(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.
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.
The Department of Planning and Development (DPD) has posted notices of two public meetings of interest to Beaconians.
The Design Review Board is holding a meeting to discuss the proposed development at 2421 14th Avenue South. The Findlay Street Christian Church plans to build a three-story building, including 12 residential low income units, and 4,902 square feet of church space. (We discussed this proposal last year: here, and here.)
At the meeting, Findlay Street will present their current design, and the public may comment. The meeting is on Tuesday, February 8, 6:30 p.m., in the community room at Wellspring Family Services, 1900 Rainier Avenue South.
There is also a hearing scheduled regarding whether the land use code should be changed to allow parking lots to operate as an interim use in some Link Light Rail station areas (Mount Baker, Columbia City, Othello, and Rainier Beach).
The Beacon Hill station area would not allow parking lots, however, under this proposal, commuter and business support parking would be allowed on lots outside of the immediate station area that have existing parking and are also accessory to institutions in walking distance of the Link station. (For example, churches or schools with parking lots could allow commuter and business parking on their lots.)
It looks like the restriping on 15th Avenue South north of Spokane Street has finally happened. The new right-turn lane at Spokane when heading southbound is much nicer than the old “squeeze into the de facto turn lane that isn’t really a lane, and hope you have room to make the turn” situation that used to be there. The new bike lane is nice, too. The parking situation has changed a bit, though. If you live, drive, or ride on 15th, how are you handling it?
The postponed-due-to-the-week-long-library-closure September North Beacon Hill Council Meeting is happening this Thursday at 7pm in the Beacon Hill Library Community Room. Everyone is welcome, and if you’ve been to at least one meeting, you’re eligible to vote!
The agenda as posted on the NBHC website with some added emphasis:
7:00 Introductions and Welcome
7:05 Allison Schwartz, Transportation Planner, Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and Mike Podowski, Planner, Department of Planning and Development (DPD) will give an update on light rail station area parking and get feedback on the Restricted Parking Zones – how are they working for us. Q & A follows five minute presentations by each.
7:40 City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, Chair, Seattle Public Utilities and Neighborhoods Committee: CC member O’Brien’s City Council Committee will be making a decision this month on the Neighborhood Plan as presented by DPD; he has asked for this opportunity to receive neighborhood feedback. Mike will also be soliciting members for the Action Teams which are forming to implement the Neighborhood Plan.
8:10 Neighborhood updates
Beacon Hill Business Association
Nomination of new North Beacon Hill Council Board Member
Resignation accepted from Shelly Bates, Board Member – thank you so much, Shelly, for all you have done for us!
Other announcements, events
8:30 Executive Board Meeting (open to all, however only Board Members are allowed to speak and take any needed votes. If you choose to leave at this time, it’s understood!)
Election of new board member(s)
Updates on plans made at the August Board Social meeting
Pizza, parking lots, and praise for local volunteers are all on the North Beacon Hill Council agenda for this Thursday’s meeting. The meeting is at 6:30 pm (one half-hour earlier than usual!) at the Beacon Hill Library community room, 2821 Beacon Avenue South. As always, all are welcome; you are part of the council when you attend your first meeting, and you have voting privileges when you attend your second.
Here is the agenda, as forwarded to us by Council chair Judith Edwards:
6:30 Pizza and tamales, a gift to the community from the Friends of Lewis Park; and recognition of the following people and organizations who have worked so hard on the trails and parks on North Beacon:
Jefferson Park Alliance
Dr. Jose Rizal Park – Craig Thompson
Cheasty Boulevard Trail – Willie Weir
Lewis Park – Dee Dunbar and Vin Nguyen
“It truly takes a village to make this such a great place to live. Each of these parks or trails has benefited by countless volunteer hours, a true gift to the community. If you are one of those volunteers, please plan to attend.”
6:50 City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, Chair of Parks, Waterfront and Seattle Center Committee (10 minutes – followed by Q & A for 20 minutes)
7:20 Mike Podowski, Seattle Department of Planning and Development: Proposed plan for parking lots at the light rail stations on North Beacon and McClellan/Mt. Baker, as well as El Centro and other empty lots. (10 minutes – followed by Q & A for 20 minutes)
7:50 Board and membership vote of approval/disapproval of DPD parking lot plan, nominations for four vacant Board of Directors positions by full council membership, establishment of Board of Directors by vote of Directors.
Curtis LaPierre forwarded us a draft document from the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) about the proposal to allow temporary surface parking lots near Link light rail stations. You can read it here.
According to this draft, the intent of the proposal is to “promote rail ridership, encourage use of vacant properties and provide economic return until the development market returns,” and it would do this both by allowing existing parking areas in Station Area Overlay Districts to be used as commuter and customer parking, and by allowing “use of extra parking or vacant portions of a lot as commuter and customer parking for land related to existing institutions within walking distance of a light rail station.” The parking would be permitted as an interim use for a maximum period of three years.
The next meeting of the North Beacon Hill Council is Thursday, June 3 at 6:30 pm in the Beacon Hill Library meeting room, 2821 Beacon Avenue South. The meeting is starting 30 minutes earlier than usual, and the Friends of Lewis Park are providing pizza and enchiladas. As always, all are welcome to attend; you are part of the council when you attend your first meeting, and you have voting privileges when you attend your second.
A representative from the Seattle Department of Planning and Development (DPD) will be at the meeting to discuss the possibility of allowing temporary surface parking lots near Link light rail stations.
Additionally, the council is seeking four new board members and will be voting on these positions at the meeting. Council Chairperson Judith Edwards writes:
It takes the entire community to make North Beacon the neighborhood we want to live, grow and thrive in. Many of your fellow neighbors are, and have been, serving on the Board of Directors for the North Beacon Hill Council, working to further your visions for our neighborhood. The council has openings for four new Board members. These positions are being created in order to help expand the board and increase its ability to serve the neighborhood in the many areas that are important to you.
What does a Board member do? Board members contribute to the community and our Community Council by being involved in an area that interests them. One of our members monitors and coordinates with the police on issues of Public Safety. We have board members who maintain governmental relationships and another that acts as Treasurer. We have a web guru, and another is currently looking over our bylaws, with an eye to revising that which is outdated. And then there are city committees which originated with the Neighborhood Planning process. They include housing close to the light rail station, a strong neighborhood commercial district, a vibrant Town Center—with El Centro as part of it, and a neighborhood with parks and open spaces that serve its diverse community.
So the question we have for you is, what would you like to contribute to your community? What is it that you want to see happen in our neighborhood? What is the special expertise you might lend the Board? Grant writing? Acting as Secretary? Being involved in bike/pedestrian activities? Parks development? Mixed use housing? Developing a Town Center? Helping to establish a business association? Music and the arts? Whatever your interest might be we want you!
We request that those interested in running please prepare a one paragraph bio sharing with us what you’re interested in, and what you might bring to the Board. Please submit the bio to Matthew Stubbs via email (Matthew.T.Stubbs@gmail.com) These bios will be compiled and presented to the Members at our June meeting, at which time the greater membership of the North Beacon Hill Council will vote on these new board seats.
(Melissa attended the design guidance meeting held Tuesday, February 23 at the Wellspring building on 23rd and Rainier. Approximately ten Beacon Hill residents were in attendance, and an additional five people were in the audience from the Findlay Street Christian Church congregation. Findlay Street Christian Church is the property owner and hopes to develop 18 residential units on top of a combination church/community space on the corner of Bayview and 14th.)
Introductions and clarification of process
Michele Wang introduced Board members and Holly Godard (206-615-1524), the DPD staff contact for the project. Godard explained that this was a preliminary design review only and emphasized that this is not the appropriate venue for sharing SEPA concerns—including concerns regarding parking, traffic, etc.
Bev, a congregation member, shared information about the congregation, focusing on their history, philosophy and goals. She opened with a slideshow. The church is interested in developing 18 units of affordable housing—Bev clarified this was not subsidized or low income housing. The location was chosen in large part because of proximity to light rail and the church hopes to attract professionals (teachers, nurses, etc.) who will use mass transit. The congregation also hopes to create a space the community will use. She mentioned the potential of using the sanctuary as a theater or meeting space. Bev noted that the congregation is currently meeting in Mount Baker and has about 80 regular attendees, with a goal of about 125 maximum. They are intentionally a smaller congregation, not a “big project church.” Findlay Street Church was established in 1906 and has a long history in SE Seattle. When they sold their Hillman City property, they sold the parking area below market rate for use as a P-Patch to promote green space in perpetuity. They are currently meeting in Mount Baker while they develop their new, permanent space.
When questioned further about why the congregation had chosen North Beacon Hill, the response was that the site was available, affordable, and met the needs of the church. The congregation is also attracted to the vibrancy of Beacon Hill and is interested in being part of the community. Continue reading 14th and Bayview design guidance meeting notes→
“I have to say, having produce delivered right to your neighborhood is probably one of the most convenient amenities of living in a city. Especially a city surrounded by farmland. (…) I haven’t had to go to the market in ages and it really forces us to prepare meals using things I would never buy like turnips and beets.”
The city is introducing changes to the neighborhood Residential Parking Zone program this year. Come March, it will be easier to check if you need a parking permit on your block and apply for a permit online. Newly issued decals include the registered vehicle’s plate number, assisting in parking enforcement. (Existing permits will continue to be valid through their expiration date.) Which vehicles must be registered, the number of single-day guest permits, and the number of permits allowed per address are changing as well. No permit will be required for motorcycles and scooters, but a couple of challenging restrictions are coming: no more than four permits per address, and vehicles must be parked within six blocks of the registered address. More information on the 2010 RPZ program changes is available from seattle.gov.