As-it-happened: 4755 Fauntleroy alley-vacation hearing, standing room only; vote delayed to April 8th

March 11, 2014 at 9:34 am | In 4755 Fauntleroy, Development, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 76 Comments

(UPDATED 2:58 PM with archived meeting video; POST-HEARING TOPLINE: No committee vote until April 8th)

9:34 AM: We’re at City Hall for the alley-vacation hearing (process explained here, same as ‘street’ vacation) for 4755 Fauntleroy before the City Council’s Transportation Committee. Standing room only. Supporters are wearing purple stickers with slogans; opponents are wearing yellow stickers with slogans (photos added):

Live coverage ahead – you also can watch the stream via Seattle Channel (click “play”) in the window below (UPDATED 2:59 PM – THIS IS NOW THE ARCHIVED VIDEO OF THE MEETING):

Councilmember Tom Rasmussen has opened the discussion by playing a message on his voice mail – he got the robocall that project opponents sent around West Seattle last night. “It told me to call Tom,” he said, drawing laughter.

9:39 AM: First to speak, project opponent Deb Barker, who was the voice of the aforementioned robocall.

She is a community organization leader and former Design Review Board member. She says the public benefits in the project package are not enough. She talks about the setbacks and says the alley vacation overall will “waste public land for profit.”

Next, project supporter Sharonn Meeks, also a community-organization leader. She notes she was “involved in this project way before it began” – that included being on the Triangle Planning Group. She calls the site “a blighted grayfield.” She says scrapping these proposal would cost time and “an excellent developer.”

IF READING FROM HOME PAGE, CLICK AHEAD TO READ THE REST OF OUR AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGE

Next, opponent Steve Williamson. He points out that the SDOT report on the vacation does not endorse the public-benefit proposal. He says there was a lack of community input in the street-vacation review process, and says the plan is unsafe. He also mentions income inequality.

Both sides are hauling out their highest-profile speakers first.

Jim Whittaker, after whom the building was recently named, is now speaking for the support side, saying “this is a magical place … I would like to see people live here and enjoy the natural world … this building will represent a lot of nature. … Let’s get out of base camp and climb this mountain.” Applause follows.

For the opponents, Dr. Sharon Sutton, who was commissioned to design two alternative designs for the site. (See them in this WSB report.) She also calls attention to the SDOT public-benefit non-endorsement and says that her favorite “public benefit” is a “beautifully designed building.” And she says a pedestrian overlay on Alaska would be a “public benefit” as well. She also is followed by some applause.

Next is the first speaker we don’t recognize; a project supporter and business owner whose name is Clark and he says he used to service the old Huling lot on the site, and also has worked with Whole Foods. He says the store will “foster growth in our communities.”

On the opponent side, Claudia Newman, a land-use lawyer. (Each speaker has up to two minutes.) She says the SDOT recommendation is “missing” some things. First she mentions the midblock connector and says that she has submitted a transportation study showing it would not be safe. She also says the midblock connector in the neighborhood plan was envisioned as for pedestrians, not for (motorized) vehicles too.

Pro: Denise from Whole Foods reads a statement she says is from an “organic farmer from Monroe” who supplies 18 WF markets in the region. She says the farmer also has been involved with neighborhood farmers’ markets that have found that Whole Foods did not impact those markets.

Anti: Natasha, who is reading a statement from a friend she says is a West Seattle resident named Ames, a “trade chef and cheesemonger at Metropolitan Market” who could not be present because he was hit by a car in The Junction about two weeks ago. The statement says that he had been working in the community to raise concern about the project, and he does not want the city to allow the developer to use public land. “This plan takes an already pedestrian-unfriendly plan and makes it worse.”

Pro: A-P Hurd., with the state’s commercial real-estate association, and she is here to speak for a “predictable … alley-vacation process.” The developer is providing $2.4 million in public benefits and open space, she says. She says if this alley vacation is judged by the tenant – Whole Foods – then we’ll have a city of buildings with approved tenant lists.

Anti: Tracie Champion, a West Seattleite “since the day I was born.” She says she’s been in the grocery building for 15 years and went to the Roosevelt Whole Foods to watch traffic. She says the project team’s numbers on deliveries are not accurate and if that’s the case, “what else are they misleading us on?”

Pro: Gordon McHenry, Jr., CEO of Solid Ground, which he says has a longrunning partnership with Whole Foods. It is a group that helps low-income people with food and housing. He says Whole Foods is an exemplary committee partner and he hopes the City Council will support its growth.

Anti: Jim Guenther, a West Seattle resident who says he is a former King County public-works director and is speaking as a private citizen and member of Getting It Right for West Seattle. He voices concern about the midblock connector. And he points out that the project is on Fauntleroy, a major thoroughfare to the ferry dock.

Pro: Susan Livingston, who also is affiliated with Whole Foods. She brought two e-mails she says are among “hundreds” WF has received regarding the alley vacation. The first voices support; the second one notes that the controversy “is stirred up by a group posing as concerned citizens but are not concerned citizens, but rather union representatives.”

Anti: Shawn Terjeson, who distributes visuals and asks that they be given to the council. He says he got drawn into the process by Chas Redmond, to look at the Triangle framework. “One of the most important points to them was a pedestrian corridor to connect the Triangle to the Junction.” He notes that West Seattle will have 300 percent of the density agreed to in the comprehensive plan. “We are going to have a VERY urban neighborhood.” He says the Alaska side of the project will include “a dead zone for pedestrians … please don’t give our alley away.”

Pro: Dave Montoure, business owner (and former West Seattle Chamber of Commerce chair). He says he was the only person who spoke the last time he came to an alley vacation hearing. “This process has been very politicized … it hurts me to see how this whole process has been hijacked by politics. Let’s put the noise and distraction behind us …” He points out that 80 percent of the project is housing, which the city needs. The tenants will change. He points out that his business (West 5) is in a building that has had many changes in its almost 90 years.

Anti: Sandra Adams. She reads a letter from T. Frick McNamara, local business owner (also Design Review Board member and landscape architect). The letter says McNamara voted against approving the project after she joined the board before its final review, though it makes clear she is not writing in that context. She says she supports a vibrant gateway, and a connector that is pedestrian-focused.

Pro: Nancy Woodland, chair of the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce, which is officially supporting it. “This project will increase the economic vitality of our area.” She notes she has participated in the meetings leading to this point and has spoken to developers “and asked very hard questions … adjustments have been made along the way.” She says she has often walked near the alley in question, including with kids in strollers, and “it’s a blight.” And she says “there’s a 65-foot building going up in my own back yard, so I’m very aware of how this affects our community.”

Anti: Robbie, who says he has brought a letter from 20 organizations opposing the alley vacation, including some working on poverty. “To me, this is about where the council is going to stand … on income inequality. They’re very clear that Whole Foods is going in, to compete against 8 other markets in the community.” He says Whole Foods’ leader is against health care, and that it does not treat workers well. He says the alley vacation would put private profit over public good.

Pro: Tracy Cilona, owner of Twilight Gallery in The Junction. She says that as a business owner it’s important to have a thriving, walkable community, and she looks forward to welcoming new residents. She says mixed-use development will benefit her as a resident and a businessperson. She believes the plans are pedestrian-friendly. “The Whittaker is what West Seattle needs, and I ask you to support it and approve it.”

10:20 AM: Anti, Patrick Keating, West Seattle resident. “The impact on traffic that this development is going to create has not been studied enough. It will have a huge impact on public transportation … bus stops will need to be removed and redone.” He says it will make crossing the street to the RapidRide stops difficult. He says something needs to go there, and this should be reviewed.

Rasmussen says there are about eight more minutes in the comment period.

Pro: Tracy Dart.

“Living in West Seattle, I’ve seen many changes over 40 years.” She says that she believes in supporting developers who will support small businesses, and she believes this will – she is a small business owner herself. “I’m willing to ‘get it right for West Seattle,’ I’m not willing to ‘get it right’ for a union.”

Anti: Transit Riders Union rep Katie. They are not opposed to development, but they are opposed to contractors, developers, etc. who stand to profit. Too much Seattle development creates businesses that don’t pay a living wage, and too much of the housing development creates not-affordable housing, she says.

(First TV sighting at 10:24 am)

Pro: Martin Monk from the Masonic Lodge neighboring the project site. “We are living on a block that looks horrible, hideous … something has to be done. Is this a great design? I don’t know but progress has to happen. We love our community and give back to our community and hope to stay there for generations beyond.)

Anti: Pauline from the Transit Riders Union says “I saw this happen in Ballard a generation ago, where blocks of houses were transformed into apartments and suddenly there was noplace for anybody to park, and the traffic got really bad, and someone finally said ‘Whoa, maybe we need to rethink this’.” She says that West Seattle’s traffic grid has trouble. And she ends with a plug for Proposition 1.

Pro: Chris Matsumoto who says he is from the Experimental Education Unit at the UW, “and Whole Foods has been a community partner. … I came here today because Whole Foods has been … a fantastic partner.”

Anti: David Parsons, “here to urge a no vote on the Weingarten development”; he says he is a union member and a concerned citizen “and it is possible to be both.” (Laughter.) He is a West Seattleite and says he and his partner frequent the Alaska Junction and are bewildered at the possibility of yet another food store when there are so many choices.

Pro: Joe Rogoff, regional Whole Foods president. “We have wanted to be in West Seattle for a long time – we had a site there years ago, as you know, the developer could not finalize it … there’s been a lot said about WF Market over the past year and much of it is false.”

He says first, you shouldn’t judge a project on the basis of its tenant. “I believe in the highest wages possible for our team members … Our wages and benefits are now public record. We start at $11/hour, higher than anyone except PCC. We cap nonmanagement wages at $29.50 … our average wage for everybody nonmanagement is over $17 an hour .. We provide great benefits because our team members are responsible for our success …” He says they will create great jobs in West Seattle and denying this would deny that.”

Applause ends the public speaking period. Now the “Stand Up America” rep (Zimmerman), who has been sitting next to your editor here asking questions about what this hearing’s about, stands up and demands the right for him and everybody else to speak. Rasmussen says that he needs to sit down and be quiet. It appears he is leaving.

10:35 AM: Now, there are department presentations about the project. This is the proscribed process, Rasmussen says. Some from the audience are leaving.

Rasmussen points out that other councilmembers are here too, not just the ones on the committee.

First person to speak is Beverly Barnett, SDOT’s street-vacation point person.

She talks about the review process and what SDOT looks at. (She attended a Junction Neighborhood Organization meeting and was part of an excellent primer about the process – we’ll link it shortly.) She was asked whether part of the review is whether the city needs it any more. Yes, she said, and she noted that in this case, it’s not just a vacation of the alley, but its function would be somewhat replaced by the midblock connector.

Barnett says that the developers worked in the community to talk about the project in 2012. Then she goes through the process such as Design Review (four meetings, all covered here, starting in summer 2012; the alley-vacation petition was introduced in February 2013, and SDOT held two workshops looking at the function of the midblock connector).

From the Department of Planning and Development are Susan McLain and Bruce Rips. McLain, a West Seattleite, was the point person for the Triangle Plan process a few years ago. She notes that this block was part of that process, especially in 2010-2011. The process involved 35 community meetings, mailings, and more, she says. (Here’s a WSB report from 2011, when the resulting zoning changes were officially proposed.)

10:48 AM: Rips, who was the planner on this project, speaks now. He notes the four Design Review Board meetings (last one in July 2013), all of which were open to public comment, and goes through that process. Rasmussen notes that the Design Review Boards are made up of volunteers from the community. Rips says the SW DRB voted unanimously in favor of the massing and design.

Andy Rasmussen (no relation to Tom), who is the landscape architect on the project, is now presenting the “public benefit” package that the Design Commission had to review and approve (the latter was done with conditions) as part of the vacation process. Here is what he is showing (as published on WSB last week, when it was first made public) – The Whittaker’s presentation – see it here or via the Scribd viewer below:

11 AM: Councilmember Mike O’Brien asks if the below-ground parking garage (600 spaces) will be accessible from both entries. Andy Rasmussen says yes. O’Brien says he’s concerned about pedestrian conflicts and he thinks more of the grocery store traffic should use the south end, not the entry by the midblock connector. AR says that they used the Triangle Planning Urban Design Framework’s specific recommendations for the block and “all are incorporated” – from the gateway aspect of Fauntleroy/Alaska to “green street” features elsewhere. He now shows what they would do if they had to build without an alley vacation – 85′ height is allowed, though the current proposal is 70′; existing alley is 20′ wide and its existence would mean less underground parking.

O’Brien asks, could you do a grocery store along Fauntleroy instead of Alaska? “Not really. It’s a matter of depth, and better circulation,” is the reply. Next, A. Rasmussen shows a slide with a list of all the public meetings. (The gallery is now only about half full.) He says they also have had “numerous meetings” with city departments since the public process, a two-year process overall “culminating in today’s meeting.” He says the alley and the street grid haven’t been connected for years, and the project will connect it.

The project is being set back six feet from Fauntleroy so a bike lane can be built, as recommended in the Triangle plan, A. Rasmussen adds (this was brought up in some of the public meetings). And he mentions the new signalized pedestrian crosswalk planned on Alaska as part of this, from The Whittaker to Spruce (formerly “The Hole”). T. Rasmussen asks about parking along Fauntleroy. Answer: There’s street parking on all sides except Alaska. A. Rasmussen brings up the Green Boulevard project that’s in the works for the area, which will include more streetside greenery (T. Rasmussen is actually the main proponent of that).

Note: No new elements are being introduced here – we have reported on them multiple times before – but you can see them in the slide deck embedded above, including streetside “plazas,” how parking/vehicles will work, the “gateway” corner design, green stormwater infrastructure (rain gardens) on the 40th SW side, and art, for a “dynamic and interesting streetscape, unlike anything in West Seattle,” A. Rasmussen says. He continues to present renderings from the presentation shown above, including the pedestrian path along the midblock connector.

Councilmember Rasmussen says it’s time now to get to the Seattle Design Commission‘s part of the discussion; director Michael Jenkins is here to explain. He explains that the SDC had to review Urban Design Merit and Public Benefit, and that each of those aspects got two meetings each.

Here is the slide deck for the presentation that Jenkins is giving (published on our site last week) – see it here or via the Scribd viewer below:

11:29 AM: Jenkins shows how the plan evolved between meetings of the Design Commission, which did not review the entire project – just the “urban design merit” and “public benefit” aspects, as part of the alley-vacation process. (Projects without street and alley vacations do not go to the SDC, which meets at City Hall.) He explains that after the SDC’s unanimous recommendation of approval for the public benefits last June, there are some elements it asked to come back for review, which he said is not unusual for complicated projects.

11:33 AM: Luke Korpi from SDOT’s street-use division speaks now, and points again to the list of meetings (see it in The Whittaker’s slide deck) that have been held about this. “We believe the project does in fact meet the intent of the West Seattle Triangle plan and the city’s overall goals for 40th SW,” Korpi says. He explains why the city traffic engineer feels a marked crosswalk isn’t needed by the midblock connector – including, since 40th is not an arterial, it’s legal for pedestrians to cross at any place they want, he says. It is a “fairly wide street as non-arterial streets go” – 35 feet – he points out, and does note that the Triangle Plan suggested a crosswalk. But 40th will be narrower under this plan, he says. And he observes that though the decision right now is “not to mark” the crosswalk, that could be changed at any time in the future.

He says SDOT believes that the plan for traffic to be ‘dispersed’ around the project is a good “traffic operations” plan for the site, and will take some pressure off Fauntleroy, where as noted earlier there will be a bike lane. Korpi next mentions the crossing to be added at the west corner and the southbound bicycle lane along the project’s east side. He says the design seems to “meet the needs of internal circulation … through an analysis of very specific maneuvering patterns, turning movements the vehicles will take, but it has not been overdesigned for that purpose.”

Councilmember Jean Godden asks about the number of trucks, saying various numbers have been mentioned. Korpi says they believe 30 to 40 daily, from small trucks to semis with trailers (two of the latter are expected daily).

Next, Councilmember Kshama Sawant had asked about the public-benefit list, and a page from the deck “public-benefit matrix” – previously shown at Design Commission meetings – is up on the screen.

(Councilmember Sawant, with CM Sally Clark in background)
Sawant mentions that part of a city memo mentions that this alley vacation has brought up issues that haven’t been brought into the process before – she reads from it (11:49 am, if you want to go back and watch the video later – we will embed the clip when it is turned around, after this is over.) SDOT’s Barnett says this was just recognition of the fact that issues that have not previously been part of the process, have been raised with this one. Sawant says that the fact the issues aren’t part of the process now doesn’t mean they can’t be brought into it. She mentions the proliferation of grocery stores in the area and the matter of union vs. non-union. Rasmussen finally interrupts her and says this is a time for “grilling” city department reps and does she want to do that.

Why did SDOT not recommend approval of the public benefit? Barnett was asked by O’Brien. She says that “historically when there’s been a lot of controversy … we’ve forwarded more of an analysis to help you reach a conclusion.” Barnett said they could reach a conclusion that the midblock connector was safe and would function safely and appropriately; the policy issues from the land-use impacts, “in looking at the regulatory experts … they find this largely complies.” Re: public benefits, she says this chart is “similar to what the City Council has supported on other projects.”

11:59 AM: Rasmussen says he is suggesting a conceptual approval – if they meet these requirements, they can get their building permits, move ahead, and come back years later for final vacation approval. He says he believes there’s been an “extremely rigorous review of this project” regarding whether it meets neighborhood guidelines. He points to the Triangle Plan map of this block, “long before … this project … and what we now have before us is a project that mirrors this vision,” with one difference, the midblock crossing being for vehicles as well as pedestrians.

He also says it’s important to honor the integrity of the system of how these projects are reviewed and he believes there are significant public benefits that have been described, “meets the vision of the community …. (and is) an incredible enhancement for the neighborhood. … These public benefits are consistent to what we required for the project across the street, which at the time was proposed to be a Whole Foods project, and nobody protested.” But, “we do not make a decision about an alley vacation based on who a tenant will be.”

He continues, “it’s also interesting to those interested in traffic and congestion and more people coming to West Seattle .. there is less residential proposed for this than could be built without the vacation.” As for the gateway feature (Fauntleroy/Alaska), he supports that it be subject to further review by the Southwest Design Review Board, “let’s take this back to them one more time so that people who objected to it … can say one more time what they would like to see.”

12:06 PM: Other councilmembers’ turn – Jean Godden says having a vote the same day as the public hearing “seems to me to be a little rushed – I would feel more comfortable in waiting one more opportunity of the Transportation Committee, for a vote on the conceptual design.” Rasmussen says they usually DO vote the same day as the public hearing.

Councilmember Tim Burgess says he believes there’s usually NOT a public hearing and vote on the same day. Rasmussen says, OK, what do councilmembers want to do? Sally Bagshaw says she wants to know what information Godden wants that she doesn’t have now. Burgess says he supports proceeding – “this has been going on since 2012.” He says the issue of bringing other issues into the process, he supports looking at that, but doesn’t support changing the rules for this project that’s been under way.

Councilmember Sawant says she doesn’t support rushing into it and thinks it’s exactly time to innovate and have a thorough discussion about whether the public benefits guidelines should expand. “This is not an isolated (case),” she adds.

They’re still discussing what the general processes are for voting on street vacations. Councilmember Rasmussen proposes suspending the rules and voting today for conceptual approval. Bagshaw seconds suspending the rules. O’Brien says he’s against suspending the rules because he wants more information. Rasmussen says he feels like he has all the information. Burgess then suggests, what if we take committee action today and delay the full council consideration (which otherwise would be as early as next week)? He adds, “I’m sure that during that time both sides will continue their advocacy.” Godden says, “That means more phone calls saying to call Tom.” Rasmussen says, “Well, you’re requesting the delay, Councilmember …” O’Brien says the information he still needs involves the width of 40th SW among other things, and how will he get that information? Discussion ensues regarding whether that could be presented to him directly, or at another public meeting.

Clark says she wants advocates on both sides to know she is “not hearing a fatal flaw” regarding the vacation, but does have some questions she’d like to have answered.

BOTTOM LINE: It will return to the committee on April 8th – no vote today. That will not be a formal public hearing but there will be public comment taken, on that and whatever else is on the agenda.

ADDED 1:34 PM: Regarding how “conceptual approval/build project/final vacation approval years later” would work – we talked with Councilmember Rasmussen afterward. A few weeks ago, we noticed the Admiral Safeway alley vacation on a council agenda for final approval; since the project has been complete for more than two years, we were a little puzzled, but got sidetracked before asking about it. Rasmussen says that’s exactly what that was – the council conceptually approved the alley vacation, with conditions, and once they were fulfilled, it came back for one last vote finalizing the sale of the alley property on that site.

76 Comments

  1. Tracy, What on earth is that weird “performance art” sitting next to you?

    Comment by Brian M. — 10:30 am March 11, 2014 #

  2. What is the meaning of alley vacation? I been trying to follow this story but i’ve almost given up. Since vacations are usually temporary, does this mean that the alley will be shut off for 1 or 2 weeks? Or is the alley only usable during the week?

    Comment by WSEA — 10:35 am March 11, 2014 #

  3. Brian – that’s the Stand Up America guy. Fixture at Council meetings. I have since mentioned him.
    .
    Re: Alley vacation, we have explained it and linked to the background many times, including explaining again in the story we published last night. Basically – “vacating” means the city would no longer have rights to it. They would sell it to the developer requesting it. Same is done with undeveloped street stubs, etc. It would be a permanent action.

    Comment by WSB — 10:59 am March 11, 2014 #

  4. Here’s the city link explaining street/alley vacations:
    .
    http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/streetvacations.htm

    Comment by WSB — 11:06 am March 11, 2014 #

  5. If this project gets derailed due to these shenanigans, I’m moving my family out of W. Seattle and probably the entire city. I will not be a part of this. Go Whole Foods. I can’t believe it came to this.

    Comment by schwaggy — 11:06 am March 11, 2014 #

  6. Thanks WSB for all the coverage on this project! We sure wouldn’t get this from a newspaper. Great job! I do think it’s slightly insane, the amount of debate on this project which appears to be more than on the previous 5 combined. I know it’s a chunk of apartments (in a ‘neighborhood’ of 70,000, statistically insignificant, but still a large building for West Seattle). The debate has gotten nutty. It’s crossed lines that aren’t connected. Unions against this because of a non-union grocery store so THEY find other issues (having nothing to do with union membership) to pick at to try to kill the project. Understandable to a degree, but it’s silly. This isn’t a magic building. I’m GLAD we’re debating the look and traffic flow (and we HAVE been for years)…but the “anger” against is seems irrational. And the actually “alley vacation” cracks me up, because of this comment: “He says the alley and the street grid haven’t been connected for years, and the project will connect it.”. Yeah, NO ONE has used that “alley” in years (if ever) and it will actually be MORE usable by the public now than anytime in the last 40 years, but that’s the city “giving up” an alley, LOL. The whole thing has just become a satire…it’s like living through an episode of Portlandia. There are valid issues, but the level of anger and immensity of discussion is out of bounds for what is JUST an apartment building and a grocery store. We’re not trying to build a 70 story office tower on Alki or something. This is BARELY statistically bigger than any of the other current apartment projects already approved and under construction. I don’t remember THIS long of debate of the QFC building, or the Mural…or even the Alaska/California project…oh there WERE discussions, but they ended eventually and they’re all built or under construction.

    Comment by David — 11:17 am March 11, 2014 #

  7. I wonder if CVS will have this much trouble?

    Comment by Mr. CW — 11:20 am March 11, 2014 #

  8. All politics and street stuff aside, do we really need another supermarket right there? I mean, down in Delridge, yes, we do — it’s a food desert by US Federal standards. But how many do we need right there? Speaking personally it seems like we could probably get something more useful there to bring people to West Seattle than a Whole Foods, as an anchor tenant. It’s called the Whittaker? Why not setup a massive REI?

    Comment by Joe Szilagyi — 11:26 am March 11, 2014 #

  9. CW – still waiting for CVS to even get to Design Review stage. No new documents have shown up in the visible online file since last July.

    Comment by WSB — 11:33 am March 11, 2014 #

  10. Thank you Tracy for the full coverage! I wasn’t able to attend the meeting today but I love being able to see it, blow for blow, on the blog. I support the Whittaker and welcome Whole Foods.

    Comment by RLS — 11:39 am March 11, 2014 #

  11. I am crossing my fingers this vacation is approved. I will not shop at Safeway and only occasionally shop at QFC and Thriftway. Most of our shopping is currently done at Trader Joe’s. I love PCC as well, but it is not convenient to my Fairmount Park home. Whole Foods does fill a niche in our neighborhood. I would love for one to move in within walking distance of home.

    Comment by SarahScoot — 11:40 am March 11, 2014 #

  12. Yes on REI. It can be the new Trader Joe’s debate.

    Comment by AmandaKH — 11:50 am March 11, 2014 #

  13. I saw the writing on the wall and moved out of West Seattle about 20 years ago when the city was wanting Urban Villages and at that time a survey was done on the traffic on the WS bridge and at that time it was either 120 or 130% of what the bridge was designed for. Wonder what it is now? West Seattle is being destroyed one condo at a time.

    Comment by Max — 11:53 am March 11, 2014 #

  14. Tracy,

    This is an important issue for West Seattle, and I am grateful that you are covering it so closely. Respectfully though, this post is a good example of why I read WSB so much less frequently than I used to.

    Reading this post is such a chore for the reader. Most of us don’t have the time or patience to sit through the tedium of a city council meeting in person. So why subject us to it by essentially live blogging one?

    A post like this would be so much more helpful and readable if you wrote it like a story, using your analytical skills to tell us what was most important about the meeting, who made the stronger case and so on. Your time-stamped updates often bury the most critical information near the bottom of your posts. Rather than distill, you tend to repeat the same themes over and over again.

    I think WSB’s problem is that it hasn’t moved on from its identity as a “blog.” You are a neighborhood news site, an important one. Your design and approach to journalism should reflect that.

    Comment by Mr. Former Frequent WSB reader — 12:00 pm March 11, 2014 #

  15. So much hullulabaloo to vacate an alley no one uses or really cares about? Gheesh. I could understand the efforts of the antis if this were a culturally, environmentally or architecturally significant alley but it’s simply an alley that doesn’t really add to or subtract from the quality of our lifestyles. You disagree with Whole Food’s — don’t shop there. You disagree with big development on properties that big development is the best use of the space — buy them and donate to the city for parkland.

    Comment by Under Achiever — 12:11 pm March 11, 2014 #

  16. watching, taking notes; 2 ½ hrs so far; thanks to all who are there in council chambers and spoke
    ~
    horrified at Tom’s commentary, especially after cutting off Kshama’s questions re public benefit
    ~
    this will be good for Chas Redmond’s campaign for District 1
    ~
    yay Kshama, speaking up for the working people

    Comment by Diane — 12:12 pm March 11, 2014 #

  17. I disagree with Mr. Former. I like the depth of coverage. It’s a lot faster to read more here than to see less on television coverage. It’s a lot more complete than the newspapers who compress and summarize, occasionally to the extent that logical connectors are left out. And it’s a lot easier than to attend in person. Thank you for this coverage, Tracy.

    Comment by Jim — 12:19 pm March 11, 2014 #

  18. I don’t find it difficult to read Tracy’s live-blogging. I actually find it refreshing that she is absolutely staying out of the fray and leaving conclusions to the reader. That’s about objective as a journalist can hope to be in a small community of sponsors and stakeholders who see each other regularly.

    Don’t read Mr. Former if you can’t deal. Leave the critical thinking to the big kids.

    Comment by my hunch — 12:22 pm March 11, 2014 #

  19. “they can get their building permits, move ahead, and come back years later for final vacation approval”
    Wha?
    After the thing is built, then they get approval,..maybe?
    What kind of weasel decision is that?

    Comment by old timer — 12:25 pm March 11, 2014 #

  20. @ Mr. Former -
    We like the WSB presentations, we appreciate the unbiased and complete coverage that we get here, we are grateful for the dedication this type of coverage demands.
    Create your own newspaper if it’s so important to you, although since reading is a ‘chore’ for you, that may not be easy.

    Comment by old timer — 12:32 pm March 11, 2014 #

  21. Mr. FFWSB reader, You sound like an expert in journalism so why don’t you create your own blog to report West Seattle news they way you think it should be done? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

    Comment by Mr. CW — 12:32 pm March 11, 2014 #

  22. Before Mr. Former gets bashed, I appreciate critique. WSB is to some degree a new form of news. We write some newspaper-style articles but that is not our primary format. We are here to provide a TON of information, and I realize some people don’t want a ton. (If we had more money and more personnel, we would have even more stories and more formats of telling them … you should see the piles of ideas that I don’t get to convert.) We do tweet – the Twitter form of this is probably a lot more succinct. And we certainly tell MOST of our stories in a shorter format than conventional newspapers – three, four lines (I’d link to examples but I have to leave the chambers, now going back to the murder trial which we’re told is reconvening early today). Keep the critique coming. I’m sorry though that anyone would choose to read WSB less for any reason, as we are covering a slew of important issues that are not getting coverage anywhere else. – Tracy

    Comment by WSB — 12:35 pm March 11, 2014 #

  23. As endlessly hard working as she is, I’m not at all surprised to see how gracious Tracy is in response to the constructive criticism. But I disagree with Mr. Former too. If one is pressed for time or averse to reading then I expect there are other news sources out there with talking heads who will gladly digest and summarize the news for you (perhaps imparting their own bias or narrative). And you can easily scroll over the stories that don’t interest you. But for many others, this kind of comprehensive coverage is extremely valuable, if not for word of the final outcome but for the portrayal of the process and as an easily accessible record of the event. Likewise, I think the community benefits much more from the detailed coverage of the Chambers trial (of the civic procedure, forensics and the drama of competing interests, etc.) than it would a simple four sentence blurb with the outcome.
    .
    For a very long time now the West Seattle Blog’s identity has been that of a professional, well-respected, reliable, comprehensive source for news. It is also a frequently cited example of one of the parts of the news business that in 2014 has an upward trajectory.

    Comment by cjboffoli — 12:39 pm March 11, 2014 #

  24. A couple of points…

    How many of any sort of business a neighborhood “needs” will be defined by the market; too many pizza places, some will fail, too many Mexican places, some will fail, too many grocery stores, some will close. Each grocery store in WS, including Whole Foods, is actually quite unique, each catering to its own niche audience. How many we “need” is irrelevant.

    And this quote

    “Anti: Transit Riders Union rep Katie. They are not opposed to development, but they are opposed to contractors, developers, etc. who stand to profit.”

    Umm, that’s what every developer, including who ever built your residence, your grocery store, your gas station and every other business you patronize, does – they develop properties in order to make a profit. No profit, no development.

    Comment by twobottles — 12:41 pm March 11, 2014 #

  25. I hope the Getting It Right people realize they should be careful what they wish for… If this plan falls through and another developer comes in, they can build 9 stories with virtually no parking. But then again, Getting It Right doesn’t actually care about West Seattle… They only care about a non-union grocery store.

    Comment by Snausage — 12:42 pm March 11, 2014 #

  26. Don’t forget Tom got the Triangle upgraded to 85′ for the Triangle Plan folks.

    I don’t care about unions or Whole Foods. I care about the delivery trucks which will use up the street parking as they cue up for delivery in the connector lane. That’s what happens on Roosevelt and 65th Street Whole Foods store every day between 10ish and 3 or so, but it could happen with any grocery store on this gateway site.

    To me, it is only about the tenant to the extent that the trucks are absolutely going to screw up the traffic flow all around the block.

    Mark my words. Midway connector or not, expanded delivery dock lanes or whatever, the constant trucks are the kiss of death for future transit and/or “real” customer/community street parking.

    Comment by Something About This — 12:49 pm March 11, 2014 #

  27. “We need more time/information…” is code for let me make sure I’m not biting the hand that is feeding me or whats in it for me. House.of.Cards.

    Comment by McFail — 12:58 pm March 11, 2014 #

  28. “Councilmember Sawant says she doesn’t support rushing into it”

    ONLY in Seattle can you have 4 years of community input, meetings and design changes and STILL have some silly bureaucrat claim you’re “rushing” the process. LOL. Yes, lets have 19 more meetings. During which EACH meeting we can bring up NEW ideas and concepts, EACH of which require MORE meetings and MORE discussions. It’s an endless loop of silly! If you can’t decide to build or not build a project in 4 bleeping years, you’re incompetent! This isn’t some thing that just came up 2 months ago we’re rushing into. We’ve talked and talked and talked and talked about this for YEARS. Make a decision. Either do it, or don’t. But stop just debating it. You’ve had enough time to have input and get changes and say yes OR no.

    Comment by Portlandia Indeed — 1:14 pm March 11, 2014 #

  29. looks like a lot of people have bought into the lies about GIRWS; most of us are volunteer community members who care about good development in West Seattle; most of us are NOT aligned with or advocating on behalf of any union; I’ve been involved with this group of neighbor volunteers since the beginning; the name we came up with describes exactly what we care about; Getting it Right for West Seattle; the least important issue to me in this fight is WF; I care about good design, safe pedestrian corridors, traffic/transit impacts, a beautiful “gateway”, REAL public benefit
    ~
    this billion dollar national developer (Weingarten) is not going anywhere; they’re all “lawyered-up” and WF will be built; we are a relatively small group of unpaid community advocates fighting for good design and public benefit for everyone who lives in WS, and for future generations; we will be stuck with what gets built here for decades, thus we want to get it right; taking 2 yrs to “process” what will be here for 50 yrs, is nothing

    Comment by Diane — 1:15 pm March 11, 2014 #

  30. ” safe pedestrian corridors, traffic/transit impacts, a beautiful “gateway”, REAL public benefit”

    I just disagree 100%. This is insane. TRANSIT? It’s ON the largest bus route, with Rapid Ride, blocks from the bridge. It’s PERFECT place to “grow” West Seattle (rather than sprawl out further). We WANT density on the major corridors, not everyone can have a “single family house” and still had 10,000 more people to West Seattle over the years. There is no safe crossing of Alaska now (hasn’t been in decades). It’s BEEN an ugly horrible mess for decades. I wish there had been this level of “community outrage” when the polluting ugly gas station was built…when acres of land were turned into an asphalt lot. No one raised a concern then that I remember. The alley way and “public benefit” is something I never heard of BEEP from anyone in 30 years until someone wanted to take this abandoned junk lot and turn it into a NICE looking urban transit oriented development. Portlandia is our reality. Just put a bird on it and we can move on. ;-) This developer has the patience of a Saint.

    Comment by Portlandia Indeed — 1:35 pm March 11, 2014 #

  31. As a former media/news director, I agree with Mr. Former’s comments. Blogger or Journalist. Decide and stick with it.

    Comment by Babayaga — 1:35 pm March 11, 2014 #

  32. Diane, will you disclose the funding sources for GIRWS and what percentage of that funding is directly attributable to West Seattle residents? Last time I checked, unions are also a billion dollar industry and are “all lawyered-up.” I’m just wondering which billion dollar industry cares more about my neighbors.

    Comment by KS — 1:41 pm March 11, 2014 #

  33. QUOTE: “…since 40th is not an arterial, it’s legal for pedestrians to cross at any place they want, he says.”
    .
    My issue with this claim is that it completely ignores the fact that drivers do not respect the rights of pedestrians. Unless SPD is going to start issuing tickets for not yielding to pedestrian right-of-way, I don’t buy this logic for a second.

    Comment by Brian — 1:43 pm March 11, 2014 #

  34. Baba, I am not a blogger in any way, shape or form (and frequently speak about wishing that word would be abolished – you can write/publish in blog format, but you are a journalist, or a humorist, or a diarist or, whatever). I am (and have been since 1977) a journalist. Period. (And former assistant news director, managing editor, executive producer, etc.) That has nothing to do with how you publish, and everything to do with how you operate. Thanks. – Tracy

    Comment by WSB — 1:52 pm March 11, 2014 #

  35. I’d like to know what Eddie Vedder thinks.

    Comment by DTK — 1:55 pm March 11, 2014 #

  36. Actually, it does. And yes, I know your work history. Also, I would appreciate you not calling me “Baba,” which is something entirely different (and can be considered offensive), instead of Babayaga. Thanks for the reply.

    Comment by Babayaga — 1:57 pm March 11, 2014 #

  37. “We have too many coffee places …. We have too many grocery stores. …. We have too many nail salons …” This needs to be about good development — like it or not, development is and will continue to occur in a variety of forms. To make this about a grocery store is pretty myopic. I would like to use another analogy but it would get me banned …. It’s not up to rhe community to dictate the number of grocery stores and our neighborhood.

    Comment by My two cents ..... — 2:01 pm March 11, 2014 #

  38. Admiral Safeway is a good example of why we need to get this right, NOW; not allow the “conceptual approval”; by the time the final alley vacation for Admiral Safeway happened a couple weeks ago, it was completely off the radar, even for those of us who were very involved in that project 4 yrs ago; it was clear to me in watching city council discuss and approve the final Admiral Safeway alley vacation, that (except for Tom, who lives in WS) city council members had zero info about what really happened at Admiral Safeway (except what was presented by the new owner of the land); in that case, we did NOT get the promised public benefit; there is still no “green wall” or “greenery” on the roof that we were promised; instead the building is covered in giant black metal screens that were supposed to be lush with green plants
    ~
    the current “Whole Foods” project had the same architect as the Admiral Safeway; we got screwed big time in Admiral, and it will happen again unless we fight for REAL public benefit in the WF project, and educate all city council members about the critical issues in the WF project

    Comment by Diane — 2:02 pm March 11, 2014 #

  39. Diane.
    You and I see each other a lot in the community at meetings, and we often agree. Here we do not.
    It is disingenuous to claim GIRFWS is a “relatively small group of unpaid community advocates” up against a goliath out-of-state developer.
    If that were true, who has funded an architect to propose new designs, techy traffic videos based on a purchased traffic study and even robocalls to all of our neighbors?
    Let’s all acknowledge our West Seattle community has been jammed into a highly political mess by a desperate mayoral campaign that is now defunct. We are stuck where only people who are thinking a certain way can “get it right” for our community. Where people are either for us or against us.
    That thinking disappoints me, and I hope each of us find ways to get past this soon.
    I wish the council had taken some clear action today so that our West Seattle community can start to rebuild relationships that are strained over 7,000 sq ft of concrete and a store that sells arugula.
    Even as “our leaders” postpone this vote for 30 days, let’s see if we can wind down, not up the rhetoric.

    Comment by Sutton — 2:03 pm March 11, 2014 #

  40. Re: the format of WSB — deal with it. The structural hybrid that Tracy rides here is how most online news operates these days from the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal to everything in between. Adapt or die like the other Old Media dinosaurs with eroding circulation and decreasing editorial authority (which is nothing more than a perception of authority). The WSB shouldn’t change a thing.

    Comment by Joe Szilagyi — 2:08 pm March 11, 2014 #

  41. KS; as I stated; I am an unpaid community volunteer; I am not part of any unions; most of the longtime community advocates who are part of GIRWS for the good of our neighborhood are unpaid volunteers

    Comment by Diane — 2:12 pm March 11, 2014 #

  42. Sutton, completely agree. To call this group “grassroots” is completely disingenuous.

    I think the answers to your questions can be found right on the GIRFWS Facebook page. Someone asked the same question there recently – who paid for the architect, and who paid for the traffic videos? Their answer:

    1. UFCW’s members paid for Dr. Sutton of UW to come up with two alternative designs based on comments from WS residents (that survey is on our website). Both designs require an alley vacation, yes. One design has retail space for a big grocery store like WF, one doesn’t. Also, UFCW’s members paid for this video production based on input from other GIRFWS coalition members and transportation experts.

    Comment by sonic — 2:20 pm March 11, 2014 #

  43. 30 days to better inform our city council members (several of whom were admittedly not well informed about the details of this project) before they vote on a this biggest ever development in the history of West Seattle, that will be at the entrance to our neighborhood for 50 years? 30 days is nothing

    Comment by Diane — 2:21 pm March 11, 2014 #

  44. @Joe Szilagyi I fully understand New Media. I worked on transitions to New Media formats. The issue I have is with “Journalism” as the term has been used here. Just a professional opinion I share. Back to issue at hand. Hope April 8th is the last of this ordeal.

    Comment by Babayaga — 2:26 pm March 11, 2014 #

  45. I can’t believe anyone is complaining about the style of TR’s LIVE reporting; thank you Tracy Record for being there in person; I watched the hearing live on seattlechannel, but many cannot do that and highly value TR’s “as it happened” reporting

    Comment by Diane — 2:30 pm March 11, 2014 #

  46. it’s great that we have so many “experts” vs. “journalists” who feel that they can only make a comment about the writer , and not about the story being report. I feel as many others do…if you are not happy with the WAY things are presented on here, then go do your own. Or pretend you have a remote control (like on your TeeVee), and simply change the channel.

    And, oh, I can vouch for Diane…have been friends for years. She is just a WS resident, concerned by what is being done in West Seattle. Not a union rep, for sure. She isn’t lying…honest!

    Comment by JanS — 3:25 pm March 11, 2014 #

  47. Was that a full 60 mins of public comment? Seemed to fly by very quickly. I don’t understand why Whole Foods’ name is mentioned so much in this alley vacation hearing. If not them, it would be some other large retailer in there anyway.

    Comment by Waraba — 4:01 pm March 11, 2014 #

  48. BabaYAGA, what is your beef with WSB’s Editor? Sounds like it’s personal.

    .

    Although I disagree with Mr. Former Frequent WSB reader’s comments, and think they are a a bit too critical, I guess they are constructive for the most part.

    .

    As to WSB’s shortening of your chosen alias; if you have been a regular reader for sometime, (and I would venture a guess yes, since you seem to be familiar enough with WSB’s over all style to form your opinion), you should well know that Tracy often addresses commenters with a shortened version of the name they posted under. You chose to post under “Babayaga”, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you even realized Tracy may shorten it.

    .

    BTW, in scrolling through Urban Dictionary’s definition of the shortened version, there only seems to be a couple or so entries, that seem like they could be offensive: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=baba
    Most other entries denote someone that affection would be directed to, such as a Grandmother, or a Father.

    .

    Methinks with whatever beef you have with WSB/Tracy, you saw an opportunity to post your displeasure, by piggybacking on Mr. Former Frequent WSB reader’s critical comment.

    .

    Mike

    Comment by miws — 4:15 pm March 11, 2014 #

  49. Diane, GIR4WS may have some volunteers such as yourself but it seems to get all of its funding from the Union. Can you tell us that you honestly believe it will continue to be funded after this issue is settled? When I checked out their site and Facebook page and it is entirely about this one project, I guess all the others got it right?

    Comment by MikeT — 4:33 pm March 11, 2014 #

  50. GIR4WS’s apparent lack of scrutiny pertaining to other upcoming West Seattle projects in the design review process is curious to me. Seems that the voice of “concerned citizens” would be more relevant at that stage. I see nothing in their campaign that leads me to believe a consistent review of new developments is any sort of priority. Am I mistaken? The surgical focus on this one project smells fishy, not of grass roots but of stalling tactics based on UFCW opposition to the announced tenant. For those who are genuinely dedicated to safety and design guidance I think you’ve been duped by this group. Please consider joining the process when public design review hearings solicit your opinion. There will be no shortage of projects seeking approval that your input can help guide.

    Comment by GettingItWrong — 4:46 pm March 11, 2014 #

  51. And the Seattle Process trudges on.

    Comment by Peter — 8:44 pm March 11, 2014 #

  52. As a former long-time journalist I find the debate about the blog more interesting than debate about the development project.
    As I see it, this is a great example of no good deed going unpunished, or at least unridiculed. I am constantly amazed at the quality and dedication demonstrated by Tracy and company.I could not do what Team Tracy does, and I would wager that very few of us could. If you think you can, then prove it–or put a sock in it.

    Comment by onion — 9:12 pm March 11, 2014 #

  53. I like it. The more trees and grass the better. Nice looking building compared to what is there now. I love whole foods and will shop there. I would have thought more people would put up a stink about the ugly buildings that will be going in on Alaska and Cali…

    Comment by ttt — 9:32 pm March 11, 2014 #

  54. @GettingItWrong; I participated in every design review meeting for this project (did you?); in fact, I’ve participated in nearly every design review meeting for every proposed project in WS for 6+ yrs

    Comment by Diane — 9:33 pm March 11, 2014 #

  55. I was at the hearing this morning, ALL 3 HOURS, and applaud WSB for the reporting… spot on for the most part. Thank you, Tracy. The only correction I would insert after this quick read is that Katie’s (Transit Riders Union) comments weren’t simply against developers and profit. A bit more nuanced.

    Public comment was cut off after an hour even though many more wanted to speak, including me. Ah well, maybe next round.

    Comment by AlkiGrl — 9:53 pm March 11, 2014 #

  56. TTT – The process behind those buildings WAS a long one – almost four years, as the project’s original owner pointed out at the 2011 City Council Transportation Committee hearing that was that project’s version of today’s hearing (but minus the big turnout; I believe this is the hearing that Dave Montoure was alluding to today when he mentioned having been pretty much alone the last time he spoke at an alley-vacation hearing):
    .
    http://westseattleblog.com/2011/04/city-council-committee-recommends-that-conner-homes-junction-project-get-its-alley-vacation
    .
    The project (then Conner, now Equity Residential) has an unusual alley vacation – it’s subterranean only – the two buildings’ parking garages will be connected between the alley that runs through the site, but that still meant a “vacation” was required. The above-ground alley will remain open.
    .
    Tracy

    Comment by WSB — 9:56 pm March 11, 2014 #

  57. For those who say if we don’t like it, we should have bought it or buy the next parcel .. I agree with you in theory but in reality there are very few people who could afford to buy a plot of land like this one. The lowest earning member or the %1 makes $250k and that is not enough to afford this land so the pool of potential buyers is even smaller. And how many live in WS?

    Comment by Enough — 10:03 pm March 11, 2014 #

  58. AG – whose comment came in while I was writing the one above – even though I’m a pretty fast typist, I can’t ever catch every word people say, just my best attempt at an excerpt/summary. In this case, for the permanent official record, it’s all on video, as we have embedded the archived recording that Seattle Channel had published by mid-afternoon (thanks to SC for the quick turnaround – every full council and committee meeting is webcast and cablecast live and then later made available this way, as well as numerous other events of civic note) – Tracy

    Comment by WSB — 10:04 pm March 11, 2014 #

  59. Good grief.

    The GIRFers are just a front for unions.

    Right after jabbering about the Whole Foods project they move onto the $15/hr min wage business and how they have to somehow exempt their progressive friends who own small businesses, like Cupcake Royale.

    I’m all for a $15hr min wage, so long as all businesses are subjected to it. But I’m for it to get entertainment from the consequences, both the unintended, and those that are a result of sheer ignorance. It will surely be a rich and long-lasting vein of humor.

    Me and my dog Clyde will be cruising up and down the Aves. Give a wave and maybe Clyde will give ya a bark-out, unless you are a GIRFer and then Clyde will flip ya a bone.

    Comment by Jeffrey — 10:23 pm March 11, 2014 #

  60. Investors should just sell property to the city for a nice profit as the city has no problems paying top dollar for properties it has been acquiring lately and put a park and ride bus hub/ future rail at that location. This is what’s really needed here. Central location for ferry, junction and large portion of W/S. This is really the last big piece of property with good access to work with for a future rail/bus hub location in and out of area. Bus and rail options will never be successful here if people don’t have easy access to them (parking). Name or find a better location for a bus/rail hub that has a parking area to make it work.

    Comment by wetone — 11:12 am March 12, 2014 #

  61. wetone –
    Over the past 6-8 years, I have seen City staff asked many times in public meetings for a park and ride in West Seattle and they have consistently stated a “city policy” that they will not fund Park & Rides within the city limits.
    Not sure where to find said policy.
    I have shared my thoughts on this policy frankly with city staffers.

    Comment by Sutton — 2:41 pm March 12, 2014 #

  62. I’d verify that, but I don’t know that it’s in writing anywhere. I will make a note to ask the new mayor – got an interview coming up. – TR
    .
    …that said, it seems to have preceded Mayor Murray’s predecessor. See reference in this Times story from before the mayoral election in 2009.
    .
    http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2009479330_stparkingpic16txt1.html

    Comment by WSB — 2:49 pm March 12, 2014 #

  63. @GettingItWrong: Like Diane, I was involved in the process since the first round of WSDRB meetings over a year ago. I saw many neighbors who came to the earlier meetings stop coming – not because they stopped caring but because they learned quickly that the process isn’t designed for them. Public comment is severely limited in comparison to the loads of time given the developers, and even when we do comment, IMO, it isn’t given much weight. It’s tough to stick with a process which seems to cater to developers and policy wonks, but not to many others. There are a small number who stick with it and learn as they go, and I’m grateful to them, but they are small in number. The beginning core members of GIRWS met through the Design Review Board and Design Commission meetings. We are local residents, some who are union members also *gasp!* like me, who don’t support the Weingarten project.

    To others that love to speculate about GIRWS (but don’t seem to care about the $$ being thrown around by Texas-based Weingarten with PR consultants): GIRWS includes local residents, some who happen to be union members like me *gasp!* who met through the WSDRB and Design Commission meetings.
    The reality is hundreds of your neighbors in West Seattle are also UFCW21 members. We live in every neighborhood in Seattle and are lucky to have progressive leadership that recognizes our values and interests are interconnected with our neighbors. “By improving the lives of everyone, we improve the lives of our members”. We have the same approach to community organizing as we do in workplace organizing, to encourage individuals to come together based on common values and goals, and speak out. Yes, we have relatively more resources than community-based organizations have, but certainly not in comparison to the corporations we often challenge. Our power doesn’t come from the money, it comes from people. Democracy.

    But I’m proud that my union puts it’s money where it’s mouth is. Did we come to this because of the tenant? Sure. Is that all we care about? No. For me, safety, housing, and the walkability and livability of our neighborhoods is just as important.

    Comment by AlkiGrl — 2:58 pm March 12, 2014 #

  64. @ALkiGirl, Lies, Lies, Lies. “For me, safety, housing, and the walkability and livability of our neighborhoods is just as important.” Then why are you not funding other “bad” projects in West Seattle? Just this one project, and you admit that. I am not against union members *gasp*, but I am against sneaky organizers, when you started your cammpaign duping many citizens and businesses about your true intent and how you were funded. At least you finally were exposed and admitted in public that you came to this because of Whole Foods.

    Comment by SteveP — 5:01 pm March 12, 2014 #

  65. Again. The GIRFers are ASTROTURF. Nothing more than a front for unions. No horror in unions.

    But why do they have to hide behind some facade?

    Why not be honest and transparent?

    What are the GIRFers hiding?

    Keep this in mind: it’s easier to extract fifty cents an hour in union dues from someone making $15/hr vs. someone making the current prevailing wage.

    And too often the worker gets the rough end of the pineapple in return for their union dues.

    Come out into the daylight GIRFers and tell us what this is really about.

    Clowns.
    In a circus.
    No tent.

    Now that stirs the pot don’t it?

    Bwahahahahahah

    Comment by Jeffrey — 6:16 pm March 12, 2014 #

  66. wow…neighbors calling neighbors liars….how low can we stoop ?Jeffrey, SteveP…do you personally know any of these people? How dare you…who the hell do you think you are? People have a right to disagree…you have that right, Diane has that right. You may disagree, but that for damned sure doesn’t make you right. Get down off that giant horse, and remember that we all, you included, deserve respect for standing up for what we believe in. You do believe in it enough to go to the meetings and make public statements, don’t you ? Oh…no? Oh, I’m so sorry…your opinion is no more important than anyone else’s. But please stop calling people liars. If you don’t like unions, don’t join one…but please remember that your lovely weekends off, your 40 hour work week, your children not working in factories, your safety and rules of employment are all union made..

    waiting for your response now…I’m sure it will be condescending…prove me wrong…

    Comment by JanS — 10:39 pm March 12, 2014 #

  67. @miws….I agree…thanks for the post…

    Comment by JanS — 10:42 pm March 12, 2014 #

  68. Thanks Jan.

    .

    And very well put in your 10:39 pm post.

    .

    Mike

    Comment by miws — 9:41 am March 13, 2014 #

  69. The intersection at Fauntleroy and SW Alaska is already cumbersome for traffic turning right onto SW Alaska. When a driver turns left onto 40th Ave SW, many following drivers move into the buses and right turn only lane rather than wait for the vehicle ahead of them to make the left turn. I’m concerned about how that will play out when traffic volume is increased once the site is developed. This seems likely to be a traffic engineering issue regardless of the development of the site.

    Comment by JTB — 10:13 am March 13, 2014 #

  70. Sutton you are correct, in fact when x mayor Greg Nickels was in office he and crew went after a few groups that wanted to put more parking (private) on bus routes and they shut them down. People need to realize and have some common sense as less than 10% of people here in W/S have the capability of walking to a bus location do to where they live, health, time… Where people could park before and catch a bus is gone do to all the building with no parking, smart one city now those people are driving to work. That means 90% of people here will always drive as necessity from poor planning this city has done for growth they are allowing. Look at Mercer Island they have park & rides. Can’t wait for the 1000+ cars soon to be parked in surrounding neighborhoods of urban village zone : 0

    Comment by wetone — 10:58 am March 13, 2014 #

  71. This project moving ahead should have nothing to do with Unions. If you have an argument with regards to this project you should never say union. Your argument should be based on merits with the impact on the community. I don’t care if a business is going to go in that is union or non-union.

    Comment by Scott — 2:35 pm March 13, 2014 #

  72. Ahhh… JanS sits in judgment of us all.

    Listen lady: you don’t know me so who are you to pass judgment? Right, you are just another self-appointed judge.

    The GIRFers are a front for unions. Sure they have swept neighbors up in their cause, so what, people support what they are selling from behind the curtain. Good for them.

    This doesn’t make me or anyone else a liar.

    Do you have evidence that the GIRFers aren’t a front for unions?

    Or are you just name calling.

    The GIRFers are welcome to provide financial disclosure to prove me wrong, but I know they can’t.

    Whatever the case, more power to them, but they should just be honest and transparent about their activities and agenda so that people can make an informed choice.

    Unfortunately most people are narrow-minded and would rather resort to ad hominem attacks because that soothes their battered self-esteem.

    Good grief. Clyde will be flippin’ you a bone on general principle.

    Comment by Jeffrey — 3:28 pm March 13, 2014 #

  73. I totally agree with Jeffrey. This whole shebang is a union-backed scam.
    Speaking of which I noted someone mentioned “if you don’t like unions, don’t join them.” Unfortunately, the folks who work at these union shops don’t have that luxury. Their forced to pay union dues. Out of their pay checks. I was once in a union, and it was the biggest bunch of BS I’d ever seen… A bunch of fat cats sitting around taking people’s “dues” while bullying anyone and everyone who didn’t walk their line.
    Which is why it’s particularly disturbing to see the union people waltzing into West Seattle, taking a fake position of “caring about the community” when in reality they just see that the jobs at Whole Foods won’t be coughing up more money in union dues.

    Comment by XXX — 5:50 pm March 13, 2014 #

  74. Good gravy. Even The Stranger, that bastion of liberal bias (and more power to them), acknowledges that the GIRFers are “union funded”….

    JanS owes several people an honest apology, but I doubt that is forthcoming.

    We, THE PEOPLE, should DEMAND honesty and transparency from elected officials, bureaucrats, and those lobbying for one cause or another, REGARDLESS of their affiliations.

    Better to have an honest conversation than being duped into some untenable quagmire.

    And REMEMBER, vote for Clyde! He’s all about biting into the issues and not simply barking about them.

    Clyde! Clyde! Clyde!

    Comment by Jeffrey — 6:22 pm March 13, 2014 #

  75. SteveP – grow up. You don’t know me and you clearly don’t know much about GIRWS. But thanks for the “dialogue”

    Comment by AlkiGrl — 4:10 pm March 14, 2014 #

  76. As someone who actually lives 2 blocks from this development I can’t wait for Whole Foods and this development. I seriously doubt many of the anti-crowd of union lackeys live anywhere near this development, or they’d realize that the alley does not get used now, the parking lot is an unsightly mess where regular drug deals occur, and the Whittaker will be good for the neighborhood. I take the bus every day and can’t for the life of me figure out what all the whining is about – so you occasionally have to stand while riding the bus – cry me a river… you live in a city. Get over yourselves, people, and accept that this is a growing city where development is going to occur. Blocking these developments due to anti-union, anti-people, anti-traffic concerns don’t make sense if you use bogus studies and outdated data. Bring on WFM and competition for Safeway and QFC.

    Comment by Neighbor 2 Whittaker — 6:23 pm March 20, 2014 #

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