Updated: Feb 27, 2019
Last night, dozens upon dozens of humans turned out for our emergency BOAT (Belltown Oversight and Advisory Team) meeting at Jupiter, to hear about what's going down in their community, and to find out how they could help.
THANK YOU TO EVERYONE who was able to come!! Your support means the world, your questions were insightful, and your willingness to step up to the plate was genuinely inspiring.
For those who weren't able to be there, we wanted to offer some quick highlights and a recap.
We talked about three big areas last night:
What's up with Rise Up and the BOAT?
What's happening now, in the near-term?
What are we doing now, for the long-term?
Lastly, we finished with 5 Ways to Help right now.
1. What's Up with Rise Up and the BOAT?
We do three core things in support of an affordable Belltown.
We show what's worth loving about this community, by publishing #HumansOfBelltown, hosting events, and promoting our local people and businesses.
We grow our community by building the BOAT (Belltown Oversight and Advisory Team) which is currently composed of 21 local businesses and 147 human beings, while also raising the resources to run Rise Up Belltown.
We propose new ideas, such as creating a special district in Belltown for community and affordability, specifically through our proposal for a ballot initiative that would establish the Seattle Community and Affordability Network throughout the city.
2. What's Happening Now, in the Near-Term?
There's a proposed development in the heart of Belltown that would potentially impact not only the 7 businesses and 17 units of housing currently in the space, but also the dozens of businesses on surrounding blocks, all of which benefit from the "destination" quality of the Belltown community.
There are three big takeaways regarding the near term:
The lay of the land currently is this: in and around this proposed development there are numerous existing landmarks and multiple potential landmarks. In a community like Belltown that is particularly attentive, knowledge really is power. By understanding the actual rules that shape growth and development, our community can meaningfully impact the future of our lives and livelihoods.
The developer is a local who is connected to Belltown. They envision a potential 2-year timeline, and are proposing a 7 story building instead of 10. They also seem genuinely interested in working with existing businesses to keep them on the block, or (at the very least) still in the Belltown neighborhood. One particular bright spot: the developer seems to be seriously open to creative development solutions for the block. While this doesn't necessarily change our current game plan, it's certainly better than an out-of-town or corporate developer who doesn't care two licks about our community.
An immediate focus on Tula's Jazz Club as a potential landmark is probably our best early option as a community, though it involves both risk and opportunity. The Tula's building likely has the best chance of receiving a landmark designation, especially with a legacy business that's over 25 years old and that's beloved throughout Seattle. The risk is that a landmark designation for Tula's might result in a new, less local developer if it fully kills the existing deal (though we don't think it needs to, given other potentially creative solutions). Meanwhile the opportunity is that it lends both credibility and leverage to the community regarding future development, while also basically assuring that we'd have the necessary time to work on a bigger picture long-term plan both for this block and for broader Belltown.
3. What are we doing now, for the long-term?
In short, Belltown needs a special district for community and affordability, but the City’s current tools (existing laws) for new districts are basically broken. We can make new ones with a big public vote, but a vote is too big for any ONE community on its own.
Luckily, Belltown is not alone.
Every neighborhood is experiencing, to some degree, the same challenges as us here in Belltown. That's why we're proposing the creation of the Seattle Community and Affordability Network, which would carve out space for culture, gathering places, and Seattle's working class workforce at the same time that we promote new growth to help pay for it all.
We talked about what it takes to launch a ballot campaign.
Specifically, Rise Up Belltown is testing the waters by sharing these ideas with key people and groups, we're building consensus instead of fighting against enemies, and we're working on a FAST TIMELINE to try have impact during the current election cycle (November of 2019).
We're also recruiting allies from other at-risk places in Seattle, as well as specific neighborhoods, non-profit advocacy groups, major companies, civic leaders, music and nightlife venues, arts organizations, labor unions, faith communities, academics, local political organizations, and more.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
Lastly, we talked about 5 ways that people can help right now:
Tell your friends. Share these stories. Help this go Belltown-Viral. (10 min. / week)
Add your NAME and/or your BUSINESS to the BOAT. (3 min.)
CALL your CITY COUNCIL: Sally, Lorena, and Teresa. (5 min. each)
Join Rise Up Belltown leadership through one of our special teams.
that's a wrap for the recap! stay tuned for our next BOAT meeting, which will be announced as soon as possible through all our communications channels. Thanks again team! :)
You can follow @RiseUpBelltown on Instagram for daily updates, or sign-up for our weekly email updates, and/or you can follow our updates here on this blog. If you would like to help shape these community meetings, we would welcome your support! Get on the BOAT, and join the Events or Resources Team. We'd love to have you. :)