Sound Progress

Research and insights from Puget Sound Sage.

South CORE’s Take on the Mt. Baker Rezone Proposal

Last week a proposal to up-zone building heights near Mt. Baker Station ignited controversy when it made a last minute appearance on the agenda for the council’s Planning, Land Use and Sustainability Committee just before the holiday.

Opponents accused the city of attempting to suddenly ram the proposal through without due community process, and claimed the up-zone would increase crime in North Rainier.

Photo: Department Of Planning And Development

Photo: Department Of Planning And Development

However, Community representatives are not uniformly against the proposal. Puget Sound Sage is a founding partner of Seattle’s South Communities Organizing for Racial/Regional Equity (CORE) which submitted comments to DPD over the summer supporting the proposed up-zone, and advocating for increased investment beyond zoning to street and safety improvements.

South CORE’s efforts resulted in more funding for transportation investments and allowed communities more time to weigh-in on the North Rainier rezone process.

The South CORE alliance represents multiracial and ethnic communities rooted in South Seattle and South King County who believe that in order for transit oriented development to result in racial justice, social equity must be at the center of all planning decisions.

While the delayed timeline was not South CORE’s aim, they will use the time to encourage City Council to improve transit service, accessibility and safety and access to good jobs around the station area.

The testimony submitted in August maintained that:

“Overall, we believe the proposed zoning changes fit with the long-term vision for the North Rainier/Mt. Baker area. We are encouraged by the City’s decision to use the Seattle mixed zone to retain light industrial businesses in Southeast Seattle, such as the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company.  Maintaining and growing living wage jobs close to transit and urban areas is critical to ensuring communities of color and working families can afford to live in transit rich neighborhoods and benefit from new investment.

Passing this rezone is only the first step to building an equitable transit-oriented neighborhood. While the proposed rezone sets the boundaries for how North Rainier/Mount Baker will develop, the North Rainier/Mt. Baker area needs a significant amount of investment beyond zoning before our City’s vision for a thriving, and diverse community can be realized.”

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