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LUOA meeting on proposed Lake Union tower heights a success

January 6th, 2010 by Thea

Yesterday we reported that the city is considering upping the building heights to allow for towers up to 300 feet tall in our neighboring community of South Lake Union. The Lake Union Opportunity Alliance held a meeting last night to rally support for their alternative proposal and hopefully push the city to add this plan to the pool of neighborhood growth programs for City Council to vote on (one of the main issues with this proposal concerns the rezoning of UW’s Phase III Medical Center, which City Council will be voting on on Monday, January 11). LUOA board member Diane Masson, who is hoping to gain support from the Queen Anne community, reported that the meeting, which was advertised little in advance, had 90 attendees, including three City Council members and one representative for another member who couldn’t make it. She wrote,

Sally Clarke said LUOA is well respected and the City wants to connect with us whenever they have questions in the neighborhood.  Tom Rasmussen announced a compromise is on the table for UW Phase III text amendment that we oppose (it will upzone potentially 6 blocks to 125 right next to the lake).  If a compromise goes through it will be a victory for LUOA, we are waiting to hear what it is.

The city’s three Environmental Impact Study reports were presented at the meeting, however LUOA hopes to get their plan on the docket, as many residents believe 300 foot towers would not be conducive to vibrant pedestrian experience next to Lake Union at the base of Queen Anne hill. Masson wrote,

I asked the City two simple questions. First, “Your utopia of SLU sounds great and we all want to live there, but I don’t see families gathering and people jogging down the street next to 300 ft buildings. There will be no sunlight on the street.” Second, “If 85% of the public through oral and written comments supported the LUOA alternative, why did the City not include the LUOA alternative as one of the three alternatives?” Jim Holmes for the City said, “that is a good question.”

The Department of Planning and Development will be holding another public meeting on Tuesday, January 26 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Seattle Unity Church Fellowship Hall, 200 8th Ave N, to review and comment on the draft framework and learn about the revised EIS alternatives. LUOA is encouraging anyone invested in Lower Queen Anne and South Lake Union to attend and give their opinion.

“We have our foot in the door and need to push it open all the way with emails, emails and emails.  LUOA will post next steps to take with emails in the next week,” Masson said. “Be there to voice your concerns. The City counts how many people attend.”

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Lake Union Opportunity Alliance holding public meeting tonight to discuss proposed tower heights

January 5th, 2010 by Thea

Being the oldest neighborhood in Seattle, Queen Anne-ers may sometimes forget what it’s like living in a community that is still very much in development. Our neighbors just southeast of us in South Lake Union, on the other hand, know exactly what it’s like. The Lake Union Opportunity Alliance has been fighting for months to persuade the city to reconsider current plans to allow 160 ft to 300 ft towers to be built between Westlake and Aurora. They’re holding a meeting tonight (apologies for the late notice – we just found out) from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Seattle Unity Church, located at 200 8th Ave N, and are asking the Queen Anne community for support.

“This is happening quite quickly,” wrote LUOA board member Diane Masson. “If Queen Anne does not speak up now, it will be over before we know it.”

As part of South Lake Union’s Neighborhood Plan the Department of Planning and Development has been looking into ways to height and density to bolster the neighborhood’s growth. In September 2008 the DPD proposed three alternatives for increasing height development in SLU that were evaluated in an Environmental Impact Study. However, according to LUOA, none of these alternatives are an acceptable option for South Lake Union and most of the public comments on the plans, the majority of which were against this kind of growth, were ignored. Masson writes,

What about SLU streets by Lake Union becoming wind tunnels like downtown? How is this going to affect sailing on the lake?  SLU will become an extension of downtown with two towers per block.  NO more sunlight on the sidewalks and people that depend on food from the Cascade Neighborhood P-Patch will get no sunlight to grow food. SLU park will have shade from 125 ft – 300 ft buildings across the street to the South blocking the sunshine most of the year. Will a family want to move to SLU if kids can’t run and play in the sun at their local park? Now let’s talk views.  Almost all of Capitol Hill will have their views of the Space Needle and Sound taken away by a cement wall 160 ft to 300 ft tall from Mercer to Denny. Eastlake residents, houseboats residents and Wallingford could lose their view of the Space Needle. I-5 is supposed to be view corridor to the Lake and to the Space Needle.  What about our forgotten Seniors at Mirabella?  Are they going to be surrounded by tall buildings that will block light for seniors who have limited vision?

The issue, according to Masson, is very complicated, which explains why it is hard to find comprehensive explanations in the media. The plan deals with both the rezoning of UW’s Phase III Medical Center, which City Council will be voting on on Monday, January 11, and the new draft EIS Alternatives. For more information, check out the LUOA website, the South Lake Union Neighborhood Plan,

DPD will be holding another public meeting on Tuesday, January 26 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Seattle Unity Church Fellowship Hall, 200 8th Ave N, to review and comment on the draft framework and learn about the revised EIS alternatives.

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