District 3: Egan Orion

Historic preservation survey responses by Seattle City Council District 3 candidate Egan Orion.

Responses may be lightly edited for clarity and formatting. Please note that Historic Seattle does not endorse candidates for public office.

1. What’s your favorite historic place in Seattle and why do you think it’s important?

I would have to say Volunteer Park.  Not only because of its historic presence in District 3 and designation as an Olmstead legacy park (the same family as the one that created Central Park), but as an important community gathering space. As a strong supporter of the arts, I love that Volunteer Park gives residence to the Seattle Asian Art Museum as well as various arts and culture festivals such as the summer Shakespeare in the Park series.

I have such fond memories of Volunteer Park from when I was a child — I loved it so much, I even wrote a novel about it! Green spaces like Volunteer Park make our city more livable and should be preserved and improved (like with a new amphitheater).

2. How can Seattle accommodate its increase in density while preserving the unique character of its neighborhoods?

There is no doubt, that all neighborhoods across Seattle will need to share in density solutions to curb the affordability crisis. However, through a robust design review process as well as providing incentives for small developers, we have the opportunity to build out density options such as duplexes, triplexes, and quadruplexes that fit the unique architectural style of our historic neighborhoods. In other words, multi-family units that actually look like houses. Above all else we have to build more density–as MHA supports–near transit hubs, community centers, schools, and hospitals, so that those living in affordable housing don’t have to incur an added cost to access necessary neighborhood resources.

3. The cultural spaces which many people feel define Seattle are increasingly at risk of redevelopment. Do you feel that it is important to preserve these places, and how can we accomplish this?

We need to protect our cultural treasures, by designating them as historic landmarks or through the creation of cultural zones. But we must do this before their gone, not after the fact. I’m focused on ensuring that organizations like Historic Seattle are given a voice at City Hall before sites are slated for development. To do this, we need local leaders who understand the urgency of saving our cultural legacy for the next generation and can identify cultural landmarks to begin preservation processes now. Some developers see this as a roadblock, but I see this as an opportunity to grow around the spaces we treasure so that they can be enjoyed for generations to come.

4. How would you strengthen the City’s historic preservation program to ensure continued protection of designated Seattle Landmarks and historic districts?

Community engagement is the key piece of this. Historic sites allow residents, both old and new, the ability to connect with the place we call home. All residents should be involved in the preservation process so that we can build Seattle with the past in mind while looking to the future. Any such community engagement would need to ensure that we are properly identifying and protecting our key historic and cultural zones again, before it’s too late and not after it’s sold and lost to us.

5. What role does historic preservation play in planning and land use beyond designating landmarks and historic districts?

Our history, no matter how fraught, allows us to understand where we came from and the mistakes we made or to celebrate our previous triumphs, so that we remember our past and embrace our future. Our historical and cultural landmarks are sources of arts and culture for all communities to enjoy; celebrating what makes Seattle sites unique and significant strengthens our city. We must ensure that we preserve these areas for generations to come.