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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.

7 Replies to “North Rainier Rezone Update”

  1. Personally, I think there should be simple density minimums around all rail stations. Neighborhoods could increase the density if they choose, but not decrease it. Something like:

    Within 1/3 mi walking dist of station: Minimum FAR of 5, Height Limit: 420 feet
    Within 2/3 min walking dist: Minimum FAR of 2, Height Limit: 150 feet
    Within 1 mi. of station: Minimum FAR of 0.5, Height Limit: 65 feet

    Minimum FAR’s would require efficient land use close to stations, and agressive height limits would allow developers to build whatever the market can bear in a given area.

    For the people concerned about the single family homes near light rail stations, there are 2 points:
    1. Nobody is forcing people to sell — Min FAR’s are only for new construction. If someone wants to have a SFH near light rail they can, but if they want to sell to a developer that wants to more efficently utilize that land they have that option too
    2. The vast majority of the region’s land area will be more than 1 mile from a light rail station for the foreseeable future (even with ST3), so it’s not like we would eliminate SFH opportunities. On the other hand, the current land zoned for 420+ feet is currently extremely constrained. This is a way to balance that out.

    1. I agree. I like O’Brien a lot. It will be interesting to see who replaces Conlin on the committee. I think Conlin and O’Brien saw eye to eye on most land use issues. I think they both agreed with the mayor as well, while I think other members of the council were a lot more resistant to up-zone. I have no problem with preservation (there are a lot of great old buildings that should be preserved) but I have no patience for those that want to preserve parking lots because they fear renters or the cars they might drive.

  2. It will be interesting to see if the Artspace Lofts housing project adjacent to the station has an impact on that node’s vibe. It seems like a nifty spot, and an infusion of some additional creative class members could be beneficial (although, the immediate neighborhood isn’t exactly the hell hole some think it is).

  3. “We just need to slow down and make it a good development for everybody.”

    Rhetorically: Isn’t five-plus years enough?

  4. that much development in that tight section of the valley is going to exacerbate an already horrendously choked traffic situation — there are only two arterials, MLK and Rainier. And dont expect me to believe every new resident is going to take light rail. I’d bet a lot of readers and posters don’t live in the area they are commenting on. We also NEED that Lowes. I’d be sick if it were taken away. I live farther south in Hillman City and really don’t want to drive all the way to SODO or Renton to get house supplies.

    I’m worried about O’Brien and his theories about what’s best for everyone. If he is anything like his buddy, McGinn, we’re not in great shape once he takes over the design and planning committe.

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