Regardless of their motivations, more than 130 people who live, work, go to school or otherwise affiliate with Capitol Hill showed up at the Cal Anderson Shelterhouse Thursday night because they gave a damn. More than 80 of those people gave enough of a damn to vote to keep a community process some four years in the making on the tracks by approving two appointees to the group formed to represent the Capitol Hill Community Council and the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce in discussions with Sound Transit for the transit oriented development of some 100,000 square feet of prime Broadway real estate owned by the agency.
Council president set a positive tone for what would at times be a fracturous process to arrive at a vote. Calling the turnout “more than amazing,” Bakan said, “What we say here echoes across the city.”
Following Wednesday night’s approval of the appointments, architect John Akamatsu, and writer Lisa Kothari will continue to represent the council as part of the Capitol Hill Champion group.
For more on the issues behind Thursday night’s vote, CHS’s coverage from earlier this week: Groups looking to limit Capitol Hill development pick fight over Broadway height
On the other side of the equation, more than 40 people voted against each confirmation. Some said they objected to the manner in which the council had appointed the Akamatsu and Kothari. Others voiced uncertainty about the motivations and actions to represent the community.
“This is a disagreement about policy and procedure,” said a man who identified himself as Pat Thompkins who was a frequent speaker and challenger of the appointees during the Thursday night session. “There’s really been a question of due diligence.”
CHS’s reported earlier this week on the objections raised in emails circulated by the grassroots Capitol Hill Coalition and Reasonable Density Seattle groups to the appointees and the Champion process. Citing fears of an expansion of the station’s possible 85-foot zoning to the rest of the Hill, the emails argued that community members should go to Thursday’s meeting to vote against the confirmations and make a stand against the “upzoning” of Capitol Hill.
Thursday’s council meeting went about as smoothly as one could hope with more than 130 participants in a format that often includes 30 to 40 attendees. This year’s president of the council Seattle Gay News publisher Bakan did his best to keep the session moving forward despite procedural objections from neighborhood activist Dennis Saxman.
Bakan also reminded everybody in attendance that there will be more opportunities for public feedback on the Capitol Hill Station development process soon as the City Council moves toward a springtime vote on legislation outlining its final agreement with Sound Transit on the project. “There will be more discussions to come,” Bakan said. That vote will, of course, involve public sessions of the City Council and the opportunity for public testimony on the development plan. The Urban Design Framework created by the city to capture community priorities for the development will inform the final package.
The community process to shape the development around the light rail station that is planned to open in 2016 dates back for years. Below, we’ve provided a selection of past CHS coverage of Capitol Hill Station development.
- 3/25/09 Light Rail TOD Forum Recap
- 8/06/09 Sound Transit approves cash for Cap Hill light rail station fighter jets
- 9/10/09 Why Saturday’s design charrette is so important
- 1/13/10 Shaping Capitol Hill’s light rail station: 8 recommendations
- 5/23/10 Group solidifies to represent community in light rail station development process
- 7/24/10 Another community group joins the Capitol Hill light rail station development fray
- 8/2/10 Community space in Capitol Hill light rail station gets another push
- 8/05/10 Nagle’s light rail future: year-round market, pedestrian only Denny
- 10/13/10 Gay TOD: A vision for an LGBT center in Capitol Hill light rail station development
- 5/10/11 Shaping Broadway Station: City publishes proposal for light rail development document
- 5/18/11 Broadway light rail station plan will need to meld community wants with ‘fair market value’
- 5/16/11 With a splash of champagne, tunneling to Capitol Hill begins
- 5/29/11 Area near Capitol Hill light rail station could become an EcoDistrict
- 6/28/11 City Council, Sound Transit working on Broadway station development agreement
- 7/08/11 Adventure beneath your feet: What to watch for as Hill’s light rail tunneling begins
- 9/14/11 ’With strings attached’ — Hearing on development of Broadway Station property
- 10/26/11 Hopes for a (really tall?) LGBTQ civic center grow at Capitol Hill’s light rail station
- 6/18/12 A ‘kick start’ for Capitol Hill Station as light rail development process takes shape
- 9/27/12 Capitol Hill Station development: 10 questions (and answers) from the crowd
- 9/13/12 Capitol Hill Station development: 85′ high, 400+ units, $40 million
- 10/23/12 Capitol Hill Station development: The unauthorized LGBTQ edition
- 1/8/13 School has work cut out for it putting light rail land to use for 105-foot Broadway tower
- 2/13/13 Are you a Capitol Hill Champion? Group hiring organizer to aid station development process
- 2/20/13 Groups looking to limit Capitol Hill development pick fight over Broadway height
There were a few laughs along the way — including this question to the appointees about whether they were, indeed, “in the pocket” of developers: