City Hall

Licata Proposes Limiting Heights at Roosevelt Station

By Erica C. Barnett December 13, 2011

As we reported he was planning to yesterday, city council member Nick Licata has proposed an amendment to a proposed upzone near the Roosevelt light rail station that would kill efforts to increase the maximum heights on three blocks adjacent to Roosevelt High School from 40 feet to 65 feet. The council's land use committee is scheduled to vote on the rezone tomorrow, at its final meeting of the year.[pullquote] The planning commission noted that the taller option would include 56 units of affordable housing, whereas Licata's preferred option would include none.[/pullquote]

Neighborhood residents proposed keeping maximum heights on those three blocks at 40 feet, arguing that buildings taller than 40 feet would put kids at Roosevelt High School at risk, harm views to and from the school, and damage the character of the neighborhood.

A majority of the council has said that they want to increase heights on those blocks to 65 feet, to allow the Roosevelt Development Group to redevelop several blighted properties owned by landlord Hugh Sisley. RDG has said that their development plans won’t pencil out at 40 feet.

In an email newsletter today, Licata wrote, "The question I've wrestled with is 'Can the Council meet that objective without increasing building heights to 65 feet across from the Roosevelt High School building?' I've concluded that it can, and accordingly will move an amendment in tomorrow's COBE committee meeting to keep the heights at 40 feet."

"It  appears to me that the community did not get the exchange they offered of accepting much greater density than was originally requested by the city, for preserving a notable feature of their neighborhood."

Also, noting that the agenda for tomorrow's meeting and the text of the latest version of the rezone legislation was not available online as of early this morning, Licata announced today that the packed meeting---originally scheduled to start a half-hour early, in recognition of the fact that the meeting included numerous appointments and at least one other substantive zoning bill---will now start at 10:30, pushing several items off the agenda.

Meanwhile, the Seattle Planning Commission, which advises the council, sent council members a letter today recommending the 65-foot option for the high school blocks. Noting that the taller option would include 56 units of affordable housing, whereas Licata's preferred option would include none, the commissioners wrote, "these blocks provide an ideal setting for modest income households with children to locate in a neighborhood with exceptional schools and supportive neighborhood assets, such as public transportation, grocery stores, an established neighborhood business district, and public open spaces."

I have a call out to Clark, the sponsor of the legislation and head of the land use committee, to find out more.
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