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Licton Springs chosen for Home Zone pilot

We're excited to announce that Seattle Neighborhood Greenways has selected the southeastern corner of Licton Springs for its pioneering home zone pilot in North Seattle! Home Zones represent an innovative and inexpensive approach to increasing walkability, safety, and the sense of community in neighborhoods that lack full sidewalk coverage. The pilot will cover the area north of 85TH, south of 92ND, west of I5 and east of Wallingford Ave. N Below is a map of the area, as well as some of the ideas that have already been proposed for the pilot:

This area was chosen, in particular, because it represents a small well-defined area in which to prove out the concept. If the pilot is successful: it could be expanded both to other areas in Licton Springs and throughout greater North Seattle.

Why are home zones something to get excited about?

It is known by many that Seattle has a sidewalk, or rather lack thereof, problem. As shown in this map prepared by SDOT in 2015, over a quarter of Seattle is laking sidewalk.

Sidewalk Coverage

Most of the need is concentrated in North Seattle, predominantly north of N 85th. And while Licton Springs is lucky to have the best sidewalk coverage of any neighborhood this far North, it still has less sidewalk coverage than any of the communities immediately to the south of it.

There's an often repeated claim that Seattle promised all these areas sidewalk when they were annexed so many decades ago. And, while I haven't definitively been able to determine if that claim is fact or folklore, the city is slowly keeping that promise. The only problem: starting at around $500K+ per a single block, sidewalks are expensive. At the current rate of expenditure, it will take over 300 years for all of Seattle to have sidewalks.

What are Home Zones and how do they aim to solve this problem?

A Home Zone is an area that is protected from lots of fast moving traffic so that streets are safe enough to walk on. Home Zones keep local access for residents, emergency access, and deliveries while discouraging cut-through traffic. Home Zones can use a variety of street improvements to accomplish this but focus on improvements that have the best “bang for our buck” recognizing Seattle’s pedestrian budget is stretched very thin.

Home Zones are meant to:

  1. Make it safe and comfortable for people of all ages and abilities to walk in a neighborhood
  2. Reduce cut-through traffic and speeding by keeping this traffic on the arterials (not increasing traffic on other neighborhood streets), while allowing neighbors to get to their homes, emergency access, deliveries, etc.
  3. Enhance the quality of life for neighbors and strengthen our community (one way to do this is by integrating community art).

In essence: Home Zones aim to offer a drastically less expensive alternative to improve the walkability of currently unsidewalked streets, while also achieving a greater and more cohesive sense of community than can be made with sidewalks alone.

Can I donate to the effort?

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways which is a local nonprofit working to make every neighborhood a great place to walk, bike, and live, is currently supporting this project with staff time and resources. You can donate to help make this a reality at Or contact [email protected] for more information.

What happens next? How can I get involved?

If you live in or near the pilot area or want to give input on the very first North Seattle home zone, you can find more information about the details of this project here. Additionally, we encourage you to fill out the survey here or email us at [email protected] to be kept up to date on the project.

The first public in-person meeting to provide feedback will be held at the Meridian Health Center (10521 Meridian Ave) starting at 6:30 PM September 13th. If able, please register your intention to attend the meeting on Seattle Greenways home zone website.

We hope to see you there!


Downtown Northgate and our bridge to it continues to take shape

For many years Northgate enjoyed the convenience of having both of the big name wine and beer outlets right next to each other. Being able to easily walk between BevMo! and Total Wine in the same trip was a magical thing for anyone who anxiously awaited limited availability beer, wine, or spirit releases. Of course, one-day several months ago, this duo came to an end, leaving only Total Wine - which sits at the bottom of an apartment complex, left in-tact.

A friend of the blog recently reached out to us, with an unsurprising explanation for that closure: BevMo!, which was nestled into an old-fashioned shopping strip, needed to close to make way for the expansion of Downtown Northgate. In the place of the old shopping plaza, plans are in place to build a 235 unit apartment building with retail at the bottom, continuing the trend happening around the old plaza:

Old BevMo! Location Construction Around the Building Alleyway showing grouping of mid-rises

If you would like to give your input into the design of this new apartment building, there is an upcoming opportunity to contribute to the early design guidance August 6, 2018 6:30 pm

Meanwhile, the redevelopment of the mall into the focal point of this new downtown area continues being planned, with the first two opportunities for community input coming tentatively next month:

The transit-oriented development, temporarily paused, has come back in full swing with a new RFP based on free land from King County and an upzone to allow up to 24 story buildings promised by the end of this month.

And finally, concerns over future of the Northgate Pedestrian bridge which will connect Licton Springs directly to both the developing Light Rail and Downtown Northgate, have been alleviated after the Seattle Colleges Board of Trustees conditionally agreed to give an easement to the new bridge. The latest plans for which, will have the new bridge/path only a ~5-10 minute walk away from Oak Tree Plaza.

New Bridge

No matter how you feel about the developments overall, hopefully, this all will lead to a North Seattle that feels more connected both to Downtown Seattle and to the neighborhoods contained within.


This small Seattle neighborhood is experiencing big changes.

Licton Springs is looking to become even more well prepared for the urban demands of being a < 14 minute light rail ride from downtown. It already has relatively high side-walk coverage and population density for the North Seattle area. It is also full of pro-growth and housing community groups - with no noticeable Nimby presence. And, with the light rail approaching in a few more years, it appears the community will be well positioned to take on the growth it desires. The neighbourhood has been seeing additional improvements planned and completed at an unprecedented pace. It's hard just to keep track of all the projects going on! To try and make it a bit easier: I've gone ahead and taken inventory of all the projects I'm aware of and mapped them out by location, start time, and end time.


Did I miss anything? If so, please let me know in a comment below. In any case, we certainly have an exciting few years to look forward to!


Hidden in urban Seattle a nearly 100 year old duck oasis lives on

As the weather gets nicer - if you find yourself wanting to see some ducks you may think the best place to do so would be Green Lake or one of Seattle's many parks. However, the best place to catch a glimpse of the local duck population in Seattle is right here in Licton Springs. Located on N 90th St between Densmore and Ashworth Ave N and near the new school: Pilling's Pond remains as a reminder of Chuck Pilling's legacy. This is the spot where he became the first successful breeder of the hooded merganser, bufflehead and harlequin ducks. Here you can still find hundreds of ducks enjoying the pond. While there has been some concern about the future of the pond due to a sale, the new owners have expressed their desire to keep the legacy going and have allowed Dave Kunkle to continue the maintenance of this great North Seattle landmark.

NOTE: You can't enter the pond but can safely view the ducks from behind the wired fence.

Sign Ducks 2 Ducks 3 Ducks 4 Ducks 5 Ducks 6 Ducks 7 Ducks 8 Ducks 9 Ducks 10 Ducks 11

So, as you enjoy this warmer weather, take some time to appreciate Pilling's Pond, its many duck inhabitants, and the legacy of Chuck Pilling.


Pedestrian Bridge Updates

I was able to make it to yesterday's meeting at Neighborcare Health to discuss the development of the new pedestrian bridge and wanted to share my main takeaways:

  • The college has expressed approval with the new design alleviating concerns that disagreements would lead to no bridge.

  • The new design decreases costs and the maximum slope while improving visibility and addressing the concerns of North Seattle College.

  • The project has secured all necessary funding contingent on it being complete before the light rail opens.

  • It will take 10-15 minutes to walk from the base of the bridge to the entrance of the transit center.

  • The bridge will incorporate scenic overlooks and art installation(s).

  • There is no bike/pedestrian or direction lane separation planned for the bridge. Instead, users will be expected to utilize the generously wide (16ft) path to follow standard right of way rules. Additionally, visual and tactile cues will be added near mixing areas, transition zones, and overlooks providing helpful cues to bicyclists.

  • VIA Architecture expressed pride in their work to create an affordable design that will still be an enjoyable experience to walk over, highlight the beauty inherit on both sides of I5, and act as another North Seattle landmark.

  • Talking with Eric from VIA Architecture, I learned that they use VR to verify what a realistic experience of their designs will be once built.

I also learned about a ton of other exciting things planned for Licton Springs and the surrounding area that will be rolling out over the next few years. Expect a follow-up post with a full overview of all these changes and when we can expect them.