Followup: Developers in Benchview lot-split fight propose a new plan

July 30, 2013 at 4:54 pm | In Development, Neighborhoods, West Seattle news | 16 Comments

(3650 55th SW is the original address of the site in question; map is from King County Parcel Viewer)
A new development, so to speak, in the Benchview neighborhood clash between developers who bought an old house and want to add two new ones to its site, and the neighbors who say one additional home – already under construction northeast of the existing house – is plenty. You’ll recall that they went to court to challenge the city’s approval of three reshaped parcels for the site. They argued their case on Friday, July 19th (WSB coverage here), and King County Superior Court Judge Mariane Spearman issued her ruling the following Wednesday, reported here Thursday – upholding the city’s decision/process on two technical points, but rejecting the boundaries of the “lot boundary adjustment.”

While the City Attorney’s Office told us last week they hadn’t decided whether to appeal the ruling, we just got word from Department of Planning and Development spokesperson Bryan Stevens that the site’s owners have filed a new plan:

I just wanted to let you and your readers know that the applicant of the Benchview lot boundary adjustment (LBA) has submitted a formal revision to their original permit. Since the Judge ruled that the parcel encompassing the existing house was too small, the applicant is now revising their LBA to increase the size of that parcel and maintain a total of three parcels. The proposed revision slightly reduces the parcel size of the house under construction, which enlarges the adjacent parcel with the existing house on the corner.

The parcel sizes are listed on this new city page for the project; we’re still seeking further documents showing the proposed boundaries and will add to this story as we find out more.

16 Comments

  1. jeez; they can do that? don’t like the ruling so they just move the lot lines? crazy

    Comment by Diane — 5:02 pm July 30, 2013 #

  2. Oh jeeze. Crappy builder. This isn’t a “walkable” area by any stretch- why the density here? Views, money for the builder only.

    Comment by NW mama — 5:17 pm July 30, 2013 #

  3. I know this is not rational world, but does it really stretch the imagination that this disputed plot should be divided into two, just like 3660 to the south and 5350?

    I doubt anyone would quibble with that. If the old house had to be demo’ed? So what…Demo is cheap. Two new houses on neighborhood sized lots (as long as the developers didn’t build 3-story eyesores) should be acceptable.

    Comment by JayDee — 6:58 pm July 30, 2013 #

  4. There will be three houses on that parcel. Guaranteed. That builder enjoys a fight. He will win.

    Comment by Grandma — 8:28 pm July 30, 2013 #

  5. GREED just goes and ruins everything. West Seattle is a ripe plum ready for developmental picking. All those big bad ugly plans for quiet little old Westy is just gonna destroy the nature of our sleepy provincial neighborhood. Dang and dang again!

    Comment by sara — 9:33 pm July 30, 2013 #

  6. Duffus’ January Lot Boundary Adjustment (LBA) is nullified. On top of that, the City has the legal power to revoke that Jan. LBA permit. In either case, Duffus must submit a new LBA application. But now there is a house under construction straddling two small lots that were still undeveloped in Jan. Because of this, those two small lots count as one lot, so now Duffus only has a total of 2 lots, not 3.

    1. JAN. LBA WAS NULLIFIED BY KING CO RULING. KC Superior Ct. reversed the City’s approval of the set of lot lines in the Jan. LBA. That LBA was approved in error, so it’s dead. Duffus must submit a new LBA, not modify a dead LBA.

    2. DPD HAS AUTHORITY TO REVOKE THE JAN. LBA. City law 23.76.034 says DPD can revoke a Master Use Permit if “the permit was issued in error.” King Co ruled that the Jan. LBA was issued in error, so DPD can CHOOSE to revoke the permit and make it crystal clear that a new LBA is needed.

    Look how Duffus gerrymandered a fake front yard for lot B, then fenced off that yard so only lot A can use it. These manipulations of the code are an embarrassment to the City. http://benchviewblog.wordpress.com/our-arguments/

    DPD has a CHOICE: allow this embarrassing plan and help Duffus
    OR use its power to revoke the permit and protect the neighborhood. The developer will still get to have one house per lot, just like everyone else.

    More here: http://benchviewblog.wordpress.com/
    -Dave, Benchview

    Comment by Dave — 11:09 pm July 30, 2013 #

  7. Doesn’t matter how you slice it, it still equates to shoving more people into the same amount of space. The end result being rats crawling ontop of each other. , Shortsighted greed.

    Comment by sophista-tiki — 5:48 am July 31, 2013 #

  8. How does one make a parcel larger? Can that same type of logic (?) be applied to my bank account?

    Comment by Rick — 7:21 am July 31, 2013 #

  9. They will get their three houses on that lot. The City of Seattle doesn’t care. The DPD has been told to maximize housing and get that tax dollar income flowing. Developers know this and are milking the system…and winning.

    Comment by Cowpie — 10:56 am July 31, 2013 #

  10. It’s funny though, wouldn’t the Whole foods building and LA fitness building bring in more tax revenue?

    No, I don’t think it’s the tax revenue. That’s a pittance for one more house in the grand scheme. It really does make you wonder what the real reason is.

    I’m sure at first the law required them to go forward, but now the City and DPD has an out to side with its citizens in this after we have already scraped to fight it. Thousands of dollars and citizen action should be enough of a signal to the Mayor just how we feel about it.

    If McGinn is willing to halt the Whole Foods development over a small, disused alleyway perhaps he should turn his attention here and do the right thing for the citizens of Seattle.

    Comment by jm_civik — 12:14 pm July 31, 2013 #

  11. Jm-Civik: totally with you. Where do the mayoral candidates stand on THIS type of issue??! It’s complete BS that these builders (Duffus in particular) is creating such havoc in our residential neighborhoods for only HIS benefit.

    Comment by NW mama — 2:02 pm July 31, 2013 #

  12. If people don’t like what Duffus is doing don’t sell your property to him or the group of builders working with him. Easy to find out who they are by doing a search on the web. Also watch out for the realtors finding properties for them. If you care about the neighborhood when you sell your property ask ??? and write it up that way. Nothing wrong with 2 houses being built, 3 is wrong. It is easy to see how our mayor feels about these type of building practices looking at this project and many other high density on small lot projects that are being built in Seattle now.

    Comment by wetone — 4:22 pm July 31, 2013 #

  13. I wonder about the people who buy these gigantiboxes that block views and create neighbor-hate. Do they feel the shunning and regret their purchases or are they too arrogant and insolated to care? Or do the neighbors welcome them to the neighborhood? Would make for an interesting bit of journalism to interview some of these folks…

    Comment by Ajax — 8:48 pm July 31, 2013 #

  14. Ajax, one of these modboxes has just been built five doors up from our house, on the site of a foreclosed bungalow, bought by Isola Homes, torn down, and redeveloped, and it sold in something like five days. Not a small-lot situation but certainly a modern box in a neighborhood of mostly little old warboxes, including mine. I sure hope nobody will be “shunning” the people who bought it, whoever they are. We can have a spirited debate about what kind of development is appropriate – folks like the Benchview residents can fight tooth and nail for what they believe is right – but in the end, if a house or homes are built, the people who eventually buy or rent it/them are just people like you and me, looking for someplace to live. Realtors keep saying there’s almost no inventory these days – certainly a market condition that’s leading to this.
    .
    On an unrelated note, I did go to the DPD today downtown and photographed the reconfigured lots. Very subtle changes, so far as I can tell. Will append to this before the night’s out. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 9:09 pm July 31, 2013 #

  15. “Realtors keep saying there’s almost no inventory these days”. I think that depends on what they’re looking for. Zillow has 85 for sale listings in 98116 alone. That’s just what’s on Zillow, not even MLS. I think the key is what price, sq/ft, bedrooms, bathrooms, etc., people want to buy here. I have no doubt that somebody will buy one of those 3 potential homes being built on that lot. Many will be looking from outside the state and never see it before they buy, only to be dumbfounded at what they get when they show up. We have numerous hires coming in from out of state that are getting subsidized moves by the companies that hire them (MSFT, AMZN, GOOG).
    .
    The only thing that matters to the current mayor and this developer is the all mighty dollar. That’s why it’s vital that the neighbors fight to keep the laws upheld since the head of the law here is a not and keeps changing it to feed his campaign bank account. People thought Nickels was bad…hahaha.

    Comment by Mike — 10:55 pm July 31, 2013 #

  16. I’m a single mom with a great income… and heard the west side was the place to move. I don’t see 85 listings on Zillow. there are only four homes in the area west of California that are less than 15 years old. I need a newer home with no maintenance. I heard to avoid Mercer Island and Bellevue because of the traffic and snobby neighbors. I don’t want to move into a neighborhood with grumpy neighbors.

    I thought that the prosperity in Seattle was the result of all this change. I’ll look elsewhere.

    Comment by gotta move — 9:12 pm August 7, 2013 #

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