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Sound Transit Board Action on ST3 Realignment; Duwamish Waterway Park Expansion; Construction begins at Lowman Beach Park; Comprehensive Plan Update

Sound Transit Board Action on ST3 Realignment

Yesterday the Sound Transit Board took action to adopt a realignment plan framework for the 2016 ST3 ballot measure, which includes West Seattle light rail. Sound Transit currently faces a $6.5 billion affordability gap, so some projects are being delayed. The framework allows for consideration of adjustment if, for example, additional federal funds are attained.

The Board’s action establishes four tiers, with Tier 1 being the highest priority projects. West Seattle light rail is included in Tier 1, and listed for completion in 2032 for all three stations (Delridge, Avalon, Alaska Junction).

Some scenarios presented to the Board in previous months listed West Seattle outside of Tier 1, and proposed completion in 2035, or building only to the Delridge station in 2035, and to the Alaska Junction in 2038. 2032 was the earliest date for West Seattle presented in any of the scenarios the Board reviewed.

Here’s a link to the Realigned Capital Program for ST3 projects as it stands after the Board’s action. It notes that there have been non-financial delays of one to three years for some projects, principally due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are three potential schedules listed (Earliest Potential, Affordable, and Initial Target—all three list 2032 for West Seattle).

 

Duwamish Waterway Park Expansion

On Tuesday, I joined members of the Public Assets and Native Communities committee in approving Seattle Parks & Recreation’s purchase of the Unity Electric site in South Park, which will eventually expand the Duwamish Waterway Park.  The Duwamish Waterway Park is used for important local and regional festivals that bring together Indigenous people, and South Park’s Latinx, Somali, Vietnamese, and Cambodian community members.

The current tenants hold a six-year lease, but Superintendent Aguirre indicated willingness to move forward more quickly if possible.  You can learn more about the acquisition and the park project here.

Approximately 5,000 feet of Duwamish River shoreline are accessible within a 5-minute walk for South Park residents – but less than 400 feet of that shoreline are public, and only 100 feet of shoreline provide access to the water.  Improved access to open space and particularly to the Duwamish River is one of the highest community priorities for South Park residents, which has been documented in numerous plans including the South Park Green Space Vision Plan, Equity & Environment Agenda, South Park Outside and the Duwamish Valley Action Plan.

I’m grateful to Superintendent Aguirre for bringing this acquisition to Council, and to the countless South Park community members who have shared their vision for shoreline access and public space large enough for community gatherings consistently over the years.  I look forward to this acquisition contributing to that vision.

 

Construction begins at Lowman Beach Park

Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) awarded the construction contract for the Lowman Beach Park Seawall and Beach Restoration project to Mike McClung Construction. The contractor is anticipated to mobilize on site in early September and this project will require partial closure of the park, including closure of beach access, tennis court, and trail access. Public access to a portion of the lawn and playground area will be maintained.  You can learn more about the Lowman Beach Park Seawall project here, and the racket court design project here.

Lowman Beach Park is a neighborhood park on the water located north of Lincoln Park at 7017 Beach Dr. SW. The Lowman Beach Park seawall is failing and will be removed as part of this project. As visitors to the park have seen, the existing seawall is slowly falling over and sliding towards the water. The goal of this project is to remove the remaining seawall and continue the shoreline restoration work that began when the south half of the seawall failed in the mid-1990s.  If you have questions about the project please contact the project manager, Janice Liang, at Janice.Liang@seattle.gov.

Comprehensive Plan Update

Once a year the Council passes a resolution to update the Comprehensive Plan, those plan updates derive from what we call the docketing process. Proposals are submitted by the public and the Seattle Planning Commission and Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) make recommendations to include proposals – or not – in the docketing resolution. If you’re interested in additional background information, the Central Staff Memo here explains the process of updating the Comprehensive Plan, and describes the proposals received by the City and the recommendations of both OPCD, the Planning Commission, and Central Staff.

On Monday the Council unanimously passed the resolution updating the Comprehensive Plan.

One District 1 proposal was to rezone three parcels of single-family zoning to Low-rise 3 or 4 to allow for an affordable housing development for seniors in South Park on 3rd Ave S. This proposal was not recommended to move forward by the Planning Commission, OPCD, nor Central Staff.  The reason is that the Comprehensive Plan update does not typically consider areas smaller than one block in size.  There is strong interest in the vision for this property and recognition that it “aligns with many other City goals related to neighborhood access, building community wealth, and combating displacement.”  There are other approaches that can be pursued to support this vision.

The D1 item moving forward in the Comprehensive Plan update process is an assessment whether the South Park Urban Village meets the criteria for the urban village designation.

Finally, I want to note that the Council took another step forward with Impact Fees with this resolution. The resolution requests that the draft project list for transportation impact fees be updated which is a necessary step in implementing a transportation impact fee program. You can read more about impact fees here.

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