Jul 16, 2009

Act now to encourage sustainability in neighborhood planning

Calling all Seattle neighborhoods! We have a unique opportunity to send a consistent message about the importance of sustainability to our neighborhoods!

The city of Seattle Department Of Neighborhoods and Department of Planning and Development are working on updating neighborhood plans in those neighborhoods that have light-rail stations. In addition, they are working with neighborhoods outside of the light-rail station areas to gather information for Status Reports, or “snapshots” of the current condition of these neighborhoods relative to the 1990s vision. The Status Reports will help inform decisions about where and how to update Neighborhood Plans in the future.

There are two ways you can participate NOW.

1. You can attend a meeting in your neighborhood, held throughout July

2. You can submit your thoughts via on on-line survey. See this webpage: www.seattle.gov/dpd...

This is a great opportunity for Seattle residents to bring sustainability to the forefront of these discussions. Below are the four questions included in the online survey, and some suggestions for how you may want to answer for your own neighborhood. These are suggestions from Sustainable Seattle, and we definitely encourage each person to answer individually. But we also believe in the power of numbers and a consistent message.

Online Survey Questions with Suggestions for Possible Answers:

1. How has your neighborhood changed in the last decade?
Sustainable Seattle (S2) suggestions:
  • Development of a SCALLOPS or other sustainability-minded group and development of a sustainability consciousness among individuals
  • Note changes to the sustainability of your neighborhood, including in topics like
  • Clean and Sufficient Water (Is there more or less impervious surface? How is stormwater managed?)
  • Habitat (Are there more native plantings? Has tree coverage changed?)
  • Climate Protection (Has vehicle usage changed? What about electricity consumption?)
  • Transportation (Is there improved walkability in your neighborhood? Is there good access to transit and bike routes?)
  • Responsible Land Use (Has there been an increase in density? Is this increase leading to an appropriate level of density to support local business, a walkable neighborhood, and transit access? Is a good percentage of the land used for public amenities?)
  • Responsible Resource Use (Are businesses and households using more or less energy? Is your neighborhood on the way to achieving the kind of energy reductions needed to protect against climate change? Do all households use efficient appliances, have weatherized homes, and practice conservation?)
  • Affordable Housing (Would you call housing affordable? Are there diverse housing options for various population types like seniors, student, young professionals, low and moderate income people, etc?)
  • Food Systems (Are there opportunities for people to grow their own food? Is there access to fresh and local food?)
  • Quality Educational Opportunities (Are there good and accessible educational opportunities for children and adults in the neighborhood? Are there good local schools?)
  • Healthy Living Choices (Are there opportunities for physical activity?
  • Community Involvement (Are there opportunities to make change in the neighborhood? Are citizens involved in local decision-making and place-making?)
  • *** For information about regional trends in any of the above categories, visit www.b-sustainable.org.

2. What changes are you pleased about? What changes are you dissatisfied about?
S2 Suggestions: Remark on the same above list.

3. How well are the Vision and Key Strategies being implemented? Are they still priorities?
S2 Suggestions: As for how well the Vision and Strategies are being implemented- this differs neighborhood by neighborhood and is up to your own discernment. As an example, in the Aurora/Licton Springs neighborhood, I commented how the Vision and Strategy of providing a robust neighborhood-focused commercial zone has not really been implemented in any way. I also noted that there have been some improvements in biking and walking connections around the neighborhood, but there need to be more. As for whether they are still priorities, reflect on: Do the vision and Key Strategies contain a commitment to sustainability? Will they lead to improvement in any of the above-mentioned areas of sustainability?

4. What should there be more focus on? What should there be less focus on? What are the important gaps?
S2 Suggestions: There should be increased focus on targeted strategies to improve neighborhood-scale sustainability- including in areas of importance like those mentioned above in Questions 1 and 2- such as habitat, climate protection, sustainable transportation, walkability, and affordable and diverse housing options. It is helpful to be as specific as possible. As an example, in the Aurora/Licton Springs neighborhood, I commented that there needs to be improved focus on reducing driving, reduction in energy use, and reduction in garbage production, among others. There should be less focus on… this depends on each neighborhood plan and your own opinion. The important gaps, again, may include those areas related to sustainability. I identified the lack of the word sustainability, and the lack of specific strategic actions to improve sustainability, as major gaps.

1 comment:

  1. I can host (a) conversation Cafe(s) (preferably multiple) on these topics in late September/early October, after I help Cecile Andrews start Sustainable Phinney... would that still be in time?

    If needed sooner, I could merge them into our September 19th Sustainable Phinney blastoff...

    If needed now, I could just get 8 people I know together in August.