Intent to Vacate Street in SODO

Seattle City Light is requesting the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to permanently close public access to the southern portion of Diagonal Avenue South between 4th Avenue South and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. This currently lies within City Light’s fenced-in property and has been used for storage under a 2008 Street Use Permit.

Owning this property will allow City Light to upgrade this area for better safety and environmental outcomes:

  1. Reduce water damage from flooding during winter months.
  2. Clean stormwater runoff into the Duwamish River;
  3. Improve site security; and
  4. Use the property more efficiently.

The redesign of this property will not result in any changes to the use of adjacent streets or neighborhood character.

The property exchange is subject to the review of the Seattle Design Commission and the Seattle Department of Transportation. It must be approved by the Seattle City Council.

Public Benefit

A public benefit for Seattle residents must be identified for such street vacation petitions. City Light would therefore like to transfer one of its currently vacant properties on E. Marginal Way South to the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation (Parks). More than double the size of the Diagonal Avenue property, Parks is exploring the potential of using this for an off-leash dog park and/or a public walking/biking connector trail (with the Georgetown community).

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Frequently Asked Questions

A street vacation refers to the process where a property owner (in this case, Seattle City Light) petitions Seattle City Council to acquire adjacent street right-of-way for use other than as a public roadway. The responsibility for making these decisions is assigned to the City Council. The City Council will consider public comments that were collected prior to or at a public hearing prior to making a decision about the petition.

Since 1963, Seattle City Light (SCL) has continuously operated this 13,000-square-foot portion of Diagonal Avenue South under a street use permit.  Under this permit, the utility has restricted public access to this portion of Diagonal Avenue South. During this time, the public has not expressed any interest in using this stretch of Diagonal Avenue South. In order to make safety, operational and environmental improvements, City Light is seeking ownership of this section of Diagonal Avenue South, which is surrounded by the utility’s South Service Center property (see map).

This area is zoned for industrial use. The closed portion of Diagonal Avenue South (subject of this vacation petition) has been in industrial use since 1963.  Access to 2nd Avenue South is currently restricted by the railroad tracks directly west of the City Light property. Transferring the ownership of this property from the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to Seattle City Light is not expected to have any impact on surrounding properties or neighborhood circulation patterns.

The petition is governed by the Seattle City Council Street Vacation Policies that were adopted in 2018. The petition for a street vacation is reviewed by SDOT which maintains the city’s rights to all public rights-of-way. SDOT works with the Seattle Design Commission (SDC) to make sure the street vacation process is equitable and does not impact the community.  The Department of Neighborhoods (DON) reviews and approves the outreach strategy for all street vacation proposals. After the public outreach strategy has been executed, the petition is reviewed by SDOT and the SDC  and then forwarded to the City Council for their approval.

The petitioner, Seattle City Light must provide reasonable compensation to Seattle residents for transferring property out of the public right-of-way. The compensation can take many forms. In this case, City Light will be transferring ownership of a 30,000-square-foot property in the Georgetown neighborhood to Seattle Parks and Recreation. The Georgetown community recognizes this property’s potential to become a community amenity. Seattle Parks and Recreation is exploring the potential to use this as an off-leash dog park.

Additional Resources

2018 Street Vacation Policies, City of Seattle

Street Vacation Process, Seattle Department of Transportation, City of Seattle

2018 Directors’ Rule
Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI)

Seattle Department of Neighborhoods (DON)