The Seattle Department of Planning and Development wants you.

If you have an interest in architecture, urban design and the development process, you may be the right volunteer for the West Design Review Board, which helps shape new developments in Queen Anne and Magnolia.

In fact, the review board is looking for three volunteers, who will spend up to 14 hours a month at the task, which includes twice-monthly design meetings. 

The application deadline is Dec. 10. If you’re interested, you can submit an application on-line at or e-mail

This opportunity comes at an interesting time for both communities, but especially Queen Anne.

As Megan Manning’s column on Page 4 in today’s News makes clear, the changes in Queen Anne’s business districts, on top of the hill and below, weigh heavily on a lot of minds.

Manning writes about the potential passing of Queen Anne Books, closed since Halloween night, as an indicator of so much else that appears to be passing on Queen Anne.

True, some local knight may ride up on a white charger and buy Queen Anne Books, but the point remains. One has only to look at the big gap, like a missing tooth, where Metropolitan Market stood, to be filled with the Queen Anne Market development, mirroring the Eden Hill and 7 Hills mixed-use developments across the street.

What people feel they are losing is the human scale, reflected in the one-story business blocks that have defined Queen Anne for so long. 

The eye can rove over Queen Anne Avenue North or Uptown Queen Anne and sense who might be next: Queen Anne is full of locally owned, low-slung shops that may not be able to withstand the renewal of hyper-inflated real estate values and rents — “underutilized” properties, as the saying goes.

One has only to gaze down on the “brave, new world” going up in South Lake Union to realize that Queen Anne is out of the main line of fire, but it is still building toward the profile outlined in the zoning wars of the 1990s. This course was set nearly two decades ago.

Several years ago, The Stranger’s Charles Mudede wrote an insightful piece about the controversy surrounding the white, three-story, modern house, with its back to the street, built between Queen Anne Avenue North and West McGraw Street. According to other architects, that house — which won an Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects — strikes a note that reflects the emerging Queen Anne, which is indeed emerging.

The only thing civilians can do about new commercial development is to help influence architectural outcomes. Again, the West Design Review Board deadline is Dec. 10.