If you set aside time December 20th to testify about the North Rainier Rezone, don’t bother. Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee members Mike O’Brien and Richard Conlin have confirmed that the public hearing won’t occur until early 2014.
Mr. Conlin explained that “we realized that the next Committee would both have new people on it and would want to schedule a public hearing next year, so decided that this one would be redundant.” He added that Mr. O’Brien, who is likely to be the PLUS chair next year, “has said that he will move this as quickly as possible next year, so hopefully it will be done in the first few weeks.”
It would be a tragedy if it wasn’t. This process began in 2008. While it’s usually good to build consensus, approximately zero of the residents that objected to the upzone will be satisfied by a little more delay, because procedural objections are never the core reason for protest. Instead, people fundamentally opposed to the presence of renters and low-income housing in the area will pocket another delay and only be encouraged to continue this game in 2014.
Meanwhile, Rainier Valley residents that could have used new construction and retail jobs, and people everywhere that would appreciate relatively affordable housing close to light rail 10 minutes from downtown, will just have to wait. And if all of this delay causes us to miss the current real estate boom, we’ll have an entire business cycle where the Southeast’s greatest transit hub remains a car sewer.
We’ll keep you posted on the public hearing schedule.