West Seattle development: Alki neighbors’ petition for ‘rowhouse’ hearing

April 28, 2013 at 1:03 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 21 Comments

Seattle city rules provide for hearings on certain types of developments – while other types only get internal reviews by planners. Then, there are situations in which hearings can be requested. That’s what’s happening with the Alki-area development site shown above, where four 3-story “rowhouses” containing 11 residential units are proposed for 2414 55th SW, a short distance inland from the beach, on a site that’s already gone through a “boundary adjustment.” Neighbor Marie McKinsey says that while she and other neighbors were doing research, they found out that the city MIGHT set a hearing if at least 50 people petition for it. So they’re collecting names right now – Alki residents interested in signing can contact her at marie.mckinsey@gmail.com. Ahead, the concerns she shared with the city:

From McKinsey’s letter to city planners:

1) First of all, this does not appear, by the Seattle DPD’s definition, to be a rowhouse project. seattle.gov/dpd/planning/multifamily_code_update/Overview/

According to the description on that website, “Each rowhouse directly faces the street with no other principal housing units behind the rowhouses.” This project DOES include principal housing units behind each of the so-called rowhouses. Playing games by rearranging the boundaries of the three lots doesn’t change what this development will look like when it is completed – which is that rowhouses on 55th Ave SW will have rowhouses on Wickstrom Place SW right behind them. Therefore, the project should be reevaluated. Is it a townhouse project? Apartments? Whatever it is, it should be subject to the appropriate zoning requirements for its proper category.

2) This development will be the equivalent of paving over three entire lots – there is no green space whatsoever shown on the plans. When it rains, all that runoff will end up in Puget Sound. If you’ve seen scuba diver Laura James’ video of storm outfall and all the pollutants it contains, you know that this project is just going to add to environmental problems. If you’ve not seen the video, which was shot right here off of Alki Beach, here’s the link vimeo.com/51456008 (You will see the plume begin at :56 and grow substantially from there.) This proposed development is 1/2 block from Alki Beach. It seems to me that in an environmentally sensitive area like this, the city should see that new development mitigates impacts like this, not add to them.

3) Eleven units mean 22 potential residents and 22 more cars, many of which will likely be competing for already scarce street parking. Developers say they will provide parking, but it is rarely adequate. Spaces are too few, too small and the turning radius to get a vehicle in or out is too short. So people park on the street. We already have that problem on 55th Ave SW, where other townhouse projects have been built in the past few years. Alki Beach is a popular destination, especially in the summer months, which makes parking a big problem already. This project will add to that problem, not to mention the unmitigated pollution resulting from having that many more cars parked here.

It is important for city officials to look up occasionally from the paperwork and minutiae these projects involve and see the bigger picture. Every project should be evaluated not just on the basis of rules, but also on how it fits into the overall fabric of a neighborhood. I am not opposed to new development. But what I want to see in my neighborhood is development that improves life for everyone concerned. This project, as it is currently proposed, does not do that.

Because of the permit-process timeline, McKinsey says their deadline for collecting signatures and requesting a hearing is May 6th – one week from tomorrow.

21 Comments

  1. Developers can buy my house for $1,000,000.00 and try to rezone it. Really, that will make me move.

    Comment by mike — 2:09 pm April 28, 2013 #

  2. The current proposed development is intrusive replacing three residential lots. It does nothing to enhance or showcase the environment of our special Alki Beach. It is a rather large building complex that will take away light, views (sky, beach and water) and the natural habitat from our beach community. There is no green space.

    If you are an Alki resident and care about our environment, please sign the Petition. We want beautiful design, architecture and green space developed at Alki; not row houses.

    Comment by Parker — 10:00 pm April 28, 2013 #

  3. “I am not opposed to new development. But…(I’m opposed to new development)”

    Comment by david — 10:20 pm April 28, 2013 #

  4. From looking at the area on google, it appears that we will be removing the existing eyesores that presently occupy this space. As long as the city mandates 2.5 parking spaces per unit and contractor supplied improvements to the street, sidewalk and surrounding area (including traffic impact) and does not allow the area to become a “zoned parking area” then I say.. “That’s progress!”

    Comment by satisfied — 9:23 am April 29, 2013 #

  5. Satisfied: I know, total eyesores!! Like that filthy market downtown, I think it’s called Pike Place Market. And those hideous old Pioneer Square buildings! I want new Ikea looking condos on every block.It’s gonna be so great!Maybe they can add a few Starbucks on that block!

    Comment by Guy — 11:11 am April 29, 2013 #

  6. My old home! *sheds a tear*

    Comment by Jasmine — 11:36 am April 29, 2013 #

  7. Have you looked at the property? If these houses that will be torn down at this location are “quaint” and “Rustic” and worth saving in your eyes then there is probably no convincing you of my point of view. Why is it that just because something is old it is worth saving, or just because it is new, it must be bad. PS I like Ikea :)

    Comment by satisfied — 12:08 pm April 29, 2013 #

  8. Well, Satisfied, the developer is only providing one parking spot per unit, not 2.5. And the point here is to influence the project responsibly for the public benefit, not to halt the development.

    Comment by Steranko — 12:23 pm April 29, 2013 #

  9. I am concerned about the asbestos siding on that home. The developer needs to remove those by hand, and not endanger the neighbor’s lives by demolishing it with a bulldozer and filling the air with asbestos dust!

    Comment by Steranko — 12:28 pm April 29, 2013 #

  10. As long as I can still get my overpriced fish and chips and watch the beach volleyball, I guess I will be satisfied. Oh Wait, I can’t even get to Alki on a sunny day because the “NIMBY” people had all of the angle parking removed years ago.

    Comment by satisfied — 12:55 pm April 29, 2013 #

  11. Guy, your opinion on building and business esthetics has exactly zero to do with this. It doesn’t matter that you don’t like Ikea or Starbucks. It matters what the market wants, and what is legal for a property owner to build on their private property. And if the developer is building it, you can bet there is a demand.

    Comment by Libby — 1:12 pm April 29, 2013 #

  12. It’s too bad the market doesn’t support a single home owner demolishing one of these shacks and building a new family home; instead it’s another sardine can of too many people in too small a place.

    Comment by Steranko — 2:02 pm April 29, 2013 #

  13. Folks, these properties at one time were taken care of with pride by their residents with lush landscaping and gardens. The tenants were evicted and the owner or developer have not attended to the three properties. Residents on 55th Ave SW and Wickstrom are not opposed to new development. We would simply like some consideration with design and green space featuring the beach and our environment.

    If you are in agreement, please help by signing the Petition.

    Comment by Parker — 2:03 pm April 29, 2013 #

  14. We are not against city growth, but the use of the term “rowhouse” allows developers to blow every rule out of the ballpark. By labeling your project a “rowhouse” there is only a 5 ft setback required – resulting in No Front Yards – an essential element to making a neighborhood. Remember, this is not a downtown city street, this has been an area of single family homes and townhomes.

    Rowhouses also allow the developer to get around sq. ft. requirements. Where LDT used to be 2000-1600 sq ft per unit – the new LR1 zone has Rowhouses expressed “no limit”. This project equates to 1090 sf ft per unit. We now have 11 units being built, where previously the maximum would have been 7.5 units. LR1 is to provide a moderate transition between single-family housing and intense multi-family housing. Take Rowhouses out of LR1 equation, it belongs in an LR2 setting.

    If your concerned a rowhouse development may be coming to your West Seattle neighborhood, please, get involved with our petition and hearing. Go to http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/Research/Zoning_Maps/default.asp to see if you have been rezoned or border an LR1 zone.

    Comment by jeskar — 3:19 pm April 29, 2013 #

  15. Also, use of the term “row house” allows developers to get around requirements to provide parking. Read more –> http://www.seattlemet.com/news-and-profiles/publicola/articles/rowhouses-and-no-parking-requirements-coming-to-seattle

    Comment by Marie M — 4:54 pm April 29, 2013 #

  16. Satisfied: You “can’t even get to the beach”? So… You don’t even live down here? Baaaahaha!!! That made my day!! Hahaha!!

    Comment by Guy — 5:15 pm April 29, 2013 #

  17. Since when is a front yard essential for making a neighborhood? I think you’re talking about your ideal neighborhood, not everybody’s. Let’s be specific.

    Rowhouses: beautiful and cherished in lots of other cities, reviled in Seattle. Or maybe just reviled by a few Seattleites.

    Comment by JW — 10:28 am April 30, 2013 #

  18. Just because something is legal does not make it moral.

    Comment by sc — 2:47 pm April 30, 2013 #

  19. I think ” Guy” & “Satisfied” should go out for a date…you really had something going there….! I say keep your yard if you can..pretty soon grass will just be something from the past your telling your grandkids about.

    Comment by howty — 4:33 pm April 30, 2013 #

  20. Row houses have a place, lots and lots in a row where they compliment each other as in some city’s neighborhoods; but you don’t plop them down amongst a bunch of single family homes. ( which I might add are/ have been denied permits to expand their own footprints)
    It’s about zoning. Row houses don’t belong in an LR1 category. This is a perfect example of why…. The city won’t let me enclose the front porch of my house, but they let a giant 3 story square box be built right next door, to me, blocking the view of the beach and sky from that same porch. That’s fair? Appropriate? Thanks Seattle City Council !
    Sign the petition, we need a hearing!

    Comment by Steranko — 1:46 am May 1, 2013 #

  21. Satisfied, re: your NIMBY comment (4/29). The change from angle to parallel parking was city driven to create more more space & better separate pedestrians from cyclists from rollerbladers, etc; allowing more folks to enjoy Alki. Parallel parking is a greater burden on residents as there are fewer spaces for their visitors to park.

    Comment by WSRedux — 5:09 am May 1, 2013 #

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