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Councilmember Strauss and Stakeholders Praise Next Steps for the Ballard Ave Café Street 

SEATTLE  Councilmember Dan Strauss (District 6 – Northwest Seattle) celebrated the next steps for the Café Street on Ballard Ave NW between 20th and 22nd Avenues NW, also known as the Ballard Ave Café Street. Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) officially launched a Ballard Avenue Mobility and Access Improvements website as they work to streamline operations on Ballard Avenue. During the Covid-19 pandemic, both restaurants and retail spaces built curbside dining and shopping space within the roadway on Ballard Avenue using the Safe Starts Permit Program.  

The Café Street on Ballard Avenue is being used as the pilot to create citywide policies. The program is broken into three segments: short-term improvements, interim policies and allowances, and long-term permanent polices, standards, and design. The mobility and access Improvements are the implementation of the short-term improvements developed during the design charrette that was hosted by Councilmember Strauss in August of 2021. This is the product of a collaborative effort between SDOT, Councilmember Strauss, Ballard Alliance, Ballard Farmers Market, and local small businesses.  

“These improvements provide us a real opportunity to increase vibrancy, give business owners the ability to use their entrepreneurial skills, increase pedestrian safety, improve parking, and allow for the safe movement of cars and trucks. These advances are a product of the design charrette I hosted last year, and they’ve queued us up for the next step: another design charrette focusing on the structural integrity and aesthetic of pergolas and structures.” said Councilmember Dan Strauss. “These changes formalize how people and vehicles use the space on Ballard Avenue with the focus on safety – making this street a safer place to shop, dine, drive, park, walk, bike, and deliver the freight we depend on.”  

“The Ballard Ave Street improvements are a great example of what’s possible when the City partners with local communities,” said Kristen Simpson, Seattle Department of Transportation Interim Director. “These changes help make the street experience better for everyone, whether you’re a diner going out for a bite to eat, a neighbor walking or rolling along the sidewalk, a vendor delivering products, or a business providing new options to customers.” 

“The reconfiguration of Ballard Avenue was absolutely critical in allowing our restaurants and boutique shops to survive during the pandemic,” said Ballard Alliance Executive Director Mike Stewart. “As we move toward a post-pandemic environment, this redesign is a perfect opportunity to pilot these interim concepts and create an even more vibrant street that benefits shoppers, diners, business owners and property owners.” 
 

“On behalf of the farmers at the Ballard Farmers Market, we look forward to the proposed changes being made to Ballard Avenue,” said Doug Farr, Executive Director of the Ballard Farmers Market. “The new improvements will greatly enhance the safety for our community without having a negative impact on the farmers market on Sundays. We appreciate Councilmember Strauss, the City of Seattle, Ballard Alliance and the businesses on Ballard Avenue for working to make this a win-win for all parties involved.” 

“The continued sharing of ideas for implementation for the outdoor structures has been a great asset to any business in Ballard, which are the main driving forces behind me emailing these building plans to 60+ people across the city after building the first structure outside of the Ballard Cut in November of 2020,” said Tommy Patrick, owner of The Cut, Parrish NW and Bunsoy.  “The partnerships of SDOT, the farmers market and the Ballard Alliance have helped to make this a reality, and this neighborhood has seen unprecedented prosperity because of this concept.  We have come through a significantly difficult time with a better view of togetherness, community, and safety. We are humbled to have been a part of this from the beginning, and now that the conversation has grown, we are very excited to see where all this can go.” 

Ballard Avenue is the perfect place to test the model for the city because it is not a through street, and SDOT was able to give Ballard Avenue greater flexibility for their outdoor dining and retail spaces due to the additional street space. Through SDOT’s public engagement, recent changes have reduced traffic, increased vibrancy on our sidewalks and has expanded accessibility for local business deliveries. The changes being made now include clarifying load zones and parking areas, improving sidewalks, installing new signage, removing redundant signs, and formalizing one-way traffic flow. This pilot allows the City to test ideas, get feedback, and then create polices for citywide implementation. 

The next step in this program is another design charette, hosted by Councilmember Strauss, to reflect on what has worked well, what needs to be revised for the interim improvements and to create structural and aesthetic standards for pergolas and structures. For more information about the process, history, and what the next steps are going to look like, both SDOT and Councilmember Strauss have published blog posts with additional details about the project. SDOT and partners will continue to conduct outreach to Ballard residents and businesses through the end of spring, with implementation beginning in the summer of 2022. 

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