By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The Morgan Community Association is now officially on the record as supporting the West Seattle Church of the Nazarene‘s proposed six-townhouse plan for land it owns south of the church and its parsonage at 42nd and Juneau.
The vote came at the end of last night’s meeting, after a return appearance by developer and area resident Joe Paar (above), who said he and the church – planning to sell the townhouses but retain ownership of “park” open space on the rest of the site – wanted MoCA’s blessing since they are about to take the first part of the rezoning proposal to the city. The room was full of church members/supporters, about triple MoCA’s usual turnout in the lower-level meeting area of The Kenney (WSB sponsor).
They had a multipage glossy color handout with renderings and Q/A on the project. (Previously, they set up a website.) A sign and painted-on-the-ground outlines are now set up, said Paar. He said they’re still working out where to put the park on the open space that will be left between the townhouses and 42nd SW. He said they’ve been designed to look like “Craftsman-style townhouses,” not the “modern” design that is prevalent in new construction today. The community will be asked to vote on color schemes.
He noted that he and church leadership already have made three appearances at MoCA and will be back often as the proposal proceeds – “you’re going to get sick of us.” A community garden and movie screen are proposed as part of the park section of the site. The project will require a zoning change, as noted previously. The townhouses will have a private porch transitioning into a semi-private yard, then a public path, and the community park area. Their garages won’t be connected to the homes – residents will have to walk to their homes, “which is intentional,” Paar said.
They propose 12 spaces of parking for the townhomes, in addition to 11 parking spaces for the church. The biggest townhomes will have 2 bedrooms and 2 baths in addition to basement space that could be used for a bedroom or office. It was reiterated that these will be sold, not rented, townhomes on fee-simple land. “Would somebody be allowed to buy them for an investment and rent them out?” an attendee asked. “That’s not what we’re looking to sell these for,” said Parr. The church retains ownership of the “park” portion of the land, as well as the parsonage house between the “park” site and the church building.
One attendee said “I commend you on how these buildings look; the buildings they’re building now, they look terrible.” Parr reiterated that he lives nearby and he was afraid a “bad-guy developer would get a hold of the site and build something (we didn’t want to see).”
He outlined a timeline:
*May 2014 – rezoning proposal going to City Council
*May 2015 – response expected from council
*Construction not expected until 2016 or even 2017
It’s a two-step rezoning process, he said, and it requires community support. So far, he says, they have 33 letters from neighbors voicing support, but they all but pleaded for MoCA’s support. The brochure they circulated even included a public accounting of what the church would do with the expected $760,000 revenue, including $200,000 work on the church’s exterior.
MoCA president Deb Barker stressed that the comprehensive-plan amendment being proposed here to facilitate a contract-rezone proposal would only affect the lots on the site. And Parr noted that what they were presenting involves the public benefit they would be required to provide. MoCA’s Eldon Olson said the “park” portion of the site – which would be open to the public but remain church-owned – was attractive, as urban areas are supposed to have more of those.
In the end, MoCA went on the record as voting unanimously to support the comprehensive-plan amendment proposed to change the zoning from single-family to Lowrise 1 on the site. Since MoCA allows anyone present to vote, those who came to show support were part of the vote too.
Earlier in the meeting:
LAND-USE INFO: Cindi Barker from the MoCA board (no relation to president Deb) led this discussion – it’s become an increasing specialty of hers, tracking “what the city is proposing that we believe is going to affect our neighborhood.” She mentioned two projects, 6917 California and 5949 California, which “woke people up to (the fact that) you can build stuff in places and not require parking any more.” Now, MoCA is among the groups getting involved BEFORE rule changes are finalized – and next one up (as reported again here last Friday) involves new rules for microhousing, “to standardize so that when developers say they want to put microhousing in, the neighbors understand what’s about to show up in their landscape … It’s time to get involved if you’re interested in (this).” She explained that microhousing is defined as buildings with “up to eight sleeping rooms around a centralized kitchen.” She said that’s based on the fact that a house can have up to eight unrelated people living in it, under city rules. She mentioned that tomorrow, there’s a City Council committee briefing; May 19th, a public hearing; June is when the council might vote on whether to make it law.
MoCA has not yet taken a position on it; Barker said she’s still going through it, but key points include the fact microhousing would be allowed in “any area zoned lowrise”; she noted that she has talked to someone paying $1100 for a 250-square-foot studio in another part of the city, so this isn’t cheap housing, but on the other hand, that person gets to live in the area where they want to live. But she exhorted people to go in and read through the legislation. (Find the city’s docs and other info by going here.)
Pedestrian zoning: Barker mentioned DPD staffer Aly Pennucci‘s briefing at the last MoCA meeting regarding these possible changes for certain business district. MoCA has “gone through the pros and cons” and has found “hidden things … that we just gotta ferret out,” so they’ve come up with six conditions before they would think about considering one of these zones here. For one, they don’t like the city proposal that this zoning wouldn’t allow lawyers and other service professional, nor the barring of businesses such as gas stations. The city is “shooting for one size fits all” but that won’t necessarily work for Morgan, she said. The ped zoning also would mean that if Thriftway, for example, ever went out, building would be required on that site. The lack of a parking requirement was also troubling, she said – it doubles how much building space would be exempted. And they would want to see some kind of funding mechanism – preferably from developers – for the mandated features such as bike racks; right now, she said, weather overhangs are the only amenities that developers have to provide. She also says they’re looking for more clarification on the floor-area ratio part of the proposal. MoCA voted in favor of sending a letter to DPD and City Council, not necessarily to voice support or opposition, but: “This is the start of a dialogue.”
Height in low-rise zones: MoCA also sent a letter about this; the legislation isn’t out yet, but they’re hoping for a fix to the height-determining changes that suddenly found five-story buildings allowed in zones that had been three-story max. “As daunting and mind-numbing as land use is, it’s the thing that affects you … it’s all around you. Right now the city is entering into a comprehensive-plan-update process,” president Deb Barker reminded – “taking us out to 2035.”
CAL SEATTLE: Deb Barker talked about the letter this new group is asking other organizations to endorse. She has signed it as an individual citizen; others are invited to sign it (go to calseattle.wordpress.com to read it, which Barker did, aloud, at tonight’s meeting after it seemed few in attendance had familiarized themselves with it ahead of time). Here’s an excerpt, what the group is asking for:
1) institute a system of development impact fees to ensure that developers pay their fair share of the costs of growth on our transportation network, utilities, parks, and schools;
2) approve rules requiring every developer to replace, one-for-one, low income housing they remove with low income units of equivalent size;
3) adopt rules and allocate funds to help tenants buy and ‘co-op’ their apartments before they’re sold to speculators or demolished;
4) approve new zoning rules that prevent out-of-scale development in all lowrise and single family zones;
5) adopt new budgeting that guarantees “equitable distribution” of tax dollars to all Seattle neighborhoods and newly created council districts; and prevents misallocation of the city’s general funds into downtown and special interest boondoggles; and
6) adopt stiff regulations protecting our declining older growth tree canopy and fragile urban streams.
The group debuted at the city’s Neighborhood Summit a week and a half ago (as mentioned in our coverage of the summit), handing out flyers with its manifesto and URL. MoCA tabled further discussion of a possible group endorsement until its next meeting. The group is having an organizational meeting on the 30th, it was noted.
SDOT UPDATE ON CALIFORNIA/FAUNTLEROY: Mike Ward from the Seattle Department of Transportation came to talk about California/Fauntleroy, post-RapidRide work (for which he was the project manager). It was late summer 2012 when the changes were largely complete; since then, Ward says, some traffic counts have been ordered for the intersection – they were requested in October but he said he just learned it hadn’t been done; asked by an attendee how that happened, Ward said there were a variety of reasons but he took the blame for not following up. (They’re looking to evaluate the “level of service” is graded A-E, good through clogged; last check 2009-2010, he said, was C to D in both peak periods.) He promised to have that information by MoCA’s next meeting in July. Ward also mentioned that Metro has been checking the California/Alaska signal timing for possible tweaks. He was asked about the new sounds at California/Fauntleroy; that wasn’t part of Ward’s project but he’ll inquire.
MURRAY CSO PROJECT UPDATE: King County’s Doug Marsano was back with an update on the combined-sewer-overflow-control storage-tank project across from Lowman Beach Park. The “soil-nail wall” is what’s in progress right now; that work will continue into early May, and will be followed by shoring work, required since the groundwater is high at the site. “Secant piles” will be installed through the summer, and then excavation for the tank itself will begin. Projected completion date: September 2016. Asked how Barton Pump Station (north of the Fauntleroy ferry dock) is doing, Marsano mentioned that most of the work will be complete this summer, ahead of schedule.
FRIENDS OF MORGAN JUNCTION PARKS: “It’s the season again,” as Tod Rodman noted – so May 4th, with the help of Peace Lutheran Church, they’ll be having a work party – 10:30 am; it’ll be followed by mulching at 11 am May 11th at the biggest Morgan park. Watch the MoCA website (and our calendar) for more details.
WEST SEATTLE TRANSPORTATION COALITION: On behalf of the organization for which she is an interim board member, Deb Barker talked about the WSTC’s endorsement of Proposition 1, “with some caveats.” Voting deadline, attendees were reminded, is Tuesday (April 22nd). Another interim board member who’s part of MoCA, Rodman, stood up and said that without passage, a lot of bus service “will disappear – we’ll still have the C Line and Route 21 here in West Seattle, but that’s about it … please understand that if you vote no or don’t vote and this doesn’t pass, we’re in a world of hurt.”
SIDEWALK-CAFE APPLICATION FOR THE BRIDGE: Deb Barker mentioned the comment period under way now for the proposal at The Bridge (California/Graham), 8 tables. The deadline is next Tuesday (April 22nd); here’s how to comment.
MoCA WEBSITE RENOVATION: If you have a business or organization in the Morgan area, reach out to MoCA so you can link to its renovated website, where you’ll find community news, meeting agendas, e-mail addresses, and more.
EMERGENCY HUBS DRILL: Cindi Barker updated the group about a 9 am-noon Saturday, May 17, drill – “the scenario was picked before Oso,” a lahar – the “ash flow after a volcanic explosion.” Two West Seattle hubs will join up in Ercolini Park and actors (you’ll get a script) are needed to portray people who might arrive at the hub looking for help. More info at morganjunction.org.