"THERE'S NO conspiracy," explains Seattle City Council mem-ber Margaret Pageler. On March 11, Pageler introduced legislation to exempt the Northgate Mall from its neighborhood plan. The resolution hadn't gone through a committee for scrutiny, and the council member who spent the last four years working with neighborhood groups to craft and implement Northgate's neighbor-hood plan, Richard Conlin, was out of town attending a conference.
"This came right out of left field," says the normally easygoing Conlin, who strongly opposes Pageler's resolution. "To rush through this without any public process was a total shock to me."
"Have you covered City Hall before?" Pageler responded when Seattle Weekly asked why she hadn't first introduced the legislation to the Land Use Committee. "We introduce resolutions [to the full council] all the time."
Not so, says Conlin. He claims Pageler's move was "very unusual. We do proclamations honoring people, but normally, if we have any kind of policy issue, we usually send it through committee."
At the request of Mayor Greg Nickels, the council tabled the vote for two weeks. Only council member Judy Nicastro wanted to immediately vote on Pageler's proposal—without comment from the public, the mayor, or Conlin. "Conlin isn't going to support this regardless," Nicastro explained.
Northgate Mall's owner, the Simon Property Group, is the self-proclaimed "largest publicly traded retail-real-estate company in North America." Conlin wants to use Northgate's General Development Plan to get Simon Property to develop housing and better pedestrian access on its property. But Nicastro and Pageler think the plan has failed its mission and restricted development in the neighborhood. Northgate has met only 6 percent of its housing construction goals in the past seven years, and the mall has been unable to find developers able to satisfy the General Development Plan's various requirements.
On March 25, the City Council will get to hear both sides of the debate as well as public comment from people in the neighborhood who, like Conlin, didn't hear about Pageler's legislation until after the fact.