Open House Event for Environmentally Critical Areas

Seattle has five environmentally critical areas such as wetlands and wildlife habitat areas. How do we protect these environmentally critical areas (ECAs)? DPD is hosting an open house event for the update to our ECA regulations on Wednesday, February 25, 5:30-7:00pm in the Bertha Knight Landes Room at City Hall.

The presentation will explain what and where environmentally critical areas are, how we incorporate Best Available Science, and how the ECA regulations protect critical areas. Learn about the Growth Management Act and how it influences updates and changes to ECA regulations. This event will help guide the effectiveness of our ECA policies and regulations.

In Seattle, environmentally critical areas include the following: wetlands, fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas, geologic hazard areas, flood-prone areas, and abandoned landfills.

For more information about the ECA update, visit the ECA website:
http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/codesrules/changestocode/ecaupdate/whatwhy/default.htm

New Commissioners Sought for Seattle Planning Commission

The City of Seattle is looking for candidates to serve on the Seattle Planning Commission beginning in April 2015. Planning Commission members are appointed by the Mayor or the City Council and may serve up to two consecutive, three-year terms. This year, four positions will be open in total; one position will be appointed by the Mayor, two will be appointed by the City Council, and one by the Commission itself. The City is committed to promoting diversity in the City’s boards and commissions. Persons of color, women, persons with disabilities, and sexual minorities are strongly encouraged to apply. Commissioners must reside in Seattle and serve without compensation.

Who We Are
We are a 16-member Commission of neighbors that care about the future of our city. We are a group of individuals that have served on neighborhood councils, community design review boards, as well as many other community focused volunteer roles. We have a broad range of skills and perspectives that include architecture and design, land use and transportation planning, low-income housing development, and community engagement specialists.

What We Do
We advise the Mayor, City Council, and City departments on citywide planning goals, policies, and plans and provide them with independent and objective advice on land-use and zoning, transportation and housing issues.

The Commission is the steward of the City’s Comprehensive Plan; our citywide vision for how Seattle grows. We debate the benefits and impacts of these important policies and advise on how best to plan for the future.

In the recent past, the Commission has helped to raise important issues such as:

  • Affordable housing, creating an action plan for affordable housing that had a special focus on housing for families with children
  • How to better align investments in transportation with investments in needed community spaces, creating vibrant and successful transit communities

What We Are Looking For
We have a broad range of skills and perspectives but we are always looking for new voices that bring to light issues facing all parts of the city. We are looking for people who:

  • Bring a commitment to making Seattle a great place to live and have knowledge and experience in land use and planning
  • Have a commitment to community-building and community engagement
  • Have an understanding of transportation investments and how they impact the neighborhoods around them
  • Can speak to the needs of affordable housing or have an understanding of what role affordability plays in the city
  • Have a passion for communicating planning to a diverse set of stakeholders

Participation in the Planning Commission is a significant volunteer commitment. This includes attendance at monthly meetings (the second and fourth Thursdays of each month) and participation on at least one sub-committee that meets monthly. Commissioners also attend and participate in relevant public meetings and events.

How To Apply
To be considered for appointment to the Commission, please send a letter of interest and resume by January 31, 2015 addressed to:
Vanessa Murdock, Executive Director
Seattle Planning Commission
City of Seattle
Department of Planning and Development,
PO Box 34019
Seattle WA 98124-4019

Please consider including any voluntary personal information regarding your cultural background, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or disability that might assist us in meeting the City’s goal to create diverse boards and commissions.

For more information, please contact Vanessa Murdock, Commission Executive Director at (206) 733-9271 or via e-mail at Vanessa.murdock@seattle.gov.

For more information about the Seattle Planning Commission please visit our website.

West Seattle ‘Let’s Talk’ Follow-Up

Last summer, we hosted a meeting in West Seattle to provide information about development in the neighborhood and give West Seattleites an opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback. About 40 people joined 26 staff from the City’s Departments of Transportation, Planning and Development, Neighborhoods, and the Mayor’s office.  You can read more about the meeting, and view the presentation materials, at The West Seattle Blog. This article summarizes what we heard about some of the major issues and identifies how you can get involved in related ongoing planning efforts.

The following materials were presented at the meeting and include feedback from the community:

Why is there so much change in our neighborhood?

We heard a number of people voice concerns that some West Seattle neighborhoods are growing too quickly and that growth should be directed into other areas. People continue to come to Seattle to work and live.  By some measures, Seattle as a whole is the fastest growing large city in the country. We can help shape the City’s vision for itself while the region grows.

Our Comprehensive Plan, originally adopted in 1994 as part of Washington State’s Growth Management Act, requires growing regions and cities to adopt plans for growth that serve to protect natural resource lands – our farms and forests. Over the next twenty years we anticipate that Seattle will grow by 70,000 new households and 115,000 new jobs, which, when compared to all of the Central Puget Sound Regions, is less than a fifth of the anticipated total growth. We are currently updating the plan, which we are required to do every ten years.  If you’re interested in how neighborhoods grow, we encourage you to join us in this process – called Seattle 2035 – and help shape the future of our city.

What opportunities are there to help shape what this growth looks like in my West Seattle neighborhood?

Currently, neighborhood-scale planning efforts are underway in Delridge. You can get involved with the Delridge Action Plan, which will use the Healthy Living Framework to focus attention on how neighborhood planning can improve our health, connect people and places, and make sure places serve people. Additionally, West Seattle residents have formed a land use committee that is looking at how to become a resource and education network for West Seattle residents around the topics of land use and growth.  For information on this group, contact Yun Pitre (206-386-1924) with the Department of Neighborhoods for more information.

What is the City doing about parking?

We heard concerns about parking and what the City is doing about parking. We heard that not enough parking is being provided within new buildings, making it difficult to find on-street parking. Overall, the City manages parking in two regards: on-street and off-street. SDOT manages on-street parking to:

  • Balance competing needs (transit, customers, residents, shared vehicles, commercial loading)
  • Move people and goods efficiently
  • Support business district vitality
  • Create livable neighborhoods

In neighborhoods where a lot of non-residents regularly use on-street parking, a Restricted Parking Zone, or RPZ, may be appropriate. Go to SDOT’s RPZ website to learn more about this program. Within the West Seattle Junction, SDOT has created a new Construction Hub Coordination Program, which includes a new free parking program.

We regulate off-street parking through the Land Use Code. Over time, changes to the code have reduced minimum parking requirements so that they are determined by market demand and transit availability. This supports Comprehensive Plan goals related to encouraging more walkable neighborhoods and active transportation rather than dependence on automobiles.  As part of recent Code changes, we have committed to reviewing parking requirements. Please contact Gordon Clowers (206-684-8375) for more information about this work.

What is being done to explore how to get a hospital located in West Seattle?

Bernie Matsuno, the Director of the Department of Neighborhoods, has followed up with some initial inquiries about how to attract a hospital to West Seattle. The City is not likely to be the sole initiator or funding agent of a hospital in West Seattle, but the community can work on several aspects to see if there are interested partners. One approach is for the community to work with the Northwest Healthcare Coalition for a discussion about disaster specific medical response, as that seemed to be a major component of the concern. There will likely be a call for people who are interested in working on this as a community committee. Please contact Yun Pitre (206-386-1924) with the Department of Neighborhoods for more information.

What is the City doing to improve outreach and engagement?

We are always looking for new ways to improve outreach and engagement. We hope that you will join us and get involved the projects listed above. We would also like you to take a very brief survey to let us know how best to keep you informed. Please follow this link to a brief questionnaire.

The City has recently initiated the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA). To take a survey on housing and affordability issues, follow this link. Legislation relating to residential zoning may be introduced later in 2015, after HALA makes recommendations on a range of housing issues.

Finally, find information about permits, zoning and other information at the DPD website. For information about how to comment on a development project follow this link. You can also sign-up for email notification of DPD’s blog at this link.

Are YOU Prepared for a Landslide? City to host Twitter event to take questions about landslides

Did you know that most landslides occur between the months of October and April? And that 86 percent of landslides are caused to some extent by human activity? Landslide season is upon us and the City of Seattle is urging residents to take preventive measures to protect themselves and their property from possible landslides.

Heavy rains are likely this year for the Pacific Northwest. As the rainfall continues to increase throughout the fall, the threat of landslides will continue to rise in the winter. Experts agree there is no one single factor that contributes to landslides in the area. However, in most cases there are steps that property owners can take to reduce that risk.

With 20,000 Seattle properties, most of which are residential, in landslide-prone areas, DPD encourages property owners to protect themselves from landslides. Learn how by participating in our Twitter Landslide Q&A event and speaking with our landslide expert.

When: November 18, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

Where: @SeattleDPD on Twitter
#seattlelandslides

Our Q & A event will give you the opportunity to consult with our landslide expert and learn simple preventive measures that will help protect you from future landslides, such as:

  • Checking downspouts; making sure they are functioning/routed to a safe location
  • Inspecting sloped areas for indications of soil movement and erosion
  • Keeping fill and yard waste off slopes
  • Shutting off the irrigation system and checking it out seasonally
  • Leaving tree stumps in the ground on slopes
  • Knowing when to seek professional help for hillside projects

Can’t participate in the event? Don’t worry; we have helpful information you can refer to on our Emergency Management page to let you know if you’re at risk and how to be prepared, such as:

  • Narrated Landslide Presentation
  • Interactive GIS Map
  • Landslide Prone Area Map
  • Dos & Don’ts

If a landslide damages your property and you have an immediate concern for your safety, leave the premises and call 9-1-1. Seattle property owners with structures that may be affected by or endangered by a landslide should contact a geotechnical professional for structural evaluation.

To view the current conditions of the USGS rainfall threshold for landslides, please visit: http://landslides.usgs.gov/monitoring/seattle/rtd/plot.php.

Georgetown Community Meeting Summary (November 5, 2014)

From the Seattle Department of Planning and Development (DPD)

On November 5, 2014, DPD held a Georgetown community meeting. At least 64 people from the Georgetown neighborhood joined 16 City staff. At the meeting, we heard from many Georgetown residents, people who work in industry and businesses, artists, property owners and many others who have invested in their neighborhood. We also heard from people who have been a part of the neighborhood for decades and those who are new. We truly appreciate the opinions and perspectives from everyone who attended, and we recognize that more information and dialogue is needed.

The Intended Purposes of the November 5 Meeting:
1. Industrial Land Policies: We wanted to hear your feedback and questions around the proposed Comprehensive Plan industrial lands policies, their potential impact on the Georgetown neighborhood and how the policies would or would not support the community’s vision for the neighborhood. Background information on the proposed industrial lands policies is located on the Duwamish Industrial Lands Study project page.
Our options for moving forward include:
• Do nothing to change the current Industrial Land Policies.
• Move the policies forward as proposed, to cover all industrial lands in Manufacturing and Industrial Centers (MIC).
• Revise the proposed policies so that they only apply to certain industrial areas until further study can be done in specific geographic areas, such as Georgetown.

No decisions have been made. We will communicate via email, web and future meetings, regarding further discussion on the Industrial Policies. Decisions will not be made until late in 2015 when the Mayor sends his recommendations to Council. The City Council will then deliberate in 2016.

2. Georgetown Moving Forward: Since July 2014, the Department of Planning and Development staff has met with individuals and groups of residents, merchants, property owners, industrial representatives, an airport representative and others. The purpose of the meetings was to understand the range of issues in the neighborhood. A summary of the meetings and the general thoughts conveyed from stakeholders is posted below. The November 5 meeting was another opportunity for you to provide feedback around what you envision for the neighborhood, and what you value. The group comments, the conversations before and after the presentation as well as the sticky note comments were very helpful in this regard.

Future Communication:
We will follow-up on the November 5 conversation in several ways:
• We will report back on “what we heard” from the meeting (the detailed meeting notes, sticky note comments, results of dot exercise, etc.) in the coming two weeks. We’ll send this to you and others on our contact list via email, and we’ll ask you if we heard you correctly.

• We are creating a web site for Georgetown where we will post information about all of our conversations with the community, background information (zoning maps, demographics, etc.), feedback from earlier meetings and this latest meeting, and links to community organizations and related initiatives. We plan to have this web site up and running by November 19. In the meantime, materials from the November 5th meeting and some initial background materials are posted below.

• We anticipate another meeting during the first quarter of next year to continue this discussion and present the findings of DPD’s “Local Production Study” and the Department of Neighborhoods’ survey of historic resources in Georgetown. The Local Production Study focuses on the demand for local production /craft manufacturing spaces, and the economic challenges and opportunities for their location in Georgetown and other neighborhoods.

• We’ll email you with updates as to the direction of the industrial lands policy and other initiatives that relate to Georgetown. We’ll also provide links and information on our Georgetown web site.

Materials:
November 5th Community Meeting
Original meeting boards
Industrial Lands Presentation
Summary of previous discussions (July 2014 –October 2014)
Letter from DPD Director to community – October 20, 2014
Existing zoning and land use maps
Look for an upcoming announcement about the new webpage where additional materials and information will be posted.

We invite you to email or phone at any time for further discussion and to provide feedback or questions. Contact Aly Pennucci, Senior Planner at Aly.pennucci@seattle.gov or (206) 386-9132.