About Ari Cetron

Ari is a Seattle-based writer and editor. Find out more about him at www.aricetron.com

New Seattle design review rules will give neighbors earlier say and, hopefully, better buildings

“This new requirement is for developers to begin conversation with community members before project designs are complete.”

New rules are designed to give Seattle residents early opportunities to comment on new developments in their neighborhoods. Just don’t expect it to usher in a new era of neighborhood-led construction plans.

Stemming from an ordinance passed by the City Council in 2017, the new rules went into effect July 1, and will apply to any project which starts its development permitting process after that date.

The changes simplify the rules for which projects are subject to design review. Then, if a project is subject to any level of design review – streamlined, administrative, or a full board review – the developer must actively solicit community input before beginning the design review process. Continue reading

#seahomeless — ‘Two or three here, 20 there,’ the city’s march to 500 beds includes Hill, CD

A plan to increase Seattle’s shelter capacity by 500 beds is playing out around Capitol Hill and the Central District.

On May 30, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced a plan to increase shelter space for people experiencing homelessness by 500 beds within 90 days. The plan, called the Path to 500, uses a multi-pronged approach, including increasing the space at City Hall, constructing tiny home villages, and adding funding for shelter space that had been set to close at the end of May, among other strategies.

The plan is funded, for now, by the proceeds of a $6.3 million sale of city-owned property in South Lake Union. The Seattle Times reported that Durkan plans to find other funding sources to maintain the beds going forward.

The plan is playing out in small ways all across the city, said Meg Olberding, spokesperson for the city’s Human Services Department. She said the city has been working with providers to find ways they can add extra beds. ‘Whatever you can squeeze in,” she said. “Two or three here, 20 there.”

Some of those beds are finding their way to our area of the city including additions at places like 19th Ave’s Peace for the Streets, by Kids from the Streets, and E Madison’s Bailey-Boushay House. Continue reading

Community group, SDOT in 2019 push to make Pike/Pine a safer route for bikes

(Image: CHS)

A missing east-west connection in Seattle’s bike infrastructure could open next year. Or it might not happen until 2021. Either way, bike lanes along the Pike/Pine corridor, connecting Broadway to 2nd Ave are coming.

Bike advocates are hoping that linking these two existing corridors will help increase bike usage overall. By linking the two north-south routes, it creates a network for bikers to ride safely around town.

“The real problem is we don’t have connected infrastructure,” said Brie Gyncild, who is working on the project with Central Seattle Greenways. “We expect to see more use of the Broadway bike lanes after the connection.” Continue reading

Work set to begin to make John/Thomas intersections safer from Capitol Hill Station to Miller Park

After two years of citizen advocacy, a series of pedestrian-focused improvements is coming to the John/Thomas Street corridor with construction set to begin in early July .

David Seater, co leader of Central Seattle Greenways, began calling for the project two years ago. Seater said he walks along the corridor frequently, and finds it challenging to cross either of the streets, which tend to be high on traffic, and low on places to cross.

“I felt like it shouldn’t be that tough,” he said. Continue reading

To make sure Capitol Hill’s Bullitt Center does not stand alone, Seattle looks to boost Living Buildings

(Image: Bullitt Center)

Over the years since the Bullitt Center first rose on Capitol Hill, Seattle has tried to build a system to repeat the project’s success across the city. Seattle is, of course, facing an affordability crisis — but it also faces the risks of continued global warming and climate change. In an effort to make construction of super-duper environmentally friendly buildings more attractive, the Seattle City Council Monday is ready to approve new legislation giving developers more incentives, and a lighter punishment for a failed attempt to create “Living Buildings.”

The original Living Building program started as a pilot program in 2010, (amended in 2012, 2014 and 2016) to allow up to 20 buildings to be constructed. By meeting energy and water use reduction, property owners would be permitted a bit more density than the zoning would typically allow. Continue reading

Cantwell, Jayapal, Macri on the ballot in August primary

August is coming, and amid the mad summer dash to enjoy every rooftop deck and patio in town, we also get to vote in the primary. This year is considered an off-year election, since there’s no presidential race, but there are still a number of elections at various levels of government. Washington has a top-two primary system, meaning that the top two candidates, regardless of party, will face off in November. Locally, that can mean a left-leaning candidate will run against a lefter-leaning candidate, though there are races where Capitol Hillers might see an actual (R) on the ballot in the fall.

To register to vote online, you need a valid Washington Driver’s License or ID card. The deadline for that is July 9. If you miss that deadline, or don’t have either of those ID’s, you can register in person at the county’s election annex. The Deadline for that is July 30.

King County Elections expects to mail out voter pamphlets July 17 and ballots July 18. Returned ballots must be postmarked by Aug. 7, or placed in a ballot drop box by that date. There is a box on Broadway in front of Seattle Central Community College, another by the Garfield Community Center, and more scattered across the county.

U.S. Senator: The highest profile race on the ballot is for the U.S. Senate seat held by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D), who is seeking a third term. Continue reading

‘Tree-point system’ — In quest to stay leafy, Seattle looks at new canopy protection rules

Tree

Seattle homeowners could need a permit to remove some trees from their property and developers would need to follow a “tree-point system” to determine how many trees would need to be planted when there is new construction under a new set of tree preservation regulations being considered at City Hall.

The city’s current tree preservation regulations were developed in 2009, but were considered at the time to be interim rules, said Yolanda Ho, of the city council staff during a May meeting of the council’s Planning Land Use and Zoning Committee.

A set of draft regulations was then developed in 2012, but it didn’t end up going anywhere. Now, the council is trying again to develop a set of rules that could help the Emerald City reach is goal of 30% tree cover. Continue reading

New guidelines set to refresh design of Capitol Hill development

The design of the next waves of Capitol Hill redevelopment could get a refresh under a set of proposed design guidelines that would govern buildings in the neighborhood.

“I think there’s an acceptance there’s going to be growth and there’s going to be change,” said Patrice Carroll, an urban planner with the city who is helping with the development of the new guidelines.

Capitol Hill Design Guidelines Open House

The original guidelines for the area were established in 2005, then revised in 2013 to reflect a larger, citywide update. In broad terms, the guidelines give developers an idea for how a building should look, and what sorts of amenities are important to the neighborhood. Continue reading

Up against a wall of *if*, here’s *how* Seattle head tax money would be spent on Capitol Hill


If it survives a voter referendum cooked up this week by business and economic groups opposing the plan… And if the spending plan put forward by the City Council somehow can survive mayoral opposition…

How much of the roughly $237 million over five years in head tax revenue will come to Capitol Hill? The short answer is, some, but it’s too early to say exactly. A Seattle City Council resolution, however, gives a starting point. Along with the head tax, the council approved a companion resolution that laid out broad preliminary plans for the windfall of cash.

The resolution is non-binding and could change during the council’s budget process in the fall. Additionally, the Mayor Jenny Durkin’s office has indicated that she opposes the preliminary spending plans, council staff say. Continue reading

With or without head tax cash, businesses make push for homelessness outreach on Broadway

(Image: Alex Garland/CHS)

Even with the city’s new head tax on the books, a group of Broadway businesses have decided not to wait for new funding streams to start — and their decision on how best to put the money to use shows how the priorities to the issue can differ in the distance between City Hall and Capitol Hill. The Broadway Business Improvement Area will fund its own outreach worker to help people experiencing homelessness and be available to area merchants when issues arise.

In past years, the city had run a program funding outreach workers to visit areas around downtown to assist the homeless population. That program was then expanded to the International District and then to Capitol Hill. That program, at least the Capitol Hill portion of it, lasted for about two years before closing in March.

At the time, the businesses which make up the BBIA began looking to find a way to allow the program to continue, and now that may be taking shape, said Egan Orion, administrator of the BBIA. Continue reading