Keep retail off Capitol Hill’s residential streets. That was the message attendees at Thursday’s Capitol Hill Community Council meeting will send to city officials in the coming days.
“The development community has a interest in controlling as much space as possible,” said Hill resident Oliver Osborne at the meeting. “It has nothing to do with the needs of the community.”
Debate over the city council’s Regulatory Reform package took up the bulk of the Capitol Hill Community Council’s most recent meeting Thursday night. Included in a long list of tweaks, updates and economic enhancements to Seattle’s development and planning code, the 67-page zoning overhaul would also enable small commercial and retail outfits to permeate off arterial roads into areas of the Hill many consider residential.
A map of zoning changes being circulated by a Capitol Hill group opposing Regulatory Reform. Click for larger version
The major complaint voiced at the CHCC meeting was that the proposed ordinance would open the door to unwanted and unforeseen commercial uses. Concerns were raised over increased noise and traffic on residential streets due to deliveries and garbage pickups.
The 30 community members in attendance unanimously passed the following resolution in opposition to the proposal :
We are deeply concerned about the proposal to bring commercial uses into the heart of our neighborhood currently pending before the Seattle City Council’s Planning, Land Use and Sustainability (PLUS) committee.
We oppose this commercialization proposal.
We ask PLUS and the Seattle City Council:
(1) Not to adopt the proposal; and
(2) To engage the residents of affected neighborhoods in an open, serious, frank discussion of the pros and cons of various options in an effort to achieve consensus.
Adopted by unanimous vote this 17th day of May, 2012.
Seattle Gay News publisher and CHCC officer George Bakan said he would present the letter at the council’s Planning, Land Use and Sustainability committee meeting, this Wednesday at 9:30a. The committee will be discussing the reforms and taking public comment.
For some, part of the problems with the Regulatory Reform package has been the way the proposed changes were created — you can hear from one member of the roundtable of developers, planners and community members right here — and how they’ve been communicated to the neighborhood’s they will impact the most.
At a Seattle City Council committee meeting earlier this month, land use chair person Richard Conlin said many concerns were being overstated. “I have to say, I think it is going to make some modest changes that I think will be generally positive,” he said.
A group calling itself the Capitol Hill Coalition has also formed to oppose the reform package. You may have seen these flyers posted on utility poles around the neighborhood by the group. According to the coalition’s web site, its goal is to eliminate the provisions around introducing commercial zoning to certain lowrise and midrise areas around the city. The long-empty John Court development retail that we looked at here — What’s wrong with the retail space at John Court? — last sumer is one of the group’s “poster boys” for why Regulatory Reform’s commercial zoning changes aren’t needed on the Hill.
While the Regulatory Reform package’s retail changes are part of a citywide set of laws, with the focus around “urban centers” and “station area overlays,” Capitol Hill holds the lion’s share of the land where the new zoning laws would be applicable. There are also opportunities the amendment creates that most anybody could get behind — more cafes on the edge of Cal Anderson Park, for example. The Regulatory Reform package also has other important amendments for Capitol Hill including a loosening of the rules around temporary uses to be more “micro-business” and pop-up friendly.
A community council working group, open to all community members, is slated to meet May 31 at 6p in the Cal Anderson shelter house to discuss further action.
In other CHCC news:
- Elections: The Capitol Hill Community Council will hold officer elections during its next meeting, July 19th at 6 p.m. at the Cal Anderson Shelter House. Most current officers are not seeking reelection. Anyone who lives in Capitol Hill, as defined in the council’s bylaws, is eligible to run.
- Marriage equality: The group discussed passing a resolution in support of marriage equality. It was tabled until the next meeting.
The Capitol Hill Community Council is open to everyone who lives and works on Capitol Hill. Meetings are held at the Cal Anderson Shelter House on the third Thursday of every other month. For more information visit capitolhillcommunitycouncil.org.