“This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” – Frederick Douglass, abolitionist, 1857.
I am starting to hear from neighborhood organizers that we need a policy we can fight for.
We have been on the defensive: The Mayor, the City Council, and the Department of Neighborhoods are running a well-organized effort to impose the HALA agenda on the city. The developers – both for-profit and nonprofit – anticipate a payday when the new policy becomes law. The lobbyists at “Seattle For Everyone” and the Sightline Institute are already on a billionaire’s payroll to neutralize community input.
Do the neighborhoods hate progress? No. But we demand that it be managed carefully, with adequate respect for the people who live here, as well as for the “newcomers” – the highly-paid, young, predominantly male tech workers who are flooding the market with their need for housing.
What, specifically, do we demand? What policies do we want to see implemented as the city fashions its response to the housing crisis caused by the growth of high-tech industry in the urban core?
In a word: Livability. The Mayor’s program is called the “Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda,” but nowhere in the HALA Report is “livability” defined, and nowhere is it addressed except in the most general terms.
Livability: The “L” in HALA is Silent
Sandy Motzer – Chair of the Lake City Neighborhood Alliance – created a presentation that shows in concrete terms what “livability” means, what it looks like, and what is required to achieve it as the city grows. The presentation – The “L” in HALA is Silent – is well-constructed and is full of illustrative photographs. To see and download the PDF of 18 slides, click on the image to the right.
Embedded in Sandy’s presentation is a policy platform that neighborhoods throughout the city can adopt and fight for. We have extracted the policy points into an outline, which you can see below (click “Continue…”) and download here as a PDF.
We demand concurrency between growth and livability: Plans and resources to maintain and expand livability must be in place before growth is authorized. We demand a strong working relationship between neighborhoods and the City on growth and livability. We demand respect for democracy by the City government and the gigantic financial powers that are shaping the future of the city we call home.
Neighborhood Policy Demands for Livability
The “L” in HALA is Silent
a presentation by Sandy Motzer, Chair, Lake City Neighborhood Alliance – April 8, 2016
- In the HALA Report, Livability was neither defined nor addressed.
- Balance is needed between Growth, Affordability, and Livability.
- For many North End neighborhoods, Livability indices do not meet current population needs.
What is Livability?
- Personal Security: Stable living situation; Stable, living-wage employment
- Public Safety: More Seattle Police Department officers – on patrol and on the street; Sufficient Seattle Fire Department personnel and equipment for increased density and building heights
- Health and Environment: Easy access to full-service Community Center with programming, amenities, and hours the meet community needs; Across-the-life-span programming and activities; Access to healthy foods; Parks, green space, playfields, beach access, and off-leash dog areas; Trees and tree canopies; Protection and stewardship of natural areas and watersheds
- Walkability and Pedestrian Safety: Sidewalks, where they do not exist; Greenways; Safe routes to schools; Safe intersections and crosswalks for all; Enforced speed limits; Maintenance and repair of street infrastructure – crosswalks, curb cuts, street shoulders, drainage, etc.; Equity among neighborhoods
- Transportation: Safe, accessible, affordable public transportation; Don’t eliminate parking – Not everyone can take public transportation!
- Schools, School Capacity, and Infrastructure: More schools needed now; Eliminate unplumbed portables and sub-standard schools; Eliminate the competitive process for funding of street safety project around schools via the Neighborhood Park and Street Fund
- Public Services for Sanitation: Adequate frequency of trash/recycling/compost pickup; Sufficient containers; Dog-waste bag stations on streets and in parks
- Healthy Buildings: Neighborhood-compatible size and design; Integrated multiple uses; Altered heights to avoid “street canyons”; Enforced maintenance
- Vibrancy: Streetscapes promoting interaction; Protect small businesses from displacement
- Insist on concurrency between growth and livability: Developer impact fees for schools, parks, utilities, and transportation to mitigate costs
- Coordinate growth policies and plans with stakeholder City departments and Seattle Public Schools
- Develop a Livability Checklist: Influenced and approved by the community; In consultation with experts in architecture, urban planning, and public health and safety (the UW is a resource)
- Strengthen working relationships between neighborhoods and the City on growth and livability