3210 California SW: City explains how 40-foot zone got a 5-story project, as neighbors ask, ‘Who’s our advocate?’

February 3, 2014 at 3:07 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 34 Comments

(Click image to see larger view)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

There is seldom solace to be found in “I told you so.”

That admonition could be ascribed to some of the longtime residents behind 3210 California SW, the site proposed for a block-long, five-story mixed-use project that they say is exactly what they feared might happen because of the upzoning they fought six years ago.

This Thursday (February 6th), the proposal goes back to Design Review, for its second major meeting in eight days. The first was this past Wednesday, a neighbor-requested meeting that included moments reminiscent of a neighbor-requested meeting six years earlier about the upzoning proposal.

As quoted in our coverage of the 2007 meeting, one of the then-property owners asked opponents, “Is 10 feet really that big a deal? With 30 feet (of zoned-at-the-time height), you’re talking three stories. With 40, this would be four stories.”

In response to that, skepticism remained. There was a suggestion of waiting until there was an actual proposal for the site, and pursuing a contract rezone instead that would be tied to the specific project. But the general upzoning moved forward, with a few years dormancy, without a specific project, and was finalized in 2010; then, exactly one year ago, a five-story development proposal appeared.

“At the time [in 2007], we weren’t thinking it would be five stories,” acknowledged Jerry Suder, a supervisor in the city Department of Planning and Development, at last Wednesday’s meeting, over which he presided along with Michael Dorcy, senior planner who has worked on 3210 California for years, including the end of the upzoning process. Suder said a few changes in city rules in the past few years opened the door for that extra story – particularly this one in 2012.

Before the city reps got into the “how did we get here?”, Dorcy described the project as at “midstream.” It goes back to the Southwest Design Review Board this Thursday, and that’s where the developer will describe “the moves made most recently in response to the board’s guidance,” as Dorcy put it. (See the design packet prepared for the upcoming meeting here.) “Their job is to look at the project and say, ‘does it really meet the guidance and guidelines as stated?’.”

He also described the project as being under State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) review and showed a stack of documents including public comments related to that. Despite the official deadline for comments being past, “we’re open to comments related to environmental impacts until the decision is published.” In other words, Dorcy said, “This project isn’t a done deal yet.”

Suder took the microphone back and explained the site zoning had changed height over the years -

1923 – 40 feet
1957 – 35 feet
1986 – 40 feet
1991 – 30 feet
2010 – 40 feet

Neighbors’ concerns, he acknowledged, involve “exceptions that get extra height” and “height measurement techniques” that have led to a 5-story building being proposed for a 40-foot-zoned site. He also explained how zoning does address conditions in an “edge” area like this – while “neighborhood commercial” zoning usually requires no rear setback, if there’s a single-family zone behind as there is now, it does have a provision for that.

“For the SEPA impact of height, bulk, and scale,” he said, the Design Review process is supposed to deal with that, so the SEPA process is supposed to cleave to the DR process on that.

Next, Geoffrey Wendlandt, also from DPD, explained the city Comprehensive Plan’s role. “We’re hearing a lot from folks that growth is very explosive right now … but the growth we’re seeing in Seattle right now is on par with what the Comprehensive Plan anticipated.”

According to Wendlandt, the city’s Comprehensive Plan called for 47,000 new households in 20 years, “and we added 47,800 new households,” though job growth lagged. He mentioned that the site is in the Admiral Urban Village, which he said was running behind its expected growth amount before this, he said, about 58 percent, though this project will then have it “exceeding the amount of growth anticipated for Admiral.”

Currently, the vision for the next 20 years – Seattle 2035 – is in the works, he said, so “if you want to be part of that effort, and how the urban village strategy is working or not working, I urge you to get involved.” He mentioned upcoming discussions downtown.

Suder then explained the rezone that was finalized in 2010. He said “at the time we weren’t thinking it would be five stories.” But, he said, stories don’t directly relate to the height of the building – “we’ve had projects where they added or dropped a story and the building envelope (height) didn’t change. … Don’t equate stories with absolute height.” However, he said, the “height measurement technique” was changed a few years ago “and that seems to affect this site in a notable way.”

He handed the mike to Lucas Deherrera, who does zoning review on mixed-use projects. 2012 was when things changed. “The rezone before this didn’t contemplate this would take place,” referring to Director’s Rule 4-2012. “What you start with is, you draw a box around the entire structure – all exterior walls, the street” and “they use an option to the rule that allows them to section the building off” – in this case the box is drawn around two places – “take the midpoints of these sections and that dictates the height of the building, your allowable height limit, if you will.” The average grade is somewhere in the 1st floor on California. “There’s really not a lot of interpretation, but the versions I’ve seen… are consistent with the Director’s Rule. That being said, nothing’s been approved with zoning.” He went on to explain the 13-foot first floor and an additional 4 feet given to the building – and his job is to say that won’t be permitted IF it’s going to block views worse than a 40-foot building would. He tried to explain it and “there is a correction out right now – DPD is still looking…. BUt the director’s rule, go read it.”

Suder took back the mike and said a departure from the 13-foot height can be granted if it better meets the neighborhood guidelines. In response to a question, he said he felt the height/bulk/scale could be discussed at Design Review – though we’ve heard the board say they can’t do much about height.

So, one resident asked, how can I prove that my view would be blocked more than by a 40-foot building?

The process we have to use says it wouldn’t be, said Suder.

Sounds like the developer can make a point but we can’t, said someone else. “They have the playbook and we’re on the sidelines watching.”

Residents say this is going to affect 40 homes.

“Nothing is final,” the DPD contingent repeated.

“A group of us fought the rezone, contending how the view would be affected in a great way,” said one man, wondering if those documents still exist. “That documentation may be here tonight,” said Suder.

One man said “is it possible at the time of the upzoning there was a misunderstanding about how big this building would turn out to be? .. would not realize how flipping enormous this building would turn out to be? I think we’re missing some of the common sense about how this unfolded and how not everybody knew what was happening?” He said he knew he would lose some of his mountain view, “but I didn’t know I would be in the dark all the damn day.”

The review, said Deherrera, is “not a ’2 plus 2 equals 4′ scenario .. SEPA is not a math equation, and is a tool to be used.”

Another man asked, could they have a 10-story building if it was a 50-foot grade? Herrera said he didn’t want to “get into hypotheticals.”

“‘Is this thing too big for the neighborhood and how should it change to fit the neighborhood?’ is a good topic for Design Review,” said Suder – and then Dorcy said “that issue has been addressed … we don’t want to hold out false hopes … Private views are not protected. Only public views are protected. So the board has expressed explicitly its reluctance to tell the developer to lop a floor off this building. … I don’t want (people) to think this is all wide open again.”

“Don’t you guys see how horribly out of scale this is for the neighborhood?” asked one man.

Another: “The building is going a story taller than it’s supposed to be.”

Dorcy stepped in. “The rezone has been done. It’s a done deal.”

“But they didn’t realize how tall it was going to turn out to be.”

“Who didn’t realize?” Dorcy asked.

“The City Council.”

A woman: “Who’s our advocate? Who’s the person who’s looking out for us? … This is like a John Grisham novel, all we can do is show up for these meetings, I spend more time at the Senior Center than many seniors do.”

Suder said, “I think we hope we put rules in place with protections, but … that’s rarely something we can do with a project that’s in front of us. We normally don’t have the ability to change the underlying rules.” He then goes on to explain that a decision can be challenged before the Hearing Examiner. “I think one key thing I just heard, 40 feet is in the zone, can that relate to something people can think of, not … 40 means a bunch of other things … that’s a key issue I will ask Geoff (Wendlandt) to carry back with him as we work for more things to the future.”

Finally at 7:23 pm, contextual discussion ended and comments on the project began. Paul said that “an extra four feet does affect my view … As many people have mentioned, this doesn’t fit the neighborhood. I’ve read the Admiral guidelines, the master plan. 200 units are supposed to be added to Admiral Urban Village by 2024. This would be 75 percent of them. We are also the third smallest urban village in Seattle …” He read from the guidelines regarding the Admiral Urban Village. He also quoted the property owners (previous) who sought the rezone saying they just wanted to build a four-story building. He went on to say he doesn’t understand how the entire first floor can not be counted. “They’re asking for four extra feet so they can have higher ceilings, and then they are asking for lower ceilings (on one side of the building).” He also expressed pedestrian-safety concerns, especially considering the “thousands of students walking by each day” with four schools nearby (West Seattle HS, Madison, Lafayette Elementary among them).

The second person to speak said he has been in the public-comment business for 15 years and used to be on the other side of the microphone. He urged everyone to write down their comments. He noted that projects get checked off as “no significant impact” and forwarded along. He said the project should get to the EIS (environmental impact statement) stage because “private views WILL be looked at.” He said he lives a mile away but this upsets him – “it could happen to anybody anywhere in the city … so I’m here to express concerns that the homeowners on 42nd will be affected by the loss of light, change in air circulation…loss of view, additional loss of privacy.” He said the zoning should protect homeowners on 42nd, instead of letting them be impacted. Attendees applauded. “The number of responses should have let the city know there are obvious impacts from this project, and it should not proceed as planned.”

The next person to speak said “The most critical issue is that the developent is totally out of character with the neighborhood,”and pointed out the fact there’s no alley. She reiterated an earlier commenter’s declaration that this would be the biggest building in the area and would “stick out,” visible for a distance all around. She also reiterated that the Design Review Board had said at a previous review that they couldn’t do anything much about the height “because it was too big of a deal.” (Here’s our coverage of that November review, during which a board member said, “It’s an extreme case in which we ask a developer not to build a story or two.”) She suggested future code might look at a building’s length as well as height.

At that point Suder apologized for not acknowledging the petition that led to this meeting. The neighbors brought up the fact they didn’t even get official word of the meeting (as noted in this WSB story) until they asked about it.

The next man to speak referred again to the rezoning, saying it wasn’t clear enough at the time what was being proposed and potentially allowed.

Another resident wanted to talk about traffic effects. “To be a residential urban village, you’re supposed to be served by a transit route (with peak 15-minutes, off-peak 30 minutes service) … The Admiral neighborhood has been losing a lot of Metro service, with routes being eliminated and reduced … Right now as it stands, the neighborhood doesn’t actually meet that transit criteria, but development is .. adding more density that was projected,” and could adversely affect traffic

Suder said he doubted there would be a “level of service problem” with this project regarding nearby intersections and that planners monitor that “so long as the intersection doesn’t work any more.”

The resident continued, it’s the combination of all these (separate, self-contained) reviews that has created the possibility for a five-story building that is 450 feet long, “anyone in the neighborhood will look at that result and their reaction is ‘it’s out of scale’ – I’m hoping that at some point someone has the power to continue ALL those factors together, the combination of the zoning standards, the departure requests …the comprehensive plan … all those things put together.”

Deb Barker, a former SWDRB member, stood up and first asked about the building on the corner just north of the project – it’s 40 feet high, she was told. She also asked about whether the DRB had the authority to order this project to be a floor smaller, citing mixed signals about whether they have that authority. She said the news of this taking much of Admiral’s housing capacity “blew (her) away” and wondered if anybody ever pointed that out.

“The growth estimates are estimates, not limits …” said Wentlandt. “That’s the type of thing we’d take into consideration uduring the next round of planning.” Barker also called for more shadow studies, and she wondered if the Design Review Board would receive notes from this meeting, since it historically has not received copies of notes from other bodies’ meetings on the same projects. She urged Suder and maybe even (DPD director) Diane (Sugimura) to be at next Thursday’s board meeting: “I’ve seen very few projects go to five meetings, but this could be one of them.” She also urged neighbors to get out their cameras and “show the city what you see … if you haven’t shown them,tey can’t know about it.”

A man then spoke just before 8 pm. It feels as if they can participate – but are they being heard? “It feels empty,” he said. “I get that rules are there … but let’s aspire to make great decisions. Policies are great but they are not the reasons we all make decisions every day. … I want this to be a chance for all of us to win right now, and it feels like (with) that fifth floor, they are going to make a lot of money on that and we are going to lose.”

A man who said he bought his house after the upzone: “I don’t think people understood the slope of the property and what the builder was going to manage to squeeze in there …there was never really a process … We are going from a big old building behind us to an ENORMOUS building, it’s a length, it’s a steepness, and the developers are off and running … I’m an urban dude and I want businesses and I want there to be density … Our neighborhood plan was for a sensitive transition, this is not at all sensitive .. I don’t know how much power the neighborhood plan has but there’s no way anyone can call this a sensitive transition.”

Suder again acknowledged the rule change had a major effect, even though rule changes are “very small process(es) … a little bit of outreach” … so he said he’ll be bringing back to management, “Here’s what happened to this site, is this what we wanted?”

He also said he planned to brief DPD management “and they’re going to hear about some of the key issues here.”

WHAT’S NEXT AND HOW TO COMMENT: Comments are still being accepted by DPD – e-mail michael.dorcy@seattle.gov – and if you have something to say about the newest proposed design, come to the SW Design Review Board meeting this Thursday night (February 6th), 8 pm (second of two sessions for the SWDRB that night), upstairs at the Senior Center of West Seattle; enter on the south side of SW Oregon, just east of California SW.

34 Comments

  1. THANK YOU for the excellent coverage of this meeting. I really wanted to know in detail how it went.

    Comment by FrettingNeighbor — 3:31 pm February 3, 2014 #

  2. Sorry it took a few extra days … lots of breaking news since then; there was even breaking news DURING the meeting (the stolen truck that rammed an officer on the bridge – seems like months ago now) but glad we had others to go to it – didn’t want to leave the meeting since the discussion was really getting to the heart of things. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 3:35 pm February 3, 2014 #

  3. For what it is worth, her is my letter to Mr. Dorcy — its too long, but given that it wont matter (said bitterly) then why not.
    .
    Mr Dorcy,
    .
    I write to you in opposition to the proposed 5 story, up to 60′ development project at 3210 California SW that is zoned for 40 foot high development.
    .
    This project will range from 48′ to 60′ in height across the entire length of the block. I cite details of the proposal from the latest design packet at http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/AppDocs/GroupMeetings/DRProposal3014176AgendaID4748.pdf
    .
    Allowed Maximum Base Height: 40’-0”
    Maximum height w/ 4’ increase* for non-residential use: 44’-0” * 4’ maximum height increase is allowed with 13’ floor to floor at street level non-residential use (SMC 23.47A.012.A.1.a)
    – 4’ additional allowed for parapets: 48’-0”
    – 16’ additional allowed for stair & elevator penthouses: 60’-0” (there appear to be five in the design renderings)
    .
    As you know, development was granted an upzone variance 6 years ago despite protest that the upzone allows for projects out of scale with the Admiral district. Now those fears are on track to come true for the purposes of enriching the private investors of Intracorp Capital while the DPD mulls if they should adjust the rules that are allowing this development to occur.
    .
    Mr Suder’s statement that “At the time [in 2007], we weren’t thinking it would be five stories,” seems resigned to allow the project to proceed on a technicality (Directors Rule 4-2012 and its estimation of height), as though DPD bureaucracy mindlessly must allow a development exploiting this “loophole” no matter that the first shovel of earth has yet to be dug.
    .
    I urge you and the Seattle DPD to reconsider how the project does not in any way conform to the expectations and spirit of the zoning that was expanded for it. Require the building conform to the 44′ height, i.e. the “Maximum height w/ 4’ increase* for non-residential use.”
    .
    .
    I also have a comment on this entire development process.
    .
    It is disappointing and discouraging that each neighborhood meeting that attempts to dispute the upzone and/or the project has been told either 1) this is not the right meeting to discuss height variance, cite a meeting like Design Review but then say the Design Review Board can’t do much about height or 2) don’t worry, this isn’t the final word on this project, it is really mid-stream but then a minute later state it’s unlikely to change.
    .
    Residents have repeatedly asked, “Where is our advocate?” in this process only to be redirected back to the same “input” meetings that inevitably result in comments 1 and 2 above. It leads me to suspect that Seattle’s “development input process” is designed to simply to channel and manage resident’s anger than to provide an avenue for meaningful change.
    .
    Regards,

    Comment by MellyMel — 4:17 pm February 3, 2014 #

  4. As one of the neighbors affected by this development who has attended most of these meetings, I am committed to continuing to sound the drum until the city or the developer come up with a better proposal. This project sets a horrible precedence. DPD needs to demonstrate better leadership to prevent neighborhood-damaging developments like this. Residents should have a equal voice at the table with Intracorp. Mr. Dorcy, please do the right thing. All we are asking for is a more reasonably sized development. Just because the math says they can build a certain height, does not mean you have to grant the permit. Especially if the project negatively impacts the neighborhood and does not adhere to the Admiral neighborhood building guidelines. See you on Thursday and for the many more meetings I hope are requested to discuss this questionable development.

    Comment by tmo — 5:02 pm February 3, 2014 #

  5. A perfect example of the monied interests running roughshod over the community and waltzing away, richer than ever, a despoiled neighborhood in their wake.

    Comment by pupsarebest — 5:04 pm February 3, 2014 #

  6. Yup.

    Comment by Enough — 5:39 pm February 3, 2014 #

  7. Why do we bother with process? This makes me sick. Someone does know what is really happening here. Someone tell me what I can do. Why do folks talk like it is always someone else making these decisions??

    Comment by Denise — 5:46 pm February 3, 2014 #

  8. Distract… swoop in and get what you want. The developers don’t live in the neighborhoods they build in. Executives of mining companies, coal industry, china, they don’t live in the areas they profit from. Don’t dump in your own backyard when you can manipulate some other sucker to let you dump in theirs. Next they will bring in proven businesses, Starbucks etc.. Anchor companies that get sweetheart deals, then a few creative ventures that are possible but unproven, once proven hike the rent up until a well funded or connected enterprise can take it over.
    The politicians just want the upswing in taxes.

    Comment by lookingforlogic — 5:47 pm February 3, 2014 #

  9. The developers seem to be allowed to do anything they please. I’m sure they have absolutely no interest in West Seattle, other than as a source of profit for them. All they have to say is that it’s necessary, and the city seems to say, “Sure, go ahead, whatever you want.” How is it fair for thousands of us residents to routinely be ignored? After all, doesn’t West Seattle belong to us too?

    Comment by artsea — 5:56 pm February 3, 2014 #

  10. I sent a link to this story (and some background info) to KING 5 Investigators. Who knows if they will be interested, but we certainly aren’t the only neighborhood struggling with development and zoning issues. This project has benefited from a rather remarkable series of “fortuitous” rule changes.

    And Tracy – fantastic coverage. Thank you for your good work!

    Comment by Ex-42nd — 6:22 pm February 3, 2014 #

  11. Following the comments from the various government entities reads like a Monty Python sketch. Lots of words, utter circular nonsense, and no responsibility.

    Comment by carole — 6:33 pm February 3, 2014 #

  12. This is why it is a good thing that humans have a general life expectancy of 60-80 years. Heck, in a few more years I will be dead and this type of crap will no longer bug me.

    Comment by Genesee Hill — 7:36 pm February 3, 2014 #

  13. Zoning rules are, in many ways, a joke.
    We live on Gatewood Hill, and within the last 10 years, the small stucco bungalow across the street sold, was torn down, and a huge home built on the lot it once occupied.
    The new home, while attractive, is far too large for the lot, and, more importantly, obviously flouted the height laws/rules/restrictions, whatever you want to call them.
    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    Comment by pupsarebest — 7:41 pm February 3, 2014 #

  14. I live a few blocks from this project, and if asked to guess the location in the sketch, I’d put it somewhere off Highlands Drive in Issaquah. This doesn’t even remotely resemble the scale of California Avenue unless they’ve turned it into a 6 lane thoroughfare since last night.

    Comment by Alphonse — 7:48 pm February 3, 2014 #

  15. Purpose of the Design Board from City Code:
    SMC 23.41.002 Purpose and intent
    Design review is intended to:
    A. Encourage better design and site planning to help ensure that new development enhances the character of the city and sensitively fits into neighborhoods, while allowing for diversity and creativity; and
    B. Provide flexibility in the application of development standards to better meet the intent of the Land Use Code as established by City policy, to meet neighborhood objectives, and to provide for effective mitigation of a proposed project’s impact and influence on a neighborhood; and…
    .
    SMC 23.41.008 Design Review Board
    A. Role of the Design Review Board. The Design Review Board shall be convened for the purpose of reviewing all development subject to design review. To accomplish this purpose, the Design Review Board shall:
    .
    1. Synthesize community input on design concerns and provide early design guidance to the development team and community; and
    2. Recommend to the Director specific conditions of approval which are consistent with the design guidelines applicable to the development; and
    3. Ensure fair and consistent application of Citywide or neighborhood-specific design guidelines
    .
    I believe the DRB has failed in their responsibilities thus far on this project.
    .
    .
    Below are excerpts from the rezone decision referencing the the Admiral Design guidelines which are being completely ignored by the DRB. There is nothing sensitive about the transition form this monolith to the SF homes dues East of the structure.:
    .
    The Admiral guidelines include supplemental guidance for design to respond to less intensive adjacent uses. Admiral guideline examples include:
    Guideline A-1, considering solar access to adjacent single family residences Guideline A-5, considering privacy impacts to adjacent single family residences Guideline B-1, considering height bulk and scale impacts to less intensive adjacent development
    .
    The height, bulk, and scale impacts of one additional story are not expected to block air and light or adversely impact the residential uses on either side of this portion of California Avenue SW.
    .
    Any development that exceeds Design Review thresholds in SMC 23.41 would be required to go through design review. Design review considers mitigation for height, bulk and scale
    .
    The Design Guidelines refine the goals and policies in the Admiral Neighborhood Plan and must be considered in the Design Review Board‟s recommendations for proposed new development projects within the Admiral Residential Urban Village.
    .
    Zone edge conditions between residential and mixed-use/commercial structures that call for a sensitive transition in height, bulk and scale.
    .
    .
    Quotes from Cayce and Gain
    http://westseattleblog.com/2007/11/upzone-uproar-cayce-gain-face-the-neighbors
    .
    Cayce: We’re not asking to build a big building that’s not allowed. We could build a big building NOW that’s three stories, with one floor of parking. We don’t want to, because it’s going to be an ugly building.
    .
    Mike Gain: “He was not quoted when he explained the economics of the expenses to build two floors of much needed underground parking that could be afforded by the additional increase of 10 feet or one additional floor to a building.”
    .
    .
    The developer has requesting a zoning interpretation saying the entire first above ground floor should be counted against the Floor Area Ratio which allows them to get a 5th floor.
    .
    The developer has also not done their due diligence in proving views will not be lost due the extra 4ft they have requested on top of the 15 extra feet they have gotten by calculating the average grade over 6 lots of land.
    .
    .
    You can still sign the petition:
    http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/preserve-the-character-1
    .
    .
    Please come to the DRB on Thursday as the structure will set a devastating precedence for using loop holes for overdevelopment City Wide.

    Comment by GT — 8:04 pm February 3, 2014 #

  16. I am glad they are building this type of density in the correct location, on a major arterial. Too many projects along california have been haphazardly redesigned into density killing townhouses, that block future progress.

    Why do people think that land that is zoned for multistory suddenly should be talked about to death when they try to build on it?

    Move to a deep suburb and join a HOA if you want your single family fantasies preserved in every direction.

    Comment by vincent — 8:06 pm February 3, 2014 #

  17. 200 years ago the whole darn area was pristine. Now look at it.

    Love the whining, though.

    Comment by Crying the Blues — 8:12 pm February 3, 2014 #

  18. This is nothing new. Play the tape. If residents think they can have any affect on what’s being built, good luck. If you want to see how the city has failed to mitigate these 40 ft zoning heights right beside a single family residential neighborhood go no further than the 5000 block of 42nd. Across the street from Rite Aid. Look at the crane there now, and the apartment building directly to the north of the crane. Drive in the alley behind these buildings. Note the 1-2 story homes on the east, 5 story box apartment bldg to the west. As a resident of the 5000 block of 42nd we fought both projects and were stonewalled by the city. They really had no teeth. They asked for a couple trees and some nice siding to help blend in to the neighborhood. Yipee. The city is committed to packing as many sardines in these cans called “urban villages” as they can. If you happen to own a home in the “village” basically the city says too bad. They say get involved. But they have no teeth and always blame another city department.

    Comment by JS — 8:39 pm February 3, 2014 #

  19. Wouldn’t it be nice if the developers had a conscience instead of just a ledger?

    These clowns are ruining West Seattle. The unique character of the Junction is disappearing due to their “development”. 6-story condo/apt high-rise buildings are NOT a neighborhood.

    Comment by Buck — 10:43 pm February 3, 2014 #

  20. Helllllloooooooo Ballard

    Comment by Mike — 11:01 pm February 3, 2014 #

  21. Part of what makes this specific case so teeth grinding is that the lot was zoned for 30′ high. And then:
    - Cayce and Gain got their requested upzone of an additional 10 feet
    - Then a variance was allowed for another 4′
    - Then another 4′ allowed for parapets
    - And of course there are the necessary elevator/stair “penthouses” that pop up out of the top for another 10′.
    .
    So “just” an extra 10 feet is actually 18′ – 28′ feet.
    .
    Even if you support growth at a more rapid rate than some of your neighbors, do you not see any injustice in the city not requiring developers conforming to codes it supposedly established? If not, why bother having zoning at all?
    .
    Dealings like this just foster cynicism and mistrust in our officials.

    Comment by MellyMel — 1:03 am February 4, 2014 #

  22. The city is run by developer money. DPD is a corrupt institution that can’t follow its own rules and purposely mis-informs the public so that citizens don’t have a chance to respond before construction starts.

    Comment by Civik — 6:56 am February 4, 2014 #

  23. “Why do we bother with process? This makes me sick. Someone does know what is really happening here. Someone tell me what I can do. Why do folks talk like it is always someone else making these decisions??”

    So you won’t know who to go after. It’s all part of the plan. Didn’t you know? They are saving the planet………………one ruined neighborhood at a time. It’s called the Delphi method (/ˈdɛlfaɪ/ DEL-fy) It is a structured communication technique. The experts answer questionnaires in two or more rounds. After each round, a facilitator provides an anonymous summary of the experts’ forecasts from the previous round as well as the reasons they provided for their judgments. Thus, experts are encouraged to revise their earlier answers in light of the replies of other members of their panel. It is believed that during this process the range of the answers will decrease and the group will converge towards the “correct” answer.

    When you attend these meetings they are meant to have a particular outcome. Not the one YOU want. It’s a rigged game and YOU lose. You are not as important as saving the planet.

    “How is it fair for thousands of us residents to routinely be ignored? After all, doesn’t West Seattle belong to us too?”

    It’s not intended to be fair. The intention is to give the pretense of listening to the public and then do what they want anyway. You vote for “progressives” and this is what you’ll get every time. Lying to you face.

    “Lots of words, utter circular nonsense, and no responsibility.”

    That’s the whole point. To avoid responsibility. Try running for office with the new district elections. If concerned citizens get involved in their districts this can be changed.

    “Too many projects along california have been haphazardly redesigned into density killing townhouses, that block future progress…..Move to a deep suburb and join a HOA if you want your single family fantasies preserved in every direction.”

    That’s exactly what I did, and guess what? I am much happier there than I was in my dense, mixed-use TOD building. Best thing I ever did. Big house, two car garage…………….with two cars. Large lot and garden. I love it. Quiet neighborhood too and a nice view. BTW Density is not progress, it is decay.

    Comment by Winston — 7:50 am February 4, 2014 #

  24. Is this building also exempt from property taxes for 12 years?

    Comment by Taxes — 10:27 am February 4, 2014 #

  25. So it equivalent in bulk and scale to what…? A 75 story building on its side?

    Comment by Jon — 10:53 am February 4, 2014 #

  26. 450 feet in length would be roughly 45 stories if vertical.

    Comment by WSB — 10:58 am February 4, 2014 #

  27. Winston: Density is what allows more people to afford to live in an area that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive. BTW, now that you’re gone please feel free to quit complaining about the place you no longer live in.

    Comment by Chris — 1:54 pm February 4, 2014 #

  28. Chris – The apodments cost per square foot is higher than the homes on Beach Drive. Oops!

    Comment by DTK — 2:30 pm February 4, 2014 #

  29. Neighbors from the adjoining properties should bring photos taken from their backyards and from 42nd to the meeting on Thursday. The Google maps overlays and computer mock-ups in the design packet do not accurately represent the visual and solar impact. (The shadow studies in the new packet show that even on the longest day of the year, the backyards of the homes on 42nd will be completely in the shade by 4:00 pm.)

    Comment by Ex-42nd — 2:59 pm February 4, 2014 #

  30. Sorry, not sure we’re I got 750 from.

    Comment by Jon — 3:24 pm February 4, 2014 #

  31. Just keep having kids, y’all.

    Then complain when the housing is built for them…

    Comment by Genesee Hill — 3:32 pm February 4, 2014 #

  32. Winston, I could appreciate your rant right up until ” You vote for “progressives” and this is what you’ll get every time. Lying to you face.”
    .
    I believe the classic caricature of each side is that progressive are the ones with all the stifling nanny rules about what an and cant be done with property. Conservatives are the ones who pave over flower beds and are looking for maximum profit per sq foot. Please stereotype using the agreed on forms.
    .
    (Yes, this is meant to be a wry response. I believe Brazil-like bureaucracy crosses all party lines.)

    Comment by MellyMel — 11:20 pm February 4, 2014 #

  33. @MellyMel ,
    >>Please stereotype using the agreed on forms.<<

    Most excellently put.

    Comment by Fred — 2:26 pm February 5, 2014 #

  34. This city has been, and still is, run by a bunch of corrupt politicians that are in the hip pocket of the developers. They couldn’t care less about residents. Primary to them is their continuation to gather around the hog trough.

    Comment by phil dirt — 11:08 am February 8, 2014 #

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