Pedestrian Chronicles

Pedestrian Chronicles: Lake City Statement of Intent

A budget item fails, but generates a connection between social justice, urbanism, and traditional neighborhood activism.

By Josh Feit November 14, 2014

Lake City Neighborhood Alliance, Janine Blaeloch far left.

Here's one more LIKE from this morning's city council budget hearing. This one is bittersweet, though because the budget item failed. 

But the background story is buoying. And it clearly demonstrates how Seattle is changing. A group from North Seattle, the Lake City Neighborhood Alliance, showed up at this morning's 8:30 AM hearing to continue pressing the council to fund renovations at the Lake City Community Center on 28th Ave. NE by the Lake City Library, just a block north of NE 125th St. The LCNA wants to turn the LCCC it into a full-service community center. The current community center, "if you can even call it that," says LCNA vice chair Janine Blaeloch, doesn't have any sports facilities or programming or classes like full-fledged neighborhood centers do. "It's basically used as a rental space," she complains, noting that "that there's nowhere for the children to go." And the children, she notes, are largely from low-income minority and immigrant families. And here's where social justice, traditional neighborhood activism, and urbanism continue to overlap. 

In 2013, the council requested $500,000 (to at least bring the LCCC up to Americans with Disabilities Act standard.) But the parks department put that on hold this year after the council sent the Metropolitan Parks District measure to the ballot. The parks department thought the LCCC money might come with the new MPD measure. The LCC didn't end up being a specific line item in the MPD.

Social justice, traditional neighborhood activism, and urbanism are overlapping in Lake City. 

Not to be deterred, the group gave all the council members a walking tour of Lake City with an "eye opening stop" at the drab community center (it was built in the 1940s) and city council budget chair Nick Licata took up the LCNA cause. Licata tried to get money, $5 million, put in this year's budget. He only got one council supporter, though, Sally Clark. (You need three signatures to move a budget add forward.)

The argument against the money? There are full-fledged community centers in north Seattle in nearby Northgate and Meadowbrook. But Blaeloch says those centers actually highlight the need for a Lake City center of its own because the growing, low-income immigrant community in the neighborhood—working multiple jobs and relying on public transit—can't access them. In other words, her north Seattle neighborhood group is fighting for more walkable, tight-nit urban planning to serve the new multicultural community. 

Change is afoot in Lake City. 

Blaeloch is also a leader in an unlikely Lake City group called Lake City Greenways, a neighborhood affiliate of the citywide urbanist group that's advocating more bike and ped friendly planning citywide. SDOT just completed a 1.1 mile $150,000 greenway project at the behest of the group between 145th and 125th making it easier to bike and walk through the neighborhood. A legit community center would fit right in to the design. 

Wearing her LCNA hat, Blaeloch showed up at city hall with her comrades from the LCNA this morning who proclaimed during testimony: "We're here from Cedar Park, Olympic Hills, Victory Heights [and] we represent families, youth, and seniors, and the Hispanic and the Somali communities in Lake City. We urge council, in the words of our Hispanic kids, to support a true community center [un verdadero centro comunitario] for Lake City."  

The group was cheering on council's Option B for a new Lake City Community Center: A Statement of Legislative Intent (SLI), which council did include in the budget. A SLI, runner up to a budget item, directs city department work. In this case,  the Lake City SLI directs the Department of Parks and Recreation to report back to the City Council in August with options and costs for a new LCCC. 

The SLI, sponsored by council members Tim Burgess, Sally Clark, and Mike O'Brien, says: 

The Council requests the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) to prepare a report that outlines the next steps for improvements at the Lake City Community Center. The report should include:

1. Any proposed changes in the use of the Lake City Community Center that are recommended by Community Center Strategic Plan scheduled for completion in 2015.

2. Alternatives (including a preferred alternative) for rehabilitation or rebuilding of the Lake City Community Center including an alternative for construction of a new facility.

3. Costs and financing options for the preferred alternative, including the option of using Limited Tax General Obligation Bonds to finance the project.

4. A schedule for implementing the preferred alternative. It is anticipated that capital funds for the preferred alternative will be included in the proposed 2016 budget and 20162021 Capital Improvement Program.




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