4 to Explore: A Northeast Neighborhoods Newsletter

2017 December

1 Meeting to Connect

H.A.L.A. Open Houses / Community Protests

Booming population. Choking streets. Skyrocketing costs.

Managing growth in Seattle was a key campaign issue this past November as we voted for a new Mayor and both city-wide Councilmembers. Despite some new leadership, City Hall is plowing ahead with the land use and housing policies hatched by disgraced Mayor Ed Murray — his backroom deal with influential real estate developers called H.A.L.A. (Housing Affordability & Livability Agenda).

As part of its plan to up-zone 27 Seattle neighborhoods, the city government released its Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS) on Nov 9, 2017 and is hosting “Open Houses” to tell us all what to expect regarding upzones in our neighborhoods.

According to the City website, “Come and review maps of proposed MHA zoning changes to your urban Village.

District 4 includes the following urban villages:
Eastlake, Fremont, Greenlake, Roosevelt, U-District, Wallingford

Districts 5 + 6 includes the following urban villages: Aurora-Licton Springs, Ballard, Bitter Lake, Crown Hill, Greewood-Phinney Ridge, Lake City, Northgate.”

Unfortunately, the Final EIS fails to adequately address how the city will handle the increased pressures on bus service, school capacity, parks, trees, and other issues. For example, Section 1.43 (page 75 of the 1,050 page document) offers a lame response to how the Seattle Public School (SPS) District would respond to the city government’s 27 upzones: “SPS would respond to the exceedance of capacity as it has done in the past, by adjusting school boundaries and/or geographic zones, adding/ removing portables, adding/renovating buildings, reopening closed buildings or schools, and/or pursuing future capital programs.”  While the upzones will financially benefit many real estate investors, the final EIS has no specifics, timeline, or decision on whether to have those profiting from the upzones forgo some of their Return on Investment by paying Impact Fees — which could help to build schools like they do throughout Washington State and the nation.

Moreover, while City Hall leaders wring their hands about economic inequities, their Final EIS also fails to address the economic displacement of existing residents.

Due to the shortcomings of the City’s massive upzone plans, a coalition of community groups is protesting HALA by formally appealing the Final E.I.S. For information about coalition or to support it, CLICK HERE. For mainstream media coverage of their formal appeal, CLICK HERE.

In addition to the concerns mentioned above, many are upset by the lack of true affordable housing in the so-called “Mandatory Housing Affordability” (MHA) policy that accompanies the upzones. They feel our city government is “giving away the store” to for-profit developers who refuse to set-aside apartment units for low-income tenants. That’s because city government is allowing for-profit developers not only allow to build more market-rate (un-affordable units) than authorized under today’s zoning code, but also to write a check instead of actually building the urgently needed affordable housing onsite — many would agree that excluding low-income families from your new apartment building is not  “welcoming,”  “equitable,” or “progressive values” as touted by City Hall.

It’s important to note that several real estate developers think HALA will not benefit them. Smaller real estate developers, in particular, often generate a smaller return on investment, depending on the project they are building. The blame/burden rests not with for-profit developers who naturally strive to build profitable projects while trying to influence an unpredictable City Hall (as distasteful as that might feel), but rather with the City Hall officials and their inability or unwillingness to rigorously use math, business acumen, and best practices to negotiate a fair deal for the public they serve.

For our previous columns on HALA concerns, CLICK HERE.

This season’s “Meeting to Connect“: H.A.L.A. OPEN HOUSES / COMMUNITY PROTESTS.

NORTH SEATTLE DISTRICT 4 upzones:

  • WHAT: Upzones/Mandatory Affordable Housing (MHA) “Open House”
  • WHEN: Tuesday, Jan 30, 2018 at 6:00 p.m.
  • WHO: you, your neighbors, and small businesses fromEastlake, Fremont, Green Lake, Roosevelt, U-District, and Wallingford.
  • HOSTED BY: the City Hall officials pushing H.A.L.A.
  • WHERE: Hamilton Middle School 1610 N. 41st Street, WA 98103.
[UPDATE: There is also an official “public hearing” on Monday, February 12 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Eckstein Middle School 3003 NE 75th Street, Seattle, WA 98115. For the official city link, CLICK HERE. For an article critical of the upzone plans, CLICK HERE for the Eastlake Community Council and access to their Eastlake Newsletter.  It’s doubtful that the feedback from Jan 30 could be incorporated quickly enough to have a public hearing on a specific proposal, which demonstrates once again City Halls’ bogus process of “engaging” with the communities.

 

NORTH SEATTLE DISTRICTS 5 & 6 upzones:

  • WHAT: Upzones/Mandatory Affordable Housing (MHA) “Open House”
  • WHEN: Wed, Feb 28, 2018 at 6:00 p.m.
  • WHO: you, your neighbors, and small businesses fromAurora-Licton Springs, Ballard, Bitter Lake, Crown Hill, Greewood-Phinney Ridge, Lake City, and Northgate
  • HOSTED BY: the City Hall officials pushing H.A.L.A.
  • WHERE: Whitman Middle School gym, 9201 15th Ave NW Seattle, WA 98117

For the full calendar from City Hall, CLICK HERE. For the maps, CLICK HERE.

IDEOLOGUES / LOBBYISTS / INTEREST GROUPS WARNING: The audience might be swarming with activist members of single-issue interest groups — many of whom are funded by the for-profit developers pushing the upzones — and other ideologues encouraged by city officials and lobbyists to attend in order to insulate City Hall from the criticism of the residents and neighborhood businesses skeptical of the upzones. So, find your neighbors and don’t be shy about asking questions of city officials. It’s complicated stuff, requiring overlapping maps and “insider-baseball” land use terminology. Be persistent — the city officials work for you and this is your community.

Like the many Seattle residents who want to grow affordable housing and impede urban sprawl, we have been extremely frustrated with H.A.L.A. because it falls short on both affordability and livability. And, while the changes forced by H.A.L.A. benefit several real estate developers, landowners, and land speculators, City Hall is imposing H.A.L.A. in an undemocratic and divisive manner — pitting well-meaning people against each other and demonizing or steamrolling long-time Seattle residents who express skepticism or concern. Bullying residents is bad policy — it’s not sustainable in Seattle, it’s not scalable to other cities, and it’s just not right.  Without the H.A.L.A. bulldozers revving their engines, the same neighborhood leaders, interest groups, and residents barking at each other over Twitter would probably be enjoying a beer or coffee together, discussing how best to manage growth within Seattle and how to stem the harmful development sprawl spreading rapidly in areas east of the Cascades and throughout the U.S.

photo of bulldozer at NE 50th Street & Brooklyn on March 7, 2017

1 Issue to Engage

Listen Up, City Hall!

As published recently in Crosscut.com and in last season’s newsletter.

LISTEN UP, CITY HALL!

Congratulations to the surviving city government candidates — and listen up!

Residents want to know how you will listen to them — rather than to campaign donors and interest groups…

Here are four ways you can empower all of City Hall to listen more:

1. Hold City Council Meetings at Night.
Should city residents be required to use a vacation day to tell City Councilmembers their ideas and concerns? Of course not. So why does City Council conduct its meetings from 9 to 5 when most residents are working or taking their children to and from school? Typically the only people able to attend Council meetings are lobbyists or activists spurred by those lobbyists. The “Busy Majority” of residents cannot attend because they cannot be away from their jobs or families.  City Council: please hold your meetings at night — and provide child care so parents and guardians can attend.

2. Activate a 3-1-1 Call Center Available 24/7.

Do what has worked well for more than a decade in cities from San Francisco to Chicago to New York: enable people to dial an easy-to-remember phone number (3-1-1) to request city services and report concerns — from potholes to policies. The City’s Customer Service Bureau is available ONLY on weekdays and Councilmember office hours for constituents are scant or inconsistent. Few can remember the City’s non-emergency phone number and it provides only minimal services. While the “Find It Fix It” technology works for some, a 3-1-1 Call Center open 24/7 will enable residents without access to fancy iPhones to receive the best customer service. A 3-1-1 Call Center will also make our communities safer by reducing the number of non-emergency calls to 9-1-1 operators. City managers and Councilmembers could use the 3-1-1 software system to track responsiveness and results for their constituents.

3. Free Councilmembers to Spend More Time with Neighbors.

What’s the easiest way to carve out time for Councilmembers? Free them from time-consuming research required to vote on frivolous or unnecessary Resolutions. The Council should immediately amend its own rules [Section V (A)(2)] to allow abstentions on most Resolutions, except those needed for the city budget, legislative work plans, and related Ordinances. Enable the “Work Horses” in City Council to ignore the “Show Horses.”

Here’s why abstentions are so important: Certain City Councilmembers love to spend weeks drafting and lobbying their colleagues to support Resolutions that have nothing to do with city government. But City Council’s own rules require Councilmembers to vote Yes or No. Example: international affairs. Will the United Nations really care what the Seattle City Council thinks about treaties with foreign nations? No. Yet Councilmembers are spending precious hours researching them. Let Councilmembers abstain from these distractions so they can spend more time listening to constituents.  Fewer TED Talks, More Sidewalks!

4. Conduct a Poll Every Year and Share it with the Public:

After all of those community meetings, here’s what City Councilmembers really listen to: polls. Unfortunately, politicians conduct polls only when they are trying to get re-elected – whereas they should have been listening to a wide array of residents during the previous four years. They also hog the polling data for themselves. Worst of all, they are beholden to the campaign contributors who pay the pollsters. So, let’s democratize the data.  Conduct official surveys and release results to the public as cities already do in California,  Missouri, and Canada.

Methodically asking residents across the city what they think can help to prioritize funding, assist journalists, and inform community groups. Surveys would not substitute for deeper debate and discussion with neighborhood groups and vulnerable populations, but gathering information from a well-crafted, professionally conducted phone survey of residents will enhance our public discourse.

Engaging with the residents of Seattle should not be a separate chore or box to check when elected officials need something.  Connecting with constituents is the essence of being an elected official

If you agree, send this website link of our Crosscut column to the City Council:

The link:
http://crosscut.com/2017/09/4-ways-councilmembers-can-actually-listen-to-their-constituents/

E-mail address that reaches all 9 Councilmembers: council@seattle.gov

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1 Fun to Enjoy

Jazz Nutcracker at Roosevelt High

What do Duke Ellington, Teddy Roosevelt, and Tchaikovsky all have in common? The Jazz Nutcracker at Roosevelt High!  In Northeast Seattle, combining the classic Nutcracker music with the acclaimed jazz band of Roosevelt High School is destined to be more enjoyable than combining cream, eggs, and spirits into eggnog for the holidays.

So grab your tickets today for the JAZZ NUTCRACKER AT ROOSEVELT HIGH.

As described on their website“Swing into the holiday season with Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s festive Jazz Nutcracker, a fanciful take on the Tchaikovsky suite. The award-winning Roosevelt Jazz Band is fortunate to have the rights to perform this arrangement. Join us for a Seattle tradition. Check out this video for a preview of what you will enjoy at the show.”

  • WHAT: Nutcracker Jazz performances
  • WHEN: Sat, Dec 2 at 7:30 p.m. and Sun, Dec 3 at 2:00 p.m.
  • WHERE: Roosevelt High at 1410 NE 66th Street, Seattle, WA 98115
  • PARKING? Yes.
  • COST? Yes, to buy tickets CLICK HERE.
  • KID-FRIENDLY EVENT? Yes!

If you miss the live performance, you can download past concerts or buy music CDs, by CLICKING HERE. You’ll be the hippest, micro-local Christmas afficionado by playing the Rough Riders playing Duke Ellington at your holiday party.

It’s been 3 years since we originally featured the Jazz Nutcracker here in “4 to Explore”: https://alexpedersen.org/jazz-nutcracker-at-roosevelt/  So if you have not enjoyed it in a while, it’s time to go back to high school to enjoy it again. The band members are different, but the music is the same high quality.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Learn more about the Roosevelt neighborhood, named after former President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt. Check out the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association (RNA) and read their publication “The Roosie.” Roosevelt hosts an annual “Bull Moose” Festival, which is traditionally held every summer.

The Roosevelt neighborhood is going through a lot of changes with the light rail station scheduled to open in 2021 (the big red crane has been a recent fixture). One of our first Stores to Adore already closed Peaks Frozen Custard and many other may be pushed out by demolitions and rising rents on cherished neighborhood businesses such as Teddy’s Tavern. We at 4toExplore.org have featured a few more including Rain City Burgers, Bengal Tiger, and India Bistro.

MORE: Families can find other fun events this holiday season on the websites of Parent MapRed Tricycle, and Seattle’s Child.

1 Store to Adore

S.P.A.C.E. Radio 101.FM for Northeast Seattle

Okay, a radio station is not a “store.” But, with all of the crass commercialism that comes with the holiday season, isn’t it refreshing to know there’s a place on the radio dial where you can enjoy commercial-free music all the time — programmed locally here in Northeast Seattle?

This holiday season, explore the newest radio station: 101.1 FM S.P.A.C.E. RADIO.

MUSIC: The songs they play are soulful, fun, and interesting. And no commercials!  For example, there is a show called “The Roots Roundup” which “brings you a mix of Americana, traditional country, rockabilly old and new. Live in studio performances too. Monday night 7:00 PM”

This is the Holiday issue of 4toExplore so, if you are craving Christmas music all of the time, tune into Warm 106.9 FM, which was playing Michael Buble, Frank Sinatra, and Harry Connick, Jr. when I grabbed their website link.

For a recent and comprehensive article on community radio in Seattle, CLICK HERE. It features not only 101.1 FM serving Northeast Seattle by broadcasting from Magnuson Park, but also 96.9 FM “Earth On-the-Air” radio (KODX) broadcasting from the University District, and 103.7 FM that can be heard in Fremont / Wallingford.

To stay in tune with SPACE 101.1 FM, it’s best to Like/Follow their Facebook page, where they post more frequently than on Twitter or their website.

As described more eloquently on their website, “Four years ago, Sand Point Arts and Cultural Exchange (SPACE) was issued a construction permit from the FCC to start a low-power FM [LPFM] radio station. SPACE 101.1 began its testing in late September 2017 and is now one of Seattle’s newest stations, built for the community and broadcasting out of Magnuson Park.”

Lower Power FM radio “stations operate on the energy of a 100-watt light bulb yet due to a great antenna placement, SPACE 101.1 has a large broadcast range… SPACE’s priority is to build community by connecting the park’s many stakeholders and visitors through creative and community based programming.”

But the antenna of the radio station is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg for S.P.A.C.E. headquartered in Building 30 at Magnuson Park. We at 4toExplore.org have featured their engaging, year-round art exhibits.

NEIGHBORHOOD: To learn more about Magnuson Park, visit the official website of City of Seattle’s Parks & Rec Dep and attend the Magnuson Park Advisory Committee on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at 6:00 p.m. in the Building 30 conference room.  There is so much important activity at this huge former naval air station, including soccer leagues, the new Waldorf High School, the Tennis Center, theatrical performances, the Friends of the Sand Point Magnuson Park Historic District, and the new large apartment project from Mercy Housing on Sand Point Way (Building 9).

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