It's not over 'til it's over: 185th subarea zoning still in play - but not for long

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Corrected and updated 02-04-2015 7:35am

By Diane Hettrick

At the January 15th meeting of the Planning Commission so many people showed up to testify about the proposed rezone of the 185th subarea that the regular meeting started late and ended after 11pm.

The Planning Commission heard what was being said about the proposed plan, which simply stated was "Too much, too soon," and revamped the plans. 

The current plan now calls for a greatly reduced area for immediate rezone with a 3-Phase approach which reexamines the zoning at intervals of years. The rezone area itself remains the same.

City staff amended the plan to add sections to the east and west to Phase 1 to tie to Aurora and 15th NE business areas. Now it goes to the City Council, which has their own ideas about how much and how soon.

The whole plan is a moving target. City staff are working on this full-time, heeding the directions of the city council, working with the Planning Commission, and meeting with citizen groups.

If you went to one meeting, or read one article, or looked at one website, you are going to be shocked the next time you pay attention, because it will all have changed.

Planning has followed a process of Study / Take comments / Make decisions. There's nothing wrong with their process, but it is bewildering for people who are trying to follow and impossible for people who are just peripherally paying attention.

But now, there are important meetings coming up, where you do need to pay attention. Attend or talk to someone who did attend. Particularly, write your concerns and comments to both the Planning Commission Members and to the City Council. 

Comment to the Council at this email
Comment to the Planning Commission at this email

Shoreline City Council Meetings: City Hall, 17500 Midvale Ave N

185th Street Station Subarea Planning important meetings

February 9, Monday - Discussion of 185th Street Station Subarea Package (Zoning and Development Regulations) – 7-9pm

February 23, Monday - Council to make decisions on 185th Street Station Subarea Package - 6:30pm

The Planning for the 145th Street subarea is following in the footsteps of 185th, with the same issues of constant change. Because it is farther behind in the process, there is more opportunity to influence the process with comments and testimony.

145th Street Station Subarea Planning important meetings

February 5, Thursday - Open House - City Hall lobby, 6:00 to 7:00pm
PUBLIC HEARING for the 145th Street Station Subarea Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) Council Chambers, 7:00 - 9:00pm 

February 23, Monday - 6:30 to 9:00pm, City Hall - Council Chamber
City Council Meeting - Discussion of Zoning Alternatives to be analyzed in the 145th FEIS

City staff say they are hearing three themes from citizens regarding the rezone plans:
  1. People, particularly younger citizens, are excited about light rail, and looking forward to greater density and the prospect of being able to bike and walk to coffee shops, and shopping.
  2. Older people who bought starter homes 40 years ago are seeing a time when they will not be able to live in their homes because of mobility issues and health. They want to be able to get the most money out of their property to pay for their future expenses.
  3. People who are excited about light rail but hate / don't like change
If you agree with any of these statements or if you have a different viewpoint, you need to let Planners and City Councilmembers know. There's nothing mentioned in these statements about concern for the environment, for the huge trees that will be lost, for the wildlife that will be displaced. There may be other issues that are not being expressed in large enough numbers for the decision makers to pay attention.

Speak now. As of this writing, the final decision on 185th will be made on February 23rd. After that, all you can do is complain.


Anonymous,  February 3, 2015 at 8:01 AM  

The staff forgot the most important and prevalent type of citizen concern/theme. It just shows they do not listen to the citizens. Most people are excited about light rail and understand future development is coming, they just feel the current plan is too exreme. Zoning for 60,000 people plus commercial for a small square area in a city of only 53,000 is mind blowing. There is so much that could go wrong with the current plan and the rushing of pushing this through only makes the chances of unintended consequences more likely.

Anonymous,  February 3, 2015 at 10:47 AM  

3. People who are excited about light rail but hate change. Really?

These rezones are not "change", they're neighborhood destruction and will cause blight. This is not about us accepting change, it's about us being harmed in the process, which is not necessary.

Many of us welcome well-planned change that will increase density over time. But these huge rezones will not protect the interests of residents, but will definitely line the pockets of developers who will have free reign.

This can all be done in a gradual and phased manner, but our city council is in such a rush to get developers in here, they want these entire areas opened up immediately, even though Sound Transit's target is years away in 2023.

Random development is the opposite of well-planned development and is NOT in the interest of Shoreline residents, no matter which generation they belong to.

BTW, Sound Transit does not need these areas to be so huge. This "plan" is coming directly from the majority on our city council, which for some reason has decided to represent developers instead of the people who put them in office. Not good.

Anonymous,  February 3, 2015 at 11:58 AM  

Oh, keep the “haters of change” accusations coming. Criminy! Is this selective hearing? The City staff and Council may want to think about what documentation and public comment they have to back up their “themes” that they're “hearing” from citizens. Show me the documentation that the three themes are indeed supported by the citizen majority... and not just outside stakeholders, feedback from questionaires with leading questions given to senior (and maybe vunerable?) presentation attendees, developers, lobbyists, multi-property landlords in the rezone area, owners of partial property ST acquisitions (who are basically at the mercy of developer interest, unlike owners of full property acquistions), or random articles with fluffed-up data from public/private interests organizations.

I have mixed feelings about FOIA requests. On one hand, there's a question of waste of public resources in terms of time and costs to fulfill such requests. On the other hand, it keeps public agencies honest when the best interests of the public they serve are at risk. If these themes are indeed true by a majority (again, excluding the special interests of those mentioned above), shouldn't there be a trail of email communication to specific email addresses to support this? Aren't statements documented from phone calls, minutes or recordings from sub-committee meetings or “internal” meetings? At what point does the waste of a FOIA request justify the benefit of shedding sunlight on what appears to be an extremely shady situation?

Dan Jacoby,  February 3, 2015 at 12:16 PM  

I honestly don't know who's saying what behind the scenes, but I do know what people are saying publicly, and it is NOT what you're reporting.

I am at the City Council and Planning Commission meetings, as well as the public forums. I hear what people are saying. Nobody from the first two groups is showing up at any of those places.

As for the third group (which is apparently supposed to be a characterization of everyone who actually speaks at these meetings), that is, at the very least, a complete bastardization of what people are actually saying.

The fact is that everyone who shows up and speaks is basically saying the same thing: We want rational, responsible development, based not on pie-in-the-sky projections that can't possibly come true, but on good, solid facts. And the current proposed rezoning, in either subarea, does not come close to that goal.

Taking the current "preferred alternative" for 185th St. and the (slightly) smaller of the two build alternatives for 145th St. together, it means more than doubling the number of housing units in Shoreline, and cramming all those new units into two small portions of the city. There is no real plan for traffic congestion, no plan for upgrading water and sewage systems (or paying for them), no plan for affordable housing (although it is being discussed) — essentially, no plan at all.

THAT is what we're saying. If City Staff truly believes what is reported here, then some people need to be replaced.

Karen Easterly-Behrens,  February 3, 2015 at 3:03 PM  

I am not part of group 1, 2 or 3. Some of us who purchased "starter" homes....did not know they were supposed to be starter homer....I thought it was a forever need to make sure I can afford to buy a place to live for the next 20-30 years of my life....I am not in the class where I need to pay for my nursing home expenses....that is my mother's story who is 84 (no she does not live in Shoreline thankfully). Again, this city leaves me speechless......and very sad......

Anonymous,  February 3, 2015 at 5:22 PM  

Surprise surprise. A pro-development slate was elected to the council, and the small voices that disagreed were out-voted. Such is democracy. But now the pro-development council is encouraging something so outrageous that even those that backed the current council can't believe what they hear and see coming from their elected officials.
I'm sorry to say - Shoreline has been headed this direction for years (can you say "Pro-Shoreline"?). And not surprisingly the development burden is born EAST of Aurora. The folks west just had to argue about cutting trees in the reserve to preserve views - in that case, the property owners did get their way - which coincidentally was the way of the council, tree preservation policies not withstanding.

Anonymous,  February 4, 2015 at 7:11 PM  

I've been to a few of these meetings and I've never heard a citizen who was not on a panel say they were excited about greater density. I've also never heard a citizen say they were afraid of change. Who analyzed this data?

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