West Seattle development: Neighbors rally against adding 2 homes to the site of 1

January 11, 2013 at 12:06 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 65 Comments

(King County Assessor’s Office photo of 3650 55th SW in 1953, shortly after it was built)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

While our coverage of – and your comments about – West Seattle development tends to focus on multi-family projects (with more than 2,000 apartments in the works), single-family-home development is intensifying too.

And because much of it is “infill,” since a city neighborhood like this tends not to have wide stretches of undeveloped land – it often touches the nerve related to the same issue that swirls around apartments: Density, which means taller structures with smaller footprints.

Citywide, the One Home Per Lot movement has gained attention – residents in various single-family-home neighborhoods opposed to new homes being built on smaller lots that were originally used as side yards or backyards.

Much of their scrutiny (as detailed in this Seattle Weekly story last summer) has focused on West Seattle developer Dan Duffus, who is a prolific “infill” developer, houses as well as townhomes and live-work units, here and around the city.

Duffus is co-founder of the Blueprint Capital funding group, which declares itself the leading residential-housing lender in the area, and which has a membership list including two companies who have just bought and are seeking to subdivide a corner site in a northwest West Seattle neighborhood where neighbors rallied this week as part of their attempt to stop the plan.

This fight is centered on the southeast corner of 55th and Manning (map), just south of west Schmitz Park, the former home of Marjorie Sansone. It’s highlighted in this screen grab from the King County Parcel Viewer:

The owner died last year at age 88. Nine months later – in mid-December – her estate closed the sale of the home and its 11,500-square-foot site for $860,000, according to county records, with this document showing its owners as two construction companies, All-Day Constructors LLC of Seattle and JMS Homes Inc. of Medina.

County records show All-Day Constructors as having completed the purchase of the house at 3650 55th SW on December 17, 2012, along with JMS Homes. The 11,500-square-foot property was described on the purchase document as three parcels, four lots. The document says lots 10 and 11, which hold the former Sansone house, now belong to All-Day Constructors; neighbors say those lots add up to 6,500 feet; lots 8 and 9, 2,500 square feet each, now belong to JMS Homes. (If you look closely at the historic photo atop this story, the four lot numbers are noted.)

A land-use-permit application filed by Ron Day of All Day that same day – December 17th – seeks to reapportion the site into three lots, with plans for two homes, one on 55th, one on Manning, with Mrs. Sansone’s 60-year-old home to remain, though a detached garage on the site is proposed for demolition as part of the plan.

The zoning for the area is single-family 5000 (square feet per lot), which, if you go strictly by that size, should allow two houses on the site, and that’s what neighbors say they would expect. But instead, DPD records show, in addition to the existing house remaining, one lot on 55th is slated for a new house, while one lot on Manning is slated for a new house. Those two are listed with Bill Richmond – point person for JMS Homes – as the applicant.

Neighbors say the city is due to decide this month – possibly within days – on the subdivision request, with the construction permits to follow. Their objections include the contorted form of the lots, and they provided this graphic:

They also are concerned about what they expect to be the size and shape of the homes, compared to the existing residences in the area. Their PDF also includes projections of how they believe the lot will be configured after construction:

The neighbors say the house they’re focusing on is the one on 55th – the one in red. The plans for both houses are already outlined on the Blueprint Capital website – 55th SW house here, and the SW Manning house here (though the “under construction” description is inaccurate) – both described as 3 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, 2,900 square feet.

They are among 52 in-progress or newly built Blueprint West Seattle projects, according to this map on the Blueprint site, including the 6 under-construction homes near Lincoln Park on which we reported a month ago.

This week, the neighbors of the 55th/Manning site took their concerns to a local TV station that was expected to show up for an interview on Wednesday morning. The Genesee-Schmitz Neighborhood Council sent its mailing list an invitation to rally in support of the concerned residents, and that’s the first we heard of this neighborhood’s fight. We went over with the intention of checking out a rally, or at least finding out more about the neighborhood’s concerns. The neighbors say the TV station canceled at the last minute, telling them another story got in the way. But concerned neighbors, led by Dave Allen, stayed to talk.

About half an hour into the gathering, one of the new property owners, Ron Day of All Day Constructors, showed up, and was vocally upset to find the gathering outside the property. He declined to answer specific questions about his plans for the site, also noting that he owns only the section with the existing home, not the two sites for which new homes are proposed. But he contended that new homes would increase neighboring property values, while neighbors insist there will be a negative effect.

In a letter to the city, neighbor Dick Miller, former chair of the Genesee-Schmitz Neighborhood Council, wrote:

The character of our neighborhood is single-family homes, mostly mid-century, and allowing such a development would be ugly. Surely, with time and patience a single family with children can be found who would love to have the home with its large lot. This would preserve the architectural cohesiveness of our neighborhood.

Citywide concern about situations like this led to a moratorium of sorts last fall – as explained here on the One Home Per Lot website, – that apparently does not affect lots the size of those into which this parcel is proposed to be split, which is why the neighbors are particularly upset about the one L-shaped lot. They say two homes would make sense for the 11,500-square-foot site, but not three.

Miller’s letter also mentions that the laws should be changed so that neighbors get notice of changes like this, rather than having to “stumble across” them:

Our neighborhood stumbled across this project before the bulldozers arrived. The City should require all proposed lot line adjustments and developments to be announced well in advance, and underhand maneuvers such as this should be prohibited. The simple 5,000sf zoning rules should be uniformly followed.

City rules do say there are exceptions for lot size – see here – most often when other lots in the area are smaller than the size classification. Checking the King County Parcel Viewer, only one lot in the vicinity is smaller than 5,000, a 4,600-square-foot lot to the south.

The concerned neighbors say they have been contacting the city – from the Department of Planning and Development to Mayor McGinn‘s office – regarding the application. This is not the kind of proposal for which a public hearing would routinely be scheduled, so they also are talking to a lawyer to see what options they might have in the long run.

As for the status of the application – which neighbors thought could be decided as soon as next Monday – we asked Alan Justad, DPD spokesperson, who just replied: “Our internal due date of Jan. 14 is a target date; we use these for managing the permit process. It’s not a hard (and) fast date. In this case, I understand this project review will not be completed by the 14th, which is not unusual. I do not have an estimate at this time, though I would assume the review will end fairly soon.”

65 Comments

  1. Good reporting, WSB.

    Comment by fleeb — 12:16 pm January 11, 2013 #

  2. I’m all for intelligent development, but funny-shaped lots like this are ludicrous. As are the ridiculous looking modern boxes (otherwise referred to as a house) that will sit on them.

    At a bare minimum, make them tear down the old house and split the lot into 3x 3800 sf lots.

    Two would certainly be better, although I suspect that the economics wouldn’t work out with a single subdivision…

    Comment by dyn99 — 12:22 pm January 11, 2013 #

  3. WSB, I think you mean 11,500 sq ft, not 11,500 acres…now THAT would be plenty for three houses!

    At least they’re not knocking down a perfectly good midcentury house this time, but the proposed division just looks silly.

    As a fan of many of the architectural styles around here, up to and including both midcentury modern and “modern modern” as it were, I can at least say I appreciate *some* of the designs I see as sympathetic to the older neighborhood around them, while others are lazy and leave a lot to be desired.

    I hope these folks can find a nice way to integrate their new 2900 sq ft behemoths. Who on earth needs that much space to live comfortably? I’m guessing people have gotten by without nearly that much in that neighborhood for the last 60 or 100 years…

    Comment by tickingtimebags — 12:46 pm January 11, 2013 #

  4. One home per lot. I like it. Long overdue.

    Comment by WSratsinacage — 12:50 pm January 11, 2013 #

  5. Sorry, Ticking – Thanks for the catch! Fixing!

    Comment by WSB — 12:53 pm January 11, 2013 #

  6. Typing this from Baltimore, where the predominant in- city building type is attached row homes – smaller than 2000 sq ft each with postage stamp backyards. Makes this seem just silly.

    Comment by Kgdlg — 1:23 pm January 11, 2013 #

  7. Greedy developers willing to ruin another neighborhood for the almighty dollar. Bad karma. I hope the city takes a close look at how they are carving up this property to justify building the two boxes. Like the existing houses front yard will be part of the property of the box house to the south that will be built. (where the detached garage is now.) So that property will be L shaped to make sure the lot is big enough, 3750 sq. ft. to satisfy the city’s stupid rule on building lots. C’mon Seattle get real.

    Comment by Dee — 1:23 pm January 11, 2013 #

  8. I live in a Modernist townhouse near the Junction that is one of four on a lot that formerly was occupied by one decrepit, rat-infested 1920′s era house. I bought my house not because I could not afford a stand-alone house but because I wanted to live in a place where I could walk and bike to services and not depend so much on using a car. And my concept of the American dream does not involve a house surrounded by chemically fertilized lawns that I’d have to maintain endlessly with loud, polluting machines.
    .
    Many of the “one house, one lot” properties on my street are owned by absentee landlords who could care less about the neighborhood beyond the rent checks they receive. Their transient tenants also don’t seem to care either when the neighborhood crows spread garbage all over the place, or about the shopping cart full of bricks that for six years has been incubating a colony just off the alley next to the garage that is falling down. Or the general rundown appearance of their properties.
    .
    I’d like to think that my presence on my block, and that of the hard-working, educated, conscientious neighbors in the other 3 townhouses on our lot are a value-added, stabilizing presence in this neighborhood and this community. Having lived in much more densely settled places (like New York City and London) I also understand that cities work well because of density – when people have the opportunity to interact and collaborate, not when people are insulated by suburban distances.
    .
    For all of those reasons and many more I find it troubling that my choices are apparently such an incitement to so many in this city.

    Comment by cjboffoli — 1:25 pm January 11, 2013 #

  9. I think the lot division is ridiculous and totally out of place in this area. Divide the lot in two and tear down the existing house or forget it. This is far away from the junction for cboffoli’s argument, it’s a 1.3 mile walk. Also the zoning around the junction is multifamily which encourages building multi-tenant and town home buildings to increase density at an urban core. I live in an area of West Seattle where it is all single family homes and most are owner occupied with hard-working, educated, conscientious neighbors so I don’t think oversized homes or town homes are required to have this type of area.

    Comment by Julie — 1:48 pm January 11, 2013 #

  10. cjbofolli – I don’t think people are railing against density. It’s an issue of how it’s done.

    I also lived in a higher-density neighborhood in a similar property for years, in downtown Ballard. The junction is the right place for this type of development. Near Schmitz Park, where the neighborhood is solely SFR’s, is not the right place.

    Townhouses and density are a good thing. Letting developers build in a free-for-all fashion in the wrong places is not.

    The City of Seattle needs to pay less attention to the increased tax base, and more attention to intelligent development. Then the developers can make their money without ruining neighborhoods in the process.

    Comment by dyn99 — 1:50 pm January 11, 2013 #

  11. More often than not, the “decrepit, rat-infested 1920′s era house” referenced in the previous comment is owned by a developer who is letting it get run down so far that the neighborhood wants it to be torn down. That is one of the issues that isn’t addressed by the city DPD or media for that matter.

    Comment by gatewooder — 1:56 pm January 11, 2013 #

  12. The houses do seem like they’re a bit big for the lots, but neighbors’ approach to this seems too blunt to me. Instead of simply opposing small lot development, it would be more constructive for the neighbors and developers to work to promote better standards for small lot development. Seattle is growing fast, and accommodating that in an environmentally sound manner means not just high density development in urban villages, but also infill in single family zones.

    A new organization recently formed to do just that, as reported here:
    http://www.seattlemet.com/articles/group-forms-to-promote-dense-single-fam

    And their website (still a work in progress):
    http://www.smartgrowthseattle.org/

    Remember, for every home we build in Seattle, a bit of farmland or forestland is saved from sprawl.

    Comment by Peter on Fauntleroy — 2:05 pm January 11, 2013 #

  13. Best deal on a piece of property in this area I have seen lately. I think what he was trying to say when he made the comment ( that new homes would increase neighboring property values )
    Yes your taxes will be going up and your views will be gone as these will be million dollar homes. We are just building what the city allows us.

    The city is allowing a lot of home building on lots that have been divided and end up under the 5000sqft rule. 3834 54th sw, 4832 46th sw are just a couple houses with lots 9000sqft or less that will or now have 2 houses on them. I could list 10 more in this area.

    Comment by wetone — 2:19 pm January 11, 2013 #

  14. Funny comments from the pro-townhouse commentor. In my neighborhood (probably just a few blokcs from yours) the townhouse tenants are the ones that down give a rats behind about how the landscaping looks and it seems to take a n order from the city to get them to do any maintenance to their “lawns”. The sidewalks in front of their places are usually over-grown with weeds and blackberries by the time the city tells them to clean it up.

    I’m with the person that saithat development and density has its place. A quiet neighborhood block with SFR zoning is not the place. This is why Seattle is such a beautiful city with attractive neighborhoods that attract people from places like New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and all over the world. Its because we care about the place we live. Let’s keep it that way.

    Comment by DbCoop — 2:50 pm January 11, 2013 #

  15. I read the comments before looking at the site plan and renderings. I saw the comments about the lot line layout being ridiculous but I didn’t really believe the claims. The L-shaped lot is ridiculous and I live in a modern box of a house in Columbia City where 5 “boxes” replaced one crack house.

    Comment by ScottA — 3:14 pm January 11, 2013 #

  16. So what. Let them build them. It’s there property. Also being that the constrution industry has been the hardist hit in this ecnomy with 30% unemployment. Try telling the plumber or carpenter Sorry you can’t work to feed your families because of your opinion on how things should be.

    Comment by boy — 3:16 pm January 11, 2013 #

  17. The scale of the houses being built does not fit in our single family home neighborhoods. One of these houses is going up behind us, it’s owned by Ron Day and being built by JSM Homes. There was no notice given to us that an “apartment building like house” was going to built. It is in between 2 single story houses and looks like a big white rectangle block tower looming over 2 small simple homes. They scraped our grass alley without a permit and layed down 1″ rocks without telling us that it was going to happen and then had the nerve to tell us that we have never maintained the alley and that they were only improving it. All the city did was slap them on the wrist and say you need a permit next time. Letting the neighbors know what’s happening ahead of time might make the neighbor less pissed off. All these developers care about it making money in the fastest, cheapest and most destructive way possible, to hell what the neighbors think or what happens to their privacy or the condtion of the neighborhood when they are done with construction, they’re in and out in less than a year. They just don’t care about Seattle neighborhoods they care about how much money they line their pockets with.

    Comment by Slider — 3:30 pm January 11, 2013 #

  18. @Peter on Fauntleroy – I’m with you on this. Density is the only way.
    -
    Perhaps it’s time to start a bit more of a design-review process for single family homes? A way to get the community involved – not just complaining but engaged – before the bulldozers come.

    Comment by Kim — 3:39 pm January 11, 2013 #

  19. Well, if this lot and this older house was so important to the neighborhood, perhaps a local should have bought it. I certainly don’t allow anyone to tell me I can’t do whatever I want (within the bounds of legality) on my property, and I doubt I’m the only person that feels that way. Why then is it ok to tell the developers what they can and can’t do on the property they own? Just because the building style isn’t to your taste? Because you don’t like the way they are dividing the lots? The article mentions that this parcel is four lots–if they wanted to build three houses plus keep the original house, they would still be within the bounds of “one house per lot.” Times change, building styles change, neighborhoods change. When they don’t, you get Detroit.

    Comment by halyn — 3:43 pm January 11, 2013 #

  20. I saw this happen in Ballard and it destroyed the look of many neighborhoods. Whenever you hear a politician or planner talking about “sustainability” this is what they really mean – endless density. At least we will be able to get a good price for our houses so we can move somewhere else.

    Comment by M — 3:49 pm January 11, 2013 #

  21. This has increased since McGinnis came into office..West Seattle as a whole is being ruined with the increase density and an infrastructue that can not support it. This is our community and we need to make it know we do not want to be capital hill west

    Comment by plf — 4:26 pm January 11, 2013 #

  22. I live on one of the busiest thoroughfares in West Seattle, and although I hate to see well-maintained architecturally interesting smaller apartments and houses being torn down in the name of density, I understand that if this is going to happen, the junction/commercial areas are where it should happen. Not everyone cares about being within walking distance of resturants and shopping and instead enjoy large yards and privacy. I don’t understand why some of the neighborhoods can’t be left unmolested for people who enjoy a less urban lifestyle. For everyone who can’t suffer the infill, just know that most of the structures built within the last 5 years (like the townhome I bought) will probably have fallen down in 30 years due to the atrocious quality by the builders, most of whom went belly up in the recession.

    Comment by Ajax — 4:53 pm January 11, 2013 #

  23. At least Developer Duffus has a fitting name.

    And, CJ Boffoli, I notice all of your art has little people in it. hehe.

    Comment by The Power of Yes — 6:08 pm January 11, 2013 #

  24. With respects to CJBoffoli in this area the original housing stock is modest at best. In those days (mid-50s) a large house was 2,000 feet square. Where I grew up (not here) there are strict rules on development, even in a similar age ‘hood. You have to erect a stick-outline of the the house you are proposing, and the burden of proof is on the home owner that this is compatible and the neighbors can put the kibosh on grandiose plans. Any neighborhood, not just those with views.
    -
    In Seattle, anyone can block anyone’s view with basically anything that can be approved. While it is allowable, it doesn’t make it right. The people whose views are altered forever are not compensated. The tragedy of the Commons is that no one wins. I pray for the longevity of my neighbors and they are probably praying for mine unless I build up. Which I won’t.

    Comment by JayDee — 6:38 pm January 11, 2013 #

  25. OK, so anyone know how we do anything about this before it is too late?

    Comment by M — 6:59 pm January 11, 2013 #

  26. Great article. The developer will come out just fine with 2 houses total on these 2 lots (ie existing zoning). A house + a lot sold kitty corner to this house last year for the same amount and guess what, they built 1 house on the extra lot and it penciled. Adding a third house is just Duffus being greedy with no regard for the neighborhoods he develops in. The city code section clearly indicates that using historic lots is to create a “more regular development pattern and streetscape”. Clearly this code section is being abused and DPD needs to stop this loophole now.

    Comment by Mrf — 7:42 pm January 11, 2013 #

  27. On 32nd SW just South of Camp Long…two lots, 4 houses, 20 bedrooms, 12 bathrooms. Wow.

    Comment by Susan — 7:50 pm January 11, 2013 #

  28. This is a travesty. As a long time West Seattlite the city must take action against such predatory defacement of our historic neighborhoods. This one just steps away from our cherished Schmitz Park. Please city stop these developers in their tracks and rule against their shady profiteering.

    Comment by bobby gordon — 8:04 pm January 11, 2013 #

  29. With population growth, there is no way to preserve outlying green areas without increasing density in the city. That being said developers should never be allowed to erect eyesores that are inconsistent with zoning policies.
    Aside to halyn: Much of the housing in Detroit is exquisite, architecturally sound, and very affordable. The neighborhoods DID change due to economic/class issues. Refusing to build big ugly houses in their community was never a factor in the downfall of Detroit.

    Comment by Bridge — 8:26 pm January 11, 2013 #

  30. This is a travesty that contractors can take advantage of such a wonderful place and turn it into an overstuffed lot. What happened to retaining the charm and love of these small West Seattle pockets of neighborhood gold? Can’t the city do anything to afford the builders a mechanism for reasonably developing a plot of land? MK must be rolling in her grave right now.

    Comment by Bobby Jones — 8:39 pm January 11, 2013 #

  31. I am a neighbor, at 3711 – 55th Ave.SW. This issue is larger than NIMBY, and our neighborhood is not a group of snazzy, elitist, wealthy fuddy-duddies who resist change. A few years back one of my neighbors converted his home into a senior care facility. We welcomed this change, and they are good neighbors. My concern is that this proposed development will, in fact, be degrading to our neighborhood. As neighbors, we all suffered a loss at the death of the late owner, Marjorie Sansone, as did her daughters, who had grown up here. I understand that the daughters needed to settle the estate. Then a realtor, Jacob Menache (who is surprisingly a” neighbor”) informed the developer, Dan Duffus, of this opportunity before the property was listed, and a private deal was made. That deal may have been a “steal”, if the daughters had known the true value of the entire property, given the developer’s plan to subdivide. Even worse, the neighborhood expected the home to be sold to a single family whose kids, along with the neighbor kids, could enjoy the large lot. If we had been given the opportunity, I would have made every effort to find a way for the neighborhood to preserve the original home and the open space, purchasing the “lot” if possible to make a small neighborhood park. If the developer succeeds, we don’t have this opportunity to preserve our neighborhood. What a shame. Shame on the developer, Dan Duffus, and his partner Ron Day. Their plans might be legal, which we dispute, but their intent and approach is, in my judgment, deceptive and destructive. What does it mean to be a “neighbor”? Mutual support, kindness, concern, consideration, and friendship, which endure over a lifetime. Duffus, Day and Menache are not “neighbors” to me!
    Dick Miller,Past-President, Genesee-Schmitz Neighborhood Council

    Comment by Dick Miller — 8:40 pm January 11, 2013 #

  32. That red house is atrocious! Once one out of place building is allowed to be plopped down in an area, more follow, a domino effect. Four of those properties on the map are on my block (#s 8,11,14, and 15). Two are in the process of being built. They stick out like sore thumbs and dwarf the largest houses on the block. I feel most sorry for the property owner sandwiched between the four on what were the properties of two single family homes.

    Comment by CJ — 8:53 pm January 11, 2013 #

  33. Duffus did the same thing several years ago on our dead-end block of 49th Ave SW & Graham St. He swooped in when an elderly neighbor was transferred to a life care facility, purchased the property for an absolute screaming deal, and then proceeded to remove many enormous “exceptional” trees from the lot.

    Two nearly identical tall “modern” homes were built where once stood some amazing trees and a historic log cabin. Same MO, no information to neighbors ahead of time, because of the loophole. By the time we realized what was happening, the trees were in the process of being cut down (which I seem to recall happening on a government holiday).

    Neighbors complained to the city, inspectors came out, but basically nothing changed. There was a lot of back-slapping and hand-shaking between some of the inspectors and the developers/builders.

    Good luck to the neighbors fighting his new project. It seems like he has a lot of connections and cash, so I wish you the best.

    Comment by 49th and Graham — 10:23 pm January 11, 2013 #

  34. Fwiw, Dan is not a “West Seattle Developer” – he’s done a lot of work all over Seattle.

    Comment by I sometimes leave the peninsula — 10:24 pm January 11, 2013 #

  35. That is a reference to his community of residence, not meant to imply that’s the only place he works; that same line ends, “here and around the city.”

    Comment by WSB — 10:44 pm January 11, 2013 #

  36. I’m the block watch captain for this neighborhood, called “Benchview.” It’s named for the bench which sits on a street-end we all share. Come check it out. It’s across the street from this proposed project.

    Our key points:

    1. These houses are out of character for the neighborhood
    - The planned 3-story, 2,900 s.f. house will tower over adjacent homes.
    - The two new houses will possibly be the biggest in our neighborhood, on lots that are by far the smallest.

    2. Unfair zoning change for one property
    - The developer wants the city to change the zoning on his property only.
    - He is trying to use a zoning loophole that might apply to his property. City law bans all other properties in our neighborhood from using this loophole. (SMC 23.44.010) http://clerk.ci.seattle.wa.us/~scripts/nph-brs.exe?s1=23.44.010&s2=&S3=&Sect4=AND&l=20&Sect3=PLURON&Sect5=CODE1&d=CODE&p=1&u=%2F%7Epublic%2Fcode1.htm&r=1&Sect6=HITOFF&f=G
    - There is no public hearing before the city approves these “personal rezones.”

    3. We urge Mayor McGinn and City Council to fully close the zoning loophole before more neighborhoods are degraded
    - Duffus and other developers were using the loophole to build big houses on tiny lots. (e.g. 3-story house on 1,050 s.f. in a 5,000 s.f. zone.) http://www.seattleweekly.com/2012-07-25/news/dan-duffus-crowded-houses/
    - The city changed the law in 2012 to address the problem.
    - But the loophole still allows a 3-story house on a 3,750 s.f. lot in a 5,000 s.f. zone.

    -Dave Allen

    Comment by Dave A. — 11:46 pm January 11, 2013 #

  37. cjboffoli -

    ~~”And my concept of the American dream does not involve a house surrounded by chemically fertilized lawns that I’d have to maintain endlessly with loud, polluting machines.”

    >>>Relax. I would be surprised if over 5% of WS lawns are ‘chemically fertilized’, you have bigger fish to fry! And ‘loud polluting machines’ – if you’ve lived in NY and London then surely you’ve used a few polluting machines yourself to get to and from Seattle. Single family homes are awesome – maybe even someone’s children actually enjoy that evil lawn!

    ~~”I’d like to think that my presence on my block, and that of the hard-working, educated, conscientious neighbors in the other 3 townhouses on our lot are a value-added, stabilizing presence in this neighborhood and this community.”

    >>>Translation – my know-nothing, worthless neighbors are lucky I am in their neighborhood so they have an example of how to behave. Too bad they can’t afford a new construction townhome!

    Comment by Sir — 12:03 am January 12, 2013 #

  38. I think everyone should take a look at the red lot and imagine being the homeowner who is now responsible for that L and maintaining it in spote of the fact that it adds no value to the property other than to make it 3750 sq ft so a developer could build a 3 story cubicle. For all that you essentially get a dog run of a side yard which doesn’t even run next to your home, but your neighbors.

    I have seen many townhouses in the area and while increased density makes sense at the beach (lived there, you don’t need a yard with the beach and whale tail nearby) and at the alaska junction(where there is a great deal of shopping in walking distance), it makes no sense in our area because there is nothing but other homes and the school within reasonable walking distance.

    Comment by Civik — 6:55 am January 12, 2013 #

  39. I noticed on my drive home that the house at 4010 SW Genesee was sold in one day last September. It is on the north west corner of 40th and Genesee and is a big lot. According to records it was was sold to Brothers LLC which I assume is a developer. Yesterday I saw that they have put a temporary pole to hold the electrical lines on the site. Does anyone know if multi townhouses are going in?

    Comment by sc — 7:30 am January 12, 2013 #

  40. In ‘spite’, not spote… damn you tiny iPhone keyboard!

    Comment by Civik — 8:03 am January 12, 2013 #

  41. I walk my dog by that lot/house often. I noticed when it went up for sale and my first thought was whoever buys it will need to totally remodel the house or demo and rebuild. The neighbor behind will probably lose at least some of their view too. That corner lot is huge for West Seattle, but at the same time, it does not surprise me that some developer that does not reside at that location just bought it purely for profit expecting to just waltz in and cut it up into multiple parcels. I think the key thing those new owners (developers) forget is that the neighbors surrounding that lot have money to sue with. It’s not just a bunch of fixed income seniors living near by, some are lawyers, some are probably wealthier than the developer. Have fun in court!

    Comment by Mike — 9:09 am January 12, 2013 #

  42. @ cjboffoli — 1:25 pm January 11, 2013
    Looks to me that their are people who live around this project who are opposed soley to it and so far it does not appear that they are at all disturbed by your chosen housing option, nor your way of life as it is in an area specifically zoned for such housing. Zoning is the issue, and or abuse or miss-use of lot-line adjustments. I once had a rather smug attitude towards my way of ‘being’ in Seattle, and was rather self righteous with my green religion. This was throughout the 90′s. I finally discovered it was a turn-off and stopped it. Just sayin’.
    -
    Pleased to see people calling out Duffus and his cohorts in the real estate industry. The weaseling in on elderly people who are in need of selling property, or who have recently died is something he pulled in Delridge. If he and his ‘team’ would learn that building massive square foot, light blocking house/towers in Single Family neighborhoods is about the rudest thing you can do in terms of being a decent citizen. Maybe watching a years worth of Mr. Rogers or Sesame Street is in order. It is not a matter of them having to build the quantity of houses claimed per lot, nor is it about the large square footage of each house. It is about making the absolute most money possible. I watched this happen to a friend in Ballard/Phinney. Her reasonably sized bungalow has been completely shaded out by a 3,000 sq. ft behemoth that houses two adults and a kid. Sorry, the house could have been half the size and still worked for the family and Duffus’s cost/profit analysis, and it wouldn’t have completely removed all the southern light exposure that my friend no longer has thanks to Duffus.

    Comment by Creekside — 10:02 am January 12, 2013 #

  43. I think the biggest problem here is that if lots are divided into much smaller lots, then the houses built on the mini-lots should be commensurate with the size of the lot. Three story, 2,000-3,000 square foot box-style houses should not be built on small parcels of land. If a developer wants to split a property, then there should be limits on the square footage (not just the footprint) of the new houses built. Urban density does not mean each family needs massive amounts of indoor living space. If a family feels they need that, then they need to buy a bigger lot. But currently, there seems to be no shortage of buyers for these monster big houses on tiny lots.

    Comment by dcn — 10:27 am January 12, 2013 #

  44. Maybe we need to look at this a little differently. By looking at the realtors working with this group: Duffus, Blueprint Capital and the builders involved with Duffus. To see if they are representing the sellers properly ? seems alot of sellers of property are not being fully informed of real value if properties are being sold before they hit open market (inside deal). Seems like alot of their properties are estates or with the elderly they deal with ? People put a lot of trust in Realtors and they should be held accoutable if their not doing there job properly. If you have any issues with a realtor being forceful contact a lawyer that deals in real-estate issues.

    Comment by wetone — 11:17 am January 12, 2013 #

  45. One of Duffus’ early projects was at 1716 California Ave SW when he attempted not to develop the public open space easement required in the City Light sale of the former subststion at this site. He then sold the property. The substation was asked for as open space in the Admiral Urban Village Neighborhood Plan.

    Comment by dwar — 2:35 pm January 12, 2013 #

  46. As a builder and a lifelong west Seattle resident I know the challenges of this situation. I have to agree that 3 homes on that lot is ridiculous. It’s not the builders fault, it’s the city’s fault for allowing this(and all of the other over-development in west seattle). If the neighbors wanted to buy this and preserve the lot, they had the opportunity as it was on the market to everyone for $999k for several weeks.

    Comment by Mgt — 8:56 am January 13, 2013 #

  47. Interesting point on the listing. I found a cached version of it here (scroll down) http://is.gd/dsqCdE and it was indeed listed at that price. Using Google and the cache feature, you can find multiple versions of the listing (as is common these days for any listing). This one indicates the listing was visible in October, two months before it closed. http://is.gd/h4ZEXu

    Comment by WSB — 9:18 am January 13, 2013 #

  48. WSB gives me new information. I was told that the sale was private,and I didn’t know it had been listed, even though I live only two blocks up the street. I knew Marjorie had died and assumed the home would be sold, but didn’t know there was a lot much less the possiblity of for three homes there. Also, as former President of the Genesee-Schmitz Neighorhood Council, never once discussed development on small lots, nor did we discuss the Duffus developments all over the city. Not a good excuse for inaction, but is the truth.

    Comment by Dick Miller — 11:59 am January 13, 2013 #

  49. Yes, it was up for a few weeks at about a million when it can take up to a year to sell a property for that much in this area. In the end, after just a few weeks the property sold for 860k… Which nobody would first offer over 100k less than the asking price on a property so soon after being listed.

    Comment by Civik — 12:24 pm January 13, 2013 #

  50. WSB gives me new information. I was told that the sale was private, and I didn’t know it had been listed, even though I live only two blocks up the street. I knew Marjorie had died and assumed the home would be sold, but I didn’t know there was a buildable lot much less the possiblity for three homes there. Also, as former President of the Genesee-Schmitz Neighorhood Council, we never once discussed development on small lots, nor did we discuss the Duffus developments all over the city. Not a good excuse for inaction, but this is the truth. As our founding President, I am guilty of inexperience and ignorance as a community activist. Since retiring as President, I was inattentive to my own “Benchview” backyard. Benchview and GSNC are now aware of the problem. I am sorry for my contribution to this situation, but even sadder that development like this has been happening for 20+ years all throughout Seattle.
    Better late than never, so I will do my best to plug this loophole and stop this kind of development anywhere in the city. We need help, so please blog your thoughts and offers of time and expertise. If the blogger Mike, or anyone can find us some millionaires to fund a suit, we need to contact them ASAP, since Benchview has no funds or budget. Dick Miller

    Comment by Dick Miller — 2:11 pm January 13, 2013 #

  51. Real estate development seems to trump everything in this town. its gross. Stop shoving more people into already full neighborhoods. More people-less breathing room-higher stress levels. We all end up paying for it while the developer or property owner rakes in all the bucks. Screw them!

    Comment by sophista-tikki — 2:26 pm January 13, 2013 #

  52. 4832 and 4834 46th Ave SW are under construction. This guy even tried to claim an access easement which does not exist!! These houses will be 30′ high boxes. They’ve already destroyed the tree’s root system, trespassed, and have a cut into the dirt that is unsafe. Do you think the City cares?

    Comment by Amy — 7:08 pm January 13, 2013 #

  53. Dick Miller, you could chat with the neighbor behind that house who will have their home depreciate by hundreds of thousands once they lose their view. You could talk with the neighbors in front of it who’s homes are currently valued in the millions who will be dealing with construction of 3 buildings behind them which will be priced too high and sit vacant. The home just North of this lot was recently built. I remember walking my dog by that as they built it. I think that style home was nicely done replacing an old worn down structure to fit within the area.
    .
    True, anyone with the money ‘could’ have bought this lot to rebuild on. It’s a prime spot, great views, huge lot. Its sad the plan is to destroy that. I’d suggest the developer build a single home on that lot again, it’s easily worth $3M with the right type of home built there. However, I assume they want more than 3x their investment.

    Comment by Mike — 9:19 am January 14, 2013 #

  54. We recently had the unfortunate experience of this same thing happening in our west seattle neighborhood. This type of development causes much more to be concerned about than the look of neighborhood. It raises many concerns, from quality of life of the entire neighborhood, to infrastructure and environmental issues. In our case, there are now two very large 3 story houses with very large footprints where one small structure once stood. Many of us lost sunlight and our view of the sky. In addition most of the yard is now covered which has a detrimental effect on drainage, soil quality and wildlife. We have increased traffic but no upgrade to the street which really needs it. Adding housing for families is a good thing but should be done responsibly. Increased density brings increased pressures on roads, sewers, schools, parks etc. Housing Developers do not do their business in a vacuum and must share the responsibilities for maintaining the quality of life we enjoy in Seattle.

    Comment by Deb — 10:40 am January 14, 2013 #

  55. Mgt, Surely you are not saying that builders are unable to practice restraint and do the right thing on their own and must rely on the city to control their actions.

    Comment by Deb — 10:59 am January 14, 2013 #

  56. they have begun demolition at 4010 sw genesee. does anyone know what will be built there?

    Comment by sc — 5:36 am January 15, 2013 #

  57. If people have the money to buy a property they can build what ever they want. Some people need to mind there own business. Get A life!

    Comment by L — 12:10 pm January 15, 2013 #

  58. New single-family house, according to the DPD records online:
    .
    http://web1.seattle.gov/DPD/permitstatus/Project.aspx?id=6337857

    Comment by WSB — 6:41 pm January 15, 2013 #

  59. 2 houses , three is too many. Modern houses are cool though.

    Comment by no — 10:22 pm January 15, 2013 #

  60. Welcome capitalism. Money. More is better and you can never have enough. Get all you can and it matters not how you do it.

    Comment by norskgirl — 7:28 am January 16, 2013 #

  61. That is a ghastly proposal. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should! Case in point: we added a floor two years ago to our house, and the city said we could go up 13 feet. That would have made our house tower over all homes on our block. To be neighborly, we kept the rise to only 8 feet. Result? No grumpy neighbors. And an healthy conscience.

    Comment by amisella — 8:43 am January 16, 2013 #

  62. Well reported article on an important topic. Visit the website at http://www.onehomeperlot.com to learn more about how backyard and sideyard homes are popping up all over the city, stripping away privacy and looming over existing homes like neighborhood bullies.

    Comment by Scooter — 10:46 pm January 17, 2013 #

  63. I use to have a sunny yard now it is dark. My garden is dead. In the shadows of your bliss as you watch the sunset.

    Comment by wetone — 8:42 am January 18, 2013 #

  64. Well……My thinking on this issue has several trails but the foremost one is this – when anyone purchases a piece of developed property they are also purchasing the associated zoning that controls the development of that property. So, since the property in question here is 11,500 sf it qualifies for 2 separate houses per SF5000 (one existing and one new). So do the neighbors have a right to question putting two new houses and one existing house on the property in violation of the cities SF5000 zoning? My answer would be an strong YES, since what is the use of zoning if not to control the form and fabric of neighborhoods. So my feeling if the city wants to allow the the placement of homes in the neighborhood on smaller than zoned property then the developer or city should be made to compensate the homeowners for any economic damages that their decision is placing on the existing homeowners. This is only fair in that the home owners in the neighborhood purchased their homes with the protection of the underlining zoning. So If I was living next door to the proposed new house I would be mad as hell if the city allowed a house to be built on a 3,400 sf lot because surly that new house will be built exactly to the side setback lines and to gain marketable square footage will be several stories tall. This would affect the value of my house.
    So the city is promoting density and given no push back from the public the city would allow violations of the the current zoning to accomplish densification. The city is already chipping away at the SF5000 zoning by allowing the construction of detached dwelling units on the existing SF5000 lots. These detached units have a maximum footprint restrictions but nevertheless can be placed on current SF5000 zoned property having great impact on neighbors privacy.
    On another trail lies the moral hazard issue of the city allowing developers to skirt the existing zoning. So the developers involved in the article paid $860,000 for the property. Lets just say the existing house gets resold for $560,000. The developers then got 2 building lots in a prime location for $150,000 apiece – way, way below the actual value of a lot in that neighborhood. While the monies are not a concern to the city the reality is that a developer that looked at the property in a manner that would adhere to SF5000 zoning would say that 2 lots could be made from the property – one with the existing house and one with a new house. So this developer would be paying $300,000 for the new lot which is more realistic. So by the city allowing the 3 parcels they are saying to all developers they can count on the city to not enforce the zoning laws and you can take that to the bank – this is not a good place for the city to be.
    While we can state (and believe) that increasing density is a admirable goal it does have real world impacts to people’s property values. So while the term “nimbyism” can be used in a way to discredit neighborhood stakeholders these stakeholders are truly being subjected to real world impacts of their property values and lifestyles that was part of the value of the property when they purchased it.
    It is my guess the developers purchased the property with the knowledge that one new house can be built (and financially work) with no possible push back from the city or the neighbors however if they could get the second lot their profits could be tremendously enhanced so why not take a try at getting it approved.

    Comment by Greg — 8:12 am January 22, 2013 #

  65. Had I known this is what was going to happen to homes in West Seattle I wouldn’t have moved here. This place is changing and not or the better…

    Comment by Cls — 3:48 am January 29, 2013 #

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