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Mayor Mike McGinn left office on January 1, 2014.
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City of Seattle

Supporting transit-oriented development in Roosevelt

After hearing from various stakeholders, last month I asked Diane Sugimura, director of the Department of Planning and Development, to take another look at proposed zoning recommendations near the Roosevelt light rail station. We’re making a big investment in bringing light rail to North Seattle, and that gives us a chance to help build great, active neighborhoods around light rail stations that offer choices for new housing and new businesses. I believe it’s important that our zoning decisions allow us to respond to that opportunity by allowing heights that are typical for neighborhood business districts and excluding those that are simply too high.

Department of Planning and Development staff worked hard on a new proposal that was brought to me late last month. After reviewing the proposal and hearing the neighborhood’s request that we keep the process moving, I have decided to transmit legislation to Council this month that will allow appropriate development to support light rail and help build shared prosperity in the Roosevelt neighborhood.

These modifications will help add potential for more housing and retail in targeted locations within a short walk of the planned light rail station, including Sound Transit owned properties and three blocks of underutilized land east of the planned light rail station. The rezone proposals support better uses of vacant property in close proximity to the light rail station. This zoning proposal provides for a mix of uses and building types that will allow more people to live, work, and shop near the light rail line, supporting transit-oriented communities and giving choices to the more than 8,000 people that Sound Transit projects will use the Roosevelt Station.

The proposal includes the following rezone modifications:

• Zoning that will exclude towers – building heights above 85 feet should not be permitted in this area

• 85 foot building heights in the area immediately adjacent to the Roosevelt light rail station

• 65 foot building heights along Northeast 65th Street between 12th and 15th Avenues Northeast, within close walking distance of the station

• Rules encouraging pedestrian-oriented streetscapes, promoting coffee shops and other uses that improve neighborhood vitality

Projects built under these zoning rules will go through the City’s existing design review process.

Streetscape from Fremont outside 65-foot tall building

The proposed land use actions implement policies adopted in the Roosevelt Neighborhood Plan and are largely consistent with recommendations generated by the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association. This reflects many hours of volunteer community-based work by citizens of the Roosevelt neighborhood. The proposal balances a need for adding development capacity around transit with the principle of protecting neighborhood character.

For more background, including maps of the proposed zoning, the DPD website has the background materials and report I received on the proposed rezone.

Posted by: Mayor Mike McGinn


Comment from Glenn Roberts
Time July 6, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Although the Mayor means well, and feels that he has offered a proposal to satisfy everyone, the concept of transitioning from taller buildings to single-family neighborhoods has been lost in this proposal. The intersection of 16th and 65th is an intersection filled with students and residents to the east who will wish to assess the light rail station and the I-5 Interstate highway as well as the neighborhood’s major north and south corridors, 12th Ave and Roosevelt Way.
Scaling down to 4 stories at the intersection, as the Roosevelt Neighborhood Plan suggests, and providing larger than normal setbacks will go a long way to making this intersection the gateway to the transit station that so many of the residents in Wedgwood, Bryant, View Ridge Hawthorne Hills and Ravenna hope for to eventually make the ridership on the light rail a reality, rather than making it an area to be avoided.
All Seattle residents should have easy access to public transit. The northeast sector is no exception.

Comment from Judith M. Leconte
Time July 6, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Dear Mayor McGinn

As a resident of the Ravenna Neighborhood, I am greatly distressed by the revised legislative rezone proposal submitted today by your office and DPD. Please know I will be working with my neighbors to provide detailed feedback to you, the DPD Director and City Council members on the significant deficiencies in this proposal.

In the meantime, please provide me with the target number of households you want in the Roosevelt neighborhood. Then we compromise on where this density is located.

Looking forward to your response.

Judith M. Leconte

Comment from Chad Newton
Time July 6, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Great news!

Does the 85-foot zoning include the ST properties at the station itself? I hope that the zoning will support TOD on the station site that pencils out for ST. The currently proposed one-story station with blank walls is an underwhelming design.

Comment from David Haddock
Time July 7, 2011 at 8:38 am

Mayor McGinn- I am also very distressed by your revised legislative rezone proposal for the Roosevelt neighborhood.
Having attended many of the RNA land use meetings over the past years I disagree with your statement above that the proposal “implements policies adopted in the Roosevelt Neighborhood Plan and are largely consistent with recommendations generated by the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association”. In fact, while the Roosevelt neighborhood has always been willing to accept increased density in it’s core locations, it has never been willing to accept 65 foot structures within a few feet of our newly remodeled High School or within feet of single family residences. I find it very hard to understand how you could say that this “proposal balances a need for adding development capacity around transit with the principle of protecting neighborhood character”. I believe that protecting the neighborhood character would involve transitioning heights into the single family neighborhood.
You are correct in stating that this area has “underutilized” properties that should be put to better use. However, rewarding a negligent landlord by allowing him to build 65 foot apartments in front of the High School is just bad policy.
I request that you reconsider the affects that this proposal will have on the Roosevelt and Ravenna neighborhoods and adjust your proposal accordingly.

Comment from Phil Hurvitz
Time July 12, 2011 at 9:29 am

Will there be restrictions on the number of tall buildings per block or other unit area? There are a large number of vacant properties in this area, and if they are all developed to maximum zoning potential–which the owners would probably encourage–this would dramatically change the character of the neighborhood.

Comment from G. R. Freeman
Time July 14, 2011 at 8:52 am

I’m all for more density in Seattle. As we promote more mass transit, bicycle commuting, and walking, it just makes sense to increase density.

My suggestion though, is to allow more grass roots density, and not limit our options to just more corporate apartment and condo developers.

I think the detached accessory dwelling unit legislation was a great step forward in grass roots development; lets continue down that path. Why not more cottage housing and small lot development in Roosevelt and surrounding areas like South Maple Leaf.

To me, adding a few blocks of small lot cottages is much more “in character” than adding a few blocks of 65 foot corporate condos. On small lots, people can still have a yard.