Land swap proposed near Puget Park, next to homebuilding site? City wants to hear from you

August 21, 2014 at 10:47 am | In Development, West Seattle news | 9 Comments

(If you can’t see the embedded document above, go here for the PDF version)
That announcement arrived this morning from Seattle Parks, asking for public comment on a proposed “land swap” near Puget Park – before and during a public meeting about it, set for September 9th, one week before the proposal will start making its way through the City Council approval process. Since these types of notices are rare, before publishing it, we contacted the Parks point person listed on the notice, MaryLou Whiteford, for more context/background, and also checked our archives. Here’s what we have found out so far:

4707 14th SW (map), the house mentioned in the notice as “served by” the driveway crossing Parks property, is proposed for demolition and replacement, as mentioned in this WSB report last month. In the same area, there’s been a permit on file for four years related to a proposal for more than 30 new single-family homes; we reported early last year that the site was for sale, and county records show a sale completed in the fall. City records show the 14th SW homebuilding project in the throes of the permit process, and some of the 15th SW sites are scheduled to be used for staging related to that project (as shown on this plan filed with the city), though otherwise, the status of the multi-home construction proposal isn’t clear.

Whiteford says the parcels proposed for involvement in the swap are all owned by the same owner as the 14th SW house site. While property records show different entity names, most of the parcels in the area are owned by “West Seattle Acquisition,” a “foreign limited liability company” registered in New York, while the listed owner for the 4707 14th SW Site, “206 West Seattle Realty Holdings,” is also registered to that same NY address with the same description

Whiteford says the parcels in this area have been held by the city since the county transferred them more than 50 years ago. On the map, it appears to be an even swap in terms of land area, 13 parcels for 13 parcels, and Whiteford says it would “preserve more of the greenbelt.” We’ve asked for the proposed City Council legislation that would finalize the swap if approved in that part of the process starting next month. Meantime, the public meeting announced in the notice above is scheduled for 6:30 pm Tuesday, September 9th, at Delridge Community Center (4501 Delridge Way SW).

ADDED 11:29 AM: In addition to the proposed Council bill, we have four accompanying documents now, received from Parks, related to it. No additional information, mostly confirmation that the city says this swap would have no fiscal impact.

*Mayor’s letter introducing the bill, including this:

The existing driveway was constructed prior to the City-owned land being placed under the jurisdiction of Seattle Parks and Recreation. The private property accessed by the driveway is now being redeveloped, and the owners seek to obtain ownership and control over the land the driveway crosses. Allowing the existing driveway to continue to serve the private property avoids the need to improve unopened rights-of-way in this Environmentally Critical Area, thereby preserving more of the desirable characteristics of the greenbelt including tree canopy, bird habitat, and wildlife corridor.

*Proposed council bill
*Fiscal-impact statement
*Detailed map
*Aerial view with map overlay

9 Comments

  1. Could someone explain this in kid’s language for those of us (I’m sure I’m not the only one) who is unfamiliar with this process?

    Comment by Joe Szilagyi — 11:00 am August 21, 2014 #

  2. Joe, I just spent an extra hour and a half on this via phone and online research to get all the extra info beyond the notice (embedded above) that arrived in the mailbox (and I’m sure elsewhere) with zero context. What do you mean by “kids’ language”? Basically, the city owns the properties marked in red, technically 13 buildable parcels, and long ago OK’d the driveway that goes to the big homesite at 4704 14th SW. While the city notice does NOT mention this, we had already reported, and now re-report here, that the old house on that site is being torn down and replaced with a new house. Big new house, so far as I can tell, with the construction alone valued at $1 million. There’s been some permit snags, apparently, and to try to iron them out, this land swap idea came up. The entity that owns the home site AND all the non-city-owned parcels in this area wants to give the city 13 parcels in exchange for the 13 through which the driveway to the home site go. This all has to go through a public process because of Initiative 42, which is explained here: http://www.seattle.gov/council/bagshaw/faq_i42.html (I will hotlink that above).
    .
    There are a few hidden residential neighborhoods in this general area, which is not too far uphill to the west from West Marginal Way SW and the Duwamish River. I’m not sure yet how close this is to any of them; when we go out on errands in a bit, we’ll be going out that way for a refresher look. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 11:11 am August 21, 2014 #

  3. Update – I just received five more documents from Parks, including the proposed legislation. For anyone interested in diving deeper on this, I’ll be converting them to PDFs so I can link them in the story above shortly. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 11:19 am August 21, 2014 #

  4. Thank you for demystifying this proposal, Tracy. The detailed and aerial view maps were especially helpful when it comes to understanding the areas that are involved in this transaction. I can’t speak for Joe, but I often find these reviews to be kind of overwhelming, which makes it that much easier to ignore them. I’m not convinced that going to meetings and commenting actually has any impact on the outcome of the process, but we give up our right to complain if we don’t make the effort.

    Comment by Enviromaven — 12:51 pm August 21, 2014 #

  5. Thanks! “kids language” was a reference to the “Explain like I’m 5” joke. :)
    .
    This seems like a decent thing, since everyone sort of seems to win on the surface. Or draw even I suppose.

    Comment by Joe Szilagyi — 1:00 pm August 21, 2014 #

  6. do we know if this “public meeting” will be in the format of presentation and Q/A, or another useless open house with poster boards? I sure wish city depts would make that clear when they send out notices of public meetings

    Comment by Diane — 1:10 pm August 21, 2014 #

  7. The city has a goal to increase it’s urban canopy by 30% by 2037. http://www.seattle.gov/urbanforestrycommission/ If we are serious about this goal and want to best advocate for the greenbelt then maybe the exchange should reflect both the anticipated loss of canopy due to development of the space and our goal of increasing canopy? Sad to see any part of the greenbelt developed but if development is inevitable then I think an exchange that ended with and increase in parks property would be closer to a “win win.”

    Comment by Craig — 9:15 am August 22, 2014 #

  8. I definitely do not understand how the city benefits from this. If they deny it, the property would likely stay undeveloped adjacent to the park.

    Comment by dsa — 2:23 pm August 22, 2014 #

  9. Hi, I live next door to the property where the construction is occurring. The property that the owners want to swap for the park land was previously scheduled to become a 33 lot development of skinny houses (the development was called West Seattle Estates) before the developer (Benjamin Pariser) went bankrupt. The owner of the house under construction needs to widen the driveway, and wants to stabilize the slope. As the person who lives directly uphill from the house, I think this is a Good Thing. It’s my considered opinion that the exchange will actually increase the net tree cover, as it keeps lots scheduled for building from being built on. Also, a couple of the lots are bare now, and could be planted with more trees, increasing the tree cover in the West Duwamish green belt.

    Comment by Amy Thomson — 11:55 am September 9, 2014 #

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