The Seattle Department of Transportation has a new strategy for Pike People Street this year: all 10 events this summer will be at the same time.
The events will all be held 6 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. every Saturday in July and August — except during Capitol Hill Block Party — and during Capitol Hill Art Walk (July 13, Aug. 10).
Capitol Hill Housing was hired by the city of Seattle to help administer the program during its 2015 pilot. SDOT handled the 2016 rollout without CHH's assistance.
“The biggest complaint we got this last year was that the events were just too unpredictable,” said Seth Geiser with SDOT’s public space management team.
Last year’s event was interrupted by the tail end of a typhoon one night and a snow storm another. The events also all had different street closures and were held at different times of the day.
“To have a more cohesive and really clearly understandable program, we shifted away to having one set of times,” Geiser said. “This model allows for businesses to have extra staff and seating at the ready.”
Geiser feels the “every Saturday” model also decreases confusion and helps the event’s vibe.
“There’s a higher burden during the day to throw an event, where as nightlife programs itself gets people in one area. That street is already lively,” Geiser said.
In surveys conducted by SDOT, many residents said they would be interested in 24/7 closures that mimic a pedestrian mall. However, due to the fact that Capitol Hill is a neighborhood that has a lack of alleys, many of the businesses use the street for business operations such as deliveries, which makes it tricky to have such a closure.
“It’s pretty easy to close blocks, but then all of a sudden that traffic diverts and that movement pattern all changes,” Geiser said.
The proposed closures will affect 11th Avenue from Pine to Pike, and Pike from 10th to 11th with some spillover around closure corners. SDOT has received feedback from a majority of businesses that are located on the closed streets and the surrounding areas. They have yet to hear any concerns, Geiser said.
“People have been relieved that it is clear. They don’t want to deal with uncertainty,” he said.
Attendees of the Capitol Hill Renters Initiative’s April meeting had a chance to weigh in on possible activities and issues SDOT should consider when planning the event.
Participants raised questions about public bathrooms and disability access. SDOT is still working out those details, but Geiser said many of the tables and chairs can be easily moved for wheelchair accessibility, stressing all event staff will be easily visible to answer any questions during the event.
Pike People Street Activation applications will soon be available to residents and organizations that want to have a hand in programming for the event. The application lets SDOT know who people are, what they want to do, and how much space and time they will need.
A report is expected to be released at the end of the month that details how the last two years of the pilot program have impacted neighborhood businesses, participants and residents.