HALA REZONING: New date for Morgan Junction workshop; Admiral version 3 days away; another Westwood-Highland Park meeting planned

Two updates and a reminder today in the ongoing discussion of rezoning proposed for the Mandatory Housing Affordability component of the city’s HALA (Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda) initiative:

(Direct link to draft Morgan Urban Village rezoning map)

NEW DATE SET FOR MORGAN JUNCTION ‘COMMUNITY DESIGN WORKSHOP’: Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s office sends word that the Morgan Junction Residential Urban Village’s rescheduled Community Design Workshop – a meeting like this one held in the West Seattle Junction two weeks ago – is set for Monday, March 6th, 6-9 pm, at The Hall at Fauntleroy (9131 California SW). From the city: “Please bring a neighbor or a friend to join the conversation. RSVP is not required to participate in the workshop but does give priority for facilitated working groups as well as assist our team in planning for staffing, room setup, and resources.” If you choose to RSVP, e-mail spencer.williams@seattle.gov.

REMINDER – ADMIRAL’S WORKSHOP COMING UP SATURDAY: This gives us the opportunity to remind you again that the Admiral Residential Urban Village’s Community Design Workshop is now three days away, 9:30 am-12:30 pm Saturday, February 11th, at West Seattle High School (3000 California SW).

ANOTHER WESTWOOD-HIGHLAND PARK URBAN VILLAGE MEETING: Announced at last night’s Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council meeting (full report later today), the city will come back out for another HALA discussion regarding the WW-Highland Park Urban Village, on March 1st, start time TBA, since the Community Design Workshop back in November had low attendance due to little publicity.

WHEREVER YOU ARE … you can still comment on the proposed rezoning via hala.consider.it or by e-mailing halainfo@seattle.gov. Not sure whether/how HALA MHA is affecting the neighborhood(s) where you live/work? Check the citywide interactive map here.

7 Replies to "HALA REZONING: New date for Morgan Junction workshop; Admiral version 3 days away; another Westwood-Highland Park meeting planned"

  • H February 8, 2017 (3:36 pm)

    I really appreciate the Westwood-Highland Park HALA meeting on March 1 and will be in attendance. Come join me Westwood neighbors :)

  • Scarlett RJ February 8, 2017 (5:55 pm)

    Observation on the City’s Housing Affordability and
    Livability Agenda (HALA) process.

    Having recently attended  the City HALA Junction presentation at the senior center as
    an observer to the proceedings,  it
    became apparent that that the presentation was actually a somewhat poorly
    controlled lecture program on HALA. 
    Presenters made heroic attempts to control the audience and
    questions.  A piece of half sheet notepaper
    was handed out before the meeting to write all of your questions about HALA
    during the lecture and submit them to the moderators for questions time at the
    end.  At the end of the lecture, a
    half hour was saved by the moderators, to address a few questions.  This was a great idea because it
    controlled the process, limited open conversation from the group, which was
    quite large and restive, and allowed the presenter to stay on message by
    reading the questions, for which, well defined responses were prepared.  

     

    Overarching concerns included questions about why the City
    was not waiting, or coordinating  with
    ST3 station plans.  ST3 does not
    know where they are going to put their very large station.  No real answer was provided that seemed
    to answer the question.  I did
    wonder what would happen if Rite Aid was developed into a new Whittaker, and
    ST3 then decided that the Rite Aid lot was the only place suitable for the
    station.  The audience could not
    fathom why the processes are not consolidated or coordinated to prevent tearing
    something down you probably just spend a lot of money to build.   Since property purchase for ST3
    won’t happen until 2023-2025, many structures might be built in the ideal
    station site by then.  This, of
    course, could mean two teardowns and two rebuilds on the same site. Oh well.

     

    I also noted the city produced significant reassurances to
    the audience that land value property taxes would not increase.  The City later revised this statement
    to a “small increase”.  References
    to the Roosevelt neighborhood were mentioned, minus specific data.   During the breakout groups, I
    listened carefully to questions again about taxes and heard something new.  City staffers then said that taxes
    would go up about 30 percent within the first 5 years.  This was in contrast to the statement
    made to 200 audience members about 45 minutes prior.   By my estimates
    this would be probably about $1500 a year.

     

    The next cries from the audience were about the Junction neighborhood
    plan and the City’s attempt to ignore the plan.  City folks stayed on message that the plan was old and
    outdated.   The city did not mention why this plan,
    which they appear to abhor, is repeatedly adopted by the city in every new revision
    of the comprehensive plan.  Nor did
    they mention attempting to update the plan with community involvement as
    Delridge is currently doing.  Promises
    of parks, infrastructure and other improvements specified in the plan have been
    few and far between, or non-existence, per the audience and this seems borne
    out by a quick stroll through the Junction.  The Rapid Ride, referred to by some attendees as the Crowded
    Ride did come in exchange for the loss of other routes.  Is there a net gain in bus
    service?  It’s hard to
    determine.  If you live on
    California or Fauntleroy south the Morgan Junction, this is apparent.  If you live elsewhere, it appears there
    is a net loss in service.

     

    City officials noted that the HALA program will provide only
    500 new Junction homes in the next 20 years. One member of the audience noted
    that could be build right now without expansion by up-zoning in the triangle between
    Fauntleroy, Avalon, and 35th.  An interesting option well worth discussing?

     

    Audience members clearly did not oppose affordable housing
    and spoke repeatedly about supporting  such housing. 
    What most caught their ire was that they clearly were not going to get any
    affordable housing in the Junction guaranteed at all.  Well-informed audience attendees were quite aware that the
    village up-zone and expansion resulted after Mayor Murray’s failed attempt to
    eliminate all single family zoning citywide.   They see the new plan, marketed as “only affecting 6%
    of SFR”, as a first bite of the same apple.  After all who will notice the loss of those homes?  The other 94 % will just be thankful it
    didn’t happen to them. A cautionary note was mentioned that 100 % loss was, and
    may be, the intended goal, this was just the start.   Multiple options for abiding by the City’s commitment
    to preserve the SFR community in the Junction were provided to the City
    officials and their contractors during the small group meetings held after the
    large room lectures.  The
    contractors were hired by the City to facilitate and take notes were a mixed
    bag.  Some wrote down the
    suggestions, and others didn’t bother until called to task.  This is an inefficient way to get input
    and for others to hear the ideas of their neighbors.  It is a very good approach for controlling the masses and
    was mostly successful.  The City
    can be congratulated on this strategy. 
    It effectively limited almost all open group discussion by neighbors
    within the larger group.  The city
    would loose complete control of the process by allowing an open forum of a
    large group of people and this clearly is not desirable. 

     

    I overheard one question of City employee when asked
    directly what the Junction gets for having their homes rezoned and the village expanded?  The only reply was “affordable housing”
    and the City person insisted it would be in village.  The city employee could state of no other benefit.  This was lost opportunity, and at a
    minimum he could have said better restaurants.   This was the same City official captured on video ostensibly
    and meekly apologizing when one SFR resident confronted him about the City’s
    intentions for her neighbors and her SFR home.  The resident asked what was supposed to happen “so you just
    want us (meaning our homes) all to go away”?   The City worker responded “sorry”.  This was a huge blunder.  Never show your obvious intentions and
    particularly on video.

     

    Just what does the up-zone of several SFR blocks to 40-foot
    apartment complexes mean?  It
    appears to mean homes being surrounded by 40 foot and higher verticals
    walls.  This won’t last long
    however. The logic here is to reach the desired effect the City intends.  Once one of the many seniors die, or
    one of the several small rentals are sold, the homes on that street will be
    bought by developers.  They will build
    to the planned up-zoning maximum. 
    Because we can be sure that living on a street subject to continuous
    construction work for years, is highly unpleasant, the rest of the neighborhood
    quickly collapses to demolition.  After the first house goes, the remaining properties are only
    worth the land value, so it will be easy to pick up the other lots at a bargain
    price-and maybe even some short sells. 
    This would certainly be my strategy as a Developer and it is an
    excellent strategy for the desired end.

     

    Audience members attempted to show City officials that their
    plan was woefully off the mark. 
    Because Junction property is extremely expensive, no contractor would
    pay to put affordable housing in an overpriced area. They get far more bang for
    the buck in cheaper areas.  
    Also no Developer is going to hamstring sale of a newly developed
    building for 75 years of rent control on a unit when they might have to pay a
    fee (or maybe not) that would be passed on in the sales price anyway.   The idea of capitalism, in its
    most refined art form, is to maximize profit and move on the next profit-making
    venture.  That is how wealth is
    accumulated.  This coincides with
    other City officials private statements, recognizing all the affordable housing
    units would, of course, go into the areas of the city where low-income people
    live now.  Audience members did
    vent their spleens referencing this as City sanctioned redlining.   They appear to think the City is,
    in the best simile of a used care salesman, is doing a very large bait and
    switch.   Unfortunately the City was unable to provide any credible
    evidence that the Junction would get any affordable housing.  A missed opportunity or there isn’t any
    evidence?

     

    I heard comments about the Grand Bargain, the Grand Boodogle
    and so forth.  It appears the City
    entered into a closed-door agreement with some very large developers.  The result was:  you agree to not sue us and promise to
    pay the HALA fee-don’t worry it’s not much, and we give you and everyone else
    large scale up zones throughout the city.   The developers who demolish SFR and do small
    commercial projects did not agree to this Grand Bargain, and have publicly announced
    a promise to sue the city over HALA fees. 
    Will they win, probably?    

     

    So what does this all mean to casual observer of the
    process?

    Residents of the Junction think the City is misguided at
    best and at worst, down right dishonest. 
    Does the City want them to move and have their homes demolished for new development?
    Well, yes, and they have said so privately and that is point of the entire up-zone.  Is the City listening to residents? They
    claim they are, but it is hard to see just how?  Shelbly’s was no real venue for feed back by mores than a
    handful of people.  The January 26th
    meeting was a little better but still no real open forum to captures area
    concerns.

     

     City folks have
    already privately said this plan will go through as is and they don’t actually
    care what the neighborhoods say. 
    Quite frankly, they don’t have to “They are the City”.   Will this mean backlash against
    the City and their staff, you can bet on that.  

    • Mark Schletty February 9, 2017 (8:03 am)

      Scarlett has got this one right. Believe what Scarlett says. Plus the net result of this upzone, with no requirement for any local affordable housing, will be a huge increase in traffic congestion. The people working in the new commercial spaces will not be able to afford the housing being built and will have to commute from elsewhere, where there will be affordable housing built.

  • Elevated Concerns February 9, 2017 (1:15 pm)

    I would like to know why it will take “possibly a month to 6 weeks” to write up all of the questions that were written with the answers from the city.  The city is confident that they can render an Environmental Impact Statement in less time!  The Cedar River Group was hired for our meeting because they know how to control input such as not taking one note at my table.  

  • tuesdayjane February 9, 2017 (9:36 pm)

    I for one am very thankful for the local community members that have put their minds and time to this. Thank you for investing so much in spite of the fact that your well thought out objections are likely to fall on deaf ears.

    Make no mistake, this re-zoning being  rammed  through with little care for the actual people affected  is authoritarianism. The interaction with the community in WS has been perfunctory at best.  It is a tremendous shame that the same people that will rail against authoritarianism on a national level will execute it locally without a second thought. The hypocrisy is thick. This issue will affect West Seattle deeply and you can be sure it won’t be an issue forgotten when the next election rolls around. What a sad state of affairs.

    • Nom de Plume February 9, 2017 (11:27 pm)

      Spot on.  Ironically, Councilmember Rob Johnson says that we are the hypocrites.  He says that if you support single family housing, then you also must support Trump:

      “it’s really disturbing for me when I hear … somebody talking about how glad they were to see the neighborhood district councils stand up for single-family zoning and then in the next breath disparage the president for wanting to build a wall between the US and Mexico. I see those two things as actually linked.”

      – Councilmember Rob Johnson, chair of the Seattle Land Use Committee

      Citation: https://thecisforcrank.com/…/morning-crank-the-right-side-…/

  • Peter February 10, 2017 (7:44 am)

    >> you can be sure it won’t be an issue forgotten when the next election rolls around.  <<  I so wish this would be true.  Unfortunately, past experience leads me to believe otherwise.   It’s as if the majority of voters enjoy watching their neighborhoods become less livable while the cost of housing goes up, either through taxes, or  through rent which must cover the increasing property taxes. and other expenses.  Yes, I know taxes and fees (such as RRIO) are only part of the reason rents go up, but they’re reasons nonetheless.

    Nom is spot on about the hypocrisy too.  This is all about big money going into the city coffers and nothing about quality of life for those impacted, or actual affordable housing outside of areas that already have comparatively affordable housing.  As more and more existing (mostly modest) housing is taken off the market and replaced by new, denser and more expensive structures, housing costs will have to rise to cover the costs.  And yet, city “leadership” wants you to think they’re concerned about how much it costs to rent in Seattle.     Right.

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