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Seattle City Council staff memo lays out proposed amendments to Occidental Ave vacation petition

This coming Tuesday, April 19, is hopefully the last meeting from the Sustainability and Transportation Committee on the proposed vacation of Occidental Avenue by Chris Hansen's WSA Properties in order to make way for a new multi-purpose arena to house both the Seattle SuperSonics and a new Seattle NHL team. Time permitting, the committee will vote on the petition and, if approved, move the issue to the full City Council.

As part of the agenda for that meeting, a memo from Central Staff member Lish Whitson lays out both the public benefits of the arena (as we outlined here) as well as the proposed amendments from Council members Tim Burgess and S&T Committee head Mike O'Brien. The amendments are as follows;

Tim Burgess proposes;

Amendment 1 - Burgess proposes stronger language in regards to the vacation being solely for the purpose of building an arena, as agreed upon on the Memorandum of Understanding between the city and ArenaCo. He also proposes a five-year time frame instead of the proposed seven years.

  • The vacation is granted solely to allow the Petitioner to build a project substantially in conformance with the project described in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) approved by Ordinance 124019 and reviewed by the City Council and for no other purpose.
  • The Petitioner shall provide the Seattle Department of Transportation with Quarterly Reports, following Council approval of the vacation, which describe the status of: the development activity, the development schedule, and Petitioner’s progress on toward meeting the vacation conditions. The Seattle Department of Transportation shall determine that all conditions imposed by this vacation have been satisfied, and that all fees required by City departments have been paid before the Petitioner may request or the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection may issue a Final Certificate of Occupancy.

Amendment 2 - This is the amendment that covers the scheduling agreement, as requested by the Seattle Mariners. This language would be added into the Master Use Permit.

  • Arena events shall be scheduled according to the requirements outlined below and as defined under the terms of a Master Use Permit decision for the project, if approved, in order to avoid conflicts between egress and ingress of different events at different facilities. Under Section 21 of the MOU, ArenaCo is required to coordinate with the Seattle Mariners, the Seattle Sounders and the Seattle Seahawks, as well as the Washington State Public Stadium Authority (CenturyLink Field) and the Washington-King County Stadium Authority (Safeco Field), to minimize the number of conflicting and overlapping events held at the existing stadiums and the proposed Arena. Event scheduling at the Arena shall comply with the following:
    • Events at the Arena on any non-holiday weekday or weeknight shall be separated from other events at the Arena by a minimum of 3 hours between the projected end time of one event and the scheduled start time of the next event.
    • No Arena event on any non-holiday weekday or weeknight may be scheduled to begin or end within one hour of the scheduled start or end time of any event at Safeco Field or CenturyLink Field, or both, if 1) the reasonably anticipated attendance at the Arena and one or more of those fields is more than 45,000 attendees, or 2) there would otherwise be three scheduled events starting or ending within an hour of each other at the Arena, Safeco Field or CenturyLink Field.
    • No Arena event shall start between 4:00 pm and 7:00 pm on non-holiday weekdays if 1) the reasonably anticipated attendance at Safeco Field, CenturyLink Field, and the Arena would exceed 15,000 persons, and 2) the Arena event is otherwise scheduled to occur within an hour of the start or end times of events at Safeco Field or CenturyLink or both.
    • These scheduling requirements may be reviewed and revised by the Seattle Department of Transportation and Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections, after consultation with Safeco Field, CenturyLink Field, and the Port of Seattle, if additional means of limiting transportation impacts are provided. There will be no exceptions from the combined attendance levels for concurrent Page 21 of 29 or overlapping weekday events involving Arena events. Amendments to the scheduling requirements may take into account playoff schedules for MLB/MLS/NBA/ NFL/NHL/WNBA games; and
    • These scheduling requirements shall be incorporated in the MUP decision for the project, if approved.
Amendment 3 - This amendment basically makes the proposed Safeco Field access road mandatory. This more or less just moves Occidental Ave a few feet east.
  • The Petitioner shall construct and maintain a paved north-south road along the east side of the proposed arena site, between South Holgate Street and the extension of South Massachusetts Street, parallel to the proposed vacated Occidental Avenue South. The road shall be constructed consistent with the plan for the road submitted in the Petitioner’s Master Use Permit application. The primary, but not exclusive, purpose of the road is to provide access to the Arena parking and loading areas. The road will also provide public vehicular access to the Safeco Field garage and Safeco Field surface parking, and emergency and service vehicle access to the Arena site, the Safeco Field garage and Safeco Field surface parking.
Amendment 4 - This amendment takes the fee paid by WSA Properties in order to vacate the one block strip and redirects it to the SODO Transportation Infrastructure Fund.
  • It is the Council’s intent that the Occidental Avenue South vacation fee will be fully allocated to the SODO Transportation Infrastructure Fund to be used to fund transportation improvements in the area south of Downtown Seattle, as provided in the MOU.

Mike O'Brien proposes;

Amendment 5 - O'Brien proposes an amendment that would require ArenaCo to provide lighting for the Key Pedestrian Routes.

  • The Petitioner shall work with the Seattle department of Transportation to improve the illumination along the Key Pedestrian Routes with "Minimal" or "Poor" illumination as shown on Figure 2-53 of FEIS Appendix E - Transportation. Petitioner shall pay to improve lighting on these routes so that there is at least a 1 foot-candle average illumination along each block face.

Amendment 6 -  This one is all about sidewalks.

  • 1st Avenue S. Street Frontage – a pedestrian zone necessary to accommodate pedestrian flows shall be maintained on the east side of 1st Avenue S. between S. Massachusetts Street and S. Holgate Street, as follows:
    • 23 feet of contiguous unobstructed (no permanent intrusion) walking surface shall be provided between the building façade and any landscaped/tree/permanent street furniture zone;
    • The 23-foot unobstructed space may be located within the public right-of-way (public sidewalk) or on a combination of public sidewalk and private property;
    • On days with events in excess of 15,000 attendees (inclusive of the proposed Arena and all stadia and exhibition halls to the north) the 23-foot pedestrian zone shall be kept free of all temporary obstacles (such as chairs, tables, etc.) to allow for unimpeded pedestrian flow;
    • On low-attendance event days (equal to or less than 15,000 attendees at the Arena and all stadia and exhibition halls to the north) the required unobstructed pedestrian zone shall be a minimum of 18.5 feet. Any use of public sidewalk area for outside dining (tables, chairs, railing, etc.) must be approved through a street use permit issued by SDOT and will not be allowed to encroach upon the required minimum 18.5-foot pedestrian zone.
    • On non-event days (inclusive of all stadia and exhibition halls) the required unobstructed pedestrian zone shall be a minimum of 10 feet.
Amendment 7 - The final amendment was requested by the Seattle Fire Department and would require traffic to remain open until construction begins.
  • Occidental Avenue S shall not be altered and shall remain open for transportation purposes, including vehicles, pedestrians, and bicycles, until a construction management plan is approved by the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections and all buildings on the blocks adjacent to Occidental Avenue S north of S Holgate Street and south of S Massachusetts Street are demolished, or until the Seattle Fire Department approves closure of the street.
That's it. What do you guys think, do these seem reasonable? Do they seem like they will appease the Mariners and the Port of Seattle? It sure seems like the Council is working towards a compromise as opposed to just shutting the project down.