Multifamily Code Update Debates Heat Up

The Mayor is expected to submit his final Multifamily Zone Update to City Council Committee by the end of June. It will likely be a major topic of community discussion and debate for the near future.

The Central Area Neighborhood Plan (CANP) Stewardship Land Use, Open Space and Housing Committee met on May 19, 2008 at Madrona Shelterhouse

The meeting was attended by 11 people representing Madison Valley, Madison Miller, Madrona, Squire Park, and Jackson Place neighborhoods.

The group had an intense and opinionated discussion of proposed revisions to the Multi-family Land Use Code. Our discussions relied on two items: First, a document by DPD “Multifamily Code Update Examples of New Development” dated October 9, 2007. Second, attendance by two of the participants at a presentation and deliberations by the Seattle Planning Commission regarding the “Draft Multifamily Ordinance” dated December 3, 2007.

The above documents are available at:

Minutes of the May 8 Seattle Planning Commission Meeting are available at:

The presentation at the meeting is at:

Some of the key points of the proposal are:
1. Current L1 and L2 zones will be renamed LR1 and LR2. The current L3 and L4 zones will be combined into a new LR3 zone.
2. LR1 and LR2 zones will no longer require only ground related (townhouse) designs, but could include flats.
3. Private Open Space Requirements are reduced.
4. Parking Requirements are reduced in LR1 and LR2 zones.
5. The LR3 lot coverage will be calculated using Floor Area Ratios and density limits will be abandoned.
6. Building height will be increased by 5’ in LR1 and LR2 zones. Building heights in the LR3 zone will be the same as the current L3 zone, except that a building including affordable housing may have an extra floor.

There continues to be a great deal of discussion on the need for affordable housing for families; some wanted developments that can include multi-generational residents, but we need to ensure family sized units. It has been noted we lack of good open spaces and accessible garages in the current designs. Parking is a contentious issue. Ideas such as incentives for shared car parking, a moratorium on new townhouse construction and neighborhood design review of all projects were mentioned.

Currently, bad design is incentivized by the zoning code because, once a design is approved for one location, it will get through the permitting process more easily for other locations. Some thought that the proposed revisions would allow improved design.

But, most do not think that the proposed changes would address the problems of developments in the Central Area and that we would like a more dramatic set of changes that focus on increased livability. There is support for the idea that what is needed is not a rehash of a bad code whose revisions made that code worse, but rather a stop of the review process of this code and a new effort to write a new code which would be modeled to produce new housing types, i.e. bungalow courts, row houses, etc., that are well designed and fit in the existing environment.

June 2nd Councilmember Clark invited representatives from Portland, OR to present their design competition process both at a full Council briefing and at a special meeting of the City Council’s Planning, Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee. Portland took an approach of holding Design Competitions for certain housing types, establishing the ‘winners’ as pre-approved plans, and then modifying their zoning code. Portland’s presentation can be viewed in the second hour of the podcast that you can play from the following link:

In addition, Councilmember Clark is inviting the community to attend a Social Community Meeting: “Townhomes – Can the Patient be Saved”, on Saturday, June 7, 10 a.m. – noon at Capitol Hill Arts Center, 1621 12th Ave. The panel will include: representatives from the Seattle Planning Commission, DPD, a neighborhood organization, a developer and an expeditor who works for developers. CANP Stewardship and it’s Land Use, Open Space and Housing Committee hopes and encourages as many people from the Central Area attend this and as many other meeting(s) relating to this issue as possible.
For the next CANP Stewardship Land Use, Open Space and Housing Committee meeting all are invited to come and bring: a picture of a horrid multifamily development and a picture of great multifamily development from your neighborhood so we can all continue the discussion.
Next Meeting of the CANP Stewardship Land Use, Open Space and Housing Committee:
Monday June 16 at 6:30 PM
Madrona Shelterhouse, near the corner of 34th and Spring
For more information contact: [email protected]

Where Do You Live?!3{2}The Central Area?

By Adrienne W. Bailey

Where do you live? When you are asked this question, what do you say? What comes to mind first for you, your neighborhood or the community? The Central Area is a community of many unique neighborhoods, Madison Valley, Madrona, Leschi, Squire Park, Judkins, just to name a few. These and the various other neighborhoods are what makes the Central Area such a unique community. I am not saying, not to have pride in your neighborhood, just to simply have greater pride and concern for our Community of neighborhoods.

In the past when we were asked this question, we would say with pride, the Central Area or the CD. That pride in living in the Central Area, went beyond our residing in a particular neighborhood, it was our life experiences, our everyday existence, our world was the whole Central Area Community. In other words the neighborhood we resided in was secondary. Now, it has been observed when current residents are asked this same question, they say their neighborhood. Quite often the only time the Central Area is mentioned is when they are pressed as to what Community this neighborhood is a part of in Seattle. This trend of distancing ones self from the Central Area Community for the sake of their neighborhood, only weakens our Community. Thus, our ability to work together for all of our greater good of our Community.

Which bring us once again to the Central Area Neighborhood Plan and the importance of Community. We cannot afford this myopic thinking and behavior of my neighborhood first, foremost and only. With all the activity surrounding Neighborhood Planning it is imperative that all people of all the neighborhoods of the Central Area get involved with the Central Area Neighborhood Plan Stewardship.

What needs to be understood for example is that decisions involving land use codes, construction, developments and housing being made in one part of the Central Area will more than likely have if not a direct impact on other neighborhoods of the Central Area at least a residual one (see â??Central Area Neighborhood Plan (CANP) Updating Land-Use, Open Space and Housing Committeeâ??). This will affect the character of our neighborhoods, traffic impact and accumulatively flow, parking, safety and yes, the overall quality of life would be impacted.

Furthermore, in light of the most recent shooting(s), the violent loss of our young people and every ones general concerns regarding safety in our community, The Central Area Neighborhood Plan Stewardship will be having a Community Safety Forum. So mark your calendar for May 17th, 10am – 2pm at Garfield Community Center, 2323 East Cherry St (corner of 23rd & Cherry). This forum is intent to be very informative on issues like: Block Watches, Community safety activities and Emergency Preparedness. There is still time for your input, participation and we are also in need of volunteers the day of this event.

For further information contact Adrienne Bailey [email protected]. The Central Area Neighborhood Plan Stewardship meets the first Thursday of the month 6:00pm at Garfield Community Center, 2323 East Cherry St (corner of 23rd & Cherry).

Central Area Neighborhood Plan (CANP) Updating

By Kathryn Keller and Marty Liebowitz

The Madrona neighborhood is included in the CANP. That plan is being updated by the Central Area Neighborhood Plan Stewardship of the Central Area Neighborhood District Council. The Land-Use committee concerns itself with properly representing the goals and aspirations of the Central Area community in updating several sections of the Neighborhood Plan which deal with Comprehensive Planning, Land Use and Zoning codes, Sustainability, and design guideline overlays for the different neighborhoods of the Central Area Community. The Land-Use, Open Space and Housing Committee is attempting to have as broad a participation of neighborhood views in our discussions as possible so that other committeeâ??s work is transparent, open, and inclusive.

Items on the draft 2008 Action Agenda include:
1. Response and outreach to citizens regarding the Multi-Family land use code update proposal now under review by the Seattle City Council.

2. Review the 2008 Comprehensive Plan amendments, one of which is titled Affordable Housing Strategies.

3. Develop any desired Central Area 2009 Comp Plan Amendments.

4. Update and take steps to enact Central Area Design Review policies, and include a Central Area Overlay District in the Seattle Land Use Code.

Neighborhood Plan Update Preparation Activities Include:
1. Understand current 2008 zoning and land use realities, and identify gaps with the CANP
2. Collaborate with the Economic Development and Transportation and Arterial efforts/committees.
3. Determine updates that are required immediately that may be handled as separate City Council actions.
4. Determine the agenda for the Land Use, Open Space, and Housing updates, that will be done within the framework of the CANP update process.

Please contact Kathryn Keller ([email protected]) or Marty Liebowitz ([email protected]) for dates and times of the Committee meetings.

Central Area Neighborhood Plan Stewardship

October 15, 2007
By Adrienne Bailey

The Central Area Neighborhood Plan Stewardship is looking for members of our community to help update, amend and make additions to our Neighborhood Plan. The Central Area Neighborhood Plan was adopted in 1998 to address our goals and desired growth and development of our community. According to the Cityâ??s Comprehensive Plan (Comp Plan) â??. . . neighborhood planning groups proposed specific improvements for their neighborhoods, and many of these recommendations have been incorporated into the work programs of City departments.â??

The Stewardship is meant to: Coordinate activities, ensuring collaboration and eliminate cross purposes, provide a forum for residents, community councils, other grass-root groups and organizations and business owners to act together on issues important to the future of the Central Area, like our quality of life and to keep track of zoning and other developments that can affect it. Taking ownership of what takes place in our community is imperative and your input to our Neighborhood Plan is needed, so we can document and bring our concerns and issues to the cityâ??s attention. Weâ??ve already missed one opportunity, lets make sure we donâ??t miss any more.

In 2004 as required by the GMA (Growth Management Act) the city adopted a series of amendments to its Comp Plan extending the 10-year review period of the plan from 2014 to 2024. Prior to updating the Cityâ??s Comp Plan, there was no effort to update the Neighborhood Plans, we were only asked to prioritize it. Quite a bit has transpired since our plan was adopted in 1998, there is a great need for our plan to reflect these changes and make it more consistent with the Comp Plan. Without updating our Neighborhood Plan, some portions and/or aspects of the information in the Cityâ??s Comp Plan relating to our Neighborhood Planning either are obsolete, completed or missing more vital and relevant information. With all the development taking place in other parts of the city it is time for the residents of the Central Area become pro-active in making the city aware and accountable to our goals, concerns and desires.

The updating, amending and making additions to our Neighborhood Plan, will be done by the committees formed under the Central Area Stewardship. Those committees will be related to, but not limited to the following issues that are in our current Plan: Land Use and Open Space (zoning), Urban Design (streetscapes, public art), Economic Development (development and revitalization of business nodes, job creation, employment, workforce development), Housing (housing diversity, home ownership, market rate housing, gentrification), Transportation (pedestrian safety, traffic flow, neighborhood streets), Human Development (youth, community building and safety, health, education) and Infrastructure (maintenance, water service, drainage, electrical, telecommunications). Under the Stewardship these various committees will collaboratively write up the updates, additions and amendments to be submitted to city council in accordance to the amendment process and then monitor the progress of the actions taken on our Neighborhood Plan. There is be plenty of opportunities for all to get involved and participate at whatever capacity you chose. So, come make your voice heard in making a difference in our community. For more information or to express your interest you may email Adrienne Bailey at [email protected].

Central Area Neighborhood Plan Stewardship meets at 6pm, the first Thursday of the month at Garfield Community Center (2323 E. Cherry St.)

Growth, Development and Quality of Life

By Adrienne W. Bailey

What is the Neighborhood Plan & A Little Background
The Central Area Neighborhood Plan (CANP)was adopted in 1998 by City Council as city ordinance # 119216 which addresses the goals, desires and aspirations for the Central Areaâ??s growth and development. It is the communityâ??s Comprehensive Plan (Comp Plan). According to the Cityâ??s Comprehensive Planâ??. . . neighborhood planning groups proposed specific improvements for their neighborhoods, and many of these recommendations have been incorporated into the work programs of City departments.â??

The Cityâ??s Comp Plan which was adopted the Comp Plan in 1994 in response to the state Growth Management Act of 1990 (GMA) â??addressing effects of growth on transportation and other City facilitiesâ??. The GMA requires full community involvement and participation in Comp plans, which was done via Neighborhood Planning. As per the GMA the Cityâ??s Comp Plan is to be reviewed and updated. In 2004 the city asked the various Neighborhood Plan groups, organizations, District Councils and other community groups and organizations to give the city a prioritized list of what they want for their community. We, the communities were asked to use our Neighborhood Plans without our being able to update our Neighborhood Plans. Therefore the information in the Cityâ??s Comp Plan relating to our Neighborhoods either is obsolete, completed or missing more vital and relevant information. After Neighborhood Planning was moved to Department of Planning and Development (DPD), many Neighborhood Planning groups and organizations continuously asking the cityâ??s assistance in updating and amending. Then (Neighborhood Planning groups and organizations) noticed that many developers were using the Cityâ??s annual amendment process to change our Neighborhood Plans to suit their developments many of them were doing this without coming to the community they will affect. Many communities and neighborhoods became more enraged and adamant about updating and amending their Neighborhood Plans. Then finally an audit of Neighborhood Plans was done this year, which confirming the need for Neighborhood Plans to be revised be it in the form of updating and amending and in some neighborhoods who now want a Neighborhood Plan, create one.

In walks the Mayor and his proposal, he has now stepped into the fray by presenting his proposed budget, process and timeline for updating Neighborhood Plans. The executive (Mayor) anticipates that Neighborhood Plans will â??result in strategies (not specific projects or solutions) that realize citywide goals, objectives and policies at the local level.â?? Regardless of communityâ??s opposition and/or input the Mayor has stayed consistent, in his ploy to â??formalized and standardizeâ?? the plans, and essentially turn the plans over to city staff. According to this proposal the updating of the Plans is to be done by sector at a time, one per year with the community meeting approximately 2-3 meetings per neighborhood, and 1-2 per sector during this span year.

Where do we go from now?
Out of respect for the tremendous amount of work, hours and efforts the community people put into creating our Neighborhood Plan, we need to take ownership, the initiative and start the necessary work to update and amend our Neighborhood Plan now. The most important thing to realize is that we donâ??t have to wait for the City to update and amend our Neighborhood Plan. There is an annual amendment process we can do right now. Everyone in the Central Area needs to step up, get involved, start attending, participating in the CANP Stewardship meeting(s) and sign up for and help form the various committees that correspond with the elements in the CANP. Start editing, amending, updating and adding to our Neighborhood Plan. So that by the time the City has selected us to start their process we will already have what we want in place. In the interest of having some kind of control over the quality of our lives we need to be proactive and insist on this process being neighborhood-driven, not City-driven. Currently there is work being done relating to a couple of committees, Housing, Land Use and building codes and Human Development. Under the Human Development element we are planning a Community Safety event and in need of you skills, abilities and time (more later). The updating, amending and making additions to our Neighborhood Plan, will be done by the committees formed under the CANP Stewardship. The committees are related to, but not limited to the following elements: Land Use and Open Space, Urban Design, Economic Development, Housing, Transportation, Human Development and Infrastructure, in the interest of efficiency some of these elements may be combined.

Here is a brief overview of an element of the Central Area Neighborhood Plan, which includes a youth program we want to re-create and expand and the event mentioned earlier we are planning. Perhaps looking at the aforementioned elements the overview of the following element youâ??ll see something that ignites your passion for our community to the point that you attend the next CANP Stewardship meeting.

Human Development:
Of the most important aspects of this element is the investment in our future, which are the youth of the Central Area and in building our community. Encourage community-building opportunities, mutual community relationships and partnerships that demonstrate, respects and value of the African American heritage of the Central Area and welcomes the diversity the new residents of recent years bring with them. To Promote empowerment for our Central Area youth a pilot program of creating a Central Area Youth Advisory Council was done last year. These youth met with another countyâ??s youth commissioners and we are looking for community people to help re-create, expand it to give our youth a means to voice their concerns, wants and need, work and communicate with other community councils, groups, organizations and have a representation on the Central Area District Council.

Work with job skill training and entrepreneurial programs and help locate and create opportunities for the people of Central Area to find gainful employment and/or to start businesses. Expand and improve public safety education for the neighborhoods, as well as improve community and police relationships.

There is another opportunity for people to get involved and participate. We are working with Seattle Police Department, Parks and Recreation and Department of Neighborhoods to have a Community Safety Forum. The primary groups we are targeting for this event are the many Block Watches of the Central Area and people who want to start a Block Watch. Many Block Watches have informally helped of neighborhoods form their own Block Watch and shared information with other already formed Block Watches. It has been said that there is a need for an event where all the Block Watches and those who are interested in starting a Block Watch can come together share and exchange best practices. That is what we are planning for this event along with emergency preparedness and other issues related to community safety. We are looking to attract as many if not all of the Block Watches in the Central Area and other people interested in getting involved in Community Safety, wanting to help plan and implement this event.

It is imperative for all of us to come together, business and property owners, community groups and organizations of the Central Area especially all residents old and new regardless of socioeconomic status, setting aside our perceptions of who we or our neighbors are, our perspective of our status in comparison of our neighbors, shift our focus to and start working together for the mutual greater good of our community and our quality of life.

Going forward the CANP Stewardship hopes to submit regular explanations about the elements of the CANP, updates, what is going on in the committees as they grow and participation increases and other information related to our community and the CANP to this and other Community Council newsletters along with any other modes of communication to keep the community informed.

CANP Stewardship meets the first Thursday of the month, 6pm, at Garfield Community Center (2323 E. Cherry St.) unless otherwise noted. If you are interested in receiving meeting announcements send your request to [email protected], put â??CANP Stewardshipâ?? in the subject.

Link to Central Area Neighborhood Plan:
Link to Neighborhood Plan Audit:
Link to Cityâ??s Comprehensive Plan: