West Seattle development: Comment time extended for 24th SW subdivision proposal near Longfellow Creek

January 26, 2014 at 10:46 am | In Development, Environment, West Seattle news | 13 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Photographed by a neighbor, the top photo shows 6536 24th SW (map), where the city is considering an application to split two lots into eight just east of Longfellow Creek.

We first wrote about it in December, and then again when the city formally published notice of that application on January 16th. That notice launched a comment period that now has been extended two weeks by request of neighbors, until February 12th.

Though this application only covers the proposed lot-splitting, city files (as mentioned in our previous reports) include plans for eight homes on those proposed eight lots. The creek runs through the front yard of homes across the street, neighbor Cyndie Rokicki points out, sharing this version of the same view as the top photo, when the water runs high in heavy rain:

She says, “The creek has gone over the banks and flooded the road 6 out of the 8 years that I have lived here. While at flood state, we are unable to get in or out of our property. My concern is, what the impact of cutting a road to establish access to the subdivision (which has an extreme slope which runs directly into the creek) will have on the already bad flooding situation, not to mention the effect of 8 more homeowners’ ability to reach their property during the flooding.”

She says she’s been leading a years-long effort to develop plans to improve the culverts and banks, but those proposals didn’t include effects of that site turning into a subdivision, since that plan has just emerged now. The plans to deal with the flooding started with extensive research through the city, and she shares some backstory: “My contact at the city got me in touch with several non-profit groups that deal with environmental issues like ours. We joined forces with Mid Sound Fisheries. Over the past 4 years we have been working with them to try and develop a plan to improve the condition of the creek and to deal with the continued flooding. Mid Sound Fisheries was able to procure a grant that was used to hire Geo Engineers to research the problem and come up with a plan.

“This plan involves the replacement of the undersized current culverts which are under the driveways of the four homes on the west side of the 6500 block of 24th Ave SW as well as widening the channel of the creek to improve the water flow and planting vegetation to stabilize the banks. As of now we have a design proposal ready to take to the DPD and other agencies. However, these designs were done with the current conditions of water flow to the creek. If the property across the street is allowed to develop the site as they currently plan to, by directing all runoff into the creek, I don’t know that the design we have made for the creek restoration will accommodate that much additional water.” She says the proposed development’s site owner attended one neighborhood meeting but didn’t mention the lot-splitting/home-building plan. (The project documents online include a drainage report that says concerns will be mitigated via trees, 2,900 square feet of permeable pavement, and “green stormwater infrastructure” – 660 square feet of “bioretention.”)

She’s also concerned about wildlife, including eagles that nest on the site, and adds, “At least part if not all of the property is currently zoned environmentally critical due to the flood plan and wetlands on the property. The damage to this already unstable ecosystem that would be caused by the construction equipment alone is immeasurable.”

Comments on the lot-splitting proposal can be sent via this form, which is linked from the original January 16th notice. Rokicki says another neighbor has informational signs on her property with details on how to comment and postcards that can be mailed.

SIDE NOTE: This is one of at least three sites within a few blocks where multi-home developments are possible on or near the creek. To the north, a new listing touts 6504 24th SW as a half-acre with one home plus three additional lots that were split off a decade ago. To the south, 6941 24th SW is also listed for sale – one acre of land holding one house; the listing notes, “Short plat to build up to 7 homes in addition to the existing home.” City records show a previous proposal to do that was canceled in 2011.

13 Comments

  1. Some years ago a developer working along the Longfellow creek was having trouble with land erosion from creek. A friend with the city gave him unofficial permission to remove dirt from the bottom of the hill we live on to replace that dirt. Any engineer knows this is not a good idea. Several years later our hillside dropped more than one foot in an earthquake. It’s pretty hard to be sure these two events are connected but those of us living there think it’s best to be very cautious when dealing with these sensitive areas.

    Comment by Norma — 11:23 am January 26, 2014 #

  2. The two pictures are worth a thousand words.

    Comment by Deb — 12:37 pm January 26, 2014 #

  3. This is yet another example of the City of Seattle approving development no matter how absurd or damaging to the environment. I have no idea who is running things over there but whoever they are, they are clearly in the pocket of developers.

    Comment by MAH — 1:09 pm January 26, 2014 #

  4. I certainly hope folks at DPD look at the above photos. It seems that any construction on this site would need to include considerable work on the drainage issues, beyond that listed on the Storm Drainage Design Report (which lists an address on S. 12th, but has a map for the 24th SW lot; what’s that about?).

    Hey, you Hydro Engineers out there! Is it typical for a Seattle project near a creek to allow for 35% impervious surfaces, with the amelioration offered by the developer?

    Comment by AEP — 2:58 pm January 26, 2014 #

  5. We have lived in the area close to 50 years and have seen many changes to the echo system which is quite concerning. One other big concern should be the lack of fire hydrants. When they were put in – we had to fight for the two we have – there were half as many houses. Of course with the few hydrants and a fire at the south end of 24th we may again have fewer houses.

    Comment by Frank L — 3:57 pm January 26, 2014 #

  6. I’m all for smart development but this seems like a bad idea. What’s the point of going to all the effort to restore and preserve a watershed if you’re going to build right up to its banks?

    Comment by datamuse — 3:59 pm January 26, 2014 #

  7. Pretty soon you will be getting billed back taxes for having waterfront property when the city sees those pics lol!!!

    Comment by Vanilla Gorilla — 5:05 pm January 26, 2014 #

  8. Undersized culverts on the existing properties look to be a huge issue.

    Comment by PDieter — 5:21 pm January 26, 2014 #

  9. How incredibly stupid. The developer will clearcut that slope for building, which will result in even more runoff, if not a mudslide. Putting in a few token plants after the fact will not mitigate the issue.

    Comment by anonyme — 8:05 am January 27, 2014 #

  10. Longfellow Creek is a Type 2-3 waterway that supports anadromous fish. As such, there is supposed to be a 75-foot no-build zone measured form the nearest bank. And, subdevelopment in riparian corridors is supposed to be restricted. How can this project be legal? I’m in favor of urban infill but this one seems silly.

    http://www.seattle.gov/DPD/Publications/CAM/cam326.pdf

    Comment by Amber — 10:43 am January 27, 2014 #

  11. Look in the bright side! The water taxi can do door to door dropoff service!

    Comment by Kevin — 10:43 am January 27, 2014 #

  12. We (neighbors of 6536 24th Ave SW) received notice of Project 3013981 Friday, January 17 and were given 1.5 weeks to comment. Comments are now accepted by the city until February 12 (after we requested an extension).

    I’d really appreciate anyone who cares about the habitat along Longfellow Creek to send comments to the city asking for a thorough environmental impact review by the city of the proposed project.

    One of the proposed lots is directly on top of wetlands on the property. More details below, and even more here: http://web1.seattle.gov/DPD/permitstatus/Project.aspx?id=3013981

    The city is accepting comments here: http://web1.seattle.gov/dpd/luib/CommentEmail.aspx?BID=883&NID=16616&P=3013981&D=01/16/2014

    PROJECT: 3013981

    Longfellow Creek runs along the west side of 24th Ave SW on this block. There is a full acre of habitat and wetlands located at 6536 24th Ave SW (Project 3013891), in what is identified as an ECA, a riparian corridor, steep slope, the west side of the property includes wetlands, and is in the 100 year flood zone. The lot contains many old growth trees (a variety from a cedar with a 34” diameter trunk, many large maples over 20” each, alders, cherry, etc, which are not shown on the current plans submitted to the city – I have a copy of a survey done last year which does show the trees).

    This lot currently serves as a home to many diverse forms of wildlife, including a pair of bald eagles that the homeowners on this block, as well and the 100s of people who walk and bike on the Longfellow Creek trail, look forward to seeing every year on their migratory route. We regularly see hawks, owls, woodpeckers, and coyotes on the property in addition to songbirds.

    Comment by Heather Wiker — 2:48 pm January 27, 2014 #

  13. Heather, thank you for posting the link to comment to DPD. I sent the following:

    .

    Longfellow Creek is a gem in rather dense urban environment.

    Many neighborhood volunteers have worked diligently over the past 20 years or so, to restore it to where it is today.

    Maintaining, and improving where necessary, the level of health that has been achieved by the restoration is crucial not only to the Creek’s environment, but to the wildlife that is attracted to the Creek, and surrounding Wetlands. To allow ANY level of degradation to the health of the Creek, its environs, and its inhabitants would be unconscionable.

    I strongly urge DPD to do a thorough Environmental Review on Project 3013981, and to not allow any variances that could pose any danger to the health of Longfellow Creek, and DPD should probably consider not allowing ANY development on this site at all.

    Thank You,

    Mike Stahl
    West Seattle

    .

    Mike

    Comment by miws — 4:25 pm January 27, 2014 #

Sorry, comment time is over.

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