City Council Districts & the Role of Neighborhoods

Jordan Royer, at Crosscut, has a piece up up on the changes coming to city council districts and how that will impact the role of neighborhoods in local government. Columbia City is not mentioned specifically, but it directly applies:



So, will the election of seven of the nine Seattle City Council members by district help to solve any of this? Yes, the new system can. The city will have elected council members who are closer to the neighborhoods, better known to residents and, therefore, more representative. Community councils, which are not formally recognized in statute by the city, will grow in influence as City Council candidates spend more time with them. Neighborhood business chambers will also see their influence increase. In other words, the whole purpose of the longstanding neighborhood district council system can be met in a much more open and organic way.

Knute Berger also has an earlier piece from last week on Ed Murray’s recent Neighborhood Summit that’s worth reading:

Still, the recent Neighborhood Summit was important. Seattle’s disaffected hinterlands — almost anyplace outside of downtown — carry a lot of anger and distrust about city government’s intentions and responsiveness. The neighborhoods were asked to plan for growth; most did, then saw their plans shelved, overrun by events, or ignored. Some neighborhoods have had to absorb more than their fair share of growth, others have seen affordable housing shunted aside for high-priced high-rises, most have seen potholes proliferate.

Every neighborhood has bones to pick — too much crime in South Seattle, too few sidewalks in North Seattle. And in the last two administrations — Nickels’ and Mike McGinn’s — there was a general sense that the grassroots were being paved over by downtown planners, top-down edicts and Astroturf groups posing as neighborhood advocates but acting more as developer shills.


One thought on “City Council Districts & the Role of Neighborhoods

  1. Ray Akers says:

    I served three years on the planning committee of the Columbia City/Hillman City/Genesee Neighborhood Plan. It was an excellent plan. We received special recognition on the day the City Council voted to approve the plan. The plan exceeded the city’s density requirement, but we accomplished more density while keeping building heights at a human-scale 40-feet. Around 3,000 residents approved the final plan, and a 40-foot height limit was important to the community. Sally Clark and other members of the City Council ignored our neighborhood plan, cherry-picking the plan features that they would allow to be implemented. As a result, we now have 65-foot heights in Columbia City, dwarfing our historic business core. So much for “neighborhood” planning.

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