Followup: First meeting of ‘true grass-roots’ Residents of The Junction, opposing 40-apartment, 5-parking-space 4439 41st SW

March 29, 2014 at 4:57 pm | In Development, West Seattle news | 71 Comments

(From site plan filed with the city)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

A year and a half ago, two 4-unit townhouse buildings were on the drawing board for 4439 41st SW in The Junction, an 8,600-square-foot lot that currently holds one century-old house.

Four 6-year-old townhouses are to the north; a single-family house to the south; Hope Lutheran Church and School across the alley, to the west:

(Parcel-layout map, from city notice)
We first reported here in early March that the number of housing units proposed for the site had quintupled, to a 40-unit, 5-parking-space apartment building, after discovering the proposal during a routine browse of city records.

Turns out the change had been in the works about a month by then. The first public comment on file is from neighbor Abdy Farid – long active in Junction-area land-use issues – in mid-February. Last night, he was among those at Holy Rosary School‘s Hall, about two blocks away, for an organizational meeting of those opposed to/concerned about the plan (here’s the invitation we published Thursday).

Stressing that it needed to be a “true grass-roots effort,” another neighbor, Jim Schwartz, led Friday night’s meeting, which drew about 15 people. “When I saw the design sign go up, I was personally shocked and set back – I’ve always known there was a potential for the site to have some density development, but” … not this dense – a 3900 percent increase in density for the lot, as pointed out by a letter on file from Hope Lutheran leaders, also represented last night.

By the time an hour and a half of discussion had passed, those in attendance agreed their next step would be to gather signatures for a city-convened public meeting on the project, which is not slated for Design Review and therefore not scheduled for any public meetings otherwise. Several neighbor groups have requested and received such meetings in the past year (see list at the end of this story).

Here’s how the meeting unfolded:

Schwartz noted that the 4439 41st SW apartment proposal means 40 to 80 new neighbors for him – “inconsistent with the fabric of our neighborhood … poses all sort of threats to the churches, schools, neighborhood.” (The plan set on file with the city shows 40 apartments – not classic “microhousing” since each unit has its own kitchen; sizes are listed as 252 to 400 square feet – 8 on a basement level, 10 on the 1st floor, 13 on the 2nd floor, 9 on the 3rd floor.)

Schwartz made it clear he didn’t want to be the sole leader of the group – there was much for others to do. “If this was something that could be remedied two or three years down the road … but once it’s there it’s going to be there for years and years.”

He was hopeful that those at the meeting could get involved, and suggest their concerns.

The DPD comment period for the proposed apartment building ends next week – it already had a two-week extension. (We wrote about that extension on March 21st.) And the Hope Lutheran and Holy Rosary communities had been supportive too, he said.

He said he wasn’t looking to have meetings “with torches to go burn down the castle …” but rather a “smart way to make it apparent to politicians and (decisionmakers regarding) this particular development” regarding their concerns.

One attendee mentioned another meeting where the city mentioned units could have up to eight residents each. Discussion swirled around how many people might be able to live in the building.

Diane Vincent, who is active in local development concerns, explained the difference between microhousing, microstudios, and other types of small development.

As Farid put it, the size of the unit isn’t the issue so much as “how many people are going to live there” in the context of what’s going on around it – “as a neighborhood we work together and are familiar to make sure things go smoothly … but an additional 40 to 80 people … I’m assuming most are going to have their own cars …. we don’t have the capacity on the steret system to have these cars parked. So they might go around the block, find the parking three blocks from there, or maybe not …”

Other points of concern: Safety, noise, and lighting, Farid said. And the potential demographics of the residents is a question mark, too – this type of development would seem more appropriate near the university, or a light-rail station. “It’s totally out of place as far as size, who’s going to rent these units, and (regarding affordable housing) they’re not going to be affordable.” Small apartments aren’t going for small rents these days, he noted. The site was slated for 74 percent excavation, he also pointed out. “And because the alley connects to an arterial – SW Oregon – they need to have a turnaround.” He said neighbors have requested the city deny this project “because it’s not going to work in this area.” The number of units could mean 250 daily trips, he noted. “They’re going to have cars and they’re going to get in and out of the alley.” Farid also said the existence of churches and schools in the area are points of concern.

Another attendee had contacted City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen and said he pointed out the “urban village” zoning changes years ago. Changing zoning law would seem to be the more appropriate path to pursue: “Maybe it won’t solve this problem but it will solve problems down the line.”

Yes, but, as Schwartz pointed out, the city is supposed to listen to how the developments affect the neighborhood; history is important and yet so is “express(ing) ourselves to as many people at as many levels” as can be done. He considers several elements of the project “suspect,” while there is also a “political stand … it’s the wrong design for this location. … I think this is a good project to make a stand on,” said Schwartz, expressing hope that even Councilmember Rasmussen might take a look and realize it’s not the right development for the site.”

Examining the site for issues such as slide risk and water could help “make it easier for the city to deny this,” Farid said.

Holy Rosary’s principal George Hofbauer spoke up next, saying he knows someone who works in the city DPD and pointed out that King County is one of the fastest-growing counties in the country. “It’s going to take money … to try to stop this. I’m very concerned with this project but I’m more concerned with the next couple of years, and at some point we have to try to overturn what (city leaders) said, because it’s going the way of Europe and the east … but Americans are in love with their cars, and we haven’t built the infrastructure” (to support the growth).

Schwartz said, “I don’t know where we’re going either but I want this group to get a focus, reach out to other groups in West Seattle, in other neighborhood;, we’re going to have to mount a sophisticated, professional opposition.”

That would mean land-use attorney help, it was suggested.

“We could use a few referrals,” smiled Schwartz.

How might the business community react, given that more people mean more customers? one attendee asked.

Schwartz didn’t think stopping a 40-unit development would have much impact on the commercial district, with so much other development going on. “Once those people show up, I think our businesses are going to do quite well.”

One man noted that hundreds of new residences are in the works for just the half block around Hope Lutheran and the inability to find parking that he had experienced on 41st/42nd. What about the services, he wondered – mail, garbage, etc. “Is there any room in this whole thing for common sense?”

That’s when Vlad Oustimovitch – an architect, former Southwest Design Review Board member, board member of the Fauntleroy Community Association, and current co-chair of the Southwest District Council – spoke up.

He mentioned similar projects elsewhere – “this is one of dozens of projects that have people like you sitting in rooms upset … there are a number of actions that have produced the circumstances leading to projects like these being developed … the economic argument is more profound – (many projects) are exempt from property tax … that’s not a bad thing, but they’re not going to be contributing to the tax base (through) which things like parks and schools that make a community functional and stable can exist.” He noted that he’s “aware of the dysfunction in the city right now,” since he has a background in urban design.

Oustimovitch said he was part of the urban village process in the ’90s and that it “did never envision this type of development and it was a long multi-year process that involved the community … when the community supported the concept, this was not envisioned.”

Even where there’s adequate public transportation, Oustimovitch pointed out, as has been learned with light rail in Southeast Seattle,, you actually need more parking – so “this concept and its practicality is the fundamental problem here.” Social issues without “any kind of sustainable plan” are the challenge.

Oustimovitch is chairing the SW District Council’s new Land Use Committee, he said, pointing out that a West Seattle-wide effort would be in order, as well as collaboration with other neighborhoods around the city.

(The SWDC’s next meeting is Wednesday night – see information at story’s end.)

“There are a bunch of things that happened in the (Seattle Municipal Code) making it hard to affect a project of this kind – so you’re going to have to look hard, and press hard, and press hard right away.”

Yes, they need to “poke holes in (the building proposal),” agreed another attendee.

Oustimovitch pointed out that they should petition for a public meeting, and noted there are other “tactical things” that can be done. He said, “I’m a pacifist, not an activist, and I’d prefer not to be here right now but … I saw this all (starting) a few years ago,” at which time he said he had observed, “‘There’s going to be hell to pay,’ and (now) hell is here.”

He continued, “There are some serious sustainability issues with the development program in the city, it’s like a credit card or a sugar high … things like the parking issue is another one. To me, it’s a public resource … even if it’s in front of your house, it belongs to everybody. If you create a development with 20 to 40 units where there are 2 to 3 spaces on the street, there’s a very serious issue. … It’s a public resource like everything else we have. … What’s happening now is, this public resource which is finite, important for retail and (many other things) is all being gobbled up.”

Oustimovitch mentioned the 6917 California SW project, 30 apartments and no parking spaces – just approved by the city – being built on a site with room for two spots.

Julia Doerr from Hope Lutheran spoke up next, saying that the church and school are very concerned, especially because the project would “back up right against the school,” so they would like to find a way to raise money for a land-use attorney, looking for loopholes in the code. “I think it’s also unique in that 41st crests in the middle and there’s no visibility for traffic in either direction.” Some other buildings are being built on arterials, “but this is not an arterial,” she noted.

Schwartz asked Oustimovitch his recommendations. “First, tactical steps that can give you time and space regarding what you can do.”
Up until a few years ago, he said, any project with 8 or more units would have been subject to Design Review – then the city changed the code and now that’s not the case. The State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) is the “strongest” tool they might deploy, Oustimovitch suggested. “A lawyer would be looking at state law to see if (that) can be used to mitigate some of the things …”
SEPA can be wielded for traffic, for example. “That’s where the attorney are going to focus.” Interpretation of land-use code, including examining laws “that contradict each other,” could be helpful, he said, also noting that the Department of Planning and Development director Diane Sugimura can “write director’s rules” but “is unwilling to do that.”

She reports to the mayor, it was pointed out, so putting pressure on Mayor Ed Murray would be appropriate, along with lobbying City Councilmember Rasmussen, since, as a West Seattle resident, he might run for the newly created West Seattle-only district on the council. (He is currently declared as running for an unspecified seat.)

And, again, petitioning for a public hearing is one of the next steps, it was reiterated. “Democracy is really about getting people mobilized and showing up,” Oustimovitch observed, including showing up and speaking at City Council meetings. “I think that’s what it’s going to take for this … what it’s going to take for the city to change its course.”

Participation in the SWDC’s newly formed Land Use Committee (WSB coverage here) is important too: “It’s going to take a long time to get it going, but the point is to get something going.” Vincent seconded that motion, expressing her hopes that it would help coalesce divergent groups around the area that all have been operating independent of each other, “reinventing the wheel” every time, every project.

If this specific project does get approval, as Oustimovitch noted, there is action that can be taken beyond that, including an appeal to the city Hearing Examiner. While West Seattle has a reputation for being “polite” and “civil,” he said, it’s the noisy neighborhoods that have gotten response.

“We have to figure out how to get noisy,” agreed Schwartz.

The board president of nearby Seattle Lutheran High School, John Lisko, joined him at the front of the room at that point to further focus attendees on the issues – parking and traffic for the three schools in the area (SLHS, Hope, Holy Rosary) as well as nearby residents – and to secure volunteers to help with petition circulation, among other things. He recalled another grass-roots fight against city policy, the 2011 clamor over increased fees for athletic fields (WSB coverage here). “I think we could gather a lot of people around this, and we need organizers.”

As details were worked out, the discussion started to ebb after more than an hour and a half, but with resolve at the end: “It’s time to dig in.”

WHAT’S NEXT: As mentioned earlier, the group plans to collect petition signatures – at least 50 are required – to ask the city to host a public meeting for comments about this project. If and when they put the petition online, we’ll add the link here. Comments are still being accepted by the city’s assigned planner, Bruce Rips – e-mail bruce.rips@seattle.gov. The city page for this project is here.

CONTACT INFORMATION: The group that held Friday night’s organizational meeting has an e-mail address – residentsofthejunction@gmail.com

OTHER MEETINGS OF INTEREST NEXT WEEK: Southwest District Council, which is forming a Land Use Committee, meets Wednesday at the Senior Center of West Seattle (California/Oregon), 7 pm; the Southwest Design Review Board reviews two projects Thursday, also at the Senior Center, 3210 California SW at 6:30 pm, 1307 Harbor SW at 8 pm. Both are open to the public.

OTHER WEST SEATTLE PROJECTS THAT HAVE HAD COMMUNITY-PETITIONED CITY MEETINGS IN THE PAST YEAR:

4535 44th SW (36 apartments, no parking spaces): WSB coverage of November meeting

6917 California (30 apartments, no parking spaces) – November petition drive; city notice for December meeting

3210 California (130+ apartments) – February meeting convened by city after petition drive, WSB coverage here

6536 24th SW (two lots proposed for division into 8 lots) – WSB coverage of March meeting

2414 55th SW (rowhouses in Alki area) – Announcement of petition-secured meeting last July; April petition drive covered here

71 Comments

  1. This fiasco is a left over from Mayor McGinns war on the automobile. He wanted everyone to take buses and ride bikes, whether you wanted to or not. So, let developers build apartments with no parking. This policy is stupid and must be stopped.I’m sorry, my knees will not let me ride a bike nor would I want to in the rain of Seattle. I am not going grocery shopping on a bus. We had 6 cloth bags from shopping today.

    Comment by Michael Waldo — 5:29 pm March 29, 2014 #

  2. I don’t understand why everyone hates townhouses so much. I live in a condo in WS and I have 1 parking spot. If friends or family come over to visit they have to find a spot like everyone else. They may even have to park blocks away but they do it because they love me and want to see me. Its not like its projects being built. Its hard working people going to be living there.

    Comment by condo chick — 6:29 pm March 29, 2014 #

  3. About six billion people manage to live on this planet without a car. But leave it to Seattlites to adamantly assert that there is no reasonable way they can conduct their lives without access to a private car and that an exception must be made for them.
    .
    While it is clear that Seattle’s lack of adequate public transportation options is a failure of decades of city leadership, considering the very high percentage of single-occupant vehicles on the road everyday it seems to me that at least part of the problem is that people don’t really want public transportation except as something for other people to use. Nothing is going to drive the agenda for better public transportation more than the continued gridlock that we currently have. When I walk through the Junction on a weeknight it is empty. The sidewalks roll up at 8pm. There is plenty of capacity for more people. But we clearly don’t have room for more cars. So building new developments with a parking space for every new resident is myopic and backwards.
    .
    The percentage of US households owning cars has been declining steadily since 1960. The percentage of teenagers getting their drivers license continues to decline. America is past its peak car use. It would be a very sad thing if the citizens of this city were so lacking in foresight and imagination that they’d demand that the future design of this city must continue to prioritize cars. Seattle is growing rapidly and I don’t really see how those of us who live here now can justifiably tell newcomers that they’re not allowed to move here because we were here first and our cars are more important then they are. Seattle is a city. Cities are where people live in close proximity to each other. If that doesn’t sound good to you Detroit real estate is available at a terrific bargain.

    Comment by cjboffoli — 6:29 pm March 29, 2014 #

  4. Just to note -the alley shown in the plans is a dead end alley-& will be the only access to these units. Hope Lutheran Church & PK-8 School is on one side of the alley & part of their playground is on the other side.

    Comment by Gene — 6:37 pm March 29, 2014 #

  5. Sign the petition when it becomes available.
    Show up at the public meeting(s), flood the place.
    And if asked contribute some $.

    Comment by dsa — 7:04 pm March 29, 2014 #

  6. The developer$ took over long ago with the ble$$ing$ of the $ity coun$il.

    Comment by Rick — 7:19 pm March 29, 2014 #

  7. And how much property tax does Seattle Lutheran pay, again? I forgot.

    Comment by Jimmy Luther — 7:25 pm March 29, 2014 #

  8. One very specific question, that Vlad mentioned: how are privately owned commercial properties exempt from property taxes? They’re exempt from property taxes I pay on my house? Can that be clarified?

    Comment by Joe Szilagyi — 7:31 pm March 29, 2014 #

  9. Joe, sorry, I meant to clarify because that came up in the preview story’s comments earlier today. I believe the mention was regarding the MFTE. Here’s that prior discussion.
    .
    http://is.gd/YJRO39
    .
    And Jimmy, yes, churches are exempt from property tax in our state. Among other nonprofit institutions, as listed here:
    .
    http://dor.wa.gov/docs/pubs/industspecific/nonprofit.pdf

    Comment by WSB — 7:44 pm March 29, 2014 #

  10. Yo, Jimmy
    Although I am not affiliated with Hope I know many who are. the majority of these people are west seattle home owners and some are local business owners who pay taxes You maybe cant fathom. By the way, how much property tax does Jimmy Pay?

    Comment by D.D.S. — 7:55 pm March 29, 2014 #

  11. cjboffoli….first, I’m only talking about me. I am referencing your claim that we , none of us, really need cars. Yes, in a perfect world, I suppose that would be true. In the next 3 weeks, I have at least a half dozen doc appt.s on Pill Hill. I also work. Taking a bus to those appointments from West Seattle would take up my whole day. I’m 67, disabled. I can’t just up and take a whole day for that, nor should I have to. You work a lot at home. But you also do work for someone else we both know. When you go to a call at 5am, or midnite, or down at Alki, or way out Delridge, you bus it…right? No, of course you don’t. I don’t adamantly insist I need a car when in actuality I don’t. I am not an exception. It’s simply a fact.

    I get tired of people claiming that Seattleites are being babies, selfish, whatever, about this. Metro sucks, period, esp. for out of West Seattle to any other place but downtown proper. And I don’t go there.

    Raising taxes for bus service that I won’t need is the price I pay. I will vote for the increase. As I stated to someone in the forum, nothing cost wise has stayed static since 1993. Not city light, not metro, not groceries, not gasoline, not anything. We adjust to those things, some better than others, sadly.No one expects their salary to stay what it was 20 years ago…that changed , too. As far as Metro is concerned, just like anything else, their costs have increased, and that means that unless their pay increases, well, things will have to change. If that ot any other costly service goes away, imagine the bitching. Oh…wait…It is going to go away, and we’ve already heard a bunch of bitching. We can’t have it both ways…have the best service , but not pay for it. And that’s exactly what those complaining about this want.

    Comment by JanS — 7:57 pm March 29, 2014 #

  12. cjboffoli — What you stated is not true. There are many Seattlite moms and dads who need cars to transport their children to schools, doctors, dentists, sports, music lessons, etc. Food shopping for a family of five and transporting the groceries on a bike or bus is not doable. Seattle’s city planners, politicians, city council have failed to manage Seattle’s highway and transportation problems.
    Overdevelopment of Seattle’s urban neighborhoods is on the backs of Seattle’s inept leaders.

    Comment by Seattlite — 8:20 pm March 29, 2014 #

  13. CJ:
    Really?
    -
    Most previous folks on this planet are dead. When you go far afield to cite statistics, deal with what is, not what occurs in America, discuss what is real here. I will be living here, and not in Detroit.
    -
    Wait until all those developments hit the Junction before citing “Gee, I see the sidewalks empty at 8 PM” and using that to say we are wrong to oppose 40 units with 5 car parking spots. Those 35 occupants that may or may not have cars are great. Perhaps 35 to 45 people will not have cars. Wonderful. But chances are of those 45 units, at least 25 will have cars. Where will they park? And if they do, why would we let the developer off the hook to say they do not need to compensate the city for transit that their carless tenants will need?

    Comment by JayDee — 9:12 pm March 29, 2014 #

  14. Impact fees.

    Comment by Term of the day — 9:39 pm March 29, 2014 #

  15. Sorry about the long rant above. About this particular development, and those like it. Is there some way , in their advertising, etc., they can specifically make sure that future renters do not have cars? I know we really can’t restrict that. I also know that some who move in will have cars, and they will have to be parked somewhere. The junction area is near to capacity for parking now. I do not shop there because I can’t walk there from my home, and it’s difficult to park, esp. for disabled parking.

    And increasing the units by that humongous figure would make me angry, too. It sounds like greed to me…

    Comment by JanS — 9:48 pm March 29, 2014 #

  16. There’s some merit on both sides. As someone with an environmental and planning background, I am a Smart Growth advocate, as it has become apparent the high cost of sprawl and over planning to accommodate cars and not people. The statistics CJ cited are accurate – the trends are showing that younger generations are less likely to get a drivers license or want a car, and those with families are more likely to live where they can walk or bike with their kids.

    That being said, much of the architecture being done in the name of Smart Growth sucks! Bland, faceless buildings without pedestrian scale elements are not inviting to most people – when you look down California at the Junction, what is intriguing is the variety of storefronts, facades, etc. – Vancouver BC has figured this out a bit better, that you can have interesting looking and better functioning spaces and still accommodate density (which is required by State law, and since the West continues to attract people from other regions or countries).

    However, the public transit system is not up to par with the Smart Growth hub needs, and there will always be some families who completely or partially depend on the car. So some parking is still needed, since we aren’t at that utopian walkable community that more and more people desire. However, instead of doing these sort of goofy micro-lot infill projects, if the City and developers were better about rezoning/reparceling areas and doing these projects on a larger scale, you could do more interesting residential/townhouse designs, like row-houses with open public spaces (think of a bunch of townhomes surrounding a mini-park) with combined parking structures. High Point and Issaquah Highlands (and numerous other places around the US) have shown that potential, though I am talking about a smaller scale than those. I think the root of this problem (and also with the controversial Whole Foods project at Fauntleroy and Alaska) is that whether you agree with the type of project or not, poor design and uninviting generic architecture are making the projects that much more unappealing to people that have to live near them – and as community members, we have a right to voice our opinion about what we’d like to see develop around us.

    Comment by B-Check — 10:03 pm March 29, 2014 #

  17. West Seattle is just getting over crowded. Period. To many feet and wheels. I am all for change and I have welcomed people to our hood. But at some point we have to ask (or demand) to have the flood gates closed. We are not equiped for this many human beings. God forbid we needed to get the heck out of here in an emergency. Ever tried getting over the WS Bridge in an ambulanve at 7am?? It’s scary! We don’t have any hospitals. Our schools are over capacity. Etc etc etc….. Enough is enough.

    Comment by bsmomma — 10:04 pm March 29, 2014 #

  18. JayDee..I have been in West Seattle for over 39 years. If you went to the junction then, at 6pm, there was no problem getting a parking space. There were two or three restaurants, and not much else open. Things change. We all know that. The fact that Mr. Boffoli saw no pedestrians, yet parking was taken, at 8pm, speaks to the fact that bus service from other WS neighborhoods sucks, or totally stops. All the people were inside…eating, frequenting the businesses that stay open later now.

    The powers that be need to start paying attention downtown, and realize that things need to change for them , too. When growth is mismanaged, as it is now (a developers dream), then they need to change this infrastructure, too. It ain’t happening. As I watched the answer that was given to TR by the mayor the other day on her question about all this, all I could think was “What BS”. It was a non-answer…a typical Seattle “we’ll form a group and study it” answer. I have no idea how we get them to take this seriously. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have to worry about it in his neighborhood.

    Comment by JanS — 10:20 pm March 29, 2014 #

  19. cjboffoli,

    how did you get down to Brace Point the other night to take photos of the house fire? Did you drive? You were there pretty fast so unlikely you waited for a bus. I’ve seen you in person so very unlikely you rode your bike that fast. So unless you live in Brace Point you probably drove the car that you hate so much.

    How do you get to most of the locations where you take all of your photos?

    Curious

    Comment by Curious — 10:32 pm March 29, 2014 #

  20. You need a car, so have a car. You should draw a line between that and forcing everyone else to live exactly like you. That’s the point. I don’t have or want a car and I certainly don’t want to be forced to waste $30k in housing costs towards something I don’t need just because you think I really do.

    Aren’t half the complaints also about traffic? If I wasn’t able to read between the obvious lines, I would be confused about the direction of your ire.

    Comment by Brian ws — 10:38 pm March 29, 2014 #

  21. The Multi-Family Tax Exemption was reported by the Seattle Times to have cost the city (us) $100 million in the three years prior to 2011, I’m sure that by now it is several times that much given the number of projects cashing in on the program.

    Practically all rental development in West Seattle qualifies since we already are a relatively low rent “work force” community, the thresholds are easy to meet. That money is going into some record profits by developers doing projects like this one.

    These are hundreds of millions of dollars that will not be going to parks, schools, social service programs, and infrastructure. And to top that off, Seattle doesn’t require any traffic impact fees like most cities in the region, this is not a sustainable development model.

    As far as street parking goes, it is a limited public asset that benefits not only residents, but also retail and transit users who aren’t close to bus stops or have mobility issues. Projects that don’t carry their fair share of parking use up a precious shared resource used by many. I am a big proponent of transit, but the fact is that it will take hundreds of billions of dollars of infrastructure (just look at the cost of Sound Transit)and several decades to get us to a level at which we need to be.

    Comment by vlado — 11:18 pm March 29, 2014 #

  22. Of the buildings that are complete and open in the past couple years, Residences at 3295 is not on the MFTE list, and checking their property tax records and bill (you can check any place in King County via the King Co. Parcel Viewer), they are being taxed on full value. I’m crunching numbers for a followup looking at the entire list I linked in the other thread – http://www.seattle.gov/housing/incentives/MFTE_RentalBuildings_02-27-14.pdf – as it will make an interesting list. (The hard part will be quantifying the “affordable rents” that are on their side of the deal.) Residences, for example, is valued at $9.2 million and being billed $96,000 for this year. A few blocks away, Link, valued at $45.3 million (although that’s well below the $62 million for which it sold two years ago), is taxed at $6.3 million for its land and non-residential components, so it’s paying a tax bill of $65,000. (For comparison’s sake, especially on behalf of any reader of this who is a renter and not familiar with property taxes, we have a small old house that the county values at $279,000; our property-tax bill this year is $3,100.) – TR

    Comment by WSB — 11:59 pm March 29, 2014 #

  23. wow TR; thank you; so it’s even way way worse (mega profits for developers) than we even realized, and huge cost to citizens of Seattle in lost taxes

    Comment by Diane — 12:15 am March 30, 2014 #

  24. AS TR points out, it’s all about $. Seattle’s politics are allowing developers to overdevelop with cheaply constructed buildings on small parcels. If the those parcels can’t accommodate parking, the city is allowing developers to forego parking.

    A lot of people are becoming house poor by skyrocketing property taxes.

    Vote NO on the next tax increase ballot. WA government needs to be reformed.

    Comment by Seattlite — 4:20 am March 30, 2014 #

  25. Good work Tracy. Getting the total cost of the property tax breaks is going to be complex, especially since they are staggered over time. City Council doesn’t really want that figure to be known because it is certain to be huge (hundreds of millions), and it was a pet project for several of the members on it. Given that we are about to ask for a very large Parks levy to fill budget shortfalls, it will not look good in the eyes of voters.

    I’ve worked on a number of low income projects in the area, but always for non-profit organizations whose mission it is to provide sustainable housing for people who need it. This MFTE program is a privatized system that rewards profit corporations, not a good model. They get the subsidies up front, and then benefit by being exempt from the income requirements later on. This is a patchwork program that gives away far more than it receives in the long run.

    Comment by vlado — 6:54 am March 30, 2014 #

  26. Someone here is a world class hypocrite.

    Comment by DTK — 7:23 am March 30, 2014 #

  27. I am a former West Seattle resident now living in the suburb of a major European city. I am disheartened by this situation and the conversation following. This would never happen here. Citizens would not need to take on the gov’t and private commercial builders because the local gov’t would have a plan that allows for growth and the maintenance of quality of life. Awesome public transportation AND adequate underground parking for a reasonable number of new neighbors. Seatte is such an amazing city but I often wonder, Who is in charge? Who is looking out for the community?

    Comment by Erin — 7:36 am March 30, 2014 #

  28. Regardless of whether you need and use a car or not, regardless of what you think about it, people moving into those places WILL BRING CARS.
    .
    We have seen this again and again at huge apartment complexes built near “bus service.”
    .
    More development means more cars, period. That is the inescapable reality.

    Comment by JoAnne — 7:55 am March 30, 2014 #

  29. Yes, thanks for that comparison, TR. What I didn’t mention in my comment above, about the poor design and generic architecture popping up, is that at least in my opinion that is heavily fueled by ease (laziness) of designing to meet requirements and maximize profit for the developer. As a community though, real long-term value comes from great places, and that’s a big disconnect. It gets wearisome hearing developers spout off “we know what the market demand is” – sure, from your perspective… but it also feels like the norm is accommodating yet another boring, poorly designed giant box, that does little to provide community space.

    Comment by B-Check — 8:03 am March 30, 2014 #

  30. I don’t have an issue with parking, the density, etc., as standalone issues, but I don’t feel that the quality of my life should be impacted deleteriously…especially by low-rent, low-value cash cow developments. The city needs volume for taxes – I get that – but with that volume, I feel that we are poorly represented in terms of efficiency and community improvements.

    Comment by Another Realist — 8:48 am March 30, 2014 #

  31. B-Check: I absolutely agree with you about the blandness and overall quality of the architecture. I wonder how much of that is a matter of economics and/or poor taste and how much comes from the reality that any bold design would get shouted down by the “design by public committee” we have for everything that gets built here. And while a place like High Point certainly hews to New Urbanist design techniques, where it fails is that it does not successfully integrate residential and commercial spaces. So people must still leave High Point, usually by mechanized transportation, to go elsewhere to work and to shop at clusters of commercial space. As built it is just a modern version of a more walkable Levittown.
    .
    To others here who don’t know me and who find it easier to cast dispersions at a stranger than to articulate their own counterpoints: My drive to Brace Point the other night was literally the only time I used a car in a week. I live and work in the same building. And I made a conscious choice to live very close to the Junction so that I could access services on foot. My car is not parked on the street and you won’t find me contributing to daily gridlock on the West Seattle Bridge as I use my car sparingly. I have also lived in both London and New York for years without a car. And in fact, the first two years I lived in Seattle was without a car (part of that on crutches with a severely broken leg) commuting to work on a bus and using a Flexcar whenever I needed to. That system worked perfectly fine. I still get groceries delivered (as I have been doing for ten years) and find it very convenient.
    .
    I understand that people disagree with me and apparently cannot envision any alternative to the status quo. But I wonder just what you think is going to happen. There clearly is not enough space to accommodate everyone who wants to drive and park a car in Seattle. I don’t see where we have space to build any more roads. We’re wasting billions in fuel and productivity sitting in traffic, and trillions more despoiling the environment, fighting wars and meddling in the affairs of foreign governments to ensure a steady supply of oil. It is madness to believe that nothing has to change. Is your plan to really fight each and every new development to keep new people out of West Seattle so that you don’t have to change anything about how much you drive? How do you think that is going so far?

    Comment by cjboffoli — 9:42 am March 30, 2014 #

  32. CJ, as long as the city caters the vast minority of people who don’t own vehicles and attempts to punish those of us Who Already Live Here, yes. The city is trying to cater to and use tax dollars on people who don’t live here and don’t pay taxes here.

    There are plenty of us who pay plenty in sales and property tax, and yet we get shafted by city government. We are all sick of it.

    I am all for growth, but the city government and DPD want to grow like an uncontrolled cancer rather than in any meaningful planned measure.

    Comment by Civik — 10:23 am March 30, 2014 #

  33. A lot of the commenters here are upset with the developer, but he/she is just exercising their property rights. The zoning has been in place for a while.

    I am always shocked at how little real estate agents understand land use. I am also shocked that this is acceptable to the people who hire them. The focus is always on interior features that can be easily changed “Granite countertops! Stainless steel appliances!” When it comes to the surrounding neighborhood it’s always “quiet neighborhood!” or, better yet, “buyer to verify”. Obviously, if you ask the commenters here, the immediate neighborhood’s development potential is pretty important. Why isn’t it discussed more at the beginning of the transaction? Why don’t people demand knowledgeable realtors and also do some research on their own?

    I used to work in the planning department of a small city. One of my coworkers wanted to buy a house. She was young and excited, so a few of us rode along with her, including the code enforcement officer and the planning director. The realtor had no idea who we were and we didn’t point it out. We then listened as she told our co-worker many half-truths. “This place could easily be split into a duplex!” (it couldn’t), etc. As we got closer the code enforcement officer mumbled under her breath “Oh, jeez, its the cat house.” Yes, the house had been inhabited by dozens of cats for years, then flipped. You could still smell the cats. When asked point-blank, the realtor said she ‘knew nothing’ about the cats.

    Maybe she really didn’t know. But she should have. There were many things she should have known to properly do her job, which is help someone make the largest purchase of their life.

    It may seem as if I’m rambling off-topic here, but I’m not. Zoning doesn’t change overnight. Be informed about the real estate you buy, then stay informed about your neighborhood and fight changes at the policy level if you don’t like them. Don’t beat up a developer who is following the law because their building isn’t pretty enough for you, or you think your area “has enough people already”.

    Maybe someone reading this is thinking about buying a house. Don’t focus on the tile backsplash in the kitchen or the hand-scraped hardwood floors. Ask your realtor for a zoning map of the immediate area with explanations of what *can* happen. Remember, you are paying them thousands of dollars to be your advocate. If they give you a blank look then find another realtor, or do the research yourself. It’s all online. Also, check with the code enforcement office for previous violations before your put in an offer.

    Comment by Betsy — 10:25 am March 30, 2014 #

  34. CJ-

    I agree with just about every post you put up … including the ones here about cars.

    My nephew attends the UW and has already declared that he has no intention of driving in this city, even beyond college. To him, its just too much trouble.

    I moved a car here from another state 15 years ago and frequently regretted having it. I lived on Queen Anne and often referred to it as my oversized paperweight. If I lived there today I just wouldn’t have one.

    To be fair, I do have a car that I use every day. But I also live in a part of Burien where it’s a mile walk to anything. When I lived on QA I walked everywhere and was in much better shape :)

    Comment by Betsy — 10:39 am March 30, 2014 #

  35. Schwartz claims 40 apts “poses all sort of threats to the churches, schools, neighborhood.” That’s just idiotic. Schwartz, I’m calling on you to present your proof that new housing is a threat to schools, churches, etc.
    -
    “Farid said … the potential demographics of the residents is a question mark.” In other words Farid doesn’t want people who can’t afford a house living in the neighborhood. That is pure snobbery and nothing else.
    -
    Regarding cars, parking, etc. these people are clearly stuck in last century’s thinking. Most people do not worship cars as these anti-environment pollution spewers do. Miles driven in Seattle and around the nation began falling before the recession and have continued to fall or have flatlined since than. People who don’t want or need cars shouldn’t be forced to pay for parking just because a bunch of people who are 50 years behind the times want to force them to.
    -
    Be warned, everyone, these people have no respect for property rights. If they are allowed to dictate what this owners does with their property, they they will next try to dictate what you can do with your property.
    -
    All in all, these people have nothing but disinformation, elitism, and scare tactics on their side. They are a threat to everyone’s property rights and they must be opposed. I will be contacting the city council to make sure they know the community strongly supports building new housing in Seattle and in West Seattle. Yes, even for those who can live in 300sf and don’t have cars.

    Comment by Peter — 10:49 am March 30, 2014 #

  36. cjboffoli-

    I appreciate your viewpoint.

    I personally view driving as a privilege (yes, even for families, including mine!) and not a right. Perhaps that has something to do with my desire for car alternatives.

    The thing that leaves me most disappointed about these types of debates is how our (lack of) coherent solutions are managed from those we elect, or are appointed. While Seattle is faced with challenging limitations on the landscape (all that water), we simply have never had the leadership in place to make a coherent change. Our transportation situation is downright embarrassing.

    Comment by KM — 10:52 am March 30, 2014 #

  37. The notion that car use is on the decline is nonsense. Any report saying otherwise is cherry picked. There are more cars in the US than ever.

    Comment by Data — 10:56 am March 30, 2014 #

  38. Christopher -
    I disagree with your numbers, the statistics I can find show steady increase in per capita car ownership until 2009 (the last data point available) and likely the peak was due to the economic problems of 2008.
    The younger generation does not own as many cars, but that’s because they haven’t gotten married or have kids yet – which is occurring later in this current generation.
    When you have kids in school, a spouse that works then you’ll change your opinion. Few have the option to live near where they work.
    Mass transit to handle such people is not here now and building high density apartments with few car spaces at this time is just making a disaster – people will bring their cars anyways and they will find a place to park them. I’ve seen it in other older cities.
    Right now the status quo is to build high density housing wherever developers want and not do anything for true mass transit improvements – including roads for cars.
    I say build true mass transit capability first, then increase the density because doing it the other way around is madness.
    This city seems to be in a reactive state instead of proactive. They are constantly behind the curve on mass transit, population density, schools, etc.

    Comment by JohH — 10:58 am March 30, 2014 #

  39. http://www.ssti.us/2014/02/vmt-drops-ninth-year-dots-taking-notice/

    I understand the difficulty we can all face in understanding how others don’t live exactly like us, but it’s not a reason to spew falsehoods.

    Comment by Ws junker — 11:14 am March 30, 2014 #

  40. Couple things I need to say before we go out for a while (and yes, we are driving a car) to cover the Oso fundraising around WS –
    .
    #1 – Links HIGHLY encouraged if you are making a statement that can be backed up with a study, a story, etc. You do NOT need to know how to code to post a link in a WSB comment. Just as long as it has the http:// before the link – cut and paste from the URL line on your browser – you can include it.
    .
    For example – what I’m finding suggests the number of personal vehicles on the road is not dropping, but driving is. You can continue to argue over the best way to deal with that. A couple links:
    .
    http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/experian-automotive-total-number-of-vehicles-on-the-road-reaches-highest-level-since-2008-230485221.html
    .
    http://www.advisorperspectives.com/dshort/updates/DOT-Miles-Driven.php
    .
    Anecdotally, as the parent of an 18-year-old, at least in this particular section of this particular city, it appears that young adults’ interest in driving is vastly different (lower) than it was when I was that age. But YMMV (appropriate old acronym, “your mileage may vary”).
    .
    #2 – Our rules against name-calling do not just cover profane or otherwise-extremely-rude names. They also cover barbed terms such as idiot, hypocrite, buffoon, whiner, etc. Do not use them. Call out the statement/opinion, not the person. This is certainly an emotional topic and I doubt that is going to change any time soon. It’s important to discuss, even when disagreeing. But the overall WSB rule remains “don’t be a jerk.” Moderation is an art, not a science, and we make mistakes too, but I will not knowingly let name-calling, jerky (and ridicule is also a form of being a jerk, including the form of “wow, you people are ALL idiots, I’m sitting here with my popcorn laughing while I watch this” type of comment) comments through. We all have to live with each other, however this shakes out.
    .
    thanks … Tracy

    Comment by WSB — 11:17 am March 30, 2014 #

  41. 2012 MFTE data is in the linked report below. Some examples:

    $180,449 property tax exemption for Altamira for 2012, $151,628 for Mural, and many more.

    http://www.seattle.gov/housing/incentives/MFTE2011report.pdf

    Comment by Data — 11:19 am March 30, 2014 #

  42. I find myself wondering what it would take for the city to create its own transit body. It strikes me that part of the problem here is that Seattle is relying on county and regional authorities to manage in-city transit. For heaven’s sake, King County’s trying to get White Center annexed by Seattle or Burien because they can’t manage it, what makes us think they can handle in-city bus service?
    .
    And I’m terribly spoiled at the moment, because I’m currently in Oxford, England, where very few people drive in the center city and mostly get around by walking, bicycling, and buses.
    .
    And the thing is, it’s really pleasant. The buses are clean, timely, and frequent. The people on bikes and walking have plenty of space. And it is so much *quieter*, even with lots of people around. You wouldn’t believe it.
    .
    Unfortunately, I’m not optimistic at all about the city taking on its own transit needs. Political will doesn’t seem to exist in Seattle in general. That’s really too bad. Personally I’m getting tired of driving, and would get everywhere by walking, biking, or busing if I could.

    Comment by datamuse — 12:51 pm March 30, 2014 #

  43. Here’s the link to the vehicle ownership per capita, which is what we are really needing to talk to regarding parking spaces. Vehicle miles traveled per capita doesn’t indicate car ownership.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motor_vehicle

    Steady increase until peak at 2007 and a bit of a decline at 2009 – likely due to economic downturn starting in 2008.
    I would bet that if the economy revs up again the numbers will jump.

    Comment by JohH — 12:57 pm March 30, 2014 #

  44. To people like CJ who either live without a car or think we should stop our reliance on them, I am seriously asking this question. I take the bus Mon-Fri to work. My husband and I maintain a car for the aspects of our lives that we truly enjoy. We hike in the summer up by Mt. Rainier,the Olympics and in BC, we own an old Airstream that we take on various trips throughout WA and the West and therefore must tow, we ski in the winter, we head out the San Juans in the summer to camp, kayak, etc… and these are only a few of the things that we enjoy doing and are not willing to give up. Frankly, why work and not enjoy life.
    How do you do these things without a car in the PNW? Do you just not happen to share these commonalities? I think many of these things are the reasons people live here.
    When people fight against the idea of adding more development with no parking I think they are being realistic. Some may get by without a car, but the high majority of people are not going to because of the same reasons I don’t.
    And yes, could I sign up for ZipCar or car to go, sure, but the cost would far out weigh the cost of keeping my car that’s paid off and using it to do the things we want.

    Comment by natinstl — 1:03 pm March 30, 2014 #

  45. Natinstl – you need a car, so own a car, secure parking, and use it. What does new development with no parking have to do with that? Is your concern that those who came after you are less worthy to store the vehicles you assume they simply must own on public property?

    Comment by Brian ws — 1:26 pm March 30, 2014 #

  46. Natinstl,

    I think there is room for car-dependent, car-free, and many people in-between in this city.

    I’m guessing you wouldn’t rent an apartment that has zero dedicated parking. I’m also guessing that you have chosen where you live, in part, based on your weekend hobbies and that you have room for your airstream, etc. I doubt you are parking all these things in a row on the street and then complaining when other people want to park there as well.

    The debate here (I think) is that people don’t believe that other people want/can live without cars. Really, many people enjoy living car free.

    But another option, other than car-free or car-dependent, is reduced-car. It sounds like you and your husband are an example of that. One choice of many in an array of options.

    Comment by Betsy — 1:35 pm March 30, 2014 #

  47. natinstl
    .
    I hear ya! We do own a car (1 for our family), for these very reasons. Also, I drive in the city for grocery shopping or going to other neighborhoods, and yes, even to yoga(!!) Neither of us drive to commute-seems like a similar situation of auto usage to you.
    .
    For me, it’s not YET cost prohibitive to drop my car, yet I we can’t justify 2 autos (no need). It was too expensive when in lived in SF, and I had a Zipcar for hiking, weekends, every-other week big grocery purchases (walkable market/used the bus for smaller trips). With parking, gas, insurance, and my lower income than I have now, I couldn’t justify keeping our car there. I hope we get to a point where we are “forced” to rethink our options regarding cars, and go toward a more collaborative transportation experience. I think we need to see a VAST redo of our public transportation at the heart of it.
    .
    I do think we need to make it easier for other forms of transportation to get around in the city. I’m frankly frightened to bike this this city, and I’ve never lived in a city where I felt this way. I acknowledge that could be an irrational fear, perhaps fueled by the # of friends I’ve had hit on bikes here are opposed to other places.

    Comment by KM — 2:52 pm March 30, 2014 #

  48. Brian, the problem with a development of this type is that it is capitalizing on existing street parking without contributing enough of its own. That means the area surrounding it will get so overused that it will inevitably require a Residential Parking Zone (RPZ), everybody will have to start paying fees to park in their own neighborhood and many other users (including transit riders who live far from stops) will get excluded. Retail and institutional uses will suffer as well. That isn’t a fair scenario. There has to be a balanced assessment of needs when considering parking requirements. Cities are diverse places, they have to function in a lot of different ways for different people. Developments of this kind take far too much and gives far too little back to the community, that is the issue.

    Comment by vlado — 3:23 pm March 30, 2014 #

  49. Vlad has some great points but his comments about Diane S. are a bit unfair. She’s doing her job and reports and takes direction from the mayor. Most of us all report to somebody… Might not be that we agree or disagree. Maybe those comments should be directed at him and not someone who has worked to do some great things for this city for many years and is doing her JOB

    Comment by WS gal — 3:28 pm March 30, 2014 #

  50. Brian,

    In response to your somewhat hostile response. I was asking a legitimate question. Living here does often preclude a lifestyle choice. Did I say anything about anyone being less worthy to store their vehicles? My question was posed because I think that people are concerned with the fact that offering no parking is in essence wishful thinking. People will have cars for the same reasons I do and they may still decide to live in a place that offers no parking because they can park in the street, which is fine, but eventually even that space will run out. The city seems ill equipped or doesn’t want to to deal with the multitude of issues surrounding this and until they do I don’t think it’s out of the question for neighborhoods to take a stance. I’m sure many people enjoy living car free, but to assume that all 40 units will be occupied by all non car owning individuals I think is wishful thinking. To be honest I’m personally less concerned about parking, I’m lucky enough to live on a street that has a good amount of public street parking, I’m more frustrated that city seems to let development continue at a rate of speed that is far outpacing how they create infrastructure for public transportation and even just fix the roads that cars and buses have to travel on & it’s not just West Seattle with this issue. I hear a lot of talk from the politicians, but don’t see a lot of action.

    Comment by natinstl — 3:38 pm March 30, 2014 #

  51. Yo, Jimmy
    Although I am not affiliated with Hope I know many who are. the majority of these people are west seattle home owners and some are local business owners who pay taxes You maybe cant fathom. By the way, how much property tax does Jimmy Pay?

    Comment by D.D.S. — 7:55 pm March 29, 2014 #

    Answer:

    5,400 dollars a year. Which is 5,400 dollars a year more than Hope Lutheran pays.

    -Jimmy

    Comment by Jimmy Luther — 3:47 pm March 30, 2014 #

  52. Geez lots of complaining … too crowded, too many cars, too much traffic, public transportation here is sooo terrible … really???

    This is my 4th major city to live in & getting around here is almost as easy as it was in Boston. And the traffic there is MUCH worse. I used to spend 90 minutes in Atlanta traffic where mass transit was dead (or you’re end up dead if you rode a bus).

    We are thrilled we moved cross country (& West Seattle, in particular), we take the buses daily, & we decided to own just 1 car which after 3 years hasn’t hit 15k miles (free advertisement alert: it’s a Subaru!).

    But 5 parking spaces for a 40-unit complex smells of developer greed & city stupidity.

    Comment by drahcir61 — 3:50 pm March 30, 2014 #

  53. Some links to the NY Times, the Economist and the Atlantic (just to name a few) backing up the evidence that car ownership and use in the US is in decline:
    .
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/30/sunday-review/the-end-of-car-culture.html
    .
    http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/11/crash-the-decline-of-us-driving-in-6-charts/281528/
    .
    http://www.economist.com/node/21563280
    .
    But even if you refuse to believe the trend, I again ask what solutions you propose other than a defense of the status quo? And what sources do you cite that car ownership and use is on the rise? The bottom line is that we don’t seem to have enough road capacity to drive and park all of the cars we currently have and Seattle is growing. Furthermore, the world does not have enough resources for everyone to own and drive a private car, which is a calamitous problem in light of the rise of the middle class in India and China where there is a growing desire to drive cars. I just don’t see much future for the citizens among us who think it is an entitlement to drive everywhere and to do things like sit in a Chevy Suburban in the drive-thru at Starbucks while you wait for your gooey blender drink in a disposable plastic cup. We’re sucking up huge amounts of resources to sustain this system and I don’t think enough people give a second thought to the true cost of this car-centric lifestyle.
    .
    Betsy and KM: Thanks for sharing your views. You hit on exactly the point I was trying to make. We spent most of the 20th century designing a built environment around the car (at huge continuing costs to the economy, the environment and human health) and now most of us live in a way that we have few options but to use a car. What I’m advocating is that we can build cities in a smarter way so that people can have choices about whether they want to use a car, bike or walk. Building denser in cities is a key tenet of this. Fighting density to protect car use seems a ridiculously short-sighted endeavor.
    .
    JohH: Building up public transportation before building in density seems absolutely reasonable theoretically. But as Seattle’s central light rail line has demonstrated, where people settle is more organic and the density doesn’t always fall into places you can predict. Most US cities seem to have built up their public transportation systems to suit where people already were.
    .
    natinstl: At no point did I call for an outright ban on cars. We’ve obviously built our country in a way that makes it very hard to get around without a car. Don’t get me wrong. I’m American and I grew up in a suburb. So I understand how convenient and comfortable cars can be. There clearly is a future role for cars in a lot of places our vast country. But I think we can all use cars less, we can be more efficient, and that we really need to find a way to be in cities like Seattle. I think there are people out there like me who want to rely less on cars. I think it is possible to live in a way that you’re not totally dependent on cars. And despite the considerable economic forces (banks, car companies, oil companies, etc.) benefitting from keeping you beholden to owning a car, I think we’re capable of coming up with a better system than we have now.

    Comment by cjboffoli — 4:04 pm March 30, 2014 #

  54. cjboffoli — The NYTimes is a joke because it’s so biased — come on.

    Seattle/WA are in this mess because of poor leadership on so many levels it makes my head spin. Seattle/WA are not in this mess because of cars.

    It all comes down to lack of leadership!

    Comment by Seattlite — 5:02 pm March 30, 2014 #

  55. “5 parking spaces for a 40-unit complex smells of developer greed & city stupidity”
    ~
    YES; and there are many other projects like this in West Seattle, just built and/or approved by DPD, and more seeking approval; these developers pay zero into transit/transportation; they take the money and run; these developers are fully aware that many of their tenants will have cars; the Footprint micro-apts {which are exactly the same size/layout as tiny 150 sq ft apodments) that just opened in North Delridge even said in their Craig’s List ad, “plenty of street parking nearby”; and they applied for MFTE, so they’re not even paying basic property taxes on the apts (only a tiny amount on the land)
    ~
    the city has allowed all this by passing rules to give developers the opportunity to say “we’re just following the rules”
    ~
    and who knows how much lobbying went on behind closed doors to get those rules changed, so developers could gain even more profit
    ~
    the cumulative effect of all these zero parking and/or only-a-few parking spaces apt buildings, will all add up to a major transit/parking/traffic nightmare that will impact all of us; contact the Mayor and City Council, to make it stop
    ~
    the rules need to be changed; the Mayor has the most power to do something immediately

    Comment by Diane — 5:57 pm March 30, 2014 #

  56. @WS gal; curious what great things you think Diane S (DPD director) has done; can you name a couple?
    ~
    the Mayor has only been in office for 3 mos, and has to oversee every dept, with 1000’s of employees; pretty darn full plate; how many years has Diane S been directing DPD?

    Comment by Diane — 6:02 pm March 30, 2014 #

  57. Seattllite is spot on. Their is no leadership in Seattle government! It is disgusting the mess they are creating, Hopefully the mayor will have a set and actually lead and do something about the mess being dumped on West Seattle! ThAnk god for the future district council elections!

    Comment by Buckwheat — 6:23 pm March 30, 2014 #

  58. Did you all miss Murray’s goal of 25% sov commuting? You don’t get there with “free” and easy parking for everyone all the time. Sorry.

    Comment by Observant one — 7:54 pm March 30, 2014 #

  59. Cjboffoli – So you are saying you barely have use for a car, and rarely use it, but you still have a car. I think what people are saying is that residents of the new 40-unit building are probably going to have cars, or at least a lot more than it takes to fill five spaces.

    Comment by A — 11:02 pm March 30, 2014 #

  60. A – my neighbor in a sf neighborhood has a couple generations at his house. They have four or five cars they Park on the street and a garage full of crap.

    That’s more cars than they can park off street. So what’s to be done? Stop issuing permits for residences that might Park on street?

    Comment by Observant one — 6:59 am March 31, 2014 #

  61. People also need to think of the effects when we finally have an oversupply of apartments and rents go down (yes, it will happen). What quality of tenants will these places then attract? What will happen when the landlords cut maintenance expenditures to the bone in order to cover their mortgages?

    Comment by WestofJunction — 7:59 am March 31, 2014 #

  62. Why not tax developers and put the money into something like a “future transit development fund”? If they supply parking equal to the number of units they pay, say a 1% tax on completed projects total sales price. If less parking then add .5% for each space not supplied. You could create a fund for each neighborhood in seattle. Maybe you could choose to save up for a light rail line, or use the interest to support bus service. Maybe exempt development that doesn’t add households. Lot splitting, ect would see the tax.
    -obviously numbers are made up, but you get the idea.

    Comment by Jon — 9:00 am March 31, 2014 #

  63. Per capita car ownership and usage is not relevant to parking. The number of passenger vehicles is relevant. The distinction is important to understand. I can add 20 people and 10 cars to my household. It is disingenuous to argue for less parking using per capita metrics. The net result is an additional 10 cars. As for the number of cars in the US by year: 229M in 2002, 249M in 2012 with annual increases for all but one year.

    Data source (note the source is not an editorial or news article):
    http://www.nada.org/NR/rdonlyres/1B512AC7-DCFC-472C-A854-6F5527931A2F/0/2013_NADA_Data_102113.pdf

    Comment by Data — 10:18 am March 31, 2014 #

  64. “Fighting density to protect car use seems a ridiculously short-sighted endeavor.”

    @cjb: There’s vastly more to it than that, and you know it. You’re losing me with such mischaracterizations and frankly, your soapbox rants that reek of moral superiority.

    I’d love to get around without a car, but there are no grass playfields close enough to my home that my kids can walk or bike to soccer, baseball, or basketball practice, which are all important if we want healthy kids. As a small business owner, I drive away from WS frequently to meet clients, which, if I relied on Metro, would drive me into bankruptcy. Because I either have to drive, or choose to, I therefore pay taxes that support transit and other options that my neighbors can take advantage of, and that keep people moving. I also use it to commute to and from downtown when I have business to conduct there – and it’s gotten much, much worse than it used to be. So-called Rapid-Ride is nothing more than Express routes we’ve had since the 70′s with fancy window dressing and Wi-Fi. I do appreciate an expensive LED sign that tells me my bus is late, although I used to simply look at my wristwatch for that information. Wow.

    Regardless, the reality is this: We can dream on about the future that doesn’t now exist, or we can play the hand we’ve been dealt. This isn’t NYC, SF, Portland or Vancouver. It’s West Seattle with a river to cross, an industrial area to get through and extremely sub-standard bike paths and routes into the city.

    If and when realistic, reliable, timely and convenient alternatives come into being, that’s all the carrots many will need to park or abandon their cars in favor of transit & other options. For now, if everyone tried to go car-free for a week, families, especially those with children, could not function, busing could not handle the capacity, and the city’s economy would collapse.

    We do not currently have the capacity to move our people around, so adding 40 more where 3 or 4 once lived is adding to the problem with no mitigation or solution other than dumping it all on the present residents of the area to suck it up and deal with, while the developers pocket ever more cash at our expense.

    This isn’t about cars anyways. It’s about regulating and managing growth, something the City’s Comp Plan and the State’s Growth Management Act purported to do, but haven’t. The exceptions have swallowed the rules. Look no further than the hideous apodments going up near the WSF, and the giant, gray, hideous box home across the freeway to the North. Why not paint a middle finger on it while they’re at it?

    It’s time we got off the car/bike/bus/no-car merry-go-round and look at the bigger picture and consequences of careless planning driven by dollars instead of needs and fits.

    I grew up in the suburbs too, and my wife and I carefully chose our location near the Junction – back when it was on life-support – so that we could walk to the pubs, the restaurants, the post office, the coffee shops, etc., so I’ll take no lectures on “green, contemporary or ‘smart’ living” from anyone. We tolerate the occasional late-night crowds, church & event parking, speeders, noise, and the rest that goes with living near a bustling, growing business area, in exchange for the convenience of location and the ability to walk to many services. We do this because we want to protect green spaces, engage with our community and neighbors, and to revitalize West Seattle. Unfortunately, the city and the developers, much like with Fremont and Ballard, are now cashing in on the efforts of myself and neighbors like me who came here decades ago, when West Seattle was an afterthought, and worked hard to protect and revitalize the area. Oh, how I miss those days of being under or off the City’s radar, as every decision they’ve made since WS became relevant seems detrimental to the quality of life here.

    I’d like to see discussions like these focus on the real issues and not philosophical, moral high-ground debates among perfectionists. And before anyone plays the NIMBY card, ask yourselves if you’d like a toxic waste dump, sewage treatment plan, smelter or rail-yard next to your house? Point? Everyone’s a NIMBY at some point, without exception. The only question is which straw will be the last before it happens?

    I don’t see anyone trying to lock out newcomers. Instead, I see people saying, “be careful.” If not, West Seattle will shortly rival Lynnwood for quality of life of its residents.

    Comment by pjmanley — 11:12 am March 31, 2014 #

  65. Regarding growth and the future – please take note that the Seattle 2035 plan is bringing an open house to West Seattle next week. I just heard about this or would have been mentioning it previously. Will have a separate story up shortly. If you care in the slightest, even if you are jaded/skeptical about whether your 2 cents matters, THIS is the time to speak up. Loudly.
    .
    http://2035.seattle.gov/calendar/?trumbaEmbed=view%3Devent%26eventid%3D109711151
    .
    There are various commenting options (e-mail address, sidebar poll) on the Seattle 2035 webpage:
    .
    http://2035.seattle.gov

    Comment by WSB — 11:18 am March 31, 2014 #

  66. People here realize that West Seattle is part of Seattle, right? Seattle is a growing metropolis, right? Unless you are looking at making WS a gated community you can’t really keep people out that want to live here. Seems to me like a lot of people on this blog would be a whole lot happier living in North Bend rather than in a growing city…

    Comment by Murica — 12:54 pm March 31, 2014 #

  67. Jimmy- I would be more upset over the fact that these monstrous developments have the potential to get huge tax breaks rather than the fact that churches get breaks. Those churches in the area contribute so much to the immediate West Seattle area with their outreach ministries. Clothes for the local needy; food banks available for those in the neighborhood who need help; the churches provide toiletries to local folks who need things them; they bring meals to the elderly and shut-ins; congregants gladly give monetary offerings each week to support West Seattle area folks that need money for bills, bus fare, etc; those churches “adopt” hundreds of local families at Christmas and supply those families for Christmas presents. This is in addition to funding and supporting ministries overseas to help others in other countries. In my mind, I can give those non profits a break over the tax exception because I can see all the ways that they directly positively impact those who need help in our community. I cannot, however, extend the same amount of latitude and patience towards these developments getting huge tax breaks.

    Comment by ACG — 2:19 pm March 31, 2014 #

  68. The Churches make a positive impact on the community, and indeed do make a community. Third-world housing developments don’t. The developers rights end where ours begin – we as current property owners have a vested intesrest in protecting our neighborhood quality of life and property.

    Comment by WestofJunction — 7:21 am April 1, 2014 #

  69. Is it at all possible to have a restriction on the rental of these units, which clearly states you may not own a car; a violation of such will automatically terminate your tenancy.There are un abundant amount of rules a landlord must follow for the sake of tenants; why not one for the sake of the community. If you folks want low income people to have housing; let them have this and forsake owning a car. Think of the money they may save.

    Comment by Fred — 6:14 pm April 1, 2014 #

  70. Restricted Parking Zones authorized by the Mayor and specific to properties that do not meet a quota of parking spaces to rental units is an option, if the Mayor has the spine to pursue such a measure to represent residents.

    Comment by Neighbor — 7:15 pm April 1, 2014 #

  71. The problem with the whole concept of limiting POVs is that unless you travel to the main downtown core during standard work hours, it is inconvenient at best, and dangerous at worst, to rely on public transportation. Assuming that the people moving into these places do so with the original intent of commuting locally, what happens if they change jobs or shifts? These untis are geared toward single young people/lower income workers who have more frequent job changes. So even with the best of intentions, we will certainly see more and more cars owned by the residents.

    Comment by WestofJunction — 6:04 am April 2, 2014 #

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