As-it-happened coverage: Benchview neighborhood in court to challenge lot-split decision; judge to issue ruling later

July 19, 2013 at 1:34 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 40 Comments

(3:35 PM TOPLINE: After a 2-hour hearing, the judge said she has a lot to review so she will issue a written ruling at a later date)

1:34 PM: It’s been six months since we reported on a West Seattle neighborhood’s challenge to a developer’s proposal to split one lot into three (that’s the city map above, the southeast corner of 55th/Manning [Google map here]). The neighborhood, known as Benchview, took the fight against the “lot boundary adjustment” (LBA) to court – and we are here at King County Superior Court, where Judge Mariane Spearman is hearing their case. We’ll report as it happens, since this case has drawn a fair amount of attention – there’s even a TV crew here to cover it.

It’s beginning with a discussion of whether the neighborhood, represented by lawyer Cynthia Kennedy, can submit additional material, though Patrick Downs, lawyer for the city – which had given its approval to the lot split in January, without the neighborhood getting immediate notification – has pointed out there was a deadline almost two weeks ago for such submissions. Also at the table with the city and neighborhood’s lawyers is Benchview resident Dave Allen and a lawyer for the property owner/developers, Melody McCutcheon.

1:40 PM: Kennedy is speaking, making their contention that the lot should only be for two homes – anything more is “starkly out of character.” The neighborhood contends that the Lot Boundary Adjustment has granted “unique development rights (to the new owner) not shared by the rest of the neighborhood. … This is wrong.” She also notes that the decision “was issued (by the city) in haste … many of the interpretations, methodologies, and calculations … were not written down and were not accessible to the (residents’) association … This process denied residents a meaningful opportunity to raise their concerns at a point in time when it would have mattered.” Kennedy has a black-and-white aerial photography of the neighborhood on an easel as an exhibit she is using to show the judge some of the key points. “This is a neighborhood where other neighbors and developments have played by the same set of rules regarding development … but this LBA does not.” She’s now showing the view from which the neighborhood takes its name, out to Puget Sound, and then the massing of the expected future development, as shown in our January story:

And she’s showing the configuration of the boundary adjustment the city approved – including one plot in an “L” shape. Here’s a version to which Benchview resident Allen had added color, also from our original January story:

**OUR AS-IT-HAPPENED COURTROOM COVERAGE CONTINUES BELOW**

Kennedy accuses the developers of “manipulating the rules.” Her argument has continued on into contending the city should take into account “the reality on the ground” rather than interpreting the code with ways that structures “could have” been built when the house was built in 1952; “which side is the front” of the lot being central to the neighborhood’s argument under the “75-80 rule” (explained in #12 here). The city should have considered the 55th side, not the Manning side, she explains, adding that Manning did not exist when the current house on the site was built in 1952. And adding up some other technicalities, she summarizes, there is only one other lot available for the LBA, not two.

2:01 PM: Kennedy continues her presentation, which includes details of how a balcony could not have met requirements unless 55th was considered the front of the site. The city erroneously considered only the Manning block face, she says. She goes on to say it was “absurd” that the approval of one “sub-standardized lot” was used as justification for approving the others. “This is clearly erroneous.” The judge is now asking what kind of math the lawyer did compared to the city – this all relates to a certain percentage of other lot sizes, required for a boundary adjustment like this. The city says its calculations came from the developer. And she says the LBA “should be rejected” because it violates a Department of Planning and Development director’s rule (#1087) against rotating lots 90 degrees.

She also says that DPD erred in making this a “Type 1 administrative decision” that “shut out” the neighborhood association. She says the decision had a “one-line rubber stamp – ‘Your Lot Boundary Adjustment has been approved’” without explanation. She wraps up the presentation at 2:18 pm, asking the judge to reverse the decision.

2:19 PM: The city’s lawyer asks if he can speak from closer up, while the neighbors’ lawyer had spoken from the table. He says DPD has had a “longstanding, consistent” way of determining “the orientation of a house.” The judge wonders if he’s saying that the city changed the orientation of a certain lot back in 1999. The lawyer says the “historic lot exception” was platted back in 1890. He is showing several examples of what he says are consistently similar decisions elsewhere in the city in earlier years. He says the standards are not based on “something like ‘where’s the front door’.” The judge is questioning him more frequently than she questioned the neighborhood’s lawyer. She’s also asking him about the developers’ plans, and then he moves on to focus to terms in the zoning code that was in effect in 1952 when the original house was built. He also talks about houses on Manning and says “front line” is about setbacks, not about “orientation.”

2:34 PM: Now Downs is going into the city’s side of some features on the property that were brought up by neighborhood lawyer Kennedy, including decks. At issue, he says, is when the decks were added, and therefore when the city approved them, and what that says about the part of the site over which they protrude. “Even if (the decks were) nonconforming, that doesn’t make the house nonconforming.” The judge says yes, but brings up the neighbors’ point that Manning couldn’t have been the street on which the house faced, because it didn’t exist in 1952. He contends 55th was just the street of “access,” not necessarily of frontage. The judge then brings up that he’s been veering between the way things stood in 1952 and now, and “shouldn’t you be (taking into account the way things were then) … So, they could have had the frontage on Manning Street (in 1952) even though it hadn’t been built?” Then Downs is on to the contention that the site really is three of 11 lots fronting on the block along Manning.

“I have a question to you about what a lot is,” interrupts the judge. “You can’t have a lot that’s 2500 square feet.”

“Oh yes you can,” Downs says, explaining the small lots platted long ago (1890, in this case).

“You can’t put a house on a 2500-square-foot lot,” the judge says, quizzically.

“You absolutely can,” Downs replies.

He then tried to explain how this relates to “short subdivision” creating smaller lots and how/whether they fit into the community. “How do these 2500-square-foot lots fit in, then?” Judge Spearman asks. City lawyer Downs replies, “It’s a matter of right” – and of the zoning that allows lots to be a certain percentage of size of other blocks on the lot, which is why they’re arguing here over whether the parcel fronted on 55th or Manning.

2:56 PM: He contends that Director’s Rule 10-87, cited earlier by the neighborhood’s lawyer, “is dead” because of a court case. And he says he’s wrapping up by saying, “The record supports the city’s decision, it’s consistent with prior applications, so I encourage you to uphold the city’s decision.” He concludes at 2:59 pm, and the owner/developer’s lawyer Melody McCutcheon takes over in front of the bench. She says she “convenient(ly)” has the code sections “that resolve this” all in one place, and hands them to the judge. For starters, she refutes an allegation that an “inexperienced planner” reviewed this; a 26-year veteran reviewed it, she contends. She also says it’s not true that the decision “received detailed analysis” only after the decision was made. She points to a 2-page cover letter and 3-page explanation signed by “the department director (Diane Sugimura).”

McCutcheon contends that the neighbors “have the burden of proof. … The question is not whether (the neighbors) think this should be interpreted differently, the question is whether the city’s decision is erroneous.” And she contends the process under which this is being challenged is supposed to be deferential to the highest-level of fact-finding that happened earlier. She also contends that the neighbors’ arguments, whether future houses will “loom over” others, or whether views will be affected, cannot be considered – “you have to base your decision on a code which is what DPD did.” She says even if the neighbors can make their argument about ‘Lot 9 being a rear yard for the house’ – that’s “not relevant …the question is whether its existence is required for everything on the site to meet code.” She contends, “There’s no question that Lot 9 is not required as a rear yard for the houses on 10 and 11.”

3:09 PM: She contends the deck/balcony never had a permit and so is “not legal,” so whatever year it was built – with the house in 1952, or in the 1980s – it can’t be factored into this. And she repeats that she believes “there is no question” all the lots are “existing lots.” And she says the neighbors’ arguments use language from the city code prior to changes in 2011. She also says the court should not change the city’s decision “just because these neighbors fear what might come.” She wraps up asking that the petition be dismissed, at 3:20 pm. The neighbors’ lawyer then rebuts. She says the city has to “pick one code and apply it” in cases like this, and notes “specific words in the 1952 code that have a plain meaning – front line is not ambiguous – rear line of the building is not ambiguous … Lot 9 is required for the rear-yard setback because the house fronted on 55th Ave. It could not have fronted toward Manning because Manning did not exist, and because the balcony did exist …” Regarding whether there’s a permit for it, she says the only permit on record is that for the original structure. “From 1952, we clearly see the outlines of what we now see on the ground” including a balcony on the north side, and a “rear deck.” She claims McCutcheon erred in using King County Assessor’s “notes” as if they were “building permits.” She contends those components were “reconstructed” in the ’80s. And overall, she contends that DPD’s “interpretations have been all over the map.” She brings it back around to their argument that 55th SW is the block face that should have been considered, not Manning. And she goes back to the decision having been issued by an “out of class planner” while they were being told that additional facts they were bringing to light would be considered – not knowing a decision already had been issued.

3:35 PM: The hearing has concluded after two hours, with Judge Spearman saying that she had a lot of material to review and needs to “think about it,” so she will issue a written ruling at a later date, described only as “as soon as I can.” We’ll continue to follow up and will publish news of the ruling whenever it’s available.

40 Comments

  1. I usually disagree with the one home per lot crowd and am generally in favor of the skinny tall single family home trend. There are some tiny houses (~700 sq ft) on 10K lots on my street where I hope 2 larger houses would be built sometime in the future adding to the neigborhood.

    However, this proposal is just weird. I now worry if some future developer will squeeze in 5 townhomes (or 3 SFRs) on such lots.

    Comment by wsn00b — 2:31 pm July 19, 2013 #

  2. Thank you for the coverage, WSB.

    Comment by happy — 2:45 pm July 19, 2013 #

  3. Wouldn’t miss it. TV crew has departed, FWIW. Didn’t recognize the reporter or photographer so I don’t know what station.

    Comment by WSB — 2:51 pm July 19, 2013 #

  4. Manipulating lot lines is how the developer of the proposed Alki 11 rowhouses on 55th Ave SW was able to put one row of row houses directly behind another row of rowhouses, despite the city’s definition.Rowhouses aren’t supposed to have principal residence behind them – that is, unless the boundaries are changed. It isn’t right, but it is legal apparently. And now we have an environmental nightmare on our hands. http://www.whereiamnow.net/p/alki-rowhouse-controversy.html

    Comment by Marie M — 3:08 pm July 19, 2013 #

  5. This is EXACTLY the same sort of lot splitting issue that the “Alki 11″ rowhouses raise.

    In the Alki 11 case, the lot splitting allows 2 rowhouse developments back to back, even though (as I understand it), the city’s definition of rowhouse is that there is not a second structure behind it (as compared w/ townhouse).

    Comment by Lisa — 3:11 pm July 19, 2013 #

  6. It’s amazing and confounding how the city required “test” neighborhoods to see the viability of DADU’s before allowing them to be built throughout the city, and even then, very restrictive; but at same time they’re allowing these monster houses to be plopped onto tiny lots; no logic

    Comment by Diane — 3:33 pm July 19, 2013 #

  7. Yes, the “Alki 11″ has already been given their LBA per the DPD. It seems like it was rushed along too. We need reasonable, sustainable growth..not buildings that are totally out of character to the neighborhood. Thank you.

    Comment by Jesper and Karlene — 3:33 pm July 19, 2013 #

  8. YEEESSS, I am so glad someone is challenging this, the whole dynamics of West Seattle has been destroyed by these skinny boxes they are shoving in anywhere.
    @wsn00b have you looked at the proposed Urban Village boundaries, if your property falls within this area you could very well have a condo building where a house once was!

    Also love the fact that all these condo’s feed cars onto the streets, due to no realistic parking is provided with the units, seems odd to allow this type of parking in this new construction when West Seattle has cars stolen or broken into every three minutes. The city is contributing to the crime!

    Comment by Silly Goose — 3:40 pm July 19, 2013 #

  9. We have to look ahead – if the court allows this project to happen, then what next? We are left with the power of the market. If neighbors make it clear to the developers that if these houses are built, they will be picketed and neighbors will make prospective buyers feel uncomfortable – that potential new homebuyers will be “educated” as to the unpleasant welcome awaiting them … make the project less economically viable by hurting the value of the homes through market pressures.

    Comment by statsbob — 4:04 pm July 19, 2013 #

  10. Lot splitting in single home neighborhoods is greedy, tacky and an eyesore. Great to read the neighbors banded together to challenge the developers proposal. Thank you WSB for continued coverage on this.

    Comment by west seattlite — 4:18 pm July 19, 2013 #

  11. Holy cow! What greed can come up with, amazing!

    Comment by Dhl — 5:09 pm July 19, 2013 #

  12. Let me guess, the developer must be Isola. They’ve already littered the rest of West Seattle with houses that are completely out of character with the rest of the neighborhood. Why not Benchview? There’s nothing wrong with infill and progress, but developers need to at least make an effort to build houses that are in character with the neighborhood. Lots of great examples out there if they just open their eyes.

    Comment by Annoyed in Gatewood — 5:41 pm July 19, 2013 #

  13. Just take the issue to the mayors office. Then he can check to see if this contractor is paying a livable wage and make sure all the subs are being payed well. If not NO PERMIT FOR YOU!!!

    Comment by Boy — 5:44 pm July 19, 2013 #

  14. Am I allowed to disagree?… If you want to challenge these type of developments, you can’t wait until it is in your backyard. Do you think the neighbors would have pooled their children’s college funds to fight this if it wasn’t their view that was going to be impacted? This type of development has been happening in Seattle for years now, encouraged by the city because of the revenue it creates, the jobs it creates, not to mention keeping people in the city rather than contributing more to traffic and commuting in from outlying areas. There is a huge demand for these homes. Funny, but the “neighborhood association” has a few newer homes that are large and that were built in recent years that block the view of others… a bit hypocritical, don’t you think? I’m sad to read comments that sound like middle school bullies… “if these houses are built, they will be picketed and neighbors will make prospective buyers feel uncomfortable – that potential new homebuyers will be ‘educated’ as to the unpleasant welcome awaiting them” There are right and wrong ways to go about things. If you think that the permit rules need to be changed, then be civilized and go through the process, otherwise you just look like a bunch of whiners.

    Comment by Barb — 5:45 pm July 19, 2013 #

  15. The owner of the property gave the neighborhood an opportunity to buy the view rights and they chose not too. Why don’t you share your view and welcome some new families into the neighborhood. Didn’t your parents ever teach you to share?

    Comment by Frankie — 5:48 pm July 19, 2013 #

  16. Annoyed, no, different developers. See the link at the start of this story to our original January report.

    Comment by WSB — 5:56 pm July 19, 2013 #

  17. to* oops!

    Comment by Frankie — 5:57 pm July 19, 2013 #

  18. Reading this made my day. Thank you WSB!

    Comment by Mike — 6:13 pm July 19, 2013 #

  19. Barb/Frankie-

    You are ignorant of the facts. Sure there is a big new house going up, replacing an old run down shack. The only other “newer house” in the neighborhood is extant only as a result of a similar LBA perpetrated by Omni Construction in the “dead of night” almost 10 years ago. Those boys did the same thing to several West Seattle neighborhoods until the market collapsed and left them holding the bag on a couple really big projects. The city did change the rules to prevent this continuing by passing the so-called moratorium but like much of the city’s efforts fell way short and this is the result. they have proposed new rules to shut the window but too late for this. What is really happening is these type of developers are creating their own wealth by taking it from others. They are not adding anything of their own. And Frankie, those “offers” were at exorbitant price with no relation
    to market realities. Share this.

    Comment by Danno — 6:29 pm July 19, 2013 #

  20. @annoyed in gatewood, that is exactly who needs to stop being issued building permits, their construction is cheap and ugly like you said!!

    Comment by Silly Goose — 6:34 pm July 19, 2013 #

  21. There are 4 skinny, modern, ugly townhouses being shoved on one lot much smaller than 11,500 sq ft. on Chilberg SW, behind La Rustica. Adds so much density to an already rapidly increasing population in the neighborhood. On summer nights, the parking cars take up for La Rustica is already insane. Sigh.

    Comment by A Nearby Resident — 7:00 pm July 19, 2013 #

  22. Also, we are getting ready to sell our early 1900s house on a 12500 sq ft lot and, while we are hoping to sell it to a family, I am nearly positive a developer will grab it. It has amazing views,blocks from the water, alki is a walk away. Are neighbors are already getting agitated about things. I hope, after we are gone, I hope nothing happens on the land that has a negative impact on them.

    Comment by A Nearby Resident — 7:10 pm July 19, 2013 #

  23. Yeah, like the houses built in the late forties were just gorgeous. Yeah.

    Comment by We Were Here First — 7:11 pm July 19, 2013 #

  24. What are they stealing from others? These developers are in business to make money… and yes they probably make money, but they also pay taxes and provide employment for many people. They are also the ones that take the risk building these ugly homes that are selling like hot cakes. If they make bad decisions, they risk losing everything.
    Ugly is a matter of taste. I’ve toured a few of them and disagree. These cheap ugly houses are selling like hot cakes. One of the ones I walked through had a master bath with shower to die for, and a rooftop deck that was certainly entertainment worthy. Architecture evolves, and it seems that you don’t appreciate this particular period. You are certainly entitled to your opinion, so don’t buy one (but I hear most of them have great views).
    You say the city’s efforts fell way short… you mean your efforts fell way short? Whether I like the development or not, the developers must have met the city’s requirements in order to be issued the permits. If they found a loophole, it wasn’t a new one, and if you cared for the sake of the city, you would have taken care of it. Face it, you care because it isn’t good for you…
    These homes are being built on prime property with a beautiful unobstructed view. (seems a smart business decision) How much does a view raise the value of a home? Unfortunately, when you own a home, you don’t own the view, unless you buy it. How can the developer steal something that didn’t belong to them in the first place?
    I really didn’t mean to get involved in this, I just clicked on a face book post. I thought I was on your side until I read some of the tactics that are being employed to stop this development. You all seem like a bunch of whiny bullies that just don’t want to give up what really isn’t yours. I just hope that the neighborhood click will grow up if they lose and be nice to the new family that invests their life savings to move into their fabulous new home.

    Comment by Barb — 7:51 pm July 19, 2013 #

  25. I see why the builders uses Melody McCutcheon, seems to be very tight with the city and works closely with them (city) on many projects. Barb tough for the neighborhood to do something early on when there is little info out from the city on what they are going to allow the builders to do, as is happening more and more with these days. You speak like a true developer with no concern for the existing neighborhood. Two houses would be fine but three is wrong. I do get a good laugh from this project though thinking at what will happen with the old house after the two new ones are built. Will they tear it down and build a new one blocking the views of the two new houses behind it ?

    Comment by wetone — 10:25 pm July 19, 2013 #

  26. it was kiro7; just saw David Allen et al on 11pm news; they gave it a few mins coverage

    Comment by Diane — 11:19 pm July 19, 2013 #

  27. Barb-?-
    Really? Where should we start? It is obvious to me that you have “chips in the game.” All your arguments are old news and certainly tied to “developer” arguments made ad infinatum. Are you afraid to positively ID yourself? Seems like whenever an opposing opinion is put forth, these are the baseless arguments made in opposition.
    I have not referred to these homes as cheap nor as ugly. In fact I think they can be wonderful homes, in the right place, and permitted under lawful procedures. I too have toured homes with a “master bath with shower to die for, and certainly many “entertainment worthy” decks. In fact, many of these are remodeled versions of solid homes built in prior decades.
    Yes, Duffus, et al are stealing from others. These homes would be built on prime property with beautiful unobstructed views, the issue really is “Do they really now own those views, or have they stolen them with assistance from DPD?” In this particular circumstance three home sites have been gerrymandered (look it up) out of a situation that clearly supports only two under law. We in the affected neighborhood have always understood that another house would likely be built, but really were shocked to learn that two more may be coming. Avarice, anyone?
    The city’s efforts to curb this kind of adverse development did fall short. Do the research and you will see that the “moratorium” was intended to halt this kind of predatory development while new regulations were to be drafted and put in place. In fact, the new regulations as about to be finalized will kill such misguided development as yours, and severely limit the loopholes you have used to enrich yourselves at the expense of real taxpayers.
    Here is where your lame arguments die before any consideration:
    “I really didn’t mean to get involved in this, I just clicked on a face book post. I thought I was on your side until I read some of the tactics that are being employed to stop this development. You all seem like a bunch of whiny bullies that just don’t want to give up what really isn’t yours. I just hope that the neighborhood click (sp) will grow up if they lose and be nice to the new family that invests their life savings to move into their fabulous new home.”
    RRRIIIIGGGHHHRTTT!!!!!! SSSUUUURE!!!!!
    To wrap this up, your post is without merit, and court proceedings today worry you about future theft opportunities.

    Comment by Danno — 12:13 am July 20, 2013 #

  28. I’m going to second Danno on this Barb, it sounds to me like you have a vested interest in these properties and aren’t simply here on a whim.

    We all knew that a new home would be built, whether we like the architecture or not. Nobody would have opposed the property being split to build a new home.

    The problem comes when there is a bunch of lot line gerrymandering in order to create three undersize lots using some pretty shady rule decisions and no public feedback from the neighborhoods affected.

    We have always argued that two lots should be the maximum from the zoning available which would allow a builder to construct a new home in the neighborhood. We never sought to end all construction and deprive anyone of work. Merely to ensure that the law is applied properly not just for those who will get work building the houses, but for those who have to live with the consequences as well.

    A builder gets to do their job and run away. The neighborhood has to live with it.

    Comment by jm_civik — 1:04 am July 20, 2013 #

  29. A friend of mine’s recently remodeled 1930′s era classic has a master bath and shower to die for! ;-)

    .

    Mike

    Comment by miws — 8:37 am July 20, 2013 #

  30. The builder is a lovely person. Sorry to disappoint those who need to imagine a greedy demon.

    Comment by Mrs. A. — 10:00 am July 20, 2013 #

  31. So lovely they just put up framing and siding that totally eclipses the house next door. I even question if it was built far enough from the property line.

    Comment by Mike — 10:43 am July 20, 2013 #

  32. You can be a really nice person and still be shrewd and greedy when it comes to business.

    Comment by jm_civik — 11:54 am July 20, 2013 #

  33. @Danno–not sure I agree with you knock on OMNI construction. I think your point is better made staying on subject with the current situation & developer. I happen to think the Dakota development on California was a good one. They replaced some run down apts with a good project. They did the same across the street on the west side of California.

    Comment by Dale — 1:02 pm July 20, 2013 #

  34. Dale-

    Not rising to the bait. Am on a first name basis with Omni, nice enough guy. Does not change the facts on the ground and that what he did next door to me remains a shrine to his own greed and just plain wrong.

    Comment by Danno — 5:06 pm July 20, 2013 #

  35. Right on, Danno. The problem is threefold: city zoning regulations that are too easily pushed aside by the variance process; aggressive developers savvy to the process and emboldened to work the system; and politicians too busy trying to get re-elected to care. Good job David Allen and the rest for standing up for your rights and your neighborhood!

    Comment by furor scribendi — 10:31 pm July 20, 2013 #

  36. I am one of the Benchview neighbors, living two blocks from the development, and my view is not affected at all. I joined the protest because I believe the building permit should not have been approved. This is the point of our LUPA appeal. The Dept. of Planning and Development approved this lot boundary adjustment before considering the neighborhood’s objections, therefore a court appeal was the appropriate and only remedy available. I don’t agree that we are a bunch of whining bullies. Here are my reasons:

    1. The developer, Blueprint Capital, and his associate developers All Day Constructors and JMS Development, purchased the property without disclosing to the seller, an estate, or the neighbors, their plan to cram two new big homes onto the property, and to destroy the existing garage. Thus, the development was based on a lie, one of omission, which deprived the estate of the full market value of the property. The neighborhood was not informed of the developers’ plans for a third home. Rather, we were hopeful that a single family would purchase the home and large lot. The LBA plan was approved on the same day the sale closed and our neighborhood stumbled onto the plans. The developers’ plan may or may not be legal, but in my view, it is unethical.

    2. I thought I had purchased my home in a stable, well established neighborhood, in a single family, 5,000sf, zone lot size, with homes almost entirely of the 50’s. The city codes, to my surprise, contain exceptions that allow for “historic” lots to be developed. The neighborhood had expected the one, full sized lot to be developed, but could not have imagined that the third, gerrymandered lot would be possible, using the historic lot exception plus an elaborate lot boundary adjustment. I think that zoning rules should be clear and consistent, and small lot development should not be allowed. The developer saw an opportunity to profit and tried to exploit it, thinking the plan was permitable. We disagree. The court will soon decide.

    The City zoning and building rules, which allow numerous exceptions, should be changed so that both neighbors and developers have clear guidelines, and are given notice of proposed development projects.

    Since entering this fight, I have learned that the new rules for small lot development will be discussed and reviewed in the next month. As proposed, these rules will allow for development on lots as small as 2,500 sf, maybe smaller. I don’t think anyone in Seattle who, like me, thinks they are living in a single family 5,000sf zone should support these new rules. Heads up: the City Council will be holding a hearing soon, and these rules may be approved. Hopefully, the Benchview lawsuit is a wake -up call, and people will let the City Council know that we want a 5,000 sf rule, with no exceptions.

    Thank you to Tracy and the WS Blog for your coverage.
    Dick Miller

    Comment by Dick Miller — 1:23 pm July 21, 2013 #

  37. 1. Developers do not need the permission of the seller, neighbors or anyone else except the governing authority (which they got) to develop this property. The only one that might be entitled to notice would be the family that purchased the historic home. They had to have been informed that the lot was being divided in the disclosure of the sale.
    2. I looked into it. A bit of research and I found that the whole property sold according to Zillow for $860k. The home had been on the market a few months for $999k but didn’t sell. It went off the market and then back on and sold. The estate chose to accept this price. Were they strong armed? If they took “less than market value” for the property, perhaps they were the greedy ones that should have held out for a single family to buy it. To me the pictures show a home that needs some major updating. Views are priceless, so I guess I can see someone paying top dollar to have an opportunity for that view.
    3. I like that you are pursuing changing the rules so that in the future this type of development is stopped. I challenge you to follow through for the good of the entire city, regardless of how your little situation works itself out. I just hope, regardless of the ruling, that everyone will behave like adults and treat neighbors with respect.
    Seattle is a dynamic evolving city. As more people are attracted to move here for employment and other opportunities, the city has to adapt in order to accommodate this growth. I know the answers are complicated, but also know that this growth is evidence of prosperity.

    Comment by Barb — 5:51 pm July 22, 2013 #

  38. Barb-

    You are wrong. This is not about growth, it is about greed. Sometimes it is better to remain silent and thought a buffoon than to speak up and remove all doubt. Go away.

    Comment by Salami — 1:34 pm July 23, 2013 #

  39. wow… even my dad thinks that one was immature. So much for debating with adults. Salami, those are exactly the ignorant bullying tactics I referred to earlier. I’m not going to stoop to those tactics…

    Comment by Barb — 6:38 pm July 23, 2013 #

  40. Just so the record is straight… I did proclaim myself “Mayor of Benchview” and I did refer to myself as an agent of change. It was nice to meet you all and hope that we can be neighborly and civil. Oh, and Dick, thanks for the champagne.

    Comment by Ron Day — 9:52 pm July 24, 2013 #

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