West Seattle, Washington
Two West Seattle development notes:
SOUTH DELRIDGE LOT PROPOSAL: That vacant lot at 9419 17th SW, long-ago home to a fire-damaged house that was demolished several years back, has an early-stage development proposal: “2 new mixed use buildings, consisting of 8 individual commercial/residential units.” The site is zoned for mixed-use development up to 40 feet; that would increase to 55 feet under the HALA MHA “preferred alternative.”
FIRST DESIGN REVIEW MEETING OF THE NEW YEAR: The Southwest Design Review Board‘s calendar has been empty for a while but the first meeting of 2018 has just been penciled in: 6:30 pm January 18th, the board will take its second and possibly final look at 4417 42nd SW, a 4-story, 62-unit (58 apartments plus 4 live-works), 26-underground-parking-space project. It got Early Design Guidance approval in May. (This too is zoned for 40 feet but proposed for 55′ under HALA MHA.)
1:03 PM: Two weeks after a coalition of groups from around the city filed an appeal of the Final Environmental Impact Statement for proposed HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability upzoning, the hearing dates are set. Deb Barker from the Morgan Community Association was one of those in attendance at a pre-hearing conference this morning with the city Hearing Examiner, who will hear and rule on the appeal. (MoCA is one of three West Seattle groups among the 20+ citywide who are appealing; MoCA also has filed its own appeal, as has one of the other local groups, the Junction Neighborhood Organization.) Barker tells WSB the HE dates for the hearing are set for April 16-20, April 25-27, April 30, and May 1. The process is expected to proceed in parallel with the City Council‘s consideration of
upcoming legislation for the proposed upzoning; the city has pre-decision open houses and hearings scheduled into June. (We have asked Mayor Durkan’s office when she is expecting to send the MHA legislation to the council.)
5:45 PM: It’s since been pointed out to us that a HALA e-mail-list update from the Office of Planning and Community Development last week included a brief announcement that the legislation had been transmitted to the council. You can read the 368-page proposed bill here.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
“I just want to thank you.”
Midway through our coffeehouse conversation with four local neighborhood-group reps about why they’re part of a citywide challenge to the city’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda upzoning plan, a woman walked up to the table and addressed that to them.
She admitted she had been eavesdropping and “figured out what you were talking about.” She says she lives in the Junction area – which is where we were talking – and doesn’t want the upzoning to happen.
But, she added, “I don’t know what I can do to help.” The four offered suggestions immediately. Earl Lee of the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Coalition said, “We need every soldier we can get.”
Amanda Sawyer, who has led the Junction Neighborhood Organization for half a year, mentioned JuNO’s Land Use Committee will be talking about HALA and the appeal at a meeting tomorrow (6:30 pm Thursday, December 7th, Senior Center of West Seattle).
Equipped with ideas, the woman moved on. The four were heartened by that unsolicited feedback. What their groups had joined is not universally popular – some supporters of the proposed upzoning accuse opponents of being elitist, wealthy, interested only in keeping their theoretical white-picket-fence gates slammed shut to newcomers.
Not at all, these four insist. But before we go further, introductions and backstory.
The Delridge development boom is apparently about to claim what might be our area’s most-infamous vacant house, the one at the far northeastern edge of Delridge Way itself, next to the bridge onramp, though its official address is 3804 23rd SW. After a tipster sent a photo of heavy equipment at the site, we went over for a look, and took the photo you see above. No one in view to ask, but county assessor records show it was sold again last spring (we had previously reported a tax-auction sale in 2015), and city records show that a site plan was filed in late summer for eight townhouse/rowhouses on the sloping site, 7,700 square feet, zoned Lowrise 1. The house has been the site of numerous complaints over the years, both formal and informal; it was spotlighted almost eight years ago in a “problem properties” tour organized by community leaders and attended by city councilmembers and department heads, described as a magnet for squatters. It’s also been mentioned over the years as councilmembers attempted to tweak the rules governing when owners can tear down derelict housing without having a redevelopment plan.
FIRST REPORT, 3:35 PM: This afternoon at City Hall, the City Council voted unanimously to approve the rezoning of land owned by the West Seattle Church of the Nazarene to Lowrise 1 from its current Single Family 5000, requested by the church so it can build and sell six townhouses to raise money for renovating its old building (5911 42nd SW). However, the council did not grant the church’s request to waive a requirement that it either devote part of the project to “affordable housing” or pay a fee, estimated at $200,000, to the city to fund affordable housing elsewhere.
This is the same Mandatory Housing Affordability requirement that is to be implemented with upzoning around the city, proposed as part of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda, but even though that is not in effect citywide yet, and this project has been in the pipeline for four years, a council decision last year called for applying MHA. Only the council had the power to waive it, and they declined; local Councilmember Lisa Herbold said that while the argument was that the church had agreed to set aside open space as part of the site, that wasn’t a reason to waive it. (In a side note, she had to read a disclosure statement before voting today, because she had responded to a social-media criticism after last week’s committee vote, from which she abstained, saying she wanted to read the Morgan Community Association‘s letter supporting a waiver before she voted.) We have a request for comment out to the church, to ask if they will proceed with the project despite the decision to not waive MHA.
ADDED 7:17 PM: We’ve heard back from the church’s pastor emeritus Terry Mattson, who’s been a spokesperson for the church during the years the project’s been in the works. He says it’s on:
West Seattle Church of the Nazarene was extremely pleased to see the Seattle City Council unanimously approve our project today. This decision ensures we’ll be able to make the necessary repairs to our church to continue to serve our members and neighbors. Although it would have been an ideal scenario to have the MHA fees waived, we want to assure the community we will be proceeding as planned and that you’ll still have access to the open space and the trees will be preserved.
We look forward to the development in the months ahead and will keep all of you up to date on progress. If you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to visit us any Sunday morning or Wednesday evening. We’d be happy to chat. We especially want to thank the Morgan Junction Community Association, Deb & Cindi Barker, our partners Paar Development and Neiman Tabor Architects and our council representative for West Seattle Lisa Herbold for her support in helping carry this through the PLUS committee.
We can’t wait for you to experience the upgrades to our park and facilities with us.
The West Seattle Church of the Nazarene‘s requested rezone for a six-townhouse project on its unofficial “park” space has moved up a week on the City Council‘s calendar. When the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee voted on it this past Monday, they said it would go to the full Council for a final vote on December 11th, but instead, it’s on the December 4th agenda that just arrived. This is the project with a complication – though it’s been in the works for four years, long before the HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program was launched, the city says the project should be subject to MHA, which means either a $200,000-ish fee or setting aside two of the townhouses as “affordable.” The church was hoping for a waiver but the councilmembers who voted last Monday did not grant one. The land in question at 5911 42nd SW currently is zoned for three single-family houses; the church had been offering to preserve part of the open space as part of an agreement accompanying the upzone request. Next Monday’s meeting is at 2 pm at City Hall downtown.
Though a Morgan Junction church’s request for an upzone to enable denser housing on open space next door has been in the city system for four years, it still should be subject to not-yet-finalized Mandatory Housing Affordability. So said the City Council’s Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee tonight. Three committee members voted unanimously to approve the West Seattle Church of the Nazarene‘s proposed upzone – but without waiving MHA, which only the council has the power to do. With MHA, the church will either have to pay the city an estimated $200,000 – almost a third of the revenue it expected to get from the project and hoped to spend on renovating their deteriorating church building – or set aside two of the townhouses for “affordable housing.” Project supporters could not make their case to the council at tonight’s committee meeting because the rezone is a “quasi-judicial” action; project architect David Neiman laid out the issues on his website last week:
The general idea behind MHA is that a re-zone is supposed to confer value to the property owner, and in exchange the city asks the owner to contribute that value back to the city. In the case of WSCN’s project, the proposed project includes a Property Use and Development agreement (PUDA) that will dedicate much of the land to a public open space, constraining the use of the site to such an extent that it will actually have less development potential after the re-zone than it does today. …
… What will the City Council do when faced with a project that voluntarily provides community benefits that prevent it from using the development potential conferred by a re-zone? Does the property owner have to pay anyway even though they receive no value in return? Is MHA really about a fair exchange of value creation and value capture, or is it just a fine levied on all new development?
Neiman’s post also shows site plans comparing the townhouse proposa to six units that could be built on the church’s site right now without a rezone – three houses and three “accessory dwelling units” that would take up most of what the church had proposed leaving as open space. Tonight’s vote by Councilmembers Lisa Herbold, Rob Johnson, and Mike O’Brien was not the final action – that’s up to the full Council, which will get the matter on December 11th.
DECEMBER 1ST CORRECTION: According to the agenda for next Monday’s council meeting, to which the final vote has been moved, those voting earlier this week were Johnson, O’Brien, Harris-Talley, and Juarez for, no one against, Herbold abstaining.
6:26 PM: Last Friday, we told you about a citywide coalition of neighborhood groups, including 3 from West Seattle, planning to challenge the city’s plan for HALA (Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda) upzoning, as released with its Final Environmental Impact Statement two weeks ago (this interactive map shows proposed zoning changes). Today, representatives of the more than 20 groups gathered in the City Hall lobby downtown to formally announce the appeal. Here’s our unedited video of the 20-plus-minute event:
The three West Seattle groups participating in the appeal are from three of West Seattle’s four urban villages: Morgan Community Association (Morgan Junction), Junction Neighborhood Organization (West Seattle Junction), and Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Coalition (Westwood-Highland Park). And we have just received the coalition’s official “notice of appeal” document – read it here, or embedded below:
We’ll be reading it in the hours ahead and adding notes; in addition, as mentioned today, several neighborhood groups are pursuing their own individual appeals – those include MoCA and JuNO, as well as some from elsewhere in the city; the city Hearing Examiner‘s files already show four appeals, from Beacon Hill, Wallingford, and Fremont groups, as well as an individual citizen from North Seattle.
From the city side, Councilmember Rob Johnson – whose office has a leadership role in the HALA process as he chairs the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee – has published his reaction to news of the appeals, concluding:
Though Council is prohibited from taking final action during the appeal process, we will continue our planned 8-month outreach and deliberation process so that when the appeal is resolved, we can act quickly to implement a critical strategy that will result in more income and rent-restricted housing and more housing options across our city for people of all incomes.
ADDED 11:20 PM: We’ve read through the coalition’s 17-page appeal document, and also received the notices of appeal by the two local groups that have also filed their own, JuNO and MoCA. Those documents are after the jump, along with toplines from the coalition appeal if you don’t have the time or inclination to read through the full document:
Two weeks after the city went public with its “preferred alternative” for HALA upzoning, as part of the final Environmental Impact Statement, a new citywide coalition has announced it will file an appeal. The community councils from three of West Seattle’s four “urban villages” are among the groups comprising the coalition: the Morgan Community Association, the Junction Neighborhood Organization, and Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Coalition. From today’s announcement of the new coalition and appeal plan:
… The coalition is called Seattle Coalition for Affordability, Livability and Equity.
Jon Lisbin, small business owner and president of Seattle Fair Growth, said, “We are worried about affordability and displacement. Our neighborhoods are so different that one-size-fits-all upzones don’t work well for residents or small businesses. The Final EIS completely neglects the differences between neighborhoods that are ripe for multifamily development such as Lake City and Northgate, and other racially diverse neighborhoods, such as South Park and Beacon Hill, that are mainly of older single-family homes owned or rented by lower-income families. The city is leaving low- and middle-income families with no place to go.”
Said David Ward, a Ravenna renter and president of the coalition, “It will make Seattle far more unaffordable and also make it more difficult to live here due to more traffic, not enough schools, more pollution, fewer trees, and a loss of the diversity of residents we currently have.”
“I’m worried about moving out from my parents’ home because I know it’ll be hard to find an apartment I can afford,” said Beacon Hill Council Member and UW student Cacima Lee. “And the idea of buying a home in Seattle is almost a joke.”
“Instead of invalidating all neighborhood plans, the city needs to support and celebrate differences while maintaining intact communities,” Christy Tobin-Presser of the West Seattle Junction Neighborhood Coalition added. “These upzones are not needed to accommodate the growth that’s planned. The city already has the more than twice the capacity in multi-family zoning to accommodate all the growth that’s coming, so who’s driving this land-grab?”
Wallingford resident Susanna Lin states: “We have a school capacity crisis and the City is planning upzones without coordinating with the School District on a plan to build more schools. In addition, trees are disappearing at an alarming rate. What kind of future is this for our children?”
The Grand Bargain, or Mandatory Housing Affordability-Residential (MHA-R), is a one-size-fits-all proposal by former Mayor Ed Murray and City planners that would give developers increased height limits and profitability in exchange for either building affordable units in their projects or contributing a fee in lieu of including them. In fact, according to the City, most developers have said they will decline to include rent-restricted units in their projects. They prefer to pay the fee.
According to Lake City homeowner and affordable housing advocate Sarajane Siegfriedt, the
City Office of Housing then leverages the fees 3:1 mostly with federal, state and city tax funds to
build low-income housing in other parts of Seattle. Most of the required affordable housing will
be built in locations with cheap land, not in the neighborhoods where builders maximize profits
by replacing older houses with costly new market-rate housing. Then there’s the delay. It takes
four or so years for a nonprofit to receive City and state grants, assemble the rest of the funding,
and construct a building, assuming they already have the land.”
“We share the City’s goal of affordable housing for those earning less than 60% of Area Median Income, but it is simply not achieved by these upzones,” Siegfriedt said. “That’s why we are filing an appeal. The real impacts that destroy and gentrify our low- and moderate-income neighborhoods are loss of affordability, community and livability.” …
The new coalition plans a media briefing/Q&A event downtown next Monday, which is when they also say they’ll file the appeal. Read today’s full announcement here (it includes the list of 24 participating groups).
P.S. If you haven’t already checked on what’s proposed for your neighborhood (or anywhere else that interests you) in the HALA MHA “preferred alternative” – you can use the city’s interactive map to look up specific locations. Before anything becomes final, the City Council has to consider forthcoming legislation, isn’t expected to come to a vote before next summer.
Four development-related notes:
FALCONRIDGE FARM PROPERTY: For those watching the fate of the Highland Park horse farm that’s for sale and could either be preserved or redeveloped into a housing subdivision (which is what the site is zoned for), we noticed over the weekend that an early-stage “preliminary site plan” has been filed with the city for the latter, showing 26 potential home sites. So we checked this morning with farm owner Dr. Jean Nokes, who states emphatically that she hasn’t signed a deal with anyone and is still talking with a multitude of potential buyers, including Pulte Homes, which is who filed the site plan (which is news to her, she told us), four other potential developers, and others who would preserve the farm.
3084 AVALON APARTMENTS: Another “preliminary site plan” in the city system proposes an apartment building at 3084 SW Avalon Way. Avalon of course is awash in apartments but this is notable because it’s just north/west of 3078 SW Avalon, where a long fight over a proposed 100+-unit building ended with the plan being traded for townhouses. This site has the same owner. Nothing publicly visible shows the proposed height or unit count, though it is mentioned that no parking is planned.
NEXT ROUND OF COMMENTS FOR DOWNSIZED 1250 ALKI: When we first reported on the plan for 1250 Alki SW in 2015, it was proposed for 125 apartments. Neighbors argued it was out of scale for the area. Now it’s a six-story, 40-unit project, with 74 offstreet parking spaces, and today’s Land Use Information Bulletin has the official notice of its “shoreline substantial development” permit. This opens a comment period until December 13th; here’s how to comment. The downsized project still is making its way through Design Review.
FAUNTLEROY COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION TO DISCUSS REZONE: Two weeks ago, we reported on an early-stage proposal to rezone 9250 45th SW – a somewhat triangular site in Fauntleroy’s Endolyne business district – for a 5-story mixed-use redevelopment. The Fauntleroy Community Association board will talk about it at its Tuesday meeting (7 pm, Fauntleroy Schoolhouse, public welcome). P.S. As pointed out in comments previously, this site would be upzoned from 30′ to 40′ under the new HALA MHA proposal.
Though the mayor who proposed it is out of office and a new mayor takes over in less than three weeks, the citywide upzoning for the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda‘s Mandatory Housing Affordability component is going full speed ahead. That was the message delivered by Mayor Tim Burgess and City Councilmember Rob Johnson at a noontime event that went forward as planned, outdoors in a Capitol Hill pocket park, despite steady rain.
The event was timed to be concurrent with today’s release of the city’s “preferred alternative” maps for the proposed upzoning – as part of the final Environmental Impact Statement for MHA, which adds more development capacity – an extra story in many multifamily areas – in exchange for requiring that either part of the redevelopment be set aside as “affordable housing” or that the developer/builder pay a stipulated fee to the city, which will use the money to fund “affordable” projects.
A key concern of MHA skeptics has been that more if not most developers will just pay the fee, and that won’t guarantee affordable housing anywhere near the new development. We asked about that at the Capitol Hill event; the mayor said they actually prefer the fee option because the city gets more affordable housing for its money.
So here’s what you need to know, for starters:
*As mentioned in our early-morning preview, here’s the clickable/zoomable map you can use to explore what’s proposed in specific neighborhoods, all the way down to your own address
*While this is from the “final” EIS, it is NOT a final plan. The mayor’s office will send legislation to the City Council by year’s end, and then a months-long review process will follow, with opportunities for public comment, and a Council vote not expected until next summer. In fact, two local events are already scheduled, though they are months away:
–Open house about the MHA maps, 6 pm May 9, 2018, at Louisa Boren STEM K-8
–Council District 1 public hearing about MHA upzoning, June 5, 2018, at Chief Sealth International High School
There’s much more to say about this, but right now, community members are closely reviewing what’s just been made public, and how it compares to what was proposed previously. We have a lot more reviewing to do, too, and we also will add video from today’s announcement when it’s ready. (Added 4:36 pm: Here it is:)
After the jump, the city’s official news release:
(UPDATED 10:13 AM with link to interactive map showing what’s proposed where)
FIRST REPORT, 12:41 AM: Today’s the day for the next milestone in the city plan to upzone for the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) Mandatory Housing Affordability component. The final Environmental Impact Statement is being published today, and with it, the city’s “preferred alternative” for upzoning around the city, adding development capacity and requiring either affordable housing as part of a project, or a fee to go into a fund to build it elsewhere. Mayor Tim Burgess and City Councilmember Rob Johnson are scheduled to formally announce the proposed plan in a Capitol Hill park at noon.
Though the media advisory for that announcement didn’t mention the EIS – just the release of an “affordability and growth plan” – the Daily Journal of Commerce‘s city notices published at midnight include this one, “Notice of Availability of Final Environmental Impact Statement, Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA).” The final EIS document is not online yet – should be within a few hours – but once it is, we’ll see the city’s “preferred alternative.” (and we’ll have a separate update). The “preferred alternative” will be a precursor to legislation that the notice says will be sent by the mayor to the City Council by year’s end (either by Burgess, who’s in office until November 28th, or Jenny Durkan, who takes office after that). Then, the notice says, “The City Council expects to take public comment and deliberate on the proposal for several months, and is expected to act on the proposal in summer of 2018.”
P.S. The EIS itself does not have a comment period – it’s the result of previous rounds of comment (including the one for the draft version, released five months ago) – but today’s publication does open a period in which it can be appealed, with November 27th as the deadline.
8:54 AM: Now that the city’s notice is out on its own website, the link it points to says the Final EIS will be available at noon (concurrent with the aforementioned mayoral event), although there are different links atop the notice (for PDFs that don’t seem to be downloading, thus far).
10:13 AM: Kevin from SCC Insight (who provides tireless, thorough City Council coverage) points out in comments that the interactive map that goes with the Final EIS is already live – if you are interested in a specific address, you can use the map to zoom in on it.
1:09 PM: Thanks to Brian for the tip – demolition has begun at 4754 Fauntleroy SW, where the Capitol Loans pawn shop closed a year and a half ago, and where construction is expected to last the next year and a half for The Foundry. After the telltale No Parking signs went up last week, we sent a note to developer Holland Partner Group; no reply yet, but a notice sent by its construction company to some nearby businesses and residents says demolition is expected to last through November 17th, and that the project includes “108 residential units with 10 live/work units on 8 levels with amenity spaces throughout and parking for approximately 100 vehicles will be provided below grade …” That’s the same scope as it had when finishing the Design Review Board process back in April.
This is the third of three redeveloping corners of Fauntleroy/Edmunds, after The Whittaker (WSB sponsor) on the NW corner and the under-construction LIV Fauntleroy on the SW corner. The Foundry’s site is also immediately south of the two-building, 300+-unit Legacy Partners project at 4722 Fauntleroy SW that’s still in the Design Review process.
3:17 PM The building is down now – and there’s a bit of trouble – a leaning streetlight along Fauntleroy. Outside NB lane was blocked by police when we went by. Will check again in a bit.
4:56 PM: Added a photo from Brian above this line – City Light has been on site a while working on the streetlight. We just went through again a short time ago, and noted that traffic is getting through.
(King County Assessor’s photo)
Back in June, we reported that 4501 38th SW – long an automotive-business site – was up for sale, listed at $4.5 million, pitched on its own website as a 14,375-square-foot “development site” that could allow “78 multi-family units at an average of 650 SF per unit or a possible 110 hotel units at 420 SF.” It’s been sold for $4.4 million, as first reported by the Daily Journal of Commerce, and verified on the King County Assessor’s Office website. The buyer is an LLC formed for the transaction; names in the state corporation-information file for the LLC trace to Bellevue-based development firm Run Yong Investment. RYI’s website describes the firm as “an active real estate development group, structuring joint ventures with capital partners to conceive and create sustainable, functional, community-centric living spaces throughout Washington and Oregon.” We have a message out inquiring about plans for the 38th SW site, which is zoned NC3-65.
Today’s Land Use Information Bulletin from the city has notices for two West Seattle projects:
DESIGN REVIEW FOR 5242 & 5248 CALIFORNIA: When we reported two weeks ago that a Southwest Design Review Board meeting was set next month for the newest proposal at 5242 California – currently home to a partly vacant strip mall – it was in city files as a 9-townhouse project. Turns out that’s only half the site. The other half, now with the address 5248 California, also is proposed for 9 townhouses, and an underground garage is planned with 18 spaces – in the “preferred” massing (size/shape) option shown above, taken from the early version of the meeting packet, by Hybrid Architecture. As “The People’s Court,” the project is set to go to the SWDRB at 6:30 pm Thursday, November 16th – the official notices for its two halves are here and here. (Both explain how to comment now, or you can wait until the meeting, which will be at the Senior Center/Sisson Building, 4217 SW Oregon.)
COMMENT TIME FOR APARTMENTS @ 6016 CALIFORNIA: Back in August, we mentioned an apartment-building proposal for 6016 California SW, which is already bookended by teardowns, and has one business left last time we checked, the legendary Rick’s (Psychic) Barber Shop. The project is now at a stage where you have two weeks to comment. It’s also increased the unit count to 36 “small efficiency dwelling units” (microapartments) and two live-work units. Here’s the official notice; here’s how to comment.
Back in July, we told you about a proposal for the land holding that 109-year-old house at 7111 California – four townhouses, each with an accessory dwelling unit, for a total of eight units. Now that’s been revised to five townhouses – two facing California, one behind it, two behind that, with four offstreet parking spaces on the alley, according to the newest “site plan” on file with the city. The parcel is zoned Lowrise 2.
6:15 PM: Two issues related to the city’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) are being presented for your comments at an open-house-style meeting under way until 7:30 pm at High Point Community Center (6920 34th SW). We’ve already counted more than 60 people in the main room, checking out the easels set up for proposed changes to the city’s Comprehensive Plan – here’s our preview on that issue – and for potential rule changes regarding Accessory Dwelling Units (“backyard cottages” being the best-known type) – here’s our preview on that. We checked and they’re still planning on a presentation at 6:30 on a screen at the front of the room, although otherwise this is NOT a sit-and-listen type meeting.
6:25 PM: On the “comprehensive plan amendment” side, the Q&A/comment stations deal with specific urban villages where, as noted in our preview, the city is seeking to eliminate neighborhood-plan-related language that seeks to “protect” or “preserve” single-family zoning, which HALA’s Mandatory Housing Affordability upzoning would be removing from urban villages. Three West Seattle urban villages are potentially affected here – Morgan Junction, West Seattle Junction, and Westwood-Highland Park.
You’ll have opportunities to comment online – we’ll add those when the meeting’s over – but while here, you are also offered the chance to write yours on paper; one attendee from Morgan Junction showed us his. He’s worried about ongoing displacement of low-income renters in the older housing stock that already is being torn down and replaced by new for-sale residences.
6:50 PM: The presentation is over – about 10 minutes on the comprehensive plan component, five on the accessory-dwelling-unit component. (
We recorded it all on video and will add to this report when we have it uploaded and processed later at HQ. Full unedited video below:)
Both were basically primers; there was no Q&A, and the only bit of impromptu feedback came when, in the comp-plan section, city senior planner Geoff Wentlandt (opening by thanking people for turning out for “complex and wonky” topics) said amendments were needed because neighborhood plans shouldn’t be inconsistent with overarching city policy.
“Why not?” someone called out. No reply. Meantime, in one possible sign that the turnout exceeded expectations, the sparkling water bottles are all empty already. The sandwiches, however (chicken and tofu, described as “from a banh mi place on Delridge”), are still abundantly available.
7:08 PM: Still about 30 people talking in small groups, but the crowd definitely thinned after the presentation.
8:10 PM: Back at HQ. Had some signal trouble toward the end, so catching up on images now. First and most importantly, here’s how you can comment on both these issues, regardless of whether you were able to get to tonight’s meeting:
COMPREHENSIVE PLAN AMENDMENTS: Choose your urban village and comment via this site, by December 8th.
ADU/DADU ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT SCOPING: This phase of comments closes on November 1st; there’s an online comment form linked on the right side of this page (scroll down the left side for the full timeline).
While the next major step in citywide HALA (Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda) upzoning is not expected until the final Environmental Impact Statement comes out next month, you’re being asked at a West Seattle meeting this Tuesday night (October 17th) to weigh in on what ultimately is a proposal to override parts of three local neighborhood plans to pave the way for upzoning.
The city wants to put language in the Comprehensive Plan affecting parts of the West Seattle Junction, Morgan Junction, and Westwood-Highland Park Urban Villages, to remove language that calls for protection of current single-family zoning in those areas. The HALA upzoning proposals so far already had called for changing those areas in urban villages, but that raised a conflict with parts of the existing neighborhood plans which were included when the comprehensive plan was recently revised. So the proposed “comprehensive plan amendments” are an attempt to replace the existing language, and they are asking for opinions at Tuesday night’s meeting – 6-7:30 pm at High Point Community Center (6920 34th SW), “open house” format before and after what’s described as a short presentation at 6:30 pm.
The city’s materials for the meeting are now available online, and while they offer an option for writing your own language, they very specifically suggest not saying you want to preserve any particular kind of zoning, single-family or otherwise. From the last page of the document:
Policy Language to Avoid
Direct references to specific zones. New policies should avoid references to all specific zoning
designations in a neighborhood plan policy. General discussion of housing types, land uses, scale, and
character effectively communicate a neighborhood’s vision.
Protection. The Comprehensive Plan’s goals and policies focus on shaping and guiding change for the future. Policies that emphasize protecting or preserving existing conditions limit our ability to reach these goals.
Superiority of single-family housing or zoning. Policies that connote the superiority of single-family housing compared to other types of housing should be avoided. Terms calling for maintaining qualities such as “integrity” of single-family areas should be avoided.
Here’s what they do want you to focus on, if you want to suggest your own comprehensive-plan language:
Examples for Revised Policies
Focus: Character and scale. Modify the policy language to focus on maintaining compatibility with or complementing the character and scale of single-family housing areas, rather than calling for preservation of single-family zoning.
Focus: Location and development pattern. Modify the policy language to describe the preferred general pattern for land use or urban form. This can include identification of certain areas that are relatively more appropriate for certain kinds of development.
Focus: Housing choices. Modify the policy language to emphasize housing choices or opportunities, such as housing for families or ADA accessible units.
Since the meeting document includes pages for other neighborhoods outside West Seattle, with the current language and suggested replacements, we’ve broken out the local pages below, each one with three city-suggested options plus the possibility of crafting your own. First, for the West Seattle Junction:
Next, for Morgan Junction:
And for Westwood-Highland Park:
If you can’t get to Tuesday night’s meeting – which, as previously previewed, is also addressing “backyard cottages” (a citywide issue, not just urban villages) – here’s how you can still participate, with the city taking comments on this through December 8th – use seattle2035.consider.it.
P.S. Again, the urban-village-specific pages above are taken from the full city document prepared for upcoming meetings. You can see it, including an introductory page, in its entirety by going here.
Five West Seattle development notes:
DESIGN REVIEW FOR 5242 CALIFORNIA SW’S NEWEST PLAN: The commercial building at 5242 California SW has a new redevelopment plan – nine 3-story townhouses, with nine offstreet-parking spaces – and it’s tentatively scheduled to go before the Southwest Design Review Board at 6:30 pm November 16th (Senior Center/Sisson Building, 4217 SW Oregon). The newest site plan in city files shows these townhouses on just part of the current building’s site, it should be noted, with a lot-boundary adjustment in the works as a separate action.
About two miles north on California, a milestone for a mixed-use project:
2749 CALIFORNIA SW: Major demolition for the 108-apartments-plus-new-PCC Community Market (WSB sponsor) project has been awaiting permit approval, and the notice of approval was issued this week. The last step is a window for appeals, open until October 26th.
Yet another California SW project got a similar notice this week:
5458 CALIFORNIA SW: A notice of key approvals for the six live-work units planned on this site. Its appeal window is open until October 23rd. Meantime, we’re checking on the status of the plan announced back in March to sell and move (most of) the old log house on the site rather than demolish it.
Elsewhere in West Seattle, two more rowhouse projects are in the pipeline:
2000 SW ORCHARD: An 18-rowhouse project is in the early stages for this site east of the busy Delridge/Orchard intersection [map]. It appears from the site plan on file that each will have a one-vehicle garage.
5053 FAUNTLEROY WAY SW: An eight-rowhouse project is in the early stages, proposed to replace a duplex on this site two blocks south [map] of the intensely redeveloping Fauntleroy/Edmunds intersection. The site plan shows eight offstreet parking spaces.
The city is looking to change the rules regarding backyard cottages and in-law apartments, but is under orders to do an environmental review of the process first, as the result of a challenge by a community group in Queen Anne. The review process has just begun, according to a city announcement today requesting your comments – via e-mail as well as an upcoming West Seattle meeting. Here’s the announcement:
Today we announced the beginning of the environmental review process to study the potential effects of removing barriers to building accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in single-family zones. ADUs include backyard cottages, known as Detached Accessory Dwelling Units (DADUs), and in-law apartments, known as Attached Accessory Dwelling Units (AADUs).
The first phase of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process is to determine the scope of the study, and we want your input on what to consider and analyze as we explore allowing more ADUs in Seattle’s neighborhoods.
ADUs are small, secondary dwelling units inside, attached to, or in the rear yard of a single-family house. The City’s proposal involves allowing both an in-law apartment and a backyard cottage on the same lot, removing the existing off-street parking and owner-occupancy requirements, and changing some development standards that regulate the size and location of backyard cottages. Based on a decision from the City’s Hearing Examiner in December 2016, we’re preparing an EIS to review the potential environmental impacts of this proposal.
During the scoping phase, you can help us determine the alternatives we’ll study, potential environmental impacts to consider, and possible measures to avoid or reduce the effects of the proposal. Comments are due by 5:00 p.m. on November 1, 2017. You can give us your input in several ways:
by email: ADUEIS@seattle.gov
by mail to Aly Pennucci, Council Central Staff, PO Box 34025, Seattle, WA 98124-4025
in person at our two public scoping meetings.
One of those meetings is in West Seattle: Tuesday, October 17, 6:00-7:30 pm. at High Point Community Center, 6920 34th Ave SW.
An important thing to note: The meeting is NOT going to be a deep dive into the proposal – as noted here, it’s been added to the agenda for what was already an “open house”-style meeting about an even-more-complicated issue, whether to change the city’s Comprehensive Plan to remove language that, for some neighborhoods, conflicts with proposed HALA upzoning. That part of the meeting affects three specific “urban village” areas of West Seattle – The Junction, Morgan Junction, and Westwood-Highland Park – but the dwelling-unit part of the meeting involves neighborhoods citywide. We first wrote about the city’s plan in July.
Back in June, we brought you first word of a then-early-stage proposal which at the time carried the address 6721 California SW – replacing the century-plus-old house shown above with a 7-unit rowhouse and 5 offstreet-parking spaces. The project address has since been changed to 4300 SW Willow – it’s at the corner of California/Willow in south Morgan Junction – and today’s Land Use Information Bulletin brings the official notice of the developer’s land-use-permit application. This opens a two-week comment period focused on environmental aspects of the proposal; you can use this form to comment – the deadline is Monday, October 9th.
That’s the view from the roof of the north tower at The Whittaker (4755 Fauntleroy Way SW; WSB sponsor), where a grand-opening celebration this afternoon marked the completion of both towers. Here’s what’s on the roof:
Another view looks down to the common area:
This time of year, the fire pit will get some use:
Someone who’s no stranger to the outdoors, mountaineering legend Jim Whittaker – the complex’s namesake – was at the party:
Inside the building, here’s a look at the kitchen of a studio unit:
Sun streamed into this 1-bedroom:
The Whittaker has 2-bedroom units as well, and property managers say they’ve already leased 70 percent of the complex’s almost 400 units. As for the commercial space, no news yet about the area originally intended for Whole Foods. Except for MOD Pizza (next June), the ground-floor business tenants are expected to be open within the next month or so. One more thing: the mural on the west side that’s a digital recreation of the one that used to be on the Huling Brothers building that sat along Fauntleroy where The Whittaker’s south tower is now:
You might have noticed some other features along Fauntleroy – the building was set back to make room for a bicycle lane, and there’s art all around, including a water feature by Fauntleroy/Alaska, where the developer-funded crosswalk was recently completed. Today’s celebration is almost ten months after last year’s ribboncutting party marked the south tower’s opening.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
When SDOT‘s last major review of West Seattle Junction parking resulted in this July 2009 announcement that it wouldn’t recommend metered parking, you could almost hear a huge collective sigh of relief.
That review had begun more than a year earlier, and months after the no-paid-street-parking news, ended with what we described at the time as “a relatively minor set of changes” – some tweaks to time limits.
But The Junction has had metered parking before – and the city’s new review has rekindled concerns that it will return. A lot has changed since the 2008-2009 review – primarily a dramatic amount of redevelopment adding hundreds of new apartments to the heart of The Junction – and some projects including fewer parking spaces than units, or even none, with the city changing its rules in 2012 to say that nearby “frequent transit” means parking might not be needed. (As reported here last week, those rules might be loosened even more.)
So with all that setting the stage, two SDOT reps were at last night’s Junction Neighborhood Organization meeting at the Senior Center/Sisson Building.. They weren’t the only speakers of interest – the next Junction park and a HALA update were part of the agenda too – but we start with the parking discussion: