Land Use No-Brainer: Interbay Upzone

[ Interbay; North is to the right ]

As reported in the Seattle PI today, and in the Seattle Times back in January, pretty much everyone* agrees that upzoning the Interbay district is a good idea. Interbay, which is not an official neighborhood, is a chunk of neglected land just south of the Ballard Bridge, centered around W. Dravis St. to the west of 15th Ave. W.

The Interbay Neighborhood Association has been advocating for an upzone since 2005, and the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) began conducting zoning studies in 2006. And here we are in 2008, still waiting for a decision.

Currently, progress is being held up by DPD, which must produce the environmental impact statement before any further steps can be taken. In other words, red tape. If DPD needs to hire more people to preclude delays such as this, they should be given the budget immediately. Seattle is growing up fast and we can’t afford to miss out on opportunities for dense redevelopment in areas that are perfect for it.

*Everyone except the Magnolia Neighborhood Planning Council, which, echoing the rallying cry of suburbanites across the nation, is objecting to density and building heights. Pardon my rant, but this attitude just gets more appallingly pathetic by the day. Is it possible, living in a city like Seattle, that these people still do not understand the connection between density and sustainability? Would it be unfair to insinuate that in truth, the primary concern of most of these folks is traffic congestion on Dravus?

Well here’s the deal Magnolia Neighborhood Planning Council people: Seattle is densifying as a strategy to help mitigate environmental crisis (perhaps you’ve heard about this on NPR?). Magnolia is not exempt. Yes, it will be harder to get around by car, you can count on that, everywhere in the City. Slowly but surely transit will be improved. Maybe you’ll find yourself taking the bus, or riding a bike, or perhaps even walking to the thriving new neighborhood center in Interbay. You’ll be OK. Better off, even. And so will the City, the region, and the planet.

8 Responses to “Land Use No-Brainer: Interbay Upzone”

  1. pb

    Magnolia residents, like many residents of other Seattle neighboorhoods, feel it is their right to live in a small town…in the middle of a big city.

  2. Matt the Engineer

    It’s always amazed me that we have storage units and low-grade commercial sites on the waterfront here. This would be high-value real estate in any other city. Maybe we have so much water that we don’t appreciate it.

  3. Dan Staley

    My take:

    Great, thanks for your input, MNPC, we’ll take your objections under advisement.

    I move to approve Resolution 2008-xx, amending Interbay zoning to increase FAR and net density by yy%. Second? Aye. etc…motion carries, 9-0. Next on the agenda is…

  4. Andrew

    Seattle is densifying as a strategy to help mitigate environmental crisis (perhaps you’ve heard about this on NPR?).

    Anyone who is telling you that is being disingenuous. If density were about fighting global warming, there would be no parking with those condo towers.

    The reality is that Seattle is densifying because the will of the average person is finally for taller buildings and more people.

    The reality is that climate change is more easily solved by restricting primary or secondary factors causing climate change. Dense housing is at best a secondary factor (fuel is burned to heat houses or to power air conditioners), and planning on putting people in interbay or SLU to fight climate change is attacking a tertiary cause (how were people live effects their commutes which effects their fuel consumption which effects greenhouse gases causes climate change).

    And many of those moving into belltown, slu and other dense neighborhoods are driving their cars from their dense housing to redmond or bellevue.

    I’m for density, but don’t make it what it isn’t.

  5. danb

    Andrew, ULI recently published a report called Growing Cooler that documents how dense development reduces VMTs and thereby CO2 emissions, see my post here . The report doesn’t include the additional emissions reductions associated with the higher energy efficiency of higher density buildings, or catalytic effects of density such as how it makes transit more viable.

    But when I said “environmental crisis” I meant more than just global warming. The State’s Growth Management Act was created to encourage denser development because of the environmental problems associated with sprawl, such as loss of habitat and farmland.

    You are right that there are cultural factors involved in Seattle’s densification, but my sense is that a significant component of the cultural shift towards denser housing is occurring because of increasing awareness of sustainability — it’s becoming fashionable!

    Perhaps I should have said something more like, “Seattle is becoming more dense, and this is helping to mitigate environmental crises…” At the same time, you might want to think about giving Seattle and the State a little more credit for doing the right thing (enacting policy to promote dense development) for the right reasons.

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