West Seattle, Washington
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Tonight (8 pm at the Senior Center of West Seattle), the Southwest Design Review Board takes its second, and possibly final, look at DESC’s Delridge Supportive Housing Project, a proposed 66-unit housing complex for homeless people living with challenges such as mental illness and/or substance abuse.
It’s the second community meeting this week related to the project. On Tuesday night, the project’s Advisory Committee met for the second time. During that meeting, DESC distributed a printed list of its answers to community questions about the project, which have since been published online (see them here).
One section of note, since the topic has come up in multiple discussions:
DESC runs a criminal background check on all potential tenants prior to offering an apartment, but they are not prohibited from being housed due to a criminal background, including sex offenses. We do screen out those whose criminal histories indicate that they would be a threat to vulnerable people. Even though sex offenses are not prevalent among DESC’s target population, contrary public perception is so strong that DESC has informed Delridge neighbors that we will exclude sex offenders from living at our Delridge location if such a request is made to DESC by the organized neighborhood group. So far, that request has not been made.
The FAQ wasn’t discussed during the meeting, but many other topics were. Read on:Read More
Two notes about the DESC Delridge Supportive Housing project – first, the “packet” for this Thursday’s Design Review Board meeting (8 pm, Senior Center of West Seattle) is available online – download it here. Also, tonight is the second meeting of the Community Advisory Committee, which is tasked with prioritizing community concerns and will again listen to public comment; it meets at 6 pm at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center (4408 Delridge Way).
For those tracking the DESC 66-unit “supportive housing” complex planned at 5444 Delridge Way SW (map), two meetings are on the schedule this week. Tuesday (6 pm at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, 4408 Delridge Way SW) the Advisory Committee meets for a second time, with another opportunity for public comment. Thursday, it’s the second, and possibly final, Southwest Design Review Board session to look at the project. It’s the second project on the schedule, 8 pm at Senior Center of West Seattle, California/Oregon. (The “packet” for the first project to be considered that night, an unrelated 20-unit proposal at 9051 20th SW, is available online, but the DESC “packet” is not, yet.) More information and links are in a DESC-meetings preview published on the North Delridge Neighborhood Council website.
Three West Seattle notices are in today’s city-circulated Land Use Information Bulletin, all related to projects in eastern West Seattle. Two are for the 66-unit DESC Delridge homeless-housing project; as reported here previously, its second Southwest Design Review Board meeting is set for 8 pm March 8th, Senior Center of West Seattle (California/Oregon). 1 week later, as the North Delridge Neighborhood Council previously announced, the city will hold a public meeting at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center (6:30 pm March 15th) to hear comments about the environmental-review process for the project (“environmental” also includes issues such as traffic and noise). The third notice is for the first Design Review Board session (noted here 3 weeks ago) to be held at the Senior Center at 6:30 pm March 8th, immediately before the DESC project discussion – for a 3-story, 20-unit project at 9051 20th SW.
It’s been eight months since first word that the Downtown Emergency Service Center planned to build a “supportive housing” project at 5444 Delridge Way – downsized slightly to 66 units, each one to become home to a formerly homeless person living with mental illness and possibly substance abuse. Tuesday night, a new advisory committee met for the first time, expressly to listen to whatever community members wanted to say about the project, even if they had said it somewhere before.
The results are in our video clip, unedited, recording all 13 speakers, who comprised almost half the crowd. (There would have been more, suggested one speaker, if the community had any reason to trust DESC would truly listen and act on the concerns voiced.) They voiced concerns and criticisms, some with fury, some with disappointment, some with skepticism, some with scorn. While understanding the need for the work DESC does, this just isn’t the right site, many said – in one speaker’s words, putting an at-risk community on top of an at-risk community.
DESC director Bill Hobson is co-chair of the new committee, along with longtime community activist/advocate Pete Spalding of Pigeon Point. But this hearing wasn’t for back-and-forth discussion, or even for DESC to respond to concerns – it was meant to be 100 percent for anyone who wanted to speak, to do so.
Meantime, the project still has hurdles to clear – as reported here earlier this week, the Washington State Housing Finance Commission has a public hearing downtown at 1 pm Thursday for projects seeking Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, including this one; on March 8th, it’s the second Design Review Board hearing for the project. Other key dates and input opportunities are detailed here.
Turns out there are two public hearings this week related to the 66-unit DESC homeless-housing project planned for 5444 Delridge Way SW (the site at right). The first one has already been announced – Tuesday night (February 21), 6:30 pm at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, everyone with something to say about the project is invited to come say it to the Delridge Supportive Housing Advisory Committee, which is tasked for starters with identifying community concerns regarding the project. What they hear at this first hearing will shape their focus in the months ahead. The second one is a Thursday public hearing before the Washington State Housing Finance Commission; one of the remaining pieces of funding for the project comes from Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, and it’s up to the commission to decide who gets them. The DESC Delridge project is part of a sizable list of projects up for tax credits this year – the credits actually go to investors in exchange for their help in financing a project like this. The hearing is at 1 pm Thursday (February 23rd) in the commission’s board room at their downtown offices, on the 28th floor at 1000 Second Avenue. The official notice also includes information on how you can send written comments, if you can’t be at the hearing, as well as these words of warning: “The Commission will not consider testimony and written comments regarding land use, zoning, and environmental regulation.”
There’s one more week to go for public comment on the land-use-permit application for the DESC Delridge project (details here). And we just discovered tonight that the tentative date for the project’s next Design Review Board meeting has been moved up two weeks to March 8 (West Seattle Senior Center, 8 pm). But those are not the only opportunities you have for input on the proposed 66-unit homeless-housing project at 5444 Delridge Way SW. We’ve reported before on the community advisory group formed as part of the process – and tonight, its first public meeting has just been announced for February 21st. The official announcement was sent by Pete Spalding, who is co-chairing the group:Read More
10:59 AM:The main point of the big sign that’s up on the site of the planned 66-unit DESC homeless-housing project at 5444 Delridge is to let people in the area know that the land-use-permit application is officially in, and that this is their chance to send the city comments. And in fact, the only West Seattle item on the Land Use Information Bulletin circulated this morning by the city is official electronic notice of this – including a February 15th deadline for comments. Here’s the notice; here’s the e-mail comment form. One other update: The North Delridge Neighborhood Council website now features the newest information on the community advisory committee that will “gather input and prioritize the neighborhood’s concerns …” The date for its first community meeting is not finalized yet, though.
11:46 AM UPDATE: The date for the DESC project’s next Design Review meeting IS tentatively set, however, we just discovered – 8 pm on March 22nd. (No location listed yet.)
Four lots were for sale on the east side of Delridge, north of SW Findlay, when the Downtown Emergency Service Center bought the site of its planned 66-unit homeless-housing complex. DESC bought three of them. The fourth, south of the project site, is still for sale – and now it has a sign that shouldn’t be there: The official Department of Planning and Development sign letting the neighborhood know that the land-use-permit application for the project has been filed. (As of two days ago, according to the DPD website.) According to a conversation on the North Delridge mailing list, the city has been notified that the project site is actually further north, and says the mistake will be fixed. Meantime, we checked today with the Washington State Housing Finance Commission to see if DESC’s revised application for Low-Income Housing Tax Credits is in yet, with the January 31st deadline pending. They haven’t received it yet, according to spokesperson Bill Wortley. As first reported here in early January, the number of units in the project has been reduced from 75 to 66, since the city says data didn’t support a waiver allowing that many extra extremely-low-income-housing units in the area after all. In addition to the pending round of tax-credit funding, the project also needs at least one more Design Review Board meeting before gaining final city approval; no date set yet. And the Delridge Alliance advisory group – explained on the North Delridge Neighborhood Council website – is expected to lead a public meeting about the project soon.
3:51 PM: The sign already has been moved and is now on the north end of the site.
(LOOKING FOR SNOW COVERAGE? UPDATES ARE HERE)
New details today about the Delridge Alliance, the advisory group that DESC committed to help convene as its Delridge Supportive Housing project plan continues. Until now, the newest major development is what we reported two weeks ago – that the plan is down to 66 units from the previous 75 because of a city decision (explained here); DESC’s Bill Hobson subsequently confirmed to WSB that the project is moving ahead:
Yes, we are proceeding. Clearly, the 75-unit plan presented at (Design Review) will now have to be modified somewhat but our architects assure me that modification will not be substantial and it will be under the WSHFC per-unit cost ceiling. And, the modification will respect the recommendations they received at EDG.
Now, the advisory-group details: This morning, North Delridge Neighborhood Council website features a detailed update this morning from Vonetta Mangaoang, who’s part of the advisory group, with details on who’s on it so far, the positions still open, what it’s about, and what happens next. Read it here. (No date set yet for the project’s second Design Review meeting, by the way.)
By Karen Berge
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
The Downtown Emergency Service Center‘s (DESC) Delridge Supportive Housing project was the major discussion topic at the North Delridge Neighborhood Council (NDNC) January monthly meeting on Monday evening.
This first meeting of the new year, held at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, kicked off with brief introductions and reflections on New Year’s resolutions from the 15 neighborhood attendees. After that, meeting business quickly got underway. The very full agenda also included a proposal for a new committee on Community Design and Land Use; details about today’s North Delridge Walking Tour with City Council and SDOT representatives; information about potential Bridging the Gap grant projects; discussion of the recent request to the city regarding an update to the Delridge Neighborhood Plan; and other items and announcements.
First, since it’s about an event happening today:
NORTH DELRIDGE WALKING TOUR:
Jake Vanderplas, NDNC Transportation Committee chair, briefed the group on
details about the North Delridge walking tour set for 3-4:30 pm today (meet outside the Delridge Community Center). Tour participants will include City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, representative(s) from SDOT, members of NDNC, and any other interested Delridge neighbors or others who wish to attend. Issues include large and small items relating to bike, pedestrian, transit or driving safety (for example, a Walk-signal button that doesn’t activate the signal light when pressed). If you know of additional issues or sites that should be addressed/visited on the tour, they suggest that you post a comment on their site. A new pedestrian issue that was brought up during this meeting is an asphalt sidewalk with a mailbox positioned inconveniently in the very center of the walkway.
Next Monday, when the North Delridge Neighborhood Council meets (agenda/time/location here), the Downtown Emergency Service Center‘s proposed “supportive housing” project will be on the agenda again, as it’s been for most meetings since news of the plan broke at NDNC’s meeting last June. The group also is helping recruit members for the community advisory group about the project, the Delridge Alliance (here’s how to apply). And tonight, we have more information about the major development we first reported two days ago – the city’s decision to cut the number of units allowed in the project, from 75 to 66. We finally heard from DESC, which had no comment aside from confirming the new unit count that we found in documents filed with the Washington State Housing Finance Commission, which will review the agency’s application for key Low-Income Housing Tax Credits financing. DESC executive director Bill Hobson referred us to the city Office of Housing for the explanation. WSHFC provided us with a copy of the internal city memo that spells it out.
We don’t have a scanner handy, so we’re transcribing it. It’s dated December 12, to Office of Housing director Rick Hooper from staffer Maureen Kostyack, who attended the second of two private-home meetings where neighborhood concerns about the project were discussed. The subject is “Siting Policy Waiver for DESC Delridge Supportive Housing” and it’s on OH letterhead. (It also reveals that the roots of this project go back as early as 2010.):Read More
(June 2011 photo of DESC Delridge project’s proposed site)
The Downtown Emergency Service Center‘s proposed Delridge Supportive Housing project is suddenly undergoing a redesign, according to documents filed with the Washington State Housing Finance Commission as part of the next round of financing DESC is seeking – and that redesign will be for a project with 66 units, not 75 units as originally proposed.
The city Office of Housing had originally granted a waiver to DESC, allowing it to propose a 75-unit project even though the amount of “extremely low-income housing” in the area was supposed to max out at 63 units beyond what it currently has. Neighborhood advocates had questioned the information on which the waiver was based – and now, according to a city document also on file with the WSHFC as part of the DESC application, it appears they had grounds for concern.
Documents from the city, dated in mid-December, say that newly available 2010 census information superseded what DESC had been working with, and that the site now could only support 66 units in this income range. This notification came just as DESC was about to submit its application for Low-Income Housing Tax Credits to the WSHFC, and since there wasn’t enough time for them to completely redo the application, they are redesigning the project right now, and expecting to submit new information by the end of this month. The documentation we just reviewed at WSHFC offices downtown includes this DESC explanation:
This late change creates both capital and operational inefficiencies. It is also driving the total development costs over the WSHFC cost limits. Our team is currently redesigning the project with a new cost estimate, and a revised development budget will be shared with WSHFC and other public funders by january 31, 2012.
We attempted to reach DESC leadership by phone and e-mail earlier today for comment, and so far have not heard back. We are still reviewing a few more documents related to this and will add any additional information of relevance.
The Delridge project first came to light last June and has since moved through stages including property purchase – $768,000 for three lots in the 5400 block of Delridge Way SW, with the sale initiated last April and closed one month ago – as well as city, county, and state financing approvals, plus the first round of city Design Review (with a second round to come, though no date is set). Our coverage of the project is archived here.
From the North Delridge Neighborhood Council website: Two neighborhood-advocate positions are open on the “Delridge Alliance” advisory group that’ll work on issues related to the Downtown Emergency Service Center‘s plan for a 75-apartment “supportive housing” project at 5444 Delridge Way SW. The alliance’s formation was discussed at last month’s NDNC meeting, as reported here. If you’re interested in being part of it, details and links are in this writeup on the NDNC site. The project itself passed the first round of Design Review earlier this month (WSB coverage with video, here), with at least one more round to come, though the review-meeting date is not set yet.
By Karen Berge
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
The agenda at Monday evening’s North Delridge Neighborhood Council (NDNC) monthly meeting focused primarily on discussion of the DESC project (the Downtown Emergency Service Center‘s 75-unit “supportive housing” project at 5444 Delridge Way).
Parie Hines, new co-chair of NDNC, led this major segment of the meeting. She explained potential next steps as she walked the group through 2 flipchart pages — which defined a new structure and process for moving forward that integrates feedback from earlier discussions and meetings.
The basis of the proposed process is the formation of a separate advisory group, the “Delridge Alliance,” described as an advisory group of stakeholders organized to gather input and synthesize the community’s concerns regarding the DESC project; to help the community envision priorities for the DESC space; and to actively work with key decision-makers to represent the community’s needs throughout the DESC project timeline.
(DESC project site on Delridge, from “packet” for Thursday night meeting)
9:19 PM: We’re at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, where the first Southwest Design Review Board meeting looking at the proposed DESC homeless-housing project at 5444 Delridge Way has just ended. About 20 members of the public were there; about half a dozen spoke. Board members had many suggestions for the architects, but none were enough to stop the project from moving forward in the design-review process, so it has officially cleared “early design guidance,” which means DESC can apply for its master use permit. Next step: They will have to develop a fully fleshed-out design to bring to a second SWDRB meeting, date not yet set. We have video of the meeting and full details to come.
FIRST ADDITION: Interim update – The six-minute clip above is the very end of the meeting, with SWDRB chair Brandon Nicholson summarizing the recommendations the board is making to the architects and the city Department of Planning and Development. The letters/numbers he mentions right at the beginning refer to the codes on this page (scroll down).
SECOND ADDITION: Here’s the entire meeting on videotape, with two small gaps – between clips 1 and 2, our first camera ran out of power during a public comment; clip 2 picks up during that same commenter, and ends when the room shifted for the board to begin its deliberations, which are done in the open; clip 3 picks up at the start of those deliberations. Click the lower-right area of any clip to watch it either bigger-screen on the YouTube site (the logo will take you there) or fullscreen:
Two updates this afternoon on the plan for Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) to build a 75-apartment building in the 5400 block of Delridge to house currently homeless people:
SITE PURCHASE FINALIZED: DESC had said they expected to close the deal to buy the site on December 1st, and agency executive Nicole Macri confirmed to WSB today that it has indeed happened. She also says DESC is continuing to talk with area residents about establishing an “advisory committee of neighborhood stakeholders,” adding, “An ad-hoc committee of the NDNC has come together to begin identifying neighborhood constituency groups and prospective members to fill seats on the committee.” She says the group could start meeting in January. (Creation of the committee was discussed in an informal neighborhood meeting we covered two weeks ago.)
DESIGN REVIEW MEETING TOMORROW: The size and scope of the project requires it to go through the city’s Design Review process, so tomorrow is the first of at least two meetings in which it will go before the Southwest Design Review Board, a city-convened panel of volunteers (“meet” them here). As noted here last month, you can pre-review the “packet” for the meeting, including the options for the building’s “mass” and shape. If you’ve never been to a Design Review meeting before, and/or are still catching up on this project, there’s a wide array of information made available by hard-working citizen volunteers in Delridge – here are documents regarding the process; here’s info about the handy “Community Guide to Design Review”; and if you can just read one bundle of background, this post on the recently revamped North Delridge Neighborhood Council site summarizes last week’s “Design Review 101” briefing, and the design review/permit-seeking process.
Tomorrow night’s meeting is at 6:30 pm, Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, 4408 Delridge Way SW, public welcome, even if you don’t intend to speak. Meantime, our archive of project coverage dating back to first public word in June can be found here. If the timeline DESC distributed last month holds, construction would start in about a year.
‘DESIGN REVIEW 101’ TOMORROW: The next major public-input milepost regarding this project is its first Design Review Board meeting next Thursday (6:30 pm December 8, Youngstown Cultural Arts Center). Anyone interested in finding out more about how that process works, whether you want to comment at next week’s meeting or not, is welcome in Youngstown Room 111 at 6:30 pm tomorrow (December 1), where, according to the announcement, “A Land Use Supervisor from the City of Seattle’s Dept. of Planning will spend an hour talking with neighbors about the Design Review process, followed by an informal discussion regarding neighbor’s design concerns.” (You can preview the architect-prepared “packet” for the Dec. 8th meeting here. And there’s more about this meeting, plus the comment process for next week, here.)
NDNC CLARIFIES ROLE: As reported in previous WSB coverage (all archived here), the North Delridge Neighborhood Council has been trying to decide what its role is in the process, as it has not taken a position, and apparently historically has not taken positions on projects. A decision has been made, according to this statement:
A new Executive Council has taken positions for the North Delridge Neighborhood Council. Nine neighbors have filled every position on the Council, this being the first year for the new Council-Committee format to be filled. They have held an Executive meeting and voted to take an active role regarding the DESC project slated for 5444 Delridge Way SW. Moving forward, the North Delridge Neighborhood Council’s role will be to inform neighbors on the process, how and when to engage in effective participation..
DESC’s timeline, as shared at the recent unofficial meeting we wrote about here, would have the building opening in about 2 years. In addition to the Design Review/permit process, it has one more round of funding to obtain.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Public money is paying for it, so where’s the public process?
That is the still-unanswered question roiling the waters of concern over the Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) plan to build a 75-unit apartment building in the 5400 block of Delridge Way SW for currently homeless people living with challenges such as mental illness and substance abuse.
Put another way: A city-park playground project, for example, costing a few hundred thousand dollars and taking up less land than the average single-family homesite, might involve at least three public meetings about the site, the design, and a litany of community requests/concerns, with a city-assigned project manager and opportunities to comment by e-mail, phone, or postal mail, as well as in person. But here’s a $12 million project, publicly funded – including more than $4 million city dollars – and no clearly outlined public input process on anything beyond Design Review (by the way, the “design packet” for that 12/8 meeting has just been published to the city website – see it here).
For the second time in two weeks, concerned Delridge residents gathered for an invitation-only discussion at a private home to talk about the project and their concerns, not only neighborhood-specific, but relevant to the big picture – perhaps resulting in changes for other areas who find themselves in a similar situation in the future.
There were several differences from the first meeting, which was held at the home of Betsy Hoffmeister 12 days earlier (here’s our report).
COUNTY FUNDING MEETING TOMORROW: While the city and state have committed funding to the project, the county’s final decision isn’t in yet. Tomorrow, the advisory group that makes recommendations to King County Executive Dow Constantine, the Regional Joint Recommendations Committee, will meet on Mercer Island. They were scheduled to decide last month, but deferred the decision after hearing from Delridge residents who came to their meeting to voice concerns. Tomorrow’s meeting is at 9;30 am at the Mercer Island Community Center, 8236 SE 24th Street. 10 people will be allowed to speak, according to North Delridge Neighborhood Council‘s Kirsten Smith.
NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCIL DISCUSSION: The project was a major topic of discussion at NDNC’s meeting on Monday night. Patrick Baer recapped the first Delridge Community Forum, last month’s big gathering about the project, saying it had “successes and failures,” amid “logistical issues we never expected,” but overall met the goal of providing information to the community.
As he noted, he and other DCF volunteers have continued in that role, posting copious quantities of material online at delridgeforum.blogspot.com – and if you’ve been looking into the issue and have come across information to share with the community, e-mail him at email@example.com.
Meantime, NDNC’s Smith says they’re trying to set up a meeting shortly before the project’s first Design Review Board meeting (6:30 pm December 8th at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center), to provide community members with information on how the process works. Since there’s “limited public comment” at those meetings, Vonetta Mangaoang suggested a “letter-writing campaign.”
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
At 9 am last Thursday morning, city Office of Housing director Rick Hooper stood in front of TV cameras in North Seattle, next to Mayor McGinn, formally announcing the city’s $27 million investment in new low-income-housing development.
Ten hours later, he faced a tougher crowd on the other end of the city: Fifteen Delridge-area residents gathered in a living room, ready to hear his answers to pointed questions about the only West Seattle project on the newly unveiled funding list.
The city’s decision to put “up to $4.45 million” into Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC)’s 5444 Delridge project was old news to them, and many others who live near the proposed site. But far beyond the project’s estimated $14.5 million cost, many questions have emerged, and many people have voiced frustration while seeking answers.
Among them, Betsy Hoffmeister, who coordinated and hosted the gathering at her home. She invited Hooper in hopes more information might help defuse the tension that has built between project supporters and opponents over the 4 1/2 months since the DESC plan came to light.
Thursday night, after more than 3 1/2 hours, a possible path forward seemed to emerge. But its future seemed to rest as much with who was not in the room, as with who was.
New developments in the ongoing debate/discussion of the Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) proposal to build a 75-apartment building in Delridge to house homeless people living with mental illness:
9:49 AM UPDATE: City funding for the Delridge Supportive Housing project (reported here two weeks ago) was officially announced at a media event in North Seattle less than an hour ago. DESC executive director Bill Hobson (at right in the Seattle Channel screengrab above) was among those who joined Seattle Office of Housing director Rick Hooper at the event. The news release (read it here) describes the amount as $4.5 millon, a bit above the “up to $4.45 million” confirmed to WSB last month.
10:30 AM UPDATE: Also this morning, something else we had previously reported is now “official” – the December 8th Design Review meeting (here’s the notice just published in the Land Use Information Bulletin).
ORIGINAL REPORT (12:32 AM): Hooper has replied to 4 questions sent by “A Concerned Delridge Neighbor,” which “Concerned” had posted on her/his website here. Read on for the questions/answers as received from Hooper today (we were among those CC’d):Read More