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A Place to Come Together

By Cory Crocker on November 10, 2016

Change is inevitable, and we live in one of the most attractive cities in the world. Our challenge is to balance growth with continued livability for those who live here now and those who will join us.

Now, more than ever, we need a place to come together to discuss our differences, express our solidarity, and compromise toward a better society for everyone. A ‘commons’ has traditionally provided this outlet in our democracy, but this week our city streets became that venue.

We learned that empathy with our fellow citizens, is something we ignore at our own peril. We must listen to voices that fear displacement, gentrification, and loss of identity while simultaneously making room for contributions by a diversity of new neighbors. Recent upheavals in San Francisco and Vancouver illustrate how precarious is our enviable position as one of the fastest growing cities.

It is our firm belief that our built environment can nurture daily interactions and healthy dialog. While we accept that density is our destiny, without sufficient infrastructure our district will become unlivable. As such, we see public open space not as an ‘amenity’, but a ‘necessity’.

Unfortunately, the proposed U District Rezone will not deliver this essential need, but continue to divide us along economic, generational, and classist lines through displacement, increased local housing costs, a lack of an elementary school, and the catalytic outcome of being just one of many stops along the light rail line.

In the proposal, the incentives for open space are insufficient and will not guarantee the central town square that our community has repeatedly prioritized for decades. Although community input has been exhaustively sought, the city either is not listening, or lacks the coordinated leadership to respond to our explicit needs.

We must revise the rezone to include the following:

> Strengthen incentives for public open space, increasing with proximity to the station
> Include performance-based review at five-year intervals to fine tune development
> Demand city leadership to overcome the lack of inter-departmental coordination

Voice your opinion and show the city the depth of support for public open space:

Public Hearing for the community to provide comments to City Council
November 16, Open house at 5:30pm, presentation at 6pm, followed by public comment
Hotel Deca at 4507 Brooklyn Ave NE Map