If you attended this morning’s meeting about updating the neighborhood plan at El Centro, I’d like to invite you to comment on what you saw there, and how you feel about the direction things are headed. Was there something that was missed? Something that needs particular attention? How’d you like the food? What worked well about this meeting? What should be done differently for the next one coming up in May? What did you hear that you liked? Disliked? Want more information about? Pretty much anything.
A few of my thoughts: The room was too small and too loud with all the groups working at once. The food (from Kusina Filipina and… er… Dahlak? Please, someone confirm or correct — I seem to have misplaced their card) was great. The ideas discussed were good, most of them were much in-line with what had been in the plan previously. P-I boxes to flower boxes is an entertaining idea. I’d like hear more about ‘micro villages’ outside the formal Urban Village area.
This isn’t an official feedback route to the city, but we’d love to hear what you think!
Update: Freddie Merrell has a pretty relevant comment she just added to an older article here.
4 thoughts on “Neighborhood plan update comments”
I heard some interesting ideas including keeping Lander Street closed for the block in front of the station and turning it into a plaza. People at our table also seemed more concerned about the street scape and street level, pedestrian lighting, sidewalk enhancements, benches, etc. There was also apprehention about increasing the height too much so that it would loose the “light” quality and create canyons. Safety in and around the station was a concern.
I thought it was a great turn out. We need to make sure the outreach gets to all segments of the diverse population however.
One thing that I found lacking was some direction from the city reps regarding what concrete steps we could take to make our goals happen. There was lots of “I don’t want franchises for retail” or “we need to encourage pedestrian friendly development” but no specific information on how we could acheive that whether it be through zoning, the SEPA process, vigilant design review or something else entirely. Or if like “I want a pizza place” there isn’t really a neighborhood plan / government action we take to effect that other than bringing in more density and crossing our fingers.
What I’d really like to see is for the city to give us a toolbox of what options we have to guide and encourage the ideas that came out of this meeting, as well as the pros and cons of each approach. Hopefully that will be part of the next phase.
Concerning business development, the only thing I know of that will open a pizza place, bar or other wished for business, is an entrepreneur. The city has an office of economic development, and the DPD can change zoning, and SDOT maintains the streets and sidewalks, but the city can’t start businesses.
Traditionally, a Chamber of Commerce lobbies for better conditions for businesses to start and grow. Beacon Hill’s Chamber has been barely active for years now, and the North Beacon Hill Council is concerned with everything on the hill, parks, public safety, Sound Transit, etc, etc.
Columbia City and Georgetown have had success developing their business through a Merchants Association. How that differs from a Chamber of Commerce, I don’t know, but you can see the effect on the street in those business districts. Columbia City also has one or two property owners that have a number of buildings that they have re-modeled over the last few years.
In short, property owners need to invest in their properties and work to attract tenants and businesses that the neighborhood desires and will patronize.
As for us neighbors and amateur city planners, we need to stay engaged in this process, intensely even over the next 6 months, if we want to see our place go the way we want it to.
That’s all for now. I’ll be at the NBHC meeting on Thursday.
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