Fairview Green Street

FAIRVIEW GREEN STREET CONCEPT PLAN NOW UNDER REVIEW BY CITY AGENCIES — YOUR SUGGESTIONS ARE STILL WELCOME AND NEEDED

Fairview Avenue E. is one of the best things about the Eastlake neighborhood–a quiet, leafy place to walk and to enjoy the lake. But Fairview needs improvements allowing pedestrians, bicycles, local traffic, and parking to coexist safely while solving drainage and flooding problems. For that reason, our neighborhood through the Eastlake Neighborhood Plan asked the City to designate four blocks of Fairview between Fuhrman Avenue and Hamlin Street and four blocks of Fairview between Roanoke and Newton streets as a Green Street–as happened in 1998. But for the Green Street designation to have full meaning as way to protect and improve these segments of Fairview Avenue East, a design concept plan had to be developed by the neighborhood and needs to be adopted by the City government.

After years of extensive public and interagency process and many drafts, the Eastlake Community Council on January 22, 2016 submitted (click here for the e-mail) a Fairview Green Street design concept plan for comment and possible adoption by officials of the Seattle Department of Transportation and the Seattle Office of Planning and Community Development. The plan is dated January 18, 2016, when it was posted on this web site, replacing the earlier drafts that had been posted here. It is the result of many years of input from hundreds of Eastlake residents, business people, and property owners. Everyone’s comments are still welcome and needed as the Eastlake Community Council works with City officials on any final revisions.

The current draft of the Fairview Green Street Design Concept Plan is in two parts (click on each to reach the documents): (1) the segment between Newton and Roanoke streets; and (2) the segment between Hamlin St. and Fuhrman Ave. (for #2 without the photo overlay, click here.

The north and south drafts look different because the south segment is overlaid on a professional topographic and land survey donated by Johann Wassermann. Lacking a topographic and land survey for the north segment, we relied on geographic information system (GIS) overlays from the City of Seattle that are the next best thing. The photo overlay can help locate various features that would be pinpointed on a topographic and land survey. Unfortunately, the photo overlay does not cover the parts of Fairview Ave. E. and Fuhrman Ave. E. that are under the freeway and thus not seen by aerial photography.

Additionally, click here for a prose description of the proposed design elements. A remaining question is whether the speed limit should be 15 miles per hour or 10 miles per hour; on this issue, see the section below on “Need for State legislation to enable Green Streets like Fairview to have a speed limit as low as ten miles per hour.”

Please alert the Eastlake Community Council at info@eastlakeseattle.org or 206-322-5463 if you have trouble accessing any of these documents, and be sure to contact us if you have any suggestions or questions.

Background

One of many actions that the City took as a result of the 1998 Eastlake Neighborhood Plan (available along with the City’s approval and adoption document in the column at right) was, in adopting Ordinance 119322, to designate as a Green Street Type III (meaning that motor vehicles, pedestrians, and bicycles would coexist in the roadway) the portion of Fairview Avenue E. between Fuhrman Ave. E. and E. Hamlin St. and the portion of Fairview Avenue E. between E. Roanoke St. and E. Newton St.

Within three years of passing the ordinance that designated the Fairview Green Street, in 2001 the then Mayor and City Council (without any notice to or consultation with the affected neighborhoods) repealed this ordinance and other key ordinances regarding Green Streets, including the distinction between Type III and other types. This change required the Eastlake neighborhood to retrace its steps to finalize Fairview’s Green Street status via the administrative process that replaced this ordinance.

The Seattle Department of Transportation and the City’s Office of Planning and Community Development now address Green Streets administratively, through the Right-of-Way Improvements Manual and through joint directors’ rules that approve for each Green Street a design concept plan that protects it from unwise changes (including those from the Manual itself) based on general standards for areas where the automobile dominates, and also helps the Green Street qualify for City-funded and developer-funded improvements.

The Seattle Right-of-Way Improvements Manual already classifies these two segments of Fairview as a Neighborhood Green Street, but this designation does not have mandatory effect until a joint directors’ rule is adopted. The Manual defines a Green Street as follows: “A Green Street is a street right-of-way that, through a variety of design and operational treatments, gives priority to pedestrian circulation and open space over other transportation uses.” The Manual states further that a Neighborhood Green Street is one that emphasizes “pedestrian amenities, landscaping, historic character elements, traffic calming, and other unique features.” The Manual also lists the purposes of a Neighborhood Green Street as being to: (1) reflect a local community’s desire to target specific streetscapes for a pedestrian or open space enhancement; (2) enhance the pedestrian environment and attract pedestrians; (3) create open space opportunities in residential neighborhoods; and (4) retain unique street features (e.g., brick paving, mature landscaping that is adjacent to the roadway, curbless streets).

To protect Fairview from unwise changes that otherwise would be required by the Right-of-Way Improvements Manual’s standards for all streets and to qualify for City-funded and developer-funded improvements, the neighborhood needs to work out a Fairview Green Street Design Concept Plan and get it adopted by Seattle’s Department of Transportation and its Department of Planning and Development. Until that time, Fairview will continue to be jeopardized by one-size-fits-all standards in the Right-of-Way Improvements Manual that require curbs, gutters, sidewalks, and pavement 25 feet wide (much wider than it is today in many places, and at great sacrifice to public parking, trees and other greenery, and Fairview’s cherished “country road” atmosphere).

The Eastlake Community Council thanks the hundreds of Eastlakers who, over a period of many years, have made suggestions–whether in letters, drawings, or e-mails, or at public meetings. Every one of your comments has been recorded and considered in producing the current draft. ECC also thanks surveyor Johann Wassermann and landscape designer Meredith Sessions for making these drafts possible. Because this draft concept plan is a compromise, they and everyone else involved will not find everything in it exactly to their wishes. However, ECC is committed to producing a plan that the largest number of Eastlakers can stand behind.

To develop this Fairview Green Street Design Concept Plan, over almost two decades the Eastlake Community Council has sponsored many public meetings, public workshops, public tours, and advisory meetings, and has issued many draft documents for public comment. ECC has worked hard to identify and resolve any major questions and concerns from the public prior to submitting the Concept Plan for adoption as a joint director’s rule by the directors of the Department of Planning and Development and the Seattle Department of Transportation.

On January 18, 2016 ECC completed the latest draft Fairview Green Street Design Concept Plan and on January 22, 2015 ECC submitted it for City review (see above for links to the Plan and the submission e-mail). Revisions will continue to be made as ECC works with City officials toward the version that they will approve. Suggestions are welcome and needed, to: info@eastlakeseattle.org, or please mail or drop by paper comments to ECC, c/o Lake Union Mail, 117 E. Louisa #1, Seattle 98102-3278. Phone inquiries are also welcome, to 206-322-5463.

NEED FOR STATE LEGISLATION TO ENABLE GREEN STREETS LIKE FAIRVIEW TO HAVE A SPEED LIMIT AS LOW AS TEN MILES PER HOUR

In 2013 via House Bill 1045 the Washington State legislature amended the Revised Code of Washington to allow cities and towns to reduce the speed limit from 25 to 20 mph on any “nonarterial…within a residence district or business district.” Such nonarterials constitute the majority of road mileage in cities and towns, requiring compromise so that the speed limit could be allowed to drop no lower than 20 mph. Unfortunately, that 5 mph reduction from the previous 25 mph is of little value for the tiny number of roads like our Fairview Green Street that cities or towns have specifically designated for priority of pedestrian circulation over other transportation uses. To allow vehicles to travel at 20 mph on such streets endangers the very pedestrians whose use of certain streets is officially prioritized over vehicle use. For those few streets, a speed limit reduction to ten miles per hour is needed.

The Eastlake Community Council is working in the 2016 state legislative session to add a new sentence to RCW 46.61.415(3)(a) authorizing “a maximum speed limit of ten miles per hour on such a nonarterial highway, or part of a nonarterial highway, on which an ordinance of the city or town has given priority to pedestrian circulation over other transportation uses.” Even though in Seattle the priority for pedestrian circulation over other transportation uses is granted administratively, our suggested language would require that this designation be by City ordinance–thus we hope reassuring potential opponents that the designation would not be given lightly.

The minimum vehicle speed limit of 20 mph under current state law is much too fast to be safe for streets where pedestrian circulation has been given priority over other transportation uses. There will be substantial support and, we believe, little opposition, for allowing cities and towns to reduce the speed limit to 10 mph for the very limited number of streets that qualify for this unique priority for pedestrian circulation over other transportation uses.

The City of Seattle’s Right of Way Improvements Manual designates 32 non-arterial streets as Green Streets, which the Manual defines as giving “priority to pedestrian circulation and open space over other transportation uses.” A few other streets, such as Pike Place, give some priority to pedestrian circulation but are not formally designated as Green Streets.

Political support for the proposed statutory change will come from not only Seattle but other cities and towns that have at least a few streets on which pedestrian circulation is officially given priority over other transportation uses. Political support will also come from other cities and towns that are hesitant to give official priority for pedestrian circulation over other transportation uses until state law allows a safely low speed limit there.

In our Eastlake neighborhood, the City’s designated Green Street on Fairview Avenue East is a perfect example of the safety need for this statutory change. The City designated eight blocks of Fairview as a Green Street in 1998. In 2009, the street’s priority for pedestrian circulation was further emphasized by the City’s Cheshiahud Lake Union Loop Master Plan Master Plan (pp. 52 and 101) which designated this part of Fairview Avenue East as part of the official walking route around Lake Union. The Master Plan made it clear that the walking route is in the roadway itself (a “shared space street”) because there is no room on this part of Fairview for a separated sidewalk. Unfortunately, pedestrians are currently under threat from fast-moving vehicles, many of which use Fairview to bypass stop lights and traffic jams on the Eastlake Avenue arterial.

Seattle allows a Green Street to depart from normal street standards that enable and even encourage high speeds once it has approved a concept plan with design and operational treatments to calm the traffic. Through an extensive process of public outreach and involvement and working in close partnership with SDOT, the Eastlake Community Council has drafted a concept plan for the Fairview Green Street, and will soon submit it for adoption by City officials (for the plan drafts and background about the process, click here). An important part of the concept plan will be the posted speed limit.

Pursuant to a recommendation in Seattle’s 1998 Eastlake Neighborhood Plan, SDOT has already posted parts of Fairview Avenue East between Newton and Roanoke Streets for a speed limit of 15 miles per hour—an unofficial speed limit which under current state law is, of course, not legally enforceable. Now that H.B. 1045 has been passed, we could ask the City to remove the present 15 mph signs and officially post this part of Fairview Avenue East for 20 mph. However, doing so is not preferable because 20 mph is too fast a speed for vehicles on a street where pedestrian circulation is officially the higher priority.

If the RCW amendment proposed here were adopted to allow enforcement of a 10 mph speed limit, our neighborhood could ask Seattle officials to adopt a 10 mph speed limit for these four blocks of Fairview Avenue. Any decision to do so would be the result of extensive public outreach and discussion. ECC welcomes your thoughts on whether to do so, to info@eastlakeseattle.org.

SUGGESTIONS MADE BETWEEN 1999 AND 2005 FOR THE FAIRVIEW GREEN STREET BETWEEN FUHRMAN AVE. AND HAMLIN ST. AND BETWEEN ROANOKE ST. AND NEWTON ST. Click here for the document]

As mentioned above, one of many actions that the City took as a result of the 1998 Eastlake Neighborhood Plan was, in adopting Ordinance 119322, to designate as a Neighborhood Green Street the portion of Fairview Avenue E. between E. Fuhrman Ave. E. and E. Hamlin St. and the portion of Fairview Ave. E. between E. Roanoke St. and E. Newton St. Between 1999 and 2005, committees composed of people who lived, worked, or owned property in the Eastlake neighborhood developed draft guidelines for the two Fairview Green Street segments. (To see them, click the link in the subtitle above.) The Eastlake Community Council thanks these many volunteers for their efforts and provides their drafts here as background for the current effort to finalize a concept plan for these two segments of the Fairview Green Street.

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