Op-Ed: Setting the record straight - three Shoreline councilmembers weigh in

Saturday, February 28, 2015

We appreciate the many years of service Shoreline Area News has provided to our community. The entire community is well-served by being well-informed. After working through the long City Council meeting on February 23 and reviewing the official record of votes, we would like to clarify some information from an article that was published on February 25 in Shoreline Area News.

While most of the public comments that night either opposed the rezone entirely or supported a delay or a smaller rezone, there were several people who spoke in favor of the Planning Commission recommendation. Council also received dozens of written comments, as did the Planning Commission. The record includes several letters of support as well as a larger number of letters in opposition.

Of the 18 votes taken on the map Monday night, only two split 4-3 along the lines that the article reported. The other votes revealed a wide variety of splits, with every member being in the minority on some and the majority on others. Every member was carefully weighing and considering each proposed amendment in light of the public comment and the interests of the entire community. While various councilmembers disagreed on individual proposals, we respect the democratic and open process of considering each and every proposal on its merits.

From the vote tallies, it is clear that no councilmember got everything they thought was best out of the map. Democracy is the art of compromise. This subarea plan is no exception. Any proposed change will draw different opinions from different people.  That is the beauty and strength of a diverse community. Finding the best decision on behalf of over 53,000 current residents and thousands of businesses is never an easy task, and it will never please everyone, but it is the burden of elected officials.

We felt honored and privileged on Monday night to be working on a council of dedicated and independent elected officials who spent countless hours meeting with people, listening to and hearing passionate feelings from dozens of neighbors, reading scores of letters and emails, studying hundreds of pages of reports, and working hard to find the best path forward for the whole community.

Councilmember Hall
Councilmember Roberts
Mayor Winstead


Anonymous,  February 28, 2015 at 4:07 PM  

"there were several people who spoke in favor of the Planning Commission recommendation."

And the total count of this number not including lobbyists is???

"Council also received dozens of written comments, as did the Planning Commission."

An FOIA request is getting very tempting. People in the rezone area deserve to know who is forcing this upon us.

Anonymous,  February 28, 2015 at 4:07 PM  

So this letter is supposed to justify the sausage that was made at the Council? It was a horrific display of disorganized chaos! As was the outcome. Not only was it not what the people want (except for a handful of density advocates and shills for developers!)

The City Council is supposed to actually vote on a program that reflects what the people want, not what developer advocates say we want. The City claims to have done outreach to the public and except for a handful of people who serve on the supposed 185th St Station Area Committee, the overwhelming majority of people HATE the City's Rezone monstrosity! That is you answer Shoreline ! No and Hell no!

Karen Easterly-Behrens,  February 28, 2015 at 4:15 PM  

Instinctively, I feel this letter did not need to be written. In addition it again comes across as a "we know better than you......." Pedantic. I suggest each of the signers learn to read and reread the inflection prior to posting. You do know that a majority of the citizens you supposedly represent are quite well educated and know more that a bit about the democratic process...right? There is a video of the entire meeting and a summary of your "corrections" would have been adequete. Instead you chose to couple these with counseling. Again, there is a video and I know that it demonstrates what actually happened......right?

Anonymous,  February 28, 2015 at 4:40 PM  

These council members are crazy if they think February 23rd was a good example of democracy. What it was an example of was tyranny of the minority and that minority is lobbyists, special interests and developers whose goals are to make money then take off and not deal with the consequences their actions cause. I include the 185th citizens committee in this group. It is run and founded by Futurewise (a pro-developer lobbyist group) and does not represent the people or speak with the people's voice. That puts the total number of speakers at that meeting who support these plans and that live in Shoreline and weren't paid to be at the meeting to 0. There politicians need to be voted out ASAP!

ELAINE PHELPS,  February 28, 2015 at 4:50 PM  

Taken as a whole, and not singling out any council member for praise or blame, the council has handled this entire enterprise with incredibly poor process and judgement.

Did you really believe that when more of us learned about The Plan - beyond the fact that there were to be two Light Rail stations - that we would just be happy to go along with a major reshaping of our city without having been asked a single question as to what we want?

The mayor exudes indifference at the meetings - I'm far from the only one who sees this - and while I am fully aware that this may have become very tiresome for her, if the Council had followed a process that was as inclusive as possible instead of holding all the cards so close, our city would be at a very different place by now.

A lot of healing needs to happen before this city is put back together again. You should be more sensitive to the damage you have already done and stop telling us how much work you have put in on this because as far as we are concerned you did it all behind our backs, and a darned awful job at that.

It is my belief that no city of our size should ever allow 7 people to prepare, promote, and pass a major revamping of 1/4th of the city without a referendum to the people.

Anonymous,  February 28, 2015 at 7:05 PM  

Several people spoke in favor of the rezone - indeed! And did they live in Shoreline? Work for a developer? Funny how closely the council listens when they want you to pay attention to a point they have to make.

I am so disappointed in Chris Roberts for co-signing this letter.

Anonymous,  February 28, 2015 at 7:07 PM  

I guess the letter is what resulted from the 2 day city council retreat and their team building cooking session with a consultant. How much did that consultant cost?

Anonymous,  February 28, 2015 at 9:05 PM  

Can someone on our wonderful staff tell us how much the contract between Fuurwise and the city of Shoreline was? Please tell us how much we paid these people to CONSULT with the 185th street committee whose chairmen lives OUTSIDE the rezone area.

Anonymous,  February 28, 2015 at 9:29 PM  

I attended my first meeting on the light rail stations and associated zoning in May of 2013. This has been a topic of ongoing discussion for a couple of years and I don't quite understand why people feel like it was sprung out of the blue or forced through in a rush. We've had lots of time to discuss and, while the project will of course create change, it's great to be organizing our city's response to incoming growth and concentrating it around useful corridors. I am sad for the neighbors who feel so negatively impacted by this, but I haven't seen evidence that a majority of Shoreline residents view this project as devastating, much less as overwhelming of a majority as the comments imply. I think there are plenty of residents who are thinking about the positive impact on their commutes and the ease of picking up coffee on the way to work and groceries on the way home.

Anonymous,  February 28, 2015 at 10:27 PM  

You'll find plenty of evidence in the public record, go have a gander. It's not about the light rail, it's about upzoning huge areas way beyond the future station... huge areas that the public was not originally notified of.... which did not include CORRIDORS!!!!! This much upzoning is not required to facilitate a neighborhood grocery or coffee shop going in AT or VERY NEAR the station.

Anonymous,  February 28, 2015 at 10:28 PM  

And maybe some people are looking at the aurora and north city areas and thinking that we don't want it need anymore strip malls in shoreline. Do we really need another starbucks? What they should do is make north city and aurora more attractive to walk around. one goes there because of the odd selection of businesses. Also, no one's commute is getting any better. Check out the light rail in other areas. You have to get there super early to get a parking spot because you're gonna have people driving in from other cities. People aren't going to bike anymore than they already do. No one has answered why it is we are even considering rezoning so much of the city. Why not start small, close to the transit station and see where it goes? What so wrong with that?

Anonymous,  February 28, 2015 at 10:39 PM  

Positive impact? People's neighborhoods are ruined, and you're thinking of coffee? We asked have a plethora of coffee stands and 6 huge grocery stores. Who are you fooling? People are upset because they were not properly notified of the magnitude of the changes.

Anonymous,  February 28, 2015 at 10:54 PM  

We're going to be skewered on all sides by traffic. Just wait until Pt. Wells arrives, then everyone else from the N. part of Shoreline, then we've got Edmonds, where the Sounder only runs a few times a day... is it likely they'll drive to the MLT station? No, they're going to hang a right on 1st ave ne to get to the more convenient stop, then we've got bothell, kenmore, & lake forest park. Think they're all going to take Ballinger to park at MLT? Think again! Perkins Way or NE 178th are the backroads and they are going to get pummeled. The idea that encouraging high-density will somehow miraculously prevent a traffic nightmare is foolish. Do you know how many people commute from way up north to the Shoreline park and ride at 175th and Meridian. Quite a few, the reason being is that the Lynnwood park in ride is completely full in the early hours on weekdays, MLT is a pain to get to from the Northend, so people flock to Shoreline, where they can hit the costco on the way home. Where is the common sense in all this?

Anonymous,  March 1, 2015 at 12:48 PM  

Auto-correct: We ALREADY have a plethora of coffee stands and 6 huge grocery stores

Anonymous,  March 1, 2015 at 5:13 PM  

I think some of the problem might be the behemoths we've seen so far - 85 feet wouldn't be so bad if it was on a smaller footprint - but when you allow 85 feet high across several blocks (think Polaris in North City) you might as well be building a housing project like those that are the scourge of cities back east...

Anonymous,  March 2, 2015 at 11:37 AM  

To "anonymous...RE: "I include the 185th citizens committee in this group. It is run and founded by Futurewise (a pro-developer lobbyist group)". Futurwise may have been present in the foundation of the group because part of their non-profit mission is to get citizen involvement in the public process, but that is ALL they did. The group was and is made up of residents who live in the REZONED area, as well as a handful of SHORELINE residents from outside the area (usually within .5 mi). The group was open to ALL Shoreline residents and has been ongoing for years. If you don't like the position they take, that doesn't mean you can make up fake data or spin it to discount the very real opinions of those who showed up for these meetings and engaged in the process. The group's view was to support the city staff recommendation, because after years of study, that is the one that seemed like the best laid plan. Disagreeing with that is your right, but it is the right of the citizens on that council to have their voices heard as well. They provided feedback to city staff and via comments at public meetings all along.

Anonymous,  March 2, 2015 at 11:55 AM  

Keep in mind that it is normal to only hear from the opposition! Most residents are fine with/happy about what the city is doing, and are excited about the lightrail and the changes it will bring. A few over-zealous circus acts have been stirring the pot- calling for the planning commission to "take a long walk off a short pier" or whatever nonsense and misinformation the clowns at Shoreline Preservation Society are spinning. Some of these outspoken members are looking solely to advance their own political careers. Ick. Telling people that their houses are going to be "taken"- its a shame, they know better and are continuing to spin spin spin....this spin is resulting in a lot of comments, but hopefully the city can see through this feeble attempt to derail the lightrail and make lasting and healthy choices for the long term development of the region.

Anonymous,  March 2, 2015 at 1:40 PM  

What fake data?

Anonymous,  March 2, 2015 at 1:51 PM  

"Fake data"= the 185thSCC is run by Futurewise (it is not), and that members do not live in the rezoned area (they do). "That puts the total number of speakers at that meeting who support these plans and that live in Shoreline and weren't paid to be at the meeting to 0." Actually, there were a number of unpaid, private citizens there to speak about a thoughtful and well-designed subarea concept. Some of them supported the City Staff recommendation, others had a variety of other suggestions. The only one I know of that was paid, was Janet Way's SPS guy Wolznick or something like that. He's not even from Shoreline and was hired to promote the SPS agenda.

Anonymous,  March 2, 2015 at 2:03 PM  

I wouldn't describe what's happening now as a -feeble- attempt. It's actually pretty impressive! For those of you who may be confused, most of the opposing comments I've read aren't about -derailing the light rail-, they're about the area and scale of density that is being proposed for whatever redevelopment may take place.

Anonymous,  March 2, 2015 at 4:39 PM  

Futurewise is pro-density and has no place in Shoreline. In Seattle, yes but not in Shoreline. Seattle has the infrastructure and amenities to support the density Futurewise envisions, but not Shoreline. Interestingly enough, Planning Commissioner Keith Scully has been an attorney that represents Futurewise and is a city council candidate.

I find it very interesting that Lorig is on the board for Futurewise, he has overseen destruction of public housing in the City of Seattle, which means that the very low income have no where to live. Futurewise has an agenda and the poor, the homeless, and such are not part of it.

Anonymous,  March 2, 2015 at 4:49 PM  

What do you think is going to happen when the lightrail comes? No density? Shoreline will be connected to Seattle and no longer a stand-alone suburb, it will become urban near the station- Look at the density in Lynnwood, Mill Creek, etc. there are apartment dwellers all around, and are looking for easier ways to get into the city. The purpose of the lightrail is to make transportation easier, to get people out of their cars, to increase density near the stations- so to say lightrail, yes! and Density, no! is a major contradiction. While Sound Transit may think 700 units is necessary for start up, that is not a long term vision. Plus, that would still require zoning changes as the current lot limitations could not sustain even that level of development. Futurewise and other non-profits have an interest here, so they show up, that's to be expected. I'm more interested in citizens shaping the subareas than non-profits, but that requires being informed and coming up with a plan that makes sense for the future.

Anonymous,  March 2, 2015 at 5:16 PM  

Most people critical of these zoning changes aren't opposed to some density - no one has said "No density". Shoreline is already connected to Seattle by other modes of mass-transit, yet somehow it's managed to stay a suburb.

Anonymous,  March 3, 2015 at 12:46 AM  

It is NOT the right of the 185thCC and the City Council to pretend they represent the majority of citizens in the 185th rezone are. Even the person running it, Merissa Reed, does not live IN the rezone area.

Anonymous,  March 3, 2015 at 12:49 AM  

Their homes are not being taken, but their neighborhoods will be ruined. When homes sell and are replaced with mixe- use 85' boxes with inadequate parking.

Anonymous,  March 3, 2015 at 12:51 AM  

Merissa Reed runs the 185thCC, and she DOES NOT live in the rezone area. THAT IS A FACT! Futurewise started the 185thCC. THAT IS A FACT BACKED UP BY FUTUREWISE'S OWN PR!

Anonymous,  March 3, 2015 at 12:59 AM  

The 185th Citizens Committee is sponsored by the three neighborhood associations affected by the rezone: Echo Lake, North City, and Meridian Park. Anyone from those neighborhoods is eligible to participate in the committee. The committee is not an advocacy group, but was intended as an information gathering body. - DKH

Anonymous,  March 3, 2015 at 6:19 AM  

I don't speak for the Shoreline Preservation Society but their views seem pretty inline with not only what the majority of Shoreline's citizens want but are also what has been recommended by the city's Market Assessment, Sound Transit and real estate professionals and developers at a design dialogue workshop. Besides the market assessment which can be found on the city's station planning website proof of the other documents are available in the public comment document library for the 2/9 and 2/23 meeting. I support a realistic plan based on facts not someone's hunch that developing outside the walk shed is a good idea. Starting with something similar to what Sound Transit recommended (700 units within the walk shed) means the city can learn from their mistakes and improve the process before making 1/4 of the city vulnerable. Creating a realistic plan like this seems a win win for everyone and not sure why the council is so resistant.

Merissa Reed,  March 3, 2015 at 12:18 PM  

To clarify, although I am mystified why people continue to harass me personally when I am a resident of Shoreline living .3 mi from the station (not zoned because of the hill/topography), I CHAIR the 185thscc. I joined the group just over a year ago, although the founding member, Dale Lydin (Echo Lake) could give more historical perspective regarding Futurewise, etc., but per our conversation last night, they do not, nor have they ever run the group. They hosted a webpage for the group, as the group lacked the skill and tech savvy to do that for themselves- this was until I suggested starting our own Facebook page to create separation and help inform the public (our goal). The group has/currently contains (over its 3 year existence) Shoreline residents living in and out of the area being rezoned and is populated by members of the previously mentioned neighborhood groups. Last night, our monthly meeting was held to review the map outcome of the 2/23 Council Meeting with city staff. The group generally did this as each map version came out, so we could educate ourselves and ask questions of staff. Although uninvited, the group allowed a special interest party, a paid consultant and politician, Brian Derdowski, (Bellevue) time to speak. Presumably, he has less of a "right" to show up than people in the neighborhood, but he was given time to speak, as were any of the other SPS members present. Again, the group was formed to be informed and to understand what the city's plans were- and we gave feedback all all along the way. We never said we represent the views of all or a majority of the citizens in the 185th rezone area, we represent our own individual views and spoke in unison on whatever common themes came out of our meetings. We believe in trying to shape the process in a constructive way through civil discourse. Thank you.

Anonymous,  March 3, 2015 at 8:38 PM  

I thank the councilmembers for the time and effort they took to run for office as well as the time and effort they spend as a councilmember. These are largely two different sets of skills. These kinds of challenges are what test your mettle.

The biggest error I see is the unwillingness of elected officials to treat what staff tells them with a dose of skepticism. Then, they fall into "groupthink," where deviating is a high bar. Instead of merely accepting what staff tells them, they should act more like it's a case being made to change the status quo. If they had, perhaps this situation wouldn't have arisen.

Unfortunately, there was a universal effort to push for 185th and 145th as the two locations, even though no talks had been had with the school district (still haven't heard if there have been) and where 145th is a street with incomplete/missing sidewalks, insufficient width, multiple owners that we've known about for almost 20 years (Seattle, King County, WSDOT, Shoreline), and traffic that's second to Aurora in Shoreline. Now, they're realizing some of their errors and are trying to figure a politically-friendly way out. Here's what we know: it's going to be very expensive, if the money can be found, and there isn't enough time for fixits to be done anywhere nearly in time on 145th. For 185th, width is also an issue, though traffic and cross-section is similar to 155th, which the orchestrated effort tagged as a "quiet neighborhood street" - which is what 185th presently is! Folks do have better ways to get to the 185th station, however, and I've predicted that many will use N. 205th to 5th NE, then south to the station rather than Perkins Way, for example.

Anonymous,  March 5, 2015 at 8:33 PM  

Who started and funded the 185thCC and 145thCC? Here is the proof, Futurewise funded by the PSRC: http://www.psrc.org/assets/9046/Equity-Grantees-Round-3.pdf

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