The PI has a bunch of articles today about Density, Transit and Neighborhoods all over the city. The series is in response to the Mayor asking Neighborhood groups to update their plans to accommodate more growth. The last plans were written ten years ago.
I always think of the “neighborhoods” movement being a gigantic NIMBYism front that fights all growth, but the articles show that it isn’t that that way everywhere, and that some neighborhoods are working to preserve their character whilst growing.
There’s one about the South End, Rainier Valley in particular, where residents mistrust the city government and are unhappy with the way development has been going. A lot of this has been the traffic nightmare brought by light rail construction, which is almost over. There’s this quote from Jim Diers, former director of Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods
“During the neighborhood planning process, there was not one neighborhood, including those in Southeast Seattle, that fought growth targets.”
But people get their backs up when they are told how to grow and have no say in neighborhood planning, Diers said, noting that many residents were caught off-guard by the proposal.
There’s an entire article about Diers, who was the first Department of Neighborhoods head, served under Royer, Rice and Schell but was fired when Nickels came into office. He claims that the neighborhood movement has been weakened by Nickels, and that Seattle is getting away from a model that is being copied around the world. He takes the classic NIMBY stance.
There’s an article about Beacon Hill, where the growth plan adopted 10 years ago worked well, but people there are scrambling to ensure the development around Beacon Hill Station is in tune with neighborhood goals. Then there’s Roosevelt, where the Neighborhood Council tries to place nice with the city in order to get their vision for their neighborhood straightened out. With the Roosevelt Station planned, it will certainly become and even more dense neighborhood, and by playing nice instead of obstinate, they were able to convince Sound Transit that they needed a tunnel instead of overground. Finally, there’s this piece about Madison Park, where the rich residents feel that a neighborhood plan might be the only protection against rampant development.
It’s a great series that gives a good idea about what the neighborhood movement can and can’t do, and even gives clues on how to get involved. I get involved in my neighborhood meetings (I went to the Capitol Hill station meeting), and I encourage everyone else to do so if they are interested and have the time.