It might seem absurd on Capitol Hill where projects sometimes soar to eight stories these days but in some parts of the city, developers are taking a suburban sprawl-styled, cookie cutter approach to their projects and building one-story stores when they could be adding density to the neighborhood. The Stranger has been following the story in Wallingford where a developer is planning “squat, car-oriented chain stores on busy corners in the heart of pedestrian neighborhoods.” On Tuesday, planning committee chair Richard Conlin introduced emergency legislation to require developers to meet certain density thresholds in areas of the city zoned for multifamily construction:
The goal of the proposed legislation is to align the design of new projects with the character of designated pedestrian zones. “Neighbors affirmed the vision in our neighborhood plans that bulky low-scale development is out of context with their neighborhood. I introduced short-term legislation to ensure we aren’t missing opportunities in communities that have planned for and want a more vibrant streetscape,” said Councilmember Richard Conlin, chair of the Planning, Land Use and Sustainability (PLUS) Committee. “It’s great to hear so many people saying yes to mixed-use projects with ground floor retail and housing above.”
The legislation requires a minimum density for Neighborhood Commercial (NC) zones in urban centers, urban villages and station area overlay districts that have a pedestrian designation overlay. The minimum density level, measured by the Floor Area Ratio (FAR), would be based on the maximum allowable height in the NC zone. The requirement would only apply to new buildings or modifications to existing buildings that add or remove more than 1,000 square feet or 10 percent of the gross square footage currently existing on the lot, whichever is less.
Staff behind the legislation are holding up the battle over the original plans for the Broadway/Pine Walgreens as an example where only a concerted community effort to push back on flat development kept the sprawl-friendly design from taking root at the corner. Today, Broadway Crossing rises above that Walgreens with 44 units managed by nonprofit developer Capitol Hill Housing.
- With the day’s start of the public school year, the City Council’s Government Performance and Finance committee will discuss a plan Wednesday morning to extend public early learning to the daycare years. Here’s what Council’s Tim Burgess wrote about the Preschool for All plan:
After much research and input on the importance of investing early to produce the greatest benefits for our children and our city, I will soon introduce a resolution that establishes a new goal for the City Council: making voluntary high-quality preschool available and affordable to all of Seattle’s children. The resolution also outlines an initial plan toward achieving this goal.
My committee, which handles education matters, will have its first meeting on the topic on Wednesday, September 4 at 9:00 a.m. in City Council chambers. I encourage you to join us.
You can read the proposed legislation here.
- Bike share moves forward: The folks from Puget Sound Bike Share are honking the bike horn of victory:
Yesterday the Seattle City Council passed by unanimous vote two pieces of legislation essential for creating a local bike share network. The ordinance C.B. 117847 approved bike share vending as an allowed use in public rights of way. The resolution Res. 31468 granted Puget Sound Bike Share (PSBS) conceptual approval for their proposed bike sharing program.
A term permit ordinance related to the PBSB’s program is expected to go to City Council in early 2014.
Links to the legislation and a brief statement from Puget Sound Bike Share executive director Holly Houser are below. Let us know if you have any questions.
“The support of the Seattle City Council is a key element to bike share’s success, and we’re grateful that they have embraced this new option for public transportation. We still have work to do, both in signing up corporate sponsors and ensuring that the local laws work for bike share, but we can move much faster with the broad support of our community. Thanks to their backing, bike share continues to be on track for a spring 2014 launch.” – Holly Houser, executive director of Puget Sound Bike Share
8. Res. 31468
Granting conceptual approval for Puget Sound Bike Share to construct, maintain, and operate a bike-share program in public places located within Major Institution Overlay Districts, designated Urban Centers and Urban Villages, and commercially- or industrially-zoned parcels lying between these areas in the City of Seattle.
5. C.B. 117847
Relating to authorizing a bike share program to be implemented in public places; and amending Sections 11.23.440 and 15.17.005 of the Seattle Municipal Code.