Who will create the first ‘play street’ on Capitol Hill?

A Capitol Hill "play street" pioneer (Image: CHS)

A Capitol Hill “play street” pioneer (Image: CHS)

Seattle loves a pilot program — especially one that is low cost and creates benefit with little or no effort. A new Play Street pilot program for the Seattle Department of Transportation enables a neighborhood’s residents to close off an area street for a period of recreation and frolic.

We’re interested to see how the program might play out in dense, apartment-rich aresa of the Hill — the Seattle Bike Blog reports that a test has already played out near a school in the Madrona neighborhood:

(Image: SDOT)

(Image: SDOT)

What is a play street, you ask? Essentially, it’s a brilliantly simple way to temporarily expand or create park area: Close a nearby street to traffic. While this may not seem like a big deal, it can be revolutionary in neighborhoods with parks that are either too small, too crowded or too far away. As SDOT puts it on their website: “Think of a play street as an extension of all the front yards on your block.”

You can read more about the details of the program and how to sign up here. The basic requirements open up much of the Hill to the program — if your neighbors are on board.

  1. The play street should be no more than one block long.
  2. The street should be a non-arterial street (click here to learn your street classification).
  3. There must be clear visibility from each intersection.
  4. The play street must have neighborhood support.

How that “neighborhood support” will be measured isn’t clear. The application form handles it with a simple check box:Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 10.37.10 AM

We’re assuming SDOT is prepared to deal with any issues on a “complaint basis.” And who is going to complain about your pop-up roller skate rink, right?

Meanwhile, some of you might want to consider putting your alleys to better use, too.

Seattle Night Out
While we’re talking about putting your block’s streets to better use, it’s time again to register for the annual Seattle Night Out block parties. On August 5, the city makes it even easier to close down your street for a barbecue party with neighbors. If you’re lucky, a fire engine or police are might drop by the party and let you turn on the siren. Here’s a look at a few Capitol Hill block parties from 2013.

A 2013 Night Out dance party in the street at 11th and Denny (Image: CHS)

A 2013 Night Out dance party in the street at 11th and Denny (Image: CHS)

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6 thoughts on “Who will create the first ‘play street’ on Capitol Hill?

  1. This isn’t new. Last year I attend a wedding reception in the street. The couple got a permit, had the street closed and about 100 people danced and ate catered food for hours…

  2. I’d like to see a party in that weird little doglegged block of John between the Starbucks and the pea-patch/park on Summit. Extend the park, and meet the gardeners!

    I still think that street should be closed to traffic altogether (at least at the Olive Way end — I realize the SFD requires there be access up that street to the alley mouth, but it could be a dead end to traffic other than the people looping through the Starbucks parking lot).

    • Isn’t there still an active plan to close off permanently at least part of that street? How about an update, Justin?

      • I actually went to the meeting on that at the CH library branch. There are plans to do more with the park space but the parks people at the meeting said they had no say in that (that’s Seattle DoT) and that the Fire Department was adamant that the street be available to them to access the buildings and alley behind the park. I suggested just closing the Olive end (since that’s where all the near-misses between cars, peds and bikes happen anyway), but they just repeated that was outside their purview and not something that was part of the plan.

  3. This is very daft. There is no need for playing in the street in Madrona. There are never more than five people in the huge playfield on 35th Avenue.

  4. “Play street”? Like that’s new? Every street in Seattle is a play street. How about we see some driving-like-you’re-trying-to-get-somewhere streets? Just to change things up a bit.