RBCA Land Use Committee comments about proposed University Village 25th Avenue NE garage

On September 25, the Northeast Design Review Board (DRB) held its second Early Design Guidance (EDG) meeting on the University Village proposed major phased development. The Land Use Application is to allow five new retail buildings and one, seven-story garage building with retail and parking for 880 vehicles (University Village Major Phased Development). Review includes 10,000 sq. ft. of demolition and the removal of 467 surface parking spaces.

The RBCA Land Use committee has engaged the developer and submitted its second comment letter on the project.  Two RBCA board members attended the EDG meeting to provide public comments for consideration by the DRB. The comments focused on pedestrian and bicycle safety along 25th Ave NE, and the need for developers in this area along and across 25th Ave NE to work together to make the connections between the neighborhoods and the Burke-Gilman trail safer and easier for pedestrians and cyclists. Below is the letter.

September 25, 2017

Michael Dorcy, Planner

Seattle Department Construction Inspections

Re: Project #3025629 4500 25th Ave NE; University Village West Garage

Mr. Dorcy:

The Ravenna-Bryant community is directly impacted by the proposed project, so we have taken great interest in the latest development proposal by U Village.  RBCA submitted comments in December 2016 at the first EDG meeting and now we are submitting new comments about this project, specifically related to the West garage expansion and the impact of traffic on the intersections and circulation of pedestrians, bicycles, and vehicles in the context of the significant development that is proposed on both sides of 25th Ave NE in the next couple of years.

We appreciate that the project design has evolved to address some of the concerns raised in our first comment letter, however we still have concerns relating to the public realm along 25th Ave NE and transportation generally.  Further, we greatly appreciate the efforts of the three developers in this area (U Village, Phoenix, and Greystar) to work together to make their developments complement each other and improve the overall circulation and safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicles. This cooperation is imperative given the redevelopment of these blocks will provide a major opportunity to improve pedestrian orientation along 25th Ave NE and create a safer, more functional multi-modal transportation network in the area.  While 25th Ave NE is a major arterial, it is also a major pedestrian thoroughfare that has more pedestrians and bicycles using it given the connection to the light rail station less than 1 mile away and the access to the regional Burke-Gilman trail.

We list below the following bullet points to summarize our concerns:

  • Pedestrian safety on 25th Ave NE: We have three major concerns about pedestrian access and safety:
  • Garage Ingress/Egress: The DRB Recommendation Packet seems to reflect three travel lanes, including only one left-turn lane onto southbound 25th Ave NE. This is different from the four-lane option in the EDG package. We support SDOT’s position that a four-lane configuration would compromise pedestrian safety at the 47th Street intersection.
  • 49th Street Intersection: The garage entrance will eliminate one of two east-west through-connections that exist today across U Village. The remaining one, 49th Street, already seems like a dangerous access point, as 49th is an off-set intersection and there are three sets of adjacent curb cuts along the east side of 25th (U Village, Office Depot and Jiffy Lube), which present a safety hazard, in our opinion. As more cars seek to make an unprotected left into U Village, either to drop off/pick up passengers, access other garages on site, or fruitlessly search for surface parking, the additional turns will exacerbate the already challenging conditions. This potential diversion of left-hand turns to this intersection does not seem to be assumed in the Transpo report. 
  • Pedestrian experience on 25th Ave NE: We appreciate the micro-retail, which is a modest but appreciated improvement from the EDG design.  We have met with U Village and understand their programmatic and economic challenges with more providing more active street-front uses along 25th Avenue NE. However, there still will be a stretch of more than 200 linear feet from the micro-retail to 49th Street NE without any active uses. Even with the nicely appointed landscapes depicted in the design packet, the combination of arterial traffic and inactivity along the property will make for a challenging pedestrian environment. We encourage U Village to consider how to provide lighting to enhance real and perceived pedestrian safety, and to consider widening the sidewalk to allow for two parties to pass comfortably in light of the lack of eyes on the street in this location.
  • Cumulative traffic impacts from development proposed in this same vicinity:  In addition to the U Village West garage, there are two other proposals going through the EDG phase: 1) Greystar (Project #3027063) and 2) Phoenix Trailside (Project #3027312) projects. The Greystar project proposes 205 units and 140 parking stalls and the Phoenix project proposes 293 units with 286 parking stalls.  Both developments are seeking rezones from C-40 to NC2 65 or 75 and LR3 to NC2-85, respectively.  We think density done well is welcome in an urban village with as many amenities as our Ravenna Bryant neighborhood and we welcome the additional housing options.  However, these are big changes for this area and it will significantly increase the volumes of people and traffic who need to move around safely. According to the transportation study shown on Table 3, the future LOS for 13 of the 20 intersections will be at D, E or F by 2027. Currently the existing baseline shows nine intersections operating at D, E or F at this time.  Anyone driving during commute hours AM or PM peak knows that 25th Ave NE is a parking lot and traffic moves to a crawl.  We are concerned that the additional approximately 311 net new trips during the weekday PM peak hour created by the new garage only adds additional stress.  This does not even account for the increased traffic that the Greystar proposal (Project #3027063) and Phoenix’s Trailside proposal (Project #3027312) will add to the traffic on intersections and on 25th Ave NE.
  • Bicycle Connection along 47th: In part due to the Phoenix project’s pursuit of a street vacation, there is a plan for a bicycle and pedestrian connection that would run from the Burke Gilman Trail to 25th Ave NE along 47th Unfortunately, 47th is offset from the traffic light at the planned garage entrance, creating potential dual crossing of 47th and then 25th Ave NE to reach U Village from the Burke Gilman Trail. We encourage U Village to continue coordinating with Phoenix and Greystar to devise a plan, in conjunction with SDOT, that can meet the U Village’s vehicular access needs while supporting a seamless bicycle and pedestrian connection.

Thank you for considering our comments as you complete your review of University Village’s proposal and please let me know if we can answer any questions or participate in any manner as the process moves forward.

What would it look like to walk next to the proposed University Village garage?

A Design Review Board meeting about the proposed 7-story University Village garage on 25th Avenue NE is scheduled for Monday, September 25, 8:00 p.m. at the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford.

Here are some of the drawings of the latest design proposal from a pedestrian’s point of view.

Drawing of proposed University Village west garage. The people in this image are walking in front of the Office Depot driveway.
Walking south on 25th Avenue NE along the proposed University Village west garage.
Street view of bus stop, micro retail, and pedestrian entrance to the proposed University Village west garage.
Pedestrian passageway from 25th Ave NE through the proposed University Village west garage.
Car, bike, and pedestrian entrances to University Village at the south end of the proposed west garage. (That’s Restoration Hardware on the right.) 

All documents related to the proposed garage are available online under project 3025629. Comments about the garage design may be sent to the Design Review Board at PRC@seattle.gov.

Neighbors present proposed alternative zoning map in response to MHA environmental impact statement

A group of Ravenna neighbors participated in the July 11, 2017 RBCA board meeting and shared their comments about the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). In addition to requesting that the RBCA board include their comments in any communication they may have with the City regarding the DEIS, it was requested that their comments be posted to the RBCA website.

Below are their drafted comments which include a suggested alternative to zoning changes proposed in the DEIS. Thoughts about the proposal below may be left after the post. (Please note that the comments section is moderated and new comments may not immediately appear, especially if moderators are on vacation.)

To: Office of Planning and Community Development

Re: Comments to the MHA DEIS issued by the city of Seattle on June 8, 2017

We support Seattle’s effort to increase affordable housing and supports the MHA inclusionary zoning policy, the subject of the DEIS. In addition, since we support efforts to make Seattle more equitable, not just the Urban Villages, we request an Alternative 4 described herein be included in the Action Alternatives.

We strongly support requiring MHA developers in areas designated “high opportunity” to be required to include affordable units in their developments, rather than contribute a fee, as this policy will more directly ensure that affordable units are distributed equitably in the City, and minimize displacement.

Alternative 4, Part One:  Where appropriate, do transitions outside of Urban Villages, implement appropriate zoning within the adjacent SF neighborhood, rather than move the Urban Village Boundary or Expand the Urban Village

We affirm much of the increased zoning proposed in OPCD’s October 2017 Plan, and parts of Alternatives 2 and 3 of the DEIS, as clarified below.  In exchange for the new zoning, and in response to neighborhood concerns, and adverse impacts identified in the DEIS, we believe the MHA program goals can be better accomplished by creating a more effective transition between the Roosevelt Urban Village and Ravenna outside of the Urban Village, while keeping the Roosevelt Urban Village eastern boundary along the current border of 15th Ave NE and not expanding the Urban Village to the east.   

Alternative 4, Part Two: Allocate Planning Resources to SF neighborhoods who want to plan proactively for expansion of housing opportunities in their neighborhoods

We propose to study options for increasing housing opportunities in the broader community of Ravenna/Bryant. This policy would reward neighborhoods who want to plan proactively, could extend the reach of the MHA; create more walkable neighborhood business districts; more family-size, ground related, mixed-income housing in the neighborhood.  

Summary of support for proposed zoning changes and clarifications: The attached map provides an overview of zoning changes we are proposing east of 15th Avenue NE where the Ravenna and Roosevelt neighborhoods meet.

North of NE 65th:

  1. Adopt OPCD’s proposed rezoning from SF to LR3 along the East side of 15th Ave NE from NE 65th to NE 68th St. (same as OPCD Plan & Alternative 3, higher than Alternative 2). Our design preference would be row houses with backyards to provide more room for the tree canopy and storm water retention, and create a better buffer for lower zoning to the east.
  2. Adopt modified proposed new zoning from SF to LR-1 along the West side of 16th Ave NE from NE 65th to NE 68th. (change from OPCD & Alt 3 LR -2, but higher than Alt. 2)
  3. Change RSL to SF from the East side of NE 16th Ave to the West side of NE 17th (including the commercial on NE 65th except for the existing NC-40 on 15th Ave NE. )*

South of NE 65th

  1. Keep Existing NC-40-55 south of NE 65th St along from 15th Ave. NE (same as all options)
  2. Retain SF south of existing NC-40-55 zoning as SF along 16th Ave NE and 15th Ave NE.
  3. *Change all RSL to SF because current policy restricts RSL to Urban Villages
Map showing zoning changes proposed by neighbors in response to MHA DEIS.

Description of Impacts, Mitigation, and Comparisons of Action Alternatives

The proposed changes pertain to local conditions that will result in better, more gradual transitions between MF and SF and will mitigate concerns about land use impacts of bulk and scale, shade, and solar access.  Not changing the Boundary will also mitigate impacts to historical resources; aesthetics, transportation & parking, as well as better protect the tree canopy, Ravenna Ravine and Creek and improve storm water management.  Concurrently accepting many of the proposed changes in zoning will provide increases in density, promote needed redevelopment of 15th Ave NE and create new opportunities for MHA affordable units. The local impacts and mitigations are described below as well as a comparison of the Action Alternatives.

The current boundary of 15th Ave NE makes better sense than 16th or 17th Ave NE. The proposed expansion area of the Roosevelt Urban Village is relatively small just one or two blocks east, except for a small sliver in Alternative 3 along the main arterial NE 65th from 16th Ave NE to 20th Ave NE.   Boundaries normally are articulated on arterials, not on narrow residential streets, such as 16th or 17th Ave NE.  In the case of the Roosevelt Urban Village, better, more legible, gradual transitions between urban village densities and SF can be created outside of the urban village, rather than changing the boundary.

The proposed zoning provides a better transition from urban form to SF. The zoning is identical to Alternative 3 in the step down from the Urban Village on west side of 15th Ave,  north of 65th where a new 7 story building is being permitted next to Roosevelt High School, to L-3 on the East side of 15th .  We then propose to L-1 on the West side of 16th.  LR-1 makes a better transition in bulk and scale than LR2 to SF owners who choose to remain in the LR-1 zone on 16th, and to the SF across the street on the east side of 16th Ave NE.  Accepting the up-zones preserves the same potential for MHA affordable units and density on 15th, and slightly less on 16th than Alternative 3, but provides significantly more on both streets than Alternative 2 or Alternative 1.  North of 65th is closer to the light rail station and school than the area south of 65th, where the heights across the street in the urban village are lower. The northern end of the West side of 16th is buffered from the LR3 zone by a joint access alley.The houses on the southern end of 16th are already facing a transition to NC40, a remnant of the older zoning preference in Seattle of putting most MF on arterials. Additionally, south of 65th, the proposed expansion of NC-40(55) from SF is too stark a transition and the group has proposed keeping it as single family. 

Alternative 2, which proposes RSL on 15th and 16th, would be more compatible in height and bulk to SF, but not necessarily compatible with the established architectural and urban form, and would not produce as many MHA affordable units. The difference between SF, if the boundary remained at 15th under the Sub-Alternative, and the proposed RSL in the Expansion proposed under Alternative 2 or 3 would not be significant. Many of the lots in the area are either too small to support an additional house, or because of the placement of the house on the lot, would require tearing down the existing house and many houses would likely be too expensive and/or sufficiently upgraded to meet current code, energy, seismic, and technology standards to be feasibly redeveloped as RSL within the 20-year framework of EIS analysis.  This area already has ADU’s in the area, a more likely scenario to create affordable housing in this area.

Proposed increased zoning on NE 65th St needs further study. Alternative 3 proposes expansion along NE 65th to 20th.  This area of 65th is topographically challenged as there is a steep slope up the hill from 16th Ave NE to the crest of the hill at 18th, and then an even steeper descent to 20th.  There are no alleys serving the north side of NE 65th, both of these factors are noted in the DEIS to potentially be mitigated by adopting less intensive use. (3.121). This idea currently has some interest in the community but needs further study. 

Community Planning recommended by DEIS as mitigation for land use impacts. The DEIS specifically mentions that the current criteria for land use rezones may not be met in Roosevelt (p. 3.118), and that mitigation measures might include, “address potential land use impacts as part of neighborhood level planning efforts.” (p. 3.120) Currently, only areas in Urban Villages have access to city planning resources, and the Alternative Part Two would help areas like Ravenna/Bryant do local level planning.

Neighborhood Design Guidelines Recommended by DEIS

Historic Ravenna, which includes parts of Bryant, has a consistent, established architectural urban form, and is one of Seattle’s well-preserved “bungalow” neighborhoods. Since many homes in Ravenna/Bryant are historic Craftsmen houses, concerns for historical resources and aesthetics have been expressed by neighbors, impacts which have also been identified in the DEIS.  One mitigation measure suggested in the DEIS is Neighborhood Design Guidelines, which Ravenna/Bryant does not currently have.  (3.165) This is another potential benefit to having neighborhoods do proactive planning.

 Alternative 3 expansion along NE 65th to 20th Ave NE needs further study.  As mentioned before, there is some interest in the community; specifically to expand LR1, 1 block north and south along NE 65th from 16th Ave NE to 20 Ave NE. The goal is to promote more rapid redevelopment by creating development pathways that work for single lots because in the current intense real estate market for single family houses waiting for two or more adjacent lots to be assembled could stall development.  NE 65th is the most logical walking corridor to the light rail station and could connect the business districts of Ravenna and Roosevelt. 

Before embracing this idea, more study is needed because of current neighborhood safety concerns about this particular stretch of NE 65th that may or may not be addressed by SDOT’s NE 65th Street Vision Zero Project.

Parking is also a concern of many neighbors.  The residential streets are very narrow, and many of the old houses do not have garages, so there is already crowded street parking.  This is especially intense on 16th, which has parking on only one side of the street and is often used by students going to Roosevelt.  Not moving the boundary of the Roosevelt Urban village will provide parking for the incoming residents, mitigating the impact of the new development.

Historical Resources: Ravenna is one of the older neighborhoods in Seattle, resulting in a treasured collection of historic, architecturally significant Craftsmen and Tudor houses, with some Mid-Century homes.  The area has not yet been surveyed and therefore potentially historical resources would be lost as development occurs.  The DEIS describes “potential decreases to the historic fabric of a neighborhood” when historic buildings are redeveloped or demolished and new buildings are constructed “that are not architecturally sympathetic to the existing historic characteristics of a neighborhood.” (3.252)  Since there is significant, but not universal, concern in the neighborhood about this issue, it is another reason to not extend the boundary of the urban village before the opportunity is lost to preserve what is most important.

Biological Resources Tree Canopy and Environmentally Critical Areas (ECA)

Seattle’s urban forest, mostly located in Seattle’s SF zones, provides many ecological services such as relief from the urban heat island, cleaning our air and water, and helping with storm water management, as well as being described in the DEIS as “fundamental to the character of Seattle.” All Action Alternatives will result in loss of the tree canopy according to the DEIS.  Indirect impacts are identified as “changes to stream flows from upstream development” (3.263); cumulative effects of multiple parties actions could potentially alter drainage patterns and/or affect soil and slope stability, and discharges to streams may be impacted by runoff of pollutants from street surfaces. (3.265)  Cumulative effects are critical in evaluating future impacts, one construction project may be nothing, many may mean disaster.

Per the pattern of the Programmatic DEIS, these impacts are characterized as not significant city wide because of the relative small amount of acreage.  (3.2700)  No study specific to the impacts to the Ravenna Park riparian corridor and steep slopes is cited though there have already been problems of erosion and sink holes adjacent to the park.  Ravenna Creek is a bit of an anomaly because its original source of water from Green Lake was cut off and diverted to sewer pipes when the Olmstead Brothers created Green Lake Park, thus leaving very local water table sources to provide the flow of the creek. 

On a city wide basis, the pattern of growth also needs to be assessed as to whether buffers of SF areas with tree canopy are needed between urban densities that take account of the watersheds as well as just counting acreage.  There is no study cited that looks at the future green infrastructure map in comparison with the projections for increasing urban densities and what  appropriate policy would  integrate them.  It is assumed that the Urban Tree Plan protections will suffice, but a new Tree plan is under development to patch recognized deficiencies.     The area to the south of 65 Ave NE nearest to the Park is especially important to protect trees to better protect the source of the flow, and to help with storm water management from the city streets.

Ravenna/Bryant has a combined sewer and storm water system which contributes to the CSO overflows and limits the capacity of West Point Sewage treatment plant to function in the new normal of heavier rain storms due to climate change.  The city has spent millions of dollars on concrete holding tanks as solutions to this problem, rather than adopting much cheaper Low Impact development methods.  

The RBCA board is currently considering these comments and the alternative zoning proposal as part of their review of the MHA DEIS.

What do you think of proposed zoning changes in Ravenna? Let the City know by August 7

In the fall of 2015, the City of Seattle began a process of updating land use plans (Comprehensive Plan)  and implementing new ones (the Mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda).

Comprehensive Plan

The Comprehensive Plan includes an Urban Village Strategy that promotes growth in areas that have places for people to work, live, shop, and access services in close proximity to one another. According to the plan, “Locating more residents, jobs, stores and services in close proximity can reduce the reliance on cars for shopping and other daily trips and decrease the amount of fossil fuels burned and the amount of greenhouse gases emitted. Increasing residential and employment densities in key locations makes transit and other public services convenient for more people and therefore makes these services more efficient.”

Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda

As part of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA), in 2016 the Mayor unveiled the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) proposal that requires that new multifamily residential development contribute to affordable housing, either with affordable homes in the building or payments to help construct them throughout the city. The MHA framework was adopted a year ago for residential development and, to implement that framework, proposals for rezoning parts of neighborhoods throughout the city are currently being considered. Much, but not all, of the rezones are being proposed in urban villages and urban centers.

In December, the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association (RNA) and the Department of Neighborhoods hosted public meetings that provided information and solicited public input about the proposed rezone of the Roosevelt Urban Village, including a proposed expansion of the Urban Village boundary east of 15th Avenue NE into the Ravenna neighborhood.

Environmental Impact Statement

Last month, a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) about possible MHA changes was released. The EIS includes updated proposals for zoning changes, including proposals for expanding the Roosevelt Urban Village into the Ravenna neighborhood. For each neighborhood, three proposals are made:

  • Alternative 1 – no changes to zoning;
  • Alternative 2 – implementing MHA based on original planning concepts included in the Comprehensive Plan and the MHA framework.
  • Alternative 3 – implementing MHA and specifically considering displacement risks and access to opportunities in each neighborhood.

Growth & Equity Analysis

Seattle has a long history of being a segregated city. Thanks in large part to redlining activities by financial, insurance, and other companies, as well as neighborhood covenants, many neighborhoods, including Ravenna-Bryant, excluded African Americans and other people of color from living in them. To decrease segregation throughout the city, the EIS includes an equity analysis to help inform decisions about land use policy changes.

As part of the EIS, the City assessed in which neighborhoods marginalized residents can attain resources, opportunities, and outcomes that improve quality of life and enable them to reach their full potential. Displacement was one outcome of growth that was assessed. Most of Ravenna-Bryant was identified as being at low risk of displacement.

Displacement Risk Index map is available online.

The EIS also included an assessment of access to opportunity within neighborhoods. Access to opportunity includes measures related to education, transit, economic opportunity, civic infrastructure, and public health. Ravenna-Bryant has a great deal of opportunity accessible to those who live and work here.

Access to Opportunity map is available online.

Maps outlining proposed zoning changes in Alternatives 2 and 3 were released with the EIS. Below are the maps for proposed Roosevelt Urban Village changes including changes in the Ravenna neighborhood.

Alternative 2 in Ravenna

All proposed zoning change maps are available online.

This alternative proposes expanding the Roosevelt Urban Village east to 16th Avenue NE north of NE 63rd Street and south of NE 68th Street. Land that is currently zoned Singe Family (SF) would be rezoned to Residential Small Lot (RSL) and Neighborhood Commercial 2-40 (NC2-40) zones would become NC2-55 zones, increasing allowable building heights by 15 feet.

Alternative 3 in Ravenna

Since Ravenna is considered a neighborhood with low displacement risk and with high access to opportunity, Alternative 3 proposes additional housing capacity changes. Zoning changes on 16th Avenue NE would extend north to 70th Avenue NE and south to NE 62nd Street. A variety of zoning designations are proposed including Lowrise 1, Lowrise, 2, Lowrise 3, and additional NC2-55. Zoning along 17th Avenue NE would change south of NE 68th Street from SF to RSL. Zoning designations along NE 65th Street between the Roosevelt neighborhood and the Ravenna business district would change from SF to Lowrise 1.

What’s next?

The City extended the public comment period to August 7th for the MHA draft EIS.  Below are more helpful links to information provided by the City regarding this new policy:

  • Draft EIS Summary Chapter This summarizes the findings for each topic in the EIS, such as Housing, Land Use, Aesthetics, and Transportation, among others. At 37 pages, it’s a good way to read an overview of the analysis and discussion of impacts contained in the full Draft EIS.
  • June 29 Public Hearing boards A public hearing was held on June 29 at City Hall where the public could make comment on the Draft EIS. These boards explain what is in the Draft EIS and some of its key findings.

How to Comment

Use an online form.

By email: MHA.EIS@seattle.gov.

By US mail:

Office of Planning and Community Development
PO Box 34019
Seattle, WA 98124-4019

Early plans shared for development between 25th Avenue NE and the Burke-Gilman Trail

During RBCA’s June 22 land use public meeting, neighbors learned about three new developments planned for 25th Avenue NE at University Village, across the street where Travelodge and Key Bank are currently located, and between the Burke-Gilman Trail and Travelodge.

For the site next to the Burke-Gilman Trail, draft early design review documents are available online, project 3027312. Preliminary drawings show what the “Trailside” development, which will provide student targeted housing, might look like. It includes a projected 293 residential units and 2,075 square feet of retail space.

A preliminary site plan for the Travelodge/Key Bank site is also available online, project 3027063. The project includes housing and retail.

During the June 22 meeting, developers expressed an interest in creating a seamless bike and pedestrian connection from the Burke-Gilman Trail, across 25th Avenue NE, to University Village.

Thursday night, learn about 3 planned developments on 25th Avenue NE

The RBCA Land Use Committee is hosting a public meeting Thursday to preview several development proposals along 25th Ave NE at U Village and Travelodge sites.  Specifically, you will hear from University Village, Greystar (developer for the Travelodge site), and Phoenix (developer for a new residential project behind the Travelodge site.) The goal of the meeting is to provide community members with a holistic view of proposed development slated for 25th Ave NE on these several blocks.  We would like to hear from the community, so come give your feedback at the meeting or leave a comment after this post and learn about the changes happening in our neighborhood.

Design Review Board provides U-Village with design guidance for new garage

Concerned with University Village’s initial design proposal for a new garage along 25th Avenue NE, the RBCA board provided comments to the Seattle Design Review Board in December.


In a follow-up memo, the Design Review Board provided the following guidance to University Village.

1. Theme: Enlivening and Enhancing 25th Avenue NE

a. Ground level retail uses and enhancement of the pedestrian experience along 25th Avenue NE are the primary issues concerning the proposal.

b. UVillage has a proven track record in creating pedestrian experiences within the village and should be able to successfully create a viable pedestrian edge experience along 25th Avenue NE as well.

c. Traditional retail along the entire length of the west façade would likely not be viable, but some kinds of micro-retail could be — and the Board would be supportive of granting departures (e.g. shortened required depth) to help make it work.

d. Landscaping alone does not seem to be enough to overcome a less than enlivening pedestrian experience along this stretch of sidewalk.

e. One, two or three strategically designed retail spaces (connected to the bus stop and pedestrian entry/exit, for instance) might do the job; landscaping would not appear to be enough to enliven this long stretch of sidewalk.

f. Although, if the ground level is amazing, a boring upper can be forgiven, the design team was encouraged to explore further architectural expression of the upper levels as they related to the modern form of the building.

2. Theme: An Inviting Pedestrian Walkway through the Garage

a. This was a critical element for a successful overall design.

b. As shown, the elevators at the end of the pedestrian entry from 25th appeared to provide a wall rather than an invitation through the space. There needs to be something more exciting (and maybe more light and transparency) at the end of the walkway.

c. Provide clear wayfaring directions at the end of the passage.

3. Theme: Don’t Ignore Treatments of the North and South Faces of Garage

a. The cantilever along the north face a “missed opportunity” as shown.

b. The northwest corner needs more attention due to its visibility.

c. The “terracing” of the south face, as an acknowledgement to the new RH building, needs to be more explicit and convincing.

RBCA will continue to monitor the project and provide additional feedback, if needed. A pedestrian-friendly and safe neighborhood is important especially as our community continues to grow.

Roosevelt Station Transit Oriented Development Open House January 12

Sound Transit and the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association invite community members to an open house to discuss future development at the Roosevelt light rail station construction site. The open house will take place January 12, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Roosevelt High School commons, 1410 NE 66th Street.

Roosevelt Light Rail Station to be located at the corner of NE 65th Street and 12th Avenue NE. Drawing courtesy of City of Seattle.

As the Roosevelt Station takes shape, the area used for construction adjacent to the future station will become available for transit oriented development (TOD). TOD usually involves a mix of housing and commercial uses that support the transit facility. Combining housing and commercial activity, clustered around and adjacent to the transit station, will make it easier for people to get around via transit, support local businesses, and contribute to neighborhood growth, making Roosevelt a better place to live, work, and spend time.

Sound Transit and the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association are eager to hear from community members. This meeting is an opportunity to comment on the type of housing, community amenities, and urban design features to be included in the future development of the site. To submit questions or comments to Sound Transit: RooseveltTOD@soundtransit.org or 206-398-5300.

RBCA requests new U-Village garage be designed with community, pedestrians in mind

Summary of plan for a new garage on the northwest edge of University Village, facing NE 25th Street.

Two Ravenna-Bryant Community Association board members attended the December 19 Seattle Design Review Board meeting to provide comments about University Village’s plan to build 100,000 square feet of commercial space and 915 parking spaces in a new garage. Comments were also shared with the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections through the following letter.

December 19, 2016

Dear Mr. Dorcy,

The letter provides feedback on University Village’s western garage and retail expansion project on behalf of the Ravenna-Bryant Community Association (RBCA).  Our primary concern is the size and scale of proposed western parking garage along 25th Avenue, and its potential impacts on street character and transportation. We are concerned about the impact of an approximately 350’ long garage along 25th with no retail frontage or any activation of any type along the street. The garage is also proposed to be seven (7) stories tall, which will shadow the street in the mornings, but with enough façade treatments (similar to the south garage), the visual impacts can hopefully be mitigated to some extent. We are also concerned that the elimination of the private drive (“47th Street”) will have traffic impacts that need to be mitigated and that the garage will further contribute to the light pollution. Our comments are summarized below, by category.

25th Avenue Streetscape

The western garage is the third large scale-parking garage proposed to be constructed on the property. The prior two have earned mixed reviews that are worth noting for context.

  • The northern garage turns its back (a 70-foot tall, 400-foot long CMU wall) to the neighborhood to the north, with only a modicum of attempt to screen the facility. There is no access through the garage for pedestrians arriving from 27th avenue to the north, so pedestrians must detour around this visually unappealing barrier to the mall.
  • The southern garage is visually appealing from the mall and the façade treatment when viewed from Montlake Boulevard from the south is fairly attractive for a giant parking garage. However, once again, there is little consideration for pedestrians arriving from the south (and from bus routes along Montlake). There should be a pedestrian entrance from the south the connects to the parking garage lobby, but instead there is only a small path around the structure to the west and no connecting pedestrian facilities connecting to the mall around the east side.

For this third garage, we hope that University Village will do more to provide physical connections to engage the neighborhood, but, at present, we believe that the structure will add a third barrier to the surrounding neighborhood. We appreciate that there is at least a pedestrian walkway planned through the building at the ground floor (across several lanes of ingress/egress traffic, however), but the overall plan once again focuses all the creative design inward and almost none outward. We hope that the Design Review Board will guide the design towards neighborhood engagement and creating a more vibrant 25th Avenue corridor.  While this portion of 25th is not designated as a “Pedestrian” zone, we believe is seems reasonable for a major retail center adjacent to the state’s flagship university, and within biking distance of light rail, and located in a city purporting to seek carbon neutrality, to do more to encourage walking and biking. We believe that a thoughtful ground level design could create at least some retail and a generous pedestrian connection through the structure.

Site Access

The Preferred Option eliminates the private street access know as 47th Street, which is replaced with an entrance to the parking garage. In concept, this takes cars directly from the arterial to the parking. This simplifies the internal circulation and could, theoretically reduce traffic internal to U-Village. However, drivers seeking to drop off or pick up shoppers, or access the QFC lot for easier access to the both QFC and U Village, will have only 49th Street as an option. This may create both a left hand turning queue from the north and a right-hand turn queue from the south. This will: 1) aggravate the dangerous situation that already exists with the adjacent curb cuts (49th and the Office Max access drive) and 2) combine with the planned monolithic western garage in further discouraging pedestrians from using 25th and taking some cars off the road. We would like for the project to study ways to improve the safety of turning movements to and from 25th to mitigate impact to pedestrians in support City goals for pedestrian safety. Second, we request that transportation mitigation funds from this expansion project be used to support pedestrian and bike access from adjacent neighborhoods that should be well within a walkshed for a major retail center but are not well utilized due to poor connections:

  • No sidewalks along streets like 50th and interrupted sidewalks along Blakely
  • Marginal pedestrian connections along Union Bay Place
  • No pedestrian connection to cross new main through access point at 49th.
  • Poor bike connection between the Burke Gilman trail and University Village from approximately Pend Oreille Road
  • No bike connection from the Burke Gilman east of the mall to along approximately 47th Street

We appreciate the Design Review Board’s Consideration. The RBCA Board would be happy to meet and discuss this matter further with the City of Seattle and the applicant, as possible.

Thank you very much for your consideration.


Chris Fiori

Chair, Land Use Committee

Ravenna-Bryant Community Association

What did RBCA do in 2016? What’s in store for 2017?

A year ago, the RBCA board of directors adopted a vision statement: Ravenna-Bryant is a welcoming, thriving, safe, diverse, and connected neighborhood. This statement of shared values now guides the work we do. When the RBCA board considers actions, we ask ourselves if what is being considered will contribute to our vision. Our neighborhood is growing, with many changes coming in the next few years. It’s important that no matter how each of us feels about these changes, we look for the common ground of our shared vision.

2016 Accomplishments

Annual meeting: In the spring, RBCA hosts an annual membership meeting. (Anyone who lives or works in the Ravenna and Bryant neighborhoods is a member.)  In May, RBCA’s annual meeting focused on the Mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda, known as HALA. Other organizations, including the Seattle Department of Transportation, the University of Washington, and Seattle Parks and Recreation, were on hand to provide information and answer questions. The main presentation was about HALA’s Mandatory Housing Affordability policy and most of the concerns expressed by our neighbors were about maintaining and establishing affordable housing in Ravenna-Bryant.

Support for housing levy: Listening to what we heard from community members who participated in the annual meeting, the RBCA board voted to endorse the renewal and expansion of the Seattle Housing Levy. RBCA was the first neighborhood association in Seattle to publicly support the levy.

Mobility survey: During most community meetings about changes to our neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods, conversations often include issues about parking, motor vehicle traffic, and pedestrian and biker safety. To develop a plan for addressing the most pressing mobility-related issues in Ravenna-Bryant, the RBCA board conducted an online survey to supplement comments collected during meetings and informal conversations with neighbors.

Results were used to develop a Mobility Safety Action Plan. While many mobility safety issues impact all of us, with limited resources RBCA chose those which are of most concern to people. Pedestrian safety, especially along NE 65th Street, was the most commonly identified problem. Speeding motor vehicles on all of our arterial roads was a common complaint expressed by neighbors who drive, bike, and walk.

#Fix65th walk & rally, June 2016.

#Fix65th: In partnership with the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association (RNA) and NE Seattle Greenways, RBCA formed the #Fix65th Coalition and organized a walk and rally in June to raise awareness about unsafe conditions for pedestrians, bikers, and motorists on NE 65th Street. The following month, RBCA and RNA launched an advocacy campaign with a letter to the Seattle Department of Transportation requesting that they study design solutions to make the road safer.

Throughout the rest of the year, the #Fix65th coalition advocated for funding for a study through Twitter, testimony before the City Council’s Transportation Committee, and meetings with District 4 Councilmember Rob Johnson. In December, CM Johnson announced that our message was heard and funding for a study of NE 65th Street is included in the 2017 city budget!

Re-activated Emergency Preparedness Committee: After several years on hiatus, a new RBCA board member re-activated the RBCA’s committee focusing on emergency preparedness. The committee is sending out “A Task A Month” emails to community members through the RBCA email list encouraging everyone to be ready for a natural disaster.

RBCA sidewalk photo 2
RBCA continues to advocate for sidewalks on NE 50th Street.

Advocacy for NE 50th Street sidewalks: Considering the street provides a connection between Ravenna-Bryant and University Village, no sidewalks along NE 50th Street south of the cemetery makes it dangerous for pedestrians. A long-standing RBCA project, advocacy efforts paid off when U-Village asked SDOT to earmark mitigation dollars (associated with building the new space for Restoration Hardware) to go toward sidewalks on NE 50th Street. However, SDOT estimated that the funds would only cover half of the costs for putting in a sidewalk between 30th and 35th Avenues NE.

To secure funding for the other half, RBCA submitted a Neighborhood Street Fund proposal in 2016. Since it was ranked among the top five NE Seattle proposals, SDOT completed a brief study of the project, including an estimated cost. SDOT also completed a brief study of a project proposed by NE 85th Street neighbors, which RBCA also supported.  In the end, another project was chosen for funding in NE Seattle.

University Village design review comments: University Village released expansion plans which include a large parking garage on 25th Avenue NE. RBCA board members attended the December design review board meeting and asked that the building include outward-facing (toward 25th Avenue) retail to create a more pedestrian-friendly and engaging environment. With the University of Washington planning more student housing north of U-Village and developing the parking lots south of U-Village, and with light rail a mile from the mall, people walking through the area will increase in the near future. This will especially be true as motor vehicle traffic on Montlake becomes increasingly congested.

RBCA board membership: In 2016, we added 3 neighbors to the RBCA board. Our board membership is now at 14, just shy of the 15 spots available.

2017 Workplan

The RBCA board is looking forward to another year filled with activities to make our vision a reality.

More opportunities to become prepared for an emergency: The Emergency Preparedness Committee is currently planning to host community meetings the third Tuesday of January, February, and March about preparing a block, many blocks, and our region for a natural disaster. On April 18, the RBCA annual meeting will focus on emergency preparedness.

Continued implementation of the Mobility Safety Action Plan: RBCA will continue to partner with RNA and NE Seattle Greenways to educate community members about safety improvements and advocate for road design changes proven to reduce collisions that hurt drivers, bikers, and walkers. We will continue to advocate for sidewalks where there are none.

Improved RBCA operations: Two task forces were formed in December to review and update bylaws and to develop a formal community outreach plan. Both task forces have an overarching goal of increasing contributions of people who bring diverse points of view to discussions and actions.

Continued forum for land use changes: As land use policies change in Seattle, RBCA will continue to monitor and educate neighbors about the ones affecting Ravenna-Bryant. We will continue to provide public comment about projects that impact our community.

A note about changes to the Department of Neighborhoods outreach activities: This past year was a somewhat tumultuous one for some neighborhood-based groups. The Mayor issued an executive order changing financial and staffing support that used to only support district councils, including the NE District Council.  While RBCA is a member of the NE District Council, we are not losing funding (we did not receive any) and we will continue to reach out to and work with City staff, when needed, as we always have.

An open invitation to all Ravenna-Bryant community members: RBCA activities reflect individual board member’s interests. For example, in 2016 the Emergency Preparedness Committee came out of hiatus because a new board member is interested in the topic. Another board member is passionate about making NE 65th Street a safer place for everyone and, therefore, we partnered with other organizations to form the #Fix65th Coalition. RBCA is always looking for people who are passionate about making a positive impact. If you want to work toward the realization of the RBCA vision, please consider participating in an upcoming board meeting and working with others who want to, as well! We meet the first Tuesday of every month except August, 6:30 p.m., at the Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center. Please join us!

Roosevelt land use academy meeting December 10


The Roosevelt Neighborhood Association (RNA) is hosting, and RBCA is co-facilitating, a community-driven workshop to discuss the City of Seattle’s Housing Affordability & Livability Agenda (HALA).  The Meeting will be held at 10:00 a.m. at the Calvary Christian Church at 6801 Roosevelt Way.  The meeting will primarily on proposed land use changes within and around the Roosevelt Urban Village, which includes a portion of the Ravenna-Bryant neighborhood east of 15th Avenue NE. In addition, the meeting will address other aspects of HALA that address housing affordability in both neighborhoods.  

Goals for the meeting are to:

·       Bring members of the Roosevelt and Ravenna-Bryant neighborhoods together to develop awareness of the City of Seattle HALA Report.

·       Provide an opportunity for these neighbors to provide feedback on issues that are important in the Roosevelt and Ravenna-Bryant neighborhoods regarding HALA & potential zoning changes and solicit constructive ideas from the community.  

For more information, go to http://rooseveltseattle.org/committees/landuse/lua 

SR 520 Bridge Replacement Project meeting December 7

A message from the State Route 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV Project:

Conceptual image of a bicycle-pedestrian land bridge over SR 520. Image courtesy of Washington State Department of Transportation.

We would like to invite you to join the next West Approach Bridge North (WABN) monthly public meeting on December 7. Along with updates about current and upcoming WABN construction activities, we will also provide a presentation and opportunity to learn more about the next phase of SR 520 construction, known as the Montlake Phase. This phase is scheduled to begin in 2018 and includes the Montlake lid and land bridge.

Meeting details:

  • Date: Wednesday, December 7
  • Time: 5:30-6:30 p.m.
  • Location: Graham Visitors Center, 2300 Arboretum Drive E

Upcoming events about local land use changes

U-District Livability Open House

Hosted by Councilmember Rob Johnson’s office

Saturday, November 19, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

University Heights Center, 5031 University Way NE

May different City departments and agencies will be in attendance to share information about projects in the neighborhood and details about upcoming land use changes.


Roosevelt Neighborhood Association Land Use Academy

Saturday, December 10, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

6801 Roosevelt Way NE, lower floor gym


  • Bring members of the Roosevelt neighborhood together to develop awareness of the City of Seattle HALA report.
  • Provide an opportunity for these neighbors to provide feedback on issues that are important in the Roosevelt Neighborhood.
  • Collect and respond to questions from community members.

For more information and to register, contact the RNA land use chair at landuse@rooseveltseattle.org.

RBCA board meeting Tuesday, November 1

RBCA board meetings are open to everyone. The next meeting will take place Tuesday, November 1, starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center.


Welcome & Introductions

Board Reports

  • Secretary’s Report: Minutes
  • Treasurer’s Report
  • Land Use Committee Report
  • Transportation Committee Report
  • Emergency Preparedness Committee Report

E-vote re: homeless encampment ordinance letter

E-vote re: Green Lake-Roosevelt urban village workshop notice

Green Lake-Roosevelt urban village workshop de-briefing

University of Washington Seattle Campus Master Plan

Project at former Perkins School site

Reports from Associated Community Groups

  • Children’s Hospital Standing Advisory Committee
  • Northeast District Council
  • North Precinct Advisory Council
  • City University Community Advisory Committee
  • Ravenna-Eckstein Advisory Council


Upcoming SDOT & UW open houses provide neighbors with chance to learn about upcoming projects

Seattle Department of Transportation Open House

Project: 2018 NE Seattle Paving Project & Banner Way NE/NE 75th Street Safety Project

Monday, October 17, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Roosevelt High School cafeteria

Seattle Department of Transportation’s 2018 paving and safety projects in NE Seattle. Map courtesy of SDOT.

University of Washington Seattle Campus Master Plan Open House

Project: The draft 2018 Seattle Campus Master Plan and draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)

Wednesday, October 26, 6:30-9:00 p.m.

UW Tower Auditorium

A 45-day comment period ends November 21. If you’d like to comment, please send comments to cmpinfo@uw.edu or jblakesl@uw.edu. Comments may also be mailed to: Julie Blakeslee, Environmental and Land Use Planner, Capital Planning & Development, Box 352205, Seattle, WA 98195-2205.

University of Washington draft Seattle Campus Master Plan’s vision for east campus. East campus includes parking lots north of Husky Stadium and student housing north of University Village. Image courtesy of UW Seattle Master Plan website.

In approving the master plan, our city council has a quasi-judicial role such that they are not to talk about the plan or the EIS. If they do enter into a conversation with the public, they may be required to recuse themselves from the proceedings. It is strongly advised you do not go to the city council with questions or comments but comment using the information provided above. Be specific in your comments citing the page, document, and section to which your comments pertain.

Renew the Seattle Housing Levy August 2

Brettler Family Place at Sand Point was built in part with Seattle Housing Levy funds. The current levy expires at the end of the year.

August 2 is the primary election and at the end of your ballot is Proposition 1, which will renew and expand the expiring Seattle Housing Levy. The RBCA board of directors endorsed this important affordable housing measure and we encourage you to vote YES when you mail in your ballot by August 2!

Seattle’s Housing Levy has a 35-year track record of success. It helped to produce and preserve of over 12,500 affordable rental homes for hospital workers, pre-school teachers, people working in retail and restaurants, and seniors and other people on fixed incomes, as well as supportive housing for people who are homeless. This new levy will produce or preserve at least 2,150 units of affordable housing. These homes are maintained affordable for at least 50 years after production ensuring our neighborhoods are affordable to all people who make our communities strong.

Since 2002, Seattle’s Housing Levy has also provided emergency rental assistance to 6,500 families, with additional services to help these families regain stability and avoid homelessness. It’s critical that we prevent homelessness before it starts and this new levy will provide emergency rental assistance for thousands more households.

The Mayor, all nine Seattle City Council members, and affordable housing advocates agree: expanding the levy is the right thing to do. That means hundreds of additional affordable homes for low-income seniors, people with disabilities, lower-wage workers and families with children.

Click here for a fact sheet outlining all the investment programs this Levy will support.

This new levy will cost the owner of a typical $480,000 home only $5 more per month.

Ballots were mailed yesterday. When you vote, remember to go to the end of the ballot and vote YES for Proposition 1, Seattle’s Housing Levy! Be sure to mail in or drop off your ballot by August 2 so Seattle can take a major step forward in addressing our housing affordability crisis by providing affordable homes for thousands of our fellow Seattleites!

This summer, learn about plans for guiding growth in our city

We’ve come a long way in the last century! This photo shows the Ravenna Blvd sewer construction in 1909. Be a part of public conversations about how our city grows in the future. (Photo thanks to History Link.)

During RBCA’s annual meeting in May, many Ravenna-Bryant neighbors said that they would like to see more affordable housing options in our community as the City starts implementing plans for increasing housing availability throughout Seattle. With rents rising and houses being sold for over asking prices, Ravenna-Bryant needs housing that is affordable for all.

On July 14 at noon, people can “lunch & learn” at City Hall about Seattle’s Equitable Development Implementation Plan. This joint meeting with the Land Use & Zoning Committee and Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development & Arts Committee will include a discussion of solutions to create access to opportunity in communities most impacted by the threat of displacement. The Equitable Development Implementation Plan also includes policies that would ensure increased affordable housing and housing assistance in high opportunity neighborhoods, like Ravenna-Bryant.

The Plan is part of Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan update which includes many land use and related policy proposals to guide our city’s growth through 2035. There are many chances for citizens to learn more and to weigh in on proposals. Visit Seattle 2035 to find out when and where they are. Don’t have time to attend meetings? Weigh in online!

RBCA board meets Tuesday

The RBCA board of directors meets Tuesday, July 5, 6:30 p.m., at the Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center playground. (The community center building will be closed. In case of rain, we will meet at Harissa.) The board does not meet in August.

Board meetings are open to the public. Everyone is welcome!


6:30                  Welcome & Introductions

6:35                   Board Reports

  • Secretary’s Report: Minutes
  • Treasurer’s Report
  • Land Use Committee Report
  • Transportation Committee
    • In Motion event
    • #Fix65th Safety Walk
    • Mobility Assessment

7:05                    Sameer Ranade, candidate State Rep for 43rd District

7:10                    Learning more about proposed land use changes

  • Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA)
  • Updates
  • Policies for discussion during future board meetings

7:45                    Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center Funding

8:05                    Emergency Preparedness

8:15                    Reports from Associated Community Groups

  • Children’s Hospital Community Advisory Committee
  • City University Community Advisory Committee
  • North Precinct Advisory Council
  • Northeast District Council
  • Ravenna-Eckstein Advisory Council

8:25                    Announcements

June 21 public hearing on mandatory housing affordability program

Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA), part of the Mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA), was discussed during the May RBCA annual meeting and during this week’s RBCA board meeting. On Tuesday, June 21 at 9:30 a.m., the City Council will hold a public hearing about MHA for residential development.

Under the MHA-R program, new multi-family residential development would be required to provide affordable units (performance) or make an in-lieu payment.  The MHA-R program will be implemented as increases in residential development capacity are approved.  Among other things, the proposed ordinance would: 

·           Establish the Council’s intent as to implementation of the MHA-R program;

·           Establish the applicability of and exemptions from the program;

·           Establish requirements for units provided through performance; and

·           Establish procedures for seeking modifications to program requirements. 

Written Comments may be sent to:  Councilmember Rob Johnson, Legislative Department, 600 Fourth Avenue, Floor 2, P.O. Box 34025, Seattle, WA  98124-4025 or by email to rob.johnson@seattle.gov.   Written comments should be received by Monday, June 20 at 12 p.m. 

Electronic copies of the proposed ordinance are available through the Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee’s webpage, http://www.seattle.gov/council/committees/planning-land-use-and-zoning.