What did RBCA do in 2017?

Two years ago, the Ravenna-Bryant Community Association (RBCA) adopted a vision to guide our activities: Ravenna-Bryant is a welcoming, thriving, safe, diverse, and connected neighborhood. Those descriptors help board members think about proposed changes affecting the neighborhood and what we want to do so that the vision becomes reality.

In 2017, the RBCA board conducted many activities to promote our vision. Following are a few highlights. The summary doesn’t capture everything, but provides an overview of activities that have been ongoing for years, activities that were specific to 2017, and activities that will continue into the new year and, possibly, years to come.

Annual meeting: In April, RBCA’s annual general meeting featured a speaker from the Seattle Office of Emergency Management who provided important information about preparing for an earthquake and other emergencies. This educational forum culminated a year-long emergency preparedness campaign conducted by RBCA, Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center, and community members that included community conversations and a “Task A Month” emails about items needed to build an emergency preparedness kit.

Neighbors gathered to learn about how to prepare for an emergency during RBCA’s annual membership meeting in April. Photo by Oralea Howard.

University Village garage: In June, the RBCA Land Use Committee held a community meeting to provide neighbors with an update about University Village’s plans for a 7-story garage on 25th Avenue NE and the opportunity for neighbors to give the developers input about the garage design. In September, the RBCA Land Use Committee submitted its second comment letter on the project to the Design Review Board (a first round of comments were made in December 2016). Two RBCA board members attended the September early design guidance meeting and gave public comments for the Design Review Board to consider. The comments focused on pedestrian and bicycle safety along 25th Ave NE and the need for developers in the area along 25th Ave NE to work together to make the connections between the neighborhoods and the Burke-Gilman Trail safer.

Drawing of planned University Village garage on 25th Avenue NE from the perspective of people walking south. Image from design review documents, Project 3025629.

#Fix65th Coalition: In February, the Seattle Department of Transportation launched a collaborative process to review street safety conditions along NE 65th Street. The NE 65th Street Vision Zero project was started in response to safety concerns highlighted by the #Fix65th Coalition, a collaboration between RBCA, the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association, and NE Seattle Greenways starting in 2016. In a mobility safety survey conducted by RBCA in 2016, speeding cars and difficulties crossing streets were top concerns among Ravenna-Bryant neighbors with NE 65th Street being mentioned most often as particularly dangerous for pedestrians.

After gaining public input about safety problems, SDOT implemented some quick improvements and shared with community members possible future safety improvements in May. After learning about SDOT’s plans, RBCA shared concerns in June and continued to highlight safety problems through recent drop-in sessions, communication with SDOT staff, advocacy with Councilmember Johnson, and awareness activities including participation in recent World Day of Remembrance events and ongoing posts to #Fix65th on Twitter.

In 2017, minor safety-related changes to NE 65th Street included re-painting crosswalk stripes at the corner of 20th Avenue NE, where an 89 year-old woman was killed in February. Photo by Oralea Howard.

Cell phone tower on NE 65th Street: A group of neighbors approached RBCA in the spring with concerns about an application by T-Mobile to affix a communication utility for cell phones on a Seattle City Light utility pole at the corner of NE 65th Street and 32nd Avenue NE, across the street from Assumption St. Bridget School. RBCA supported efforts made by Councilmember Johnson to increase transparency and forethought by public agencies such as City Light when notifying neighbors of proposed changes and seeking public comments.

Later in the year, RBCA advocated against Senate Bill 5711, an act relating to telecommunication services, and other bills restricting the power of municipalities to regulate in the public interest the location of telecommunication towers and facilities.

NE 50th Street sidewalks: For more than 15 years, RBCA has been advocating for sidewalks on NE 50th Street south of the Calvary Cemetery. Despite mitigation funds from University Village that they requested be used by SDOT for sidewalks on NE 50th Street; despite two Neighborhood Street Fund applications submitted by RBCA for the project; despite studies conducted by SDOT that show that people driving cars speed on this stretch of road; and despite ongoing advocacy by RBCA and community members, the neighborhood is still waiting for sidewalks.

This year, it came to RBCA’s attention that the sidewalk funds from University Village were to be diverted to another SDOT project. RBCA advocated with SDOT and Councilmember Johnson to ensure the funds remained earmarked for the project. RBCA board members testified during a City Council transportation committee meeting for the inclusion of sidewalks in the City of Seattle Pedestrian Master Plan.  Most recently, RBCA has been working with University Village to secure additional funding to fully fund the cost of installing sidewalks on 50th since current earmarked funds only cover about half of the project cost. RBCA plans to continue our advocacy efforts until there are sidewalks along this busy stretch of road that connects the University Village area to the Byrant neighborhood.

In 2016, the Seattle Department of Transportation developed this plan for adding sidewalks to NE 50th Street. In 2017, RBCA continued advocacy activities to make the plan a reality.

Outreach: RBCA board members continued to reach people through social media (Facebook, Twitter), our website, monthly emails, and flyers posted throughout the community. One of the goals of RBCA’s social media and website is to share information about what is happening in the neighborhood. Following are the posts that got the most attention in 2017.

Website: Plans for the University Village garage on 25th Avenue NE were of most interest to people who visited the RBCA website this past year. The top five most viewed posts in 2017 were:

  1. What would it look like to walk next to the proposed University Village garage?, September 2017 (6th most viewed post of all time)
  2. Early plans shared for development between 25th Avenue NE and Burke-Gilman Trail, July 2017 (8th most viewed post of all time)
  3. RBCA requests new U-Village garage be designed with community, pedestrians in mind, January 2017 (10th most viewed post of all time)
  4. Seattle crime in 2016, February 2017
  5. Design Review Board provides U-Village with design guidance for new garage, February 2017

Top 5 RBCA Facebook posts in 2017:

  1. A four-story indoor sports recreation center (Center of Physical Arts) is being proposed at 2510 NE Blakeley, September 2017
  2. Guests from the University of Washington will discuss the Husky Stadium Transportation Master Plan during the RBCA board meeting on Tuesday, November 2017
  3. RBCA requests new U-Village garage be designed with community, pedestrians in mind, January 2017
  4. What’s being proposed at the corner of NE 65th Street and 15th Avenue NE? A new apartment with 131 units and street-level retail, April 2017
  5. D4 Public Safety Open House flyer, August 2017

RBCA’s top tweets 2017 show how powerful a hashtag (in this case #Fix65th) can be:

  1. Remembering the 89 year-old woman struck by a pick-up truck & killed as she walked in the crosswalk at corner of NE 65th & 20th Ave NE 2/4/17. #WDR2017sea #WDoR2017 #Fix65th, November 2017
  2. Here’s a map of changes @seattledot is planning to #Fix65th. While improvements to existing painted crosswalks are welcome, neighbors are still concerned about pedestrian safety at unpainted crosswalks @CMRobJohnson., December 2017
  3. And again #Fix65th. (tweet included photo of the aftermath of the collision that killed the pedestrian in the crosswalk at 20th Ave NE), February 2017
  4. Unable to attend the @seattledot #Fix65th community forum last month? Take their online survey by tomorrow (3/14), March 2017
  5. It’s been great seeing so many neighbors engaged in the #Fix65th process! Couldn’t make it tonight? There will be another @seattledot drop-in session Thursday, 7-9am. Thanks @broadcastcoffee for hosting!, December 2017

Bylaws update: The RBCA board updated the association’s bylaws early in 2017. Changes include clarification regarding the role of the board and the role of the association as a whole; membership; the duties of the board; voting; and the role of committees.

RBCA is a volunteer-run organization with no paid staff. The RBCA board is always looking for people to participate in our monthly meetings, join committees, and pro-actively work on issues of concern in the Ravenna-Bryant neighborhood. The board will continue to meet the first Tuesday of the month, 6:30 p.m. at the Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center. Anyone interested in sustaining a welcoming, thriving, safe, diverse, and connected neighborhood is encouraged to participate. Like our wider community, RBCA is strongest when neighbors come together and pro-actively work towards a common vision.

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