California ‘upzone’: No vote today – at least 2 more hearings

November 17, 2010 at 12:39 pm | In California Ave upzoning, West Seattle news | Comments Off

Three years and nine days after the first word of a proposal to change the zoning of a full block of California SW on the south end of the Admiral District, the proposal has finally reached the City Council, which has the final say.

(Screen grab from Seattle Channel stream of this morning’s hearing)
Its Committee on the Built Environment has just concluded its first hearing on the proposal to change the zoning along a block-plus of California SW (Hanford to Hinds) from NC1-30 to NC2-40, enabling larger businesses and taller buildings.

Despite the time it has taken for the proposal to get to this point, council staffer Michael Jenkins noted to the committee, “You are pressed for time on this” – it’s now close to the end of the 120-day period allotted for committee action. It’s been pushed off this long because the city recommendation on the proposal came right before fall – which happens to be when councilmembers are focused on budget matters; they have wrapped those up except for next Monday’s final budget vote, so that’s why they were able to take it up today.

No one was there for public comment (on this issue or anything else on the agenda) at today’s meeting. The council spent about half an hour listening to Jenkins’ presentation, involving the issues on which we’ve reported many times before (here’s our coverage archive). Clark summarized that the main issues seemed to her to be the height analysis – how would the upzoning really affect the area – and interpretation of whether this fits with the Admiral Neighborhood Plan. There were some technicalities bandied about regarding the “adopted” plan versus the “recognized” plan; Clark said she has always felt the entire “recognized” plan should be considered as such. Councilmember Sally Bagshaw suggested a “field trip” to the site; no date was set but Clark said that certainly was possible. Clark asked for clarification of whether the property owners who proposed this (Mike Gain and Roger Cayce) owned all the parcels (they don’t, though Jenkins didn’t have that information handy) or had a special agreement with other owners supporting the proposal.

Bottom line: There will be at least one more hearing in this committee – they are scheduling November 30th for oral arguments, and the people challenging the rezone (six appeals, largely involving dozens of nearby residents) will get 15 minutes to split among themselves, while those seeking it (and, since it recommended approval, the city Department of Planning and Development), will get 15 minutes. After that hearing, committee chair Clark said, they will decide if the committee is ready to vote on the request – or if they will schedule one more meeting on December 8th. Once this committee makes its decision, a full council vote would be next. (One note, the graphic on the screengrab above is erroneous; though the term appeared throughout the meeting stream, this is not a CONTRACT rezone, which would involve a specific project; this is a general rezone – differences explained here.)

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