Public feedback wanted on plan to ‘pedestrianize’ street near Capitol Hill park

A member of the Unpaving Paradise group preparing to help break ground at the parking lot where Summit Slope Park stands today (Image: CHS)

A member of the Unpaving Paradise group preparing to help break ground at the parking lot where Summit Slope Park stands today (Image: CHS)

Meeting notice - Screenshot via City of Seattle

Summit Slope Park debuted in 2011. Now it’s time to finish it.

The Capitol Hill Community Council is proposing $219,000 allocated from the City’s Opportunity Fund go towards a streetscape redesign of John Street between Summit, and Olive to complement and expand the Summit park and p-patch.

The effort to “pedestrianize” the street was part of the original plans for the park as ideas coalesced in 2009.

Locals will be able to give their two cents on how this can be accomplished at a Tuesday night meeting hosted by Parks and Rec at the Capitol Hill Library running from 6:30pm – 7:45pm. And, at least one green-thumbed neighbor is already excited by the idea.

“We’re pretty jazzed that the Parks Department is finally beginning planning on the potential of expanding Summit Slope Park,” said Dotty DeCoster, site coordinator for Summit Slope community group Unpaving Paradise.

The meeting will open up the “opportunity for you to provide input on adding more green space in the street right-of-way and comment on changing traffic and parking on a short portion of E. John Street,” Karen O’Conner of Seattle Parks said.

After the park’s opening in 2011 traffic became a concern but it was skateboarders who were the culprit. Now that the skateboarding has been calmed, the community council is ready to work on the street.

The CHCC application says the group wishes to reshape the short portion of E John St, tone down the traffic and turn the “hostile” streetscape of E John “into a greenstreet.” Their application to the City expands on their plans to take over the garden:

We will do this by removing parking and narrowing the street, making E. John St. one-way eastbound and designating it as a festival street so that it can easily be closed down and used for community events. We will use the money from the opportunity fund to add three major features to the park. First is a 10-foot wide bioswale, which aligns well with the city goal of urban sustainability. We will also build a green connection from the park to E. Olive Way, incorporating community artwork and native plants. This will increase access to the park and add a valuable amenity to the retail district. Finally we will add garden space. Much of this garden space will be dedicated as a giving garden with the produce grown to be donated to local food banks.

Only in the preliminary stages, the parks department will gather public feedback before finalizing the plan. Can’t make it out? DeCoster encourages you to join in the civic process via email.

“We really hope lots of people make it to the meeting and/or send comments to the Parks Department during the next few weeks.”

You can email your comments to Rick Nishi at: rick.nishi@seattle.gov

Public Meeting

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

6:30 – 7:45 p.m.

Capitol Hill Branch Library

2nd Floor Meeting Room

425 Harvard Ave E

Seattle, WA 98102

26 thoughts on “Public feedback wanted on plan to ‘pedestrianize’ street near Capitol Hill park

    • “Now that the skateboarding has been calmed, the community council is ready to work on the street.” And just how did they calm the skateboarding? Are there some very very stoned skaters being held in a secret safe room? Skateboarding doesn’t hurt the community, it brings the community… bring it…

  1. They should just close John Street all together west of the alley. But I do think that the newly created space should be something the public can use, not more p-patches for just one person’s individual use. How about another picnic table and grill? P-patches are lovely, but they are not “community amenities” they are community spaces that get assigned for a single person’s use.

    • You should visit the P-patch on Bellevue Ave E, behind the Starbucks. It is pretty much exactly what you said a P-patch is not. We don’t own anything there, and we visit it a lot. Maybe you didn’t know, but they aren’t just for single-person use. A person is responsible for a space and may grow what they want and what grows is theirs, but you, I, and anybody else can visit – just like any park anywhere else.

      • I live across the street, so I’m pretty familiar with it. I know I can visit, but I think that some space for grilling or laying out would be of more interest to a non-gardener than say, watching people’s vegetables grow. The p-patch folks do a great job though keeping up the park, and I agree, it is pretty. It’s just that the space isn’t available for general use, other than “viewing”. Not a knock on the p-patch, but I would like more space for other folks.

  2. That very-short stretch of E John St. serves no real function and gets very little traffic. Since the parking is to be eliminated, why not just completely eliminate the street itself?

  3. The P-patch at Summit & John is very pleasant (I wish I had gotten in on it when space was available). The short stretch of John St. is a handy short-cut from Olive to Bellevue Ave East, allowing you to bypass the intersection at Bellevue & Denny, but the idea of expanding the p-patch and park would bring a different benefit to the neighborhood.

  4. I think that this is a great idea and would add a lot to the neighborhood. There are other ways to bypass the Bellevue/Denny intersection – just go a block north to Thomas. I hope that it becomes a reality.

  5. I still have mixed feelings about that lot. Even though it was a money grubbing jerk of a contractor running the lot, it was valuable parking for folks who can’t afford to live on the hill to come up and patronize our bars and restaurants.

    The P-Patch is pretty, but what grows there only benefits the few people to whom the plot belongs. Why not close the entire street and provide simple grassy areas so more folks can enjoy the park? I’d suggest a water feature, but I’ve seen too many soapsuds in the ones we used to have around the hood.

  6. So glad to hear the positive comments about closing the street. I’m a gardener in the P-Patch and think closing John west of the alley access is the best option.
    I agree with most of you that the new space should be used for more public seating areas, I didn’t even think of a new grill, but that would be fabulous. Some of us were discussing the option for a community herb garden- a planting area that anyone in the area can add to and enjoy for home cooking needs. And if you’re worried about upkeep of a communal gardening area, I can assure you that the current gardeners would be well attentive of the space.
    I know the current plan requires a bioswale, which is basically a green area for water to be filtered by plants before it reaches the water table. Besides that, it’s up to the community.
    As a member of the group who advocated for the current park configuration to include the P-Patch, bench, and grill features, I can tell you that the Parks Dept. cares a lot about community input and will go with what the community wants if it’s feasible.
    Even if you can’t make the meeting on Tuesday, please write to the Parks Dept. with your comments so they know this project has a lot of attention.

    • Just a couple of questions…

      What is the current utilization of the grills? If, as I suspect, they are only used occasionally and only in summer, and if there doesn’t seem to be more demand, there is no need for an additional grill.

      Why not close the entire stretch of E John between Olive and Summit? Starbuck’s customers can enter the parking lot from Olive. The alley could remain in use, with access from the north. . Westbound drivers on Olive don’t need a shortcut to Summit…they can just turn right onto Summit west of Starbuck’s. Am I missing something that would make the more limited closure a better option?

      • The alley way cannot be blocked, that was one of the restrictions put on this project by DOT. Also, Starbucks is a community member and that location has indicated support for this project in the past, as long as one of the entrances to their parking lot on John is preserved.
        I would love to see the whole street closed off, but the garbage access is needed.

        And as Dod said, the grills are frequently in use. It ticks up during the summer, obviously, but I’ve seen some people from the apartment across the alley from the park enjoy the grill on a sunny winter day.

        • Important note: Contact Rick Nishi (rick.nishi@seattle.gov) at Parks if you want to find out more about the Summit Slope expansion project, or if you want to tell the City what you think. Rick is the point person at the City on this project, and is the right person to direct your questions and comments to.

          I second what Saunatina says, and also want to add that right now, it seems that the Fire Department opposes closing down any part of John St. completely. This is significant as Summit Slope could gain quite a few more square feet even if only the very end of John Street near Summit was closed off, still allowing for access to the alley and one or both of the Starbucks lot entrances.

          The communtiy heard this at the first public meeting on the project from an SDOT representative, though the SDOT staffer neglected to say who at the Fire Department stated that they needed the street open for emergency use, nor how to get ahold of that person. If the Fire Dept needs that little street nubbin open for public safety, so be it, but I’d like to hear it from them and hear what their reasoning is.

  7. I am an owner of a condo at John and Summit. I have owned my condo for 7+ years. I am also a car owner and the idea of having another 15 parking spots on John really infuriates me. I did not move into the city to be in a park BUT if I wanted a park there are now 2 within a block of me, Cal Anderson up the street and other green areas nearby (I do not feel deprived of green space)! However what is also next to me is the busiest Starbucks in the city, new bars opening monthly AND constant construction which puts strict parking restrictions on my block (currently the case on Belmont). I work 3 different jobs, one of which is serving. When I come home at 11 at night I am competing for parking with all the other bar-goers on Capitol Hill. I am glad I live in such an up and coming area…but I think if you continue to remove parking from those of us who live in buildings without parking than you are hurting my well-being more than helping it. I would like to consider that in exchange we implement resident permit parking for Summit Ave for over night hours available for purchase by property owners. I chose to live in the most happening neighborhood in Seattle because it is a bustling neighborhood, NOT because it offers a park-like experience.

    • there is a process for initiating or expanding the residential parking zones on the City of Seattle website. if you believe you can get the support of your neighbors, give it a shot! I live in Zone 15 and can tell you there are tons of folks headed to Cornish and the Harvard Exit theater who ignore the signs, so I’m not sure the outcome you’ll get is what you want.

    • Makes sense to me…lots more revenue for the city when they get to issue parking tickets to the people who park without a permit…I think this is about increasing green space in a congested city…maybe a Vespa would fit in well w/ your busy lifestyle…#gobigbuyavespa

    • ” I would like to consider that in exchange we implement resident permit parking for Summit Ave for over night hours available for purchase by property owners.”

      Please bring this up with Rick Nishi (rick.nishi@seattle.gov) at Parks! I don’t know if it’s feasible or not, but it makes sense to me, especially with how parking is in that area (and all over the Hill!). I also know that Parks is working with SDOT on this project, so Rick might be able to tell you who you need to talk to to get this started.

  8. As someone who has a place near by, I’d say more “park” space rather than p-patch. Sorry, I don’t skate, but IMHO skaters are kinda cool, if you are willing to be accepting and not hell bent on this gentrification agenda (honestly I’m a little torn, since gentrification is good for property value.)

  9. Pingback: City readies final plan to ‘pedestrianize’ John Street near Capitol Hill’s Summit Slope Park | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle