After a seemingly endless process, the Seattle Council finally upzoned the area around Mt. Baker Station this year. Perhaps that experience exhausted everyone involved, but the next station down, Columbia City, is equally ready for a serious rezone.
The station is on the diagonal section of MLK immediately northeast of the dark purple stair-step. All of the areas where you don’t see a label are SF5000, since these zones are so large that the labels are centered elsewhere. What you do see is a tiny sliver of 40′ zoning in a handful of lots adjacent to the station, a lot of 40′ and 65′ zones in downtown Columbia City a few blocks east, some lowrise (LR) zones between the two, and a sea of single-family zoning covering a significant portion of the golden quarter-mile and half-mile circles around the station.
These circles are the areas that would, given reasonable zoning, house the residents that would plausibly not own cars and utilize Central Link’s future capacity to the fullest. Those non-driving residents provide the demand for better bus service and the customer base for a thriving business district from downtown Columbia City to the station. That business district would, in turn, help to make the approaches to Columbia City’s core more walkable. The residents that would live in those buildings would also either not displace people living elsewhere in Seattle, or else avoid displacement themselves. But instead, in large areas less than five minutes’ walk from the station, Seattle makes it illegal to have more than one household per lot.
I asked Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee Chair Mike O’Brien when his committee would review this intolerable situation. “I agree that with the growth and development around the business district, [zoning] of the land next to the light rail station is worth a review now,” O’Brien said, but “DPD has a long list of neighborhoods where they are currently starting or finishing planning processes.” He said there was no chance of a rezone in 2015, but that he would “look into” what it would take to get Columbia City back into the queue.