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“A Message Of Arrogance”

2011 June 18
by dan bertolet

I hesitate to drag Citytank down to this level, but since I was called out by name, I can’t resist noting the comment made about me by the Seattle Displacement Coalition’s John Fox and Carolee Colter in a recent Capitol Hill Times editorial.

Under a heading entitled A message of arrogance, they cite the following from a recent blog post of mine as an example of “disturbing arrogance:”

Decisions of regional consequence should not be left entirely up to local residents…. Seattle’s leaders have an obligation to make sure land-use decisions benefit not just the neighborhood but also the greater region and…the entire planet.

Got that? If your concerns extend beyond the boundaries of a local neighborhood, you are arrogant. Might I suggest, Mr. Fox and Ms. Colter, that next time you work with an editor. Unless, that is, you both truly do believe that every neighborhood is an island and people have no business getting involved in regional or global issues.

P.S. I’ve had some fun with Mr. Fox in the past (here, here, and here), so I guess it’s only fair that he finally hit me back with a real zinger.


19 Responses leave one →
  1. June 18, 2011

    “Arrogance” in deed is the correct term. You correctly cite that GGLO does not contribute financiallyto your blog, but how does that change the fact that without work for GGLO, you don’t have a job.

    Your arrogance is couched in your position that the only right way is your way, the GGLO way, the RDG way, the Hugh Sisely way.

    We know all about Hugh Sisely. We’ve lived with him for about 40 years. How well do you know him? We know all about RDG. They’ve been blowing smoke up our …, for about 3 years now. Did you just meet them when they hired GGLO?

    What you are saying to the people of Roosevelt, who are just as ecologically conscious as you are and just as aware of what transit costs and how it is paid for, that you have a better handle on this than they do. We don’t know where you came from or even what you do, but you and RDG seem to think the world and Seattle will be a better if we take your lead.

    So, in the greater context of opinions, we’ve heard yours and to insist that is the only true way to happiness and ecological Nirvana, we all say, ” That is arrogance indeed.”

  2. dan bertolet permalink*
    June 18, 2011

    Shorter Glenn Roberts: “Anyone who disagrees with me is arrogant.”

  3. David permalink
    June 20, 2011

    The worst part of your arrogance Dan is that it doesn’t appear that you have tried to understand the position of the neighborhood….but I guess you aren’t getting paid that?? As we’ve always said, we can agree to more density, but that density needs to be in the right place. And we will fight you, GGLO, RDG, the Mayor, the Council and anyone else that tries to tell us what is best for us without understanding our position and the rationale behind it.

    • Matt the Engineer permalink
      June 20, 2011

      The funny thing is, I don’t think Dan’s told anyone where to put density (unless you mean “near the station” is out of the question, which I don’t think is what you’re saying). So… if you’re really fine with more density, then you’re both on the same side of this fight. Remind me what we’re fighting over again?

      • David permalink
        June 20, 2011

        Matt, if you lived in our neighborhood and knew the issue you would see that we are not on the same side as Dan. Dan is employed by GGLO, who works for RDG, who are proponents of massive scale/high density development directly in front of Roosevelt High School. So, unless Dan would like to tell us otherwise, I think it is safe to assume that he is on the same side of this issue as his client. So, the issue for most of the neighbors is limiting density to the Roosevelt core, and not putting it on the fringes adjacent to the school and single family residences. That’s what the fighting is about. So, if you are going to keep blogging about this issue, perhaps you should educate yourself a little better.

        • More "Reasoned" permalink
          June 20, 2011

          David –

          Word on the street is that you don’t speak for Maple Leaf anymore and that many (including some on your “executive” committee) in Maple Leaf feel Roosevelt should go denser.

    • dan bertolet permalink*
      June 20, 2011

      David and Glenn, I would like to invite either of you to write a piece for Citytank explaining “the position and rationale” behind the RNA upzone proposal. If you believe that I and all the others who have criticized the plan lack the local understanding necessary to have an opinion on the issue, it would be a great help to everyone in this forum if you could explain exactly why that is the case. What are the most important things you have considered that we have failed to take into account?

      I’m serious. If you write something that is civil, I will post it. Email

      • Gordian permalink
        June 20, 2011

        Also, in your response to Dan, can you please describe your criteria for who can comment on your neighborhood? How long does someone have to live in Roosevelt before they can criticize you? How many meetings to they have to attend? What’s the relative value a comment make by someone who’s lived there for 10 years but hasn’t been to a meeting vs. someone who just moved in but has been to 1 or more? What if someone moves directly from New York City to Roosevelt? What happens then? Surely, they can’t quite be trusted. What if someone moves out? Have you considered issuing a legally-binding document that forbids them from making any further public statements on development in Roosevelt? Can I suggest a 6 month grace period? Also, can you please specify the exact geographic boundaries, within which commentary is allowed and outside of which you respectfully request they STFU? Also, should you only allow homeowners to comment since they’ll be there longer (ostensibly)? Maybe you could set up an algorithm that allows you to weigh the desirable characteristics of those allowed to have a voice and make this all completely transparent. What if you just know someone there? A little bit of “inside scoop” sure goes a long way these days. What’s your policy on former convicts? Should they have they be allowed to engage in discussion? I’d recommend at least allowing former white collar criminals some leeway.

        Please let us all know what your criteria is so that we can know whether or not to comment. I sure as hell don’t want to be arrogant like Dan Bertolet. What a jerk.

    • Chris Stefan permalink
      June 20, 2011

      I think accusing Dan of carrying water for the Sisley’s is a cheap shot bordering on an ad hominim attack. Dan isn’t saying anything he hasn’t said for years, long before the Sisley’s hired RDG and RDG hired GGLO. I suspect if someone other than the Sisley’s owned the blocks between 12th NE and 15th NE along NE 65th this debate would be much more civil.

      I know many in the neighborhood don’t want to give the Sisley’s anything but they do happen to own some of the prime real-estate near the station.

      I think the Mayor actually is offering a reasonable solution to the situation. I also think the people suggesting the city tell the neighborhood how many new housing units they should take and let the neighborhood figure out where to put them are on the right track.

      Let us not forget the neighborhood actually has done a pretty good job compared to other parts of the city. They fought to get the station in the heart of the commercial district rather than off by I-5. They pushed the city to do a neighborhood plan update rather than just focus on the contract rezone one developer was asking for, or even worse fighting any change to the neighborhood plan at all. They did suggest some upzones including some SF parcels rather than fight any change at all or downzones to reflect the current land use.

  4. Patrick permalink
    June 20, 2011

    John Fox must live in a lot of neighborhoods then, because I’ve seen him commenting on land use issues all over the city.

  5. Dan Staley permalink
    June 20, 2011

    This is actually how it goes much of the time. You get some people who are absolutely convinced they know exactly what the neighborhood needs, and then you get the rest who are trying to get stuff done and do what is best for everyone.

    It takes skill and a ton of patience to sort out the argy-bargy and deliver a decent outcome. Wading through the loud opinions is part of it.

  6. Chris Stefan permalink
    June 20, 2011

    BTW in all of the yelling and screaming over the Roosevelt neighborhood plan an issue both the density advocates and neighborhood activists can probably agree on is being lost. I’ve heard many on both sides of the debate be rather dismayed that Sound Transit isn’t currently planning any TOD on the station site itself in contrast to both Capitol Hill and Brooklyn.

    Sound Transit is planning on taking up the Eastern third of two blocks in the core of the Roosevelt neighborhood with giant station entrances. These station entrances will have no street facing retail in them and no apartments or office space above them. In effect ST is dropping a giant pedestrian dead zone in the middle of the Roosevelt neighborhood. Given the plans for the next station south (Brooklyn) I see no real reason for this.

    • wave permalink
      June 21, 2011

      My understanding is that, in all cases, ST won’t allow any development direclty above the “station box.” I still haven’t heard a good reason for this, but that’s their policy. The Cap Hill station has a big empty plaza proposed directly above the station box that will probably be used for the farmer’s market. The Brooklyn station box will be located under Brooklyn Ave — the TOD will be off to the side of the station box where construction staging will happen. I don’t know for sure, but I’m assuming the big entrances at Roosevelt are to be located above the station box and that’s why there’s no TOD proposed there. Perhaps someone with more knowledge could confirm this.

  7. TLjr permalink
    June 21, 2011

    Advocates for low-income housing are finding common ground with NIMBY density ‘phobes. Go figyuh.

    If they gotta have a tunnel but don’t want the density, couldn’t ST just build an empty shell of a station and zoom the trains right on by to Northgate?

  8. June 22, 2011

    At a Roosevelt land use meeting last night Ron from ST explained that ST calculated that a builder wouldn’t find it economically feasible to build over their station entrances, so they didn’t design the station to support the extra weight. He kept insisting that Roosevelt is different from Brooklyn or Cap Hill. I’m not using that for an argument for or against anything, just sayin’.

    Dan B has asked “What are the most important things you have considered that we have failed to take into account? ” I would answer, “Humanity.” You must have some magic number in mind that if there are XXXX units within ¼ or ½ mile of the transit station, the world will be a better place. If you can answer that, and then allow the neighborhood to determine how and where that density will be most effectively applied, you will be contributing something to the Roosevelt conversation that may make a difference.

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