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Beacon Bits: Classes, workshops, and work parties

October 4th, 2010 at 6:13 am | 1 Comment | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

Starting today and running through the 15th, the Goodwill Job Training and Education Center, just below the north tip of Beacon Hill on Lane Street, will register people for free classes in the eight-week session that runs from October 18 through December 9.

Classes include a Retail and Customer Service Training Program, Community College 101, the National External Diploma Program, and Adult Basic Education classes covering English, computers, reading, writing, math, and cashiering.

Additional classes may be available. For class availability and enrollment information, call (206) 860-5791.

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The performance space at Art's on Beacon. Photo by Wendi.

ART’s on Beacon is hosting a Culture Forum Acting Workshop from October 11 through December 19, for “actors and non-actors alike focusing on the healing aspects of performance.” Workshop participants will have the opportunity to share their work in a three-night performance to be held at the ART’s on Beacon theater.

Workshop participation is limited. Workshop sessions will run Mondays through Thursdays from 6:30 through 9:30 pm. For more information, contact Michael Perrone at 206-861-6260 or email him at egodd1@msn.com.

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There are a couple of volunteer work parties scheduled on October 10 to improve local parks. We previously posted about the Maple School Natural Area Invasive Species Removal and Native Planting work party from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm on Sunday. Find out more about that event and RSVP at the website.

Elsewhere on the Hill, the Friends of Lewis Park are also holding a work party at the same time on Sunday. The work will involve planting native trees and shrubs, and removal of invasive plant species such as English Ivy and Himalayan Blackberry. Afterwards, the volunteers will gather for a celebratory party. To find out more and RSVP, see the website.

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Mark your calendar for Saturday, October 16 from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm for a North Beacon Town Center Action Team meeting at Beacon Lutheran Church, to help plan the North Beacon Urban Design Framework for the Town Center. We will post more about the meeting as the information becomes available.

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Today NAMSAYIN will announce the release date, time, and location of the “Know Where You Came From” shirt we posted about the other day. Keep an eye on namsayin.com for the announcement. In the meantime, though, you might enjoy this homage to Beacon Avenue and the “ghetto limousine.”


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Neighborhood plan update moving forward tomorrow

September 27th, 2010 at 8:07 pm | 1 Comment | Posted by Melissa Jonas

The Seattle Public Utilities and Neighborhoods Committee (SPUNC) is meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, September 28, at 2:00 pm. One of the items on the agenda (item #5) is “recognition of the North Beacon Hill, Othello, and North Rainier Neighborhood Plan Updates,” including briefing, discussion, and a possible vote.

Key items in the proposed update include changing the zoning around Beacon Hill Station to 65 feet, and encouraging more residential development in our Urban Village.

The committee will consider and discuss Resolution 31245:

A Resolution recognizing the extensive efforts of the North Beacon Hill neighborhood to update their vision and plan for the future; approving an action plan for the neighborhood and City to undertake actions to advance neighborhood priorities and authorizing the submittal of proposed amendments to the North Beacon Hill Neighborhood Plan for consideration as part of the Comprehension Plan amendment process.

You can read the  entire resolution online.

City Councilmember Mike O’Brien chairs SPUNC, the committee responsible for neighborhood planning (among other things).  To share your thoughts on whether the North Beacon Hill Neighborhood Plan is ready to move forward, please attend the meeting tomorrow or contact Councilmember O’Brien via email at mike.obrien@seattle.gov or by phone at 206-684-8800. SPUNC meetings are held in Council Chambers on the 2nd floor of City Hall, 600 Fourth Avenue.

The proposed Neighborhood Plan Update was drafted during one of the worst budget crises the city has ever seen. North Beacon Hill residents will benefit from projects and goals in the plan, and will also be able to pursue funding for other projects in the future.  Action teams will be forming soon to work on specific items in the plan—stay tuned to the Beacon Hill Blog to learn how to get involved!

Our community is strong and vibrant because neighbors like you get involved in the planning process and—most importantly—in the many ongoing projects happening on Beacon Hill. Whether you have five minutes to send an email or hours to devote to meetings, thank you for helping make North Beacon Hill an amazing place to live, work, play and learn!


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Analysis: Neighborhood action plan still lacks clarity

September 21st, 2010 at 7:09 pm | 1 Comment | Posted by admin

This poster from the Beacon Hill Festival in June was covered with stickers that Beacon Hill neighbors used to vote on projects to prioritize in our neighborhood plan update. Photo by Wendi.

by Frederica Merrell

The Department of Planning and Development (DPD) has introduced legislation to the City Council for adoption of our neighborhood plan update in Councilperson Mike O’Brien’s committee next Tuesday, September 28. You can download the Action Plan PDF file here. In the past week, they have finally put in all the details that people have been asking to see. Don’t blink, you will miss it!

For comparison, here is the matrix of projects voted on at the Beacon Hill Festival (only the ones that received an average support rating of 2 or higher). Many great ideas are not included in the DPD update.

DPD actions are phased as: o for on-going, p for planning, u for underway, or d for done. There are lots of blanks where they don’t know which phase we are in. I have to wonder why we are getting “done” projects in our action matrix for a ten-year plan for the future? I guess we need a little padding in a few spots! Here is my educated review of the Action Plan:

Goals #1, 2, and 3. DPD has put a lot of emphasis on developing low-income housing. DPD again claims to be developing an urban design framework for us, but I still don’t know what that means. Clearly zoning and land use is DPD’s main interest and expertise area. (It doesn’t hurt that every development project that gets permitted puts money in the department coffers.)

All the actions under the first three goals (housing and commercial district development) are on-going or planned. There is one interesting exception: Resolving litter issues in the town center is listed as done! I am not sure how that has manifested in our town center, exactly.

There are no housing goals, nor is there acknowledgement of the huge amount of multi-family housing going in at the north end of the hill. Rating: OK but incomplete for rest of neighborhood and maybe a little inaccurate on the litter front.

It starts to get weird under Goal 4: Parks and Open Space. They have only two policies: Preserve and support El Centro, and Seek Small Pocket Parks. There is emphasis on the El Centro Civic Gathering Space, an indoor facility, I believe (see Goal 6). The only actions with a planning designation are El Centro’s civic gathering space, El Centro’s children’s play area and an urban design framework element for Jose Rizal Park. In spite of the fact that eight different proposals for open space were submitted to the Parks Opportunity Fund this year, the only one acknowledged by DPD is the El Centro Children’s Play Area project. What about the other five: Lewis Park, North Beacon Central Park, Walker Street, 12th Street View Spot, and the Gatehouse project at Jefferson Park?

DPD pads this section with completed or almost completed projects. Beacon Hill Playground project is listed three times and is already underway, probably to be finished before the end of the year. Under Jefferson Park Master Plan, a small number of projects are underway or done. Why is “recommission the South Reservoir” in there as an action? It was completed over a year ago!
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Results of recent neighborhood plan update surveys posted

August 31st, 2010 at 6:39 am | 4 Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

City Councilperson Mike O'Brien speaks with Beacon Hill residents at May's town hall meeting at Mercer Middle School.

The Department of Planning and Development has posted the results of the recent town hall and Web surveys about the North Beacon Hill Neighborhood Plan Update. They sent out the following announcement:

Thank you for your participation and contribution to your Neighborhood Plan Update from the March 2009 meeting through the May 2010 Town Hall meetings and the online survey. Your input in creating the updates and your help prioritizing the Action Steps will guide the Implementation Phase, which we are just about to start. Implementation will involve a partnership of community members, community organizations, the City and funders. We look forward to working with you on the Strategies and Action Steps to bring about your community’s Vision and Goals.

The May 2010 Town Hall and web surveys results are now posted to our website. Click on the following link if you wish to see what your fellow community members think: http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/Planning/Neighborhood_Planning/Overview/ (Editor’s note: You can go directly to the survey result PDF here if you prefer.)

Your commitment to your community is further demonstrated by the hundreds of Action Team members signed up to implement the Action Steps. City Departments will be activating the relevant Action Teams as we start our work in your neighborhood. If you did not sign up, but are interested, please contact your Neighborhood District Coordinator: Yun Pitre (yun.pitre@seattle.gov) if you are in Othello or North Rainier; or Steve Louie (steve.louie@seattle.gov) if you are in North Beacon Hill. In the meantime, you can keep up to date on our progress via our website and Facebook page.

Again, thank you for your commitment to your neighborhood. We are excited to begin our shared work plan in your neighborhood.


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Your opinions wanted for Neighborhood Plan Update survey

June 7th, 2010 at 4:57 am | 11 Comments | Posted by admin

A neighbor at the Beacon Hill Festival, thinking about how to prioritize Neighborhood Plan ideas. Photo by Jason.

(By Frederica Merrell, with some added text by Wendi.)

138 people voted on a Neighborhood Plan Update actions and strategies survey at the Beacon Hill Festival on Saturday. If you couldn’t attend the festival, have no fear—click this link to take the survey online. (This is a different survey than the one we posted about several weeks ago.)

The purpose of this survey is to ask North Beacon Hill neighbors and non-residents to rate their support for elements of our 2011 Neighborhood Plan update. In the survey, you are asked to indicate your level of support or agreement for various strategies to be included in the plan. (Some examples of the strategies that are included in the survey: “Create affordable rental and home ownership housing targets for the Beacon Hill Urban Village and periodically evaluate progress,” and “Create the Town Center campus on Beacon Avenue between McClellan and 15th, by calming and redirecting traffic flow, extending the festival street, and creating bus/bike lanes and activated alleys.”) The proposed plan update will be edited based on your input. Questions or comments? Send them to nbhcplan@gmail.com.

This plan update is proposed by neighborhood volunteers, with ideas that come from neighborhood groups and individuals. It incorporates the work done by the Seattle Department of Planning and Development (DPD) in 2009 and the comments they collected. Look for future reports on the survey results here on the Beacon Hill Blog.

Our neighborhood plan

The 1999 North Beacon Hill Neighborhood Plan has been a highly successful document because neighbors and City of Seattle departments implemented significant improvements for our community over the ten-year planning period. It was built on the shoulders of the 1993 North Beacon Hill Action Plan, our first neighborhood plan and one of the first residential neighborhood plans in the City. The 1993 Action Plan was supported by extensive study of housing trends, demographics, and conditions in the North Beacon Hill neighborhood.
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Neighbors meet at Mercer to plan North Beacon’s future

May 15th, 2010 at 4:56 pm | 2 Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

Neighbors discuss the future of North Beacon Hill at Mercer Middle School. Photo by Wendi.

The North Beacon Hill Neighborhood Plan Update Action Team Kick-Off meeting last night drew an enthusiastic group of more than fifty neighbors to Asa Mercer Middle School to express their thoughts about the future of North Beacon. Idea boards were set up around the room and people were given stickers to apply to the boards to choose which proposals to prioritize.

One concern expressed by several people was that the ideas on the boards seemed to be poorly chosen, including some projects that were already built or being built. (For example, one of the ideas was to put lids on the reservoirs at Jefferson Park, a project which has already happened.) Many people were choosing to use their stickers to prioritize projects that have already been done, instead of prioritizing new potential ideas for the Hill.

Other ideas on the boards were vague, such as “Supporting a safe and healthy community,” which received a large number of support stickers from neighbors at the event. However, many other concepts on the boards were more specific, such as “SDOT Street Use will review and approve permits for benches and banners.”

If you could not make it to the meeting last night, you can participate online by filling out an online survey.

City Council member Mike O'Brien listens to neighbors' comments. Photo by Wendi.


Neighbors were given stickers to place on various boards to give their opinions or demographic info. Photo by Wendi.


Frederica Merrell points out some concerns with the idea boards. Photo by Wendi.


Deciding how to prioritize one's stickers. Photo by Wendi.


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Neighborhood Plan Update Action Team Kick-Off meeting tonight

May 14th, 2010 at 5:48 am | No Comments | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

DPD Action Teams Kick-Off poster

Click for the full-size version with contact information for foreign language speakers.

A reminder: Tonight is the North Beacon Hill Neighborhood Plan Update Action Team Kick-Off meeting announced previously in this blog. The meeting is tonight from 6:00 to 7:45 pm at Asa Mercer Middle School, 1600 S Columbian Way.

There will be childcare and refreshments. If you’re not already familiar with the neighborhood planning situation, you’re welcome to arrive early; a special orientation will be given at 5:00 pm.


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North Beacon Hill DNS appeal resolved

May 7th, 2010 at 5:38 pm | 5 Comments | Posted by Melissa Jonas

On May 3, the Seattle Hearing Examiner decided in favor of the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) and El Centro de La Raza when reviewing the appeal filed in late January by Frederica Merrell against the DPD regarding the Determination of Nonsignificance (DNS) of the North Beacon Hill neighborhood plan update process. (Previous coverage and discussion of the appeal can be found here.)

The full text of the decision is here. The decision is based on findings that DPD environmental reviews were adequate in regards to the proposed update to the North Beacon Hill Neighborhood Plan. It also states that the proposed updates do not significantly change growth targets or other aspects of the City of Seattle Comprehensive Plan with regards to Beacon Hill:

“There is no evidence in the record that the Plan Update would result in increased density within the North Beacon Hill Residential Urban Village beyond that anticipated in the Comprehensive Plan. The proposed goals and policies in the Plan Update and those in the existing Neighborhood Plan both anticipate greater density in the town center area and near the light rail station. The Plan Update is a document that begins the process of determining how the growth that is already anticipated by the Comprehensive Plan’s existing growth targets for the Residential Urban Village will be accommodated and shaped.”

To learn more and to become involved in planning the future of North Beacon Hill and the Neighborhood Plan Update, attend the Neighborhood Plan Update Action Team Kick-Off meeting next Friday, May 14 at Asa Mercer Middle School, 1600 South Columbian Way.


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DPD announces Neighborhood Plan Update Action Team Kick-Off

April 30th, 2010 at 9:44 am | 1 Comment | Posted by Jason

DPD Action Teams Kick-Off poster

Click for the full-size version with contact information for foreign language speakers

The next stage in neighborhood planning for North Beacon Hill has been announced with an Action Team Kick-Off meeting by the Department of Planning and Development. They say:

In 2009 over 1,500 people helped plan the future of their neighborhoods in North Beacon, North Rainier and Othello. Now it’s time to get things done. Come help prioritize next steps and sign up for project action teams.

The Kick-Off meeting is Friday, May 14, from 6:00 to 7:45 pm at Asa Mercer Middle School, 1600 S Columbian Way.

There will be childcare and refreshments.

Also, if you’re not already familiar with the neighborhood planning situation, you’re welcome to arrive early; a special orientation will be given at 5:00 pm.


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New DPD Planning Director visits Beacon Hill

April 23rd, 2010 at 4:34 pm | 11 Comments | Posted by Melissa Jonas

Marshall Foster

Marshall Foster is the new Planning Director of DPD Planning Department. Frederica Merrell chairs the ad-hoc planning subcommittee of the North Beacon Hill Council and worked on the 1999-2000 draft of the North Beacon Hill Neighborhood Plan. She invited Foster to a subcommittee meeting on April 19 to introduce himself to the community, hear our thoughts, and share his perspective on urban planning.  Foster was professional and approachable as he discussed issues ranging from his personal background to some of the challenges in the 2009 Neighborhood Plan Update process.

A New Orleans native, Foster fell in love with the Northwest and moved to Seattle from Portland with his wife in 2006. They live in West Seattle with their two children. While in Portland, Foster volunteered with Southeast Uplift, an organization working to increase citizen participation in neighborhood planning. He is passionate about urban planning, in particular comprehensive planning that includes the needs and desires of communities for public safety and vibrant small businesses.

Foster sees the Department of Planning and Development as responsible for merging the requirements of Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan with grassroots citizen involvement. The Comprehensive Plan is how the City manages the requirements of the WA State Growth Management Act.

After the meeting, I emailed Foster for more details about his philosophy and upcoming DPD events.

The SPUNC subcommittee charged DPD to look into changing zoning in a larger area around the station.  Will this change the timeline of the current station overlay plan?

“That’s correct –– we were asked to look more broadly at zoning options. We plan to work with the community to develop what we’re calling an ‘Urban Design Framework’ for each of the three neighborhoods. This document will integrate the issue of zoning with what I call ‘placemaking’ elements —  how we ensure safe and attractive streetscapes, buildings that activate the street, how we move forward with the open space connections and other community improvements described in the update. We expect this work will begin over the summer and wrap up by the end of the year.”

If you and your family lived on Beacon Hill, how would you like to see the vacant lots around the station used while we’re waiting for final zoning? Some neighborhood ideas include food carts, outdoor music, etc.

“I’d like to see creative things happen with the spaces that front on the sidewalk. I’ve spent a good bit of time in and around Beacon Ave S, and those large open parking areas detract from the community feel the street otherwise has and serves to split the business district. It would be wonderful to see some temporary uses like food carts lining the sidewalk there, to help knit the street together and give people a reason to spend time there. Perhaps also some temporary public art or temporary community uses. There is legislation moving forward that would allow and encourage these kinds of temporary uses, as well as allow commuter parking on a temporary basis. It’s a great opportunity.”

Could you summarize your goals regarding merging the comp plan with grassroots planning objectives?

“In general, the City’s Comprehensive Plan guides all of our planning work as a city. It outlines our strategy as a city to manage growth and ensure change enhances the quality of life in our neighborhoods. An important part of the Comp Plan is the Urban Centers / Urban Villages concept, which aims to channel growth to parts of the city with established infrastructure, transit, and community services. Beacon Hill is one of the city’s urban villages. With neighborhood planning, we need to bring that perspective to the table and be clear about what it means –– which is essentially that we need to offer more housing opportunities close to the new Beacon Hill light rail station, and balance it with what priorities we’re hearing from communities. On the whole, I think the goals of the Comprehensive Plan are consistent with much of what’s described in the neighborhood plans, which focus on ensuring we have the community infrastructure in place to make Beacon Hill a livable place. That perspective couldn’t be more important.”

How do DPD and DON (Department of Neighborhoods) interact with regards to neighborhood planning? Are there certain aspects that DON leads and others where DPD leads? Who are the contact people?

“DPD is ultimately responsible for delivering the planning work –– the Neighborhood Plan Update itself and the goals, policies and strategies that are intended to help implement the neigborhood plan vision. DON’s role is to design and facilitate a top-quality public outreach and engagement process to develop the plan, with an emphasis on engaging historically underrepresented communities. We work closely together as one team, and have made strides in terms of getting new voices, traditionally not at the table, to engage with the process. Lyle Bicknell is the overall Neighborhood Planning Manager at DPD, and Veronica Sherman-King, Director of Planning and Community-Building, is lead for DON.”

What can the Beacon Hill community expect over the next year of strategic planning meetings? Why should people be excited about participating?

“We’re at a very exciting point with neighborhood planning. With the broad goals established in the proposed updates, we’d like to work with the community to prioritize what we can do together over the next few years to implement the plan. We’re hosting a public meeting in May to start that discussion – Beacon Hill neighbors should be receiving postcards soon about it, but here are the details:”

Neighborhood Plan Update
Action Teams Kick-Off

In 2009 over 1,500 people helped plan the future of their
neighborhoods in North Beacon, North Rainier and Othello

Now it’s time to get things done.

Come help prioritize next steps and
sign up for project action teams.

Friday, May 14, 2010
6:00-7:45 pm
Asa Mercer Middle School
1600 S. Columbian Way

Tuesday, May 18, 2010
6:00-7:45 pm
Filipino Community Center
5740 Martin Luther King Jr Way S.

NORTH BEACON, NORTH RAINIER, and OTHELLO

We’ll bring resources from a range of city departments to talk about what we’re doing as a city and what the community believes is most important for us to focus on in Beacon Hill, Mt Baker and Othello. This is really where the rubber meets the road so to speak: how we can work together to prioritize what’s most important and take action.

Getting more involved

Some examples of how grassroots activists can become more involved in urban planning: participate in the independent Seattle Planning Commission (also on Facebook) or take advantage of the Comp Plan Update Public Involvement Opportunity, the “Seattle 2030 & Beyond” Challenge: In 150 words or less, describe your Seattle 2030 or Seattle 2050. Send your comments to DPD_CompPlan2030Vision@seattle.gov. For more information, see the public involvement page.


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