The following letter, originally addressed to City Council member Nick Licata, was submitted to the News by Queen Anne Community Council president Ellen Monrad, with the request that it be considered for use as a guest column. To: Nick Licata, president
Seattle City Council
The residents of Queen Anne are faced with an unpopular proposal by the owner of a commercial property within the boundaries of the Upper Queen Anne Residential Urban Village to demolish an existing grocery store as well as a 13-unit apartment building. The proposed development replaces these buildings with a larger grocery store plus a second level with additional retail space and parking with access from the adjacent residential streets.
The proposed development is in direct conflict with vital Queen Anne Community Council planning objectives intended to promote a pedestrian-friendly retail development at the sidewalk and growth in residential development on the upper levels of mixed-use buildings within the Queen Anne Residential Urban Village. We believe mixed-used buildings with street-level retail and upper-floor residential creates the type of active and safe neighborhood shopping district needed on Queen Anne. Concentrating residential density within the Residential Urban Village is the best way for our neighborhood to absorb the growth anticipated by the Growth Management Act and the Seattle Comprehensive Plan. The Queen Anne Plan calls for the growth targets assigned to our community to be concentrated in the Residential Urban Village and to protect existing single-family zoning.
It is our contention that city plan-ners did not anticipate the type of project being proposed when the Urban Village concept was created to address anticipated growth in the city of Seattle. The expectation was that property owners and developers would take advantage of the full potential of their land and would pursue projects which realize the highest and best use of their property (i.e., mixed-use projects that include residential units above and commercial space below). The proposed development does neither.
Since existing zoning does not require new development to conform to Queen Anne Residential Urban Village and Queen Anne Plan objec-tives, we urge the city to investigate ways to require or incentivize prop-erty owners to include a residential component in their buildings and to restrict the development of retail-over-retail buildings. Our request is specific to the Upper Queen Anne Residential Urban Village; however, the concept may be appropriately applied to all Residential Urban Villages struggling to absorb growth without destroying their neighborhood.
To this end, the Queen Anne Community Council requests that the city of Seattle enact appropriate legislation against these projects within the Upper Queen Anne Residential Urban Village so that this process of investigation can begin.
RESOLVED that the Queen Anne Community Council Board of Trustees urgently requests the city of Seattle to enact appropriate legislation as follows:
Banning construction of above-grade retail space with accompanying parking (upstairs strip malls) in the Upper Queen Anne Residential Urban Village;
Banning demolition of residential units in the Upper Queen Anne Residential Urban Village EXCEPT pursuant to a permit to construct no less than the same number of units, OR no less than the same floor area of residential units, OR pursuant to a final order necessary for the imminent protection of public health and safety.
President, Queen Anne
cc: Mayor Greg Nickels; councilmembers Richard Conlin, Sally Clark, David Della, Jan Drago, Jean Godden, Richard McIver, Tom Rasmussen, Peter Steinbrueck; Department of Planning and Development director Diane Sugimura