At the September 2016 LUDC meeting, city representatives bring information on street closures planned for the Denny Substation construction project in the fall. Photo by K. Lindsay Laney, Sep ’16
At its September 19th meeting, the Lake Union District Council (LUDC) heard about Denny Way street closures, possible street improvement projects in Wallingford (& Fremont,) and the entirely unsure and unstable future of the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, the entire City District Council network and the geographically unique LUDC.
In July, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray issued an executive order severing ties between the City and the District Council system. City Staffer, Tim Durkan, who has served as liaison to the LUDC, described it as a ‘divorce’. The District Councils have, since 1988, gathered together members of neighborhood organizations – Community Councils, Chambers of Commerce and Neighbor Associations – to share information about activities and ask the city for improvements. Organizations send representatives to their District Council, and one of the representatives to the LUDC at this meeting reported that the Mayor has voiced concerns that organizing geographically (such as by neighborhood) is racist. Certainly, Durkan reported that his office, which used to be called a Neighborhood Service Center, has recently been re-named the ‘Community Services Center’.
Durkan informed the LUDC that he has given resignation notice to the Department of Neighborhoods (DON,) where he has worked for 12 years (under three different Mayors.) Durkan mentioned that he will be focusing on his photography, which has met with great appreciation and approbation. However, his resignation means that the LUDC, which already exists against the Mayor’s wishes, will also be without an official city liaison.
The representation structure of the Seattle City Neighborhood Council and District Councils. Provided by the Seattle DON
On Monday, September 26th, a DON report is expected to be made available, explaining how they will incorporate the Mayor’s recommendations into a reorganize. The contents of the report are completely unknown, yet given the Mayor’s ‘divorce’, it is expected that either the District Councils will be disbanded entirely, or reconceived following the boundaries (although that would be geographic organization,) of the City Council Districts.
Either way, the future of the LUDC is dire. The District Council system divided the City into 13, while the City Council has seven districts – and the LUDC is one of the ones that would go away. The LUDC would be chopped up, with its members reassigned to four different districts (#3, 4, 6 & 7,) although some of its member organizations, such as the Lake Union Association, not actually represented by any City Council District. The LUDC was designed specifically to give residents and businesses surrounding Lake Union a cohesive voice on matters affecting them, and their maritime use. None of the City Council Districts, or sitting Councilmembers, have laid claim as representative of maritime, and our lake.
At this meeting, the LUDC members decided to focus in October on organizing a District Council forum on the fate of this system – and the need for citizen representation with the City. The next official LUDC meeting, on the first Monday in November, will, hopefully, have information on what the City Council and the Mayor plan to do – and what neighborhood organizations want done.
A map of the current District Council representation scheme. Provided by the Seattle DON
As to what will happen to the District Councils, and the work of this organization, it is too early to say.
In addition to the future, the LUDC representatives also revisited their recommendations for the Neighborhood Street Fund, voting again to encourage the City of Seattle Department of Transportation to build a crosswalk at N 40th & Bagley Ave N, to expand the planted median strip along Green Lake Way N, to install a Greenways crossing on Green Lake Way N at Woodland Park Ave N, and to make pedestrian improvements at N 35th Street & Wallingford Ave N. All of these projects had been considered, encouraged and voted on by the LUDC, from a much longer list, and submitted to the Transportation Department for funding earlier this year.
The LUDC also heard from project managers for the Denny Substation build – and about upcoming street closures and traffic management during construction of this much needed infrastructure project. See details on the Denny Substation project website.
LUDC members discussed, at length, the need for District Councils, and their member organizations, that give citizens a forum within the City. While LUDC members disagreed about what they most want to say to, and hear from, the City leadership, they all agreed on the continued need for the public to be able to comment. Please consider contacting your Seattle City Councilmembers about this important issue, and expect to hear more, right here, on Fremocentrist.com