June Magnolia QA District Council Meeting – What is or will be happening on Magnolia or QA?

imageThis is a dispatch from the Magnolia-QA District Council meeting, please note, most of the quotes are verbatim, some paraphrasing has been undertaken in order to be able to include the participants’ statements at the meeting as close as possible to their entirety; brief editorial comments have been included in order to balance participants’ presentations or viewpoints:

Barry Odom from Club 51, pastor for the church; Monica volunteers to research the history of the church. WiFi available in building


Presentation from David Goldberg, planner, from City of Seattle (COS)

Amgen approached the City about future plans for Amgen

Amgen rep, Carol Pawlyck, community relations, statements, have 40 acre campus, first phase in 2004; working with the City, want to preserve the work done under the now expired permits. Wants to be clear don’t have firm plans, but want to ensure that they can easily expand in the future – they have the land to add quite a few more buildings.

Monica Wooten question: How much can be added – response – a lot. 40 acres, could put double the size of what is in existence on the Amgen campus now.

Goldberg – City of Seattle planner – what is important, Amgen was a resource for the City, although it is a City process – they want to be transparent, that they are working with Amgen, they have suggestions for the City. He is the person that writes code, not builds buildings.

Proposal on the table, in the code, major phased development – allows permits for successive buildings, four large grocery stores, on five acres or larger, to get their permits up front, do environmental review up front, but build over a 15 year period. Code at time applies over the permit period.

Purpose – number of projects, “significant builders”, developers, has to be a campus, functionally related to a purpose, have to ante in develop themselves at least 100,000 sf of office.

What’s important, for current situation, the industrial zone, notification of development, DPD handles enviro review, land use, structure according to code, safety. Most things would not change under proposal, zoning would remain the same, but would require a master plan, where development is, what development entails, but no building detail, transportation effects, view corridors, height, open space, drainage, everything short of design. Would have to be a campus, 100K sf; however, if it is on an existing campus would receive credit for existing campus structures.

What this situation under consideration adds, develop a development program, owner’s vision for site, to have all assessed now, with little assessment in future as long as project complies with prior agreed upon [general elements] in permit; could have a transportation demand/management plan that discourages SOV trips, and a project checklist. General plan, how it would be built out, the environmental impacts. Ensures that future activity complies with the checklist – with – important, a 10 year option that first 15 years conditions would be in place in the next 10 years after the expiration of the first 15 years.

Environmental impacts of future impacts, etc., as long as all of that remains essentially the same, then owner would be allowed to even change the type of use that originally was represented as the owner’s plan for the site in terms of use and type of use.

Questions from members?

Deforest – MCC – are there any like areas in Magnolia area – any acreage that equals five acres or more would be eligible for new planning tool. Not for land speculators.

Response David (City) – Follow-up re transportation demand program, what changes would this make to 15th Ave NW – incumbent upon developer to establish the impacts of their project; if it is planned versus funded, not necessarily that the project proponent would have to propose a mitigation plan, such as trafficimprovements or a transportation amendment could be made, that rather than building parking space could have programs to discourage car use. Lockers for bicycles, monitor the use of transit or bicycles, offer passes for their employees’ use, are ways to mitigate a traffic impact.

Skeptical that impacts can be estimated or prophesied that far ahead – but the TMD program.

Carol – Amgen plan – last few years, 50 to 70% of staff using preferred transportation, have an environmental plan,

Response David: Transportation is a fluid situation, “we don’t have gates”, there are things we can’t control, can control what they are doing with their building plans.

Janis Traven: In 15, 10, 5 years – would like to see a lot more solar panels – what flexibility is in the environemental plan for the project. Answer – a balancing act. Asking them for upfront plan and thoughtful analysis – they are vesting Amgen to the present standards – life safety, performance of building would not vest, but non-life safety code elements would vest. “may be ways to make plan flexible”, but in future may want to change use of present building, would require life safety, energy efficiency, that could change, but parking, height, use, would remain fixed as adopted at time of permit’s issuance.

David Response: DPD is providing oversight of this process; there would be a certification that plan complies in the future with the present permit. “Something that other jurisdictions have done”, that project complies with the permit deal; DPD would prepare that.

If Amgen wanted to deviate too far from the permit deal, would require supplemental environmental review or an addendum; would open up process, require notice, comment to the City by the public; transparency to the project.

Susan Casey – only applies to industrial land; only changing industrial code, not commercial code. As it relates to Ballard-Interbay corridor plan.

David Response – Corridor plan did not look at the Armory site, did not include Amgen’s property, if properties went from industrial to commercial, could not avail themselves of the planning tool that is being proposed for Amgen. Two different things – planning effort versus permitting effort.

Type one, to director of department, not appealable, Type two, appealable decision, this would be a type one review, the director would make a discretionary decision. Director would have a great deal of latitude.

Resident – has this type of situation taken place in Washington – Response: Planned action, similar process to this, allows upfront environmental review, but that is not what this is. THere is nothing in the legislation or state that prohibits long duration projects with short term environmental review. Recently did a planned action review for the Yesler Terrace project however.

Other jurisdictions doing 10, 15, 25,; Seattle doing a long term project like this is a good compromise, for a large development; sort of new ground; doesn’t really know whether this is done in other jurisdictions.

Monica – kind of like the apartment house at Interbay, plan wise sounded good but doesn’t look as well in reality; where will this be located?

Reporter – questions – research facilities do not pay property taxes? Why is City pre-framing view corridors – recent email shows Carol from Amgen requesting City to remove view corridor indications on map – in order to not created any public expectations about views – City complies.

Carol response – that was misinterpreted

David Response: would map, and will map and illustrate the development; will know where the view corridors are, where they are on the site; if there are unanswered questions could require further review by the applicant – related to architecture, transportation, other elements.

No one has a right to a view, although, there may be public view corridors, a mistake regarding protected “views” versus general views – have to respect the public planning process, kind of respect the rights of the owner and City to work through a permitting process and the legalities of the situation that guide what they do – essentially the public gets perhaps incorrectly possessive of what they see as their views.

John Coney offered wholesale support for Amgen’s plans, and plugged the up-zone plan in the future for the Armory site; even though for now it is not changing. This means jobs for the area.

City will advise when the notice about the new zoning planning tool/project comes out.

Next item of business: Membership of Friends of Magnolia Manor Park adjoining the District Council. No objections or discussion, passed motion to accept them as member. Next item of business: Ballard district council meeting and candidate’s forum.

Susan Casey – plan for partnership with Ballard – questions to proffer to candidates about the Department of Neighborhoods – changes or improvements to the department, what is their vision for the department; formerly DON was a grassroots based structure [seemingly so, but was still a City bureaucracy].

Priority to fill certain positions, unclear which ones; bring up local issues for QA and Magnolia, mayor decides who gets funding, who has priority for City attention.

Uptown Alliance’s needs mayor’s support for Seattle Center/Century 21 master plan. Plans for Memorial Stadium. Not being implemented well, or helpful to the adjacent community.

June 26th, meeting – unintelligible

Candidate meet and greet at Magnolia Farmer’s Market; on McGraw Street; vibrant community building experience; perfect venue; help with logistics. Have a table, work with candidates, who can attend.

July meeting planning – who is bringing the salad.


Monica – Historical books will be on sale – donate what you can – last time sold 30 some books at $15+ per book. Book giveaway to all the 5th grade families; a jumping off for the history in school, and part of their taking children around Magnolia. Went through 44 PowerPoint presentations shown to students.

Have deals for businesses that want to buy sets; Monica is hawking books at as many outlets as possible. Annual meeting will be at the beginning of the year in the future; will be a meeting in Sept or Oct history of Magnolia Boulevard – Claudia, Monica, and Mimi Sheridan are participating in it.

This year have a lot of community members asking questions about history – they do know how to do research – have a lot of contacts; have new writers in her passel of writers; everyone is excited.

Two other people, Larry Phillips, Skip Kotkins, it is all exciting; have Facebook page, blog, QA Mag News column; one of most exciting things – have their first intern. Research and donations allowed to have a photograph and writing archive in Special Collections at the UW; Lloyd Scully and Monica’s pictures; should be available in Fall. Magnolia’s archives, Bob Kildall’s collection; most important thing to encourage young people to join; next year there will be a co-presidency to transition Monica out of presidency; transforming the organization out of Monica’s governance essentially.


Stephen Deforest MCC President – what MCC is doing – Who we are – started in 1924, incorporated in 1939; technically a community council; all residents and business owners are members; that way they can take credit for having 22,000 members. When they go to the government they can represent themselves as such.

Mission is to monitor government activities and to take appropriate action where necessary, to inform members about what is going on. Current, expansion of Smith Cove Park, a milestone, in genesis for 20 years; one time only kind of thing. Second area of importance; 15th Avenue corridor, only three access points for Magnolia; high importance; many many different aspects of transportation that they monitor and participate in in many ways. Congestion on 15th NW is bad; Mercer West is coming up, congestion will be bad, reduction of number of lanes for tunnel project, several years of poor traffic; seawall replacement will affect commuters, relocation of Alaskan Way; under the Viaduct, reduction of lanes; that all will contribute to congestion; bored tunnel will affect community; diverts traffic, tolling, recites essentially well-known knowledge about all this, but does not present any thing that MCC is doing about any of this.

MCC is keenly interested in the Ballard-Interbay studies that are being undertaken by the City; although according to public record, little to no input from MCC; lots of studies; 15th Avenue Coalition – with idea that coalition would get greater recognition from City – although Eugene Wasserman runs that coalition.

Deforest was surprised that the environmental study had never been completed for the Magnolia Bridge, but doesn’t see any money for the bridge in his lifetime.

MCC is interested in air traffic over the City – alludes to Robert Bismuth’s contribution to that discussion.

It is a concern. Crime prevention is an interest of the MCC, there were a couple of interests – the shooting of the knife-wielding person – bank robberies in the Village. Deforest – we are blessed on Magnolia, Magnolia has a low crime rate.

MCC is keenly interested in Parks; Magnolia Boulevard Vegetation management plan – also keenly interested in what goes on at Discovery Park – we have a full plate. End of comments.


Next item of business: Increase funding for the Large Projects Fund of City – sent a letter encouraging the same. Discussion about match fund machinations and plans for the future of the same.

Christa Dumpys from COS-DON – match fund availability and amounts; bridging the gap, neighborhood street fund money – citywide process, three projects went forward. Just to “let you know that things are in motion and we’ll get back to you”.


Guest – Michael DeBell, Seattle School Board member: Thanks for being on the district council board, it’s part of our democratic system. Won’t go on very long – highlights of what the school district is doing. Banda just finished first year; has different style of leadership, former farm worker, has a wonderful understanding of unique experiences about people that grow up in poverty situations and about people of color.

First year, new strategic plan for five years; designed to force district to focus on smaller opportunities, to improve or transform the district. High point for student funding was before the recession, crossing fingers now for funding, McCleary decision, that requires that k-12 is the paramount obligation.

District has struggled for the last three years; has a $360 Million budget, don’t want to do cuts, layoff people during hard times. Special Education – need more leadership, varies greatly from school to school, some bad, some good school venues. Reduction of transportation costs another priority.

Disproportionality of students of color – less to do with race but more about poverty. Poverty, lack of structure in home, students do not have a sense of what is normal when they come from that background.

Locally – QA Elementary – open to families on QA and Magnolia – an alternative school, will be rebuilt and expanded to accommodate 500 students. Development downtown and apartments in area are driving increase in enrollment for QA and Magnolia – all schools are at capacity; Councilman Burgess, added an amendment to the SLU zoning, that School District can negotiate with developers when they go for project approval.

If all future new schools resulting from densification materialize then will put pressure on local schools.

Magnolia Elementary could be a backup school if the district cannot get a new school Downtown; the closest schools that are walkable and accessible are on QA and Magnolia; backup plan is to reopen – at cost of 30 to 25 million dollars; City and School have joint property interests, in regards to Ella Bailey – his comment, a city park is a playground, and a school playground is a city park, CIty and District have this understanding.

Equity – students should be in grades according to academic status as opposed to age; teaching to middle only serves 20 to 30 percent of kids, some are lost, some are bored; teachers know that students are not getting what they need.

Monica – prejudice towards smart kids.

Filed in: Breaking News, City of Seattle, Field Posts, Local Organizations, Magnolia Planning Council, Transportation, Urban Planning Tags: 

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