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.
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.
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.