VIDEO: Morgan Junction reviews HALA rezoning proposals in West Seattle’s 4th and final Community Design Workshop

(Morgan Junction rezoning-proposal map, as marked up during small-group discussion @ workshop)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

One phase of feedback on the proposed rezoning for the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda component called Mandatory Housing Affordability is ending, and another beginning.

Last night, Morgan Junction became the fourth and final West Seattle urban village to have a HALA-related, city-coordinated Community Design Workshop for feedback on the proposed rezoning. (We covered two of the others – Admiral in February, and The Junction in January.) And today, the city announced its next West Seattle meeting will be an open house in Arbor Heights on May 6th.

More on that shortly. First – here’s how the Morgan meeting at The Hall at Fauntleroy unfolded, with ~60 in attendance:

As facilitator John Howell from Cedar River Group noted in the opening explanation, the purpose of the workshop was to hear comments on the proposed zoning changes. “We want your comments, reactions, and thoughts … (the changes) have been prepared primarily for the purpose of providing additional ‘affordable housing’.” He said the conversation is happening “in every corner of the city.” It’s not “whether our neighborhoods are going to change” with so many new arrivals, but “how we want them to change.”

Howell (who also facilitated the West Seattle Junction workshop in January) introduced city reps including Spencer Williams from Councilmember Rob Johnson‘s office – Johnson chairs the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee, heading the HALA review – and Office of Planning and Community Development staffers Geoff Wentlandt, Sara Maxana, and Vinita Goyal. Wentlandt gave the background presentation, which has been given by someone different in each of the three workshops we’ve covered. The small-group facilitators for the discussions after the opening presentation/Q&A were from Makers’ Architecture and Urban Design.

Howell also said the night’s comments will be summarized and provided to OPCD as it works on a “final set of proposals,” and that they will be provided to the City Council. (Online notes have also been promised for the workshops, but notes from only one West Seattle workshop are up so far – notes from the Westwood-Highland Park workshop in November were posted in February.)

Here’s our video of the hour-long background presentation (largely the same as other workshops we’ve covered, so it’s not fully summarized in our text below) and the Q&A that followed:

The key points included the explanation of MHA, in case you are still not clear on it:

“All new multifamily and commercial development must either build or pay into a fund for affordable housing.” The upzoning is meant to create “additional capacity” to at least partly “offset” what that costs developers/builders.

As shown on the Morgan Junction-specific slide above, if this is implemented as currently proposed, development over the next 20 years would be expected to result in 23 to 40 affordable units in the MJ urban village, plus fee payment leading to up to 108 more affordable units (not necessarily in the area).

The slide deck also recapped the principles with which volunteer focus groups worked before this proposal was made public.

Another slide mentioned more local considerations – density along California Avenue SW, for example:

Wentlandt mentioned the Morgan Community Association calling OPCD’s attention to the existing Morgan Junction Neighborhood Plan. He noted the recently adopted Seattle 2035 (“comprehensive plan”) update with “fresh policies” and a “data-driven” mission, and that the neighborhood plan was adopted in the ’90s.

He also provided a map-reading primer (rather than include the Morgan Junction graphic again, here’s the citywide interactive map you can use to check what’s proposed for your neighborhood and/or elsewhere), including the reminder that a “hatched” area is proposed for a change in zoning types. And if there’s “a bigger zoning change,” there’s “a bigger affordable-housing requirement.” Zoning types reviewed included “residential small lot,” which is what single-family zoning inside the Urban Village would change to, under the current proposal, and would have different affordability requirements depending on the lot size. In Lowrise 1, five townhouses could be built on a 5,000-square-foot lot. In Lowrise 2, a 10,000-sf lot could have eight townhouses, or 14 apartments. He aso discussed what “neighborhood commercial” zoning means.

One standard slide addressed the typical question about how the upzoning might affect property taxes. That brought the first audible audience reaction. The city refers to zoning changes in Roosevelt in 2011 that they say, after several years, “found no change in tax rates for properties rezoned to Lowrise compared to those that weren’t rezoned.” So, he said, upzoning won’t necessarily change your taxes immediately. Laughter and doubts were voiced.

When Wentlandt got to the feedback slide, mentioning the city’s new 10,000-home-doorknocking plan, he asked if anyone got a visit. “Yeah, and they didn’t mention this meeting,” someone said. Wentlandt said another round of community open houses would start in April, and that the draft Environmental Impact Statement will be out in May. (Just announced today, West Seattle’s community open house will be 10 am-noon Saturday, May 6, at Westside School [WSB sponsor] in Arbor Heights.)

First question was about the property tax exemption for seniors – eligibility specifics. Maxana said there’s a income qualification – $40,000/year – but wasn’t sure about the age requirements. (Here’s information on the King County website.)

Next question – “Your presentation was conspicuous in not talking about parking.”

Parking isn’t required in an urban village, Wentlandt replied. Maxana added that some rapid-transit areas are being considered for Residential Parking Zones, and said that proposed change will come before the council in 2018, as will the final HALA proposal.

Next question – one person wanted another look at the slide with the number of units projected to be built. And then, someone asked if all urban villages are expecting the same level of growth. Wentlandt said “similar,” at which time Cindi Barker from MoCA chimed in that the percentage of growth here is expected to be higher. “Percentage,” said Maxana, but a smaller number overall. “It hasn’t been a particularly fast-growth area,” added Wentlandt.

After that, someone wanted a followup on the “20 apartments on a 10,000-sf lot” Lowrise 2 slide. “There’s no density limit” in that zone, Wentlandt said.

The next question went back to parking, accusing the city of “being blind to the issue” by not requiring parking. That questioner went on to question the math of the “HALA goal” slide, aiming for 30,000 market-rate units and 20,000 “affordable” units in the next 10 years. Maxana clarified that the slide did not just refer to MHA, but to other HALA “strategies.”

Then: “Why is this being fast-tracked” given that light rail is still 13 years out, and transportation congestion is prevalent. And “why are the buildings they are building so god-awful looking?”

“Why now?” Wentlandt picked up that answer. “Affordable housing is a crisis and people can’t afford to live here any more. It’s an urgent need.”

“Magnolia’s closer to downtown,” someone called from elsewhere in the room.

Then Wentlandt answered the appearance question and invited people to get involved in Design Review. One person then said that those meetings aren’t always easy to get to (though she seemed to think they were held during the day, which they never are, at least not in West Seattle – you can see the upcoming Southwest Design Review Board meetings, always starting at 6:30 pm, by going here, along with projects going through types of Design Review that don’t require meetings).

Maxana said there’s a proposal making its way through the city that would get public involvement earlier in the design process than it is now.

A timetable question: When will the council get the final proposal? In fall, Wentlandt said. “Has the council not seen any of this?” the attendee followed up. Maxana said the process has been under way for a year already, preceding this point. The 2018 process, she added – first time we’ve heard this number – will likely take six months. The attendee said, “I find it strange that this decision cannot be made before the elections in November. .. The timing reeks.” Wentlandt said they’d love to finalize all this sooner but the process has been stretched out for more community-discussion time.

Will tonight’s presentation be available online? Yes, and if you signed in, you can get it by e-mail. (As mentioned above, the online availability is backlogged, so you might consider e-mailing city reps at halainfo@seattle.gov to make a request.)

Next question was what would qualify as affordable housing in “residential small lot” – on a 10,000-sf lot, it would be two units, or one “family-sized unit.”

A late arrival asked the definition of affordable housing. “What I’ve seen so far is $2500 and above a month for an apartment, I don’t consider it affordable for many people.” Wentlandt brought back the slide that shows $1,009 for a one-bedroom apartment for a person earning 60 percent of the area median income. The questioner said, “Even the apodments aren’t $1,000 … and even with the fund … they’re not going to be,” and she veered into parking concerns. Wentlandt explained that the rent level for the “affordable” units would be required to be at that level. Howell added that the level would be required for 75 years and would be monitored by the city.

A frequently asked question came up next, regarding West Seattle’s lack of a hospital, and traffic congestion – “a unique neighborhood feature” – if you try to get to the ones that are downtown or in South King County. Wentlandt said the city is aware of the concern. “Regarding the impact of this particular proposal, impacts on transportation will be studied … rigorously so we can see what impact these additional units will have.”

At that point, Howell moved to say they would take questions for only five more minutes and that people would be welcome to approach the city reps individually throughout the event.

That was followed by a question about whether West Seattle’s fire-service capacity had been evaluated. “The safest housing generally is the new housing,” said Wentlandt, because of upgraded codes.

The “rationale” for the payment structure was the subject of the next question.

Wentlandt said that “if it were done perfectly” the fee/unit cost would exactly equal the benefit the developer would get from the added story – “the whole idea is to capture the value that is created by letting them build the extra story.”

Maxana said they expect about 50 percent of projects will add the affordable housing on site and 50 percent will pay the fee, and that City Council will review the program so that if it tilts one way or another, they can make changes.

“The principles are interesting,” said the next questioner, but what about impact on existing property owners/residents? That drew some applause. Maxana replied that the central principle was to achieve affordability. And then, she said, they were asked to “come to the community and ask, ‘did we get it right?’ And that’s the conversation we’re asking you to have tonight – is there a place we should have less intensity and more somewhere else?”, for example.

Final big-group question was from someone saying “there’s already been a lot of development” and wondering if empty units in the already-built buildings should be made affordable before building more. That also drew applause. “It is a booming development cycle right now,” said Wentlandt, “and the sooner we implement Mandatory Housing Affordability, the sooner we can get some (affordable units) … also, our data tells us there’s not much if any vacant housing out there – the rate is lower than it’s been (in many years).”

With that, they broke into small groups, five tables around the room – some attendees left without staying for that part of the discussion, Howell noted in his announcement for everyone to disperse to the tables. City Councilmember Lisa Herbold was announced as being present at the meeting (she’s in the background of our photo below), as she has been at all the Community Design Workshops in our area:

Her presence is especially notable because the Council has the final say on MHA and whether/how it’s implemented. They’re expected to get a final proposal next year. That’s a point Maxana was explaining to someone who asked her a question as the small-group discussions were getting going – OPCD developed the program, but the final say rests with councilmembers.

About 40 people stayed for the small-group discussions. At least in the first half-hour, some weren’t sticking to the concept of analyzing the maps, but instead were venting about the process. People at one table were upset that this was proposed as a new neighborhood plan that “wasn’t organic” as were the 1990s-developed neighborhood plans. “You’re asking us to accept something we had no part of,” one person said.

Another person at that table said the concepts in which he is interested include green space and light. “I don’t want to live in a canyon.”

Meantime, at another table, the canyon concept – often used to describe an arterial as redevelopment puts taller buildings on both sides – was not so problematic for one person. She thought that since parts of California SW already have apartment buildings, those are the areas that could go taller, in exchange for leaving some lower-density areas without being upzoned.

Other discussions to which we listened while roaming between tables included how the “affordable housing” would be tracked. Maxana told that table that a system was being worked on, “where the money is raised and where it’s spent.” She explained that the city would be partnering with developers of affordable housing to build it, especially near transit.

The concerns about higher property taxes were heard at several tables. There was also the suggestion that renters don’t have that concern. Councilmember Herbold was heard to differ: “It drives me crazy when people say renters don’t pay property tax.” Other concerns: Not enough services and infrastructure to support the increased population.

Here are some of the marked-up maps we photographed as the meeting wrapped up with most participants drifting off by 8:45:

WHAT’S NEXT: You can still provide feedback – all the way down to specifics of what you think will and will not work in specific places – via e-mail, halainfo@seattle.gov, and/or via the special feedback website at hala.consider.it.

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement is due out in May, and that will open another phase of the comment period, which the city has said it expects to conclude in mid-June. Before then, as mentioned above, there will be the West Seattle Community Open House, 10 am-noon Saturday, May 6th, at Westside School in Arbor Heights (10404 34th SW).

And when a final proposal goes to the City Council, that also includes public-comment opportunities, though Councilmember Herbold pointed out at a previous meeting, if you have a suggestion for a change in what’s being proposed now, speak up sooner rather than later, because it will need to be studied before councilmembers can propose changes.

35 Replies to "VIDEO: Morgan Junction reviews HALA rezoning proposals in West Seattle's 4th and final Community Design Workshop"

  • Jon March 7, 2017 (10:02 pm)

    Rent control is illegal at the state level in WA. “Wentlandt explained that the rent level for the “affordable” units would be required to be at that level. Howell added that the level would be required for 75 years and would be monitored…” How is this not considered rent control?

    • WSB March 7, 2017 (10:11 pm)

      Don’t know the specifics on that. But this would not be the first rent-restriction program in the city. What never seems to come up in these discussions is MFTE, the multifamily tax exemption program in which developers agree to similar rent restrictions on a percentage of their units if they wish to get a tax break on the residential portion of their projects. Like this, it is a *percentage* of the project, not the entirety.

    • Mike O March 9, 2017 (2:27 pm)

      This is not “rent control”, it’s a zoning restriction on new construction. It affects only a small fraction of the building’s units, and developers have the option of paying into a fund rather than designating a percentage of units as affordable (thus making it effectively a tax or fee rather than rent control).

      Also it’s limited time: the affordability restriction doesn’t last forever. (That’s what worries me most: what will happen when this wave of affordable units becomes market-rate? Will there be another wave of construction to supply the affordable units needed then? Will it be possible to build things in 75 years given resource depletion, climate-change effects, and possible economic tightening? Will future governments be more enlightened and just build enough public housing for everybody who needs/wants it?

  • Matt March 7, 2017 (10:19 pm)

    Great coverage, Tracy, thank you! 

    Some other ideas from our table:

    1) creating more office space as part of developments so west seattleites have more opportunity to forgo commutes across the bridge

    2) more opportunities for extra housing (more Residential Small Lot zoning, cottages, accessory dwelling units etc) in residential areas around urban village for a more equitable spread of expected growth.  

    3) redevelopment of Thriftway with housing in conjunction similar to what has happened with the QFC in the Alaskan Junction, Safeway in Admiral and PCC in between.  

    • Chemist March 7, 2017 (11:19 pm)

      The thriftway site doesn’t look as “ripe” for redevelopment as the RiteAid.

      • -Natalie March 8, 2017 (9:40 am)

        I strongly agree, but the Rite Aid is not in the ‘study area’ (urban village).  Our table suggested a one-story parking garage for the Thriftway parking lot, suggesting that part of it be 10-hour parking for Rapid Ride users (who now park up our residential streets).  We didn’t want it to be multi-story parking, because then it would block sunlight on the Starbuck’s tables.  So many factors!

        • chemist March 8, 2017 (2:01 pm)

          Sorry, yeah, RiteAid isn’t in Morgan Jct UV, but the site will go from “half-in” the West Seattle Junction UV to fully-in with the boundary expansion proposed there.

    • Thistlemist March 8, 2017 (9:51 am)

      Redevelop Thriftway? Its a privately owned building and business. If the owner wants to redevelop his property down the line that is great but why would that have any barring on zoning discussions (outside of  a hypothetical “now they could do this if they wanted to” way)? FYI – This is a single store owner,  so if the building was closed down for redevelopment, the employees would be out of work as there is no other store for them to go work at (unlike QFC, Safeway, or PCC). This happened before when the building was damaged in a fire. Not trying to be snarky but still trying to wrap my mind around why this was even up for discussion at a zoning meeting. 

      • Jort Sandwich March 8, 2017 (11:12 am)

        It’s possible that it came up for discussion during a zoning meeting because the people of Seattle often feel that they should have complete, total,  micro-management control over zoning regulations down to every square inch of land in the city.

        Community engagement is one thing. A citizenry that feels it should have veto power over every single governmental planning decision is another.

        Google “The Seattle Process” for more information!

        • WSB March 8, 2017 (11:30 am)

          It came up for discussion because that’s what the city ASKED people to do, as noted in our story – sit down in small groups and suggest changes if they felt the city proposals, which are proposing changes in zoning on this parcel and scads of others around the city, didn’t “get it right,” as OPCD’s Sara Maxana said – or affirm that they did. The current proposed change at that site is from existing zoning NC3-30
          to NC3-55, per the citywide interactive map. Anyway, if you want changes implemented without discussion, tell the City Council that. A hearing might be required first, however.

          • Thistlemist March 8, 2017 (2:35 pm)

            I have attended one these meetings so I am very aware that the city was seeking advise. It just seemed pretty pointless to talk about how Thriftway or any lot for that matter needs to be redeveloped in such a very specific way. I would have hoped that the city provided group leader could have done a better job of steering the conversation to the topic at hand by asking a question like – This lot is going from having a height limit of 30 feet to 55 feet – how do you feel about that – is that in line with what you feel is good for the neighborhood? Or better yet; So I am hearing that parking is an issue for people at the table – Do you feel our changes address parking enough? Do you want to see Park and Ride requirements added as a part of the broader scope? Real, actual conversations about zoning that help people to understand what the city is proposing, not pipe dreams of 10 hour rapid ride parking garages that wont block the sunlight at lot that a private person owns. 

  • Jort Sandwich March 7, 2017 (11:37 pm)

    Ah yes, parking, the one subject that turns die-hard conservatives into raving socialist lunatics. 

    If the free market is supposedly all-powerful, and parking is such a hot, in-demand necessity for everybody moving into new housing units, than why do developers and builders choose to avoid building parking spaces for their units?

    Probably because the people who are moving in to their buildings don’t need or want the parking

    I lived in the Junction. Parking in my building was $275 a month. I assure you the direct cost of personally paying that much for parking strongly influenced our family’s decision to forego unnecessary car ownership.

    Of course, if the city had subsidized my parking spot by providing free public land on which to park my car and barely ever move it, we might have reconsidered! But … who wants to live in a place surrounded by acres and acres of parked cars? Nobody.

    • Jort Sandwich March 7, 2017 (11:41 pm)

      By the way, one way to avoid making people dependent on owning (and therefore parking) a car is to give them different, more convenient transportation options. But, then again, that involves re-thinking the way we approach our public land (streets), as being better purposed for moving buses and bikes rather than solo vehicles, since there are geographical and geometrical limitations on the number of single-occupant cars that a given street can carry.

      If anybody is interested in learning more about parking, I strongly recommend the highly-acclaimed book “The High Cost of Free Parking” by UCLA professor Donald Shoup. It’s an eye-opener.

      • Captin March 8, 2017 (8:44 pm)

        I’m all for it! But it needs to be REALLY re-thought out. Especially for dual income families with kids. Public transportation needs to be competitive with car ownership when it comes to time. If it was I’d sell my car tomorrow. Part of the problem is people focus on what they are “losing” and not what all people in the future could be gaining. That’s why we don’t already have light rail!!!!!!! But that is also because there aren’t a ton of examples of government just knocking it out of the park on any given issue.

        However……that’s because on any given issue there’s about 463 conflicting interest groups (give or take :-) ) fighting against or supporting any one issue. 

        No wonder every idea is a flawed, ill conceived, underhanded greedy conspiracy meant to serve some group “I” don’t agree with that has the sole purpose of dragging this city into a dystopian nightmare.

        to me the right answer lies in the middle is all I’m saying. Just as simple as answering a question as well as possible for the greater good looking forward. People shouldn’t be fighting over this stuff. People should be collaborating in the interest of the future HALA or otherwise. :-)

    • Fauntleroyfairy March 8, 2017 (9:08 am)

      @ Jort – Why is it necessary for you to name call? I know for a fact both liberals and conservative alike aren’t happy with the lack of parking being made available for the mass multi-housing increase in WS.  Maybe cars don’t work for you, but they are essential to many of us with growing families that attend different schools, activities, etc.  Not to mention a shopping trip to the grocery store is impossible without the aid of a car.  Imagine trying to carry 10-12 bags of groceries home on the bus? Ya, me neither!

      • Mike O March 9, 2017 (2:47 pm)

        “[cars] are essential to many of us with growing families that attend different
        schools, activities, etc.  Not to mention a shopping trip to the grocery
        store is impossible without the aid of a car.  Imagine trying to carry
        10-12 bags of groceries home on the bus”

        In cities like Boston, stores are within walking distance and people stop in every couple days for a few things rather than getting 10-12 bags weekly or monthly. Older kids can even do the shopping for you since they can get to the store without driving. Or people take a taxi home from their shopping trips, and a lot of stores will deliver food or furniture and other bulky items. It just requires starting from the premise, “How can we make this neighborhood work without everybody having to drive?”, and then looking at what the neighborhoods that do this successfully do.

        • Fauntleroyfairy March 9, 2017 (11:18 pm)

          @Mike O. –   In your world I am a passive participant waiting at home for my stuff to be delivered?  No thanks.  Oh wait, you also suggested I could let my 4 year old walk to the store?  Or I can stand in front of a store waiting for an overpriced taxi that will never show up?  Or take a bus to Olympia for a soccer game in the morning and then to Ballard in the afternoon for a baseball  game?  Juggle a stroller, equipment bag, change of clothes, diaper bag, handbag, team snacks, and everything else that needs to go with us?  Brilliant.  Please don’t give me new ideas or “solutions” you might have as to how I can run my life better and I won’t  tell you how to better run yours.    There are 3 cars, 2 scooters, and 1 motorcycle parked in our garage and we like it that way. We use them all and plan on continuing to use them all. 

          • Jort Sandwich March 10, 2017 (12:21 pm)

            Too bad it will just keep getting harder and harder and harder for you to choose to use that many vehicles. That’s going to happen — no matter how many cars you own.

            Maybe you should come get on the bus with us! I swear, it’s not so bad!

        • sam-c March 10, 2017 (9:30 am)

          Mike O-  send groceries stores  closer to Puget Ridge, and I’ll bite….. uphill both ways and 2 buses otherwise.  Not helpful when you realize you forgot a critical ingredient for the dinner you’ve started making!    

          Jort, most of those cities are flatter…. easier for bikes.   That bucket is not quite big enough for my older child, yet she’s not quite strong enough to ride the hills in West Seattle.  I would never take her on a bike up/down Genesee and/or Oregon/21st/22nd hills the way people drive around here.  

          • Jort Sandwich March 10, 2017 (12:25 pm)

            I agree that there are challenges that Seattle has in regards to biking, but other cities have also faced similar challenges and overcome them. 

            I’m frustrated that you feel that cycling is unsafe because of the way people drive. I agree with you, of course, but I also would hope that every citizen of this city would feel safe using a bike, walking, taking the bus or driving. We have a long way to go until then, but we’re working on it!

    • WsEd March 8, 2017 (4:16 pm)

      Don’t worry we will see another economic downturn fairly soon.  Millennials are already leaving the Seattle core due to high rents and we will have another Seattle over development glut in the housing market.  When that happens rents will plummet, and you can either move into a new apartment, or renegotiate your lease.  

      And sorry, bicycles aren’t going to solve this problem.  Seattle is a nasty city to ride in for many reasons, weather, horrible bike infrastructure, and hilllllllllls and the inability to strap 2 adolescents to the back on the way to band/martial arts/soccer/dance practice.  You are in a convenient place in life that allows you to make these decisions, trust me it won’t be that way forever as family grows and so do obligations.  Seattle is quite frankly becoming hostile to families.  But when we elect council members and a Mayor that don’t have children why are we surprised?

      • WSB March 8, 2017 (4:43 pm)

        Yes, we have councilmembers who are parents. Lisa Herbold. Bruce Harrell. Tim Burgess. Sally Bagshaw. Mike O’Brien. Rob Johnson. I don’t think CM’s González, Sawant, and Juarez have children but their six colleagues certainly do.

      • Jort Sandwich March 8, 2017 (5:53 pm)

        I wonder, then, how it is that cities all around the world, in different geographical locations and climates, with varying levels of development, with demographics that range up and down as much as any other city, have all faced the challenges of growth and density and succeeded — by utilizing alternative transportation and refusing to accept that the private, personal automobile is the best use for transportation infrastructure spending?

        There is not one single city in the history of humankind civilization that has “solved” congestion or transportation issues by adding more capacity for single-occupant vehicles. Ever.

        Seattle won’t be the first.

        And, yes, they raise families in Amsterdam, Tokyo, Rome, New York, Chicago, Kyoto, Vancouver, Stockholm, Berlin, Glasgow, Madrid, Cape Town, etc. etc. etc. etc. Just because you have a family in those cities doesn’t mean you have to have a car.

        Hop on board!

        • WsEd March 9, 2017 (5:59 pm)

          Are you on the marketing team for SDOT?  Because it sure sounds like it.  

          I am not opposed to Bikes at all but the broader point is that most people will not be able to live and work within walking distance to their domicile and then there is the little issue of riding say ten plus miles to work in Seattle winter conditions which most people simply won’t do.  And even if you are lucky enough to live within a very short distance to work chances are that within 5 to 7 years you will need to change jobs even if you are staying locally and then do you pay all of the fees associated with selling and buying a new home, uprooting your kids so you can be within a comfort zone again to meet some lofty ideal?  

          The city is advertising mass transit infrastructure as though we are going to go from 1990’s Seattle to a Tokyo/Denmark like utopia in a couple of years.  This has created a false narrative that if only we can get these projects going we will all be living in a dream world very soon.  It is simply not that easy.  There are major issues with the Geography as well as prior development and due to our property right laws it is not easy to impose imminent domain to push these projects forward like say in China.

          Additionally even though traffic is horrible, after trying to ride transit many of my colleagues including myself opt for the cars due to time.  Time is the most valuable commodity anyone has, it is irreplaceable and cannot be purchased.  The new billboards promoting transit stating “Take some more me time” are an admission of the fact that it is well observed that transit takes quite a bit more time out of ones day and limits mobility for most professionals who have limited free time to spend.  For instance I live 9 miles from work in the city of Seattle.  Why does transit take 2.5 to three hours out of my day when I can still commute on non tanker truck spill days in about 45 minutes total in my naughty drivy thingy.  Adding it up that is between 400 and 500 hours a year more in commute time VS the naughty drivy thingy.  That’s time robbed from me being able to be with my family.  

          And I love the wonderful photo of the man with his children in the bikamajig above.  Try doing that in metro Seattle at rush hour.  I bet you care more about your kids safety than the nifty photo would suggest.

          • Jort Sandwich March 10, 2017 (12:35 pm)

            I understand that, many times, it takes less time to drive in Seattle than it does to take transit. But, in what can only be described as good news for our future sustainability, that equation is flipping!

            Soon, and purposefully, it will always take much, much longer for you to choose to drive alone to work every day than if you took transit. That’s done on purpose — when you make it harder to make the non-sustainable choice to drive alone, people begin to choose transit! Since 2010, downtown Seattle has added 45,000 new jobs, and of those jobs, only 2,225 people chose to drive to work alone. That’s only 5 percent! I assure that didn’t happen because Seattle decided to make it so, so much easier to drive alone into downtown.

            Also, it’s highly likely that you’re lying or otherwise outright fabricating the amount of time it takes you to take transit. Downtown Seattle is reachable from almost any location on the peninsula in an hour or less by transit. 

      • Captin March 8, 2017 (8:14 pm)

        I agree with the bikes. But I disagree that someone without kids can’t be rational about that issue. (Our council aside) Seattle may be a politically friendly city to bicycles but it’s an entirely different story according to weather and topography. Common sense would say that yeah it’s cool to ride a bike 10 min to TJ’s to get some chips and salsa but to commute by bike when you have kid(s) in school, and seriously have to go uphill both ways (not joking) it just doesn’t work.

        Millenials are leaving because they have NO chance  here under the current circumstances! Not all are leaving,  just the have nots.

        Also. RE: zoning. And the complaints about some of the proposed zoning changes and city council members being just outside of the proposed zoning changes…..has anyone thought about the ethical dilemmas and what people would be saying if they upzoned themselves? “Oh, those crooked council members are abusing thier power by trying to make their property value go up!” And being right by the boundaries wouldnt they experience all of the “terrible negative impacts” everyone says will happen? They can’t win!

        Also “Seattle 2035” is focused on an estimate of 18 years from now. Not now. Think about West Seattle 18 years ago- 1999! How much has the city changed since ’99? How has supply and demand in housing changed over the last 18 years?!?!

        I personally think it’s pretty naive to pretend we don’t have to assume that growth 18yrs in the future from now won’t be somehow within the ballpark of 18 years ago to now. We need change and density like it or not. We also need real mass transit like the rest of the world because bikes just aren’t the panacea. Just my HO. 

        • WsEd March 9, 2017 (6:03 pm)

          I was specifically referring to certain council members and the Mayor with the childless comment.  I think most people are rational whether they have kids or not.

      • Mike O March 9, 2017 (2:58 pm)

        “Millennials are already leaving the Seattle core due to high rents and
        we will have another Seattle over development glut in the housing
        market.”

        Way overstatement. Some lower-income people are moving out but many other people are moving in or staying. It’s like when people say, “A lot of people are leaving California because of taxes and housing prices.” That’s true but a lot of other people are moving into California or staying there. There’s no chance that the population of Seattle or California will decrease, especially not “most Millenials running for the exits”. It would take a recession and massive job loss to do that, as in 2008. And that recession reversed it for only three years.

        There will doubtless be a small amount of overbuilding and vacancies at the top end, but the flip side is that there’s not nearly enough construction for the vast middle, so on the whole there will still be a housing shortage and thus increasing prices. Unless there’s a major recession, and who wants that if they lose their job?

    • Mike O March 9, 2017 (2:41 pm)

      Thank you Jort Sandwich for making the parking-less visible. I don’t have a car and I don’t want to pay for a parking space I won’t use. People say “You have to have parking because everybody will have cars and will park in the street” but it’s not true. There is a significant fraction of people who don’t have cars and want an apartment or apodment without a parking space. In aggregate that puts more destinations within walking distance because you don’t have to walk past as many parking lots and garage entrances. And more people would be willing to forego parking if transit is frequent and not caught in congestion. In cities with adequate transit and density, more than 50% of the people don’t have cars. I hear it’s 70% in Brooklyn.

  • The Truth March 8, 2017 (8:49 am)

    Anyone find it interesting that they claim they are doing these meetings to listen to concerns and gather feedback while at the same time working on a draft EIS that will be out in May?  This makes me think of 3 outcomes from that.

    1) If changes are made then the study is invalid. So we just wasted tax payers money.

    2) These meetings are just a pacifier for the public but they have no intention of actually doing any changes beyond a few token changes to say they listened. (most likely case IMHO)

    3) They will make changes and be legal challenged to redo the EIS, again wasting tax payers dollars for doing the earlier version before  warranted. 

    • Matt March 8, 2017 (11:50 am)

      The EIS is a high level, city wide study, rather than the highly localized commentary on these zoning maps.  Changes to one block’s zoning isn’t going to invalidate the findings of the EIS. Running both processes simultaneously is reasonable government, not waste.  

      • Fauntleroyfairy March 10, 2017 (2:38 pm)

        @Matt – What a lot of us know, but apparently you do not, is that the city pretends to listen to what the citizens have to say. The study is a waste of time and money.  They go through the motion and then do what they first planned to do anyway.  Just one example: The city wanted to change a short 2 way block near me to a one way.  Not one person on the block wanted it.  Signatures were collected and presented.  They made it a one way anyway with no explanation as to why.  It happens all the time.  

  • Morgan March 8, 2017 (9:53 am)

    Stepbacks please! Preserving views and increasing intensity of development are not mutually exclusive. I’m more concerned about disruptions of construction and loss of views/neighborhood character than parking or affordable housing subsidized units.

  • Raye March 8, 2017 (4:41 pm)

    The mayor and his pals have a bad case of HALA-tosis.

    • Captin March 9, 2017 (6:54 am)

      @raye – that’s pretty funny. :-)

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