Montlake Community Club
(by Bruce Balick, Club President, 1999-2000)
Thanks for taking the time to see what the Montlake Community Club (MCC) is doing. We'll describe the Club's present agenda after a brief introduction.MONTLAKE ARTERIAL TRAFFIC CONGESTION
The Community Club's agenda is dominated by ongoing activities and sweeping issues that affect the entire neighborhood. However, the Montlake Community Club is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization. This official status restricts the scope of our activities.
Here is a table of contents of the current (Feb 2000) activities and interests of the Club. They are listed in order of appearance below.
(You can click on a name to jump right to a synopsis of the activity or issue.) The issues evolve and our positions on the issues change. We do our best to be sure the contents of this page are current. However, it is always best to speak with a Club Officer for the latest information.
Montlake Arterial Traffic Congestion
SR-520 and its Local Impacts
Arboretum Master Plan
University of Washington Master Plan
Seahawks Use of Husky Stadium
City Studies of Arterial Congestion
Montlake Branch Library
Montlake Playfield & Community Center
U. Village Expansion
University Urban Village
The MCC does not have either the resources or the mandate to resolve disputes between neighbors, to assist applications for traffic calming devices at particular intersections, or to advocate the placement of traffic signs. These problems are best handled at the block level.
If you would like to participate in the Club's activities and issues, just attend the appropriate general meeting or speak with any of our volunteer Officers or Board members. The MCC tries to encourage informed participation, and we often offer valuable "on the job training" experience for novices of any age or background.
Traffic volumes along Montlake Blvd., especially between Montlake Place E, across the Montlake Bridge, and northward to U Village and beyond have been growing for many years. Some of this is due to growth and the increasing numbers of vehicles headed for the U.W. campus. Some of it is the result of densification of regions north of U.W., the expansion of University Village Shopping Center and other institutions, and the activities at the former Sand Point Naval Station. Explosive growth of the Eastside communities and suburban job sites such as Microsoft also contribute to our problems thanks to the on/off ramps at the Montlake/Lk. Washington interchange of SR-520.SR-520 AND ITS LOCAL IMPACTS
How to manage Montlake's arterial traffic congestion has challenged everyone who has studied the issues. Club efforts to force the City and institutions such as U.W. to control their traffic growth have not met with much success, although the U.W.'s commuter program has been a strong plus and a model.
The Montlake Community Club adopted formal transportation policy in a resolution of April 14 1993 and reaffirmed this policy in 1999. This policy is multi faceted. It includes the principle of moving people, not vehicles; it opposes any further congestion on Montlake's streets and any additional conversion of land into roads, etc. Click here to see the full policy.
Montlakers Peter Staten and Jim Kearnes have consistently studied this issue and have developed many of the Club's positions.
Throughout 1998 and 1999 WSDOT funded the "Trans Lake Washington Study" aimed at searching for "[a] 'set of reasonable and feasible solutions' to cross-lake mobility". Their final report, which includes very preliminary consideration of various options, appears on the Trans Lake Washington Study web site. Montlakers Jean Leed and Maynard Arsove of Montlake participated in the Study, although neither officially represented Montlake. The Study proposed certain principles for regional changes for further study, including the possible addition of new HOV lanes on SR-520.ARBORETUM MASTER PLAN
Although the Study considered several specific plans, they were unable to clearly assess their full regional impacts, both beneficial and contentious. Therefore they did not propose a specific plan for change. Rather they listed several ideas for further study. These ideas were not carried through to a design, and thus it is difficult for the MCC to determine how the concepts endorsed for further study by the Study would affect us.
Any changes to SR-520 are controversial here in Montlake. The general MCC position, which has been developed by Maynard Arsove, Bruce Balick, Jim Kearnes, Jean Leed, and Peter Staten, with input form the Club, is aligned with our traffic policy and a resolution of the City Council (No. 29574) stating the City's minimum standards for acceptability for capacity improvements on Trans-Lake corridors. However, until specific designs are available, we cannot take a very specific position.
Our general position was summarized in an official Club-approved MCC letter to Ms. Renee Mongelas, Director, Office of Urban Mobility, WSDOT. The letter states how we will evaluate any proposed changes toSR-520. It also contains suggestions and new ideas for further analysis by design staff.
Now that the Trans Lake Washington Study is officially complete, the study group has dissolved. Further work is being led by the Office of Urban Mobility. See their web site for the latest news and information. Of particular interest are innovative plans for "Transportation Demand Management".
The Governing Board of the Washington Park Arboretum has prepared a draft Master Plan for the future of the Arboretum. The draft document and various public comments can be found through the Seattle Parks Dept web page for the Arboretum Master Plan. Further discussion can be found on the Arboretum's Arboretum Home Page including links to U.W. Dept. of Urban Horticulture and the Arboretum Foundation.UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON MASTER PLAN
The MCC has strenuously objected to certain provisions of the proposed Master Plan. We have joined other neighborhoods in the Arboretum Park Preservation Coalition in forming an action group to try to force modifications to the Arboretum draft Master Plan, which will soon be starting into its Environmental Impact Study phase. Click here for the complete text of the MCC resolution.
The University of Washington is embarking upon a new Master Plan that will set guidelines for campus development from 2003 through 2012. The plan is highly evolutionary. The U.W. actively maintains a Master Plan Home Page with the latest details.SEAHAWKS USE OF HUSKY STADIUM
The University of Washington is a huge neighbor, and its growth has a plethora of direct and indirect effects on the Montlake Community. It is also one of the primary employment centers of the region, and a crucial investment in the future of the State and its residents. The Master Plan covers many facets of the University's changes in the upcoming decade, including the types and locations of new buildings, preservation of green space, and parking and traffic of the student and staff commuters to the campus.
The MCC has adopted a position of active interest in all traffic and parking issues in our neighborhood. Our representatives to the City-University Community Advisory Cmte (CUCAC), Ken Fales and Lee Kolb, meet regularly with the University and surrounding communities to review the evolving Master Plan. The MCC has written a letter which expresses our concerns about the past ten years of traffic, and highlights areas which we feel need attention in the next Master Plan. A copy of our letter can be found by clicking here.
The Seahawks asked to use Husky Stadium for two years in 2000 and 2001 (10-12 games per year) while their new stadium is under construction. The University (owners of Husky Stadium) and the City of Seattle (which issues use permits) have both agreed. The City of Seattle has required that the Seahawks prepare a Traffic Management Plan (TMP) for use on game days. The Seahawks have formally proposed such a plan to the City, and the City Council accepted it unanimously in November 1999.CITY STUDIES OF ARTERIAL CONGESTION
Bruce Balick of the MCC worked closely with the Seahawks and other neighborhoods in developing the TMP. The MCC submitted a list of 40 suggestions, almost all of which were accepted. Our position has been that we want effective traffic and safety control, including unimpeded access for emergency vehicles to our homes, strict controls and enforcement of parking restrictions, post-game street clean up, mitigation of problems for local business owners, and neighborhood patrols to enforce all of the TMP's many provisions. We have reason to expect that the TMP is going to be slightly better than that used for Husky games, with periodic reviews of performance. The Seahawks have stated that they intend to continue to accommodate our needs as best they can.
In 1999 the MCC proposed that traffic counts on Montlake Blvd. be used to determine when provisions of the Growth Management Act must be implemented by the City. The GMA requires various measures, including the denial of building permits and the improvement of transit services, if arterial traffic exceeds 120% of "capacity". Peter Staten, Jim Kearnes, and Roger Leed of Montlake proposed changes to City (through a proposed amendment to existing standards) policy in behalf of the MCC to insure that the GMA apply to the Montlake Blvd. near the Montlake Bridge.MONTLAKE BRANCH LIBRARY
By an 8-1 vote of City Council in November 1999 the MCC appeal was defeated. (Councilmember Nick Licata was the only supporting vote.) Councilmember Richard Conlin, who forwarded the measure to the entire Council, recommended against adoption and stated "...[T]he City would be more likely to have to deny development permits, increase the capacity of the bridge, or reduce volumes on the bridge under City and State law requirements." Jim Kearnes, who attended the Council session, wrote an excellent article in the January 2000 FLYER on the outcome.
Councilmember Conlin also recommended an extensive area traffic study in lieu of approval of the MCC appeal. The MCC intends to participate as one of many communities if and when such a study is funded. The cost of the study was not included in the latest City budget. For now the MCC will do little more than push for the study, and to insure that serious measures of traffic mitigation be implemented.
Seattle voters passed a "Libraries for All" bond issue that, among other things, provides $2.6 million for a new Montlake Branch library with a floor space of 5000 square feet, adequate parking, and expanded library hours. As described on the Montlake Library For All web site, the hope is to construct a building on a site, both of which would be owned by the Seattle Public Library. This almost certainly means a change of location from the present branch library.MONTLAKE SCHOOL
Of course, the total construction budget is fixed. Hence land acquisition cost competes for the same funds as building construction. Land prices in Montlake are a serious threat to a conveniently located location with room for parking.
The MCC Board has appointed a committee chaired by Ellen Judson to work constructively with the library's project staff. Our interests consist of the location of an accessible new site, the appearance of the building, and neighborhood traffic and parking. We are also very concerned that the library remain a central part of our community with convenient access for all residents.
The Montlake School is as much an icon of Montlake as the Montlake Bridge. And many of our children (and adults) who live here were students at the school. As a neighborhood we have fought vigorously and often to maintain the viability of the school, and with excellent success.MONTLAKE PLAYFIELD & COMMUNITY CENTER
Vigilance, cooperation, and advocacy by everyone in Montlake is essential for the future of the School. Although the Club defers to the parents and staff of the school in these tasks, we have made space in our newsletter available at any time, and have served as needed on an ad hoc basis whenever asked.
If you want to help the school directly, see the Montlake School Bulletin or call the school at 206.726.6680.
The Montlake Community Center and its playfield have been a central part of the neighborhood for almost 50 years. The growth of its buildings and physical facilities do not keep up with the pressures to use it. The Advisory Committee has been active in seeking funds for expansion of the facilities, particularly for classes for children and adults. (An effort to include such expansion in a 1999 bond issue was not successful.)U. VILLAGE EXPANSION
Sam Greely and Diane Thompson have been active in trying to get plans drawn up for an expanded facility. Once a preliminary expansion concept plan and budget emerge, they will be reviewed and discussed by the Advisory Committee, neighbors, and staff. Then City support would be sought through a future City bond issue.
The Montlake Community Club has no formal connection to the Community Center or its Advisory Board. Moreover the MCC has not adopted a position on any future expansion Community Center. However, the MCC has offered its support to facilitate a neighborhood discussion on this important issue.
The U Village has recently expanded in several phases. Each phase was successfully designed to evade City building permits. Now, however,the U Village intends to propose parking garages and other new buildings that will require a full City review and, probably, a "Master Use" permit which, among other things, makes their plans open to civic review. The Seattle Department of Land Use is struggling to develop policy that will be effective in forcing this process.UNIVERSITY URBAN VILLAGE
Roger Leed and Sara Cole have been following this issue for the MCC. A first DCLU proposal for setting standards for a master Use process were proposed in the fall of 1999 and then withdrawn after considerable public objections. But U Village will force this issue back onto the table in the near future. The MCC will work closely with other neighborhoods to assure that DCLU procedures are carefully drawn and assiduously implemented.
The City of Seattle, in response to political pressures from the State, intends to "densify" is certain areas called "urban villages", particularly those near major roads such as I-5. The MCC supports the City and regional objectives of modestly-priced City housing that will discourage more urban sprawl.NEIGHBORHOOD BEAUTIFICATION
One of the urban villages is slated for the area bounded by I-5, U.W., the ship canal, and the Roosevelt/65th region. The City has prepared a Master Plan for this development which ignored the transportation impacts. For example, no new roads or better transportation services were envisioned to benefit the urban village and to mitigate impacts on surrounding communities.
Roger Leed, along with Jim Kearnes and Peter Staten, are actively pursuing a legal suit that will force the City to address transportation for all of the urban villages. We are also concerned about residents of the University Urban Village who commute to jobs in the eastern suburbs, and who contribute more to the snarl of traffic on Montlake Blvd. headed to or from SR-520.
The MCC has long been active in neighborhood beautification, and many of our residents have played a very active role for many years. Germaine Arsove and Liz Bagshaw have been particularly active in these efforts, organizing garden tours, neighborhood tree plantings, and garden maintenance work of MCC-owned lots near 24th and Boyer. We have all benefitted from their dedication and successes. And they do this almost invisibly to other Club works and with little demand on our limited budget.
Labor and leadership are the key ingredients of success. More help is always welcome.