And not responding to those emails, the city says, is why the Sodo arena plan hasn’t been resubmitted to the city council for consideration.
Records supplied Thursday night by the city’s transportation department state that at least three requests for additional information were sent out last March and April to a group pitching a new sports arena in the Sodo district.
The Sodo arena group, led by entrepreneur Chris Hansen, has said it never received any such request. And on Thursday night, Hansen’s land-use lawyer, Jack McCullough, said he’d been led to believe the city didn’t require any additional information from him.
“The idea that we would intentionally or unintentionally fail or refuse to reply to anything is absolutely illogical,’’ McCullough said.
The city claims the lack of a response from Hansen’s group is why its arena plan has not yet been resubmitted to the city council for consideration.
The time-stamped documents from the city indicate the dates on which the various requests were “sent to petitioner’’ — March 20, 21 and April 10 — but do not mention who they specifically went out to or whether they were received. In one of the documents, though, official minutes from a Seattle Design Commission meeting on April 6 at which transportation department official Beverly Barnett spoke, had her saying her agency was “reviewing additional public benefit elements and have requested information to see if data used for the transportation analysis needs to be updated.’’
Hansen had representatives at that meeting, including McCullough and spokesperson Rollin Fatland.
But McCullough said Thursday that a different city agency – the department of construction and inspections — told him it was fine not to update the transportation study, which was initially done more than two years ago. He said even though the city says the request for updated traffic information was made on March 20, he’s spoken often since with transportation department officials and has yet to be asked by anyone asking why the information was never supplied.
He said he had no idea the city also expected replies to comments by various governmental agencies, or updates on talks with Sodo neighborhood teams before pushing the file forward.
“I don’t recall getting an email saying that we needed to get something in, in order to trigger a process,’’ he said.
A Seattle Times story on Tuesday described how a leaked email from Barnett to city councilmember Sally Bagshaw earlier that day indicated that the Sodo file had been delayed because the Hansen group had yet to supply additional information to her department. The council is reviewing a draft Memorandum of Understanding between the city and the Los Angeles based Oak View Group on a planned $600 million renovation of KeyArena.
Hansen wants the council to simultaneously consider his Sodo project, but that can’t happen until the transportation department completes its review and pushes the file forward.
Bagshaw had written an earlier email to Barnett on Tuesday asking about the Hansen file’s status and when it would be forwarded to the council. Barnett, who handles such street requests for the transportation department, replied by mid-afternoon that “there is some additional work to be completed’’ before the file could be turned over.
She said the updated transportation information was needed, as well as the Hansen group’s reply to comments by various city and governmental agencies. Barnett also wrote that Hansen’s group was asked for an update on community engagement and any “ongoing work with the adjacent sports & event facilities’’ but had not provided any.
All told, she estimated it would take two or three months for Hansen’s group to complete the request. Following that, she wrote, it would take three or four months for Hansen’s group and the transportation department to prepare a presentation for the council to review.
Mafara Hobson, a spokesperson for the transportation department, said she would be spending Friday checking for additional hard copies of documents that might shed further light on exactly who the formal requests were sent to and whether any acknowledgement of receipt was obtained.
Hobson said there were no emails immediately traceable from last spring because the city’s computer system purges them after 90 days and they can only be retrieved via archiving after a formal public disclosure request is made.
McCullough said he’d spoken with Barnett since the email was leaked and told her Hansen’s group will prepare and forward any needed documentation. He said much of the documentation is already handy and added there’s at least one silver lining to come out of this week’s ordeal.
“I was encouraged by this,’’ he said, “because it seems that there’s an interest in moving this along now.’’