Committee approves arena street vacation

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SEATTLE - The Seattle City Council took a big step forward on the proposed Seattle Arena on Tuesday, with a 4-1 Committee vote to approve a street vacation for the project.

Councilmembers Bruce Harrell, Rob Johnson, Tim Burgess, and Mike O’Brien all voted the legislation out of the Sustainability and Transportation Committee. Council member Sally Bagshaw was the lone dissenter. 

It sets up the final vote at the Full Council on May 2 at 2pm.

Bagshaw, who voted for the Memorandum of Understanding on the project in 2012, expressed serious reservations about vacating the road for the proposed NBA/NHL Arena. Her vote, by city by-laws, meant that the Council will wait a week before making a final decision.  A unanimous vote would have sent it to the Council on Monday.

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The project has languished for four years, after the MOU was approved, through environmental and design reviews.  The vacation of a one-block stretch of Occidental, is considered the last major vote before the City issues a Master Use Permit for the Arena.

Opponents have argued that the Arena would cause major congestion for the Port and Longshoremen, and potentially for other venues.  The Councilmembers approved a series of amendments on Tuesday, which would address scheduling and transportation issues.

The Council needs a simple majority of 5 votes to approve the street vacation.