Commentary: Growth is coming — so how will we handle it?

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Like it or not, growth is coming to Mountlake Terrace, along with the rest of the region — period.

How are we going to handle it? That’s a question that has been on the minds of our city council, staff, local developers and some — though not enough — citizens.

The final decision is near. The tentative adoption of the plan is Sept. 26, 2019.

While many of us moved to Snohomish County and Mountlake Terrace because of affordable housing, close enough to our place of work, how many of us moved to Snohomish County, to get away from that growth?

A suburb, close enough to “the big city” when we need, but not caught up in the daily hassles. A place of mostly single-level, single-resident homes, where we can easily move about and still see plenty of sky. That, along with financial, was a large part of why I moved here several years ago.

That will be changing.

From what I’ve heard, for reasons that include the coming of light rail, maintaining the status quo for much of the city, needing more money (i.e. “economic development”), it was decided to create a “revitalized” Town Center to put most of the growth in one place.

I served on the Town Center and Economic Development Task Force last year, because I don’t want the density and all the problems and hassles that come with it. And I’ll be glad when the final legislation is passed, hopefully at the end of this month!

It will happen.

What can we expect in the new Town Center? For a start, look at the website,  cityofmlt.com/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=566.

Physical 3-dimensional models will not be forthcoming. The closest are the modifications of Google Earth pics. I am not happy with that.

My deepest apologies for waiting this long to take these pics! Sometimes it’s the approaching deadline that finally pushes us.

To get a better idea of what’s possible, I chose to take some pictures of Bothell, near the library, and Seattle. Nothing beats “feet on the ground.” Go there and see for yourself. Most of us will have the view, from the ground, not 100 feet in the air as was presented at a recent meeting.

Note: Due to optics, there is some distortion.

More pictures can be seen at https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/11jwkiLJNe7A_KzpdLo74pK_RbA19ohj3?usp=sharing. (As long as it’s for personal use, feel free to download and use the pics. I haven’t decided how long I will leave them in “the cloud.”)

Bothell pictures:

1, 3 – the view from room 510 of the SHAG building

2 – the most sky visible, from kneeling next to the window

5 – view from ground level

6-29 – other views of the neighborhood, standing on the ground

Seattle pictures:

1-15 around 4th Avenue and Olive Way

13-15 the Mayflower Park Hotel

16-21 near Harrison Street and 7th Avenue

23-25 Google buildings at South Lake Union

26-31 Terry Avenue and Harrison Street

Note the width of these streets. It does make a difference. Even walking along Terry Avenue, wider than many of our streets, toward Harrison Street, I felt as if in a tunnel.  Our streets here in Mountlake Terrace are very narrow.

While the buildings are what are important to many people, it is the “empty” open space that is important to me.

The 12-story Mayflower Park Hotel.

I count 12 floors in the pic of The Mayflower Park Hotel.  Alone, in that context, I did not find it horrific.

Our Town Center changes grade constantly. During the task force meetings, it was suggested putting 12-story buildings on the west side, one reason being less impact there.  Until joining the city council on their walking tour, I did not think of grade. That area is much higher ground that 56th Avenue West. What is 12 floors there, is the equivalent of looking at a taller structure from 56th Avenue West.

As I write this, I am thinking I would like to suggest to city council members to think about an approach to the changing grades. A four-story building in one location may look lower or higher than another four-story building across the street. I have no suggestions, other than to please discuss it.  Thank you.

Up on the roof…

While I am aware that in our society money is a major factor in anything and everything, and taxes are always paid in Federal Reserve Dollars, I would like to see an acknowledgment of the non-money “taxes” paid by the public upon completion of building — including shadows, loss of privacy, sun and sky — plus hassles, noise and air pollution during construction.

Especially any 12-story building: I ask that accommodations be made for free public viewing from the top, especially a place akin to the Lake Forest Park Town Center Commons where there is no charge and people are welcome.

As I ask this, I am aware, this may require extra creativity. Building tenants may have concerns of the public in their private area. I’m sure it can be resolved.

Seattle pictures 23 – 25 show some roof-top options, including gardens on the Google buildings at south Lake Union. My guess is they would be exclusively for Google employees and/or tenants.

That may add some pleasantness to the view from below.

As preparing this, I just ran across another concept “vertical forests”: www.greenprophet.com/2019/09/vertical-forests-a-practical-design-for-humanizing-cities-again/

Nobody has any idea how fast the changes will occur.  I’ve heard that changes will begin slowly and pick up steam with time. The changes require current residents to leave, and go . . . where? Can a resident get enough money from the sale of the Mountlake Terrace home to purchase another???

Expect all the hassles of construction for the foreseeable future.

That’s life. (Try to) Enjoy!

And, please find/make the time and effort to hear a presentation of the proposed legislation and let the city council hear from you. And pass the word to your neighbors and friends. This may have an impact on your and their life.

— By Victor Eskenazi, Mountlake Terrace

 

 

 

4 COMMENTS

  1. My husband and I are retired, and will be moving to Idaho. We have lived here for 42 yrs and can’t afford to live here anymore. We raised our 2 kids here where they went to the local schools and we enjoyed the parks, etc. Too bad this is happening!!

  2. I don’t think this is planned “legislation”- it’s changing the codes for development.
    To me- planning development can create beautiful albeit more populated spaces. If one moved here in years past to own your own little yard and lots of free parking- selling is a good option as your investment has tripled or more in value. Yes, this is available further away from Seattle.
    I’m thrilled to live in MLT and not need my car, see more healthy commercial growth, and live in a community conscientious of the values of public transit, walkable city-scapes, and public spaces with arts and greenery.

  3. We are going to do the same thing we have always done. Encourage growth, make developers rich, tax us to death, and otherwise punish the people who have to live here.

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