Case in point: Beacon Hill, a low density neighborhood minutes from downtown with phenomenal potential for views. They’ve got a new branch library and Jefferson Park is a stone’s throw away. And they’ve got a light rail station set to open in a year. So what is the prospect for [transit-oriented development] in Beacon Hill?
There ain’t no way to turn this neighborhood into a transit-oriented community that can properly support the multi-billion dollar investment [the light-rail station] that has been dropped in its lap without upzoning a good deal of single-family properties. And that is going to be uncomfortable for many people in Seattle. The residents in Beacon Hill have come a long way since the mid-1990’s: at a recent neighborhood charrette some local residents agreed to going up to 85’ at the Red Apple site, and upzoning all along Lander Street to create an east-west neighborhood commercial corridor. This is all a good start, but a long way from what the city, the region, and the transit system needs to happen in this station area. So…how do we get the neighborhood to support a much more significant upzone? And if the neighborhood can’t get there, how does a city infamous for lengthy process and compromise do the upzone anyway?
I agree with the thrust of the post, and the blog -- that urban growth should be concentrated, and that means increasing density, starting near commercial areas and transit hubs. (But, please, could we please have a taste of some big-city amenities, like organic groceries and a restaurant with a wine list, before we get a bunch of ugly-ass eight-story condos?)
Still, as a Beacon Hill resident, I can't help but be put off by some of the condescending commentary. I came away from the post feeling not like "wow, they really make an enticing case for our neighborhood to pursue upzoning by the light-rail station" but more like "we better watch our butts because it sounds like these people want to come down here and give us a spanking!"
Some of the comments:
--This is obscene. They really need to be building AT LEAST 6-8 story buildings around the station.
--Leave the Beacon Hill station shuttered until residents will agree to extensive upzoning in exchange for its opening.
--Maybe even go as far as opening the station, get people used to it, then threaten to take it away unless they upzone.
--Some will come kicking and screaming [to high-density, transit-oriented neighborhoods] when they tire of the gas prices.
--We need to show [Beacon Hill residents] the beauty that density can bring and even let them help design it. Perhaps letting them put in a nice community square near the station (with new Pro-Parks funds?) or a very specific zoning area for where they want commercial vs. residential, or allowing them to put in increased sidewalks or designate specific design criteria for certain areas. Who knows, just allow them to get involved and imagine their own little European vista up on the hillside.