The Seattle Redistricting Commission completed its work last fall and the new City district map moves the Eastlake neighborhood from District 4 to District 3 going into the elections later this year. District 3 Councilmember Kshama Sawant has said she will not seek re-election. That opens the race to new candidates, and several have already announced they are running.
District 3 in the past has been mostly Capitol Hill and the Central Area, and as a result candidates might not have been in the Eastlake neighborhood – except to drive through it on their way from one part of the city to the other.
Since candidates might not know much about our neighborhood, this memo is designed to fill them in on our pleasant jumble of houseboats, single-family homes, apartments, condos and large and small businesses. Eastlake is unusual in that all its parcels are zoned multi-family – a fact that has changed the neighborhood in the past few years as the implementation of the Mandatory Housing Affordability ordinance took effect. Eastlake Avenue has several large projects under construction – six and seven stories tall – with more on the way.
Eastlake has been a recognizable neighborhood since the 1890s. With the opening of the University Bridge in 1919, travel through Eastlake was encouraged and soon Eastlake became a streetcar neighborhood of small homes and apartments, houseboats, and small businesses. Along Lake Union industrial uses grew up. Boeing’s first factory was located at the foot of East Roanoke Street. In 1962 the I-5 freeway came roaring through the neighborhood, defining Eastlake’s eastern edge and changing the neighborhood forever.
Our sliver of Seattle is now defined by the Freeway, Lake Union, the University Bridge and the Fairview Avenue bridge near the Fred Hutch. The Eastlake Community Council was established in the 1970s as part of the Roanoke Reef effort to restrict over-water construction on Lake Union. Since then, the ECC has been a strong advocate for the neighborhood, playing major roles, for example, in the Roanoke Reef battle and in the creation of the 1999 Eastlake Neighborhood plan.
The Council has represented the varied parts of the neighborhood with membership drawn from homeowners, apartment dwellers and businesses. The Eastlake News, published continuously for 50 years, is one of the few neighborhood news publications left in the city. Here are some of the major issues our neighborhood faces: Development: As mentioned above, the MHA ordinance changed the character of the neighborhood. Higher buildings are now allowed along Eastlake Avenue East and Boylston Avenue East. An example is the project under wa at Eastlake and East Louisa Street – 270 apartments to be added to an already dense neighborhood. How dense? The number of Zone 8 RPZ permits are double the number of actual parking places in Eastlake.
Transit: Eastlake supports public transit and its use over cars. However, the City Department of Transportation continues to push an unneeded “rapid-ride” project in the neighborhood. The #70 bus already provides us with adequate transit from Eastlake to South Lake Union and Downtown. The SDOT project would eliminate most parking along Eastlake Avenue, a death knell for many of the small businesses and restaurants. There is also an equity issue – we have ours: Good bus line, the Fairview Bridge repaired, and so forth. Other parts of the city could benefit from the $70 million planned spending for Eastlake. With development, we need upgrades to sewer and water line under Eastlake and for the street to be repaved. But we do not need an expensive new transit line.
Livability: There are many trees in Eastlake being threatened by development. We have street-end parks that are overgrown, yet some with viable mini-parks that need attention. Terry Pettus Park at Fairview and East Newton Street is a good example. Good Turn Park, at the north end of Fairview, is another. Like many neighborhoods, Eastlake has had periodic issues recently with large encampments of RVs.
The Bridge: The University Bridge needs repair. It was stuck open for more than four hours one day this past spring causing backups. The SDOT rapid-ride project will spend $70 million on a new unneeded bus line, but there is nothing in the project for the bridge. The lack raises questions about the priorities and decision-making skills of the city. Business Community: Eastlake has many small businesses that depend on parking. The proposed RapidRide J Line would eliminate many parking spaces. In addition, it proposed that loading zones be moved to hilly side streets or alleys – difficult for many businesses on Eastlake Avenue. Our currently viable business community is threatened by an unnecessary project.
These are just a few of the issues our neighborhood faces. We hope you will visit us soon. The Eastlake Community Council offers a standing invitation to you to meet with us and hear our concerns in person. One of the fundamental missions of our Eastlake Council is to work cooperatively with the city to find solutions.
We traditionally have had candidate forums in the summer and fall during election years. We will contact you or your representatives about attending those forums when they are scheduled. Meanwhile, come visit us. Have a beer at the Eastlake Zoo, a classic dive bar. Have a nice dinner at Serafina, a destination dining place. Drop into Pecado Bueno for a more casual lunch or dinner. Walk our streets and see for yourself the construction and changes coming to our area. You can also view some of the historic sites in the neighborhood that have been preserved – or should be. We are proud of our neighborhood, and we await working with whomever emerges as our new representative. Contact us at email@example.com. Or visit our website at www.eastlakeseattle.org.