Community groups can temporarily close blocks to thru-traffic for increased access to outdoor recreation space and improved mental health.
SEATTLE (Sept. 21, 2020) – The City of Seattle announced today that it will be expanding upon the successful Stay Healthy and Keep Moving Streets by announcing new free Stay Healthy Block Permits. The free Stay Healthy Block permit will allow community organizations and non-profits to take the lead and open one or more blocks on non-arterial streets to Seattleites to enjoy outdoor space for recreation and community building while following social distancing and other public health guidance.
“Stay Healthy Streets have become a critical lifeline for residents who want to take advantage of outdoor recreation. In response to overwhelming demand from residents, we are offering more opportunities for community to safely come together during COVID-19,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan. “We can’t let up in our fight against this virus, but through programs like curbside dining, Stay Healthy Streets and now Stay Healthy Blocks, we can stay connected to our community.”
With the popular implementation of Stay Healthy Streets, the City has received requests for more outdoor recreation space. Within the initial evaluation period, the duration of the permits is flexible and determined by the applicant according to the community’s preferences. The initial evaluation period is scheduled for four weeks.
Under the conditions of the permit, applicants are responsible for notifying neighbors, closing the street with barricades and printable signs developed by SDOT, and monitoring for safety. Organizations are also responsible for ensuring compliance with public health guidelines.
“The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has compelled us to reimagine how we live in our city. By adapting our streets to prioritize people and not cars, SDOT is transforming how we use Seattle’s public space,” said Yes Segura, Smash the Box founder and New Mobility Transportation Planner. “With the implementation of programs such as Stay Healthy Streets and the new Stay Healthy Blocks, SDOT is reclaiming streets for people by adding more space for friends and families to walk, bike, or roll while maintaining social distancing.”
The permits further help the community expand and reimagine open space and recreation opportunities to youth and adults who do not live near parks or outdoor spaces, which enable physical distancing.
“As the COVID-19 crisis continues, extra space for Seattle residents to exercise and be outdoors close to home is critical,” said Chris Leverson of Build Lake City Together. “With the new Stay Healthy Blocks, SDOT is meeting this need by building on the Stay Healthy Streets program and allowing organizations to offer socially distanced recreation and community-building opportunities at the neighborhood level. It’s a terrific development for both residents and communities!”
Before the end of the initial evaluation period, SDOT will assess public feedback, participation, and compliance in order to develop recommendations on how to proceed.
“Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve listened carefully to residents and worked diligently to develop a toolkit of programs to meet their needs, while keeping public health considerations at the forefront” said Sam Zimbabwe, Director of the Seattle Department of Transportation. “Stay Healthy Blocks are an important new tool for us to use during this challenging time.”
The City continues to partner with nearby communities to ensure Stay Healthy Streets and Blocks, along with Keep Moving Streets, are safe and helpful, while acknowledging there are some short-term impacts related to changing traffic and parking patterns. SDOT has committed to make up to 20 miles of Stay Healthy Streets permanent and is continuing to collect community feedback to inform location and how the streets can become treasured assets that facilitate stronger practices around mental and physical health.
Permit applications will be accepted immediately. For more details about the Stay Healthy Block application process or to submit an application online, please visit: www.seattle.gov/transportation/permits-and-services/permits/stay-healthy-blocks.
For information about opportunities to use the street or sidewalk to support businesses and communities, please visit: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/permits-and-services/permits/temporary-permits