I recently ran into a post on the DiscoverSLU site titled “Things are looking up.”
They seemed pretty excited about the recently commissioned “Environmental Benefit Statement” (EBS) that they had attached to their newsletter. I can’t wait for growth and vitality in South Lake Union so I took a look and, at first glance, was pretty impressed. The first question I asked myself was about “who” had actually commissioned the document and the answer I found (or, didn’t find..) got me to read it a little more critically.
Who commissioned this?
Both the document and the post sited an organization called the “South Lake Union Property Owners Group.” I own a couple properties in South Lake Union and I had never heard of them so I did what anyone might do – I googled ’em. Google disappointed with only 2 results so, loyal Seattle’ist that I am, I Bing’ed but that cut the results in half. I then checked the State and County to see whether I could find a registered entity carrying that name. Nothing. So, back to look more closely at my initial web-search to find what I suspected: I had already accessed both hits! One for the EBS document itself and the other for the post where I originally found it – both carrying the DiscoverSLU URL. Said website, incidentally or otherwise, is run by Vulcan, which either does or does not answer my original question. I guess I may never really know. <snicker> <cough>
So, I started reading the South Lake Union Environmental Benefit Statement…
After just a couple pages I decided this was a document in need of some serious commentary so I began looking for how to post a reply. All I got was this: “Posting to Discover SLU is currently by invitation only. If you’re a fan of South Lake Union or a business owner and you’d like to contribute to this site, please contact us.” (Email link to SoAndSo@vulcan…) As it happens, I’m both a fan of SLU and a business owner – but I’m not in the mood to jump through the hoop!
The problem I face now in trying to summarize my commentary on this document is that I’m not sure where to begin – and whether I would be able stop!
Should I start with inflated and unapproved growth targets that put SLU on pace with being assimilated by Downtown? Do I start by talking into the over-dependency on the idea of “car-free-living” throughout the document and how the use of non-correlated transit illustrations (p7) softens the traffic issues SLU will likely face? Or, possibly how the EBS completely ignores that fact that SLU is currently zoned for mid-rise residential and commercial buildings when it draws correlations for (1, on p6) potential tax revenue by comparing DEIS Alternative 1 to surface-area parking lots, and (2, on p10 and 11) decreased greenhouse gas emissions and more efficient energy consumption by comparing DEIS Alternative 1 to single family homes?
Since it seems that I’ve actually started, I’ll continue with the fact that the EBS actually provided some very nice examples of some great things that have already been done in SLU under current zoning (see the margin of page 11), but continually discounts them by saying the only way to do these things is through the adoption of DEIS Alternative 1. There is also the non-stop references to “the real world” while advocating DEIS Alternative 1 by showing us pretty pictures from Vancouver BC that look nothing like what anything would under any DEIS Alternative, and frequent citations of the outdated and irrelevant 2004 report by Sommers. They talk about how “the tower/podium form typically has reduced shadow impacts” when, throughout a significant portion of SLU, DEIS Alternative 1 prescribes base podiums that are equal to or greater than, existing zoning – which is referred to as the “bulkier alternative” – and then adds towers to them.
Yeah, I could go on, but I’m tired (you may be as well) and I am compelled to stop here.
It seems that under DEIS Alternative 1, using the most aggressive methodologies to arrive at the most optimistic conclusions, everyone in SLU will be doing nothing if not LOOKING UP!
Feel free to read the sales pitch at your leisure. (It’s not too long.)
I’ll leave you with a few pics related to my last point: