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Roosevelt Environmental Benefits Statement

2011 May 24
by dan bertolet

Since last summer my employer, the integrated design firm GGLO, has been a consultant to the Roosevelt Development Group on their plans to redevelop properties near the future LINK light rail station in Seattle’s Roosevelt neighborhood. As part of this work we developed a new tool for promoting sustainable development called an Environmental Benefits Statement (EBS).

The Roosevelt EBS was intended to be a resource for informing the ongoing debate over upzones in the Roosevelt station area (background here and here), and I encourage people to download the full document.


In general, the purpose of an EBS is to articulate the wide range of economic, social and environmental benefits that can be provided by thoughtful development. Unfortunately, the controversy that often swirls around proposed development has a tendency to overshadow the potential benefits. Furthermore, large-scale development projects usually require an Environmental Impact Statement, a document that tends to frame the public debate in terms of the potential negative impacts.

An EBS helps balance the discussion by focusing on the positive; it elucidates the full range of economic, social, and environmental benefits that responsible development can provide; and it holistically focuses appropriate attention on all there is to be gained—at the neighborhood, city-wide, and regional scales.

As described in the Roosevelt EBS, the impacts of land use decisions around the future Roosevelt light rail station extend far beyond the boundaries of the neighborhood. At the same time, there is an opportunity for well-designed development to result in a win-win for the neighborhood and for the greater region.

The critical enabling component in all this is zoning that allows enough height and density to fully leverage the benefits offered by the transit investment. And while the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association’s upzone proposal currently being assessed by City planners is a step in the right direction, it is not enough. And if you want to know why, it is all spelled out in the Roosevelt EBS.

Lastly, if you think this is important and have an opinion, please email your comments to city planners Shelley Bolser ( and Geoffrey Wendtlandt ( at Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development. Your comments matter.