LUTC Minutes 2013-09-16

Eliot Land Use and Transportation Committee
Minutes from September 16, 2013 Meeting

Meeting was called to order by Chair, Mike Warwick with three of five members present; Mike, Clint and Laurie. Allan is on vacation and Jason on assignment working on a Central City Plan committee.

The agenda was reviewed.

Mike noted the 115 Cook apartment project was going back to design review on Thursday and he planned to attend to support Eliot’s earlier position that the area around the parking lot ramp should be a driveway circle with short term parking, not a plaza as the Commission requests. He also intends to support the current “cleaner” design but again question why the structure couldn’t have been designed to mimic 3 individual buildings with unique facades rather than one hulking structure in light of the finer grained development in the Eliot historic district.

Mike noted there was a Type 1 land division proposal pending. The developer’s strategy is to divide larger lots into two and build “skinny” homes on them. A number of Eliot lots and homes are already “skinny” as they were for working people in the Victorian era so this hasn’t been a bad thing. Discussion noted that skinny homes are generally owner occupied which helps restore income diversity and stability to Eliot. Home owners also have more of a stake in Eliot’s future, which aligns with the goals of the Eliot Plan and Board policies. Mike Faden was present. He owns the lot next door to the site and is interested in land use and potentially being a committee member. He understood from City staff there was little to do to prevent the division, which is correct. The proposal included a proposed site plan for the buildings which include an ADU in each unit. The small size of the notice made it difficult to see where the ADU is but Laurie pointed out it appears to be in the rear of the building accessible through a walkway between the two skinny homes.

Mike met with the owner of two parcels to the north of Pizza a Go Go. The corner lot is zoned R1. The owner would like a zone change to allow mixed use with ground floor retail and units above. He suggested it might look like the Cleo building in concept. After reviewing possible zones, there was support for a CM zone. This allows residential over commercial but limits the building scale with a 1:1 FAR according to Laurie’s interpretation of Title 33. Mike will communicate that to the owner and invite him to the October 21st meeting.

Mike reviewed the email he sent earlier to LUC members from Debbie Bishoff regarding the next steps in the Comp Plan process. The next draft is due October 1, but she was unclear how neighborhoods would be engaged after that. She said zone changes will be limited to property owner requests and special cases where current zoning causes major conflict, such as two zones on the same parcel. It was agreed the LUC members should try to review the next Plan and Mike would invite Debbie’s replacement to the October meeting to press for changes we want. Those were discussed, including downzoning of properties from R2 to R2.5 and changes for some properties in the Williams/Vancouver strip from Rx to something appropriate given the ownership pattern (mostly single rather than multiple adjoining lots). The R2.5 zone requires ground floor entries for units, whereas R2 allows for “flats.” Most of the recent infill has been consistent with R2.5 despite the R2 zoning, so Mike questioned the need for this change in light of Debbie’s comment that broad zone changes are not being considered in this Comp Plan. Phil Conti noted that North Eliot was upzoned from R2.5 to R2 in the last Plan so there could be an argument for it. We also discussed how a “vision” for Eliot could be used to shape input to the Plan. There was broad agreement on the need to protect the single family and historic character of Eliot while encouraging infill for home owners, but the discussion did not result in a clear “brand” that the group thought would persuade policy makers and planners to respect our wishes over theirs. We agreed this needs more work and we could use some outside help – as well as more engagement and support from existing Eliot residents, especially home owners who have the largest stake in terms of preservation and schools.

A brief discussion of alternative meeting dates and times was has based on problems some members and would-be members expressed with the current meeting time. After considering the pros and cons of changes to both it was decided the current date and time were a reasonable compromise, although some members may be consistently late a few minutes. Committee make up was also discussed in light of the fact Jason will be tied up on meeting dates until his Central City Plan Quadrant group is done meeting. Soliciting his resignation was suggested as a way to ensure it is easier to have a quorum at future meetings. He would be welcome to rejoin once his duty to the other committee is over. Mike will follow up on.

Meeting was adjourned around 8:45 PM.