Thursday, May 11, 2017

City Councilmember Rob Johnson Viewpoints From Most Recent Laurelhurst Community Club Monthly Meeting

The Laurelhurst Community Club (LCC) published this information in their recent Newsletter mailing:

Council Viewpoints
City Councilmember Rob Johnson attended LCC’s April meeting and addressed several topics. Some of his responses are summarized below; others will be published in the June issue:
    • Small local businesses in Laurelhurst and the University District are leaving and being replaced, but not necessarily with services for the neighborhoods. There are lots of changes going on, and the City is trying some incentives to make the area more attractive to businesses.  
    • One thing we found is that having commercial spaces that are too large (10,000 sq ft), make it too expensive for locals. Instead we end up with big chains, so we are talking about dividing commercial spaces into 1,500 sq ft spaces that will be more affordable.  
    • There is a need to create some write offs to incentivize small businesses.  
    • Displacement of existing homeowners, especially seniors on fixed incomes, who cannot afford to pay the rising taxes is a concern. How do we keep them? Property taxes are higher because home values have doubled. The City has a plan for seniors to let them pay tax bills when they sell their homes, so they can defer taxes now, and age in place. He suggested that LCC get with King County Assessor John Wilson to find out more about these programs. LCC will investigate.  
    • Transportation – what real improvements are proposed for increasing mobility? We did not do a very good job of integrating bus service to Light Rail. The City will work in committee with Sound Transit and Metro to improve integration of services, and even work to create a drop-off zone near the UW Light Rail station. Should the City give a seven year night noise variance to WSDOT while constructing the “Rest of the West”? The City will look hard at granting any noise variances to WSDOT and will not outright grant it without constraints. There is a new Ombudsman to coordinate issues about SR520 with WSDOT.

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