Fremont Neighborhood Council – September 22, 2014
Board members present: Toby Thaler, Norma Jones, Jim Engelhardt, Linda Clifton, Erik Pihl, Elfreide Noble, Shawn Mulanix, Matt Gasparich, Judie Clarridge.
Toby opened the meeting and invited everyone to introduce themselves and share any announcements:
- Toby said that work on replacing the topsoil and grass on Kite Hill at Gasworks Park has begun.
- Andy Bates, Supervisory Librarian, Fremont Public Library, spoke about upcoming programs at the library: “An Evening of Poetry” on October 6th with readings by local poets, and an Author Visit on October 14th with Bernadette Pajer, author of “The Edison Effect”, a mystery set in Seattle in the early 20th century.
- Jessica Vets announced that Oktoberfest will be held September 19 -21. She welcomes feedback from residents who are negatively impacted by the event. Jessica sends out a weekly email, “Friday Blast”, with news and upcoming events in Fremont. If you want to publicize an event, send information to email@example.com.
Micro-housing Issues – Esther Handy (Seattle Councilman Mike O’Brien’s office) and Apartment Building developments in Fremont – Geoffrey Wentlandt (Department of Planning and Development)
Esther briefed on a workgroup of developers, neighbors, and land use planners who are recommending revisions to regulations pertaining to micro-housing units: they would be considered individual dwelling units as opposed to the previous model of up to 8 bedrooms with a common kitchen. Units would be required to have a minimum of 220 square feet, sinks in both bath and kitchen, food preparation area with cooking appliance. Within urban villages, no requirement for parking. Design Review thresholds will be established based on square footage of project rather than number of units. Increase the covered bicycle parking requirements to .75 space for every unit. No more than one RPZ permit for each unit.
Geoff said that beginning in 2010, there have been no parking requirements for micro-housing units. He acknowledged that decision is not working as well as they had hoped. Attendees expressed preference for requiring dumpster use rather than having solid waste containers for each unit. Geoff said there is no limit to the number of micro-housing projects in a specific area. There is no requirement for open space for the projects but there is a requirement for landscaping. The proposed projects on Linden and Phinney would fall into the category (5,000 to 11,000 sq ft) of a Streamlined Design Review. Attendees expressed concern about the impact of high density housing on existing RPZs.
Geoff said that the new changes to regulations would likely not impact the Linden and Phinney projects but that the DPD would give them a thorough project review. The reviewer could decide that planting street trees, placing garbage storage area in back of building, and traffic and parking studies are required. There was discussion that public comments are also considered under Environmental Impact and neighbors can appeal the environmental determination. Washington State is in the minority in stating that as soon as a completed application is submitted, the project is vested under the existing regulations. Neighborhoods are changing. Frequent transit is a myth. High density concentration will impact schools if families move out of the area. Work patterns are not necessarily that workers are commuting downtown. Discussion about the increasing number of units in what had been low rise zoning areas, the need for policies on transit and high density areas to be linked to ensure that transit is adequate for population, and establishing development taxes.
Fremont Avenue Crosswalks (41st and N. 43rd) Update – Brian Dougherty (SDOT)
Brian said that bids were opening on Wednesday for construction of the crosswalk at N. 43rd and Fremont which will include a curb ramp and bulb. The work will be done over the winter. There will be no lights. Discussion that the crosswalk by Marketime is dangerous. A crosswalk at N. 41st and Fremont by B. F. Day School is in the pipeline. Brian said he would look into the suggestion of installing a pedestrian-activated light.
Other projects: He also said that the sidewalk to be built on Stone Way, south of N. 34th, is about 90% designed. There were concerns expressed about the quality of the stairway recently constructed at N 43rd and Palatine N. It is not designed well for those carrying bicycles up the stairs.
- LUDC/CNC: Ralph Weathers reported on a current issue between the Department of Neighborhoods and the City Neighborhood Council (CNC), a citizen-led advisory group made up of representatives from the city’s 13 district councils. One of the responsibilities of the CNC and its Citywide Review Team is to review and approve Neighborhood Matching Fund Large Project Fund requests for submission to the City Council. At the June CNC meeting, they reviewed 12 projects. A number of residents attended the meeting to express opposition to one of the projects, Cheasty Greenspace Trails and Bike Park. Cheasty Greenspace is an urban forest on the slope between Beacon Hill and Columbia City. Their testimony was that establishing a bike park was counter to the natural / greenbelt nature of the Greenspace. The CNC voted to approve and forward the other 11 projects to the City Council but requested additional information on the Cheasty project from the Department of Neighborhoods. Sally Bagshaw, Chair, Seattle Public Utilities and Neighborhoods, has held back all 12 projects.
- LAND USE: Toby reported that the DPD is proposing to identify geographic areas within neighborhood commercial zones as a pedestrian retail designation area with rules that would protect and encourage street level pedestrian-oriented destinations, accessible by foot, bike, or transit. Comments are currently being accepted. There was discussion about the increase in pedestrian traffic on the lower blocks of Stone Way and the industrial/commercial area in upper Stone Way. Toby will draft a submission from the FNC and circulate to the board.
Treasurer’s Report: Jim reported the following balances:
Checking account: $ 1,326.54
Money Market: 56,219.95
Just recently, Jim was notified that the City has issued a check for $962.74 as a result of the grant for expenses of the Fremont Bright event.
- GRANTS: Linda reported on a committee (Linda, Jim, Erik, Judie) that met to discuss a policy and process for requesting grants from the FNC. They reviewed the kind of grants that have been made in the past, projects for which the FNC acted as a fiscal sponsor, etc. Grants have generally been made as they have been requested rather than on a scheduled basis. We could estimate how much would be granted annually. They also discussed that the source of much of the grant money in the past has been as a result of mitigation for large development projects.
Jessica Vets said that Tableau has expressed interest in working with the Fremont community to offer $125K in grants annually. There was discussion about coordination between the Chamber and the FNC in this effort and developing an online application.
Paul Fellows suggested a project of painting water hydrants in Fremont in the orange and blue colors of the Fremont Bridge. The board would need an estimate of the cost and concurrence of the Fire Department.
Linda noted that maintenance of FNC-sponsored art projects should be considered for grants. The 46th Street Mural project will exhaust its fund by the end of the year. This led to a discussion of the FNC being a 501(c) (3) organization. There will be further discussion on this issue at the October meeting.
Minutes: Shawn moved that the August minutes be approved as presented. The motion was seconded and passed.
The meeting was adjourned. The next meeting will be Monday, October 27, 2014.