“Last month, I asked City departments to provide more insight into the permit process for the proposed arena in Sodo,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. “This is a complex process spanning several years, but I want the public informed about how the process will unfold.”
State law requires that any project of this size must be thoroughly evaluated for all potential impacts through a public process, which includes analysis of traffic impacts, pedestrian safety and parking before being approved. Consistent with this requirement, the draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was published on August 15, 2013.
The final EIS will be completed and published May 7, 2015.
The FEIS will include responses to comments on the draft EIS, the potential impacts of the various project alternatives and options for how to address those impacts. Evaluating a project of this size and all the potential impacts it may have on traffic (such as the possible removal or relocation of public streets), freight movement, pedestrian safety and parking requires an extensive review and analysis.
A project that involves a street vacation also requires the additional Design Commission and City Council processes after the final EIS is completed.
Since the arena proposal involves the closure of a street segment (Occidental Avenue South), it must also be reviewed by the Seattle Design Commission through the street vacation process. The Commission’s review includes assessing the function of the street system and how the street vacation impacts the remaining streets in the area. The Design Commission also evaluates the public benefits in exchange for the street closure. The Commission then provides feedback to the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), which informs SDOT’s formal recommendation to City Council on whether or not to approve the street vacation. The Design Commission’s review and SDOT’s review should be done no later than the end of August 2015.
The City Council will then hold a public hearing and will deliberate at one or more meetings before making a decision. Street vacation decisions go to the City Council’s Transportation Committee and then to Full Council for a final decision.
If the City Council grants the street vacation request, the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) will then publish the Master Use Permit decision for the arena, including mitigation of the impacts noted within the FEIS. Based on previous timelines for projects of this scope, the final decision for the Master Use Permit should be published in early 2016 – specifically no later than March of that year.