Special events impacts and solutions

City’s Special Events Office again allows the Obliteride and the Lake Union 10K to occur on the same morning–Sun., August 13

The Obliteride bicycle event will occur on Eastlake Avenue and on Fairview Avenue North (not Fairview Avenue East). On Eastlake Avenue, traffic lanes and on-street parking will not be restricted; it is not clear yet whether traffic lanes on Fairview Avenue N. will be restricted. The Lake Union 10K walk will involve traffic and parking restrictions on Fairview Avenue East; for details, click here and here. To info@eastlakeseattle.org, ECC would appreciate hearing from residents and businesses regarding impacts of the traffic or parking restrictions, noise, etc.; photos also are welcome. (Comments also are sought on your experience with the Sun., July 9 See Jane Run half-marathon.) We welcome any suggestions for improving the permit requirements and the permit process.

Run, walk, and bicycle events are causing parking and traffic restrictions on Fairview Avenue E. or Eastlake Avenue — comments and photos needed to gauge impacts

In recent years without seeking public input from the community, the Seattle City government’s Special Events Office has been allowing major events around Lake Union that cause cause parking and traffic restrictions on Eastlake Avenue and Fairview Avenue E. The permittees and the Special Events Office do not post or share early drafts of the traffic and parking control plans for these events, making it difficult for the public to meaningfully comment or prepare. The Eastlake Community Council lists these events on its “upcoming events” web page which is found at the top of the column at right. ECC would appreciate hearing from Eastlake residents and businesses regarding any impacts you experience from the traffic or parking restrictions and the noise associated with either event, and any other impacts; photos also are welcome. Are you satisfied with the situation, or do you suggest changes? We welcome any suggestions for improving the permit requirements and the permit process, as we will be working on this issue in the coming year. Please send your comments or photos to ECC at info@eastlakeseattle.org. Questions and comments are also welcome there or to 206-322-5463.

Background. Millions of dollars a year (amounts that are growing) are being made from run, walk, and bicycle events that bring thousands of participants onto the Cheshiahud Lake Union Loop, of which Fairview Avenue East is the longest part.

While these events raise funds for good causes and also bring taxable revenues to the companies that organize them, they raise issues of neighborhood impact that the City hasn’t yet faced. Among the concerns are noise from Gas Works Park; disruptions from street, bridge, and parking closures; poor outreach by the organizers; and lack of fair-share contributions for use of underfunded transportation infrastructure.

Usually held on a Saturday or Sunday, these events typically require closure of parts of Fairview Avenue East from motor vehicle access and the prohibition of some of its badly needed parking. parking on its east side of Fairview. On busy summer weekends, to prohibit motor vehicle travel and parking is a serious imposition on residents and businesses that has not been adequately considered in the permitting process.

Noise from start and finish ceremonies, usually in Gas Works Park and often very early in the morning, has been a persistent problem not successfully addressed by City agencies despite many promises to do so. Noise travels particularly well across water, and is very noticeable as experienced in the Eastlake neighborhood. On the specific issues of noise from Gas Works Park and, what ECC is doing about it, and how and where to send a complaint, see the Noise section in the column at right.

In recognition of the neighborhood noise, traffic, and parking impacts of events around Lake Union, the City’s Special Events Committee has agreed not to increase the number of these events annually. But any beneficial results are being counteracted by the Committee’s allowing existing events to substantially expand.

Despite concerns expressed by ECC, the City allowed the multi-day Obliteride to be expanded for the first time to include Fairview Avenue East (on Sunday, August 9, 2015). The May 30, 2015 Brooks Trailhead run (formerly the Emerald City run) was allowed to move from Sunday to Saturday (when the impacts were greater) and was allowed to be almost twice as large as in the past (the City would have allowed much more if ECC had not objected to the original proposal for more than three times as many runners); however, the actual number of participants fell short of these amounts.

Outreach to the affected neighborhoods by the event organizers has been poor. Event applicants should reach out early. It is unacceptable for an affected neighborhood to hear about an event expansion only after its permit has been applied for or approved. ECC’s request for information from Obliteride brought this response: “We are not quite ready to share these details as of yet, but will make parking and route information available on our website once we receive approval from the City.”

The fees that the City charges for events go mainly for police and traffic operations, with none earmarked for capital improvements to make the Cheshiahud Lake Union Loop (which is in the Fairview Ave. E. roadway north of Newton St.) safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. Upon designating the Loop in 2009, the City set aside a few capital improvement funds to implement it, but hasn’t done so for years, and the still poor drainage and poor conditions for bicycles, pedestrians, and parking reflect this lack of funding.

The Eastlake Community Council has asked Seattle’s Special Events Committee to require each event that uses Fairview and other parts of the Loop to contribute to a City fund to build bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements there. All events that gain donations or profits from using the must find a way to contribute to a City fund for pedestrian, bicycle, and drainage improvements.

ECC welcomes comments and suggestions on the above issues, to info@eastlakeseattle.org or by U.S. mail to ECC at 117 E. Louisa St. #1, Seattle, WA 98102. We especially want to hear about your own experiences with these special events.

Click on any item in this column

About ECC

Neighborhood resources

Social media and blogs

Emergencies, public safety, and government