One of the biggest neighborhood issues concerning the proposed South Lake Union rezone is how the massive buildings would impede what are currently fairly clear views from one side of Seattle to the other. Depending on where you are in town, there's a decent chance you can see the Space Needle. And if you can't, just move a couple blocks one way or another and there you go.
Knute Berger, the Space Needle's Writer-in-Residence, says that having a view of the monument helps Seattleites be Seattleites.
The protection of views is very important. For one thing, the Needle is the urban landmark of the region. It is the city-builder's answer to Mt. Rainier, the statement of the city's power, position and ascendency to — as Jonathan Raban put it — "Seattle's capital status across the hinterland." It embodies the characteristics of self-image that we all still promote today — that Seattle is a modern, high-tech, aspirational city. If you can see the Needle, you can see Seattle's mission statement. The flip side of the coin is that a rezoning to allow larger buildings in and around South Lake Union will benefit the public in ways some consider far beyond a pretty view.
"Take my view, please," wrote Roger Valdez, an advocate for compact, vertical communities, in his land-use blog. Valdez argues that the public benefits of taller buildings — tax revenues, shorter commutes, less pollution — outweigh the protection of some Space Needle views. That's especially so, Valdez says, when the 605-foot tower will still be visible from all over the city.
"It's kind of the price of growing up," he said.
So, where do you stand? Is it worth losing some views of the Needle in order to financially-benefit the community? Or would you rather make sure that wherever, whenever, Seattle can see it's Space Needle?
· The importance of seeing the Space Needle [Crosscut]
· Seattle deciding who'll see the Space Needle [Seattle Times]