Public Hearing on the Roosevelt Neighborhood Rezone, Monday, Sept. 19 (UPDATES)

UPDATE (Monday, September 26): You can now watch the entire Roosevelt Rezone Public Hearing here, on the Seattle Channel’s website.

Tonight at the Roosevelt High School Auditorium (1410 NE 66th St), the Seattle City Council’s Committee on the Built Environment (COBE) is holding a public hearing about the Roosevelt Neighborhood Rezone.

Photo by Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times. Used with permission.

This is everyone’s chance to speak his/her thoughts and concerns to members of the City Council directly (for two minutes); however, written comments can be sent to Councilmembers up until the vote is taken (late this year, or early 2012).

And rumor has it all nine Councilmembers will be in attendance.

This public hearing starts at 6 PM, with sign-up for speakers opening at 5:30 PM.

For those of you who cannot attend, you have three live-tweeters to choose from: Us (@RavennaBlog), the Roosevelt Neighborhood Blog (@Roosiehood), and one of Seattle Transit Blog’s writers, Bruce Nourish (@brucenourish).

If you ARE attending tonight’s hearing and would like to contribute to the Twitter conversation, we’ll be using the hashtag #RRzone. Folks at home can follow along here.

More information about the Roosevelt Neighborhood Rezone

Today’s edition of the Seattle Times included a piece about the rezone, primarily from the neighborhood’s point of view: Neighborhood embraces change — but fights to save a view

Seattle Transit Blog also posted a piece today, detailing density proponents’ frustrations with the neighborhood’s plan: Roosevelt rezones up for discussion tonight

UPDATE: The Roosevelt Neighborhood Association has two a final document detailing their latest wishes for the rezone: “Sustainable, Livable Roosevelt”

The Chair of the Ravenna-Bryant Community Association, Andrew Miller, has laid out the RBCA’s position on the Roosevelt Neighborhood Rezone.*


*Full disclosure: I am the Chair of the RBCA’s Communications Committee, which means I update the association’s website and assist with the newsletter. You can find the full list of Board Members and Committee Chairs here.

Mayor meets with DPD, writes letter to Roosevelt neighborhood

Mayor Mike McGinn met with Department of Planning and Development (DPD) Director Diane Sugimura today, to talk about the Roosevelt Neighborhood Legislative Rezone.

The question hanging in the air since last week — when letters to the DPD from the Mayor, Councilmember Tim Burgess, and a petition from 25 primarily pro-density people and organizations — was “Will the Roosevelt Legislative Rezone move forward at this time?”

The answer: YES, with some potential tweaking.

Here’s Mayor McGinn’s letter to the Roosevelt neighborhood, sent out this afternoon via email (emphasis mine):

Dear Roosevelt Neighbors and Friends,

Thank you for sharing with me your high hopes for your neighborhood, your interest in and support for light rail, and your insights into the rezoning effort that is currently underway for the station area. I appreciate the effort you put into developing a thoughtful proposal and the excitement so many of you expressed about light rail coming to Roosevelt. You are to be commended for the good work.

I agree that we should not slow down the process. I have, however, asked the Department of Planning and Development to take a closer look at some of the heights proposed for this station area. With the significant investment in light rail, long-vacant properties ripe for reuse, and the potential for good neighborhood-scale development, I believe it is appropriate to look at heights of up to 65 or 85 feet for some areas. These modest changes are consistent with the spirit of the original proposal and will help ensure we make the most of the new light rail and create new housing and jobs that support the area. I have asked that towers – buildings above 85 feet – be taken off the table entirely. I do not believe they are consistent with good planning for this neighborhood. In addition, I have asked that this analysis be done quickly so this legislation can move to Council for their consideration within the coming month.

Thank you again for writing. I look forward to working with you as we finalize my recommendations to Council.


Mike McGinn
Mayor of Seattle

This may be a good time to mention that the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association‘s next Land Use Committee meeting is next Tuesday, June 21, from 7-9 PM, at Calvary Christian Assembly (6801 Roosevelt Way NE).

You can bet that committee chair, Jim O’Halloran, will give an update about the Roosevelt Rezone at this meeting. Also, Sound Transit’s North Link Light Rail Program Manager, Ron Endlich, will be there to answer questions.

Like the Roosevelt Neighborhood Rezone Plan? Let the Mayor know TODAY.

Tomorrow (Thursday) morning, the director of the city’s Department of Planning and Development, Diane Sugimura, is meeting with Mayor Mike McGinn about the future of the Roosevelt Neighborhood Rezone Plan.

If you have an opinion about the Roosevelt Neighborhood Rezone Plan, and whether or not the Department of Planning and Development should let it move ahead, PLEASE let Mayor McGinn ( and DPD Director Sugimura ( know. TODAY.


From the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association’s Land Use Committee Chair, Jim O’Halloran (via email, today):

Not to be too dramatic, but this is an important moment for the neighborhood. I expect that tomorrow, on Thursday, that Mayor McGinn and DPD Director Diane Sugimura will decide whether to continue the Legislative Rezone process on which we’ve worked so hard, or to shelve it in favor of some other process driven by interests from outside the community. We want for DPD to complete their work on the Legislative Rezone package, for the Mayor to sign off, and for the whole thing to be sent to City Council without further delay. Councilmembers Clark and Burgess, at least, are ready to receive it and to do their work in committee to address our critical land use issues.

Some background on the Roosevelt Neighborhood Plan and the recent online conversations, also from O’Halloran (via email on Sunday):

The “legislative rezone”, as you will recall, is a broad set of rezoning proposals for the future light rail station area in Roosevelt. The RNA submitted a detailed list of recommendations to the Department of Planning and Development in 2006, and finally, DPD is almost at the point of submitting the official plan to City Council. But, there are some last minute issues which threaten to derail over five years of community effort.

DPD’s plan is almost identical to what the neighborhood had recommended. Essentially, we said that the community could absorb additional housing and commercial density up to 65 feet high primarily West of Roosevelt Way NE, along NE 65th Street toward the freeway. In the area South of Roosevelt High School, we said that building heights should be limited to 40 feet in deference to the historically landmarked school and surrounding single family homes. If we were willing to accommodate more density in the station area, we felt that it was reasonable for the community to have some say as to where the density would be located. This approach and our specific recommendations have broad support in the Roosevelt and Ravenna communities. The RNA proposal has been posted online since 2006 [here].

DPD has reviewed the RNA recommendations and published their formal proposal on April 21, 2011; you can find this online at Then, something interesting happened. A number of committed bloggers and organizations started complaining to DPD, Mayor McGinn and City Councilmembers that the rezone plan published by DPD was not enough. In any light rail station area, they said, building heights should be much higher; 8 stories, 12 stories or more would be necessary all around the station to achieve population density sufficient to “support” the taxpayer’s investment in mass transit. Never mind the Neighborhood Plan; Roosevelt’s NIMBYs have an obligation to take much more density than had been proposed.

DPD is now trying to decide if the Roosevelt Legislative Rezone process should be “paused” so that a new rezoning process could be initiated, as the density advocates have requested. This step would be a grave insult to the Roosevelt community, and the countless hours of good-faith volunteer effort to plan responsibly for smart growth. We need to weigh in now, in numbers and with passion, to ensure that the Roosevelt Legislative Rezone process is continued and concluded.

Further Reading

For folks who would like to catch up on the recent talk about the Roosevelt rezone, here are some links to recently written posts about this topic with a variety of opinions (most recent, first):

  • Seattle’s Land Use Code: “ ‘Then, something interesting happened.’ ”

  • Crosscut: “Local leaders blunder on three big issues”
  • Seattle Transit Blog: “Opinion: For Roosevelt, 85 Feet is Plenty”
  • Roosevelt-Ravenna Zoning Issues: “Transit Oriented Development in Roosevelt”
  • citytank: “The Roosevelt Rezone Dustup Simple Issue Uncovers Complex Questions”
  • SLOG: “Burgess Calls for More Density in Roosevelt; Roosevelt Residents Push Back”
  • SLOG: “Mayor Pushes for More Density Around Roosevelt Light Rail Station”