UW Phase III Passes

It is with great regret that I inform you that the City Council voted 7 to 1to approve the Vulcan/UW Text Amendment for the increase in height for Phase III.  Voting ‘no’ was Nick Licata. Bruce Harrell abstained as his wife is on the UW Board of Regents.  With this action, that becomes the law.  Tom Rasmussen offered a compromise amendment that would limit the height to 105’ (compared to the currently allowed 85’), but it was defeated 6 to 2 (Licata and Rasmussen voted in favor).  This would match the zoning directly south of the block.  We have stated that we would support this compromise which seemed like a win-win.   Sally Bagshaw sponsored some amendments that cut the height limit from 125’  to 120’ and added requirements for some pedestrian amenities, open space and public art.  These passed and marginally helped.

On behalf of the LUOA Board, I want to express my appreciation for all the support we received from you.  So many came to our meetings in September 2009 (about 50) and January 2010 (about 90).  In addition, an amazing number of you emailed the Council.  I have heard that the Council has received for over 30 emails from you in opposition to the Text Amendment by Friday morning and more since.  It is disappointing that efforts and rational arguments of ordinary citizens did not carry the weight that power and money of Vulcan and UW did.  I hope the LUOA information has been useful to you and that you found it to be factual.

But we must carry on and defend the interests of those of us who work, live and worship in SLU, as even more significant decisions will be made over the next year on the future of SLU.  The next big activity is the Environmental Impact Study (EIS) on South Lake Union rezoning to include greater height, density and development potential.  The City will be holding a meeting on this on January 26th, starting at 5:30PM in the Seattle Unity Church at 200 8th Avenue at John Street.  At that meeting the City will brief us of the their study plans and alternatives, and you can express your views.  We, the LUOA Board, will be there representing our views.  We are very concerned with the Alternatives the City has selected and disappointed that they have not selected the Alternative that LUOA suggested, which has been supported overwhelmingly by citizen comments.   Please come and make your own decision and then express your opinion on what the future of SLU should be.  Make your voice heard.

In closing, I’d like to thank you again all for your support and your action.  I truly regret that our strategy did not prevail.  We all knew it would be an uphill battle, when the City Staff, Vulcan, and UW were aligned against us.  I naively thought that logic, persistence and Citizen participation, along with responsible, civil behavior would prevail.  Apparently I was wrong.  We must do all of that and more during 2010.


John Pehrson, President
Lake Union Opportunity Alliance


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by joshuadf on January 12, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    Thanks for your work, although I don’t feel quite as much regret–I think the retail and pedestrian improvements are a very big plus. It’s obviously not a complete victory, but I don’t think the result is a “loss” either.

    Councilmember O’Brien’s email reply to me (and the over 30 others I’m sure) said Bagshaw’s amendment was “a big part” of his vote.


  2. Posted by David on January 26, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    You know, I think Citizen involvement did play a part in what happened with the City Council vote.

    Because I for one, emailed the City Council in support of increasing building heights and I know of at least 3 other folks who did the same.

    In time, I can’t help but think that you’ll come to realize how vital UW is for the neighborhood, and how many jobs it creates for Seattle citizens.


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