When you hear a City Senior Planner compare the alley situation on what will be the densest residential block in Seattle to a medieval European alley with three and four story tall residences, you know he's lost touch with reality. And that's exactly what the audience heard at the 1st DRB Recommendation for the proposed 50 story multi-use residential tower at 5th & Stewart here in Seattle on August 16.
City Planner: “It’s amazing that cities all over the world [that] they manage to exist for 1000 years... People have been getting around in congested cities by horse and buggy for centuries. There are things that can be accommodated. Maybe they need to do a lot of loading off 5th avenue. Maybe that’s the answer.”
So in response to serious questions about loading docks and alley congestion, the answer is going back to horse and buggies and loading off of 5th Avenue. Really? With that thought process, it’s no wonder that Seattle still has 19th Century alleys with 21st Century demands.
And while the Design Review Board was more concerned about these issues than the Planner*[see below], they still opted to move the project on to the next phase under his purview. What are the odds of getting a workable solution now? Probably not very high, without taking this case to a Hearing Examiner and possibly even to Superior Court, unless the Applicant sees the light and is willing to work with us on a reasonable solution.
Fortunately, the Design Review Board did express some serious concerns and gave explicit instructions to study the cumulative effects of all the projects on this block. We will make sure this is done. Otherwise, the term “Alley Rage” is sure to become a staple of Seattle phraseology.
* “This really does seem like it’s a huge issue”
“It does feel like it’s going to be the most dense block in the city”
“Everyone could have the best intentions and there could be a terrible situation here. We want to have in the notes that we’re requesting the city to analyze this alley further and when you’re reviewing the MUP, the cumulative effects of these projects for loading and parking are considered. The city really needs to review the traffic and how it’s going to work.”
“Need to ask the city to look at cumulative impacts. There is a lot of density here and we want to make sure it’s thoroughly studied by the city.
“If they came up with a departure request, we would have considered it, but they didn’t ask. “We can’t ask them for a departure.”