From Emory Bundy (2001.08.01)

Ann, as president of the Capitol Hill Community Council, thank you
for alerting us to the disturbing news in the Daily Journal of
Commerce, concerning the city council's adoption of the Station
Overlays rezoning plan--not only being imposed on neighborhoods that
don't want it, like Rainier Valley/MLK, but even in neighborhoods
where there are no current plans to put stations, like First Hill and
Capitol Hill.  Isn't that something?  Station overlay rezoning, with
no stations.

Yesterday eve I was talking with a young relative who, with her
husband and children, recently moved into one of the new homes near
the lid over I-90.  They like it; it's attractive and very handy.
But there's a tragic story in the recent history of their community,
of which they're unaware, being a generation younger than I am.  Even
the parents had hardly been borne when the tragedy was put into

That I-90 corridor community, between Mt. Baker Ridge and Rainier
Avenue, is finally being pieced together, after a disastrous 35
years, starting in the 1960s.  The state highway department put a
line on the map--just like Sound Transit--and thereby undercut the
real estate market where it placed that line, became the purchaser of
last resort, began acquiring properties, eroded prices, contributed
to the failure of neighborhood businesses, destroyed the neighborhood
step-by-step, and thereby weakened community resistance.  The impact
is suggested by the name attributed to and adopted by the community
to the north of I-90:  The Rejected Community.  As values were lost,
properties run down, shops closed, and former homeowners left, every
conceivable social malady burgeoned.  Year after year, decade
following decade, it was a severely depressed, dysfunctional,
crime-ridden community, thanks to the actions of the highway
department, then, just like Sound Transit is doing, now.

Most of the property was never even used for I-90.  The highway
department started with grandiose plans for a 16-lane freeway cut
right through Mt. Baker Ridge--and took more property than even a
16-lane project required.  Years of civic fighting finally reduced it
to an eight-lane project, only double the four-lane highway that
already existed, and a tunnel under, not a cut through Mt. Baker
Ridge.  That was better.

But as the project's size was reduced, was the property placed back
in circulation, and help provided to restore the community?  No.
That process slowly and painfully advanced, at glacial pace, only in
the 1990s, a generation later.  The community isn't whole yet, by any
means.  And there is a deep residue of hidden, personal tragedies--of
lives and families disrupted, friends and neighbors separated,
people's assets and life savings severely compromised, businesses
lost, neighborhoods destroyed.  All in the name of an in-city freeway
project.  The highway department cared no more then for the impact on
the residents and businesses, than Sound Transit does now.  The folks
who lived and worked there were just in the way, and had to be

Colleen Browne, president of Save Our Valley, is more acutely aware
of this in the Rainier Valley, than you are on Capitol Hill, because
the scale of property being seized there, and the scale of rezoning,
is so much more extensive.  Those who have carefully built the
community in the Martin Luther King Way corridor--people of modest
means, ethnic minorities, and immigrants--seeking to build their
piece of the American Dream by their labors, aspirations, and
personal resources, are being devastated.  They will lose no matter
what happens.  If the project proceeds, they're out, with some
fraction of what they otherwise would have to show for their years of
striving and community-building.  Plus lost friends, associations,
and neighbors.   And if somehow, mercifully, the project doesn't
proceed, they lose anyway.  Because their community has been disrupted

(I'm not one who's quick or inclined to charge "racism" at every
imbroglio.  But I will note that Greg Nickels and Cynthia Sullivan,
to take two Sound Transit board members, are devoted in support of a
tunnel through the Roosevelt District--where only one business and 18
residents would be lost by the alternate, at-grade alignment near
I-5.  And they're on board and clamoring for an at-grade alignment in
the MLK corridor, where it will take out scores of businesses and
residents, mainly owned by people of color and immigrants.  Why the

The city, much less Sound Transit, evidences no will or resources to
help put the lives back together of people afflicted by this project,
whether in Rainier Valley or Capitol Hill.  But it has elaborate
plans to provide succor and subsidies to the developers selected to
follow in the wake of the dispossessed citizens and

From: Ann Donovan <>
Subject: Light Rail News

There are two articles in today's Daily Journal of Commerce
( that you might want to check out. They require an
account to access them online so you'll probably want to pick up a copy at
the news agent.

City approves zoning changes around proposed light rail stations
Brushing aside concerns about the future of light rail, a majority of the
City Council on Monday voted in favor of creating station area overlay
districts for eight proposed light rail stations.

Sound Transit buys Capitol Hill tunnel site
Sound Transit bought another expensive property for the light rail tunnel
under Capitol Hill even though the tunnel looks increasingly unlikely to
happen, at least for quite a while.

The Capitol Hill Community Council did not endorse the rezoning of station
areas for stations that were not going to be built in the foreseeable
future. Since the Sound Transit Board has established a work program for
their engineering staff to pursue that does not include the Capitol Hill
station, the actions of the Seattle City Council actually will inhibit our
community's ability to go about its business as usual in some instances
(i.e.- the restriction of auto-oriented businesses.) Basically Council has
set up a situation that if Light Rail does not come up to Capitol Hill
ever, we will have to have them overturn this zoning if we want to remove
strangle-holds on the business corridor.

As for Sound Transit purchasing property without a plan to come up to
Capitol Hill/First Hill, this is an abuse of "eminent domain."

(c) 2001 --- Wendell Cox Consultancy --- Permission granted to use with attribution.
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