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City of Auburn Comprehensive Plan:

Connectivity Element

Caroline Beightol, Nick Brewington-Janssen, Megan Byrne, Laurene Hillion, Carlyn


Kane, Anne Pfeifer, Jordan Remington, Jonathan Schlappi, Erica Weisman and
Anthony Yarnall

Produced December 11th, 2016

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Special thanks to Jeff Tate, Alex Teague, Stephanie Vondrak and all Auburn City Staff.

Special thanks to Branden Born and Rachel Berney, the professors of CEP 460.

Special thanks to Jenna Leonard and Jennifer Davison, the Livable City Year Program Managers.

Special thanks to all Livable City Year staff and organizers.


SECTION I
1.1 Executive Summary
Throughout its 125 year history, the City of Auburn, Washington has grown from a rural farming
community into a sprawling variety of both residential and industrial territories. Spread across
both King and Pierce Counties and located in the Green River Valley, nearly equidistant from the
urban centers of both Seattle and Tacoma, Auburn is a geographically rich region that is home to
a diverse collection of cultures and communities. These communities vary substantially from one
another in both physical setting and socioeconomic standing, which threatens both the culture
and economy of the city as a whole. In light of both the Seattle areas impending growth and the
citys own changing demographics, Auburn is tasked with improving its social, physical, and
economic connectivity in order to create a unified sense of place and a vibrant local economy.

In the fall of 2016, students from the Community, Environment and Planning Department at
the University of Washington were asked to draft a set of recommendations to be
implemented into a connectivity element for the City of Auburns Comprehensive Plan. After
completing a series of case studies that analyzed the connectivity elements and supporting
documents of other mid-size cities, determining the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities,
and threats of the region, and outlining and conducting over 49 surveys of Auburn residents,
the Auburn Connectivity Consulting Team (ACC) was able to successfully bring forward a set
of eleven recommendations for the city addressing the issues surrounding physical, social,
and economic connectivity. The recommendations are as follows:

1. Sidewalk Expansion and Revitalization


2. Trail Network
3. Bus System Expansion
4. Bike Transport System and Corresponding Road Diets
5. Enhanced Signage and Wayfinding
6. Farmers Market
7. Refocus Business Strategy
8. Shop Local Campaign
9. Better Social Services
10. City Events that Engage People of All Ages and Celebrate Auburns Growing Cultural
Diversity
11. Better Engage Existing Local Businesses and Organizations in City Events

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1.2 Methodology

The Connectivity Element of the Auburn Comprehensive Plan requires significant community
engagement in order to accurately identify the area(s) of need/interest and proactively
formulate related solutions. To do this, the Connectivity Element, and congruent public
participation, was approached in 5 stages: a literature review, survey formation, field
observations, synthesis and a written deliverable.

The literature review and background information helped to inform this project of the history
of Auburn. It also answered the key question: what is connectivity? From these case studies,
research regarding the history of Auburn and the original scope of work from the City the
projects scope of work was formed with a problem assessment, project goals, timeline and
initial set of questions to answer. These questions were later narrowed down and answered
in the policy recommendations.

In addition, the Connectivity Consulting Team working on this project collaborated with
Auburn City staff for an initial city tour, and informational meeting. Then separately, they
viewed twenty four community hotspots, identified by city staff, and took observations. Next,
all the information from these two portions of the project was taken into consideration and
synthesized into one community survey.

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The survey was comprised of three sections: 15 short answer survey questions, 4
demographic questions and a mapping exercise. Together, the Placemaking Consulting
Team and the Connectivity Consulting Team surveyed over the course of two weeks and
collected 49 surveys and 28 maps from individuals in the Auburn community.

After the surveying was completed, the Auburn Connectivity Consulting Team and the
Placemaking Consulting team collaborated once again to synthesize all the data collected
and create a usable document which each team could utilize to produce informed policy
recommendations. During this time, ArcGIS was also used to create informational maps of
the restaurant index in Auburn, the health and social assets within the community and the
routes of public transportation. The analysis and maps were then used to inform the final
written report.

This report is the final culmination of the connectivity research and work that took place in
the City of Auburn from September of 2016 to December 2016. Following are asset maps,
synthesis of the survey data and informed policy/activity recommendations formulated by
the Connectivity Consulting Team to help Auburn initiate a Connectivity Element within their
Comprehensive Plan and policies.

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1.3 Connectivity in Context
While the concept of connectivity has no single definition, the Auburn Connectivity
Consulting Team analyzed a series of connectivity elements and supporting documents to
create a cornerstone for this report. Through this study, connectivity is a cohesive physical
plan that enhances social and economic growth. An ideal connectivity element seams
together a patchwork of diverse community identities and experiences to create an
economically thriving and socially interwoven population.

Infrastructure is highlighted as the element of connectivity with the greatest potential to


unite social and economic facets of the Auburn community. Improved mobility allows
community members access to Auburns amenities and services, while also promoting
economic development within the city-limits. Infrastructure also provides an opportunity for
connecting recreational hotspots to foster a healthy and happy populace.

Physical Connectivity takes shape in Auburn in the form of increased non-motorized travel,
as well as an emphasis on an efficient and welcoming multimodal transit system. Social
connectivity recognizes the opportunity to revitalize Downtown as the Heart of Auburn, as
well as preserve the citys existing asset and qualities. Economic connectivity values long-
term economic growth in the form of increased industrial and commercial development, and
robust employment opportunities.

Ensure safe, well connected and accessible neighborhoods with


healthy food, parks and local services in close proximity (Community
Visions Document Section 1.5 Goals for Where We Live, Work and
Shop).

Many of the elements in Auburns Comprehensive Plan address the connectivity goals
identified in case studies but lack a formal strategic element that synthesized desired
outcomes. Auburns Community Visions Plan, Transportation and Economic Development
Elements clearly define a desire for walkable neighborhoods, uncongested streets, improved
public transit service, and better connected neighborhoods and facilities. It emphasizes the
inclusion and celebration of a diverse multicultural, and multi-generational population.

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Case Studies:

During the early stages of the project, research was often inconclusive when searching
explicitly for connectivity elements in cities outside of Auburn. Connectivity
recommendations and policies could be commonly found within Transportation Elements
but their goals were not explicit. To move this project forward and to define connectivity
before surveying, the Auburn Connectivity Consulting Team drew information from six plans
to create the definition of connectivity. Physical Infrastructure was emphasized the most
across plans with social and economic benefits following close behind. Focus on these three
elements would then promote economic growth and assist the population. It was also
theorized that connectivity based on physical infrastructure would positively create healthier
and safer cohesive cities and connect people locally and regionally to amenities and services.

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Renton Comprehensive Plan

Rentons Comprehensive Plan collages multiple plans for transportation, economic


development, housing and human services, and parks and trails. It highlights a desire for a
strong connected community reliant on services to foster partnerships and participation.
Renton targets parks and recreation as a major source for a system of social and economic
connectivity.

A well-connected place that builds cohesive networks, in the form of:


partnerships that enhance community resources; transportation and
recreation facilities that connect through trails, sidewalks, and
streets; and local business, volunteer, and neighborhood
organizations that bring people together. (City of Renton
Comprehensive Plan, 2015).

Renton incorporates a deep reliance on the strength of neighborhood organizations and


events to foster social connection amongst community members. To Renton, connectivity is
as socially and culturally relevant to the community as it is physically.

Redmond Comprehensive Plan

Redmond supports connectivity through strategic land-use management, multimodal travel


options, and safe and environmentally sound use of transit systems. Redmond highlights
the need for a healthy modal system to encourage healthy lifestyles amongst citizens. The
city also sees the importance of connectivity amongst local and regional systems for
seamless transit.

A better transportation system is one that is accessible with


connections between places, helps improve air quality through the use
of alternative fuels that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and is
designed to encourage healthier lifestyles and independent living
particularly for vulnerable populations. (Redmond Comprehensive Plan,
2011)

Communitas: UN Integrated Urban Design and Planning for Inclusive Public


Space and Regional Connectivity and Efficiency

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The UNs plan for regional connectivity addresses many of the issues that are rooted in issues
of population growth and urbanization. The overarching goal of the plan is to create a
method for cities that are sustainable and densified, yet still inclusive and diverse.
Communitas addresses social connection through adaptive urban policies and resilient
infrastructure that prioritizes cultural inclusion. It outlines the necessity for social outcome
to dictate the governance and financial structures present in a city.

Beaverton Oregon Transportation Element

Beavertons Transportation Element of their Comprehensive Plan focuses primarily on the idea
that physical connectivity boosts social and economic growth. This plan also emphasizes the
difference between connectivity and capacity. Similarly to Auburn, Beaverton is expected to
continue to grow in population as more people move from rural to urban lifestyles. To properly
address this need the city wants to ensure that they have a multimodal system that connects the
encompassed neighborhoods and does not lack or exceed capacity demands.

Develop neighborhood and local connections to provide convenient


circulation into and out of neighborhoods. Work to prevent and eliminate
pedestrian and bicycle culde-sacs that require substantial out-of-
direction travel for pedestrians and bicyclists (Beaverton Transportation
Element, 2002)

In order to ensure persistent connectivity in the future, Beaverton wants to emphasize the
connections between collector streets to make it easier for people using all modes of
transportation to move through the area without the use of larger through arterials.
Pedestrian and non-motorized forms of transportation are also of great importance.

Mt. Lebanon Comprehensive Plan Update: Elevating Connectivity for Pedestrians and
Cyclists

This update to Mt. Lebanons Comprehensive Plan aims to ensure that pedestrians have safe
and efficient routes through the city and to enhance bicyclist safety. To write this plan, the
city performed Road Safety Audits to evaluate how and where changes needed to be made
in order to best achieve these goals. They then identified intersections where two or more
crashes occurred and looked at how they could provide short term mitigation, like painting
crosswalks and trimming trees, and long term mitigation for each site.

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Mt. Lebanons commitment to improving the municipalitys was documented
in the Walkable Community Program assessment. Additionally, the Mt.
Lebanon School District conducted a walking assessment of pedestrian access
to their middle schools, documenting many of the missing links of the
pedestrian system within the municipality. These assessments determined a
need to develop a strategy to identify specific pedestrian and bicycle safety
improvements to promote a walking and biking community in Mt. Lebanon
(Elevating Connectivity for Pedestrians and Cyclists, 2012).

This Connectivity Element is clearly focused on safety issues within Mt. Lebanons pre-
existing physical infrastructure. Auburn could potentially use this plan to model a similar
study performed at some of their most dangerous intersections. Additionally, hey could use
some of the short and long term mitigations to inform any changes made to intersections.

West Melbourne Multi-Modal Transportation Element

The West Melbourne Plan looks specifically at the use of multi-modal transportation as way
to ensure land development practices and transportation projects promote community
connectivity.

Connectivity throughout the area will focus on: roadways, pedestrian/biking,


transit operations, parking, finances and case by case determinations (Horizon
2030 Comprehensive Plan, 2010).

The sections of West Melbournes Transportation Elements specific to each area of focus
give more detail of how to feasibly execute a connectivity element. In particular, they
outline finance strategies such as impact fees, tax increment findings, federal and state
funds and alternative funding processes that could be used. This element is very much an
attempt to make sure that connectivity is not lost during the planning process in the
municipality.

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1.4 Survey Analysis
Physical Survey Results

What types of transportation do you use and why?

Cars are the primary mode of transportation in Auburn with 80% of respondents saying they
travel by car. This was followed by the bus with 30%, walking with 12.5%, Sounder train with
5%, and only 2.5% of respondents identified biking. Respondents were allowed to give
multiple answers, which is why the percentages equal more than 100%. People often
mentioned the infrequency of bus service and the hills as reasons for not busing or biking
respectively.

Is it easy to get from one neighborhood to another?

61% of respondents answered yes to this question, adding that driving is the most viable way
to get between neighborhoods. Alternatively, 24% felt it was difficult to get between
neighborhoods, expressing that the wide spread of the neighborhoods, traffic congestion,
frequency of traffic lights, and the hills being some of the reasons why. The last 15% reported
that the connectivity between neighborhoods was okay, not having a strong opinion for
either.

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Is it easy to get from your neighborhood to downtown Auburn?

In addition to getting an idea about how residents felt about connectivity between
neighborhoods, ease of getting downtown was another important question.
- 68% of participants said that it was easy to get downtown from their neighborhood.
- 18% of participants said it was not easy to get downtown.
- 14% of participants did not feel strongly one way or another
Many respondents go downtown to make transportation connections, which is one reason
that there may be a perception of the city center being better connected. A few responders
said they go downtown about once a week to shop. Parking was not cited as being an
issue/barrier to traveling downtown.

Economic Survey Results

Do you shop, run errands, or eat out in Auburn? If yes, what neighborhood(s) do you
go to?

Only 13% of respondents stated that they dont shop in Auburn. The remaining 87% do at
least part of their shopping in Auburn. Downtown, Safeway, and Fred Meyer were the most
frequently mentioned locations. Outside of Auburn, Kent and Covington were the
surrounding cities that participants go to do their shopping most, expressing that there is a
larger variety of restaurants and retail shops compared to those of Auburn.

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What are 3 things you would like to see in the community of Auburn that you don't
currently see?

There was a variety of responses for this particular question that touched on all three aspects
of connectivity. Within the physical category, respondents were interested in seeing an
improvement in the quality of roads and sidewalks, more street/walkway lighting, and a
reduction in traffic. More business growth and less section 8 housing was mentioned
relating to economic connectivity. There were several suggestions having to do with the
social aspect, including more activities and after school programs for children. Improving
emergency services, policing, and dealing with drug issues was one important issue that was
raised a number of times, including better outreach to the homeless population.

When you are not at work, school, or home, how and where do you spend most of your
time?

The most popular responses in decreasing order were parks (17%), library (14%), sports
(11%), Kent, Outlet/Super Mall, and Seattle (8%). People who said they spent their time in
Seattle or Kent tended to be younger with most respondents in their 20s and one in their
30s. The library was mentioned exclusively by minorities such as Native Americans, African
Americans and Latinos, whereas parks were not correlated with any age or racial
demographic.

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Social Survey Results

What are some of the first things that come to your mind when you think of Auburn?

People thought of traffic, nice and quiet the most with both of those being mentioned by
10% of respondents. Diverse, boring, good, and Green River College were all mentioned 8%
of the time. While conducting the survey several people blamed problems in Auburn on the
increase in minority groups in the community in ways that were deemed inappropriate for
publication, therefore demographic issues was developed as a shorthand for cataloging
such responses. This happened in 8% of responses as well. Physical changes to Auburn
indicating growth were mentioned by 5% of respondents.

How often do you participate in city sponsored Auburn-wide events?

The majority of respondents reported that they did not participate in Auburn-wide events
mostly because they had no knowledge of them, of those, many expressed interest in
attending events had they known about them. Of the few respondents who said they have
attended city events, there was mention that they felt most of the events were geared
towards kids, or that they only attend events for their kids. The Art Center or Auburn Ave
Theatre and Les Grove Park were a few of the events that really stuck out to some people.

Do you feel that Auburn has a unified identity?

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Respondents were split with 49% of people said yes, 9% kind of, while 42% of respondents
said no. Many people who said no acknowledged divisions between neighborhoods and
different class levels. Racial divisions were another common theme. People tend to identify
more with their cultural groups rather than the city as a whole and people mentioned social
stigmas such as racism and classism as a barrier to a unified identity.

What do you want to see in your community?

This question was rather dependent upon age. Below is a breakdown of three different age
groups and their distinct response.
20s - Almost every respondent wanted more dining and shopping options.
30s - Along with restaurants and a desire for filled retail space, they also have a desire for
more community events both family oriented and ones that are more all-encompassing of
the population
40 and up - Want to see less crime, and more opportunities for community clean ups

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Demographic Information

Figure 1 Figure 2

Figure 1 shows the most prominent races


in the City of Auburn based on the 2010-
2014 Census data. The table shows 65% of
the community being Caucasian, with
other represented races being African
American (5%), Asian (10%), Pacific
Islander (2%), Native American (2%), and
Hispanic or Latino (16%).

Figure 2 displays the races that


respondents identified themselves as,
both for the survey and the mapping
exercise. The six prominent races that are
Figure 3
shown in Figure 1 are well represented
within the participants of the surveying exercises. Information on age for both activities was
also collected from respondents and is shown in Figure 3. The majority of participants fell
within the 10-20 age group, but overall it was a pretty even spread of ages. It is important to

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look at the tables showing ages and races of the respondents comparatively with the Census
Bureau Data to see that the research, survey results, and recommendations include both
majority and minority groups and ultimately encompass a holistic view of Auburn.

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SECTION II
2.1 SWOT Analysis
The Connectivity Consulting team performed a SWOT analysis to gain a clear and collective
vision of Auburns Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. These conclusions are
based off of observations, meetings with Auburn City staff, surveying, and asset mapping
exercises. Strengths and Weaknesses are based off of the current state of the city. Strengths
are central assets to the city, and are what primarily inform our recommendations, though
some recommendations are also responses to weaknesses. It is possible for Auburn to
address the weaknesses listed below. Threats, however, are future- based and often beyond
the control of Auburn officials. Opportunities are future opportunities to be capitalized upon.

Strengths

Weaknesses

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Opportunities

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Threats

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SECTION III
Physical Connectivity
A central component of a Connectivity Plan are physical connectivity elements. The
City of Auburn would benefit from a more robust network of pedestrian friendly
road/walkways.

3.1 Sidewalk Expansion and Revitalization

Upon surveying 49 Auburn residents, the Connectivity Consulting team found that
only 12% used walking as a mode of transportation. Respondents questioned why
they wouldnt drive. Driving and parking are convenient for the 30 sq. miles of
Auburn. Many people opt and even prefer to drive to the neighboring cities of Kent,
Covington and Federal way. If pedestrian transportation is made appealing and
possible, this may deter some leakage into other cities for shopping or
entertainment.

Sidewalks are a key way to encourage more walking throughout the city. The quote
below touches on the discomfort people have when using Auburns arterial
sidewalks.

Although sidewalks are provided on most arterials, pedestrians may


feel exposed to the traffic. Surface parking lots border the sidewalks,
and driveways interrupt the continuity of the sidewalk system. The
heavy volumes of vehicular traffic and wide streets along arterials, such
as Auburn Way, pose a barrier for pedestrians walking along or crossing
the roadway (Auburn Comprehensive Transportation Plan).

We recommend a sidewalk expansion as featured in The Comprehensive


Transportation Plan, image 3-1. Sidewalks are expanded particularly around schools
and residential areas. Arterial sidewalks require a form of protection to ensure
perceived safety. The images below are a mock-up of what a sidewalk expansion

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would look like. Auburn Way S is a traffic dense street, yet it houses bus stops and
key businesses. It is also a way pedestrians can get to Les Groves Park, the library
and community center, and downtown. By ensuring a more walkable sidewalk
system particularly along Auburn Way S and Auburn Way N, residents may feel more
connected to their neighborhood, be it N or S Auburn, their public spaces, and their
city.

This image depicts Auburn Way S near D St SE. If a turning lane is required we recommend a road reduction to one
lane and a turning lane, to maintain an expanded sidewalk.

3.2 Trail Network

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Public greenspace and parks are one of Auburns biggest assets. Many residents
surveyed mentioned their interest in and usage of parks. Trails and pathways would
allow for more connection to parks and different neighborhoods. The Auburn
Connectivity Consulting team recommends expanding park based trails, connecting
community parks and meeting places.

The city of Auburn has created the map below as a plan for trail expansion. The
yellow lines are current trails and the dotted yellow signifies trails to be built. The
Lakeland Hills Trail network is a nearly complete example within Lakeland Hills as to
what a potential trail expansion across Auburn may look like.

Dykstra Park connecting to Isaac Evans Park is another good example as to how two
parks can creatively connect to each other. The city has proposed in the map below
that Dykstra be the point of a trailhead, and the consulting team backs that. The
Connectivity Consulting Team recommends a developed, wheelchair accessible and
bike friendly trail along the West side of the Green River

Trail Network Auburns developing trail network provides local and regional
connections for both recreational use and commuting. Currently the only regional
trails that have been developed include the Interurban and portions of the Green
River and White River Trails. The Lakeland Hills Trail network provides connections
to neighborhood parks, community center, and to the City of Sumner via a tunnel
under the BNSF railway. Map 3-2 illustrates the existing and proposed trail network
within the City.

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Trail expansion: From Game Farm Park to Les Grove, Les Grove to Auburn
Environmental Park

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3.3 Bus System Expansion

While many respondents were unaware of the entirety of Auburns public transit
options, the bus was the second most frequently indicated mode of transportation
from the survey with thirty percent of respondents saying they use the bus at least
some of the time. Most respondents who indicated they use transit or were
interested in transit were from Lea Hill and the valley neighborhoods.

For those who use the bus service the primary challenges to the use of transit is the
infrequency of service. Some residents mentioned crowded buses as a problem with
the system. Respondents who primarily drove indicated that inconvenience of the
transit system was their primary reason for not using it. Improvements to the local
bus service in Auburn is a crucial part of physically connecting the city.

- Work with King County Metro and Pierce Transit to make sure buses have the
adequate carrying capacity
- Work to increase frequency between Lea Hill and Downtown Auburn as well
as within the valley
- Increasing service on DART Route 910, and consider revising to regular fixed
route bus service
- Add stops to Pierce Transit Route 497 in the South Auburn neighborhood

3.4 Bike Transport System and Corresponding Road Diets

The City of Auburn must take steps to provide a more functional and attractive
network for commuter cyclists, in addition to recreational cyclists (Comprehensive
Plan). At this juncture, the Citys bike lane infrastructure is sorely lacking. Much effort
and investment must be committed to the non-motorized transport system if it is to
be considered viable by Auburn residents. Such investments are prudent in the long
run, as [the] average protected bike lane sees bike counts increase 75 percent in its
first year alone (Monsere, 2014).

Planning a bike lane system is quite a momentous task and in light of time
constraints, our group elected to develop a system concept for the Lea Hill

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neighborhood. There are few existing cross-town connections and new connections
onto the West Hill and Lea Hill are needed, especially in linking the long range
commuter infrastructure in Downtown Auburn (Sounder Train station, bus stops that
support routes to Tacoma and Seattle) with not only residences but the Green River
College campus. The current Imagine Auburn Transport Comprehensive Plan
includes a GIS map of a bike lane system for Lea Hill. Our concept is a slightly
augmented version of the established plan, with extra bike infrastructure along SE
316th Street and 116th Ave SE intended to better connect the residential areas
around the college with the route to Downtown Auburn.

Our proposed Lea Hill bike lane system begins at Auburn Station and parallels
Auburn Ave, 8th St NE, and Lea Hill Rd SE. Originally, we had planned the lane to
access Lea Hill proper by crossing the Green River via the 8th Street Bridge. Road
diets were drawn up to illustrate how the City might resurface the road to
accommodate the bike lane, however during our presentation we were informed
that the bridge will be replaced in its entirety by a new structure further up the river.
In light of this development, we have elected to draw up three development concepts
for the new bridge that integrate a bike lane. Our recommendations for the
remainder of the Lea Hill bike system concept remain intact and will be elaborated
upon.

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Above is an overview of the Lea Hill Bike Lane Concept, provided by GoogleMaps

Depending on the width of the bridge, there are several manners of integrating a bike lane
into the construction. We will begin our exploration by using the width of the current 8th
St bridge as a diving off point. At 47 in width, we assume the current construction is an
average sized suburban bridge and aim to create two alternative designs: one narrower
and one wider.

The above graphic depicts a bridge 47 wide- the same width as the current 8th St bridge, courtesy of StreetMix.net

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At 5 in width, the bike lanes in this concept are quite spacious- wide enough to overtake another
biker. The center turn lane allows maximum versatility for drivers traveling in either direction. The
driving lanes are both 11, much narrower than many lanes currently in use around Auburn. For
example, the current 8th St Bridge has a west bound lane that spans a staggering 15.25.
According to the National Association of City Transport, [lanes] greater than 11 feet should not
be used as they may cause unintended speeding and assume valuable right of way at the
expense of other modes...Lane widths of 10 feet are appropriate in urban areas and have a
positive impact on a street's safety without impacting traffic operations. (NACT). In sum, narrower
lanes of at least 10 are a surprisingly prudent choice for urban areas, as they do not impede
traffic and assist in suppressing speeding.

Fatality rate of pedestrians by vehicle speed, as reported by VisionZero Seattle

The above graphic depicts a bridge 67 wide- 20 wider than the current 8th St bridge, courtesy of StreetMix.net

At 67, our wide concept for the replacement bridge features spacious bike lanes of 5
and sidewalks (!) of 6. There are four lanes of traffic, two in each direction and a center
divider of 1.5. The addition of street lights will likely be a welcome addition as well,

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however these can be deleted and the 3 space savings divided amongst the drive lanes.
The wide concept integrates all three modes of transport comfortably and accomplishes
the vision established by the Imagine Auburn Transportation Comprehensive Plan.

The above graphic depicts a bridge 37 wide- 10 narrower than the current 8th St bridge, courtesy of StreetMix.net

The 37 wide narrow concept is an unlikely scenario- yet the contingency is still viable. Two 10
wide drive lanes, two 5 bike lanes, and two rows of street lamps comprise the totality of the
concept. These three concepts display the ease in which bike lanes can be implemented in new
bridge designs. The construction of the replacement bridge must incorporate a bike lane if the
City of Auburn is serious about promoting non-motorized transport.
Along Lea Hill Rd SE, road diets can be utilized quite easily to integrate a bike lane. The road
benefits from very wide shoulders, dead space that can be activated to incorporate a bike lane.
This concept only requires a foot to be shaved from each drive lane to transform this 35 street
surface into a safe road for all modes of use (two 5 bike lanes, two 10 driving lanes).

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Lea Hill Rd SE in its current form, courtesy of GoogleMaps

Proposed road diet for Lea Hill Rd SE, generated by StreetMix.net

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SECTION IV
Economic Connectivity
Strategic Overview:

4.1 Enhanced Signage & Wayfinding

It became clear to the ACC that many Auburn residents, particularly younger residents and
newcomers, are simply unknowledgeable of many of the communitys assets, which is
potentially a major cause of the leakage of economic activity to Kent and Covington.
Improved and additional signage, as well as other tactics of wayfinding, would encourage
residents to better utilize the entertainment and retail options that are central to Auburn.
Signs in neighborhoods, particularly those exterior to downtown, that read distances to
nearby community assets increase spatial awareness and signal to visitors, shoppers, and
even longtime residents all that Auburn has to offer.

Other strategies for wayfinding include a variety of design and placemaking practices (i.e.
naming neighborhoods or districts after distinct architectural or geographic features,
implementing interactive sidewalk designs, allowing public art installations that are
representative of a place, etcetera). The Auburn Placemaking Consulting Team builds on a
number of these strategies in their recommendations.

4.2 Farmers Market

The ACC Team recommends extending Auburns summer farmers market to be year-round.
Survey responses repeatedly signaled both a lack of diversity in food options and a loss of
food commerce to nearby cities. An all-season or more frequent farmers market would fill
gaps in food variety, support local farmers and vendors, and guarantee cross-neighborhood
interfacing, which also bolsters efforts to improve social connectivity.

4.3 Re-focus Business Strategy

Survey responses show that Auburn has lost its economic-edge, primarily due to a lack of
attractive amenities that capitalize on the emerging majority age groups within the city. Many
of the survey respondents reported that [they] do shop outside of Auburn and when they
do, they tend to shop in Covington or find entertainment in Kent. But what is so attractive
in either of these neighboring cities, and how can Auburn create a better experience for
people shopping in Auburn?

Kent Station capitalizes on the opportunity to connect people directly to the center of Kents

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entertainment. The site is designed as an urban village, with an emphasis on pedestrian use.
Buildings are built to a human scale, the pedestrian right of way is protected by wide
sidewalks, semi-permeable barriers and most importantly Kent Station provides a breadth
of places to sit both covered and uncovered. These designs allow people to interface with
their surroundings, finding enjoyment in the safety, colors and life around them.
Additionally, within a 10 minute walk of the Station, Kent also offers entertainment options
such as spectator sports and a small-town shopping experience. On the other hand,
Covington does not provide much in the way of the pedestrian experience. Rather, what is
provided is a veritable buyers-paradise of imposing big box stores. Despite the lack of
aesthetic appeal in Covingtons economic core, it provides an important function to the
community. As reported in one survey response, the competition there usually leads to
lower prices, which helps me raise my kids and support my family.

In order to better provide for the needs of the consumer in the greater Auburn area, the ACC
Team recommends an extension of the Downtown Facade Improvement Program and
incorporation of new urbanist principles (walkability, mixed-use, diverse businesses, quality
architecture and urban design, human scale, and increased density). These practices could
be applied first to dense retail areas of Auburn. Auburn should look to attract businesses
that appeal to the sizeable 18-35 year old population. Respondents of the survey findings in
this age range recommend that these businesses enhance entertainment and selection
within Auburn. Some potential options may include a bowling alley, nightlife, or location for
spectator sport. For further research on what types of businesses to attract, the ACC Team
advises continued surveying by way of a mail-out postcard that links people to a 5-10 minute
online survey.

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4.4 Shop Local Campaigns

The City of Auburn loses a considerable sum of


commercial funds to neighboring cities. The
Auburn Connectivity Consultant Team has
identified a need for shop local campaigns to
bring customers back to the businesses of
Auburn.

Auburn would profit from promoting not only


small local businesses, but also purchasing from
business within the city limits. A few steps that
would encourage Auburn citizens to stay local
include; being transparent with the benefits of
local purchasing, promoting community services
that would directly benefit from shopping locally,
and working well with as many business owners
in the area as possible.

Cities like Bellingham, WA and Portland, ME have


similar population sizes as Auburn, and have had
great success with their buy local initiatives.
Bellinghams Think Local First campaign ran for
3 years, and was reported to have shifted the
actions of 58% of buyers towards local businesses
(McCray). Similarly, Portlands Buy Local Initiative
reported 75% of customers were making an effort
to shop locally (McCray).

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SECTION V
Social Connectivity
A part of connecting Auburn together is to connect its residents socially, to strengthen
social networks and support local ties during a time of population growth.

5.1 Better Social Services

Homelessness and a lack of social services were often mentioned as concerns from
respondents. More social services was brought up by several people when asked what they
wanted to see in their community.

- Better services for homeless people


- Outreach existing services at local library
- Activating public space
- Events promoting organizations that provide amenities and services to lower income
and homeless individuals

5.2 City events that engage people of all ages and celebrate Auburns growing
cultural diversity
Survey respondents identified a need for more inclusive community events, particularly
respondents in their 30s. They also recognized strong ties within cultural groups. These
cultural ties could be built off of to foster a more diverse range of events to bridge cultural
divides in the community.

- Partner with Muckleshoot Tribe


- Communicate with Green River College student groups (for example: Asian Student
Union, Black Student Union) to identify event opportunities
- Make a focus effort at programing events geared towards people in their 20s
5.3 Better engage existing local businesses and organizations in city events (i.e. Green
River College)

A pre-existing event in Auburn that has potential for expansion and engagement is the Clean
Sweep that occurs on Earth Day. This event is advertised on the City of Auburns website as
the largest community volunteer effort in Auburn. According to the connectivity survey
responses, common themes from the forty plus age group were desire for less crime and
more opportunities for community cleanups. Expanding the Clean Sweep event into a

Auburn Connectivity Element 33


program could touch on both of these needs while actively engaging local businesses, HOAs
and other organizations. Proposed expansion would include:

- Making the Clean Sweep event every other monthly program


- Instead of focusing on city wide cleanup, rotate focus on a specific area each month
- Include local organizations like school groups, HOAs, businesses to volunteer and staff
the program
- Provide incentive with food, tee shirts or some business exchange

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Appendix A: Maps
Food Asset Map

Auburn Connectivity Element 35


Surveys have shown that people in Auburn had a lot of frustration regarding food options
within the city. The map above shows that food assets are concentrated in the city downtown
and the outlet mall. The map shows that it is very hard for people living outside of the
downtown area to have access to either a restaurant or a grocery store which can be related
to the high volume of traffic in these areas. People have to commute using their vehicles if
they want to reach at food resources. This food asset map is also a representation of the
citys morphology where most of the businesses are concentrated downtown.

Auburns inhabitants also have great concerns about the food variety in the city. First there
are two to three main grocery shops within the city such as Safeway in downtown. The rest
are smaller shops with very limited options. Restaurants can be divided into two categories,
chain restaurants and local. While creating the map we discovered an almost equal ratio of
chain to local restaurants within the city, which is a first concern as chain restaurants lack
not only nutritious options, but also unique dining experiences. While analyzing the types of
restaurants the city has to offer, we found a substantial number of restaurants offering Asian
cuisine, such as teriyaki or pho, as well as many fast food or burger options. Respondents
found these restaurant options were lacking of quality and variety of food. Due to the lack
of variety, Auburn residents are eating in Kent.

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Community, Education, Health and Recreation Map

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Bus Route Map

Auburn Connectivity Element 38


Auburn has an array of development opportunities regarding recreation and community options
currently offered. The map above displays a fair amount of these. There is a horse racing track,
Emerald Downs, which is a unique asset. Also, the surveys have shown that people really enjoy
the new community and event center building. It offers activities for elders, children and families.
Respondents also mentioned the playgrounds as an important community asset. The community
center is inclusive of everybody and people appreciate that. However, there were concerns about
the safety of the place at night. Regarding health access, Auburn and its hospital in downtown
seems to meet demand. It is still located in downtown which creates a concentration of businesses
and activities something to avoid in a city with land use patterns like Auburn.

There are an abundance of school options, all of which are distributed evenly throughout the city
and the different neighborhoods. The Green River Community College is a very unique place as
it attracts students from many different cities around Auburn as well as international students.
Students reported that they would like to be more connected to downtown. Some suggested that
the school could better advertise the citys events and organize commuting solutions to aid
students in getting to community events.

Auburn Connectivity Element 39


Transit and Restaurant Overlay Map

Auburn Connectivity Element 40


Appendix B: Survey Results

What are some of the first things that come to your mind when you
think of Auburn?(38 responses)
congested, hard to get around, peaceful, chill
Nice, fresh clean
Cool, better than where she use to live, lots of demographic issues
Renovating, great
Small,
Family, parks, traffic
farming, fresh produce, expanding
change after 20 years, bottom of the barrel, crime, no drive for modern convenience
quiet
hood, heroin, Green River College
Quiet, greenery
cozy place, decent transportation, place to live
Green River College
N/A
Depressing
N/A
wonderful in the past, not so much now (demographic change)
bored, not enough gathering space
Church, used to live here
out of the way
n/a

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Boring, nothing to do, Kent's doing a better job with entertainment
It sucks.
bad traffic
middle class
Quiet living compared to Seattle
Homeleless, Library, Lack of Resources for interviewee, Hikinh
Diverse, Good community-people help each other out, unsafe depending on area
Ghetto, crowded, roads always cracked, traffic
good place
Food
Rains a lot
Growing, lots of kids, a little behind in social services
valley view, nice, close
Diverse, overcrowded schools, big
Green, environmental
Regal
Old city, people are nice

Why or why not?(21 responses)


Hangs out in Lea Hill & Main street
if she doesn't move away
works in Seattle and commutes by car
After time got to know people in the city
International student
Been here for 17 years
Owns his own Martial Arts Studio --> goes to the small business meetings but they aren't helpful
Not at home here even though I have lived here for 12 years
Moved away and came back to take part in America Corps. Will move again after
"Lived here for 3 years, doesn't feel like home"

Auburn Connectivity Element 42


used to, moved to Kent because it is "safer and cheaper"
I'm moving.
live and work here
Auburn has a lot of things to do
Not a lot of things that meet the needs of the interviewee. Not represented by interest groups. She feels
particularly connected to the library.
A lot of inclusion. Particularly connected to Grace Community Church on Auburn Wy.
Always there for school (Green River CC)
tight knit, News articles - city comes together. PD Facebook page has 900 followers, like city type attitude
Particularly connected to Green River College
College campus
Goes to school in the city

Can you say more about that?(18 responses)


different for different people but easy to live here
It's racist, stereotypes people, and is classist
broken up by neighborhood. There are events to bring them together but not enough
most people stay within their neighborhoods
They are working towards it
No sense of community - it is very individualistic
Split between older retirees/veterans and growing diversity. Mentality of the city is going up in flames.
Very diverse, feels that people in Auburn identify more with their culture/ethnicity than with the city
She lived here for 5 years and still comes back.
There are poor neighborhoods and rich, good infrastructure in rich, bad infrastructure in poor. These
people won't feel a part of same city.
However, too family oriented
it depends on where you live.
doesn't seem to have many problems

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Town pride!
kids tie together
too big, not enough police
Doesn't know many other people
haven't felt community

When you are not at work, school, or home, how and where do you
spend most of your time?(35 responses)
Just moved to Auburn so primarily at home or work
library
Library, or park on 28th
hiking
Home
Lea Hill
coach so spends times in the parks
Kids activities, football, theater, goes to parks a lot
Kent, gym
Spends time in Seattle
Kent/Federal Way with friends
Goes to Game Farm Park to play disc golf
Covington to shop
Outside Auburn in Kent or Federal Way
Seattle
I spend my time at home.
park playing soccer
home
parks, fishing in the green river
by Green River
Goes to Seattle
I hang out at home, there is not much to do
Sumner and Puyallup
yard
Auburn
lacking if you don't gamble or race horses, Mall remodeled, parks are nice but only Auburn residents use
it. Needs central attraction
restaurant
Library
Senior center, Library
supermall
disc golf
with kids, goes to library
hangout, party
Outlet Collection & Movies
hangout on weekends

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If yes, what neighborhood(s) do you go to? (22 responses)
Goes to Covington or shops at Auburn Walmart and Fred Meyer
Downtown Safeway, Albertson
Fred Meyer and Safeway
Shops in Auburn & Federal Way
Auburn Safeway and Covington
Downtown
local markets and restaurants
sushi and thai restaurants in Auburn, but no shopping
Fred Meyer - wife shops there too
Likes to go to Kent because there is more appeal and dining options
Spends his time in cafes in downtown Auburn
only downtown
also goes to Kent
shop yes, eat out no
"Not often that I leave"
Green River or around Lea Hill Area
Shops at mall outlet collection and eats at top of hills.
Outlet Collection, Ringo Teriyaki
Walmart, Safeway, Fred Meyer
Finds entertainment elsewhere
All over
Outlet Collection, but Auburn is pretty boring

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Why?(10 responses)
parking is easy
it's okay
car when i can get a ride with my friends
bus is overly crowded
rarely bus
"busses suck"
for convenience
no good public transport, can't hire certain people at her company because transportation affects their
ability to get to work
drives to work somewhere else, each train to Seattle is full and needs more parking
Parking is difficult sometimes, bus service is good here

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comments...(13 responses)
Parking is okay
If you live in the Valley it is easy. If you live in the hills a commute can take a long time.
not bad, connections between neighborhoods could be better
very hard, expensive if you don't take transit
in car yes, by bike no. Only bike within my neighborhood
From Lea Hill
Connectivity is important
Mostly retired people live in Auburn
Connectivity is very important
Far, spread out
traffic is bad
lots of stoplights
well connected

comments...(13 responses)
Seattle is an hour bus ride away
20 minute walk
but theres traffic
yes, bus makes it easy to get downtown, and to downtown Seattle
traffic is bad
Goes Downtown often
Goes to downtown Auburn on weekends
Goes downtown for commuting
25 minutes by bus. Goes shopping once a week
Lots of traffic
3 mins to downtown, 5 mins to trains station
takes the bus
parking is easy

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What are 3 things you would like to see in the community of Auburn
that you don't currently see? (36 responses)
crime prevention, lower rent, more parks
parks, sidewalks, no where to walk
More family events not just for holidays, more places for youths to hangout
parking control, permitting and zoning
after school programs, food and dining
more kids activities, but it's okay
Business growth, less section 8 housing
not much
not sure
More disc golf courses, children activities
Heavier policing downtown, more local business support
Less Tattoo, Massage - Wants something similar to Kent Station
More community events that are not geared towards a specific group (inclusivity), community gardens,
less empty retail space
better busses, less crime, more of what Auburn used to be
"Would love to feel like city is alive, that people aren't just sitting at home"
drug activity dissipated, people need to care more about each other
better roads, newer schools, lower taxes
more help for the homeless (a lot of homelessness), wants to see faster emergency response,
stuff to do
not enough homeless shelters, wish city would do something for homeless with abandoned properties
better outreach for homeless, wish the city would open up abandon houses as shelters
better transportation.
more litter control of people keeping our neighborhoods clean
Sephora, more restaurants, shopping mall, university
Target, Chinese Restaurants, Pizza places
Extend bus times, more recreational stores
more plays, theater, arts
more street lights, wider roads (traffic), safer, more neighborhood names (Identity!!!)
Central attraction point, Better retail: food & restaurant variety reasonably priced, Housing areas: 22nd &
O st park, foot bridge, 4 plexes owned by d.f. landlord pit update/old neighborhood by the Green
Investment Group Out of Control
better parks near Green River College
Better trash cleanup, lack of streetlights make intersections dangerous
better outreach for the homeless
more variety of retail choices
better restaurants, a Target, better police
Forest & Nature space
big shopping mall

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What are the neighborhoods that you like to spend time in? Why? (24
responses)
Downtown
Mine (downtown)
Lakeland because kids have sports practice there
Lakeland Hills & Downtown
Gentry Walk
Kent
Likes Rainier Ridge: safest on top of the hill
Lea Hill
Downtoen
Downtown
Lea Hill, it's my home
Lea Hill around college
downtown
his own, Auburn
her own neighborhood, south Auburn
Lea Hill
Lea Hill - I live there
stays in SA
Here Green River area
Green River
No
Not really
Kingslee
Doesn't spend time in her neighborhood

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