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Thursday evening at 7pm, the Shoreline Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on two ordinances (750, 751) that will formally adopt the the 145th Street Station Subarea Plan (145mb PDF). If you live in Lake City, Bitter Lake, Shoreline, or other nearby areas, the meeting could use urbanist support for the currently preferred Alternative 4.

Set to open in 2023, the 145th Street station is located in an awful place for transit access, far inferior to nearby station options such as 130th (delayed) or 155th (foregone). The station area is currently surrounded by a freeway on its west, a golf course to the south, single-family homes in all directions, and a soon-to-be-built 500-stall parking garage. Shoreline only has jurisdiction of the northern half of the station walkshed, but they have done an impressive and comprehensive look at the station’s TOD potential.

The current Alternative 4 is called “Compact Community Hybrid”, and will likely be selected over Alternative 1 (no build), Alternative 2 (“Connecting Corridors”, a broader but shallower upzone), and Alternative 3 (“Compact Community”, a narrower but taller upzone). The hybrid option rezones immediately adjacent parcels to 70′, and slowly steps down to 45′, 35′, and then back to single-family. Though the concepts surely could have been more aggressive, the preferred Alternative 4 is the best politically possible outcome, and it deserves urbanist support.

There will be an amendment presented at the meeting to retain single-family zoning as a buffer around natural areas such Twin Ponds Park and Paramount Open space. While the area affected would be small, it would reduce the number of units available to be built in both the 70′ and 35′ zones. If you want a walkable station area and believe that multi-family housing and natural areas can coexist, we encourage you to speak up at the hearing in support of Alternative 4 and in opposition to the amendment.

Meeting Details:  Thursday, August 18, 7:00 PM, Shoreline City Hall, 17500 Midvale Ave N

36 Replies to “Support TOD at 145th Street Station: Public Hearing Thursday”

    1. From http://www.cityofshoreline.com/government/departments/planning-community-development/planning-projects/light-rail-station-area-planning/145th-street-station-subarea-planning:
      Potential Amendment- At the August 4 Planning Commission meeting, Commissioner Mork proposed a potential amendment to the Compact Community Hybrid zoning scenario to be considered for the August 18 public hearing. This map shows wetlands, streams, and their buffers surrounding Twin Ponds Park and Paramount Open Space, based on information from the recent delineation performed for Twin Ponds Park and the City’s Critical Areas GIS layer for Paramount Open Space. Commissioner Mork proposed that properties that include any critical areas or their buffers retain R-6 zoning, while properties that did not include a critical area or buffer would be zoned MUR-35’. Commissioner Mork’s reasoning was that properties likely to include critical areas or buffers should be limited to single-family development, but that other properties surrounding park land should have the option to maintain single-family standards or to redevelop with multi-family units that could house more people near such amenities. Her concern was that eventually, properties zoned R-6 that are not constrained by critical area regulations would eventually redevelop into larger, more expensive single-family homes, which she considered a potential equity issue and inconsistent with the vision.

      1. I’m failing to parse this paragraph for the reasoning of R-6 over MUR-35′. Does anyone else have a better read on this?

      2. @Trayton Otto: My read is that you are parsing it backwards, it’s an argument for MUR-35′ over R-6. My read is that close access to parkland is a good and that the free market, given the chance, will eventually price out low income residents. If the area is zoned for single families the mechanism for this is replacement of affordable cottages with MacMansions. Where there are critical area restrictions, the free market is constrained from building the big houses, so that won’t happen. Otherwise, let’s upzone to try to keep the area accessible to those of modest income.

      3. It sounds contradictory, so I’m not sure if we’re interpreting it right. There may be a need for a moritorium on developing ecologically-sensitive parcels until better regulations can be worked out. But keeping it single-family forever is a blunt instrument. If Mork proposed the amendment to protect sensitive parcels but she’s concerned that McMansions are allowed and would harm the parcels, then is she turning against her own amendment? Or are we misunderstanding the situation?

      4. Despite sounding educated, this is about as comprehensible as a youtube comment. To me it sounds like an explanation for expanding upzones to get closer to park than the plan otherwise would have.

  1. It’s a step in the right direction, and I’m glad Shoreline is leaning toward a maximum alternative. The differences between alternatives 2, 3, and 4 sound like the U-District upzone: it also had a preferred alternative, a tall one with higher limits over a smaller area, and a short one with lower limits over a larger area. The debate at the time had arguments both for and against the tall alternative. The anti argument was that 12+ story buildings cost more to build so only the rich would be able to live in them and there was little additional housing for ordinary people. The pro argument was that if we get a few highrises now, maybe in a few years attitudes will change and we can get a second upzone for more tall buildings around them, whereas if we go with the medium limit then the new medium buildings will remain for decades even if a second upzone is possible.

    But there’s a difference in scale between the U-District rezone and 145th. The U-District was considering a 30-40 story maximum, while Shoreline is considering a 7-story maximum. Still, 7 stories is a good step for a suburb, especially in a peripheral part of town. And we don’t really need 20-story buildings everywhere. We just need enough 7-story buildings to absorb the housing demand, and arranged in a contiguous 2-dimensional village rather than scattered one by one or linear. That’s what Chicago has, and Paris, and Boston, etc. A 2×2 mile area with 3-10 story buildings, and it can even have a few single-family houses scattered within it.

    “There will be an amendment presented at the meeting to retain single-family zoning as a buffer around natural areas such Twin Ponds Park and Paramount Open space.”

    Twin Ponds Park is on 155th so it’s only peripherally related to 145th. What bothers me most about this amendment is the idea that a ring of single-family houses preserves the park’s quality, and other kinds of buildings would be a negative impact. To me a good park is one that attracts a lot of people and is easily accessible by walking and transit. Cal Anderson Park is one of the best in the region, and it doesn’t need a ring of single-family houses around it to protect it. The ring means that fewer people can walk to it, and it gives an extraordinary free privilege to the ten families that are lucky enough to surround it. Of course we must be concerned about noise, visual, and traffic impacts on the park, but there are other ways of mitigating those than allowing only single-family houses. And the McMansion loophole means that all those houses can be replaced by McMansions because they’re “single-family”, and is that better for the park or the community than apartment buildings or commercial buildings?

    1. Yeah, and somehow apartment buildings dump contaminates into the park, but single family houses are innocent of such things?

      In most of the parks I know of that have a border along houses like that, the park is constantly battling illegal yard debris dumping and similar issues.

      Yup, Stanley Park in Vancouver would be vastly better if they only had single family houses on its one land border. A dozen people or do could act as gatekeepers rather than allowing hundreds to live by the park.

    2. I’m very pro-density, and I am very opposed to the smaller scope but taller upzone.

      Having just returned to Seattle after several years of living and working in Europe, my opinion has only solidified even more that we are both shooting ourselves in the foot and creating less dynamic spaces by pushing for 20-story buildings–hell, even 10 story buildings. That type of height won’t win over density skeptics, and they are less enjoyable to be around. Give me blocks and blocks of 4-7 story buildings in all directions with small business spaces at the bottom floor–not another f’ing CVS.

      This is human scale, the size where the tops of buildings meet the tops of trees. People, even density skeptics, love European cities. And people love this scale even if it is not full of historic buildings; go to Berlin, Copenhagen or Rotterdam to see new development that provides the same feel as the Europe most people love.

      Larger buildings are out of place everywhere other than downtown and they do block out the sun. The main issue though is making sure density in the 4-7 story range can be built within a ten minute walk of a frequent transit stop and not just along the one busy road on which the bus stop rests like we currently allow. Few people want to live right on to the busy road.

      I really think we need to create a new urban Street of Dreams that can showcase what good density and the missing middle look like when done well. I’d also like to see us throw in some piazzas for good measure.

    3. “Give me blocks and blocks of 4-7 story buildings in all directions with small business spaces at the bottom floor”

      Yes, that’s it. But the single-family NIMBYs are standing in the way and the government is cowering to them (or giving them an extraordinary benefit even when it harms other people who can’t find housing in the area they want to be). This upzone is better than that because the city is actually favoring converting single-family blocks to multifamily. But it’s rampant in Seattle.

      The equivalent of what you’re talking about would be a 7-story zoned area from Fremont to UW and the Ship Canal to to 55th, plus the expected U-District towers. That would resemble Chicago’s north side and it would house a lot of people. Instead we have the U-District and a block-wide ribbon of lowrise on 45th to Stone Way, but single-family restricted around them. A 7-story area doesn’t mean all the buildings would be seven stories. An area that large would allow developers to choose a few lots at a time over decades, and some of them will be the maximum seven stories and others will be shorter special-purpose buildings and others will remain houses. Chicago’s north side is not uniform 10-story buildings: it’s a mixture of 3-10 stories with scattered single-family houses and row houses, and on the shore a few 30-story highrise apartments.

      1. Yeah. It’s been painful to watch–from a distance–the HALA upzone process fall apart. Particularly painful to see people so opposed to proposals just to allow 2-story row houses in some SFZ neighborhoods.

        I agree that opening up neighborhoods would allow a slower, more thoughtful pace of growth, but I think to get people to accept that would require better examples of what is possible and and a higher overall standard on development. Some buildings have gotten better in Seattle, but we have so many really ugly buildings that turn people off. I don’t agree with everything from The School Life video on cities, but I find it interesting as a source of potential arguments for density done right. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hy4QjmKzF1c

      2. People want to see what we’re recommending, so let’s start with: what are the best examples in Pugetopolis? What’s the kind of neighborhood layout we want to see in parts of north Seattle, Shoreline, Kent, etc?

      3. Capitol Hill is probably closest to the small-lot low-rise ideal discussed above. North of Pike-Pine and west of Broadway there are lots of blocks that are quite dense but still have relaxed side streets (they’re not right on the main arterials). The International District has a somewhat similar urban form, but is pretty heavily affected by through-traffic, and right next to industrial areas and freeways, which make it a less convincing show-piece.

        But this sort of small-lot urbanism gets pretty strained if you have to add as much parking as Shoreline (or even Seattle at the periphery) would require. That’s not just a matter of laws, it’s one of economics — I’m not sure many developers will want to build no-parking buildings in Shoreline, or even much below a space per unit (why build for no-car residents in a neighborhood where no-car living is, today, very unattractive, and where there’s no guarantee it will improve in the future?). How is that parking going to work? This nice-looking complex in Fremont gets by without a garage… but it’s only two stories and has a whole block face of garage entrances on the back side. There’s a taller building on the west slope of north Capitol Hill that also uses a lot of street frontage for parking. The old Chicago 4+1 is a step up from there in density without high-cost infrastructure, and often all its street frontage will be used for parking. So if you actually want mixed-use buildings (maybe you do, maybe you don’t), something has to give… and one of those things might be building area; like many new buildings, the “Urbana” is quite large, and because the parking ramps are consolidated for the whole block there’s room at ground-level for some reasonably deep retail spaces.

        So suppose you actually build all that parking along with all that density… that’s a recipe for some decidedly un-relaxed local traffic at rush-hour. You probably don’t want that much traffic deep into the side streets, so you’re back to building it exclusively along the arterials. At this point what’s left doesn’t resemble the rose-colored “euro” vision of thorough mixed-use low-rise urbanism except in the low-rise aspect; parking and traffic have taken everything else. Maybe then you ask whether we wouldn’t be better off concentrating buildings with the lowest parking ratios possible as close to the transit station as possible where they at least have a hope of succeeding, to create a critical mass of pedestrian activity that adjacent areas might build off of several decades down the road?

        Really, the hope for Great Urbanism is pretty minimal considering the highway infrastructure that dominates the area and will continue to even after Link comes through. If the Link station at 145th becomes a popular transfer point that would look like success to me.

  2. It’s good to have the buffer next to the park, but it is misplaced in this proposal. I’d convert all the SFH on the south end of the park to MUR-35, then convert the first row of SFH lots adjacent to the north pond into true park land. Basically all the lots between Corliss Place N and the pond should become park.

  3. Is there any sort of zoning that would permit duplex / multiple conversions of those SFH lots? They are pretty small lots for larger apartment buildings, but allowing conversions as homeowners and market demands might be a good solution there.

  4. I hope someone buys Shoreline officials some Cascades tickets to come down here and see how bad some of the freeway MAX stations. Foster Road / Lents on the green line along I-205 is probably a good parallel, though no parking structure. The station is between what remains of the old Lents town center and the off-ramp, so people don’t have to dodge off ramp traffic to get to a number of things. The bike path along the freeway and the bike path bridge over the busy interchange with Foster / Woodstock helps expand the reach of the station a bit.

    Shoreline essentially gets to plan this from scratch, which would be good. Lents got torn up pretty bad when the freeway went through the old town center, and it makes the commercial center not work as well as it could.

    It would be a lot better if there were a way to cross the freeway on foot without dealing with the ramp traffic. While the activity on the west side of the freeway isn’t great, it is vastly better than the desolation on the east side of the freeway. People are occasionally able to get across to the bus stops and MAX station without getting killed, but the contrast between the side that has the MAX station and the one that doesn’t is pretty strong thanks to the huge obstacle the freeway represents.

    1. Yup. Portland, Denver, Dallas, Houston… Not a single example of highway alignment light rail that anyone actually wants to live next to. And we’re going to try again…

      1. Lents is actually better, as far as I can tell, than this will be, because we have a bridge over Harold Street about 8 blocks north of Foster. As I live near Harold and 97th, I can cross the freeway there. There is a pedestrian bridge over the freeway two blocks north of Harold so the kids can get to school. Maybe 10 blocks south of Foster there is a bike path under the freeway.

        It doesn’t look like there is anything like that level of alternative routes available around this station at 145th, but the map only shows two dimensions so it’s hard to see what they plan to hold under what.

      2. The main purpose of the light rail is for travel between the largest cities. The highway alignments in between are a lost opportunity to make even more areas urban villages with high-capacity transit, but they are a secondary benefit.

        Where is the U-District of Denver? The Capitol Hill of Dallas? The Northgate of Houston? The Rainier Valley of Portland? The first three are areas suburbanites want to travel to besides downtown. The first, third, and fourth are areas with lot of residents who want to travel to other places.

      3. Don’t know about the rest, but the Rainier Valley of Portland is probably the Interstate Avenue MAX line. It was once served by the 5, but it got to be too crowded for buses to really work there any more. Not so long ago it was a pretty awful area, with a significant percentage of the buildings abandoned completely or basely holding on to what businesses were there. It hasn’t been completely revitalized, but it is a vast improvement over what it once was.

        Two of the houses that used to be quite close to the Lents MAX station are now demolished as they got to be too decrepit to salvage. This is part of the dead zone created by the freeway interchange.

        In the meantime, on the other side of the freeway, the lot in the center of the mess is slated for redevelopment into a fairly large multiple unit housing development. The building to the left was an abandoned housing project that was covered in yellow plastic wrap for about 7 years but today is an active living and retail space (though when Google drove by last the for lease signs were still there).

        Further north, a long vacant structure is now a fairly active brewpub.

        If you look at the Lents MAX Station you will see that TriMet had a choice. They could have put the MAX station in a far less accessible place so that everyone had to fight the freeway traffic to get to the station. They chose not to do that for the northwest quarter of the area. It could definitely have been better for a lot of the people, though.

        Shoreline’s challenge is to make sure that they avoid the mistakes at this location, and if at all possible and affordable to create alternative routes around the freeway mess they have. I can use Harold Street to get to the MAX station. People on the south side of the mess can use the I-205 Path Bridge to get to the MAX station.

        In Shoreline, the NE 145th Interchange has no parallel bike path to use as a way to spread the reach of the Link station. They have to go almost twice as far north to get to an alternative crossing of the freeway than what I have. There are many other issues with this area that would be good to solve so that Shoreline doesn’t wind up with a dead zone at this station.

        The golf course probably isn’t such a big deal since it would probably wind up being a dead zone anyway due to the freeway interchange obstacle.

        Once redevelopment starts to happen in this area, they probably need to start to plan pedestrian bridges from the station to the area beyond the freeway interchange roads. Say, if someone builds a development between 5th and 6th, you could plan it so that there is a bridge from the station across 5th to some sort of incorporated small open space in the new development so that people have an alternative to dealing with traffic to and from the freeway interchange, similar to how much of the old Lents town center (or, at least, the part that wasn’t demolished to make the freeway) is accessible to the MAX station without having to cross the exit ramps. They were able to put the MAX station on the west side of the freeway exit ramp, but you can’t put the station on the community side of the freeway traffic at this location in Shoreline.

        So, there’s lots of stuff to consider when it comes to mistakes made in other places and how to get the most out of this station.

      4. Not a single example of highway alignment light rail that anyone actually wants to live next to. And we’re going to try again….

        Freeway alignments and stations were specifically argued against in the 1968 Forward Thrust plan’s EIS (a fascinating document, as much as for what we lost than anything else).

        1968–the heyday of the car. Think about that–even then, it was considered horrible planning because of exactly what you say yet we doubled and tripled and quadrupled down on it in all of those cities, now to include ours. The horse is long out of that barn here, because it’s cheaper to build next to a freeway – penny wise/pound foolish – and because we’ve let elected officials design our lines and in the suburbs the mindset is to go to the freeway to get anywhere. It is what it is and it is how it was set up to be, though more’s the pity. We could have leveraged the freeway for continued express bus service as necessary at little cost while providing additional high-capacity transit in adjacent corridors, but we decided to put everything in one corridor instead of an existing one and a new one.

      5. You’re exactly right Scott. To add insult to injury, jurisdictions throughout the region are actively fighting against the more sensible alignments and ST is bending over backwards to accommodate them.

        Obviously a 509 alignment in South King would be better than I-5. Instead, we’re going to zigzag around like a snake to do what… Preserve the quaint and charming personality of Pacific Hwy South? Minimize the impact on the beloved local hangouts of Taco Bell and McDonalds?

        Bellevue actively fought the obvious choice of a Bellevue Way alignment because they didn’t want Link to cross at-grade through downtown. So ST marched on with an inferior alignment down 112th and made enemies in Surrey Downs in the process.

        Then Bellevue says, you know what? It would be a great idea to tunnel through downtown! Let’s do a big loop back towards where we came from, but we don’t want to pay for a station… we’ll just pop back out onto 112th and put our station there. Genius!!!

        Snohomish is just as bad. They don’t want a highway 99 alignment because reasons but they will refuse to support ST3 unless it involves a massive detour to serve an airport that may or may not have a small amount of commercial traffic at some point in the future and a sprawling factory that Boeing is itching to shut down.

  5. Are the people between First and Sixth NE howling? I would expect so. They’re going to be surrounded by tall buildings or will have to move. True, they’ll be paid a nice premium for their properties, but as soon as a block is “invaded” by a mid-rise, all the other lots will be sold.

      1. It’s already doubled or tripled for anyone who bought in Shoreline in the 1990’s. The developers of seven story condos and apartments will not pay another two or three times what a lot is worth. The structure on the lot is a liability, no longer an asset, because it’s not free to tear it down.

        In any case I wasn’t saying “don’t do this”, just pointing out that the area right around the station is going to be dramatically changed, as it should be. Nearly all the people there are going to have to move, and nobody likes to be forced to do anything.

        Are you edging toward transit fascism? There’s a real strain of that in your scorn.

      2. Not everybody is so bothered by an apartment building next door that they’d consider it intolerable and move. The construction period is the most disruptive part. And if a developer wants to build a large block-sized complex, he’d buy up the entire block, and the only delay would be homeowners who don’t want to sell right away.

      3. More like Star Trek “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few…or the one.”

        Where the one (near 145th and I-5, not exactly known for peace and quiet) gets a six figure boost in their net worth.

        Currently, I’m within 2 blocks of an apartment complex construction and 3 blocks of LCW (which is also not known for peace and quiet). It ain’t that bad.

  6. Gotta love Zach’s second paragraph. Can we get to lemonade in the envelope of a full I-5 interchange with the traffic drawn to a 500-car garage?

  7. “an awful place for transit access” And yet, protect the golf course, a perfect Urban Village. The chatter on this blog is all Sim City.

    1. For redevelopment on the Seattle side of the 145th Street station, a continuous row of 6-story apartments could be built along the north edge of the Jackson Park golf course (south side of 145th St). Apartments with a double-loaded hallway are only 70′ wide; 2 golf tees at most would have to be moved slightly to accommodate the apartments.

      1. Would even make for a nicer golf game as the buildings would be a buffer between the course and the street traffic, and some people would pay a premium to look out on to a golf course out their front window.

        Presumably a developer could do this if they acquire equivalent acreage elsewhere in Seattle and donate that space as a park? So no net impact on total park space in Seattle, just swapping of land?

        I’m even more keen to see what happens with the Interbay golf course if/when the Interbay station is built.

      2. Wait. A golf course you have to pay to play on is considered a public park (which requires some sort of land exchange to develop)?

    2. “an awful place for transit access” And yet, protect the golf course, a perfect Urban Village. The chatter on this blog is all Sim City.

      The golf course is on the Seattle side of the line. Nothing Shoreline can do about it.

      what about the political realities of this staton location do you find that is anything like SimCity?

  8. The map shows the cyan colored areas as MUR-70, but the accompanying legend says cyan is MUR-85 (Mixed Use Residential – 85′ High). Was this simply a typo, or were they considering an 85′ zone, then scaled it back?

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