Appeal hearing set for school project on Genesee Hill

July 14, 2014 at 10:57 am | In Genesee Hill, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 23 Comments

Today’s Land Use Information Bulletin from the city brings the formal notice of an appeal hearing for the new school to be built on the five-years-closed Genesee Hill Elementary site. The appellants, including district watchdog Chris Jackins and more than half a dozen local residents, are not challenging the entire project; they object to aspects including the zoning exception for the school’s height, where the bulk of its building will be placed on the site, plans for on-street school-bus loading, and the amount of parking (71 spaces might not be enough, they say). The appeal hearing is set for 9 am August 5th in the Hearing Examiner‘s chambers on the 40th floor of the Municipal Tower downtown; it’s open to the public (for observation but not comment). Some preparation work already has been done on the site, but demolition is still to come.

23 Comments

  1. Oh come on, people! This school NEEDS to be built! Schmitz is bursting at it’s seams! The sooner this can be built the better!

    Comment by Wsparent — 11:23 am July 14, 2014 #

  2. So frustrating. This city is absurd. This guy is not from the neighborhood.

    6 people are going to stall this project. I can’t imagine most of the neighbors would rather have this dangerous, abandoned, eyesore than a nice new occupied building.

    Comment by Person — 11:25 am July 14, 2014 #

  3. We’ll maybe Chris should go sleep in there a few nights with the squatters that have been chased out over the last few years. Or maybe the copper thieves they caught. Then the number of parking stalls might not worry him a s much.

    Comment by Really? — 12:00 pm July 14, 2014 #

  4. Ridiculous! I live right behind the school and am tired if the eye sore it has become! Lets get on with it!

    Comment by julie — 12:23 pm July 14, 2014 #

  5. Chris needs to find a worthier cause that will actually help people’s lives. Sheesh!

    Comment by fulana — 2:22 pm July 14, 2014 #

  6. 71 parking spaces at an elementary school not enough?!? I live a scant 3 doors from the new/old Fairmount Park Elementary School and you know how many parking spots it has? Definitely not 71! More like 20-25. It might be an issue during the school day but not big enough of an issue to stop the project. And now it is all but done.

    Comment by patrick pavey — 4:06 pm July 14, 2014 #

  7. People don’t have to agree with or like the ugly, and flawed design plans for the new school. Last time I checked, these people were exercising their rights.

    Comment by Now Stop Right There — 5:07 pm July 14, 2014 #

  8. Is this the guy that stalls stuff just for the hell of it, and comes to the meetings with his papers stuffed in plastic bags ? Come ON, get this project moving forward FFS.

    Comment by fj — 6:26 pm July 14, 2014 #

  9. I agree….these Schmitz park families “MUST” have extra parking. I currently live 2 blocks from the current school and it seems a good majority of these “special, precious kids” are above walking AND above the yellow school bus. Families park up and down every side street to drop off and pick up their delightful children. It is sort-of disgusting, although not any more so then any other distracted, modern school parent, at any other local k-5, these days. Geez…take some time to witness this at any of the local K-5, for example schools like Patherfinder who occupied that old genesee building previously. Additionally moronic are the Schmitz Park school’s adult traffic controllers trying to enforce stupid car-centric rules around a school that SHOULD BE, first and foremost, pedestrian friendly.

    I even frequently witness a Schmitz Park staffer, who lives next to me, 2 blocks away, DRIVE to school frequently. SO, it seems, Schmitz Park MUST have parking for ALL staff (probably 25+ people) plus children who MUST drive in single occupancy cars every AM & PM.

    SO, my point here is…I am sure the neighbors surrounding the old Genesee Building have vivid memories of the ridiculous Pathfinder parents & staff parking all over their neighborhood and causing impact. They are simply trying to advocate for their property, knowing full well what is coming when Schmitz Park moves in. Not a big deal to provide a bigger parking lot OR instead….imagine…insisting…that a majority of these precious kids actually walk to school….OR take a yellow school bus….OR carpool…only then can we do away with a big parking lot.

    I fully support the Genesee neighbors in questioning the new Schmitz Park building proposal. This will ensure that appropriate infrastructure is in place to support this very large school, with all of their their helicopter parents who must have parking and the staff who must also commute to work…

    Good that we have a process in place to consider everyone’s needs.

    Comment by louise — 6:33 pm July 14, 2014 #

  10. This is not a comment on merits or lack of same on this appeal, nor an endorsement of it. But it should be noted – I would not characterize Chris Jackins as “stall(ing) stuff for the hell of it.” Several years back, he was among the activists telling Seattle Public Schools they shouldn’t be spending millions closing schools. Just one of our many reports during that long process …
    .
    http://westseattleblog.com/2008/12/video-defending-west-seattle-schools-at-board-meeting/
    .
    Those activists – even the school board later admitted – were right. Suddenly the district population started to rise, requiring, before they could get funding for new schools including this one, a massive outlay of portables, shuffling people between campuses, etc. – two years after the closures, they were dealing with how to relieve overcrowding. Jackins was by no means the only voice of opposition to the closures – we covered so many other community groups that were involved – but his involvement in Seattle Public Schools matters goes way back. Don’t know if he carries papers in plastic bags; I do know he is more analog than most – he didn’t know we existed until I started showing up covering things way back then, and for a while after that, he would drop the occasional pile of paperwork in a manila envelope on our doorstep. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 6:37 pm July 14, 2014 #

  11. This property is not large enough for the proposed school. Over 1/3 of the property is critical slopes. Not only can you not build on critical slopes, building has to be at least 12 ft. from any critical slopes. The cost of building this size school on this property will be far over budget.

    Comment by Karen Lyons — 8:10 pm July 14, 2014 #

  12. See the decision that is being appealed here: http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/LUIB/AttachmentProject3015311ID58273016023%20&%203015311%20.pdf
    The design of the school is according to code and the only departure requested for height does not affect the concerns above related to traffic. Current codes and mitigation requirements would make this a more sensitively placed building compared to the current building and the sea of portables at Schmitz Park.The critical slopes on the site were man made by previous grading activities and would have much less impact than any building being constructed on any of the real bluffs/slopes and landslide areas in our neighborhood. The fact that they wanted more height allows them to preserve more trees and keep more open space – both issues identified in the community meetings for the design of the school. The way the additional height is used was sensitively done and impact not as great due to relative elevations as many of the buildings start below street level. For traffic, the current Schmitz park school currently has 43 parking spaces, and the new school has a reasonable increase in comparison. When a public school is remodeled or rebuilt the existing onstreet bus loading area is allowed since the current school design meets those requirements. Appeals are all part of the due process, but I wanted to address some of the comments above. I was involved as a community member/parent in the SDAT design committee. I am curious if any of the people appealing the project attended the community meetings?

    Comment by Eileen — 8:55 pm July 14, 2014 #

  13. I’m assuming “louise” doesn’t have kids in school or said person would be aware that SPS doesn’t give a rats ass about the “walkability” of schools, but instead insists on creating boundaries that are more inline w/ political gerrymandering. And most of us don’t have bussing as an option, since they make it _just_ far enough that it’s not an option, and far enough to make it a sh–ty walk w/ a small child. But way to be judgmental tho! Kudos!

    Comment by Ace — 9:17 pm July 14, 2014 #

  14. Louise, I would have loved for my kindergartener to take a yellow bus to school. She has dreamed about it for years. But no, SPS believes that she should be able to walk up and down Charlestown hill (in any weather, mind you). Oh yes, and her toddler brother supposedly will be able to keep up. Please, try to understand current situation with school zoning before ranting.

    Comment by KParent — 9:57 pm July 14, 2014 #

  15. Wait…someone is trying to stall a construction project that will remove a festering eyesore of a building and benefit the community? Sounds like a Monday in West Seattle!

    Comment by WS Mom — 10:00 pm July 14, 2014 #

  16. I liked the old Genesee School building. But the collection of helicopter parents and the architect welfare program we call Seattle Public Schools evidently feel it lacks “world classiness” and “vibrancy”. So we’ll have some trashy throwaway building for the “educators” to do whatever it is they do.

    What a racket.

    Comment by SPS alum — 10:59 pm July 14, 2014 #

  17. Why they don’t just use the current Schmitz site and add onto it is beyond me.

    Comment by Willy Say it Straight — 11:03 pm July 14, 2014 #

  18. Sure Will. Just tell us where to house 650 students in the mean time.

    Louise, perhaps you can take your well spoken thoughts to the school board and review how the reference area zones are drawn up. You expect kids from 35th Ave SW to hike over the hill, across California Ave and Charlestown, or from Erskine to SP. For the 15 minutes in the morning, and the 15 minutes in the afternoon to move kids around (and yes, the kids are precious which has escaped you) I think your rant is a little over done. YOU moved in next to a school! Me thinks you’re spending more than enough time at other K-5 monitoring parent activities (creepy). You might want to be thankful that a fabulous school like SP is contributing to the future health and growth of our community and is providing an exceptional education to these “special, precious kids”. They will be supporting you one day.

    That said, I can agree with your rant that the parents who block the alleys, rush in and out, block fire hydrants b/c they can’t walk an extra 20 feet do need some personal parking enforcement attention.

    Comment by Brandon — 10:09 am July 15, 2014 #

  19. I’d love for my 7 yr old to be able to take the bus, but SPS just cut her bus service. I guess they think it’s ok for a 7 yr old to walk nearly a mile to and from school. No way do I feel that’s safe. So sorry if that inconveniences you that I will have to drive my daughter to school to ensure she’s safe.

    Comment by Mar-Z — 10:10 am July 15, 2014 #

  20. A huge thank you to Louise for volunteering to manage carpools to the current Schmitz Park Elementary!! My children will need to be picked up at 8:15 to be sure to make the line up bell at 8:35. Times to pick them up after school will vary. Please let me know my carpool options since only one other child on our block attends our neighborhood school and we live within (barely) the 1-mile radius for no school bus (for which I would happily pay!).

    Comment by WSMom — 3:28 pm July 15, 2014 #

  21. Thanks, everyone, for your engagement and interest in ensuring that we get construction started at Genesee Hill and that we also think ahead to how the school can be a good neighbor in the community. This isn’t the appropriate forum for an extensive discussion of these issues, but I do want to take this opportunity to clarify a few items:

    1) the new school is located in the center of the new attendance area boundaries with walkability in mind. This is different than Schmitz Park, for example, which is located is the northwest corner of the boundaries, too far for many to walk.

    2) we have already started forming a committee to plan the practical details of everything from walking school buses to pick-up/drop-off routines so that these will be fully in place when we can open. The committee includes neighbors who understand the immediate traffic concerns.

    3) good covered bike storage is planned for the new school.

    4) very few school buses are expected with the current assignment plan — it’s misleading to compare possible bus traffic to the time when Pathfinder or AAA inhabited the site as option schools involving dozens of buses. Currently, only three large buses serve Schmitz Park, and that number may reduce further.

    5) The planned number of parking spaces is more than double the amount of parking at Schmitz Park, and our current staff for 600 students does not fill our lot on a typical day.

    6) We need this kind of capacity in West Seattle — just two generations ago the enrollment at Lafayette topped out over 1100 students (!), and that was with Schmitz Park and Genesee Hill open as well.

    Delaying further on construction will only extend the stress on both the Schmitz Park and Genesee Hill neighborhoods. We have a good design and highly respected construction company ready to go . . . we owe to our kids to get started. Thank you.

    Comment by Gerrit Kischner, Principal — 3:37 pm July 15, 2014 #

  22. Sad to see my alma mater torn down. I used to walk nearly a half mile to go school at Genesee and well over a mile to Madison, a lot of it uphill.

    Comment by G — 6:00 pm July 15, 2014 #

  23. Build it. Nobody can be pleased 100% but this is a quality project that will benefit our community for decades. We need this school built ASAP.

    Comment by Azimuth — 9:46 pm July 15, 2014 #

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