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City readies final plan to ‘pedestrianize’ John Street near Capitol Hill’s Summit Slope Park

Screen Shot 2013-10-22 at 4.28.24 PMPowered by a parks levy grant, the plan to “pedestrianize” John Street between Olive and Summit adjacent the 2011-built Summit Slope Park is moving into its final planning phase. Wednesday night, city planners will discuss the preferred alternative for the project and its potential changes for the street’s use in a meeting at the Capitol Hill library branch. Details on the final planning meeting and a look at the design alternatives that have been considered are below.

8445445100_87e14e9345Earlier this week, the city opened the first stretch of a new Broadway bikeway that will accompany the First Hill Streetcar route and has transformed the eastern side of Broadway beyond the traditional auto-focused street and parking layout. In September, Seattle’s first parklet trading street parking for public mini-park space debuted on E Olive Way.

UPDATE: Scott Shinn of the Seattle group Parents for Skateparks is hoping to draw attention to an issue in the design alternatives that he says could make the hard-won Summit Slope Park’s skate dot feature useless for skateboarders.

He writes:20131022TowTheLine[1]

These lines exist in Summit Slope Park, and were approved in 2011 by both the Board of Park Commissioners and SDOT. They are part of the public space known as the Summit Slope Skate Dot. Tonight, at the final design meeting for the “Enhancements” to the park, these lines will be murdered by Architecture, unless skateboarders “Save” their space, again. I think there are some great opportunities for Grey and Green space to co-exist in this park, and am hopeful that local skateboarding advocates will speak up for their space.

Screen Shot 2013-10-22 at 4.28.15 PM

John Street Enhance V2 11x17 F1_email

3 Design Alternatives 20130618

  • Alternative 1 uses right ‐of‐ way for sidewalk reconfiguration to be further into street right‐of-way. Some street trees would be altered; some remain in place. Garden space could be p‐patch or communal garden.
  • Alternative 2 uses right ‐of- way but sidewalk remains as is.  Street trees would be altered. Bio‐swale developed between sidewalk and curb and planted with native plants.
  • Alternative 3 uses right ‐of- way for sidewalk reconfiguration further south but with new street
  • trees on the side and multi‐use space developed on park side.


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23 thoughts on “City readies final plan to ‘pedestrianize’ John Street near Capitol Hill’s Summit Slope Park

  1. Great…another mini park that isn’t that much better than the existing park. Seems like a waste of money to me. How about Seattle spend money on stuff that already doesn’t work…like the lake of water that is constantly on the street near my home.

    • Bug off. This park always gets tons of use and is one of my favorite things about living on Summit. Sure as hell better than what used to be there before: a parking lot.

  2. Just to clarify, the 3 design alternatives posted above were presented at the first meeting for neighborhood to comment on. The city took our suggestions and will be showing off 2-3 new plans based on community feedback tonight.

      • They should give Starbucks the short stretch of street that allows cars that come in one lane of the parking lot to loop around to the other. Most of their traffic enters off Olive anyway, and that way can consistently exit back onto Olive as well. The rest of the street could then become park, which is just as much an amenity for Starbucks customers.

        And, BTW, I’m all in favor of Starbucks remaining there with their parking lot, because it’s the only spot west of the 12th Avenue you can consistently find a cop when you need one.

    • It is my understanding that Seattle Public Utilities/Cleanscapes objected to complete closure of that street, because they need to access the alley (from both north and south) which runs along the east side of the park.

      • Closing John St west of the alley would still be pretty cool since that is the part directly in front of the park. Probably a little late now, but I wonder if Starbucks could move their parking access up to that eastern section of John St…?

  3. I agree with D Murray. Why not just get rid of that entire street. At the very least it should be made one-way. I’m assuming the street has to remain because of the parking lot for Starbucks. It would also be helpful if Starbucks would paint clear one-way arrows on in their parking lot.

  4. I know it’s a little confusing with the three plans listed above, but those are NOT the plans that will be presented to the neighborhood tonight.
    A lot of community members brought up the desire to close John St for this project and there was concern from the Fire Department about accessibility to the building to the east of the park. That concern was addressed and there is still potential for the street to be closed.
    The majority of people there were pro-skatedot as well and talked about the need for that area to be included in the design. No one from any skate advocate organization seemed to have been at that meeting to address questions the city and community had about how to make sure their concerns would be met.
    Tonight we will see the new plans the Parks Dept. has created to address the feedback the community gave at the first meeting.

    • I have been personally available to you through Parks for years, and specifically for this project for two days now. That’s how long I’ve know about it, and I’m one of a handful of people who should know. Please stop spreading misinformation about the skateboarding community in order to kill this skatedot that you hate. “We” were able to get one high school kid to attend on behalf of the skateboarding community, given that “you” gave “us” 24 hours notice through Parks. He reported that you are trying put an obstacle in the Skate Line. The bottom line is that there is no “we” out here, there are just people who want to skate in that space, and a few of us who try to advocate for safe, accessible skateboarding spots like this one. Please stop discriminating against these people through your systematic use of architecture. You are guilty of Destruction of Youth Habitat.

      • From my comment above:
        “The majority of people there were pro-skatedot as well and talked about the need for that area to be included in the design.”
        I was talking about the first meeting in that quote, not the one last night where I sat next to a young man representing the skaters. I can’t see any mis-information being spread there.

        Also, I am not from the Parks Dept. I don’t know anything about their outreach efforts or relationship to the skating community. I can tell you they did no special outreach to the garden group that maintains the space for them, beyond posting signs in the park for almost 3 weeks prior.

  5. Can someone explain to me why they are re doing this park? I try to read through all these proposals but I end up zoning out… I love this park the way it is, and think its pretty beautiful and functional compared to some parks, like the Thomas st park down the block (not that I don’t love that park).

    • Ever since its inception, there has been community desire to better utilize John Street next to the park, an under-utilized little connecting street that is essentially a parking lot/ driveway for Starbucks. It has always been the last component.

      I agree with you that this park is great. Let’s make it greater.

  6. It would be best to have the street closed completely. The amount of pedestrian traffic is considerable and people crossing Summit at the bottom of the hill are in the position to cross at an awkward angle. Living on Summit, I have nearly been hit multiple times due to the offset of John St there on the west end of the park.

    I feel the street should be completely closed to traffic and a pedestrian crosswalk put on Summit from what it now the middle of John St (on the park side) to the corner of John (on the west side). Also, they should remove at least one parking spot from Summit (on the NE side of Starbucks) so pedestrians can see oncoming traffic barreling down Summit off of Olive.

    This is a particularly dangerous area at night as it is so dark there. But I believe the city has to wait until there are multiple deaths to make a pedestrian crossing safer.

  7. FYI. Please see Summit Slope letter from SPAC below. The SPAC was disbanded over a year ago, and I have not heard anything about our new seat on the Sports Advisory Council in several months, for which I am the official representative. For all practical purposes, skateboarders are not a constituency in Seattle, and have no representation within our government, despite the existence of a Citywide Skatepark Plan that appears to plan for skateparks in a systematic manner. Thanks for your support of Skateboarding in Seattle!

    To: Seattle Parks and Recreation Board of Park Commissioners
    Cc:Sandy Brooks, Seattle Parks and Recreation
    Matthew Johnston and Scott Shinn, Seattle Parks and Recreation Skate Park Advisory Committee (SPAC)
    From: Ryan Barth, Chairperson SPAC
    RE: Summit Slope Park Skatedot – Letter of Support
    Date: May 12, 2011

    My name is Ryan Barth and I am the current Chairperson of the Seattle Parks and Recreation (Parks) Skate Park Advisory Committee (SPAC). I have been involved in Seattle skateboarding advocacy since 2004. Since that time I have spent countless volunteer hours working with Parks to attempt to legitimize skateboarding and obtain much needed legal skateboarding terrain for Seattle’s estimated 20,000 skateboarders.

    Over many years we have constantly searched for a legal suitable location in Capitol Hill, which is one of the most densely populated neighborhoods with the greatest population of Seattle’s estimated 20,000 skateboarders. When we learned of Parks Summit Slope Park redevelopment, I attended the first design meeting and listened to the community’s idea for the park. The meeting was well attended by the community and the input received seemed to mesh well with a small, integrated skateboarding feature so I attended the second design meeting and proposed a skateable element to the community. The community was inquisitive of this proposal and asked the standard questions we typically receive from the community about skateboarding: what about crime, noise, safety, and density of use. I provided information that the SPAC has gathered based on years of evidence from skatepark use throughout this region and nationally. The community listened to my input and no attendees expressed further concern at the meeting. I then attended the third and final design meeting, where Parks presented the community with a design option including a skateable bench. Again, the community responded favorably and none of the attendees expressing concern. Based on this community support and $12,000 dollars of tax payer money, Parks constructed the first legal skatedot in Capitol Hill. The skateboarding community was very excited to have a single safe, legal location to skateboard in the entire eastern portion of downtown Seattle.

    Following construction, Parks approached the SPAC about concerns raised by surrounding neighbors. The SPAC submitted a Public Disclosure Request to understand these complaints, which primarily consisted of noise and safety concerns by a small group of neighbors who lived directly adjacent to the skatedot. Due to these complaints, Parks consulted with the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to conduct a safety evaluation. SDOT identified a few measures that could be implemented to increase safety associated with use of the skatedot. Parks implemented the full list of SDOT-recommended measures to a cost of $7,000. Still, the small group of neighbors continued to lodge complaints.

    With regards to the issue of noise, the SPAC understands that skateboarding creates noise just like any other sport, and this was communicated to the community during the design meetings. A noise study conducted by Soni-Fi at the Ballard Civic Center Park in February 2004 identified that noise created from skateboarding was compliant with the Seattle Department of Planning and Development’s noise ordinance (Seattle Municipal Code subchapter 25.08.400) and often of lower decibels than surrounding ambient noises typical of the urban environment. It is unfortunate that there is a small group of neighbors that are averse to the (new) sound of skateboarding in their environment but it must be recognized that these neighbors personally chose to live in Capitol Hill. This neighborhood is well known to have the highest urban density and is the gathering place for the younger generations in Seattle. With these attributes comes noise – traffic noises, car alarms, sirens, construction noise, and yes, skateboard noise. It is discriminatory to selectively point to one source of that noise spectrum and request it’s removal.

    So what could have Parks (or the SPAC) done differently? Parks conducted four public meetings and notified the public via flyers for each of these meetings. The meetings were well attended by the community and the attendess unanimously stood behind the integration of a skatedot into the park design, with the understanding that skateboarding would create noise. Following construction, Parks listened to safety concerns raised by the community and implemented safety measures that satisfied SDOT’s safety team. The one remaining issue that is difficult to mitigate is noise but this neighborhood has some of the highest ambient noise levels in all of Seattle. Please do not let a few neighbors who are averse to sharing space with skateboarders (under the guise of safety complaints) and noise common to the environment in which they choose to live shut down this sole legal skatespot in Capitol Hill.

  8. “Red Bull, in cooperation with the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation, is commissioning an artist to design a permanent art sculpture for the city of Seattle that is skate-able. The sculpture, titled Red Bull Skate Space, is not a skate park – it is first and foremost a work of art. But this is art that invites interaction and participation. Red Bull Skate Space will blend art and skateboarding to create unique terrain where the innovation of skateboarders can truly flourish.”
    Saturday, June 21 at 11:00am
    Jefferson Park
    4101 Beacon Ave S.
    Seattle, WA 98108