Martin Henry Kaplan – an architect who lives in Queen Anne and who is a former member of the Seattle Planning Commission – yesterday filed an appeal of the environmental “Determination of Non-Significance” attached to Mike O’Brien’s backyard-cottages legislation. Mr. Kaplan is chair of the Land Use Review Committee of the Queen Anne Community Council.
In an email June 6 to neighbors and activists city-wide, Kaplan said:
Today, I along with the support from the Queen Anne Community Council, filed a formal appeal of the SEPA Declaration of Non-Significance (DNS) with the Office of the Hearing Examiner, and it is vested. The Hearing Examiners Office informed me that they are extremely backed up and it might be 3 months before their preliminary meeting would take place. That is good news as it affords us enough time to complete the work necessary to successfully defend the appeal.
The remedy I advanced within the appeal included reversing the DNS and requiring the city to complete a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) instead. In addition, I addressed the need for Councilmember O’Brien and the city to honestly communicate with all impacted communities and those citizens who reside within every single-family zone, hold true public meetings and hearings throughout Seattle to gain transparent insight and opinion, engage unbiased experts to analyze the true impacts, and honor the important partnerships and respect with all Seattleites and their neighborhoods.
We have not seen the appeal, but we welcome this step as an assertion of the authority of neighborhoods to participate fully in the planning process that determines their future.
In two previous official letters from the Queen Anne Community Council – one on HALA and one on the Backyard Cottages DNS – Mr. Kaplan expressed outrage at the City’s perversion of the public process:
[M]any in our communities remain disheartened by the absence of real dialogue; being faced instead with a one-way sales and marketing pitch. Over decades of neighborhood and city-wide planning, Seattleites typically expect to participate in public meetings that seek out and respect community discussion and considerate input; to listen and learn from all sides, which has been the best way to reach respectful, hopeful and inspirational outcomes. This valued tradition of civic process has so far been absent.
Our neighborhoods have been essentially outcast from contributing to the careful review and crafting of these extraordinarily significant and bold changes to the land use policies throughout Seattle. Instead of benefitting from decades of careful and committed neighborhood planning by thousands of engaged and committed Seattleites, we are now being sold ‘one-size-fits-all’ homogenized planning recommendations that ignore the diverse foundations and related planning experiences of our 34 unique communities. Our Neighborhood Plans, community Design Guidelines, Comprehensive Planning and other partnership bottom-up planning commitments developed over decades, have been completely overlooked without respect for the many important and unique values of our neighborhoods.
We believe the City’s aggressively dismissive attitude toward the neighborhoods reflects a deliberate political strategy. Commercial developers and their urbanist acolytes see potential profits in single-family zones, if only the people who live in those zones can be robbed of their political power. Thus, neighborhood residents have been smeared as privileged, exclusionary racists, simply because they own their home. A massive lobbying campaign has targeted the neighborhoods, and public input has been reduced to stage-managed “focus groups.”
We look forward to supporting Mr. Kaplan, and to helping the community come together to fight the self-interested and dangerous forces who dominate the City government.