At Roosevelt High School, the Seattle City Council will hear from the local neighbors tonight (Monday) about a proposed zoning change that would add more height to properties in the business district. The zoning change is particularly controversial because earlier versions of the rezone proposed by the neighborhood included much less density. But advocates for Transit Oriented Development (TOD) intervened and persuaded the Department of Planning and Development to reconsider and include more density around what will be a light-rail station.
Much of what was behind the proposal to keep density down was anger stewing in the neighborhood over the behavior of a property owner who has allowed his property to deteriorate. Neighbors, transit activists, and so called "density freaks" will convene to give their points of veiw to the Council in the gym of the iconic Roosevelt High School.
The debate will likely center on a few things, but most notably is the belief among the locals that only they should be able to determine the outcome of the decisions. Local land use chair Jim O'Halloran in a story in The Seattle Times suggests that the neighborhood isn't against density, but that outsiders are trying to force their density agenda on the neighborhood.
On the other side are advocates of light rail who argue that without appropriate land use, including density, light rail won't work. An example of such a failure is Beacon Hill, where millions of dollars in capital investment by the regions tax payers hasn't resulted in any TOD. That station is surrounded by a vacant lot, and transit advocates worry that Roosevelt could be a repeat if the Council fails to pass upzones.
In the end the Council will likely have to decide whether the interest of neighborhood planners intent on limiting a troublesome property owners profits trumps the broader regional needs to accomodate growth and support investment in transit.