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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.