Saturday, September 6, 2008

Let's build up South Lake Union! Or maybe not.

I've been hearing about the proposed upzoning and redevelopment of South Lake Union for awhile now. It was only recently that I heard how much this was going to suck for Capitol Hill. Building up South Lake Union is fine with me, but if buildings get above a certain height they block views of the Space Needle, Puget Sound, and the Olympics for the entire city.

The alternative that South Lake Union Friends and Neighbors Community Council (SLUFAN) has proposed to alleviate this, pin towers, doesn't work like they'd like us to think it does. All those needly little 400 ft. towers line up just right to block views just the same as chunkier towers would. Needless to say, residents of Capitol Hill and Queen Anne who are in the know are pissed.

It looks like there are some folks in South Lake Union that are pretty pissed too. In a design review meeting with the city last week, they showed their disatisfaction. A member of my neighborhood association attended - he reported that though the city was peeved at the uproar, DPD director Diane Sugimura said that'd she see what she could do about addressing the concerns of angry residents.

The new group made up of these angry residents, Lake Union Opportunity Alliance (LUOA), supports one of the alternate densification plan that was proposed by SLUFAN. The alternate plan calls for much more moderate height increases than SLUFAN's pet proposal, and results in an increase of population that's only a third of that of SLUFAN's pet plan. The moral of the story is: SLU residents don't mind growth, as they're not screwed out of their lovely views.

Interesting note about SLUFAN: The group has 13 board members, only one of which is required to be a neighborhood resident. And the last resident to hold that position, Diane Masson, was kicked off the board after she opposed SLUFAN's pet 400 ft. plan. Huh.

Interesting note about LUOA: This group is mostly made up of retirees who have bought condos in the massive Miranda building, a spanking new condo project on Denny Way. Ironically, the Miranda blocks views for its neighbors in more moderately sized buildings nearby. That said, these moneyed viewmongers might just have the resources and the fury to save Seattle from becoming another faceless and viewless metropolis.

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