City council president Richard Conlin weighs in today on the controversial proposal to increase heights around the planned Roosevelt light rail station beyond the densities neighborhood residents agreed to in negotiations with the city's Department of Planning and Development. Recently, Mayor Mike McGinn and council member Tim Burgess both wrote letters to DPD arguing that the agency should consider taller buildings near the station---up to 85 feet, compared to the 65-foot maximum the neighborhood agreed to.

"The Roosevelt neighborhood has a long track record of embracing light rail and adding development," Conlin writes. "It is critical that we recognize and respect the community’s good faith work.  There is also a valid question about whether the neighborhood recommendations achieve ‘enough’ density to fully take advantage of the regional investment in light rail."

However,
Telling the neighborhood to go through a process and then responding with ‘that’s not enough’ feels very classic Seattle passive aggressive.  City leadership knew that the individual neighborhood targets established in 1994 would be controversial, and convened a city-wide neighborhood planning process to address the challenges and benefits of increased density.  We should do the same with transit oriented development, and do it in a comprehensive way so that each affected community understands what will be expected.

I don’t know what the ‘right’ level of density would be in Roosevelt, that would both fully take advantage of the light rail opportunity and maintain neighborhood character.  But in the near term I think we should honor the work of the community and take it as the starting point for legislative action.  The Mayor and Council may modify it to some extent, but maintain consistency with the neighborhood’s parameters.  ...

When we do that, we should also be clear that a Transit Oriented Development process may recommend additional capacity in the Roosevelt neighborhood, and proceed to create a comprehensive strategy that develops targets for each area that will have major transit investments.

Read the whole thing at Conlin's blog.
 
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