Apr 202016
 

One of the screwy things in the early “jet turbine” arena designs was the way that the south end of the Mariners’ parking garage was going to be accessed, via a tunnel cut out of the building and masked behind a “green wall.”  This would be an ~20 ft notch cut into the base of the arena.  March 2013 Vacation Petition

Tunnel design from the March 2013 street vacation petition

Tunnel design from the March 2013 street vacation petition

More recent documents show the access tunnel was no longer a tunnel, instead being a roadway external to the building but still west of the single set of railroad tracks along the west end of BNSF’s property (here is a google street view of the area with tracks).  April 19, 2016 presentation (note that earlier 2016 presentations to the council’s sustainability and transportation committee have similar sketches)

Access road now external to building in April 19 2016 vacation presentation.

Access road now external to building in April 19 2016 vacation presentation.

A view from the east in the same April 19 presentation.

A view from the east in the same April 19 presentation.

At some point, should the council be concerned about the original street vacation petition (long delayed by Hansen’s own actions) not being consistent with the current arena design?  Is the access road, as unobstructed as presented here, a defined requirement of the vacation (I don’t see any bullets suggesting that) ?

Fourth Arena Hearing On 4/19 and Materials/Amendments Are Online

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Apr 142016
 

The last (third or second, depending on how you count the evening comment period) meeting for the Occidental Street Vacation for the proposed arena had several amendments proposed, including reducing the street vacation’s timeframe to 5 years and adding language meant to emphasize arena-contingent conditional approval.

 

April 19th at 2PM is the next regularly scheduled committee meeting, where the street vacation could be forwarded to a full council.  Materials have been posted online for that presentation.

 

Edit:  Seattle Bike Blog is advocating for protected bike lanes on 1st avenue, instigated by the arena.

Sonics Rising is trying to muck-rake a comparison of Port aviation vs seaport operations and tries to stir public anger over the port pledging its taxing authority to contribute to the viaduct replacement, as if that contribution wasn’t a “business as usual” ask by the government to fund projects from local taxpayers without going through a public vote/levy.  In this case, the port’s contribution of “up to $300 million” was to help plug the gap left by the state lowering the toll threshold from $400 million to 200 million.

Third Arena Street Vacation Hearing Held – Video Up

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Apr 082016
 

The Sustainability and Transportation Committee held the third meeting on the WSA Properties petition to vacate Occidental Avenue to make way for Hansen’s sports arena.  The video of the meeting starts with some public comments from politicians and leaders from the Port of Seattle and some Save Our Sonics leaders too.  The SDOT part is at 42:45 and then the Port of Seattle’s consultant, Marnie Hughes? starts at the 2 hour mark.  Councilmembers O’Brien, Johnson, Juarez, Burgess, and Harrell were in attendance (only O’Brien and Johnson are assigned to the committee, Sawant and Herbold (alternate) were both absent).

Harrell took a bit of umbrage at the Port’s legal council’s suggestion of legal challenges and Marnie dropped the hot potato of making the council consider potential future use of the right of way that’s being vacated.  Johnson veered off for a bit to discuss tolling nearby freeways and seemed to wish to have a public forum to suggest tolling I-90 would benefit Port traffic predictability.  Marnie points out that the plan has changed a bit from how it’s initially presented, such that a  new parking garage is now directly south of the arena which wasn’t previously accounted for.

 

3 of 3 Against SoDo Arena on KUOW Week in Review

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Mar 182016
 

Audio will be up here later (about 7:30 into this mp3 and it will replay Friday at 7 PM on KUOW), but former King County Councilwoman Jane Hague, Q13 Analyst (and very missed Seattle Channel host) C.R. Douglas, and Ijeoma Oluo all voiced disapproval of building an arena in SoDo and described the street vacation as simply going through the motions half-heartedly at City Hall.  The feeling on the panel is that KeyArena is very much the preferred location.  Jane Hague even goes as far as to say this project should be privately financed.  Also mentioned in the show, Hansen’s shine may have been tarnished by the secret Sacramento political donations and fines.

Councilwoman Hague’s originally voted FOR the Arena MOU (the King County Council vote in 2012 was unanimous).  Obviously, time has changed how our councilmembers feel about going forward with a SoDo arena.  In original discussions with the Seattle City Council, the City Council pressed for a list of owners that could be financially vetted and the group’s only publicly disclosed billionaire, Steve Ballmer, has left for the Clippers.

From 2012 – “There are many miles to go and promises to keep,” said Council Vice Chair Jane Hague. “This begins the process of measuring environmental, economic and transportation impacts on not only the SODO site but other sites that also may emerge.”

Maddeningly, C.R. also comes down on the side of being able to be the pace car in the left lane of the highway.

Two of (at least) Four Street Vacation Hearings Down, Arena next to Tracks for “Oil Train Bombs”

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Mar 162016
 

The current issue before the city council is the Occidental Avenue street vacation necessary to clear the public roadway from the middle of Hansen’s preferred site for an arena.  This street is, in my opinion, how the explored alternate sites all ended up looking lackluster.  The EIS search focused on tracts of land without city streets running through the middle and Hansen’s site ignored Occidental.

The street vacation materials are here, with the presentation from 3/15/2016’s 2 pm meeting being this pdf.  The council staff memo outlines the following concerns of the street vacation (although public benefits can be somewhat nebulous – remember that McGinn opposed and urged a no vote for an alley vacation because Whole Foods wasn’t paying living wages, in his opinion):

1. Are the functions of the street right-of-way to be vacated protected?
2. Would there be adverse land use impacts resulting from the vacation?
3. Will there be sufficient public benefits to offset the loss of the right-of-way?

The Port has mentioned Occidental functioning as a relief valve, used when other main streets get backed up.  Proponents focus on public benefits of having an arena (and Hansen building railroad pedestrian overpasses and bike lanes that would further “calm traffic” in the area).

Adverse Land Use Impacts = 20,000 More Seats, Over 200 Events Adjacent to Oil Trains

“Adverse land use impacts” might also encompass the building of another arena located right next to rail lines used by oil trains which some council members protest/suggest are mobile bombs terrorizing our city.  A creative “NO” vote might be to attach the condition that any new building’s occupancy can’t exceed a few thousand people if oil trains still run along those tracks during times of peak usage, for the safety of the public.  You might not currently have the power to stop the oil trains, but you can restrict stitching together tracts of land to enable new buildings for mass assemblies of people that would be in the oil trains’ path.

It’s a disaster waiting to happen. That’s what protesters say about oil trains running right past the stadiums in SoDo. They staged a rally outside the Mariners game to raise awareness about the possible danger.  Thousands of people turned out to see the Mariners tonight. According to protesters, they were all putting their lives on the line, probably without realizing it.

It is such high time that we put a stop to this,” says Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant, who joined the protesters today. But she doesn’t have the power to change when or where the trains run.  “The governor doesn’t really have the power to stop the trains, nor does the county executive, nor does the mayor,” says Perk.

From 2014 “If an oil train did explode here, then downtown would be turned into an incinerator,” said City Council member Kshama Sawant. She called for a moratorium on oil trains in the city.

A 2015 protest with Mike O’Brien at nearby King Street Station had photos captured by Alex Garland.

"EXPLODING OIL" are the words behind Councilman O'Brien.

“EXPLODING OIL” are the words behind Councilman O’Brien.

Other Meetings

Additional Sustainability and Transportation Committee meetings planned to include this street vacation should occur on April 5th and April 19th (both at 2 PM) with the April 19th meeting being the earliest time a committee vote could be held.  The full council vote could happen after the sub-committee vote is held.

Video Record

Meeting #1 – At 18m 50sec in the following 3/15 meeting, you have the vacation presentation given to the council.

Meeting #2 – The 2.5 hrs of public comment from the evening meeting on 3/15.

KeyArena Remodel – Geoff Baker and Sports Radio Roundup

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Feb 252016
 

Geoff Baker at the Seattle Times has launched into a theory that the city council buried the AECOM report about potential use of the Seattle Center Coliseum (formerly sponsored to be named the KeyArena).  The city council drafted a memo that, as Field of Schemes puts it, says “nyah” but the report does have footers and headings with April, May, and June dates in just the first few pages, despite titling it for a June release.  The April and May footers agree well with Baker’s published timeline and suggest some sort of lackadaisical editing as delays occurred.  Godden is reported to have said the report was posted to the council website, but I was looking and the council’s nice collection of arena documents had gone 404 by May, so we’re left to presume Jean is referring to official city clerk files, somewhere, while not discussing it publicly.

 

Local sports radio personalities Danny, Dave and Moore discuss this between about 20 – 34 minutes in the following show.  The hosts appear to have not actually read the AECOM report, instead looking at pictures, as evidenced by commenting about “simply twisting the ice” as the report clearly states that the rebuild completed in the 90s made the lower bowl and seats a structure separate from the roof floating structure, allowing for a relatively cheap rebuild of the new configuration.  It would require excavation and new seating, etc but apparently there’s a lot of unused space below that roofline currently.

 

Ian and Puck also discussed the same things in their 2-23 hour 1 show at 11:30ish here, with added rants about “bikes” and “bertha” thrown in.  Softy also interviewed Chris Daniels in his 2-23 hour 3 show here who does agree that the delays are oddly timed (Chris starts speaking at about 18:30 into the show).  Daniels suggests that a soft majority of the council is ready to vote in favor of the vacation to clear the plate,being  somewhat emboldened by recent media coverage.

The sports radio folks are pushing hate on the Seattle Times and a public comment “rally” at the street vacation hearing, while calling that vacation the “last major step” which is, of course, factually wrong as made very clear by the county council stating they had to vote before issuing any bonds (and the city would have to do so as well).  Oh well, February is kind of boring for sports around here.

 

Sports radio is pushing the public comment period on March 15th at 5:30 as the next “battle” and “showdown” and is not really discussing all the nuances of the vacation (what public benefits are required, etc), so expect lots of “rah”.  You can read the source vacation documents posted here. March – April 2016 is several months behind the timeline outlined a year ago for when this would occur.

SoDo Arena’s Necessary Occidental Avenue S Street Vacation Resurfaces

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Feb 022016
 

Street Vacation Hearings in March

Chris Daniels reported that Mayor Ed Murray has thrown some weight around to push the Occidental Avenue South street vacation forward to a vote.  Councilmember O’Brien has scheduled the public meeting at the “afterhours” time of 5:30 PM March 15th (sure to be more pep rally than discussion of the public’s value of the street) with subsequent potential subcommittee meetings on April 5th and 19th and, based on the subcommittee’s recommendation, a full council vote following as early as the 25th.  The street currently runs through the middle of Hansen’s proposed arena and would need to be removed to allow construction of the arena.

I am still looking for application documents related to the street vacation, but right now I’m only seeing this document related to designating Occidental Avenue S a Green Street in front of Centurylink and next to SafeCo’s parking garage. (UPDATE – see edit at bottom for a map of this one block street vacation).

The hashed green outline marks the newer green street designation.

The hashed green outline marks the newer green street designation.

The Occidental Avenue S street vacation is expected to only be granted with the acquisition of an NBA team, construction of an arena, pedestrian walkways, and many other improvements.  The county and city councils would still have to vote to issue bonds used to pay Hansen for the arena land and portion of the arena, but if that vote must occur prior to construction activity is something I’ll have to review.  As it stands now, the 5 year deadline on Hansen’s MOU expires in October 2017.

Seattle’s SoDo Arena – No Need to Rush

I will remind you that in May 2013, nearly 3 years ago, comments were along the lines of

“We think we’ll get through the EIS process at the end of the year, and then we’ll probably pay some appeals and (there will) be some things we need to mitigate,” Hansen said. “And we think it will be shovel-ready by this time next year.”

While Sacramento’s arena was, locally, viewed as being further behind in early 2013, with full motivation the Sacramento arena has pushed forward to a very complete state (live cameras here) with opening expected by October 2016.

 

Edit 2/4 – Documents related to the street vacation are trickling in.  This has a map.

Vacated street is the blue portion inside the arena project site outlined in red.

Vacated street is the blue portion inside the arena project site outlined in red.

CM Lisa Herbold Affirms “No NHL-First Arena”

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Dec 072015
 

Lisa Herbold, the former Nick Licata aide, is officially the Councilwoman-Elect for Seattle City Council District 1 after a manual recount.  Nick Licata was a council member who once testified to Congress (along with economists Brad Humphreys and Heywood Sanders and Field of Schemes author Neil deMause) about professional sports’ extortion of the cities, particularly from his experiences with the Sonics.  Nick is retiring from the council and was one of the two members who voted against Hansen’s SoDo arena MOU.

In Lisa’s interview with Tracy Record of the West Seattle Blog, Lisa mentioned a desire to keep a close watch on the SoDo arena proposal and that no NHL-first scenarios happen.  This should not surprise anyone who listened to the Seattle Arena Review Committee’s report or the councilmember comments while voting on the MOU (which, when first announced by McGinn and Constantine, was “must have NHL and NBA both before building”).

She also plans to keep close watch on the SODO arena proposal, insistent that it can’t be built “hockey-first.”

Personally, I wish she’d also commit to shelve any street vacation votes as well.  It only serves to pave the way for Hansen’s land parcels to be stitched together.