Duwamish Valley Action Plan - Seattle, Washington
In 2018, Seattle’s Office of Sustainability & Environment, in collaboration with the Office of Planning and Community Development, released the Duwamish Valley Action Plan (Plan). The Plan lays out a variety of different strategies and projects that should be implemented in the South Park and Georgetown neighborhoods of Seattle. The Plan itself is grounded in equity considerations and environmental justice principles, which results in recommendations that will benefit the communities most affected by the impacts of climate change and systemic racism. The published document is a result of the input of over 500 stakeholders within the Duwamish Valley Region – outreach that began very early in the planning process and continued throughout its development.
The Plan's projects and proposals are intended to advance seven different priority areas: healthy environment; parks and open spaces; community capacity; mobility and transportation; economic opportunity and jobs; affordable housing; and public safety. Within each priority area chapter, there are detailed near-term accomplishments, actions, or projects, and opportunities that, if implemented, will go towards achieving the area-specific goals laid out at the beginning of each chapter. Included among these plans are projects that enhance the natural resilience of these communities, such as tree planting, the development of rain gardens, building more open spaces, and more.
Many communities in the Duwamish Valley – specifically the South Park and Georgetown neighborhoods – have experienced documented inequities for years. Not only is there an EPA Superfund site that needs a massive-scale cleanup in the area, but public health studies have shown that exposure to air pollution, as well as other environmental contamination, is significantly higher in these areas than throughout Seattle as a whole. Additionally, community members have substantially less access to open spaces, while their homes are more subject to flooding – a phenomenon that will only increase as sea levels rise. As a whole, the Plan states that people of color, among other groups, “bear a disproportionate burden of the impacts of racial inequities and health disparities, benefit less directly from our environmental and economic progress, and often have their concerns go unaddressed due to systemic racism and a lack of data that includes a racial or economic analysis.” To address these historical inequities, the Plan explicitly incorporates equity concerns into its framework, which helps to ensure that any projects recommended benefit those who have historically been overburdened.
The priority areas focusing on building a healthy environment, as well as increasing parks and open spaces, suggest several strategies and projects that will develop and strengthen the natural resilience of the South Park and Georgetown neighborhoods. One of the primary goals of the Healthy Environment chapter of the Plan is to increase the health and proliferation of tree canopy coverage, as well as other green infrastructure projects within the Duwamish Valley. Projects include: planting trees in specific areas with the help of students and local youth; collaborating with community groups and local businesses to replace pavement with rain gardens and other stormwater management mechanisms; and encouraging the development of green infrastructure within commercial and industrial zones.
As for Parks and Open Spaces, the Action Plan puts forth strategies that will increase the number of parks per capita within the South Park and Georgetown neighborhoods, which have historically been lacking in these areas. Projects and recommendations that will facilitate the increase of open spaces include: improving existing outdoor spaces and ensuring that they are more communal; maximizing the integration of other community benefits into the design and construction of new parks; and ensuring that funding is available for community groups that already exist and work to preserve and improve neighborhood parks.
For each specific action item or project, the Duwamish Valley Action Plan estimates timelines by which projects will be completed, establishes which Departments should spearhead the initiatives, and provides information regarding funding sources. In some instances, budgeting in the form of existing staff and funding is already in place for specific actions. In others, the Plan suggests that budgeting and financing options include City and non-city funds, community-led efforts, grants, and more. The Seattle Office of Sustainability & the Environment's Duwamish Valley Program tracks progress towards the actions recommended within each of the seven Plan priority areas, noting specific project-based and programmatic investments made in the past year. For example, in FY2019, the Program disbursed over $1.1 million for 15 community-led projects and began work on a connector trail between Georgetown and South Park.
Publication Date: January 2018
- City of Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment
- Equitable Adaptation Legal & Policy Toolkit > Natural Resilience & Green Space Access > Planning Tools for Natural Resilience
- Agriculture and food
- Cultural resources
- Land use and built environment
- Public health
- Frontline Communities
- Plans (other)