@ Southwest District Council: Request for rezoning-plan extension

The Southwest District Council is asking the city for an extra half-year to deal with the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) rezoning plans.

That’s part of what happened when the SWDC met Tuesday night – postponed from last week, when the city scheduled its rezoning-and-more “open house” (WSB coverage here) on the district council’s longstanding regular meeting night.

Here’s the text of the resolution passed by SWDC members:

The Southwest District Council requests a six-month extension to the HALA proposal, prior to the (Environmental Impact Statement) submittal, to accommodate necessary outreach, assimilation, and planning so that alternative draft zoning proposals can be developed, and in order to have design charrettes take place for the following urban villages: West Seattle Junction, Admiral Junction, and Morgan Junction.

As we’ve been reporting since October, four West Seattle “urban villages” are among the areas of the city where upzoning is planned as part of what the mayor calls Mandatory Housing Affordability – giving builders/developers additional capacity, while requiring them to build a percentage of their projects as “affordable” units, or else pay into a fund that will pay for it to be built somewhere else in the city.

One of those UVs, Westwood-Highland Park, has already had a “design charrette” organized by the city to talk about and look at specifics of its plan, but the city is currently not planning similar events for the three UVs mentioned in the SWDC resolution. And the overall concern is that most current residents potentially affected by this still don’t know about it, as there’s been no direct, clear messaging from the city about the proposed zoning changes.

Also at Tuesday’s SWDC meeting, three items that you might call operational.

One was a continuation of discussion about the group’s path forward despite the mayor’s initiative to cut longstanding official city ties with SWDC and other neighborhood district councils. Two citywide events are coming up in the next month or so – the City Neighborhood Council plans a social event with discussion of “volunteer resilience” among other things next Sunday, and then in mid-January, a workshop talking about the councils’ future, following up on the one hosted by the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council at Highland Park Improvement Club last summer shortly after the mayor’s announcement.

Elections were held Tuesday night; David Whiting and Eric Iwamoto will continue as SWDC co-chairs, and Vicki Schmitz Block will continue as secretary. Whiting also will serve as the SWDC’s interim rep on the CNC.

And bylaws were discussed, with a focus on changing rules regarding membership, to make them more open and flexible, to clarify the SWDC’s mission, and to remove language that is now obsolete. A committee will work on this; its members include the co-chairs plus Tamsen Spengler, Jim Guenther, and Phillip Tavel.

SWDC will continue meeting at the Senior Center/Sisson Building through 2017, and has booked first Wednesdays at 6:30 pm, the regular meeting times/dates.

(Thanks to Cindi Barker, who represents the West Seattle Emergency Communication Hubs on SWDC, for toplines from the meeting.)

61 Replies to "@ Southwest District Council: Request for rezoning-plan extension"

  • John December 15, 2016 (11:51 am)

    NIMBYs won in the Seattle Hearing Examiner’s ruling this week regarding the requirements of environmental impact studies and reports.  

    The City of Seattle must now  comply with the EIS require studies which will cause considerable delays (years?).   Or the City can abandon their plan. 

    Either way , housing advocates, lost  the round.

    Regarding the SDC request, was it drafted before  Examiner Tanner’s decision?

    • Ed Slope December 15, 2016 (1:04 pm)

      The principles that are guiding HALA and MHA are well intentioned and mostly right on. The proposal is missing critical input – the voice of the neighborhood/districts. A delay to clarify and improve the proposal based on actual residents input won’t stop developers from continuing to build in our white hot market. 

      For example, it would be excellent for the city to make public any plans in the pipeline that would be funded from the proposed MHA fee. 

      I agree with the request to delay.

      • No to neighborhood input December 15, 2016 (1:18 pm)

         Delay will ensure that more affordable housing is pushed out beyond this cycle. Local input will invariably be entrenched homeowners who want to dither, whittle and obstruct necessary housing. 

        I I say no. Keep the timeline. Too many families are struggling and will continue to so long as “neighbors” eg homeowners continue to have a say, delay, obstruct.

        • Ed Slope December 15, 2016 (1:41 pm)

          By entrenched do you mean working and middle class homeowners who have invested their life savings into the place they live and are now be sold out by the mayors office for development at any cost?!

          Lets get a better ‘bargain’ from the mayor for all residents!

          • Captin December 15, 2016 (1:58 pm)

            We are only guaranteed control over our parcel whenever we purchase real estate. We don’t make a contract with the city. Your house and parcel don’t have to ever change. Companies have to make decisions on how to grow and so do cities, counties, states, etc. inaction is not an option. Some people buy wanting things to stay static, some people buy hoping they will change. If you own a parcel that is getting upzoned more than likely you hit the jackpot. You can probably sell high and buy a better house in a better location. You might be able to subdivide your lot, sell half, pay off your house and live mortgage free. There can be positive financial impacts for you for sure. 

          • Ed Slope December 15, 2016 (3:34 pm)

            @captin See my comments below. It’s not the objective or principle I’m opposed to it’s the proposal. It’s the sellout approach to a crisis that isn’t new nor will go away. It’s adversarial approach developers, the mayor, and some affordable housing advocates have take with current residents. There are solutions but the current proposal isn’t ready for prime time.


          • CMT December 15, 2016 (8:48 pm)

            Captin – you state that “If you own a parcel that is getting upzoned more than likely you hit the jackpot. You can probably sell high and buy a better house in a better location.” 

            That utterly fails to take into account those of us that think our homes are already in a “better location” and whose homes mean far more to us that than their monetary value.  I’m guessing you don’t fall into that category and/or that you don’t own a home in an area proposed to be re-zoned.

            I don’t agree but I do understand that some people might be in favor of the re-zone, notwithstanding that it in no way secures affordable housing in West Seattle.  What I will never understand is the failure or refusal of some to acknowledge that it is devastating to many homeowners- members of their own West Seattle community – who intentionally bought into single family neighborhoods that have historically been protected by West Seattle and have built their lives there.  Put yourself in those homeowners’ shoes for one moment as they look at what the existing proposal will do to their neighborhoods.   

            Of course, affordable housing and density should be planned for but it does not have to be achieved at the expense of those very real human beings that are your neighbors.

        • CMT December 15, 2016 (5:56 pm)

          Wow no to neighborhood input.  You would deprive the people whose neighborhoods are going to be destroyed a fair opportunity to put forth an alternative?  I can’t understand that viewpoint.

        • Jennifer December 17, 2016 (12:01 am)

          Actually, my neighbors who are renting are going to be displaced from thier rental homes immediately once the developers get thier free for all.  I’ll just have to live in the shadow of massive buildings with no green space requirements.  All my savings are in this house, and I haven’t had a raise in 10 years.  But at least I’m a little more protected than the renters up and down my lovely street.

          I don’t think the painter living next door will be able to fit his truck, tools, and family into a cheap apartment with no parking.  He certainly can’t take the bus to work!  

           His rental house in South Park is his affordable, livable housing.  Soon to be leveled, and replaced with condos WAY OUT of his range.

          Its not fair to say homeowners are selfish or they don’t care.  You have no idea how invested we are in our neighbors, friends, local businesses, schools and communities.

          The fact that I’m buying my home and they’re renting thiers makes no difference.  OUR community is at risk of being broken to bits.

          This is a bad bargain as it stands.  Only the developers win, and we’ll be left to pick up the pieces.

    • Jon December 15, 2016 (6:01 pm)

      The “NIMBY” label is getting old and your use of it here is a logical fallacy. I advocate for housing and I absolutely agree with the examiner’s ruling. The ruling resulted from legitimate screw-ups by the City. 

      • Captin December 15, 2016 (7:33 pm)

        Agreed. They did not cross t’s or don’t i’s

    • MsD December 15, 2016 (11:12 pm)

      Correction, developers and builders lost the round, not housing advocates.

    • WsEd December 16, 2016 (2:06 pm)

      Yeah NIMBYS,

      That label is tired.  Let’s call them concerned property owners who have invested well and don’t feel like getting run over by the interests of property developers.  Does anyone think the city would be pushing so hard on their own if there weren’t others with a financial interest lobbying for this.

  • Captin December 15, 2016 (1:38 pm)

    Community input is good but it will be all NIMBY. Google some articles like the one below about the history of San Francisco. Seattle real estate has trended behind San Fran for decades now. This city is less “mature” than San Fran so to speak but on the same path. We can be proactive or end up like them.


    • WsEd December 16, 2016 (2:41 pm)

      Comparing Seattle to San Francisco is a false equivalency and propaganda used by those with financial interests in the context of fear to pursue an agenda.  

      San Francisco due to legislation dating back to  the 50’s limiting development only approves roughly half of the building permits it receives.  Seattle on the other hand rarely sees a development project it doesn’t approve of.

      Please don’t buy into the we are on a path to doom psychology.  What we probably are on a path to is another boom and bust cycle in Seattle.  The city opens the floodgates every so many years when money is cheap via the LIBOR and then development goes nuts.  To be followed by an economic downturn and rents dropping faster than you can imagine.  This is a grab pure and simple, the fed is going to be pushing up rates this year which will temper the developers thirst due to a lack of almost free money.  Other areas of the economy will most likely slow a bit as rates increase as well and we may end up with a glut of property on the market driving down rents, probably not value, but definitely rents.  This has happened many times in this area over the last 30 or so years and we are due for another one.

  • Ed Slope December 15, 2016 (1:49 pm)

    The cruel irony of the current bargain is that the socio-economic diversity of my neighborhood will be sold to developers who will profiteer from the displacement of many who this type of development planning is intended to support.

    • Jennifer December 17, 2016 (12:08 am)


      South Park is mostly affordable right now, and still a “livable” neighborhood by most people’s standards.  

      Opened up to overdevelopment, South Park will be leveled, and replaced with Condos way out of our range.

      Who’s really benefitting here?

  • JanS December 15, 2016 (1:56 pm)

    I’m still stuck at…affordable for whom? Whose definition of “affordable” are we using?

    • Ed Slope December 15, 2016 (2:36 pm)

      Basically in my hood anyone who can’t afford an $700k+ townhome 

    • Captin December 15, 2016 (2:39 pm)

      The MHA part of this zoning mandates a certain amount of units be rented at a percentage of area median income or a fee is paid to pay for affordable housing elsewhere. There is also something called the MFTE “multi-family tax exemption” that is used as an incentive to offer below market rate housing. The city and king county just inked a deal to build a bunch of affordable units right by Northgate mall and the new light rail station. 

      There is a ton of info on-line. Here is a link to a little MHA explanation:



      • Ed Slope December 15, 2016 (4:03 pm)

        So how does a currentWest Seattle resident who is displaced benefit directly from housing in Northgate?!

        • Captin December 15, 2016 (7:41 pm)

          This is a citywide plan. Not a West Seattle plan. Affordable is affordable. I agree that fees should go to affordable housing in the same urban village. However, have you thought about the challenges to painting yourself into a corner as far as availability of property, price, etc? What if property in West Seattle is 4x as much as Northgate? Would it not make sense to take fees and build housing there? Seems logical to me.

          • Cmt December 15, 2016 (10:55 pm)

            Right.  It was a “citywide” plan when the mayor proposed to rezone all single family neighborhoods.  There was so much pushback he decided to focus on a lucky few.  Divide and conquer. 

          • Ed Slope December 15, 2016 (11:29 pm)

            @captin How about this deal, assuming you currently live in WS…I keep my neighbor(s) and you move to northgate?

          • Jennifer December 17, 2016 (12:19 am)

            Not logical at all, when you work in South Seattle, or the ID.  Or when you’ve invested years into the community you live in.  

            I own a home in South Park, would rather not see my neighbors displaced so heartlessly from thier own community, friends and family.  Churches and schools, doctors, support networks.

            This is where we live.  Renters and owners alike.  

    • Erithan December 15, 2016 (2:57 pm)

      My thoughts exactly, what I wouldn’t give to be able to avoid corrupt housing(do not mean hala here, another subject)and to see my elderly neighbors(who are in the same position as me)to be able to move.  Move without having to go to another county or state…pardon wording, unwell.

    • Ed Slope December 15, 2016 (3:45 pm)

      But given the location of my neighborhood parcels will redevelop into 2-3 premium townhouses. Since they can’t actually build onsite they will contribute to the MHA fund which will create affordable housing projects somewhere else. This is destructive to existing neighborhoods. The plan should guarantee more affordable development in each village. It would be wrong to force my retired firefighter renter neighbor forced to move. 

  • Ed Slope December 15, 2016 (2:30 pm)

    More mixed use requirements so that our growing neighborhoods are truly walkable.

    More incentives for existing resident homeowners to increase density instead of relying solely on outside developers. 

    More affordable housing required on site or in same neighborhood. 

    Charge existing surface parking lots in urban villages a fee made payable to MHA.

    • Jennifer December 17, 2016 (1:06 am)

      Good ideas Ed.

       Existing homeowners getting help increasing density on thier own properties, rather than outside developers would be great.   Why?  Because we actually CARE about our communities!

  • Triangle Resident December 15, 2016 (2:47 pm)

    It’s time for the Alaska Junction Urban Village band wagon of development be seriously limited.  Not only did the city upzone the current urban village to encourage much taller buildings but now they want to enlarge the urban village boundaries to accomodate even more construction.  I think it’s time that the other 3 urban villages in West Seattle be tasked to build affordable housing as well.  It’s not fair to demand that the Alaska Junction Urban Village accomplish all of the upzone goals for the entire peninsula.  Do infill then come back for expanding urban villages when needed.  Stop the concentration of growth in one location.  

    • Captin December 15, 2016 (7:44 pm)

      Light rail is coming to the junction 

      • Cmt December 15, 2016 (10:41 pm)

        In 15 years .  . . maybe.

      • Anonymous Coward December 16, 2016 (9:02 am)

        Light rail is not coming to the Alaska Junction before 2050.  The grade up Avalon is too steep for friction rail, so you’ll need a bridge or a tunnel, neither of which were proposed by ST3.  Furthermore, a careful look at the ST3 proposal shows the West Seattle light rail line heading south to Burien via the Delridge corridor.  (With the giant caveat that those ST3 maps were nothing more than advertising cartoons…) 

  • WSGuy December 15, 2016 (2:55 pm)

    Two great decisions by the SWDC.  One is to request a much-needed extension so the Mayor can do HALA outreach correctly.  The other is to continue to represent neighborhood interests even though the Mayor prefers to ignore them.  This city administration views our homes as public assets and our parks as homeless campgrounds.  They are deaf to the actual residents.  It’s crazy.

    • Steve December 15, 2016 (4:01 pm)

      Spot on!

    • Peter December 15, 2016 (5:41 pm)

      They do not and never did represent “neighborhood interests.” They have only ever represented the interest of their very limited and exclusive membership. Any claim they make to representing the neighborhood as a whole ignores the many, many people who disagree with their past “representation.” I guess those of us with different views aren’t considered part of the “neighborhood.” The mayor is right to cut them off and take more input directly from the people instead of these de-facto home owners associations posing as representative bodies. 

      • Captin December 15, 2016 (7:45 pm)


      • Joe Szilagyi December 15, 2016 (9:21 pm)

        I personally disagree strongly with what the SWDC did here, but to call their membership “exclusive” is incorrect. The SWDC is a representative body. If you want your piece of the voice there, it works like this:

        There is a neighborhood-level council for your neighborhood. For example, if you’re in Admiral, there’s one there. Go to their meetings. Join, you just need to show up to any of these. They’re all open to anyone. If there are 12,000 Admiral residents today all 12,000 can join if they showed. That group has a board and the board sends someone off to the SWDC. That’s how it works for west of 35th.

        For east of 35th and the Delridge Counil, it’s the same thing, but they also welcome any resident on their side to show up and vote too.  They’re a bit less formal. 

        • mcbride December 16, 2016 (9:50 am)

          Thanks Joe.

          Minor correction, The Delridge Neighborhoods District Council (DNDC) does have voting requirements in our bylaws – member organizations (community groups or non-profits that reside or perform service within DNDC’s boundaries) have one vote each, quorum required, etc. Variations on that theme exist within every District Council’s bylaws. Where the DNDC is a little different, we allow and encourage every citizen to participate and have a voice (within limits – stay on topic, share the floor, be respectful). We don’t cast too many votes, so the distinction is easy to miss.

          Peter, I’m sorry that you apparently had an experience with a DC that left you sour. We don’t do a whole lot of nefarious plotting and under normal circumstances we don’t talk too much about housing. We spend most of our time coordinating with City departments and focusing on livability – crime, safety, parks, roads, and grant opportunities to support them. Granted, there are times when the City has some, shall we say, not fully developed concepts they desire to implement. In those cases, based on the prevailing desires of the represented communities, we offer counsel. Sometimes it is necessary to push back. That’s unfortunate, but I’ll let you in on a secret: sometimes the City cooks up ideas that are not good. I appreciate that you don’t always agree with a position a particular DC will take, I sometimes feel the same way. That’s democracy. But before flipping the monopoly board, consider the entire body of work, and how you could make it better. Your voice is welcome.

      • KM December 15, 2016 (10:26 pm)


  • Bisker December 15, 2016 (4:41 pm)

    Yes on the extension and agree 100 percent with Triangle Resident. I’m all for change and growth but at a reasonable rate and giving the residents respect by letting them know they are being considered for a rezone…way before the wonderful mailer came out. 

    • Captin December 15, 2016 (7:46 pm)

      I agree. I’m for the rezone but the city was terrible with outreach.

  • CMT December 15, 2016 (5:23 pm)

    To anyone saying “Not in my Backyard,” let’s be crystal clear about exactly what we don’t want in our backyards.  We are not talking about affordable housing because that is not what is HALA will bring to West Seattle.  What we are talking about is the razing of our neighborhoods so that the City can collect funds from developers to fund their programs elsewhere.  What we get in our backyards are expensive apartments and townhouses that do not need to be built in single family neighborhoods.  

    And for those saying that nobody is forcing homeowners to move, that is simplistic.  What happens is that when, for example, a couple of elderly neighbors die or move, their families sell their houses to the highest bidder, i.e., a developer.  Expensive apartment buildings are built throughout the block.  These are not rented by families.  Little by little, every reason a family buys into a single family neighborhood – families, relationships, a close-knit feel and common investment in the neighborhood – and then pours their heart, soul and money into their home is eroded until their is nothing left.  

    And for those saying that those opposed are ignoring the City’s needs for increased density, that is not correct either.  However, West Seattle has already absorbed significant density in recent years.  Light rail is not projected to reach Seattle for 15+ years, there is insufficient transportation for existing population – bus routes during commuting times are standing room only; traffic in and outbound of West Seattle is bottlenecked with existing density; parking is insufficient for the existing population.

    The Fairmount Springs neighborhood alone, will be completely destroyed by the rezone.

    Residents should have the opportunity to receive adequate notice of the existing proposal and allowed a meaningful opportunity to formulate an alternative proposal that will achieve the same goals and not decimate their neighborhoods.  

    • Bisker December 15, 2016 (6:07 pm)

      Right on, my sentiments exactly.

    • Double Dub Resident December 15, 2016 (6:58 pm)

      Great reply.  I don’t understand how over population,  over condensing, with inevitable higher crime rates with most likely a further under representation of police officers to combat this,  is seen as “progress”.  

      It seems to me that the explosion of over development in the junction area with ridiculously  priced hipster apartments /condos were partially the catalyst for this very “crisis”  in which more over development is seen as the solution 

    • Ed Slope December 15, 2016 (7:08 pm)

      Here! Here!

      • Ed Slope December 15, 2016 (8:33 pm)

        Hear hear­čÖŐ

    • Captin December 15, 2016 (7:54 pm)

      Is this not going to happen otherwise? “Over” creates supply side relief. Is our population not going to be higher in 20 years? This idea is not some personal attack on individual people it is an attempt (good or bad) at city planning. Ever play the old game “Sim City”? I bought a house 2 blocks from Alaska and CA. I never thought for one second that my housing, zoning, neighborhood wouldn’t change. My house is right by the junction. It’s not if it’s when. It just makes sense.

      • Cmt December 15, 2016 (10:46 pm)

        It is actually worse than personal.  It is the City pretending that homeowners (who, despite your omniscience, are entitled to rely on the zoning they bought into and which has consistently been historically protected by the neighborhood planning)  do not exist.  

      • Cmt December 15, 2016 (10:49 pm)

        And this is people’s lives, not a video game, in spite of the City’s effort to march forward robotically without actually notifying residents.

        • Jennifer December 17, 2016 (1:29 am)

          Thankyou, cmt.

      • Ed Slope December 15, 2016 (11:06 pm)

        Under what terms? It’s not if or when but how and for what. This is business and no mayor or council is going to represent your interests unless you persuade them to – like the developers lobby. I agree with the objective of density and affordable housing but not with the terms proposed! 

      • Double Dub Resident December 16, 2016 (4:42 pm)

        Yeah,  that “over” has really worked out well for “relief” in the junction. That is,  if you’re into ridiculously over priced hipster abodes over developed by greedy real estate developers.  But hey  let’s over develop elsewhere and call that a solution.  

    • Jennifer December 17, 2016 (12:57 am)

      Precisely.  I chose my home for the trees, yard, garden, and family environment.  I need parking because I am a courier and I use my own car.  Plus, I use part of the house as an art studio/workshop.  We rent out two other rooms. I was planning to add a tiny home in the backyard (without sacrificing any trees) for an elderly friend on a fixed income who is being evicted from Capitol Hill(development!).  We can all share and enjoy the garden space, front porch, and neighborhood feel.  We have two dogs, a cat, 4 chickens and a koi pond to share as well. Essentially, our lives do not fit into a small apartment with no parking, yard, or space to create.  We all work service jobs in Seattle, nearby. Those of us who do not drive for a living ride bikes to work or take the bus.

      According to the draft maps, there’s no way pushing us out of this neighborhood will possibly create any more affordable, livable housing than my property is already providing.  I emphasize livable.  

      If my property is surrounded by townhouses which take up every last inch of space, and sunlight, it won’t be livable anymore. So then where do we go??  My neighbors who are renting thier houses can’t afford these new places!  Thier lives don’t fit into little apartments in some other area either.

      There is a right way to increase density.  This isn’t it.

      For the record, South Park had no outreach from the city at all.  Shameful.

  • Tamsen Spengler December 15, 2016 (11:01 pm)

    ThAnks CMT.

  • Double Dub Resident December 16, 2016 (4:51 am)

    Oh and by the way,  the acronym NIMBY is really starting to become another Internet platitude  in which people yank out of their “playbook” to attempt to paint  concerned homeowners who  most likely worked hard to buy their homes as some kind of degenerates.  

    And I’d say it would probably be safe to say  that more often than not the people carelessly  throwing this acronym around like some community college social justice warrior (SJW a platitude within itself)  either do not own a home in these rezoning proposed communities,  and /or are merely concerned with their own agenda of what they think the neighborhoods they have no stake in should be.  

  • WSRedux December 16, 2016 (7:00 am)

    No matter what your position on HALA & its proposed citywide upzoning, remember there will be a significant opportunity to express your opinion when the mayor & at least 2 council members (at large positions I think) are up for reelection in 2017

    • Jennifer December 17, 2016 (1:15 am)

      Won’t that be too late?  Seems like they’re really just pushing this thru without telling anyone.  Does anyone know when the “input” deadline is??

  • WSRedux December 17, 2016 (11:57 am)

    The Hearing Examiner’s recent decision requiring an environmental impact statement before HALA can move forward will take some time and it, in turn, may be appealed if it’s inadequate. There’s a good chance we’ll be in the 2017 election cycle by the time the amended HALA is up for consideration by the City Council so the opinions of those pro & con can be expressed by their votes in the election. Getting HALA through in 2016, before The mayor and several council members are up for reelection is one of the reasons HALA was being pushed so quickly. 

    • WSB December 17, 2016 (12:06 pm)

      The Hearing Examiner decision to which you refer is separate from this. It relates to a proposal by Councilmember Mike O’Brien, outside HALA, that would allow more backyard cottages/accessory dwelling units. He tried to get it through without an environmental-impact revfew; a North Seattle group challenged that, and the Examiner ruled for their challenge.

      The Mandatory Housing Affordability component of HALA, which is what this rezoning is related to, already has an EIS process in the works, and we have written about that. Draft document is expected early next year.

      Also, re: elections, the mayor is up for re-election next year and the two at-large (citywide) council positions will be back on the ballot. One is held by Tim Burgess, who recently announced he is not running again. The other is held by Lorena Gonz├ílez. The other seven positions elected last year are not back on the ballot until 2019. – TR

  • WSRedux December 17, 2016 (12:02 pm)

    By the way Jennifer, as far as HALA input is concerned, you can always email your District Councilperson & cc: the rest of the council as well as cc’ing the mayor’s office. If you want to know how to address your emails, go to the http://www.seattle.gov website.

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