(Updated at 12:48 p.m. to add a link to Estela Ortega’s letter. The link was mistakenly left out of the story when posted earlier this morning. — Ed.)
El Centro de la Raza is seeking permission from the city to open a parking lot south of the El Centro building until the land on that site can be developed, and is asking neighbors to support this proposal.
A January 31 letter from El Centro’s Estela Ortega (read the full letter here) to the Beacon Hill community requests support for a temporary parking lot in El Centro’s south lot, adjacent to Beacon Hill Station. The proposal is for 80 public parking spaces, to “help generate much needed revenue to support (El Centro’s) programs and mission during these difficult economic times.” The letter goes on to describe potential benefits to the neighborhood including security improvements, access to Link Light Rail and neighborhood businesses, hosting of mobile food vendors, and parking for Festival Street events.
Currently new parking lots are not allowed in light rail station areas. A current proposed land use amendment would allow interim parking use on lots that already have legally established parking near Mount Baker, Columbia City, Othello and Rainier Beach Stations, but the proposal says “Light rail parking would not be allowed within the North Beacon Hill station area.” However, though El Centro is adjacent to the station, it is not within the officially-defined “station area.” The land use amendment currently being considered would allow commuter and business parking on certain lots such as El Centro’s that are just outside the station area and already have existing parking.
You can give your opinion on the proposed parking lot at a hearing of the City Council’s Committee on the Built Environment on Wednesday, February 23 at 9:30 am in the City Council Chambers on the 2nd floor of Seattle City Hall, 600 Fourth Avenue.
Ortega’s letter lists other El Centro items of note:
- Santos Rodriguez Park has new playground equipment and is open to all neighbors. $350,000 in funding from the Seattle Parks Opportunity Fund will be used to improve the park further, with input from a community advisory committee.
- South Lander Street between 16th and 17th Avenues South will be renamed Roberto Maestas Festival Street in honor of El Centro’s late principal founder and leader. Lewis Park, at the north end of Beacon Hill near the Dr. Jose Rizal Bridge will be renamed the Roberto Maestas Nature Park.
- El Centro has received funding to begin a community process to plan the development of their south lot. A community meeting is planned for Saturday, February 19 to discuss the project. The meeting time will be announced later.
Also at El Centro:
- United Way is operating a free tax preparation site. In addition to filing tax returns, customers will be able to purchase savings bonds, open credit union accounts, sign up for prepaid debit cards, and apply for public benefits such as the Washington Basic Food Program. Hours are Tuesdays from 5-9 p.m. (English, Spanish, and Arabic), Thursdays from 5-9 p.m. (English, Spanish, and Chinese), and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. (English and Spanish).
- Spanish classes at El Centro will run from April 12 until June 9, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-7:30 p.m. Tuition is $300. Please contact 206-957-4605 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more info, or visit the El Centro website to enroll.
- The Just Garden Project is kicking off their Spring into Bed fundraising campaign with an event at El Centro on March 5 from 7-9 p.m. Proceeds from the event go to building free and subsidized gardens for low-income families in King County. See the invitation for more info.
- Estela Ortega has been confirmed as one of 14 community members to serve on the city’s Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee III. This is the third committee of its kind that has selected to advise the city on questions that affect transportation in Seattle. Other members represent organizations including (among others) Cascade Bicycle Club, Downtown Seattle Association, Carpenters’ Union Local 131, Transportation Choices Coalition, and Seattle Children’s Hospital.