also want to pass grass roots opinion up the City chain.

The Federation sent letters to the City on amendments to the enabling legislation for residential parking zones and on the Pedestrian Master Plan, and to the Hearing Examiner on amendments to the Children's Hospital Master Plan.

The City Council has under advisement the Mayor's proposals for "Cottage Housing" (i.e. DADU's) in single family residential zoning. In South East Seattle, DADU's are really two story buildings in back and side yards. The owner/occupancy requirement is not enforced. Neighbors have no input in permitting.

Housing Levy: The Federation declined to take a position on the Housing Levy at the November general election. Many Community Councils were in recess or had taken no individual positions.

Children's Hospital (Childrens): The Hearing Examiner held a consolidated hearing on the Major Institution Master Plan and DPD's Revised Final Environmental Impact Statement. ("RFEIS") on July 14-15. Counsel for Laurelhurst, Peter Eglick, presented the community case effectively. City witnesses waffled under his cross-examination. Impartial observers said that Laurelhurst presented the better case. The decision will come in August. [Ed's note: The Hearing Examiner recommended that the City Council deny the proposed amendment to the Master Plan, but upheld the RFEIS. Children's Hospital is asking the City Council to disregard the Hearing Examiner's recommendation.]

Magnuson Park: The University of Washington is proposing to use part of the area acquired for educational purposes for student and staff housing. The approved plan limited housing to 200 units; Lorig Associates and the City are seeking to raise the limit.

Business Meeting, Federation Potluck, August 8, 2009

Sharples School: The Seattle School Board will name a new school after early Seattle educator Casper W. Sharples. When remodeled, it renamed Sharples Middle School after Aki Kurose.

Motion passed to send a letter to appropriate authorities supporting the naming.

Washington Coalition For Open Government (WCOG): The Federation is a support organization of the WCOG, a broadly based non-partisan organization intent on preserving and protecting the people's right to know in the conduct of the public's business. It has a website, www.washingtoncog.org and engages in public advocacy, files friend of the court briefs, sponsors informational seminars and forums.

Motion passed to contribute $100 to WCOG.

NOAA Lake Union Headquarters: The NOAA national headquarters has announced that NOAA will be moving its Lake Union activities to Newport, Oregon. Our U.S. Senators, the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, the City, and others announced that they will oppose the move. Motion passed to join them in opposing this move.

Health Care Reform: Motion passed to support federal single payer health care. (4 for; 3 opposed, 1 abstained; and 1 not participating

The Seattle Times, Sunday, September 6, 2009, carried an obituary notice that JoAnn Storey had died on August 27, 2009.

Federation and Queen Anne Community Council stalwart JoAnn Storey had been active in the Seattle Community Council Federation for many years as a representative of the Queen Anne Community Council and took a leading role in the 1980's and 1990's in seeking to limit aircraft noise over Seattle and in opposing construction of a Third Runway at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. We greatly appreciate her contributions to our cause in attending a long series of meetings under the Port's mediation program, speaking out at public hearings, telling the community of the many adverse environmental impacts, and getting letters to the authorities. She will be sadly missed.

Josephine Ann Oass Storey, elder daughter of Alfred and Josephine Oass, passed away on August 27, 2009, in Seattle, WA. She was buried at Calvary Cemetery next to her husband of 47 years, Bernard J. Storey on August 31st. Born November 9, 1921 in Bremerton, Washington, JoAnn moved to Seattle where she graduated from the University of Washington in 1943 with a degree in Journalism. She was a member of Theta Sigma Phi, a professional journalism honorary, and Alpha Chi Omega Sorority. While attending the University of Washington, JoAnn met Bernard Storey, an engineering student. They married in Bremerton in 1948. While Bernard pursued his career as an engineer for Boeing, JoAnn was a journalist at the Seattle Post Intelligencer and Queen Anne News. As a journalist and community activist, JoAnn worked doggedly to resolve long-term legal battles in the Seattle area including the controversy surrounding the Interbay Golf Course and its driving range, relocation of the Interbay Animal Shelter, and protection of Seattle's Green Belts. JoAnn quickly developed a reputation for doing whatever it took to champion her cause, whether it was telephoning Seattle City Council members, going door-to-door to enlist the support of neighbors, or writing articles and letters to the editor for publication in the local newspapers. She was also a member of the Queen Anne Community Council, head of the Rental Home Owners Association (RHOA), chair of her Seattle precinct, and active in supporting fundraisers for local food banks and the Rotary Club. Through her community activism, JoAnn made many life-long friends in the Women in Communications, Neumann House, Sons of Norway, and The League of Women Voters. She enjoyed the friendships she cultivated through her hobbies including bridge, golf, entertaining, and gardening. But mostly, she thrived on family gatherings at her home on Queen Anne Hill and at her beach property in Normandy Park. She is survived by four children: John and Pam of Seattle, Melissa Storey of Bellevue; and Paul Storey of Sacramento, California. Also surviving are two grandchildren, McKinley and Jordan Storey of Bellevue; a sister, Virginia Steffensen of Chapel Hill, North Carolina; three nephews, a niece, and eight grand-nieces and grand-nephews.

Sign Jo Ann's on-line Guest Book at www.Legacy.com

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Seattle's Open (sort-of) Government

An article, “Seattle City Council is Not as Committed to Open Government as it Claims,” appeared in the August 4, 2009 Seattle Times, and is available at http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2009592681_guest04leman.html
The author, Chris Leman, can be reached at cleman@oo.net
A March 1, 2009 radio interview with Leman on KBCS provides further background about the City Council and open government: http://bellevuecollege.edu/kbcs/downloads/One_World_Report/OWR_20090226/OWR_20090226_Open_Government_PMHT.mp3.

A February 24, 2009 Seattle Community Council Federation letter to the City Council’s Special Committee on Open Government is available at http://seattlefederation.blogspot.com/2009_03_01_archive.html

The next meeting of this City Council committee is Friday, August 7, 2009 at 2 p.m. in the City Council chambers, second floor of City Hall at 601 Fifth Avenue in downtown Seattle. The agenda, which includes a 2 p.m. public comment period, is available at http://seattle.gov/council/agendasc/opengov.pdf

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


SEATTLE COMMUNITY COUNCIL FEDERATION
Regular Meeting
NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency), Pacific Marine Center on Lake Union
1801 Fairview Avenue East
http://seattlefederation.blogspot.com/
Thursday, July 23, 2009

AGENDA

A Dialogue with Parks Superintendent Tim Gallagher


Seattle Parks and Recreation is committed to maintaining safe and welcoming environments and offering programming and services that are relevant neighbors. So, how is the Parks Department doing? Are the needs of your community being addressed? Is the Department responsive to your concerns regarding the many issues that arise? The Department’s Strategic Action Plan establishes a vision and guide for decision-making for a five-year period. How is it working? How are things progressing with passage of the 2008 Parks and Green Spaces Levy? Is the synthetic turf policy appropriate for our parks? These are a sampling of the issues that will be addressed with featured guest Parks Superintendent Tim Gallagher at the July Federation meeting.

The July meeting will also include our monthly Round Robin of issues and projects in your neighborhood. It is your opportunity to brief our citywide membership about what you are working on and to share perceptions on what is going right and what isn’t with our city government.

If you have informational materials you would like distributed at the meeting, please email electronic copies or links to Jeannie Hale at jeannieh@serv.net.

7:00 Call to Order and Introductions

Administration
1. Changes to the agenda
2. Treasurer’s report
3. President’s report

7:15 Round Robin
1. Neighborhood Planning Advisory Committee—Update
2. Proposed Comprehensive Plan Amendments—Update
3. Should the Federation take a position on the Housing Levy?
4. Other issues/projects

8:00 A Dialogue with Parks Superintendent Tim Gallagher

9:00 Adjourn

NOAA is a federal facility on high security alert, so attendees must enter by the security gate and may need to present photo ID. If you haven't attended a recent Federation meeting, please send your name, contact information, and address to rickbarrett@gmail.com to be added to the entry list. No e-mail? Call 206-365-1267. The building is ADA compliant, with ample parking in front.

Monday, July 6, 2009

INVITE: Status Check: How is your Neighborhood Doing? Meeting series hosted by the Seattle Planning Commission & Neighborhood Planning Advisory Committee.

Note - At our June Federation meeting we heard from two neighborhoods that have just completed this process. They report that their perception is that the City is apparently attempting to ignore/revise existing Neighborhood Plans. Since then we have received another message on this subject from a third neighborhood: “The neighborhood plan updating process is already under way in three neighborhoods: North Beacon Hill, North Rainier Valley, and Othello/New Holly. Two rounds of community meetings have been held in each of these three neighborhoods. The city is now expanding the program with a round of meetings in several other areas of the city. Some of us with an interest in our neighborhoods have found the process challenging. Meetings are called but with no agenda included. Weeks pass in between meetings with no feedback received from the City. The [new] process appears to be the opposite of what we experienced in the 1990's -- top-down and City-driven as opposed to bottom-up and neighborhood driven."

Your Neighborhood needs to be represented at these meetings.
Please attend with a copy of your Neighborhood Plan and be prepared to defend it.


REMINDER - The meeting for Lake City, Aurora/Licton Springs, Broadview - Bitter Lake - Haller Lake, University Community is scheduled for Wednesday July 8th from 6-8 p.m. Northgate Community Center 10510 5th Ave. N

Materials for this meeting are now available for viewing on-line at http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/Planning/Neighborhood_Planning/StatusReports

For those who cannot attend check out our virtual on-line meeting and take our quick questionnaire to make sure your voice is heard. Click here to watch a brief video, view your neighborhood summary and take the questionnaire!!!
http://www.cityofseattle.net/planningcommission/
More Neighborhoods are coming soon...so keep checking back


Please join members of the Seattle Planning Commission and the Neighborhood Planning Advisory Committee in the first of a series of two important community meetings.

These two citizen groups want to hear your thoughts. Come and tell us how your neighborhood has changed since your neighborhood plan was adopted. Your comments and input at this meeting will help the City of Seattle complete a status report that will look at how well your neighborhood plan is achieving its goals and strategies.

This first series of meetings will provide an opportunity to learn about your neighborhood plan, the projects that have been implemented, and growth and changes that have occurred since the plan was written in the late 90's. We will explore issues such as growth, transportation, housing, economic development , basic utilities, neighborhood character, open space and parks, public services, public safety, and other issues.

The second meeting series, tentatively scheduled for October, will be an opportunity to review the status report.

Dates and locations for Series One - Neighborhood Status Report Updates. Join the meeting that includes your community

June 22nd
For Queen Anne, Belltown, Eastlake, Capitol Hill, First Hill, Pike/Pine
6-8 p.m.
South Lake Union Armory 860 Terry Ave N.

July 8th
For Lake City, Aurora/Licton Springs, Broadview - Bitter Lake - Haller Lake, University Community
6-8 p.m.
Northgate Community Center 10510 5th Ave. NE

July 23rd
For Greenwood/Phinney, Crown Hill & Ballard, Fremont, Wallingford, Green Lake
6-8 p.m.
Phinney Neighborhood Center 6532 Phinney Ave. N

July 27th
For Central Area (Madison-Miller, 23rd & Union - Jackson and 12th Avenue), Columbia City - Hillman City - Genesee, Rainier Beach
6-8 p.m
Rainier Community Center Gym 4600 38th Ave. S

July 28th
For Admiral, West Seattle Junction, Morgan Junction, Delridge, Westwood/Highland Park, Georgetown
6-8 p.m
Delridge Community Center Gym 4501 Delridge Way SW

With questions please contact Planning Commission staff at (206) 684-8694 or mail to katie.sheehy@seattle.gov

Barbara E. Wilson
Seattle Planning Commission
Executive Director
(206) 684-0431
mail to: Barb.wilson@seattle.gov

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

2nd working draft 04/16/09
The Seattle Citizens' Guide
to
What One Can Do On One's Land

Glossary
for
understanding the talk about zoning issues


Credit: Denver, where growing citizens is the first order of business
http://www.newcodedenver.org/rezoning/page/why-how-and-when

Areas of Change—in Seattle —designated urban centers, industrial centers and urban village are the places where new investment would be the most beneficial, and increased density and change of use is appropriate.

Areas of Stability—in Seattle—are all the established residential neighborhoods outside of designated villages and centers where reinvestment and change will occur while the density and type of use will remain largely as it is, unless otherwise designated by a Council adopted neighborhood plan.

Articulated, Articulation mean clear and distinct expression of the joinery or various construction elements of a building in a way that enriches the sense of the whole as experienced by the pedestrian. Traditional buildings acknowledge pedestrian speed with flat wall planes quietly articulated.

Context is the elements which, taken together, comprise a built environment. Context elements include street, block, and lot patterns, as well as land use, and building form and scale.

Context-based Zoning derives zoning regulations from the desirable attributes or development characteristics of existing neighborhoods or planned places (i.e., the "context").

Density is the permitted concentration of residential units in an area of land, or the permitted ratio of building size to land area when there are additional uses or uses other than residential units.

Design Departure—in Seattle— is a formal request to depart from one or more development standards (see) listed in the zoning code as a standard from which, and in consideration of separately published design guidelines (see design standards), departure is allowed. The review process varies depending on the size of the project.

Design Standards are requirements that set a development's appearance and its visual and functional relation to existing or future neighbors. If the word standards is used they are considered development standards (see) and must be as objective as possible. Design requirements associated with conditional approval should be identified as the criteria upon which the conditional approval would be based. Occasionally Seattle has listed conditional criteria within the zoning code, currently it uses separately published design guidelines for discretionary decision-making when projects exceed certain size thresholds and for design departure requests (see).

Development Standards comprise all the requirements that if followed in total and to the letter will result in the issuance of a building permit “as of right,” meaning one has a legal right to that assumption.

Flexible is the opposite of predictable, which is a primary objective of zoning. Odd as it may seem, nature includes zoning codes, so zoning codes need a simple way to protect DNA yet allow change. The measure of a good code is the grace with which it accomplishes both.

Form-Based Zoning emphasizes regulation of building "form" (versus just "use") to assure a building's general shape, massing, height and orientation positively contribute to the existing or desired neighborhood context.

Mixed Use Zoning allows mixing of different land uses, such as residential, retail and office, either in the same building or in the same district/area.

Predictable refers to the primary objective of zoning as in “consistent, predictable, and clear” so as to promote community reinvestment by providing a public form of investment security, especially for those whose primary investment is a home or small business property.

Principles of Zoning are the same two fundamentals of democracy that guide all areas of governmental decision-making—equal protection and due process. All else is technique. Equal protection means equal treatment of persons similarly situated so that a citizen can reasonably predict what the public response will be to his private acts. Due process means a layman is readily able to check the consistency or irresponsibility of public decisions in specific cases.

Rezoning is an action of the City Council to amend the zoning map designation of a property or area, either “upzoning” if the designation is toward more intense development, or “downzoning” if the action is toward less intensity.

Sustainable refers to the long-term social, economic and environmental health of a community.

Transparent means easy to understand, patently fair and obvious.

Transparency, associated with walkable communities, is the total glazed area located on a street-facing story of a building, usually the ground story, divided by the total wall area of that street-facing story.

Multi-Modal refers to giving travelers more choices than simply using their cars, such as rail and bus transit, car pools, walking, biking, and shuttle service.

Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) aims regulation of land use and design at beautiful, vital, walkable, and affordable new or recycled urban neighborhoods that provide housing, shopping and transportation choices as well as access to the region's jobs, government centers, healthcare facilities and cultural and recreational destinations.

Use-Based Zoning emphasizes regulating the use of buildings or land to assure compatible development within an area or district. Most zoning in the United States remains predominately use-based with mixed-use zones increasingly designated. See, in comparison, "form-based zoning."

Zoning Code is the body of local laws governing what can be built on a property, as well as how it can be used.