March 2012 General Meeting Minutes
The meeting was called to order at 6:10pm.
Mike Kent, Vice President, ran the meeting in the absence of President Norma Jean Straw. Other officers in attendance were Eric Sanders, Secretary/Treasurer, and Rachael Brister, Officer At-Large. On average, about 17 community members and representatives were in attendance. The meeting began with introductions.
- A representative from the Miller Community Center at 19th and Thomas invited those interested to join the community centerâ€™s board and advisory council. If interested, please contact the community center at 206-684-4753.
- Steven Miller, who recently became editor of the Capitol Hill Times, introduced himself to the community. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org with any suggestions, tips, leads, etc.
- Rhonda Dixon, the Sound Transit rep for Capitol Hill light rail station construction, and her colleague for UW light rail construction, gave a construction update. Follow this link for detailed construction updates: http://projects.soundtransit.org/Projects-Home/University-Link.xml.
- Community member Cathy Hillenbrand had heard that the Capitol Hill post office at Broadway and Denny (whose lease expires at the end of the year), as well as the International District station and the station at 23rd and Union, will be closing and consolidating operations. Another community member in attendance said he had heard that the post offices will not be merging/consolidating.
- On Saturday, March 24, at 11:00am, the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce and Sound Transit will be unveiling a temporary portrait of Cal Anderson on the park wall nearest to the Cal Anderson park water feature. Dow Constantine, King County Executive, State Senator Ed Murray, and Councilmember Richard Conlin will be speaking.
- Stephen Hall and Audrey Van Horne from the Friends of Volunteer Park Conservatory (the Friends) gave a restoration update. Architectural drawings have been completed for restoration of the eastern two houses and the greenhouse and all necessary permits have been obtained, but the city lacks funds to complete the restoration projects. The Friends are in the early stages of a capital campaign to raise the $3.5 million needed. If you are interested in contributing and/or volunteering your time, please contact the Friends at www.volunteerparkconservatory.org. In addition, the city is contemplating whether they will continue to run the conservatory and/or whether it will even remain open. Michael Wells from the Capitol Hill Chamber strongly encouraged everyone to contact Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, who chairs the Councilâ€™s Parks and Neighborhoods Committee, and Christopher Williams, the superintendent of the parks department.
- Tim Durkan from the Cityâ€™s Department of Neighborhoods and the East District Coordinator, talked about the departmentâ€™s PACE (Peopleâ€™s Academy for Community Engagement) leadership program. The program starts the fourth Thursday of April and has seven weekly sessions. Tim mentioned that this program is perfect for current and future civic leaders. However, although Tim thinks the deadline may be extended, the deadline to apply is this Friday, March 16. Contact Tim at email@example.com for further details and to determine if the deadline was pushed out.
- Cathy Hillenbrand, Capitol Hill Champion lead, gave a brief background on the Champion initiative and the Urban Design Framework (UDF). A development agreement (DA) is being developed between Seattle and Sound Transit, using the UDF suggestions, to guide the transit-oriented development above the future Capitol Hill light rail station. The City and Sound Transit would like to increase the site density further than that laid out in the UDF. The Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for developers is scheduled to go out September 2012 and the Request for Proposals (RFP) is scheduled to go out the first part of 2013, but Cathy thinks this is an optimistic timeline. As the communityâ€™s watchdog in this process, the Champion has been invited to co-host the RFQ process with Sound Transit. The Champion will continue to closely monitor (1) whether the increased density desired by the city and Sound Transit is compatible with the UDF, and (2) whether a LGBTQ community center will be a part of the development. Discussion ensued about types/amounts of office space, whether office tenants should include a significant amount of non-profits, etc.
- Mike Kent, the 12th Avenue Safety project lead, gave an update. The committeeâ€™s third public meeting held last night focused on the committeeâ€™s final draft report of their 12th Avenue intersection-by-intersection safety recommendations. The final report will be issued in about a month. A new crosswalk is to be installed at the intersection of 12th and Harrison, a direct result of the project. The committee and city are also considering installing a full curb bulb at the intersection. Mike mentioned that this is just the first of hopefully many remaining improvements. The committee will next discuss installation of a crosswalk at Howell and 12th.
- Ruth Harper, Associate Transportation Planner from the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), spoke primarily about four upcoming summer 2012 changes to on-street metered parking in Capitol Hill. Stemming directly from the departmentâ€™s performance-based parking price program that sets paid parking rates by neighborhood to achieve the policy objective of providing an average of one to two open spaces per blockface throughout the day, the following changes will be implemented during summer 2012:
o Allow three hour parking in the evening after 5pm.
o Reduce the parking rate in the southern area south of East Olive/John Streets to $2.50/hour rate.
o Create north and south areas similar to other neighborhoodâ€™s core and edge conditions. (The highest average occupancy is clustered in the northern sections of Broadway, as well as the intersection of Broadway and Pine Street.)
o Pay-by-phone parking fees will be coming to all of Seattle soon.
A brief lively discussion ensued about the pros and cons of Seattleâ€™s parking policies. For more information, contact Ruth directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Community member Rebecca Herzfeld spoke about the Mayorâ€™s proposed package of regulatory changes which include allowing commercial businesses in certain Capitol Hill low-rise residential districts. Rebecca does not support this change and has three primary concerns:
o Allowing commercial uses in nearby multifamily zones could draw customers away from existing districts, which would harm current businesses and make it even more difficult to fill vacancies.
o The proposal does not address the potential impacts of commercial uses on residential areas, such as noise, odors, commercial deliveries, and increased traffic.
o In the past two years, the City Council has adopted sweeping changes to the low-rise zoning regulations that increased height and density, provided flexible regulations, and removed parking requirements. The Council should wait to make further major changes to low-rise zoning until the results of these major amendments can be evaluated.
It was noted that the focus of this change is beyond the small, in-home businesses that are common; the focus is more on larger commercial projects such as restaurants, bars, retail, etc. The Councilâ€™s Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability (PLUS) Committee, chaired by Councilmember Richard Conlin, will be holding a public hearing on the proposal Wednesday, March 28, at 9:30am. All interested community members are encouraged to attend.
- Bruce Bowden and a colleague from Citizens Rethink Yesler (CRY), a grassroots group opposed to the Yesler Terrace redevelopment, gave a video presentation delineating the groupâ€™s opposition:
o Primarily, they feel the development is way too big and out-of-scale for the neighborhood.
o The Seattle Housing Authority plans to sell half the publicly owned Yesler Terrace land to developers.
o Only 11% percent of the proposed residential units are for extremely low income people.
o Already bad traffic on First Hill will become worse. For example, without mitigation, the time for a vehicle to clear the intersection of 9th Street and Cherry Avenue during rush hour is predicted to take more than eight minutes.
o Once approved by the city council, there will be no appeals permitted, which is a restriction that could be in effect for up to 20 years.
The Seattle Housing Authority was unable to be at the meeting to discuss the project, but CHCC is hopeful they will be able to attend a future general meeting to discuss the project. It was noted by a community member that the same number of low income residences available now at Yesler Terrace will be available after the redevelopment. For more information about CRY, please contact Bruce at CRYcrier@comcast.net.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:55pm.