img_20161105_113243Nearly fifty neighbors came together Saturday, November 5 at the Greenlake Library for a neighbor-to-neighbor discussion on the City’s draft rezoning maps for Crown Hill Urban Village.

A summary of the meeting and questions are available here. The Crown Hill Urban Village (CHUV) Committee for Smart Growth will share these comments with the City, work to secure answers to the questions, and share them on our website’s newly updated Frequently Asked Questions page.

img_20161105_113147-2Councilmember Mike O’Brien joined the meeting to explain the Mandatory Housing Affordability Act (MHA) and the Seattle2035 Comprehensive Plan, policies that both passed the City Council unanimously this fall. The new initiatives set the stage for upzoning our neighborhood as well as 30 other Urban Villages around the City to leverage private development of 6,000 new affordable housing units citywide over ten years. He explained the final maps would not likely pass the City Council until fall of 2017, and that there would be more opportunities for CHUV residents to weigh in on the zoning that will change our neighborhood.


At the meeting, attendees asked many general questions about the affordable housing policies, the proposed zoning changes in CHUV, the expansion proposed on the draft maps, and how these changes would impact current residents.

Highlights from the neighbor discussion:

  • Neighbors agreed that emphasizing growth along arterials (15th, Holman, and 85th) was still the preferred approach for adding density and growth in our community. This affirms the priority of the CHUV community survey to build along the arterials where there is already room for growth and limiting growth in single-family areas to protect as many vulnerable neighbors from displacement as possible as older homes are redeveloped for growth.
  • Many attendees voiced concern about the current plan to extend commercial zoning along residential side streets adjacent to arterials and expressed a strong preference to pursue alternatives to Full Block Zoning that would be a less drastic change for residents living on those transition area blocks.
  • Many residents asked questions about the new zoning code Residential Small Lot (RSL) that is replacing much of the Single Family housing in CHUV. Among the questions raised were concerns about the impact on homeowners who want to develop their own property and how the MHA law would be applied to new buildings or additions.
  • Attendees asked about mother-in-laws (Accessory Dwelling Units – ADUs) and backyard cottages (Detached Accessory Dwelling Units – DADUs) and how these housing options might be integrated into RSL zoning, given these homes usually already provide naturally affordable housing and could potentially provide solutions to seniors and other property owners who might benefit from the rental income to stay in their homes.
  • Neighbors living north of 85th street asked about how new zoning would consider the limits of our infrastructure on new development, particularly in areas with no sidewalks and chronic flooding and drainage problems. Neighbors discussed whether there could be zoning modifications to make connected sidewalks integral to development, or adjust zoning plans to ensure safe pedestrian mobility. Councilmember O’Brien shared that SPU is going to study chronic flooding north of 85th street in their 2017 work plan, and that the City would not rezone the storm water impacted areas if it would make the flooding problem worse. Storm water solutions for flooded areas would be discussed further in 2017 after the SPU evaluation is completed.
  • Many residents are concerned about parking given that the City does not currently require parking to be included in Urban Villages. One neighbor suggested that the City create Residential Parking Zones (RPZ) to protect neighbors’ parking access and ensure Federal mail delivery, pedestrian safety and emergency services vehicle access are not compromised by increased pressure for parking.

Future topics for community conversations about the maps might include the zoning change to Neighborhood Commercial (NC) 75 along arterials, particularly given the hilly topography of Crown Hill, and modifications in required ground floor commercial spaces in all NC zones so that our small, locally owned businesses at risk of displacement can find space as the neighborhood grows.

The Committee for Smart Growth will continue to advocate so neighbors have an opportunity to shape our community as it grows, including influencing the rezone maps to meet our community needs, securing community planning to inform growth, and advocating the infrastructure and transit investments necessary to manage the new growth.

It’s not too late to weigh-in on the draft rezone maps.

  • Please consider joining us as a volunteer to help shape a positive future.
  • The registration deadline for the November 15th City Council Community Design Workshop has passed.  Thank you for turning out.  If you RSVP’d for that event, please come prepared by reviewing this blog post and downloading and reviewing the information here.
  • The City will be holding a Community meeting to discuss city-wide zoning changes on Saturday December 3 from 10 – 12 at the Bitter Lake Community Center for all Northwest Seattle Neighborhoods.  While this meeting will not be CHUV specific, it will include the draft maps and City planners and staff will be there to answer questions and hear your ideas and address the changes coming to Crown Hill Urban Village.

And, please come out Saturday, November 19th  for the Crown Hill/Whittier Heights Find It Fix It Community Walk with Mayor Ed Murray 10:30 to 12:30 in Baker Park.  This walk is a City Sponsored event, and is an excellent opportunity to speak with the Mayor and ask questions of City Leaders about zoning, infrastructure and other neighborhood needs.


Neighbors weigh in on City’s proposed Upzone
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