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

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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.

Sincerely,

Chris Fiori

Chair, Land Use Committee

Ravenna-Bryant Community Association

RBCA board meets Tuesday, January 3

All are invited to participate in Ravenna-Bryant Community Association board meetings. Here is the agenda for our upcoming meeting:

RBCA Board Meeting

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

6:30-8:30 p.m.

Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center

AGENDA

Welcome & Introductions

Board Reports

·       Secretary’s Report: Minutes

·       Treasurer’s Report

·       President’s Report

  • 2016 website & social media stats

·       Emergency Preparedness Committee Report

  • Annual Meeting April 18

·       Land Use Committee Report

  • University Village expansion

·       Transportation Committee Report

·       Bylaws Task Force Report

·       Community Outreach Task Force Report

Reports from Associated Community Groups

·       Children’s Hospital Standing Advisory Committee

·       City University Community Advisory Committee

·       North Precinct Advisory Council

·       Northeast District Council

·       Ravenna-Eckstein Advisory Council

Announcements

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.

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#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!

Package theft prevention tips

packageA message from Mary Amberg, the Seattle Police Department North Precinct’s Crime Prevention Coordinator:

We are at a time of year when we see an increase in package thefts from homes. Some package thieves will follow or watch for delivery trucks and then target a home after a delivery is made. Other thieves may just happen to see the package left at the doorstep of the home, in plain view of the street, and help themselves.

To reduce the opportunity for packages to be left unattended on your porch, we encourage you to communicate with the carrier and request one of the following delivery options:

  • Track your shipment: All of the major delivery companies offer package tracking, some providing free alerts letting you know where your package is in the shipping process.
  • Have items delivered to your place of business rather than your home.
  • Require a signature upon delivery.
  • Pick up items from the carrier’s local hub.
  • Ask the delivery service to hold your package for customer pick-up at their local facility.
  • Request the package be left with a trusted neighbor who has agreed to accept the package for you.
  • Arrange for the package to be shipped to another location where someone can receive it. This could be the leasing office at your apartment complex or even the local “mailbox” business that may agree to accept shipment of your item for a fee.

If none of the above are viable options, at the very least request the package be placed in a discrete location not visible from the street.

The SPD Crime Prevention Coordinator’s can help with:

  • Setting up a Block Watch for your block.
  • Talking about ongoing crime problems and working to resolve crime on your block.
  • Setting up a “Block Tour” so everyone understands problems specific to your immediate neighborhood.

Roosevelt land use academy meeting December 10

lua3

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 

RBCA board meets December 6

All are welcome to participate in the Ravenna-Bryant Community Association’s monthly board meetings. The next one will take place:

Tuesday, December 6, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center

AGENDA

Welcome & Introductions

Board Reports

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

E-vote re: NEDC bylaws

Proposed RBCA bylaws change re: community engagement

Perkins School project

U-Village expansion

King County Wastewater project

Reports from Associated Community Groups

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

Announcements

Remembering Pearl Harbor Day December 4

Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

Sunday, December 4

1-3:00 p.m.

Sand Point Community Church

4710 NE 70th Street

The Friends of Sand Point Magnuson Park Historic District invite community members to hear remembrances from six elders, three women and three men, about Pearl Harbor Day and its impact on their lives. Four are local community members: Marie Cribley-Horsley who was at Pearl Harbor; JW Roundhill and Jerry Sheller who were in WWII; and Mary Johnson who was a UW student at the time.

12:00 p.m.: Flag changing ceremony at the flag pole inside the main entry of Magnuson Park

12:30 p.m.: Cookies and coffee at Sand Point Methodist Church

1-3:00 p.m.: Oral History Project in Perry Hall.

Free and open to the public.

Discuss proposed Urban Village zoning changes December 13

The Department of Neighborhoods will host a conversation about proposed zoning changes to NE Seattle neighborhoods related to the Mayor’s Housing Affordability & Livability Agenda (HALA) and the implementation of the recently-adopted Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program. Maps of the Fremont, Green Lake – Roosevelt, Lake City, Northgate, Upper Queen Anne, and Wallingford Urban Villages will be shared.

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Proposed Green Lake-Roosevelt Urban Village MHA-related zoning changes will be discussed during the December 13 meeting. Citywide maps are available on the HALA website.

NE Community Meeting: Affordable Housing Neighborhood Map + Other City Services

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

6-8:00 p.m.

Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center

6535 Ravenna Ave NE

SR 520 Bridge Replacement Project meeting December 7

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

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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

Remembering victims of traffic violence in Seattle, Ravenna-Bryant

World Day of Remembrance is a UN-affiliated world-wide event to commemorate victims of traffic violence. In Seattle, there are two opportunities to participate.

day-of-remembrance-2016Memorial Gathering at City Hall

Thursday, November 17 at noon

City Hall lobby, 5th & Cherry

Councilmember Sally Bagshaw will host the event as 240 silhouettes are distributed representing people who died on Seattle streets in traffic over the past 10 years and highlight the need for safe streets.

Ravenna-Bryant/Roosevelt

Sunday, November 20, 10 a.m.

Meet at Ravenna Third Place Books, 6504 20th Ave NE

We will gather and distribute silhouettes representing people who died in traffic-related incidents in our neighborhood over the past ten years. The silhouettes will be put up around the community.

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

Purpose:

  • 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.

Re-Imagining NE 85th Street project seeks volunteers

Earlier this year, neighbors in the area surrounding NE 85th Street between 21st Avenue NE and Ravenna Avenue NE engaged in a major cleanup effort in the area. The work included clean-up of trash, greenway overgrowth, and illegal dumping. Neighbors also began initial restoration of the wetlands on the east end of the street. With vouchers from the City of Seattle, neighbors removed over 15 tons of brush and debris and over 1 ton of illegal dumping.

 

85th-before
NE 85th Street during the clean-up.

 

Neighbors submitted a Neighborhood Street Fund proposal, called Re-Imagining NE 85th Street, that ranked in the top 5 among proposed NE Seattle projects. Though the proposal was not funded, neighbors are now in the process of obtaining permits from the Seattle Department of Transportation to implement part of the project to restore the native habitat along a planting strip on the south side of the street. The goal is to create a visually appealing and vibrant landscape.

The project includes planting low-growing native shrubs and other native perennial plants within the city right of way. Members of the Seattle Green Partnership have volunteered their time for the conceptual design and a local non-profit is donating 200 native plants.

Organizers are now looking for volunteers.

  • Volunteer with clearing and planting. Several work days will be planned in December and January, pending permits by SDOT.
  • Volunteer to support ongoing stewardship. During the first year, new plants will require some attention to become well-established and volunteers will continue removal of invasive plants.
  • Participate in fund-raising. Minor expenses are expected for permitting and additional plants.

Interested in learning more? Contact Ana at 206-527-2452.

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NE 85th Street after the clean-up.

 

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.

AGENDA

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

Announcements

Take the 2016 public safety survey by November 30

Seattle University is administering the citywide 2016 Seattle Public Safety Survey. The purpose of the survey is to solicit feedback on public safety and security concerns from those who live and/or work in Seattle. A report on the survey results will be provided to the Seattle Police Department to assist them with making your neighborhood safer and more secure.

The survey is accessible at publicsafetysurvey.org until November 30th and is available in Amharic, Chinese, English, Korean, Somali, Spanish and Vietnamese.

Public safety and security are community concerns. Please make sure your voice is heard by completing the public safety survey today. If you would like to work with a Seattle University researcher to setup outreach and assist in the facilitation of the survey to your communities or organizations, or you would like more information about the survey, please contact Jessica Chandler at Jessica.Chander@seattle.gov.

Clean out your medicine cabinet & safely dispose of unwanted drugs on Saturday

tbym2016From the Seattle Police Department:

This weekend, the Seattle Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) are hosting the 12th semi-annual event to prevent prescription drug abuse and theft by disposing of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted drugs.

This Saturday, October 22nd, the city’s five precincts will serve as drop-off locations between 10 AM and 2 PM for any unwanted prescription drugs. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

Last April, Americans turned in 447 tons (over 893,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at more than 5,400 sites operated by the DEA and more than 3,800 of its state and local law enforcement partners. Overall, in its 11 previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in over 6.4 million pounds—more than 3,200 tons—of pills.

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs.  Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.

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

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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.

uw-east-campus-plan
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.

Ask councilmembers to include NE 65th Street safety study in 2017 budget

ne-65th-traffic
Photo courtesy of Seattle City Council #Fix65th Flickr album.

If you follow RBCA on Twitter, this week you’ve seen short videos of people crossing NE 65th Street that make you wonder how more of our neighbors haven’t been injured or killed along this busy arterial road. The videos bolster RBCA’s focus on advocating for a safer NE 65th Street for pedestrians, bikers, and motorists.

Do you want NE 65th Street to be a safer road for all? Here’s a chance to have your voice heard. 

Right now, the Seattle City Council is discussing what programs to fund at the Department of Transportation. Your voice and your story will make a difference and help get a safety study funded in the 2017 budget. You can help by:

Showing up to Council chambers in City Hall (600 4th Ave) on Monday, October 10 at 2:30 p.m. to speak for a minute or two about why 65th needs to be fixed. Let us know if you can make it to speak!

Send an email to the whole Council at Council@Seattle.gov. A personal note is best.

In person or by email, let the Council know:

  • How you currently use NE 65th Street and if you would walk or bike on it more if it were safer.
  • What you see as the biggest safety problem on NE 65th.
  • If you’ve ever seen or experienced a crash or near-miss. These stories at especially impactful.
  • The Council can make a difference by funding a study to fix NE 65th in the 2017 budget.

RBCA board meets Tuesday, October 4

RBCA board meetings are open to everyone. The next meeting will take place Tuesday, October 4, starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center.

AGENDA

Welcome & Introductions

Board Reports

King County wastewater project

Mayor’s plan for outreach & engagement

RBCA community engagement

Community centers strategic plan

Homeless ordinance

ST3 – Sound Transit Proposition 1

Reports from Associated Community Groups

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

Announcements

Streets can be safer by design

The need to make NE 65th Street safer is evident. Over the past three years, at least 70 people have been injured enough to be sent to the hospital. One person died. Just within the last few weeks, the Seattle Police Department has reported collisions on NE 65th Street. Pedestrian safety problems on NE 65th Street were the most commonly expressed concerns in a recent RBCA survey. In June, more than 60 neighbors participated in a Fix 65th Street walk to highlight concerns and call on the City to make the road safer for all. And this is all before the Roosevelt light rail station opens on NE 65th Street to which many of our neighbors will walk and bike.

Increasing awareness of the law and educating neighbors about road safety is part of RBCA’s recently-adopted mobility safety action plan. Openly discussing the community norm that stopping for pedestrians is just what Ravenna-Bryant neighbors do, can be an important step to increasing safety. However, to most effectively create change, other activities need to happen in conjunction with awareness campaigns.

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During community meetings about NE 75th Street, neighbors discussed the dangers of crossing four-lane roads. Image courtesy of the Seattle Department of Transportation.

When RBCA was assessing mobility safety problems in our neighborhood, we also looked at road designs that have proven to increase safety. While we found a lot of information from government agencies and transportation-related organizations, some of the most readily accessible information came from the AARP Livable Communities initiative. The goal of the Livable Communities campaign is to help communities become safer, healthier, more walkable, and more livable for all people.

One of their recommendations for creating a more livable community is to calm traffic. In a recent RBCA survey, motor vehicle speeds on arterial roads was a top mobility-related complaint. Decreasing the speed at which motorists travel contributes to increased safety for pedestrians, bikers, and motorists.  “Traffic calming is a system of design and management strategies that include narrow roads, modern roundabouts, chicanes (intentionally added turns in the road), median islands, speed bumps, diverters, speed tables and other engineering tools or interventions,” according to a Livable Communities fact sheet. “Another benefit of traffic calming is that it can give a street a transformative sense of place, thus boosting social interactions, housing and retail businesses.”

Some of the traffic calming designs, like chicanes and diverters, may not be appropriate for busy arterial roads like NE 65th Street in the Ravenna-Bryant neighborhood. However, several of the design elements recommended by the AARP’s initiative could be.

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Example of a median island. Photo courtesy of the Seattle Department of Transportation.

Median islands are raised areas in the center of a street that provide refuge for pedestrians. They provide a safe place to stop when crossing a busy street and calm traffic. If wide enough, islands can include trees.

Speed tables and speed bumps raise a section of the road, reducing vehicle speeds. The speed table where the Burke-Gilman Trail crosses 30th Avenue NE is an example of how they can provide a mid-street crossing in conjunction with curb bulbs.

Recent traffic calming changes focusing on narrowing roads without median islands in Seattle have proven successful in increasing safety for all who use them. Closest to home is the redesign of NE 75th Street. Traffic calming elements that were implemented include marked travel lanes, a center turn lane, and painted bike lanes. Single lanes of motor vehicle traffic in each direction with a center turn lane calm traffic while also allowing motorists to not be impeded by people turning left.

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NE 75th Street. Photo courtesy of the Seattle Department of Transportation.

After the NE 75th Street project was complete:

  • Collisions reduced by 45%;
  • Speeds reduced by 9%;
  • Traffic volumes increased 3%;
  • Travel times did not change.

Similar results have been seen on Stone Way N between N 34th and N 50th Streets and NE 125th Street.

While curb bulbs are not specifically listed in the Livable Communities information about safe streets, they extend the sidewalk to shorten the street crossing distance for pedestrians. The corner of 40th Avenue NE and NE 50th Street includes curb bulbs.

We know what works for developing safe environments for pedestrians, bikers, and motorists. As neighbors, we can come together and combine awareness and education activities with changes to street design and create a safe, livable community.