As we reported last week, Volunteer Park Cafe’s application to have the zoning changed for its 17th and Galer Capitol Hill location has been turned in to the Department of Planning and Development. This Thursday, the land use bulletin was posted (both online and, per requirements, at the restaurant) and the two-week public comment period on the application has begun. CHS has reviewed VPC’s application — and a two-inch stack of support letters the cafe submitted with the application — and has details below as well as information about how you can add your support to the VPC stack, voice your concerns about allowing the change of use, or both.
We’ve included images of pages from Volunteer Park Cafe’s application here. DPD doesn’t yet provide digital copies of applications and VPC has not, yet, made the document available. If you would like to review the documents, you’ll need to make a trip downtown to the Seattle Muni building to visit DPD’s Public Resource Center. Ask for Project #3011437.
The key pages of the application for neighbors and community members who have voiced concern about the growth of the cafe contain this summary list of the 9 mitigation measures VPC is proposing to convince planners to grant the change of use:
As we noted, the DPD folder for Project #3011437 also contains a big stack of letters from the initial June plea for help from VPC sent to followers of their e-mail newsletter, posted in the cafe and published on CHS. Most are from neighbors and people from across the city lending their support and describing what they like about the cafe. There are a few hillebrities in the mix — Dave Einmo from Head Like a Kite, for example — and a few key allies. A letter from the neighbors living directly across the street from the cafe says that family does not side with the “complainants” and that they like having the restaurant on their street. We also found a letter from the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce. Director Michael Wells was brave enough to get involved in the controversial issue where neighbor rights mix with commercial development.
We talked to Wells now that the application is in and more of the neighbor complaints have been brought to light. He says he still supports the cafe. “We sent a letter of support because we obviously support what Volunteer Park is trying to do to build a healthy, sustainable business there,” Wells said. But he also is eager to see VPC work out a good solution with its neighbors.
“I’d hate to see this successful business not find a way to adapt to the concerns of the neighborhood,” Wells said.
According to Wells, the Chamber has offered to help with mediation between neighbors upset with the expanding cafe and Volunteer Park’s owners, Ericka Burke and Heather Earnhardt who are Chamber members. Wells said, so far, nobody has taken him up on the offer.
How to add your comment
Public comment on the application may be submitted to DPD through October 13th. You can submit your comments online here. Once feedback is collected, DPD planner Scott Kemp will conduct an analysis, weigh feedback and write a decision. After the decision is published, there will be another 14-day period for additional public feedback. Any appeals will be heard by the city’s hearing examiner, not DPD. DPD staff have told CHS that it will likely take months for a decision on the application. In the meantime, Volunteer Park Cafe will be able to continue to operate.