Aly Pennucci, senior planner for the DPD, explains how the new Pedestrian Sidewalk Plan would affect the Upper Queen Anne area. Photo by Sarah Radmer
Aly Pennucci, senior planner for the DPD, explains how the new Pedestrian Sidewalk Plan would affect the Upper Queen Anne area. Photo by Sarah Radmer
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The Department of Planning and Development (DPD) has proposed a Pedestrian Zone Mapping Project to create walkable neighborhood business districts. These areas could be subject to pedestrian designation through Neighborhood Commercial Zones.

DPD senior planner Aly Pennucci presented the proposed area for Queen Anne to the neighborhood community council’s Land Use Review Committee (LURC) on April 28. The study area encompasses Queen Anne Avenue North from West Lee to Howe streets, the backside of the Safeway lot on Queen Anne Avenue North and West Galer Street from Fourth to Queen Anne avenues West.

The mission is to “encourage new and protect existing compact, pedestrian-oriented,
neighborhood business districts,” Pennucci said in an email information sheet that Kaplan sent to the community.

The proposal was prompted by 2006 Neighborhood Business District Strategy that “recognized the importance of Seattle’s neighborhood commercial centers and sought to stimulate and enliven them through several changes to the Land Use Code and future recommended actions,” Pennucci wrote.

How it would work

The idea is to ensure the area uses a mixture of transportation and encourages more walking, biking and public transportation use. The rules for the pedestrian zones area include:

•Having pedestrian-oriented commercial uses on 80 percent of the ground floor;

•Driveways cannot cross sidewalks;

•Parking must be behind or under the building and not in front or on the side; and

•Waivers are available for street-level parking uses in areas where parking is required.

Some of the additional proposed requirements, which would be imposed on new or highly remodeled buildings:

•Requiring overhead weather protection on new buildings;

•Regulating drive-in businesses on the edges of pedestrian zones;

•Reviewing required ground-floor uses; and

Establishing minimum floor-area ratio requirements in urban centers or villages and station area overlay districts.

There is already a pedestrian-zone designation in Queen Anne on Queen Anne Avenue from Howe to McGraw streets; the rest of the proposed zones would have those rules extended to them. If there areas aren’t designated as pedestrian zones, the requirements will not be imposed on the area.

The plan only affects the proposed area in upper Queen Anne. Plans for Uptown will be part of the current rezoning work, said LURC chair Marty Kaplan. 

Coexisting with other plans?

There are certain kinds of businesses that wouldn’t be allowed under this new plan, Pennucci said, citing architecture and lawyer businesses as places that wouldn’t be allowed. Arts storefronts would only be allowed in the Pike/Pine area under the current rules.

The main difference to the neighborhood would be the parking requirements, but even that wouldn’t be a big change, she said. The pedestrian zone doesn’t impact on-street parking and doesn’t prohibit off-street parking. In this area, there would be a very minor impact on parking, Pennucci said.

Sixth Avenue West and McGraw Street was not included in the area because the area’s zoning isn’t typically regulated like this, and it wasn’t one of the 60 areas identified by the City Council, Pennucci said.

One LURC board member expressed concern that, in areas like Second Avenue West, adding new businesses will distract from the businesses that are already there. And the parking requirements would affect the existing businesses that rely on the parking.

“We’re hearing similar concern from others, as well,” Pennucci said.

Along Queen Anne Avenue, there are a lot of historic homes that have been converted for commercial use. Those homes could stay but couldn’t be torn down and rebuilt, Pennucci said. But there are a lot of exceptions, like remodeling or building after a fire.

The DPD is trying to determine how the rules could integrate the neighborhood’s existing landscaping plans, like the streetscape plan for Queen Anne Avenue that Picture Perfect Queen Anne created.

The area on Crocket behind Safeway in Queen Anne is included because that is a large lot that extends backward, Pennucci said.

Public input

One audience member said he thinks if the rules were imposed in areas like Galer and Second Avenue, they would “nudge development in the neighborhood in a certain way.”

Another audience member urged the Queen Anne Community Council to lobby for a plan similar to the Pike/Pine overlay.

Kaplan said it seemed like the pedestrian zone along Queen Anne Avenue North wouldn’t be much of a change. “Galer deserves a more nuanced approach and study, maybe just to Second Avenue West,” he said.

The plan is to evaluate feedback and create revised recommendations in May or June, Pennucci wrote. The goal is to publish those recommendations this summer and present them to Mayor Ed Murray by late summer or early fall.

Pennucci will still accept public comment by email (aly.pennucci@seattle.gov).

For more information on the project, visit ow.ly/wtxRE
.

For more information on the Queen Anne portion of the project, visit ow.ly/wtxTj

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