Two updates as the city continues collecting comments on proposed rezoning as part of the Mandatory Housing Affordability component of the city’s HALA (Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda) initiative:
CITY’S TOP PLANNER RESPONDS TO REQUEST FOR EXTENSION: The Junction Neighborhood Organization asked for a six-month extension in the current feedback phase of the rezoning process. Here’s the full letter; one of the concerns: How the city did, and didn’t, inform those affected. Today JuNO director RenĂ© Commons received a reply from Office of Planning and Community Development director Sam Assefa, who replied, in part:
… While I recognize that the City can always do more, we have worked conscientiously to offer many opportunities for the neighborhood to learn about HALA and MHA, and to weigh in. With regard to implementing zoning changes that create additional affordable housing, the initial draft maps were released to the public in mid-October last year and have been the subject of significant citywide community engagement and discussion ever since. In West Seattle, we have held at least 7 community meetings to provide information and to collect feedback. We anticipate many additional opportunities for the public to learn about the initial draft proposal, to share their perspectives, to see other alternatives to the initial draft proposal, and to weigh in on how these alternatives respond to the community priorities and concerns. We look forward to additional public meetings, open houses, and design workshops, both across the City and in your neighborhood, as we move forward in 2017.
We also continue to collect online comments at hala.consider.it. Of course, additional public process including environmental review, and City Council public hearings will take place before any zoning changes needed to implement MHA are made.
You can read Assefa’s full reply here. He didn’t elaborate on which meetings he was counting in the mention of 7 in West Seattle; the major city-organized meeting so far was the two-location December 7th “open house,” with the draft maps among a long list of topics on which participants were invited to comment. Meantime, city-organized “community design workshops” are continuing, with one set for The Junction on January 26th, 6-9 pm at the Senior Center of West Seattle. That’s also the location for JuNO’s next meeting, 6:30 pm next Tuesday (January 17th).
ADMIRAL NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Admiral has its own “community design workshop” set for February 11th (9:30 am-12:30 pm at West Seattle High School) Because of that upcoming event, this past Tuesday’s Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting had HALA rezoning on the agenda, and a bigger crowd than usual, about 40 people.
Deb Barker, a retired land-use planner whose volunteer public-service roles include being president of the Morgan Community Association, came to talk about the rezoning proposal. “It’s nothing that you really want to sit in a chair and have someone preach at you about,” she noted, adding that on first hearing about it, people’s eyes tend to glaze over. But people are hungry to find out more, she continued, mentioning the 130+-person turnout at the neighbors-briefing-neighbors event she and Cindi Barker led in Highland Park back in November (WSB coverage here).
On Tuesday, she asked who in themaudience had heard of HALA; most raised their hands.
“How many remember the 1998 Admiral Residential Urban Village plan?” A few hands went up for that.
“Anybody who’s going to redevelop is going to have to pay into a pot of money that goes to affordable housing” is how she summarized the Mandatory Housing Affordability concept, “the idea up for review right now.”
She also noted that while the draft map for the West Seattle Junction would expand the urban-village boundaries in some areas, that is NOT proposed for the Admiral Residential Urban Village.
Most of this section of Admiral’s meeting, though, was truly a case of “you had to be there” – Barker answered a few questions and then invited everyone over to the counter area in The Sanctuary’s main room for a look at some of the maps that she and Cindi had developed for their Highland Park meeting:
Then she mentioned the December 7th city “open house” that was meant to gather comments. She had developed a page of notes to help people read and comment on the draft maps and offered those again at the Admiral meeting too – find some of the links here. And from there, conversation ensued, all around the maps, and lasted well past the meeting’s projected end time.
WHAT’S NEXT: Along with the Junction and Admiral HALA rezoning “community design workshops” mentioned above, Morgan Junction is supposed to have one too – but the date is off the city calendar, so we’re awaiting word on its fate. Keep an eye on this page.