Neighborhood planning with SPUNC

On Tuesday, March 9, the Seattle Public Utilities and Neighborhoods Committee (SPUNC) agenda included a review of the North Beacon Hill Neighborhood Plan update.  You can watch the committee meeting on the Seattle Channel website.

Some points of interest in Tuesday’s meeting:

(approx. 20 minute mark) Brief discussion of the goals of the presentation, including mention of the recent appeal of the plan update process, and how the appeal may affect Council actions on the plan (basically, the Department of Planning and Development advising the Council to honor whatever decision the Hearing Examiner makes on the appeal).

(approx. 43 minute mark) Richard Conlin and Sally Clark discuss the idea of easing the transition between the “Urban Village” and the surrounding single family area, perhaps by changing the zoning of the single family area around the station. There’s also an interesting discussion of the definition of “Urban Village” and “Urban Core” — “it’s a thing.”

(approx. 51 minute mark) Lyle Bicknell describes an idea for collecting community input and making the work plan section of the neighborhood plan. Council members discuss the pros and cons of this new format versus the existing matrix.

Overall, committee members showed interest in supporting the community desires for continuing public input in neighborhood planning and implementation of specific goals.

After the committee meeting, Dennis Saxman approached me to discuss the three appeals to the SE neighborhood plan updates. He mentioned he had helped draft the appeals and stated that there is nothing notable in the appeals being identical.  Saxman also expressed concern about media coverage of the appeals.  (We agreed that comments on some blogs went too far and became personal attacks.)  Saxman is familiar with challenging DPD via the Hearing Examiner’s office, most notably in this case on Capitol Hill.

City Councilmember Mike O’Brien is the SPUNC chairperson. This committee is responsible for legislative matters including:

  • Water, drainage, wastewater and solid waste services provided by Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), including SPU environmental services and utility rates, regional water resources and endangered species recovery plans
  • Neighborhoods, including neighborhood plan updates and implementation

If you are able to attend SPUNC committee meetings and/or City Council meetings in person, it’s a fantastic way to engage with our local elected officials and play an active role in shaping our community. Feel free to contact Esther Handy in Councilmember O’Brien’s office with questions about the neighborhood planning process:, (206) 684-8800.

7 thoughts on “Neighborhood planning with SPUNC”

  1. I never said to Melissa that I helped draft the appeals. Melissa asked me how I knew these people and I told her that I knew them from earlier neighborhood projects we had worked on together and that I had been a member of the Neighborhood Plan Advisory Committee so was interested in the appeals, and the appellants spoke with me because I have experience filing appeals against the City.

  2. My apologies if I misheard Dennis. I heard him say he had “worked on”/”worked with” these appeals, in context of adapting a template vs. writing entirely new legal documents. I believe the context was explaining why the appeals are identical.

    Dennis and I disagree on the importance of the appellants disclosing to their individual communities that each appeal is not an individual work.

  3. Thank you Sally Clark and Mike O’Brien for coming to Beacon Hill and listening to our issues with the plan update as it stands now!!!

    Listen in at 58:30 for Sally and Mike’s diplomatic version of why we need concrete actionable steps detailed out of the work that’s been done thus far by DPD.

    The other council members aren’t as well versed on our reservations but they are getting it as well just from seeing LB’s presentation. Because it’s so obvious…

    Love it!

  4. And who wants to take bets that there’s no DPD presence at the Beacon Hill festival this year again? Perfect place to find a quorum of neighbors and get input but they act as if they’ve never heard of it…

    Oh, wait, that’s Parks Dept…

  5. Rank-and-file city employees used to be encouraged to staff tables at community events, but they discontinued it years ago because it meant paying those employees overtime.

    And that’s not a union thing, it’s a city thing. The city wants all official representatives to be on the payroll when performing their duties or driving city cars. I think it has something to do with liability.

  6. That’s interesting Dan. I try to always keep in mind that city employees are people doing their jobs, just like employees at any company I’ve worked at. They have all the same hassles of management making them enact half-baked decisions with not enough resources that I’ve experienced at most organizations where I’ve worked. But on top of that, a lot of people think it’s legitimate to treat them as a personification of their frustrations with government. I just got back from several days in Austin last night — I didn’t see the building where the guy flew his plane into the IRS office, but I kept thinking about it and about the meanings of the term “civil society.”

  7. The meeting on this past Tuesday, 3/23 is posted up on the Seattle Channel to watch. It has a very detailed, and long, discussion of the next steps for the neighborhood plans. This includes a good comparison of the development of the Plan 10 years ago and the City’s vision for how the updates will be done differently. They definitely seem to be leaning toward using the Plan to define concepts that will direct the development of projects over the next 10 years versus defining actual projects.

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