Skyway West Hill Action Plan

The Skyway-West Hill neighborhood and community business center will grow into a vibrant, walkable, ethnically diverse and civically engaged community that involves the collective voice, wisdom and expertise of its residents and business owners in ongoing civic decision-making.

What is "SWAP"?

Skyway West Hill Action Plan (SWAP) is the King County Comprehensive Plan “sub-area plan” for this community. A sub-area plan guides growth and development. It sets forth data, goals and methods for achieving community improvements. The SWAP does not replace the official 1994 West Hill Community Plan (“Community Plan”), but instead supplements the Community Plan with updated information, issues and priorities to focus needed action and implementation. The SWAP and Community Plan will both provide guidance to King County government in its rule and policy-making authority, and will be used to develop public-private partnerships to implement the project.

SWAP contains five key concepts within an equity and social justice frame. These concepts emerged from past planning and visioning efforts from 1994 to 2012:

  1. Healthy Connected Neighborhoods
  2. Smart, Sustainable Growth
  3. Thriving Educated Youth and Community
  4. Economic Prosperity and Affordability
  5. Culture, Art and Innovation

SWAP Purpose

  • Honor, affirm and supplement existing official plans and documents developed within the community which include the 1994 West Hill Community Plan, the 2009 Community Agenda for Revitalization, the 2008 Skyway Park Community Vision, and the Community Center Visioning Process
  • Update the 1994 West Hill Community Plan ("Community Plan")
  • Prioritize a list of projects that the community can start to implement immediately

Guiding Principles

  • Empower and educate local residents, businesses and youth to share-in and capitalize on the opportunities brought with new community development and redevelopment
  • Avoid typical problems of "gentrification displacement" that can easily occur during community/neighbor- hood redevelopment
  • Keep the priority and purpose of community redevelopment and growth on creating a safe, affordable, inclusive and healthy community that preserves a culturally and economic diverse community
  • Seek to protect the overall character of the community as single-family residential in nature, but be open to allowing a healthy mix of multi-family and other housing types in appropriate designated and scattered areas to promote housing affordability and choice
  • Recognition that the community as a whole must
    • Take control of its own future
    • Work together on their common goals
    • Be inclusive and open to all cultures and ages
    • Be an active and on-going participant in community improvement efforts

Budget

Skyway Solutions received a ‘Policy and Systems Change’ award of $50,000 from The Seattle Foundation to facilitate the SWAP planning efforts.

  • Policy Research: 31%
  • Outreach: 27%
  • Marketing: 18%
  • Youth-Led Forum: 11%
  • Contingency: 6%
  • Meetings: 4%
  • Translation: 3%

What We Did

The SWAP was a 16-month process which included targeted outreach to portions of the community that traditionally are not involved in community planning, but are still invested and impacted by planning policies, development trends and civic services and programs. We collected 1,750 completed surveys.

Under the leadership of Skyway Solutions, and in partnership with King County Department of Permitting and Environmental Review, the following community outreach efforts were conducted:

  • The surveys were available in Vietnamese, Somali, and Spanish.
  • SWAP Steering Committee (a group of up to 16 community volunteers who provided guidance on the SWAP efforts and direction)
  • Five Open House Community Events held between January 2015 and May 2015, focused on the five survey concepts as shown in the chart above
  • Created virtual open houses on this site
  • One survey was mailed as an insert in the new ‘a Voice’ Newsletter, and was delivered to 9,640 residents
  • Distribution of 5,000 informational planning flyers, plus a planning notice which was placed in the ‘Skylines’ Newsletter and reached homeowners in the Skyway Water district

Who We Talked To

What We Learned

We collected 1,750 surveys from community folks who are actively engaging in shaping their future. Here, we show the top three priorities for each concept of the plan. (Read the entire survey here.)

Healthy Connected Neighborhoods

Connecting People to Place

  1. Create a pedestrian-friendly environment in the Skyway Business District (examples omitted)
  2. Expand/enhance transit facilities (bus) and alternative vehicle (Vans and Shuttles) service routes to the business district and the immediate area
  3. Establish sidewalks and bike lanes to schools from higher-density residential areas

Community Ownership and Pride

  1. Create a community "welcoming" and "marketing" 'action group' (example omitted)
  2. Organize events that engage a broad range of community members. (example omitted)
  3. Create an action group dedicated to community beautification projects

Community Services and Resources

  1. Establish a space open to the community where service providers can conduct programs geared toward activities to benefit youth, seniors and/or other targeted populations
  2. Create a Farmer’s Market with a gathering place that simulates health and local economy
  3. Establish sports leagues for all age ranges of Skyway-West Hill residents

Public Safety

  1. Create an action group dedicated to increasing and coordinating neighborhood communbity watch programs
  2. Create an action group dedicated to establishing programs for at risk youth and individuals as alternatives to criminal and gang activity.
  3. Increase police presence and patrol cars from the King County Sheriff’s Department

Smart, Sustainable Growth

Residential Land Use and Density

  1. Look for ways to keep the average home price in the community affordable to lower and moderate income families
  2. Building on vacant lots in single-family neighborhoods, developments should have the same size, scale and density as the traditional existing development. The average single-family neighborhood density of approx. 5 or 6 homes per acre on 6,000 to 7,500 square foot lots.
  3. Mixed-use buildings (multi-family and commercial / office) should be allowed in the Skyway Business District.

Commercial, Industrial and Recreational Land Use and Density

  1. Pursue businesses to locate in the Skyway Business District
  2. Pursue businesses to locate in the Skyway Business District that provide health and professional services
  3. Develop a model mixed-use project combining affordable housing with commercial services within the Skyway Business District

Infrastructure

  1. Pursue improvements to transit (bus services/facilities) in the community to more easily access locations in surrounding cities
  2. Provide pedestrian/bicycle access along streets, parking lots and between and through commercial areas
  3. Develop better vehicle and pedestrian circulation, safer driveway entrances and parking systems within the commercial properties located in the Skyway Business District

Thriving Educated Youth and Community

Education and Employment

  1. Create and develop youth job readiness and employment opportunities (summer jobs, internships, etc.)
  2. Strategic tutoring programs that focus on bilingual students
  3. Increase early education/preschool programs

Public Safety

  1. Provide community based services that are easily accessible to address drug/ alcohol issues and anti-gang involvement
  2. Establish anti-gang activities that also help youth involved with gangs or at-risk of being in a gang (i.e. youth violence prevention, help with legal services, etc.)
  3. Establish health care programs for youth with chemical dependency, mental health and domestic violence, and other health issues

Activities for Youth

  1. Create affordable recreational opportunities for youth (i.e. Sports leagues, camp, etc.).
  2. Establish a community center that provides enrichment activities for youth and their families
  3. Organize youth-led activities and specific events that bring youth together

Economic Prosperity and Affordability

Improvements to Skyway West Hill Business District

  1. Landscape the street and sidewalk, do a facelift of unattractive old and plan building façades in Skyway Business District
  2. Plan that new development should provide a mix of uses with retail or office space on the ground floor and residential units above
  3. Develop the 'empty space' areas between commercial buildings into mini-public plazas or green spaces

Business District Access

  1. Create a pedestrian friendly environment with continuous sidewalks throughout the business district, including an upgraded traffic signal system and pedestrian-operated walk lights
  2. Parking areas for new and redeveloped commercial buildings should be located in the rear or side of the buildings, under buildings or in shared facilities and not along Renton Avenue
  3. Reconfigure existing entrances to parking lots within the Skyway Business District to have formal landscaping, pavement markings and/or signs

Business District Revitalization

  1. Develop a business improvement study to identify specific steps to business district economic revitalization
  2. Launch a 'local jobs' campaign
  3. Launch a 'shop local' campaign

Housing Creation

  1. Develop housing close to public transportation, recreational and/or retail services for fixed-income elderly residents
  2. Encourage new housing types that provide affordable ownership opportunities
  3. Conduct a housing needs assessment specifically for the Skyway-West Hill community

Housing Resources

  1. Work with financial institutions and other housing agencies to expand affordable housing resources
  2. Educate the community on housing issues and help people find or keep their homes, such as revolving loan fund, reverse mortgage program, community-based repair program
  3. Support programs that help prevent homelessness such as emergency rental assistance or referrals to social service networks

Culture, Art and Innovation

Culture

  1. Improve the overall appearance of the Skyway Business District to reflect the cultural diversity of the community
  2. Create public spaces that help increase cross-cultural social and community connections
  3. Host a yearly parade, carnival or festival

Art

  1. Form art, dance, and theater groups
  2. Fund multi-generational community art projects throughout the year
  3. Create a studio for musicians to record

Innovation

  1. Turn empty building into a business incubator where new entrepreneurs share expenses and support each other
  2. Initiate a ‘shop local’ campaign and create a space for home-based businesses to visibly market their products or services
  3. Resource a tool library where residents can borrow tools and take classes to learn how to fix things

Other Community Issues Being Talked About (But That Didn't Make the List)

  • Connect neighborhoods to schools, commerce and public areas
  • Tackle revitalizing, redeveloping and improving the commercial shops, restaurants and services along Renton Avenue
  • Pursue alternative policing models

What is Next? Implementation!

Because of Skyway-West Hill’s unique issues, the implementation phase of this plan is crucial. To address and resolve the issues and concerns of the community as well as to achieve the community-derived goals, the implementation phase is an on-going process throughout the life of this plan. It requires a long term level of commitment from King County staff, possible annexing cities, affected agencies and local governments, and active community organizations to ensure adequate and consistent coordination of actions.

How We Will Do It

  • Convene monthly steering committee meetings and SWAP work groups to implement the SWAP.
    • Collect signatures of survey particpants in support of the SWAP from June 2015 to March 2016
    • Build alliances and partnerships and secure resources to implement SWAP projects - ongoing
    • Schedule community project site tours in Skyway
  • Submit draft SWAP to King County Council on June 30, 2015
  • Submit a final draft SWAP to King County in November 2015
  • Get the SWAP adopted by King County Council between now and September 2016
  • Mobilize community to lead implementation efforts

Learn More

Explore the full report

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Sign the Petition

I Support the SKYWAY­ WESTHILL ACTION PLAN. (SWAP) I have participated in one or more surveys. The SWAP is a community­-driven revitalization plan. The SWAP was drafted for three reasons:

  1. Update the subarea plan in the King County Comprehensive Plan in 2016;
  2. Honor and affirm past planning efforts;
  3. Prioritize a list of projects to be implemented.

I, the undersigned, am a resident and/or stakeholder of the Skyway ­West Hill Community. I urge our leaders to act now to adopt and assist with implementing the SWAP.