The Fauntleroy Community Association board just wrapped up tonight’s monthly meeting at its usual location, the historic Fauntleroy Schoolhouse, where more than 15 people crowded into the conference room, several drawn by the biggest topic on the agenda – this site about a block west:
REZONE PROPOSAL: We broke the news two weeks ago about an early-stage proposal to rezone and redevelop 9250 45th SW in the heart of Fauntleroy’s Endolyne business district. Since then, two FCA board members have talked with the site’s owners to find out more.
Treasurer Alexis Zolner recapped the discussion: The owners are West Seattle and Tacoma residents. “Their goal is to build … a 5-story building. The first floor they envision as retail (with a) ceiling height (required by city code) of 13 feet. The second floor (is envisioned as) offices, and a doctor has contacted them and expressed interest in putting a practice in that building. Floors three through five would be apartments … ranging from between 400 to 500 square feet for each apartment. (One owner) mentioned that eventually he might even sell his (WS) home and live in one of those apartments. They recognize that the neighborhood has a certain picturesque view and their view of what they want to build has to fit within the neighborhood … they used the word quaint … something that would fit in and have a quaint vibe to it.” She asked them how long the city process would take; they were projecting a year.
Though the owners said they don’t consider themselves developers, they are “tuned in to Seattle’s density plan … how builders are being courted to put in units,” she said, adding that they did not want to talk about the possibility of fewer stories. A “few units would definitely be low income. … In their minds, they were going to go through various permutations of what the design would look like … I felt they are pretty committed to the five stories. They need to make some money off this.”
FCA president Mike Dey picked up from there: “They said they did not intend to put in parking; we pointed out that (the site would be losing) 10 parking spaces. They asked what the feedback was; the two things we heard were parking and elevation. … They said there was a certain requirement for break-even. They said that in West Seattle, apartments of that size were renting $1,200-$1,700 a month, and if there are three affordable housing units, that would be about $1,000/month.” Dey noted that the HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability upzone “preferred alternative” announced last week would upzone the site from NC1-30 to NC1-40, “so the request from these guys is an additional 10 feet above what the city is already proposing for that area.” He also noted that the lot slopes, eight feet difference between its highest and lowest sides, and the height of the project would be based on the midpoint. “If they got permitted to go up to a 50-foot zone, the Brace Point site would be 46 feet and 45th would be 54 feet.” The building currently on the site (photo above) is considered one story with a basement.
The owners have an architectural firm from Denver (LAI Design Group, according to what’s on file with the city) representing the in talks with the city. Dey asked them why they also were seeking changing the zoning to NC3 from NC1 “when this is clearly an NC1 neighborhood,” explaining the difference (which is explained here); they said that was something their Colorado-based design firm was handling and they had no idea. Dey said that they were talking to Endolyne merchants, “who would be a very important voice” in the discussion because of the prospective loss of parking.
“Is anyone here to say they’re in favor of it?” asked board member Vicki Schmitz Block. No one replied.
Another question: “Is the 50 feet a done deal?” Reply: No, it’s not.
“It does set precedent,” noted Dey. “And it’s at an awkward time,” given that the one-story upzone for HALA MHA has just been proposed, and adding more for this “would be a huge jump.”
“What we have done over the years is try to ensure the quality of life here,” Schmitz Block said, acknowledging that “changes will occur,” but saying they need to hear from the community about how others feel about this. She proposed forming a subcommittee “right away … I think we need to get on this.” She recalled the organizing against the commercial zipline proposal for Lincoln Park (back in 2012), which drew 150+ to a fast-turnaround community meeting. “I think the only thing the city listens to is fury.”
One attendee said that regarding the size and scope of the proposed development, “that’s not what this neighborhood is.” He added that the neighborhood already has absorbed the ferry traffic and its accompanying parking. “It is a neighborhood that’s kind of under siege.”
Dey reiterated that the owners already could put up a 30-foot building right now, and if HALA MHA goes through, 40 feet. He was seeking to clarify objections beyond “we just don’t like the idea.” Responses included the height, the lack of parking, and that “it’s going to open the door to more development, more traffic, more changes.”
Another attendee said she understands “the crisis in this city with housing … the city is right to make some changes and I’m willing to absorb some of that …” but already the proposed 10 extra feet is a lot. To add beyond that is “adding a lot of density all at once, and it does set a precedent.”
Schmitz Block suggested it’s a safety issue, especially for pedestrians, and that building without offstreet parking “is a denial of reality … We have traffic jams here already.”
One attendee said he moved away from Capitol Hill as it got more crowded … and fears something similar in Fauntleroy. “I think it’s time for the community to take a stand, because if you don’t stand up now …” said another.
It’s not that they’re opposed to apartments (two corners at that intersection already have them), said Dey. It’s the bulk and scale of the building, others added.
Dey said that FCA can respond, but it’s also important that anyone else with something to say needs to comment. One place to start is the HALA website. Schmitz Block added that also sending comments to City Councilmember Lisa Herbold is important. “She really does count votes and count voters here.”
There’s a process to register as a “person of interest” regarding specific properties so they hope to sign up for that. Zolner also suggested surveying the community regarding the sentiment about this proposal; it also was suggested that a community meeting be organized, or maybe a mass e-mail message.
“Time is short and you have to speak up,” said another attendee. Again, this is an early-stage proposal, so watch for more on this from FCA.
SPD UPDATE: Southwest Precinct Operations Lt. Ron Smith had the crime trends. Property crime is down 33 percent year-to-year in the Fauntleroy area; residential burglaries are down 15 percent compared to this time last year; car prowls and auto thefts are down too. They’ve had emphasis patrols, including some on package theft; they’ve been working with delivery services on their routes, and will be stepping that up again after Thanksgiving. No shots-fired incidents in Fauntleroy (defined as either a victim, property damage, casings found, or gunfire actually seen). Shots-fired incidents in West Seattle overall are down two from last year. Two notorious nuisance houses are being watched in this community, Lt. Smith said. Someone asked about graffiti vandalism; it’s “skyrocketed” citywide, Lt. Smith said. He advised using the Find It, Fix It app to report it.
Asked about homelessness, and why Fauntleroy didn’t seem to have much camping, Lt. Smith mentioned that the Southwest Precinct may be “more aggressive” than others in the city. He also mentioned that a rule has changed and there’s no longer a “three-structure minimum” for police to address a camping situation – now the minimum is one. You can also use Find It, Fix It to report illegal camping, Lt. Smith said. He also noted, though, that when people are moved from one area, “it’s like a tube of toothpaste” and they will show up somewhere else.
Asked about current SW Precinct staffing, Lt. Smith noted that they have three shifts, and on a night like tonight, maybe 10 officers are on duty for the entirety of West Seattle. Sometimes officers adjust their shifts to deal with certain situations, like illegally parked vehicles, which might require they start shifts later because the rules kick in at midnight.
FALL FESTIVAL RECAP: Last month’s Fauntleroy Fall Festival was successful in terms of turnout and fun (WSB coverage here) but consider this if you’re solicited for a sponsorship, or see a donation box when you go:
Revenue from sponsors and donations was down, while the cost of putting on the no-admission-charge festival was up.
COMMUNITY SURVEY: Two years ago, FCA sent a survey to 3,000 local residents. It is now ready to do a survey again, and is finalizing the questions, as well as how to get the survey out – it will be linked from the FCA website and announced in a variety of ways, onlineand offline. If you live/work in the area, watch for updates on this – we will of course link to it when it is live.
WESTSIDE NEIGHBORS NETWORK: About a year after her first appearance, Judie Messier returned to FCA with an update on the organization that is meant to help its members “age in place.” As she has told other community groups lately, the organization is now accepting memberships, starting by signing up 11 “founding members.” Tomorrow (Friday) night, WNN launches a series of Movie Nights, with “Dr. Strangelove,” to be followed by “some interesting discussion” – event details are in our calendar listing. She asked the FCA board and attendees what kind of community events they would be interested in attending, to bring together community guests as well as WNN neighbors (they’ve also already presented a wine-tasting event). In discussion, FCA board members asked the same question that had come up at last month’s Morgan Community Association meeting – about the cost – and Messier replied that anyone who has concerns about affordability will be asked what they can afford to pay.
The Fauntleroy Community Association meets second Tuesdays most months, 7 pm at Fauntleroy Schoolhouse (9131 California SW), but not in December – so the next meeting will be January 9th. You’ll find FCA online at fauntleroy.net.