Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for the ‘Urban Planning & Design’ Category

6,000 New Homes Mean Six New Schools In Black Diamond

by January 4th, 2011

SUMMARY: The Black Diamond City Council is poised to approve an agenda bill Jan. 6 granting final authorization to the mayor to sign a comprehensive school mitigation agreement between the city, the Enumclaw School District, and the developer of two new master planned communities which will result in 6,000 new dwelling units and require construction of six new schools, three elementary, two middle, and one high school. The developer will provide land for the schools in exchange for mitigation fee credits, but taxpayers will have to approve the issuance of public debt to pay for construction.

BACKGROUND: Following legally-required environmental analysis and public hearing, the Black Diamond City Council City in September 2010 approved two master planned developments which will result in construction of 6,000 new residential units, The Villages and Lawson Hills. Public schools in Black Diamond, a city in southeastern King County, are operated by the Enumclaw School District, which covers several municipalities in a large suburban-rural area. Under a Comprehensive School Mitigation Agreement approved by the city of Black Diamond and the Enumclaw School District, the developer, Yarrow Bay, will ensure properties are secured within the new communities for new schools that will be required to serve the new population. Yarrow Bay is ready to sign the agreement following final revisions.

KEY LINK: Agenda Bill Authorizing Mayor To Sign Comprehensive School Mitigation Agreement with Enumclaw School District and Yarrow Bay developers; Black Diamond City Council, 1/6/11.


  • The two new master planned developments called The Villages and Lawson Hills will generate a substantial new population of school-age children who cannot be served at existing schools in the Black Diamond area.
  • Based on formulas predicting the number of students in various age groups who will reside in the 3,430 single-family homes and 920 apartments/town homes, there will need to be built: three new elementary schools with 450 students each; two middle schools with 550 students each; and one high school with 1,200 students.
  • To serve the new students, neighborhood schools are preferred so they can walk or bike to school and reduce transportation service needs and associated environmental impacts. Initial locations have been identified for the new schools, but may shift somewhat depending on various factors.
  • The developer Yarrow Bay will convey properties to the Enumclaw School District for construction of the needed new schools in exchange for credits against the so-called “mitigation fees” which are typically assessed in monetary form by cities on developers to compensate for the local government fiscal impacts resulting from new residential communities or units.
  • Paying for construction of the new schools will fall to taxpayers, who will be asked to support passage of school construction bond issues (the issuance of public debt to individual and institutional lenders). The city, school district and developer will “support and encourage” passage of necessary construction bond issues in the near and long-term. (Public entities cannot advocate a “yes” or “no’ vote on any ballot measure, but may provide objective information for the public, and public officials when they are “off the clock” may campaign directly).

City Of Redmond: 2011 State Legislative Agenda

by November 16th, 2010

SUMMARY: The Redmond, Wash. City Council on Nov. 16, 2010 was scheduled to vote on adoption of its 2011 state legislative agenda. The agenda emphasizes funding for transportation and other infrastructure projects, and continued efforts to manage regional growth. The city’s state agenda also voices support for electronic (time-variable) tolling of the I-90 bridge across Lake Washington, as well as for the replacement bridge across the lake on State Route 520, in order to minimize traffic diversions and improve regional traffic demand management.

Public Data Ferret On KOMO 1000: Seattle Database For Tracking Building & Land Use Permitting

by April 21st, 2010

Here’s the audio file of my latest regular weekly appearance as the Public Data Ferret, on KOMO 1000 AM/97.7 FM with “Nine2Noon” show co-anchors Brian Calvert and Nancy Barrick. Our topic today was how citizens, advocates and community journalists can use an information-rich and customizable City of Seattle online database and mapping tool to track building and land use permit activity, and report on or add their voices to the decision-making process. Here’s the original Ferret write-up including related links, posted at the Public Data Ferret hub – that’s our own special searchable database of neutral, blogged synopses of important public documents, databases and data sets. And here’s the full transcript of today’s Ferret radio segment.

Co-anchor Brian Calvert: “Lots of people in the Capitol Hill neighborhood waking up to news this morning that their neighborhood is going to be a lot louder because of a Sound Transit construction project, especially in the first parts of next year, and there’s not a whole lot they can do about it because the city’s signed off on it. But have you ever wanted to find out more about what’s being built in your neighborhood, perhaps before the bad news is leveled, before it’s too late and you can’t do anything about it? Matt Rosenberg, the Public Data Ferret at, joins us. Matt, you actually came across an online database and mapping tool that helps us figure out what’s going on in our neighborhoods, right?”

Matt Rosenberg: “That’s correct. The Seattle Department of Planning and Development has an absolutely great database and mapping tool called the Activity Locator, and it can let you get a real jump on what’s going on in your neighborhood.”

Co-anchor Nancy Barrick: “And I see these signs every so often, the land use action, always wondering, does anyone listen if I care to make a comment about this?”

Matt Rosenberg: “Well they really do. There’s a pretty robust public participation process, but you do have to get keyed in. The city issues about 6,000 building permits a year, for property improvements valued at $2 billion, that was last year, in ’09. But you know, there’s a real balancing act involving economic interests plus concerns we all have about the environment, aesthetics, and traffic congestion. So, the permit Activity Locator, at the department’s site, makes it easy. What you do is, you go right in there and you can start looking at a lot of things real fast. You might want to check out how many multi-family residential developments have been approved in Seattle or in your slice of Seattle in the last few years. You might want to look at pending permit applications for major commercial or mixed-use projects in your neighborhood’s business district. There’s just a whole world of stuff there and you can just jump right in. And then, the key piece, Brian and Nancy, is that you can drill down. For each project, you can actually look at a permit summary, and see what’s being proposed, what’s happened so far – what the permitting history is, who the owner is, and even their address.”

Brian Calvert: “I would imagine, Matt, not only is this handy for people who live in the affected area currently, but if you’re thinking about buying property, or maybe you’re a business owner and you’re about to lease some office space, this might be great information to have before you make the commitment, right?”

Matt Rosenberg: “Totally. It’s very customizable, too, which is important for folks these days when they’re using online resources. So, you may want to get a feel for what other sorts of commercial and mixed-use projects are going on. You might be an environmental advocate and want to take a look a how much high-density development is really occurring, and where, and is it near transit stops, for instance. You might just be concerned about whether there are, you know, more town home developments going in, because you’ve got a bone to pick with all the traffic that seems to result from them. Or you might think that’s a good thing, and want to see what kind of progress the city is making in that area.”

Nancy Barrick: “Alright. Good stuff. Matt Rosenberg, the Public Data Ferret, at

RELATED: KOMO-AM 1000 broadcasts are live-streamed here.