Open Space Seattle:2100

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Our Ask to the Mayor

Here it is. After all of the hard work, the thought, the people power, the long nights and hard days; after over 500K (and likely closer to 1M) in donated time, resources and funds; after an extraordinary effort from everyone involved, the Open Space Seattle 2100 coalition has boiled it's ask down to three essential things.

These items were developed straight our of the implementation ideas that were generated from each team during the Green Futures charrette then winnowed down during our Guidance Committee meeting in March. Finally, a Implementation Work Group crafted the contents of the final ask to the Mayor for the upcoming biennial budget, which you will find below.

In order to make this happen--to take all of the hard work of the charrette, the lectures, the funds from sponsors, etc, etc--in order for the city and its citizens to reap those rewards, we need to advocate for this vision. Community groups, neighborhood non-profits, and charrette participants who care about the long-term open space strategies facing the city need to step forward now, to make this happen.

But how? Since we are coming in a little bit late in the budget process, we need to be pretty diligent about getting support from the community. What we need most are a series of letters to Mayor Nickels, the nine council members and anyone else who will listen supporting this long-term vision for a comprehensive open space/green infrastructure strategy. Particularly among the neighborhood groups, your continued grassroots support will mean tremendous things to the elected officials in the city.

Dear Mayor Nickels,

On behalf of the hundreds of Seattle citizens who volunteered their time and energy to craft a vision for Seattle’s next century of green infrastructure through Open Space Seattle 2100, we would like to recommend the following items for inclusion in the upcoming biennial budget.

The initial seeds for each of these action items were planted this past winter during the 2-day Green Futures Charrette, and identified as priority issues during subsequent meetings of the Open Space Seattle 2100 Guidance and Implementation Committees. This design and planning effort was a community-based endeavor that empowered citizens to look into the future of Seattle’s open space network, its "green infrastructure," as we embrace increased urban density and seek to achieve successful urbanism while reducing our impacts on global climate disruption. Just as the “grey” infrastructure of streets, railways and utility lines help our city function, so too does the green infrastructure of the city provide services that control stormwater runoff, lower energy use, temper urban heat generation, support biodiversity, and enhance low-impact mobility. More than just parks, green infrastructure is the sum of a diverse “kit of parts” that includes boulevard medians, water quality features, riparian corridors, street trees, green roofs, bike trails, and more.

The charrette and the Open Space Seattle 2100 efforts were conducted with the support of multiple constituencies within the city, including several City of Seattle agencies: Seattle Department of Transportation, Department of Planning and Development, Department of Parks and Recreation, Seattle Public Utilities and the Department of Neighborhoods.

Based upon the expert opinions of our diverse coalition, we encourage the City to allocate resources to implement the following:

• Through consultant and city collaboration, further develop the 100-year Green Infrastructure Plan from the visions generated during the Green Futures Charrette, establishing a 20-year near term implementation strategy. Use the work of the charrette teams, additional public input and the ongoing efforts of the City to develop a visionary, green infrastructure plan for Seattle’s next century that charts a sustainable long-range course for clean air and climate protection, restored shorelines and clean water, robust forests and habitat corridors, and livable, "magnet" neighborhoods with civic hearts, folded under a unified umbrella. We suggest that this plan build upon the principles and themes of Open Space Seattle 2100 and the Green Futures Charrette by emphasizing connectivity, an interdisciplinary process, and long-term thinking. We suggest that planning be conducted on a watershed basis to create a system of linked green space that maximizes social, economic and environmental benefits. We anticipate that this planning process could be accomplished with a budget allocation of approximately $400,000.

• Create a Green Infrastructure Task Force. Endorsed by the Mayor, this group of interdisciplinary sub-cabinet level government officials, private land developers, non-profit interests, neighborhood representatives, education partners and other critical green infrastructure interests would be assigned two important tasks: act as the client group for the consultant team developing the Green Infrastructure Plan, and identify ways to create more benefits from and maximize the services of existing green space investments. These paths may include more efficient use of existing budget allocations, creating synergies between existing initiatives and the Green Infrastructure Plan, identifying strategies to circumvent potential obstacles within finance, zoning, governance, regulatory and legal frameworks, integration into the Comprehensive Plan, and identifying new funding sources to implement the Green Infrastructure Plan.

• Allocate monies to study the public’s acceptance, understanding of, willingness to invest in and general attitude toward green infrastructure, as part of a refocused replacement for lost revenue from the expiring Pro-Parks levy. This allocation will help the Green Infrastructure Task Force as they work to identify strategic paths to implementation. By understanding public attitudes toward and comprehension of Green Infrastructure, the team will identify places where more education might be needed, potential sources of funding, and other important factors that will move this plan toward implementation.

These budget appropriations will ensure that the city’s existing investment in Open Space Seattle 2100 will move toward tangible actions that will ultimately ensure that Seattle becomes the 21st century's first climate-neutral city. We feel that these efforts dovetail extraordinarily well with your on-going initiatives including your focus on creating safe neighborhoods and healthy communities, Restore Our Waters, GreenSeattle, the City Center strategy, the Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement, and many others.

Much as we look back in gratitude at Seattle’s founding families for investing in Olmsted’s Open Space Plan, we hope that future generations of Seattle residents will commemorate the Mayor’s Green Infrastructure Plan as a legacy for shaping our city in the 21st century. With your support, we can sow a new vision for Seattle’s green spaces that more efficiently uses the city’s resources, responds creatively to community needs, anticipates the challenges of the future and creates mechanisms to confront change so that Seattle remains a leader in green urbanism.

Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to collaborating with the City to continue the work of Open Space Seattle 2100, with the shared goal of a livable, economically vibrant, and truly green Seattle.


Brice Maryman
Nancy Rottle
Co-directors, Open Space Seattle 2100

Together, as a group of concerned, engaged and empowered citizens, we can make this happen. The wave we have built thus far is extraordinary. It is time to capture that force and institutionalize it's impacts within the city and our civic culture more broadly.

Thanks to everyone, and please ask us questions or CC us at our open2100 email address.


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