Monday, January 20, 2014

District Council Boundaries

City Inside/Out: Districting Dilemma

Elections by district means big changes are in store for the Seattle City Council. All nine council members will have to run for re-election in 2015 under a charter amendment approved by voters in November that creates seven council districts and two at-large positions. Will fresh leadership emerge from Seattle’s neighborhoods? What will happen to the city’s 13 neighborhood district councils? Joining host Brian Callanan in the studio are Suzie Burke, co-sponsor of the successful charter amendment; City Councilmember Mike O’Brien; and Laine Ross and Alexis Gallegos, co-chairs of the City Neighborhood Council.


To CNC and district colleagues—

Rumored proposals to reduce the district councils from 13 to 7, and realign their boundaries with the new City Council districts, miss a point that is absolutely central to the basis and purposes of the district councils:  The district councils exist to represent not only those who live in Seattle, but also those who work or do business in Seattle.  The original City Council Resolution 27709 and its successor Res. 28115 (both available on the CNC web site) state in identical terms that “Each neighborhood district shall have a District Council consisting of representatives of all community councils and neighborhood business organizations within the district who wish to participate.”

In the 1987-89 establishment of the number, size and boundaries of district councils, it was recognized that jobs and businesses are not distributed around Seattle in the same proportions as are residents.  Thus, in 1990 the five district councils (Central, Delridge, Downtown, Greater Duwamish, and Lake Union) each included less than 6 percent of the City’s population but had a larger (in some cases a far larger) proportion than that of Seattle’s jobs and businesses.  The other district councils (whose residents ranged from 7 to 14 percent of the City population) had more residents within their boundaries, but most also had much fewer jobs and businesses. 

The rumored proposal to reduce the district councils from 13 to 7 and realign their boundaries to match the equal residential populations of the new City Council districts would greatly disadvantage district councils in the part of their mission to represent those who work or do business in Seattle, as many of these do not live in the district where they do business, or even within the City limits. 

By cutting almost in half the number of district councils, the rumored proposal would also hamper the district councils in reaching out to their residential constituency.  And it would depart from another requirement in Res. 27709 and Res. 28115, namely that the district boundaries “shall correspond to the extent possible with other City service areas such as police, health and parks.”

The proportions of residential population, jobs, and businesses among the district councils have undoubtedly changed somewhat since the district councils’ founding.  Full discussion of the residential and worker/business constituencies of the district councils, and any reduction or realignment, requires an update in the numbers. 

Some years ago in a budget cutting move, the Mayor and City Council eliminated the City Demographer position (formerly in the Department of Planning and Development), but entirely as a result of a multi-year effort by CNC and the district councils, the Mayor and City Council re-established and funded the City Demographer position. CNC and the District Councils particularly had made the case that figures produced by the City Demographer would help neighborhoods to recognize and reach out to their constituencies.  Unfortunately, when the City Demographer position was reinstated, the position was assigned to the Planning Commission, which has used the City Demographer for other purposes.   

I suggest that the CNC or its co-chairs urgently request that the City Demographer produce new breakdowns of the residential population, jobs, and business licenses within the current boundaries of each of the district councils.  We need this information in order to adequately defend and continue the mission of the district councils to represent both those who reside in Seattle and those who work in or do business in Seattle. 

Chris Leman  (206) 322-5463
Lake Union District Council representative to the City Neighborhood Council 


1) Thank you Lane and Alexis for discussing this topic at the East District Council.

2) There was a general feeling at the East District that we were happy with the present boundaries.

3) Given the rumors about City desires to realign the District Council boundaries I would like to suggest this  simple compromise:

a) No District Council Boundary shall cross a City Council District boundary.

b) Within each City Council District the citizens of that District may divide the area into as many District Councils as logic, demographics and geography dictate.

4) Rationale:

a) If a District Council is split between City Council Districts, there will be confusion as to which Councilmember to contact (and each may claim that it is the other one's responsibility).

b) Many of the the City Council district boundaries neatly encompass much or all of a couple of existing District Councils, and the division lines within the City Council District would be easy to decide upon (eg East & Central, Southwest and Delridge, Greater Duwamish and Southeast). Alignments north of the Ship Canal seem less simple and would benefit from citizen discussion. (Overlay  map: )

c) The City Council Districts encompass areas too large for effective District Council representation and typically comprise multiple obvious neighborhood areas.

d) I expect we would finish up with about 14 District Councils.

e) Realignment of District Council boundaries would be an obvious task for the proposed Mayor's neighborhood conference.

( I would happily discuss this at future CNC meetings, but cannot make the Jan 27 meeting )

Andrew Taylor
Chair, East District Council

Monday, January 13, 2014

District Council joins Central Transit Community Coalition

At the 1/13/14 meeting, the East District Council voted to join the Central Transit Community Coalition.

Here is a link to a draft of their letter, summarizing their position, and here is their "information action sheet", summarizing the issues and how you can help.

Here's the draft letter, for those with good eyes. (or use the above link). 

They are also collecting individual names to include in a list on the back of the letter, so anyone who would like to have their name included can also email to give their authorization to include their name.

(Meanwhile:  County moves to save Metro, won’t wait for state )

Monday, January 6, 2014

District Council / City Council boundaries - topic for January District Council meeting

As the letter and map from the City Neighborhood Council indicate, our city is busy trying to integrate the newly mandated City Council boundaries into its assorted ways of slicing and dicing us into bite-sized pieces.

At the January 13th East District Council meeting (6PM at the Capitol Hill library), we will discuss these boundary issues. I (Andrew Taylor) will not be able to attend the January 27th CNC meeting. Do we have a volunteer to attend and present our opinions?

The CNC/District Councils may want to consider developing a list of broadly endorsed recommendations or preferred options to submit to the City as soon as possible. Therefore, it would be most helpful if folks could provide input regarding your District's review process as CNC will further discuss this issue at its January 27th meeting.  

Jan. 14th Multifamily Zone height limits public meeting

(see Capitol Hill blog for explanation and a very vigorous discussion)

Capitol Hill Community Council Officers,

You’ve probably been in contact with Jaisri about this, but I wanted to independently reach out about the community meeting the Department of Planning & Development (DPD) is holding in January about lowrise zone building heights.  We discussed the meeting time over e-mail a few weeks ago.

The January 14th meeting is a citywide meeting to talk about the citywide issue of building height limits in Lowrise Multifamily zones. (Links to meeting info and project website are below.)  We want to hear from residents and others about how buildings built recently in lowrise zones are fitting into neighborhoods.  Capitol Hill has several areas of lowrise zoning. We’re evaluating possibilities for reducing allowable building height.

The meeting will be held on Capitol Hill at Lowell Elementary School at 6:30PM – 8:00PM. Please contact me if you want to discuss, and please pass this information on to members of your group if you would like.


Geoffrey Wentlandt  AICP, LEED AP

Senior Planner
City of Seattle
Department of Planning & Development
p. 206-684-3586

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

November 18 District Council Meeting agenda and notes

Meeting at 6PM on Monday 11/18/13 in Cal Anderson Park Shelterhouse

Notes (from Andrew Taylor)

(Link to draft of revised bylaws)

Bryan Cohen from the Capitol Hill Seattle blog alerted me to a load of DPD project applications described as "row houses":

Today he published a blog article about row house applications. I was unable to find any definition of what a row house is on the DPD website, and asked DPD director Sugimura if she could explain them to us. She quickly replied:
Thanks for asking Andrew.  Mike Podowski said he would be able to do this meeting … he is much, much more familiar with the rowhouse regulations than I!  Thanks. 
So Mike will be at our meeting to describe what DPD means by a "row house" and what the implications might be for us.

Another DPD official will also be talking (bolding by Andrew):

Mike Podowski forwarded me your contact info and suggested I get in touch to see if you have time on the East District Council meeting agenda to discuss the pedestrian zone mapping project I am working on. This project is considering rezoning a variety of areas around the city to promote more walkable neighborhood business districts by adding a Pedestrian Zone designation to an underlying Neighborhood Commercial Zone.  A pedestrian overlay designation is intended to protect an existing pedestrian-oriented retail district, or encourage the development of such a district. In addition, we are considering adding a few additional standards in pedestrian zones, including: overhead weather projection, wider sidewalks, minimum densities and additional street-level uses.

In the East District the changes we are considering would apply to the areas with an existing pedestrian zone designation and any areas being considered for a pedestrian zone designations (see attached map). 


*Note that the timeline will be updated on the project site soon to reflect more time for the entire process.

Aly Pennucci, AICP, LEED Green Associate I Senior Planner

City of Seattle Dept of Planning & Development
206.386.9132 I

Here's a link to the LARGE map she included 

Minutes of recent East District Council meetings

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"Bridging the Gap" transportation projects to be ranked in July

To All,
This is news that relates to Bridging the Gap applications that the East District will be ranking during our July 8th meeting. The way I read this is that we have three underlined projects under the heading East District: 12th Avenue, 19th Avenue, and Madison.
From: Brochet, Art [] On Behalf Of DOT_NSF
Sent: Monday, June 10, 2013 2:11 PM
Cc: Divina, Ted (; Dumpys, Christa; Bush, James; Ko, Karen; Lock, Stan; Louie, Steve; Mattson, Rob; Pitre, Yun; Pottharst, Ed; Durkan, Tim; Whittemore, Thomas
Subject: 2013 NSF Application Studies

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is pleased to announce the completion of the preliminary evaluations of the 2013 Neighborhood Street Fund applications selected by Seattle’s District Councils for consideration. 
You may remember that 68 applications were received city-wide and that each District choose three for preliminary project analysis and cost estimates.   Whether you submitted an application, supported a proposed improvement or helped to select which projects moved forward, you may be interested in seeing the resulting studies.
Project information sheets for the District Council selected projects are now posted on the as downloadable pdfs, grouped together for each District.  (Please note that when printing the PDFs they are in 11” x 17” format.  The pages may be printed on a 8.5” x 11” printer by selecting “Tile” in your print dialog box instead of selecting “Fit to Page”, but are probably better viewed on line.)