Community Post

Neighborhood Plan update

(Message below is from Chris Leman. He is chair of the City Neighborhood Council, [but writes here as a individual] and a seemingly full-time advocate for neighborhood issues. His grasp of the minutiae of City government is amazing. I was involved in the 1996-1998 Neighborhood Planning process, and found it very inclusive and engaging. I share his concerns about the Mayor’s proposals for updating neighborhood plans. I have highlighted some key features.

PS: this is brief, by Chris Leman standards.
PPS: many changes are underway in the CD, so we should be very interested in planning issues.
The files Chris mentions are available here)


Please be at City Hall 9 a.m. tomorrow–Thursday, July 31–and present a public comment as the City Council’s Planning, Land Use, and Neighborhoods Committee (PLUNC) considers the Mayor’s proposal to “update” neighborhood plans and station area plans.  (And whether or not you can be there, please send in a comment right away!).   Attached is the meeting agenda, and also three documents that the City Council received just todaythat contain the Mayor’s proposals.   The City Council has stood up for neighborhoods by withholding funds with a “budget proviso” as it insisted on details on how the update process would work.  But although those details are largely still absent from this latest proposal, the Council is under a lot of pressure to cave and provide the money anyway. 
The Mayor is asking that the funds be released to “review the status of the City’s existing Neighborhood Plans as well as begin updating neighborhood plans in neighborhoods where transit stations have been or will be developed, beginning with those neighborhood plans that include station areas along Martin Luther King, Jr. Way South and on Beacon Hill.”  
The station area plans (which were done with little public notice or involvement) would be updated without any assurance that the neighborhood plans where they are located would also be updated, if that is what neighborhood residents and business want (and if residents and businesses don’t want neighborhood plan updated, then it shouldn’t be).  The City Neighborhood Council’s July 10 letter [available in the “What’s New” section at ] still applies.  The executive branch is proposing  a top-down agency-run process that leaves no room for the grass-roots planning that worked so well in the 1990s.  The Mayor is opposed to allowing neighborhood planning groups the funds again to hire consultants of their own; the City Council must insist that neighborhoods that want it should be allowed to repeat this successful and nationally heralded model.   Also the proposed outreach to the general population in each neighborhood planning area and station area is very thin, with no mention of mailings, posters, etc., and with all meetings run by the Department of Neighborhoods, not by the neighborhood as was done in the past.  In fact, after more than a year of discussion, these proposals have still not been sent out to the 38 neighborhood planning stewardship groups, which should be partners in this process!  Instead, there is a lot of ideology about pushing light rail ridership and upzoning neighborhoods to reduce global warming.   There is one piece of good news.  Contrary to an earlier proposal to have the Mayor and City Council dictate membership on the proposed new Neighborhood Planning Advisory Committee, the attached resolution proposes that each of the thirteen district councils will select one representative, and they will have the majority, outnumbering the members selected by the Mayor, City Council, and Planning Commission.  This change is responsive to the City Neighborhood Council and to the many of you who wrote in.  Let’s get some further improvements in what the City Council will pass in the coming weeks!
Another topic tomorrow (see agenda) that the PLUNC committee will be discussing is the proposed “incentive zoning” under which developers would get upzoning and bigger profits if they guaranteed a certain amount of “affordable” units.  They’re now calling it the “Affordable Housing Incentive Program,” probably to hide the fact that it involves zoning changes and bigger, bulkier buildings.  The public comment period tomorrow (Thurs., July 31) starts promptly at 9 a.m. in the City Council chambers.  Whether or not you can go, please write or call the councilmembers.  Here are the address, e-mails and voice mails: Seattle City Council:  P.O. Box 34025, Seattle, WA  98124-4025    [email protected]   684-8802  [email protected]  684-8806  [email protected]  684-8808 [email protected]  684-8807 [email protected]  684-8805 [email protected]  684-8801 [email protected]  684-8804 [email protected]  684-8803 [email protected]  684-8800
The above e-mail was prepared by Chris Leman, (206) 322-5463 as an individual, and is being sent out as a public service. 


0 thoughts on “Neighborhood Plan update

  1. “Instead, there is a lot of ideology about pushing light rail ridership and upzoning neighborhoods to reduce global warming.”

    Chris, I think it’s great that you’re organizing for more public input in this process. I fully support that. But I take exception to the offhanded dismissal of the City’s agenda. Global warming is a looming catastrophe that we as a society have yet to take seriously, and light rail and upzoning are smart, appropriate city-scale responses.

  2. I think Chris’ point might be that a narrow focus on global warming and, therefore, a rubber stamp for dense development, ignores critical neighborhood characteristics and enables dense, Soviet-style development where it shouldn’t exist.

    We all know we can do more to solve GW, but the mayor’s utter fixation on claiming political credit for changing GW and outsized statements about his own impact on it are not always healthy.