Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Seattle Planning Commission - summary of Delridge Neighborhood Discussion

Ron Angeles just showed me the nicely produced Executive Summary of the Seattle Planning Commission's summary of the Neighborhood Plan Check-ins they completed last year. It includes one-page summaries of the discussions in each neighborhood, and a cd-rom that contains PDF reports that are also online. You can view summaries of the Delridge and Westwood/Highland Park meeting discussions; and summaries of the Delridge and Westwood/Highland Park survey responses online as well.

Here are the summaries for Delridge and Westwood/Highland Park.

As of right now, there is no official timeline for updating the neighborhood plans outside of those affected by light rail stations in Southeast. Neighborhood leaders may want to think about what the best timing would be and communicate with the Planning Commission and the City Council. The Delridge District Council is a good place to hold this discussion.

Delridge Summary:

Who did we hear from?
There were 10-15 people at the Delridge discussion table, including several from the Delridge Neighborhood Development Association (DNDA), most appeared to be long-time residents of the area. Several were very concerned with the loss of the elementary school. Everyone seemed pleased by the conversation but perplexed that there wasn’t—or at least there seemed not to be—a regular outlet for these kinds of conversations.

121 people responded to the online questionnaire. Online respondents were equally as likely to have lived in Delridge for less than five years as they were to have lived there for more than five years. A large proportion of online respondents regularly visit the neighborhood; fewer have worked or attended school in Delridge.

What did we hear?
Although some think the neighborhood has declined (townhouse development and more homelessness and crime) most respondents have noticed a marked improvement in the community as mentioned above but would like to see more.
• We need a grocery store.
• Business development has been spotty (at best).
• Transportation is lacking especially east-west.
• Parks and green space are a great improvement.
• Youngstown and Library are great.
• New townhouses have helped the neighborhood!
• New townhouses have destroyed the neighborhood!

What are the similarities between the in-person and online responses?
Although there is a general sense of overall improvement especially in park and green space development (Greg Davis and Longfellow Creek), library and the Youngstown Arts Center there is also broad complaint of a lack of amenities and services in the neighborhood, for example lack of a grocery store and access to fresh foods.

What are the differences between the responses?
There was more mention of townhouse development in the online questionnaires and less mention of the loss of the local elementary school which was a sore point for a number of people at the neighborhood discussion.

In their own words... How has your neighborhoods changed?

Trails are great! Longfellow and West Duwamish Greenbelt trails are no longer garbage dumps, but useable and beautiful. There are more bicyclists in neighborhood now (sharrows, etc.) and I notice much less obvious daytime crime at Riverview playfield (we are almost in Delridge, almost in Highland Park, officially in neither). The presence of SW precinct (and the nice building itself) and, surprisingly, even Home Depot have greatly improved the Delridge/Morgan corner over Kmart and the Dollar store. The Delridge Library is quite nice and some of the townhomes in the corridor look good, but I am dumbfounded by the intended amount of density plus lack of ANY grocery store in the neighborhood; the first one after the West Seattle Bridge down the corridor is QFC 3 1/2 miles South. All the pedestrian focus is great, but not if we can only walk to gas stations. Two successful businesses at the Holden/16th corner have improved that area (Zippy’s and Java Hut) and increased community presence.

We have overbuilt on condos that are not filled. We have way too much traffic and not enough parking. We have drug dealers galore and a new homeless population, that are sometimes overly aggressive and inappropriate in public. (i.e. screaming at people with children, urinating in public, etc.)

There seems to be more community involvement for the bettering of the neighborhood. Vacant buildings/land are being identified and re-purposed. Delridge has not always been known as being a great neighborhood to live in, I think we’re starting to prove that stigma wrong.

Westwood/Highland Park Summary:

Who did we hear from?
There were 168 people who responded online versus 15 who participated in the neighborhood discussion. There was a general optimism about the direction the neighborhoods were headed, with notable appreciation for new parks, trails, and businesses. Additional improvements to the pedestrian and bicycle system would support an already increasing number of people who want to getaround the neighborhood without a car. Respondents recognized that some growth and change in the neighborhoods is good, but the downside is that some of the infill development – especially townhouses – is of poor design, creates on-street parking shortages, and removes a lot of nice trees.

What did we hear?
• “Yuppification” is setting in, but the area is still relatively affordable and new households are moving in and fixing up older houses.
• More pedestrian and bicycle facilities are going in and many people are walking and biking, but traffic safety is a concern.
• Longfellow Creek improvements and trail access – plus other park enhancements - are appreciated.
• Zippy’s!
• New development has its plusses and minuses – loss of trees and open space is a concern, but the vitality of new businesses adds value to the neighborhood.
• The Sealth/Denny Recreation Complex Master plan is not functioning well.
• Public transportation could be improved.

What are the similarities between the in-person and online responses?
• Demographic shift - more families with children are moving in, as are domestic partner households.
• New businesses of higher quality and variety are welcome in the neighborhood.
• Westwood Village upgrades are appreciated.
• Longfellow Creek restoration and access – together with other pedestrian improvements – have been great for the neighborhood.
• Traffic is increasing, and related concerns about pedestrian safety.
• While there is a lot more walking and bicycling going on, there is an ongoing and increasing need for better pedestrian and bicycle facilities and connections.

What are the differences between the responses?
• Comments about townhouses – the design, quality and parking impacts were common online comments, not so much at the open house.
• There was much concern voiced at the open house about the relationship between the School District and the City and the issues related to the redevelopment of the Sealth/Denny site for community uses.
• Several online respondents mentioned that crime was an ongoing concern, but both online and at round-table discussions, people commented on an overall perception of decreased crime in the neighborhood.
• The updated library scored high online but wasn’t mentioned significantly in the round-table discussions.

In their own words... How has your neighborhood changed?

seems to be improving -- more young families with children moving here. Seems safer. I don’t mind telling people where I live quite as much. I’m proud.

HP & Westwood are both becoming more unique, so connection the 2 (in NP) is becoming more difficult. HP more young families & couples — need for more walkable destinations.

...my concerns are: 1. Crime. 2. Traffic, especially on Holden.

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