Has Uptown Forgotten About Schools?

The Uptown community is historically dependent on the rest of Queen Anne for its city services and is still called Lower Queen Anne by many. Uptown has spent years trying to create its own identity separate from Queen Anne. The Uptown Alliance has been working hard to build a voice for their community and I praise them for their tireless advocacy.

This month the Uptown Preliminary Rezone Recommendation Director’s Report was published. In this document, Uptown is called a neighborhood, a regional center, and a district. What is new to hear is that the report calls Queen Anne an “interested neighbor”. I argue Uptown is not an independent entity and Queen Anne is more than a neighbor to Uptown.

The rezone affecting Uptown is similar to many other Urban Centers, Villages, and Hubs in Seattle. When Uptown is rezoned to allow additional development capacity for Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) it will purposely encourage density in the community. This growth in Uptown is going to impact the entire Queen Anne neighborhood.

The report thoughtfully addresses development standards, the increase of housing supply, transportation and traffic, sensitivity to pedestrians, its connection to Seattle Center, and makes mention of preservation. The report never studies the impact on the school district. The only place the school district is mentioned in the city’s planning efforts is the in the Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan. Deep in the comp plan, the city calls out potential future discretionary projects. Specific to Queen Anne, the plan highlights Seattle Center; it bullet points the Memorial Stadium relocation, Memorial Stadium site redevelopment, Key Arena enhancement, and the North Parking Lots redevelopment. These are capital projects that the City might undertake or fund in the future. It’s important to stress that Memorial Stadium is owned by the Seattle School District and the funds used for redevelopment would come from the Seattle citizens.

If the comp plan and the Uptown report won’t address the impact on the schools, then the Seattle School District must… but it doesn’t. The projected growth boundary changes are not slated to account for rezones. The Uptown community cannot rely on the Seattle School District to figure this out for them. When Uptown sits at the table with the city to create a vision for their community they need to advocate for their own schools – for their benefit and the benefit of their interested neighbors.

Images from the Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan