This afternoon at City Hall, the full Seattle City Council voted 7-2 to approve the Roosevelt legislative rezone. Whatever your opinion about the details of the proposal, this step culminates a process which began in July 2006 when we submitted our detailed recommendations for the rezone. What a long strange trip it’s been.
The final stages of the process have been rather dramatic, even by City Hall standards. Last week Councilmember Nick Licata responded to a request from the Ravenna-Bryant Community Association (RBCA) and the RNA to propose an amendment to the legislation which would have provided a two week delay for the purpose of reaching a more detailed agreement with the Roosevelt Development Group (RDG), the developer for the fruit stand block. Over the weekend, RDG signaled that they could not execute any type of written agreement, for fear of potential lawsuits. On the Council floor this afternoon, Licata advanced his amendment and it was supported by Councilmembers Bruce Harrell and Jean Godden. But the other six rejected it, and so there would be no delay. On the vote for the overall rezone, Licata took an affirmative stance because he said that he wanted to remain engaged in the process. Harrell and Godden rejected the rezone package, stating that they felt that their votes needed to reflect broad community sentiment, in opposition to 65 ft. heights on the high school blocks. Several councilmembers made short speeches to explain the thinking behind their votes. I’ll have more to say about how things turned out and why, but there is the bottom line. You can watch the entire meeting online from the City Council website if you are so inclined.
What happens next is continued informal design meetings between a group of building design professionals who live in our community, the Ravenna-Bryant community and RDG with their architect, GGLO. These discussions are important and afford the neighborhood an opportunity to have input into the design of buildings on the high school blocks. What we’re trying to do is to optimize the outcome of buildings taller than what we would have preferred, if that can be done. I am hopeful for this process as we have some very skilled neighbors working on this effort, led by RNA Vice President John Adams.
There will be other efforts to implement the provisions of the Roosevelt Legislative Rezone, including an update to the neighborhood design guidelines and concept plans for a network of newly designated “greenstreets”. You’ll be hearing more about these projects, and I encourage you to get involved.
Approval of the rezone is a major milestone for the Roosevelt and Ravenna communities, as it sets the stage for redevelopment of many parcels throughout the neighborhood. Chief among these is the fruit stand block, at the Northwest corner of NE 65th St. and 15th Ave. NE. After decades of degradation, you can expect to see improvements on this site in 2012. And that is a good thing, I feel.
Chair, Land Use Committee
Roosevelt Neighborhood Association