This morning, the official city report is out on a major development reported here Friday in a story that’s been ongoing for almost three years – a request to change the zoning for both sides of one full block (and a bit extra) of California SW. Most of it currently has a 30-foot height limit; the proposed new zoning would add 10 feet. As property owner/rezoning proponent Mike Gain told WSB on Friday, the Department of Planning and Development, which has had the rezoning proposal under review since summer 2007, is recommending approval. This page explains how to comment before the public hearing, which is planned before the city Hearing Examiner at 9 am August 18th (her chambers are on the 40th floor of the Municipal Tower downtown) – after that, it goes to the City Council. The full Director’s Report on the recommendation can be seen here (PDF); we’re reading it now and will add its toplines to this story.
ADDED 10:35 AM: As promised – click ahead for toplines from the report, including what it forecasts would be the eventual effects of the rezone:
The report illuminates what the city foresees as potential results of the rezoning – compared to what would eventually happen if the area were “built out” under the 30-foot zoning most of it holds now. This is from a section about utility impacts:
The calculations indicated that the proposed rezone would result in a likely build out of 386 residential units and 172 employees for the commercial area. This would be approximately 96 more units and the same number of employees that would result from full build out under existing NC1-30 zoning.
The most likely development will be ground floor commercial with three to four floors of residential above. This is the preferred type of usage in the residential urban village.
For a further comparison, the report says the area has “about 80 residential units” right now. The zoning change also would increase the maximum size of “many commercial uses” to 25,000 from the current 10,000. (For context on that – West Seattle’s forthcoming Trader Joe’s store in The Triangle is proposed at about 14,000 square feet.)
The commercial uses eventually allowed in the area also could involve up to 51,529 square feet of restaurant usage, says the report, although it observes overall, “This rezone will encourage the creation of more pedestrian-oriented shopping that will provide a broader range of goods and services for the surrounding neighborhood and greater West Seattle area,” and suggests that NC-2 zoning – what’s proposed – is more appropriate for the area in general. It lists the area’s zoning history, too:
1923 to 1947 – Business District with a 40 foot height limit
1947 to 1957 – Business Area District C (BC) with a 40 foot height limit
1957 to 1986 – Neighborhood Business (BN) with a 35 foot height limit
1986 to 1990 – Neighborhood Commercial 1 with a 40 foot height limit (NC1-40)
1991 to Present – Neighborhood Commercial 1 with a 30 foot height limit (NC1-30)
Much of the concern voiced during meetings and in other venues in the months after this was first proposed came from nearby neighbors. To some of their concerns, the report says:
In Seattle neighborhoods, it is common for Neighborhood Commercial development to create a clear edge by extending one lot deep along an arterial, and then transitioning to Single Family zones on either side of the strip of commercial zoning. The neighborhood plan and the rezone criteria encourage the location of neighborhood serving uses in commercial zones along arterials which provide the primary vehicle access to the residential neighborhoods. The zoning pattern in some Seattle neighborhoods provides a multifamily transition zone between the Neighborhood Commercial zone and the Single Family zone. However, that is not the case for many edge conditions along arterials in residential neighborhoods. In this proposed rezone area in the Admiral Neighborhood, the existing edge condition is clearly delineated and emphasized further by topographic breaks between the commercial and residential uses to the east and west of the arterial, the orientation of the residential and commercial uses facing away from each other, and an alley buffering the residential uses on 44th Avenue SW from the commercial uses on California Avenue SW.
The report does note that the southwesternmost corner of the proposed rezoning area, now single-story commercial, is outside of the Admiral Urban Village area and not specifically supported in city code for higher heights – but the rezone is recommended anyway.
Two other points of concern for neighbors had been shadows and view blockage from future development under the rezone. The report acknowledges this – but, particularly in terms of the views, says they would be blocked under what is currently allowed anyway:
Shadows – Potential development will create additional shadows on its north, east and west sides, depending on season and time of day. As described in the response to SMC 23.34.008.E above, future development would likely be subject to design review, which would include consideration of shadow impacts. …
Views – The Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound are visible from many parts of the site, including public rights of way and private properties. DPD has considered the potential impacts of the proposed rezone on adjacent views. It appears full build-out under existing NC1-30 zoning would block most, if not all private views from adjacent properties to the east. There would be no appreciable difference to private views between NC1-30 zoning and NC2-40 zoning.
Also listed in the report, some uses that would not currently be permitted – including entertainment (even “adult cabarets” if various conditions elsewhere in the city code were met) and lodging.
You can read the full report here. Summarizing the public response back in 2007-2008, while also mentioning the meetings that were held, the report says, “During the official public comment period, DPD received fifty-five comment letters and e-mails. Thirty-one letters and emails were in support of the proposed rezone and 24 were opposed.” Again, if you are interested in commenting on this new recommendation to approve the rezoning, the procedures – and time/place for the August public hearing – are here.