Weigh in on proposed changes to Seattle’s sidewalk cafe and streatery rules

Lost Lake’s Streatery (Image: SDOT)

The Seattle Department of Transportation is iffy on the whole “bike lane” thing but it is ready to go big on one urbanist element of its cityscape plans — sidewalk cafes:

It’s a space for you to enjoy a drink or food outside. Not only are they fun for everyone around Seattle to enjoy, but they provide economic support to businesses and activate our streets. Businesses who are interested in having a sidewalk café will need a permit with us. We’ve managed the sidewalk café program for nearly ten years.

After around a decade of new sidewalk eating and drinking areas at around 400 cafes, bars, and restaurants under the program, the City Council is readying legislation to update — and hopefully improve — the program under what SDOT says are three key aspects: Continue reading

Opposing sides of Capitol Hill path closure rant, collaborate to find solutions

The closure of a short public path near Lowell Elementary resulted in a split between parents and teachers supporting the closure and community members against it. People on both sides of the issue shared their thoughts, sometimes passionately, at a Tuesday meeting held by the Seattle Department of Transportation before brainstorming possible solutions.

Victoria Beach, playground monitor at Lowell, said she was offended by people who wanted to keep the path open and said they hadn’t seen any needles on the winding trail off E Roy between Federal and 11th. “One needle is enough. When kids show me dirty condoms, needles, clothing, a man they thought was dead, when I see the fright in them, I will walk around the world if that’s what it’s going to take,” Beach said. “Your sense of entitlement is sickening to me.”

Fifth grade teacher Laura Schulz also caused a bit of a stir presenting work from nine students who she said chose to draw pictures and write a few sentences supporting the closure. Schulz photocopied their comments and shared them at the meeting. Drawing kids into the debate didn’t sit well with many meeting attendees who showed up to voice their support for reopening the path. Continue reading

100 dumpsters pulled off Capitol Hill’s streets and sidewalks

Hot Trash

Businesses participating in the bag pick up program. (Image: SPU)

Approximate locations of dumpsters before the bag program began. (Image: SPU)

Around 75 trash and recycling dumpsters have been tossed by Capitol Hill businesses for high-frequency bag pick ups starting last week. Another 36 dumpsters have been pulled off streets and sidewalks and on to private property.

It’s part of a city-mandated program to improve safety in Capitol Hill’s core restaurant and nightlife area by moving the large metal containers out of the public right-of-way.

Half of the businesses in the corridor — roughly bound by Melrose, E John, E Union, and 15th — were able to keep their dumpsters by storing them on private property. Some of those businesses may still be dragging dumpsters into the street for pickup, but Seattle Public Utilities officials say they should not be out for long and certainly not over night. Continue reading

Now open: Sugar Plum’s 15th Ave E parklet — Meanwhile, Seattle making sidewalk cafes easier

Trading street parking for places to sit and mingle in front of businesses across Seattle, streateries and parklets have been mostly about planning since the first wave was created and installed a few years back. There has been a lull in the actual construction and placement of the features but it looks like the pace might be picking up — you’ll find a new streatery open this week on 15th Ave E. A Melrose parklet is coming next. Meanwhile, the Seattle Department of Transportation is also looking for Capitol Hill food and drink establishments that might want to test out its new program to make it easier to create a light-weight sidewalk patio set-up without some of the heavier design elements required in the past. Continue reading

15 projects that could make Central Seattle streets and sidewalks safer

The roster includes a proposal to make E Olive Way safer through street and sidewalk improvements -- this Northwest Urbanist essay makes the case (Image: The Northwest Urbanist)

The roster includes a proposal to make E Olive Way safer through street and sidewalk improvements — this Northwest Urbanist essay makes the case (Image: The Northwest Urbanist)

Fifteen fantastic ideas for “large, but not too large” projects to improve streets and sidewalks around Capitol Hill, the Central District, and across Central Seattle were considered Monday night in the latest round of Neighborhood Street Fund proposals.

The East District Neighborhood Council, whose role these days pretty much boils down to figuring out which grant proposals should make it out of the local rounds and into the priority list at City Hall, will choose five of these to join 60 other proposals from around the city moving forward to SDOT’s “high level design & cost estimate” vetting process. It can be a long and winding road from the council selection to an actual funded construction project. One recent plan that finally became reality can be found along 12th Ave.

February 23, 2016Neighborhood Street Fund (NSF) call for applications
March 2016Briefings for Neighborhood District Councils on NSF Program
April 17, 2016Deadline for submitting NSF Proposals to SDOT
May 2016Screening of proposals by SDOT and selection of 5 projects by each of the 13 Neighborhood District Councils for further evaluation
June – August 2016SDOT conducts a high level design & cost estimate of the 65 projects selected by the neighborhood District Councils.
September 2016Each Neighborhood District Council prioritizes its own list of projects.
September – October 2016The Move Seattle Citizen Oversight Committee evaluates all proposed projects and makes funding recommendations to the Mayor & City Council.
November 20162017 Budget adopted
2017SDOT designs projects
2018SDOT builds projects

Details on the proposals under considerations are below: Continue reading

E Pike tree pits are getting filled over with ‘porous pavement’

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What the new permeable pits will look like. (Image: SDOT)

Poor sidewalk tree pits. The tiny patches of dirt that give rise to Pike/Pine’s tree-lined blocks are often ignored receptacles of urban waste until cursed at for tripping up hurried pedestrians.

Now some of those Pike/Pine dirt patches are getting an upgrade. The Seattle Department of Transportation has started installing “flexible porous pavement” over 19 tree pits along E Pike between Broadway and 12th Ave. The goal of the project is to improve pedestrian safety by smoothing over the sidewalk surface while offering greater protection to E Pike’s trees. SDOT promises no trees will be harmed in the installation.

An SDOT flyer about the project says, “this innovative solution is one of several efforts to expand our use of these new materials as an alternative to traditional mulches and tree grates.” The permeable pavement also requires significantly less maintenance work.Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 10.40.38 AM

All sidewalks will remain open during the project. Contractors may take up a few parking spots during the installation, which is expected to wrap-up May 6th. The project is one of the many funded by the $930 million Move Seattle levy, approved by voters last year. CHS previously looked at some of the other levy-powered Council District 3 projects.

Even with healthier reinforced bases, many urban trees will be chopped down before their time. In 2014, Broadway’s big, old tree had to go after it began leaning too far over the sidewalk. A potentially “exceptional” red cedar is also on track to come down to make way for a new development at 19th and Mercer.

Here’s why they’re adding curb ramps to sidewalks all over Capitol Hill

The Seattle Department of Transportation has installed more than 200 new curb ramps across the city in 2015 — you might feel like all of them were installed in the past few weeks on your block of Capitol Hill. You might be partly right.

Here’s how SDOT describes the flurry of buzzing cement cutters:

SDOT’s maintenance operations crews have been busy all year repaving streets, extending the life of residential streets and repairing damaged sidewalks. As part of these maintenance projects, our crews built over 200 new curb ramps this year. The ramps are required by a federal law which kicks in whenever we resurface a street or repair a sidewalk at a crosswalk. All the associated corners within these projects must have curb ramps which meet current standards for accessibility. These means SDOT crews replace outdated curb ramps with new ones that are easier to use, or we add curb ramps where none existed before.

What SDOT doesn’t mention is the work was inspired by a federal lawsuit brought against the city this fall:

The suit, filed Thursday by Disability Rights Washington, doesn’t seek monetary damages but aims to force the city to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which mandates that newly constructed or altered streets have sloped areas to accommodate wheelchairs, walkers, and more. “We’re not asking the city to fix it today or even tomorrow. We really just want a plan,” said Emily Cooper, an attorney for the nonprofit. “We want a concrete plan on how they’re going to fix all the concrete ramps in the city so everyone can work or visit Seattle safely.”

Meanwhile, SDOT says the city’s “large scale arterial paving projects” also include new curb ramps to make it easier to get around “whether you’re in a bus, on a bike, in a car, on foot, in a wheelchair, pushing a stroller.”