Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Give Input Tomorrow On University District Upzone

UW Tower
UW Tower (325 ft high)

Tomorrow at 1:45, the public is encouraged to attend the City's Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee meeting (600 4th Avenue) to voice concerns about the potential for upzones,in the University District which includes taller building heights of up to 320 feet (32 stories),  plus another 15' for mechanicals. The affected area would be the main University District core (15th  Avenue NE to the freeway and 41st to NE 50th Street) and potentially 240 ft buildings in other areas of the core area.

The Committee is holding tomorrow's briefing to consider potential amendments to the U District legislation to increase height and density. 

Residents can voice concerns to City Councilmembers

The Laurelhurst Community Club (LCC) said:

Housing advocates and resident organizations from the U District strongly urge the public to attend and speak against the City’s proposed plans.  Within “ground zero” of the area of the upzone there are over 1500 units of existing low income and affordable housing (go here  for inventory), historic buildings and dozens of small businesses which are in jeapordy (go here for letter from small businesses placed at risk and opposing these upzones) by proposed plans driven largely by large property owners and the UW.
The old Safeco Building, now owned by UW, is 340 feet high, and some development plans include copying those heights along the highest part of the UDistrict, of which some would be taller than any South Lake Union buildings.  The natural views of the beautiful Olympic Mountains will be blocked out forever by these concrete rectangles along the "new" skyline, not to mention the creation of a dense and darker streetlife in this old neighborhood. 
Share you comments about:
-preserving the eclectic, small businesses community that relies on inexpensive, small scale rents
-reducing the heights to a more human scale-under 120 feet.
-retaining the housing units that are truly affordable-1500 are slated to be destroyed
-requiring infrastructure-better transit connections, better flow in roads, and adequate freight/loading access to all new buildings
-requiring public open space to be embedded in any plans
-requiring tree protection, and planting new, larger trees
-retain and add to parking in all types of new buildings-not pretending that cars do not exist
-retain existing historic buildings
-require existing viewlines be maintained, especially mountain and water views
-require developers to pay impact fees to build schools resulting from greater residential population 

The U of WA wants the City's approval on 320 foot towers so they can match that height with THEIR 320 foot towers. All of this would sit on a tall hill already, which would change the skyline to concrete rectangles instead of the natural beauty of the Olympic skyline. Take pictures of your neighborhood's views and send them in asap.

Numerous other issues are at stake with the proposal, such as displacing existing housing with "new and taller" which means "more expensive", and lots of folks cannot afford it, nor want to live in such tall buildings. It forces a lifestyle change in the entire district which has the diversity of many smaller, locally owned businesses.

The gradual upzone should be allowed, but permitting silos of concrete is not the right scale for the diverse fabric and livability of the U District The only infrastructure improvement offered is for impacts on transportation is the LIght Rail system with its 2 or 3 cars, in a corridor that only runs north and south. Not much else is guaranteed by any developer. And those who talked about living there with families are out of luck-no larger units offered, and there is no operating public school. and there is no green space planned in area that already has a parkland deficit.

Do not complain, write emails and help make the upzoning more livable! Voice your concern over the poorly planned, profit driven upzones. This is taller than the buildings in South Lake Union (SLU) and will essentially make an SLU in the U District.


One neighbor said about what the upzoning will do, both at the UW campus and in the U District:
  • Remove most of the currently affordable housing in the U District and replace it with expensive highrises.
  • It will also get rid of most of the small businesses in the U District due to increases in rents, taxes, etc.
  • The UW wants to create an innovation, high-tech zone which will bring in high-end companies, further raising land values and other costs.
  • Change the whole nature of the U District, not just from taller buildings, but with encroachment/expansion of the UW onto what has always been separate from the UW.       

Go here for more detailed information posted by the Laurelhurst Blog.         

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Not all residents of Laurelhurst oppose increased density in the City, which allows our adult children to afford housing close to their families when they leave home.
I for one strongly support the proposed upzoning.