Op-Ed: Councilmember Roberts on the 185th subarea rezoning

Thursday, February 26, 2015

By Shoreline Councilmember Chris Roberts

In 2008, Shoreline and regional voters approved ST 2, including the development of two light rail stations in the City. As we approach the seven year anniversary of the vote, Sound Transit will in April issue its Final Environment Impact Statement for building the line from Northgate through Shoreline to Lynnwood and determining mitigation measures. I believe Shoreline residents continue to support light rail and recognize that some change will happen to facilitate its arrival.

While this process has unfolded with Sound Transit, I supported efforts to study the effect of rezoning properties near the station areas at 185th and 145th. I believe that creating opportunities for Transit Orientated Development around the station areas and concentrating housing near frequent, reliable transit service is good for our environment and provides opportunity for achieving other goals, including creating more affordable housing and ensuring social justice in our City. 

However, as we move closer to adoption of plans for the station areas, we must remain realistic in how and when our vision will be realized. My family lived near a light rail station in Sacramento near Highway 50. In the twenty years since the stations opened, despite an overlay allowing for more intense development, the neighborhood remains single-family. In Portland, a City consultant suggested that “it is unlikely that the large-scale projects envisioned in the 1980s will ever occur" around the MAX stations at NE 60th and NE 84 Avenues - two stations on Interstate 84.

Done correctly, studies by both the City and Sound Transit show there is some potential for development around the station areas. Sound Transit itself has worked to build affordable housing near existing stations and I expect similar partnerships to develop in Shoreline. That said, we should base our legislative decisions based on realistic expectations of development within the short term. The stations in Shoreline are residential in character and we should not expect them to turn into an urban village overnight.

Any changes to zoning in the station area should be concentrated to the immediate vicinity of the station itself, especially in the next ten years. With a concentrated rezone, we will be able to monitor the rate and types of development and make adjustments over time. We must keep our focus on the guiding principles the City adopted - supporting “a transition to transit-oriented communities over time and in partnership with the local neighborhood.” 

I continue to value your thoughts and suggestions about the station areas and other issues the City faces. 

~~~~
You can contact Councilmember Roberts at croberts@shorelinewa.gov and the entire council at council@shorelinewa.gov


18 comments:

Anonymous,  February 26, 2015 at 10:21 PM  

The Seattle area in 2015 is vastly different than Portland in the 80's or Sacramento in the 90's. The rate of growth and in-migration in our region will continue to create demand for housing, and as a result new vibrant communities will emerge. It would be a mistake if Shoreline didn't seize this opportunity. A smaller phase 1 rezone concentrated around the station has merit, but not linking the station to Aurora and upgrading/ rezoning the 185th St corridor would forever weigh on the legacy of this Council. The Council really showed it's colors the other night with the political posturing, ambivalence, inconsistency, apparent disregard, and the seeming lack of in depth knowledge. The expectations were not met. Regardless whether we agree or disagree with your views, the people of Shoreline want to have confidence that you understand the consequences of your vote and that you have courage in your convictions. The citizens, staff, Planning Commission and Council have been working on a vision for years and now many of you Councilmembers appear to have become weak and wandering. I'm embarrassed for you.

Anonymous,  February 26, 2015 at 10:35 PM  

Several of the councilmembers seem to be motivated by long standing desires to expand the population of the city at every opportunity. Development is seen as the solution to every funding problem the city faces. Sound transit suggested 700 to 800 units over 20 years and the city suggested rezoning 3500 single family homes. The areas around the train stations(185th and 145th) combined are nearly 1/4 of the city. No one other than Mr. Roberts seems to have the necessary courage to scale this thing back. Creating corridors between 15th ave NE and Aurora is seen as a golden opportunity to create a new commercial corridor. This has nothing to do with transit, but everything to do with grand plans to remake this city into something other than a single family community of affordable homes and good schools. The council has heard overwhelming condemnation of this scheme for months now at planning commission and city council meetings.Hopefully, before the city suffers anymore damage, the voice of the citizens of this city will ring loud enough to be heard. It is time the council provides a plan the community can support. We all want Transit to be a part of our lives not something that destroys everything we have worked for years to acquire.

Anonymous,  February 26, 2015 at 10:36 PM  

Councilmember Hall, is that you?

Karen Easterly-Behrens,  February 26, 2015 at 10:55 PM  

Councilman Roberts continually demonstrates thorough and thoughtful consideration when evaluating the needs of our city. Balancing the needs of our city is a complicated and complex endeavor. Councilman Roberts weighs the needs of the current citizens a bit heavier than the "theoretical" future occupants. Despite or maybe in spite of his less thoughtful and transparent peers on the City Council, Councilman Roberts demonstrates leadership in challenging the thought process and demanding a realistic approach ......leaving him in the minority. He is a decent man dedicated to representing his neighbors to the best of his ability despite being in the company of lesser people. The developers are posting here chomping at the bit......I am embarrassed by their over representation in the decision making process associated with our city. We need more representatives like Councilman Roberts.

Anonymous,  February 26, 2015 at 11:05 PM  

@anon10:21... you forgot to mention the other parties who have been involved in "working on a vision for years"... it's quite a long list.

You may want to prepare now for embracing change in regards to the new vision of Shoreline that is driven by the voice of the people. Changes to City Council positions during the next two rounds of elections, changes to the appointments on the Planning Commission, a pruning of City Staff, reigning in frivolous City spending, turning unused space at City Hall into housing for the homeless, making Shoreline small business friendly instead of driving them out, accommodating moderate growth at the station areas that doesn't ruin the existing neighborhoods, and have a backbone about Point Wells.



Anonymous,  February 26, 2015 at 11:06 PM  

It was awful to watch 2 weeks in a row how the Tres Amigos block strategically maneuvered to confuse Councilwoman McConnell, It was ugly to witness and a thorough embarrassment duly documented on video and memorialized forever!

Anonymous,  February 26, 2015 at 11:12 PM  

Rewriting history is fun especially if you don't stick to the facts! The vision the citizens worked on called Aurora our signature boulevard. The neighborhoods were supposed to be protected.
This 185th street corridor plan proposes building 45 foot tall buildings on lots that are somehow magically cobbled together. Because there is no room to fit more than 3 lanes in the roadway, the buildings will be supported by alleys that run behind the buildings apparently the entire length of the corridor. This treatment is supposed to cover 2 to three blocks both north and south of 185th. The fact that the county just spent millions putting a drainage system in the park at 183rd and Corliss because of flooding issues that go back at least 60 years doesn't seem to stop these plans. Apparently people believe that the water table could change! Houses have been removed from this neighborhood and ducks land in the back yards. Because the slope of the land breaks so dramatically downhill from 185th south into streets like Corliss Meridian and Sunnyside. The houses on some of these streets would effectively be 60 feet below the top of the buildings on 185th and would be permanently blocked from sunlight.
If the city wants to create a corridor they should look at Main Street in Gresham Oregon, a city that looks so much like Shoreline you have to blink twice to be sure your not home. The project uses original 35 foot tall structures mixed with homes along a 3 lane road with parking pockets on alternating sides of the road. It is the hottest spot in the Portland area right now. These structures are in scale to the surrounding community and allow the current residents great amenities and homes they can afford. Light rail is 1/2 mile to 3/4 of a mile away. It works there why not here?

Anonymous,  February 26, 2015 at 11:15 PM  

Forever weigh on the legacy of this city council......... what drama and grandstanding! Hmmm..... legacy of a levy lid lift, legacy of a SPU assumption that was underestimated by over 50 million dollars.... legacy of the Aurora Project going at least 66 million over and not yet completed....

Anonymous,  February 26, 2015 at 11:32 PM  

To commenter 1, I know how scary this kind of change seems, and I can only imagine how scared and anxious you must feel right now that this much change has taken place in such a short amount of time. You'll learn to accept it eventually. Just let it sink in and remember that we can only be responsible for our own feeling and emotions and it's such a waste of energy to spend so much time projecting our embarrassment on other people. Remember, if you don't like what's happened, you can always move away, to make way for the over-hyped growth.

Anonymous,  February 27, 2015 at 2:08 AM  

Thank you Councilmember Roberts for being a voice of reason. I agree with your opinion. It is nice to see a Councilmember remembering they represent us and taking what the overwhelming majority of their constituency wants into account. If these preferred alternatives were created with any citizen input at all it would have come from a very small minority (as in literally a few people) during the tainted citizen committee meetings run by lobbyist group Futurewise and city planners who get paid to push agendas and have motives other than what would be best for Shoreline and its citizens. I think the facts and overwhelming public feedback show the plans are unrealistic, unwanted and a more moderate version that makes sense and is based on reality is what is desired.

Anonymous,  February 27, 2015 at 7:26 AM  

Why is it that I get the feeling that not one single person posting here in favor of large-scale development lives in the City of Shoreline?

ELAINE PHELPS,  February 27, 2015 at 12:30 PM  

Thanks to Councilmember Chris Roberts for his willingness to listen and to seek a
resolution that: does the least harm to the fewest number of residents; prepares
adequately for the near future while preserving affordable single-family housing; and
waits for facts-on-the-ground after the stations are in operation to evaluate what more,
if anything, might be needed.

This sounds so beautifully reasonable that I wonder why it was not the first
approach taken by Council and staff since it surely would have avoided the disharmony
already created by their intransigence. The Council has now been given a chance
to make things right. I sincerely hope they take it.

Julie Houff,  February 27, 2015 at 1:48 PM  

Cramming poor people or any people into large buildings near a soot making freeway is not social justice, however. Please wait until it's more clear when our freeways and other main roads will be much more CO2 neutral before adding homes likely to be inhabited by young folks or anyone who we would like to invite here to join our community long term. If short term living is what you prefer, then we are not talking building community, fyi. Neighbors build community and sometimes true community oriented style building architects assist with facilitating that. General developers tend to not have expertise in community building projects. Healthy living for all is socially just.

http://vault.sierraclub.org/sprawl/report04_highwayhealth/report.pdf

Please be most diligent in allowing for smart, affordable to ALL, and KIND growth of likely desirable 2-3 story townhomes/mutlifamily while having clear cut policy and laws in place that will control potential land banking, blight, unnecessary nature scape destruction, etc. A diversity of homes with access for all to very nearby open spaces, gardens, trees, and healthy wetland areas while not pushing out current single family homeowners who wish to live in the most affordable homes- homes that are or soon will be debt free to our profiteering bankster overlords (the same ilk who are very much behind creating bran new debt creating "communities") - is most just.

Anything over 2-3 stories near current single family will encroach and tend to create rezone refugees and encourage more of the the same or near the same in scale. Just look at any single story neighborhood and see how a large 2 story is quite out of scale. Also, If you have towers anywhere, you will invite more towers anywhere else. Large scale building becomes the new norm. If you avoid towers you will tend to lack towers. Ask yourselves what type of city do you really envision. Most importantly be aware of who you allow to influence your decisions. Let's avoid doing what common developers and politicians tend to do. While many residents prefer 35-55 foot limit to maintain comfortable scale throughout their area, non residents builders and other NGO's who've been heavily influenced by them would likely rally for more and bigger is better.

Currently you have 70 feet- down from the 85 feet limit on the rezone planning map. How will you prevent it from going back to 85 or even up to 140 feet??? And, didn't the council vote to hinder any recourse by residents when they voted to adopt a planned action- one before the EIS process is complete? Shoreline can do much better.

http://www.bobguskind.com/2008/09/12/carroll-gardens-group-sends-letter-to-de-blasio-about-360-smith/

Jan Stewart,  February 27, 2015 at 2:27 PM  

The perspective and opinions Councilmember Roberts articulates seem thoughtful and reasonable. However, the devil is in the details, as they say. I am left wondering how the very generalized approach expressed in this op-ed line up with the 185th zoning map and various amendments council worked over last Monday night. The enormous rezone area contained in the “Roberts map” was not significantly different in overall size than the other map options, and the phasing implementation he put forward was even shorter than the city’s. Does Councilmember Roberts now not support his own map? Does he propose that council reconsider amendments so painfully “discussed” at that marathon meeting to now actually scale back and concentrate development immediately around the station? (The updated map is still not available on city’s website, so does anyone know what it now looks like?) It was Councilmember Eggen, not Councilmember Roberts, who proposed an amendment with a ten-year separation between phases. This was not supported, opting instead for Phase 1 in 2015 and Phase 2 in 2021, a short 6 years later and well before the station is operating, making the so-called Phase 2 meaningless, and more like a Phase 1-A as Councilmember Eggen put it. I think Councilmember Roberts means well and may at this point want to find a balance by trimming back the “connecting corridors” (geez how I’ve come to hate that term). If that’s what he has in mind, I would be supportive of that effort, but from this article, it’s not at all clear exactly what Councilmember Roberts is proposing – if anything.

Anonymous,  February 27, 2015 at 2:43 PM  

I wonder where the concept of connecting corridors came from? Failed HB 1490 - http://futurewise.org/priorities/legislature/TOC Anyone know if this land-use mandate and tool for displacement is being woven into the ST3 package at the moment?

ELAINE PHELPS,  February 27, 2015 at 6:37 PM  

ANONYMOUS seems to be the most frequent one posting here - 11 out of the 15 so far.

Council Member Chris Roberts is offering a resolution that the rest of the Council should look upon with favor - evaluating input from residents of Shoreline and trying to find a way to accommodate their concerns while also addressing the needs of the GMA and the coming Light Rail stations.

Roberts's proposal is very doable - a reasonable rezone without total destruction of long- established neighborhoods that comprise about 1/4 - 25% - of our entire city, yet allowing for some appropriately-scaled housing especially designed for those who would most benefit from being close to the stations at affordable cost.

This represents the best kind of city official, as opposed to some of those on the council who seem determined to ignore citizen needs, citizen pain, citizen input. They set up false choices - it must be this most extreme rezone with all its attendant dislocation and anxiety for affected residents OR nothing else, along with false accusations of nimby-ism.

Absolutely no one has advocated doing nothing - we're at least as intelligent as the council members - we know that some degree of change will come.

The difference is that the council and staff were privy to the proposed changes while by far the great majority of Shoreline taxpayers were not kept in the loop by the City.

We knew that two Light Rail stations were coming, but where was public notice to all Shoreline residents that a huge chunk of our city was to be radically changed into something that none of us were consulted about and that few of us would want.

Who did have input to this proposal?

No one should be surprised that residents rebelled against this autocratic push against our best interests while at the same time apparently giving nearly all they could desire to anonymous developers whose only goal is profit.

Anonymous,  February 28, 2015 at 8:56 PM  

You can check out how awesome concentrated affordable housing is by visiting the corner of 145th and Lake City Way. While your there, have your car broken into, buy some Meth at the 7-11, and then get mugged.

Anonymous,  February 28, 2015 at 11:23 PM  

Nice try Futurewise and 185thCC!

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