I've been tracking the City of Seattle's proposal to update the neighborhood plans since March in the series There Go the Neighborhoods. You wouldn't think I'd be caught unawares before the only currently scheduled public hearing before City Council's Planning, Land Use, and Neighborhoods Committee's special meeting. Guess what? It's scheduled for Monday, Sept. 8, 5:30 p.m. in City Council Chambers at City Hall. The agenda lists only one item: public comment.
How much public can be expected to comment with four days' e-mail notice? That's what I get for not checking the City Council home page while on vacation.
Neighborhood plans. Lauded by academics and embraced by other cities. Here in the their veritable birthplace, the City Council has been unwilling to lift a proviso on funding further efforts. The mayor's office first sent an update proposal to the council in July 2007 which has been the subject of public forums, council committee discussions, and much revision ever since. After a year of little progress (but much process), there is sudden movement as the biannual budget deadline nears. The recent push may also have more to do with preparing for light rail than neighborhoods. In another recent twist, the update proposal of July 30 [PDF] calls for establishing a Neighborhood Plan Advisory Committee to be seated by no later than Oct. 15. First order of business: develop a status report on all 38 of the neighborhood plans.
In announcing the special meeting on the City Council Web site, Planning, Land Use, and Neighborhoods Committee Chair Sally Clark is quoted: "Ultimately, updating the neighborhood plans is a chance for us all to recommit to the vision of safe, affordable, sustainable neighborhoods for ourselves and as a legacy."
Next time, please don't forget to invite the public.