Invasion of the lot snatchers

November 8, 2006 at 7:28 pm | In Development | 14 Comments

Just east of The Junction, an all-too-familiar story is playing out in a neighborhood that is looking for support in their quest to make sure this version will not have the usual ending. Neighbors worried about a project on the board for 4515 41st SW say that even with condos and commercial development creeping closer to their block, what’s proposed for that site just doesn’t fit — a 7-story apartment/condo building. Only single-family homes and townhomes are on their block right now; adding this project would be something like going from 0 to 60. The Southwest Design Review Board will take another look at the plans when it meets a week from tomorrow (8 pm Nov. 16, SW Precinct on Delridge). One neighbor tells me he’s been trying to contact the city planner assigned to the project and hasn’t received so much as a courtesy reply. This is one of two projects on the SWDRB agenda for that night; coming up in December, the same board checks back on Fauntleroy Place.

14 Comments

  1. What is not mentioned in the official notice for the second meeting (or anywhere else for that matter) is that the proposed project would also be a Park & Ride facility. Here’s an except from the notes for the first design review meeting (Michael Dorcy just emailed me a copy):

    “The proposed project is for the design and construction of a mixed use building on the 20,125 square foot site with approximately 70 residential units located above a ground-level non-residential use. The initial proposal calls for a “park and pool” parking garage as well as parking for the residential uses. The total parking (for up to 260 stalls) for the proposed development is to be provided in a below and above grade garage that is accessed from both the street and the alley.”

    That is such an audacious plan for something to be placed right smack in residential neighborhood flanked by single-family homes and town homes left and right that I can hardly contain my anger over this proposal. It would completely destroy the residential feel of this area and put its residents (especially children) at risk due the to the by several magnitudes increased traffic volume.

    The developer bought the lots some time ago and it is pretty clear that he could make good profit by building single family or town homes in compliance with the current zoning for these lots (L3). The only thing that prevents him from doing that is the greed for more profit. It doesn’t bother him one bit If this profit would come at the expense of the current residents

    At the core of this proposal is the request for rezoning the 3 lots from L3 to NC-3 65:

    “In order to enable the proposed development on the subject site the applicants will apply for a contract rezone, to change the zoning on the development site only, from L-3 to NC-3 with a 65-foot height limit.”

    It is imperative for us, the residents, to clearly voice our objection to the City in order to avoid the rezoning. If that happens then I’m in good faith that this proposal will go nowhere as the City of Seattle has a history of listening and doing what is right for its residents.

    Comment by Andre — 9:31 pm November 8, 2006 #

  2. Hey, folks….

    Unless we want to continue to pay for more and more freeways out into the woods (and all of the associated environmental and energy consequences), we need to accept higher density development in the city. Also, if we ever want to have affordable housing in-city, we must build density. This area is not exactly a single-family area.

    We can’t have it both ways.

    (also, remember who your city/county/state leaders are… remember, this area has been run by the D’s for ever)

    Comment by eric — 9:32 am November 9, 2006 #

  3. I am also a resident of this neighborhood that opposes the proposed Park and Pool and apartment building. Please help us convince the City Council to reject the contract re-zone and park and pool proposed . . . feel free to voice your opposition to the following key members:

    â–ºDow Constantine dow.Constantine@metrokc.gov phone 206-296-1008 (King County Council, District 8, West Seattle)

    â–ºPeter Steinbrueck peter.steinbrueck@seattle.gov phone: 206-684-8804 (Chair, Urban Development and Planning Committee)

    â–ºTom Rasmussen tom.rasmussen@seattle.gov phone: 206-684-8808 (Member, Transportation and Urban Development and Planning Committees)

    â–ºJan Drago jan.drago@seattle.gov phone: 206-684-8801 (Chair, Transportation Committee)

    â–ºMichael Dorcy Michael.Dorcy@seattle.gov phone: 206-625-1393
    (Land Use Planner, Department of Planning and Development)

    Comment by ericak — 10:29 am November 9, 2006 #

  4. Eric,

    The area this project is proposed for clearly is a single family and town home area. It’s zoned L2 (2 story single family or town homes) on one side of 41st Ave SW and L3 (up to 3 story town homes) on the other side. The majority of the homes in this area (41st between Alaska and Oregon) are single family homes (the remaining dwellings are town homes). I doubt that you are actually have been to the actual site of the proposal based on your blanket statement.

    I’m all for more density. In fact, I’m living in a multi family home on this street and welcome more density in our street as long as it is done in balance with what is already there and the zoning for this area.

    Comment by Andre — 10:47 am November 9, 2006 #

  5. Go Andre. Density is happening all around this site. The construction of town homes has been terrific for the neighborhood by welcoming more wonderful neighbors. Greed is the only reason this developer wants to drop a massive parking structure down in the middle of family homes. I’m a mother of 2 small children and I live on the street. I’d love new neighbor with children as well, but a parking lot isn’t going to acheive density.

    And anyone who thinks a park and pool is a good idea, would be better off fighting to improve bus lines so they don’t have to drive their car to catch a bus anyway !!!!

    By the way, the developer say 7 stories, but what they really mean is ” 7 stories minimum”. I was at the 1st meeting and they will build as many stories as possible under the proposed rezone. Beware of what is not being disclosed. The meeting notices and the signage at the site says NOTHING about a Park & Pool !!!!

    I encourage everyone to figt against the rezone and contact city council members. We have city planners for a purpose, who have already zoned the site resident L-3, perfect for town homes and dense housing.

    Comment by LEC — 12:25 pm November 9, 2006 #

  6. There was a woman at the bus stop at the Southwest corner of Alaska junction this morning gathing signatures for a petition to allow this park and ride. I asked her where it was to be and she said “tucked in an empty lot behind Hollywood video”. It sounded like a great idea the way she explained it, allowing more people to take the bus and improving the parking situation around the junction.

    There were 15-20 people waiting for the bus when I was there and we all signed the petition. After reading this I wish I would have asked more questions, but honestly it sounded like a no-brainer the way she described it.

    Comment by KB — 1:42 pm November 9, 2006 #

  7. Hey KB,
    of course it sounded like a no-brainer. That’s how these developers operate. They con unsuspecting bus riders into signing a petition by withholding essential information, then later trot out the petition in front of city officials to show community “support” for the project. Notice that they are making the rounds BEFORE the sh*t hits the fan–this is their golden chance to spread disinformation and “manufacture consent.”

    Had this woman been honest, she would have presented design renderings and maps to explain exactly what is being proposed in terms of scale and location. I suspect she said nothing about the fact that a rezone (which would effectively double the height limit to 65 feet–that’s seven stories) is involved, or that the site is near the corner of 41st and Oregon admidst lowrise townhouses and single family strucures. “Behind Hollywood Video”, my ass!! The propaganda war begins.

    Comment by don — 6:22 pm November 9, 2006 #

  8. I just sent an email to Michael Dorcy and the other City Council members to notify them about the shady practices deployed by the developer to trick mis-informed bus riders into signing their petition. That incident I feel demonstrates quite well the lowly character and motives of the people behind this project.

    Comment by Andre — 10:56 pm November 9, 2006 #

  9. What seems most troubling as I read these comments is that the contract rezoning would move the property from RESIDENTIAL (L3) zoning to COMMERCIAL (NC3). This should be a concern to everyone, whether in a townhome or a single family home in the general area. Once one property is granted a rezone like this, others are sure to follow. This neighborhood will slowly become a commercial area and just an extension of the Junction. NC3 zones are usually in urban centers centers and villages. Bars and nightclubs are allowed in NC3 outright. The contract rezone is not on the DPD site. Have they applied?

    Comment by cami — 3:59 pm November 10, 2006 #

  10. From what I’ve learned an application for rezoning requires a prior design review. In the currently ongoing review (second meeting coming up) the design review board actually needs to judge the project under the assumption that the rezoning would be approved.

    Basically, what is currently done is a hypothetical design review. It must be almost surreal for the members of the design review board as the core problem of the design is its massive scale, which is only possible if rezoned…

    Comment by Andre — 8:43 pm November 10, 2006 #

  11. Speaking of questionable developer tactics, I find it interesting that they are asking for such a whopper of a rezone. Isn’t one of the first rules of negotiation to ask for more than you are willing to settle for?
    I predict that once the fight gets really hot, the developer will magnamously offer to revise the rezone request to “just” NC2-40 or whatever. (i.e. 4 stories going up to 45 feet, with the 200+ parking spaces still intact). They’ve probably already got schemes drawn up under this “less intensive” zoning that work for them. They lop a couple of stories off the building, then get the City to buy into their manufactured “win-win solution” and laugh all the way to the bank.

    Comment by nancy — 9:17 pm November 10, 2006 #

  12. By far the most effective way to voice concerns about this kind of project is to write to the Department of Planning (not to the City Council). Their website has some very specific guidelines to follow, including the types of concerns that they are (and are NOT) allowed to consider in their decision. If you want your voice to be heard (and taken seriously) follow these guidelines closely:
    http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/notices/Public_Comment/

    Comment by tim — 6:25 pm November 13, 2006 #

  13. Thanks Tim. You are correct in terms of the public comments that can be voiced or written concerning the Design Review Board.
    Additionally, since the city council will actually make the decision regarding the contract rezone, it is important that they hear concerns from the public as well.

    I just received an email response from one city council members legislative aide that advised me that all emails/letters written to this particular council member concerning this project will be added to the official documents and records for the contract rezone proceedings and will be taken into consideration when that meeting occurs.

    Comment by ericak — 9:49 am November 14, 2006 #

  14. I am so happy to hear people share my feelings on this subject. I live close to, just north of, the junction and am sickened by the massive amounts of apartments, condos, etc going up in the last 4 years or so – starting with the high rises on CA Ave, just south of Erskine. I just wanted to add I have written emails to the Mayor, because I didn’t know better, but I did receive a written response from Diane Sugimura who basically said well this the Mayors plan. This leads me to believe the city government is ready to sign off on as many permits as developers can submit. The city didn’t answer my question/concern about if they allow all of this (over) development, how are they going to support infrastructure like widening roads like California Ave? The answer is you can’t so why allow density to increase? Maybe I am just stoopid? People use the affordable housing arguement.. well I own a home and feel bad for those who cannot but I would like to live in Medina but I can’t afford it and I just deal with it.

    Comment by chet_desmond — 11:30 am December 7, 2006 #

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