West Seattle, Washington
South-end redevelopment continues in The Junction. In the city’s online files, an early-stage plan has just been filed for 24 microstudios in a building that would replace a 70-year-old duplex (county assessor photo at right) at 4807 41st SW, next to townhouses that were built last decade at 41st/Edmunds. They are officially described as SEDUs (small efficiency dwelling units, the city’s name for what used to be more commonly known as microhousing), 320 square feet each. The plan doesn’t mention the height, but the site is zoned Lowrise 2, which maxes out at 35′. This project is expected to go through the city’s Streamlined Design Review process, which means no public meeting, but an opportunity for public comment.
More development news, starting with two teardowns:
DEMOLITION AT 5908 FAUNTLEROY WAY SW: The old commercial building on which you used to be able to read the “WASH/DRY” sign is now a pile of rubble.
As first reported here almost a year and a half ago, a six-unit rowhouse building with five offstreet-parking spaces is planned.
DEMOLITION AT 6921 CALIFORNIA SW: Eight months after the cancellation of plans to turn an old house in south Morgan Junction into a branch of Chungee’s Drink and Eat (the Capitol Hill restaurant/bar whose owners lived in the house at the time), the house is coming down right now. As reported here in October, a four-unit residential building is now planned, after the site was sold to a construction company.
Now, an Admiral-project update:
2715 CALIFORNIA SW: Four months after we had first word of an early-stage mixed-use proposal to replace the buildings at 2715 and 2719 California SW, we have a few more details: It’s proposed as 48 apartments and ground-floor commercial, with 46 off-street parking spaces. And it’s going before the Southwest Design Review Board at 6:30 pm March 16th (Sisson Building/Senior Center, 4217 SW Oregon). This is just a few buildings north of the PCC-site project, so that will be a busy block before long.
Speaking of Design Review Board meetings …
3257 HARBOR SW: The SWDRB also has this site on its schedule, for 6:30 pm April 6th. It’s the combined first review for 34 townhouses split between four project numbers. We noted back in November that this new proposal had been filed for the site of what had been a two-building, 80+-apartment proposal at 3257-3303 Harbor SW (which even went through its first SWDRB meeting three years ago).
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Two developments this morning related to the mixed-use project planned for the current site of PCC-Natural Markets-West Seattle (WSB sponsor) at 2749 California SW:
First, PCC announced this morning that it has set the closing date for the current store: May 31. PCC spokesperson Heather Snavely also tells WSB that “details around the logistics of the closure” are being worked out. And:
An important part of the next few months will be recognizing just how special the West Seattle community is to PCC. We want to celebrate our members, shoppers and the West Seattle community we’ve had the pleasure of serving for over 25 years – including providing a sneak peek into some of the features to come in the new store. Expect more details in the coming weeks.
PCC had said in December that it expected to stay open “through spring,” but no date was announced at that time. Meantime, the May 31st closure announcement came just hours after the team working on Madison Development Group‘s project for the store site gave a “sneak peek” to a special meeting of the Admiral Neighborhood Association, two weeks before they take it back to the Southwest Design Review Board: Read More
Three weeks ago, after city Hearing Examiner Sue Tanner ruled against the neighbor-filed appeal in the Admiral tree-vs.-house case, appellant Lisa Parriott was still considering what to do next. Now, she tells WSB she’s taking the case to court. And she revealed she’s reached a settlement with the city regarding the fees they sought to charge related to her appeal.
First, the basic backstory if you haven’t been following this: The tree is a 100-ish-foot Ponderosa Pine growing at 3036 39th SW, on what the neighborhood had long seen as the side yard for the house next door. Real-estate investor Cliff Low bought the property – house, tree, and all – in late 2015 and sought a city opinion to confirm that the side with the tree was a buildable lot. The city said it was. He filed for permits to build a two-story house with a two-vehicle garage. Neighbors launched a save-the-tree campaign. When the city formally said OK last October, both Parriott and the Seattle Green Spaces Coalition filed appeals, though ultimately Tanner only allowed Parriott’s case – and only in part – to proceed.
That is considered the city’s final say in the matter, so any challenge has to be taken to Superior Court, and that’s what Parriott has done, filing a Land Use Petition and Complaint. You can read the document in its entirety here; the contentions include the same argument at the heart of the case taken to the Hearing Examiner, that the site doesn’t qualify for a Historic Lot Exception because there is nothing on record suggesting it was considered a separate building lot. Parriott’s action also seeks an injunction to keep the tree from being cut and house from being built while this plays out; city files show the building permit for the house was issued two weeks ago, on February 2nd.
Meantime, with that court fight looming, Parriott reached a settlement with the city precluding a fight over fees charged for the interpretation she was forced to seek because the Hearing Examiner threw out her other potential avenue of appeal even before the January hearing. Here’s the agreement:
She paid the required $2,800 to cover staff time the city said would be spent on the “code interpretation,” and then the city sent a bill for more than $10,000, saying that was the cost of additional hours its staff spent on the case. As a result of the settlement, the Department of Construction and Inspections will waive that fee.
Next steps in Parriott’s land-use petition will likely be a hearing for both sides to argue before a King County Superior Court judge.
(UPDATED TUESDAY WITH MEETING LOCATION)
ORIGINAL REPORT, MONDAY 8:47 PM: Instead of meeting on the usual night this month, which would be tomorrow, the Admiral Neighborhood Association plans a special meeting this Thursday (February 16th), 7 pm, with a special agenda – the first look at the newest plan for the biggest project currently in the works for the area. That’s the planned mixed-use project on the current PCC Natural Markets (WSB sponsor) site, with a new PCC store planned as the commercial tenant beneath more than 100 apartments. ANA president Larry Wymer says the meeting will also be at a special location –
likely the classroom space at PCC (2749 California SW) – watch for location confirmation here in the next day or so. The project goes back to the Southwest Design Review Board on March 2nd, as first reported here last month, but first, the project team, led by Hewitt Architects, plans to present it to ANA and all interested community members, so save Thursday night.
UPDATE, TUESDAY AFTERNOON: The location for the meeting will be St. John the Baptist Church parish hall, 3050 California SW (across from PCC and just south of WSHS). Enter either from the church entrance on the north side, or from 42nd SW on the east side.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Though both were billed as “Community Design Workshops,” there were major differences in the meetings about Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda-related rezoning for Admiral, held this past Saturday, and for The Junction, held last month.
Turnout was different – about 50 people for Admiral, more than 200 for The Junction – though that’s proportionate to both the areas’ population differences and their respective scopes of change proposed by the rezoning for Mandatory Housing Affordability, in which developers/builders will get extra capacity and in exchange will have to include “affordable housing” in their projects or pay a fee into a city fund that will bankroll some. The changes are proposed in the city’s Urban Villages (West Seattle has four) and for all commercial/multifamily property citywide (check this map to see how/if you’re affected).
Also different: The meetings’ format.
At The Junction’s meeting on January 26th (WSB coverage here), the initial explanatory presentation by a city Office of Planning and Community Development staffer was followed by a Q/A period, with slips of paper having circulated at the start of the meeting for participants to write down questions.
That didn’t happen in Admiral; a few questions were addressed when people spoke out during the presentation, but at its end, facilitator John Owen of consulting firm Makers Architecture and Urban Design pushed to get everyone into small-group breakouts, despite one attendee requesting a chance for Q&A so everyone could hear.
At Admiral on Saturday (a morning meeting at West Seattle High School), small groups were not preassigned as they had been for pre-RSVP’d participants in The Junction (an evening meeting at the Senior Center). Their work did conclude with another difference: At Admiral, each group presented a summary to the entire room; in The Junction, that didn’t happen – tables just wrapped up, left their notes, and departed.
We recorded the Admiral summaries on video, and you’ll see those relatively short clips later in this story. But first, toplines from the opening presentation: Read More
One more reminder – tomorrow is the day that people who live and/or work in Admiral are invited to a Community Design Workshop about the rezoning that’s proposed for the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) component known as Mandatory Housing Affordability.
This proposal would upzone property within the city’s Urban Villages – plus all multifamily/commercial property, in an UV or not – and require builders/developers to either dedicate part of what they build as “affordable,” or pay into a fund that will go toward affordable housing somewhere in the city. You can click around this interactive map to see what’s proposed where you are. Then, 9:30 am-12:30 pm Saturday at West Seattle High School (3000 California SW), it’s the Admiral version of this big recent meeting in The Junction – first a presentation, then Q/A, then table-by-table conversation to get your feedback. Here’s the official city announcement. Whether or not you’re going, you can get your feedback to the city via hala.consider.it or e-mailing email@example.com.
Two updates and a reminder today in the ongoing discussion of rezoning proposed for the Mandatory Housing Affordability component of the city’s HALA (Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda) initiative:
NEW DATE SET FOR MORGAN JUNCTION ‘COMMUNITY DESIGN WORKSHOP’: Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s office sends word that the Morgan Junction Residential Urban Village’s rescheduled Community Design Workshop – a meeting like this one held in the West Seattle Junction two weeks ago – is set for Monday, March 6th, 6-9 pm, at The Hall at Fauntleroy (9131 California SW). From the city: “Please bring a neighbor or a friend to join the conversation. RSVP is not required to participate in the workshop but does give priority for facilitated working groups as well as assist our team in planning for staffing, room setup, and resources.” If you choose to RSVP, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
REMINDER – ADMIRAL’S WORKSHOP COMING UP SATURDAY: This gives us the opportunity to remind you again that the Admiral Residential Urban Village’s Community Design Workshop is now three days away, 9:30 am-12:30 pm Saturday, February 11th, at West Seattle High School (3000 California SW).
ANOTHER WESTWOOD-HIGHLAND PARK URBAN VILLAGE MEETING: Announced at last night’s Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council meeting (full report later today), the city will come back out for another HALA discussion regarding the WW-Highland Park Urban Village, on March 1st, start time TBA, since the Community Design Workshop back in November had low attendance due to little publicity.
WHEREVER YOU ARE … you can still comment on the proposed rezoning via hala.consider.it or by e-mailing email@example.com. Not sure whether/how HALA MHA is affecting the neighborhood(s) where you live/work? Check the citywide interactive map here.
The photo and video are from WSB photojournalist Christopher Boffoli,who reports that demolition has started at the long-vacant commercial storefronts at 3215 California SW. Here’s an aerial view:
This is south of The Swinery (which is not part of the project) and across the street from Springline Apartments (WSB sponsor); while an apartment building was once proposed on this side of the street too, the plan changed to a mix of townhouses, live-works and single-family houses. This is happening almost exactly a year after demolition to the south, where redevelopment has taken a similar pattern. It’s all in the Hanford-to-Hinds block that was upzoned in 2010.
COUNCIL BRIEFING MONDAY, WITH DEADLINE FOR PUBLIC COMMENT: On Monday morning, the City Council‘s weekly briefing meeting at 9:30 am will include a HALA briefing. The documents related to the briefing are already linked to the meeting’s agenda. Two of them announce a date for the end of public comment: June 30th. It’s in this memo, and on the last page of the briefing slide deck – here’s a framegrab:
(The briefing documents note that only 600 people have used the hala.consider.it site, which has drawn complaints about user-unfriendliness.) Earlier this week, we reported that City Councilmember Lisa Herbold had learned the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the MHA rezoning was expected to go public in May rather than March. Some community groups including the Junction Neighborhood Organization and Southwest District Council have asked for an extra six months to comment; the draft rezoning maps went public in October but without a clear citywide announcement of what they were and who they would affect. The city now says its upcoming outreach will include going door-to-door:
The City will be going door to door in our Urban Villages to answer questions and leave
information about ways to comment on the draft proposals. The doorbelling will take place in March
2017 and will focus on the single-family homes that will be changing to multifamily.
That’s an excerpt from the memo for Monday morning’s briefing. Public comment is not taken during council briefing meetings, but you can attend at City Hall, or watch live via seattlechannel.org (online or cable 21).
ADMIRAL MEETING REMINDER: One week from tomorrow is the Community Design Workshop for the Admiral Residential Urban Village, 9:30 am-12:30 pm at West Seattle High School. It’s the Admiral version of the well-attended Junction meeting last week (WSB coverage here). Here’s the official city weblink about the meeting (child care provided, by the way); if you still don’t know whether your neighborhood is proposed for rezoning, explore the citywide interactive map.
One week after the standing-room-only meeting in The Junction, there’s a new development today in the proposed citywide rezoning that’s a big component of the city’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA): The timeline for the Mandatory Housing Affordability rezoning has just expanded by two months, so you have more time to get up to speed and get your comments in. The Junction Neighborhood Organization got first word from City Councilmember Lisa Herbold that the Office of Planning and Community Development …
… is amending the schedule for release of the draft EIS [Environmental Impact Statement] and now it is anticipated to come out in May. This will give the community an additional two months to provide feedback. The Department of Neighborhoods plans to door knock all of the single-family homes that are part of the potential upzones. DON and OPCD will conduct another series of conversations in May and June.
The new May timeline for the draft EIS – which will open another comment period – is five months later than the end-of-2016 projection in the “scoping” for that document (see it here) was done. The draft and final EIS will have to be done before a final rezoning proposal can go to the City Council for a vote.
Meantime, the Admiral Residential Urban Village version of last week’s Junction meeting is still to come – 9:30 am Saturday, February 11th, at West Seattle High School. No date/time announced yet for the Morgan Junction version. You can still comment online, via hala.consider.it and/or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whatever area you live in, if you still don’t know whether you are directly affected by the HALA proposal, find your neighborhood on this interactive map. While most of the proposed rezoning is for those within “urban village” boundaries (West Seattle has four – The Junction, Morgan Junction, Admiral, and Westwood-Highland Park), there are some proposals for expanding those boundaries, and all commercial/multifamily property is proposed for rezoning, even outside urban villages.
While out this morning, we spotted that demolition in progress at 5040 Fauntleroy Way SW, an 73-year-old home on a site zoned Lowrise 1, being demolished for replacement by three single-family houses.
This year, the backhoe/excavator is more of the West Seattle development icon than the tower crane – the peninsula does not have a single project with one of the latter right now. This month alone, demolition permits have been sought at these addresses (each one links to the DPD docket for the site, unless it’s a site we’ve already published a story about, in which case it’s asterisked):
3010 Fauntleroy Avenue SW
4103 SW Southern
4810 Delridge Way SW*
5015 Fauntleroy Way SW
2622 SW Nevada
2749 California SW* (apartments/PCC project, due back to Design Review on March 2nd)
6727 39th SW
3046 61st SW*
3050 61st SW*
6016 SW Admiral Way*
8854 Delridge Way SW* (fire-damaged auto-shop site, proposed for apartments)
6530 Delridge Way SW
4532 42nd SW* (mixed-use project)
7337 44th SW
4311 SW Brandon*
3044 38th SW
4748 23rd SW
4744 23rd SW
7531 13th SW (new proposal, 8-unit rowhouse)
1516 SW Henderson (new proposal, 8-unit rowhouse)
3028 63rd SW
We don’t have stats to compare if that’s more or less than usual … just a snapshot of one month in time. (Just to get those addresses, we had to search city data for any one of four terms – demolition, demo, remove, removal.) This also doesn’t necessarily mean the aforementioned demolitions are imminent … permit filings/updates vary widely in terms of timelines, from days to months. (For just one example – 2749 California SW, the apartments/PCC project, still has at least one more Design Review meeting to go, and that’s not until March 2nd, so that demolition is a ways off. And in some cases, permits are granted but the teardown doesn’t happen for quite some time; pending demolitions, with permits granted before this month, aren’t included in the list, just new applications/reviews dated this month.)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
“How do we grow as a city and create more affordable housing in all of our neighborhoods?”
That’s the question the current proposal for Mandatory Housing Affordability rezoning, as part of the city’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda, is supposed to address.
But despite hundreds of properties proposed for rezoning, it could result in fewer than 100 affordable units over the next 20 years in the West Seattle Junction Urban Village, according to one part of the presentation seen by ~200 people last night, filling the upstairs hall at the Senior Center for a briefing, Q&A session, and small-group discussions of that area’s part of the plan.
The meeting was officially billed as a Community Design Workshop. We were there for the entire three hours. First – in case you are still catching up on HALA, which includes 60+ components in addition to the MHA rezoning – we recorded the half-hour primer provided by Brennon Staley of the Office of Planning and Community Development – “the background and how we got here,” regarding what he described as a “housing affordability crisis”:
Other city staffers from OPCD were there, as well as a representative from the office of Councilmember Rob Johnson – who chairs the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee through which the final proposals will go – District 1 Councilmember Lisa Herbold (observing rather than speaking), and consulting-firm employees who facilitated the small-group discussions.
The Junction area has 3,880 homes today – that includes apartments, townhouses, houses – Staley said. If nothing (zoning, etc.) changes, 2,300 new homes are expected to be added in the next 20 years. If MHA rezoning is approved, that number is expected to bump to 2,800 new homes, with 80 to 130 of them “affordable.” After the four-digit building boom of the past few years, those numbers drew some audible expressions of disbelief from around the room. Staley did offer the caveat that it’s “just an estimate, could be more or less.”
The presentation had a few points of customization for the West Seattle Junction area – including “retain(ing) highest density along the SW Alaska ‘transit spine’,” the “transition from (higher heights) to single-family areas,” and larger density increases near transit, stores, Fairmount Park.
That brought the question that resurfaced at last week’s Junction Neighborhood Organization Land Use Committee meeting – what about waiting for rezoning until the station locations for Sound Transit 3 are known? There was no real answer to that, aside from the acknowledgement that it’s a unique issue for this area.
Another common question was the potential effect of rezoning on property taxes. That’s where the question-and-answer section began – here’s our video of that half-hour:
That didn’t get to all the questions, and it was promised that they all will be answered on a TBA webpage. But that could take a month, the city reps acknowledged, when asked how long that would take, given that no summary of the December 7th open house – 7+ weeks ago – has turned up yet.
If you’re interested, but couldn’t go last night, we highly advise taking the time to listen to the video, but here are a few highlights:
Questions included how “infrastructure” is being addressed, including the need for more schools. The city is “working closely with Seattle Public Schools” as it plans for the BEX 5 ballot measure (followup to BEX 4, which built new schools including Genesee Hill and Arbor Heights Elementaries), reps said.
And then there was the question of whether the “affordable housing” to be generated by MHA will “contribute to solving the homeless problem.” Staley’s response was that it’s “interrelated but not the same issue” – homelessness, he said, is caused partly by the cost of housing, and also by “other issues” (he did not elaborate).
The Junction already has absorbed much more growth than was envisioned to have happened by now, so could some of the proposed growth be shifted to other areas of the city that have not? “That’s why we are out talking to people,” Staley replied.
The perennial issue of vehicle parking came up. “We know (it) is a concern,” Staley said, adding that there is no minimum or maximum for it in urban-village projects, but most projects, he said, include it. (Many attendees shouted, WRONG! at this point.)
And then there was a followup on the small number of affordable units expected to be generated, whether by percentages or fees, from Junction upzoning, and a question about where in this area that the city already had built affordable housing. Staley contended there had been a “lot,” and when asked where, started to mention the High Point redevelopment, but the discussion veered away at that point. (He said the Office of Housing has a map, but did not have a representative at the meeting.)
Around midway through the three-hour meeting, the small-group discussions began. People who had RSVPd were pre-assigned to certain tables, and more were added for those who had not – “there’s so much interest in your community,” the facilitator explained.
The room was abuzz with conversation all the way until the 9 pm conclusion – some left early, but not many. We listened in at multiple tables, where concerns ranged from wanting to exempt single-family areas from rezoning, to wanting more green space, to wanting to be sure that West Seattle’s hilly topography was taken into account when considering how height changes would play out. By the meeting’s end, maps on tables had many comments, from discrepancies to suggestions – here are a few examples:
West Seattle Junction is one of four urban villages in West Seattle – this type of meeting was held, though little-publicized, in Westwood-Highland Park in November; Admiral will have one the morning of Saturday, February 11th; and Morgan Junction will too, with a date TBA. MHA rezoning also affects commercial/multifamily property EVERYWHERE in the city, so you might be affected even if you’re not in an “urban village” area. (Added: Here’s the interactive map you can use to zoom in on any area of West Seattle – or the rest of the city – to see whether any particular spot is affected.)
COMMENT ONLINE: You can comment on any urban-village proposal at hala.consider.it. Or, you can e-mail comments to email@example.com.
So far, the Southwest Design Review Board has no project reviews set for February, but it’s set to start March with the next look at one of the biggest upcoming projects in West Seattle, 2749 California SW, the 4-story building with ~108 apartments and a new PCC Natural Markets (WSB sponsor) store on the site of the current one. It’s already been to the SWDRB twice, most recently in September (WSB coverage here),and the next review – which could be the final one – is on the board’s schedule for 6:30 pm Thursday, March 2nd, at the usual venue, the Senior Center/Sisson Building in The Junction. The “design packet” isn’t available online yet, but should be as the meeting gets closer.
2:29 PM: Just in: The ruling in the appeal of a city decision allowing a “historic lot exception” for a house to be built at 3038 39th SW, on a site that holds an “exceptional” tree that neighbors hoped to see preserved.
Hearing Examiner Sue Tanner, ruling 13 days after the case was argued in her chambers (WSB coverage here), has upheld the city decision, saying that appellant Lisa Parriott and supporters “have not met their burden of proving that the (Department of Construction and Inspections) interpretation was clearly erroneous, and it should therefore be affirmed.” We’re requesting reaction and will add whatever we get.
4:32 PM: We’ve just spoken with Lisa Parriott, who tells us, “We’re disappointed, obviously” and “evaluating all possible paths, including Superior Court.”
New in the city Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) files: An early-stage proposal for a 14-unit development at 5242 California SW [map]. The building had been anchored by John L. Scott Real Estate headquarters until they moved north to the former JF Henry building at 4445 California SW. According to the SDCI docket item, the proposal is for six live-work units, four townhouses, and four single-family houses. The site-plan outline on file shows four of the live-works fronting California, with two behind them, the four townhouses behind that, and the four houses behind that. Eight offstreet-parking spaces are shown along the alley. The site is 15,000 square feet, according to county records, zoned NC2-30. The formal application hasn’t been filed yet, so the official comment period isn’t open yet, but according to the docket, this will go through Design Review (dates TBA).
SIDE NOTE: In case you’re wondering … since the current proposal for Mandatory Housing Affordability under the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda would upzone all commercial/multifamily property, whether in an urban village or not, the draft map shows this site with a potential future height limit of 40′ instead of 30′.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
This Thursday (January 26th), people living and working in the West Seattle Junction Urban Village have their first official city-organized meeting entirely focused on the proposed rezoning for the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda component called Mandatory Housing Affordability.
(The city-organized Morgan Junction workshop previously announced for tomorrow, we should note, has been postponed TFN, but the February 11th Admiral workshop is on.)
In the same room where next Thursday’s Junction workshop will happen – upstairs at the Senior Center/Sisson Building – the area’s community council, the Junction Neighborhood Organization, had a briefing and Q/A session to help interested Junction community members get ready.
That briefing/prep session this past Thursday was led by JuNO’s new Land Use Committee, which debuted a rallying cry for the HALA rezoning process:
“Too much … Too fast … Please put us last.”
The Junction already has taken on a lot of density, noted Carl Guess, the committee co-chair who opened the meeting – currently at more than 300 percent above what planners originally expected to be added by now.
From that declaration ensued a detailed, albeit unofficial, primer on Junction growth and HALA: Read More
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The fight over 3,166 square feet of land and one ~100-foot tree is in the hands of city Hearing Examiner Sue Tanner, who is awaiting final written arguments after her 2+-hour hearing on the case.
Once they’re in, her ruling is expected by early February.
We first reported on the clash seven months ago, when neighbors went public with their hopes of keeping the city from granting a special exception to allow a house to be built at 3036 39th SW (map), taking out a towering Ponderosa Pine which meets the city’s definition of “exceptional tree” and has been dubbed the “gentle giant” of the neighborhood. The exception was granted; an appeal was filed; last Wednesday, we published this preview on the eve of the appeal hearing, with neighbors saying the fight had become about more than the tree.
The tree was not the topic of last Thursday’s hearing, it should be noted; it was scarcely mentioned at all. The neighbors’ other issues, such as the thousands of dollars charged by the city for the “interpretation” that facilitated the appeal, wasn’t, either. The testimony was all about the ground beneath, and around, the tree, and what its owner intended for that part of his property when seeking the building permit in 1930 to build the house to its south at 3038 39th SW.
For the city to grant a “historic lot exception” – which it did in October, leading neighbors to pursue their challenge – the Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) had to determine that it was considered a separate building site going back more than half a century, though nothing ever had been built on it. SDCI staffers who have written, by their admission, hundreds such determinations were the department’s main witnesses at the appeal hearing.
The focus was on the minutiae of what information the department uses to make those determinations – which seemed to be portrayed as more of an art than a science, as the specifics, SDCI reps acknowledged, are not written into the city code. Read More
January 26th is the next major city meeting in West Seattle related to proposed rezoning for the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda‘s Mandatory Housing Affordability component – and this week, the Junction Neighborhood Organization has two meetings to prepare for it. From JuNO director René Commons:
1/17 Tuesday, JuNO Meeting, 6:30-7:30 pm – West Seattle Senior Center’s Nucor Room
Guest Speaker Cindi Barker: Cindi will be sharing the MoCA (Morgan Community Association) response to the MHA HALA rezone. She will offer her insights on how best to plan and prepare our WS Junction community to respond at the upcoming city meeting on 1/26.
1/19 Thursday, JuNO Land Use Committee meeting – 6:30-7:30 pm, West Seattle Senior Center’s Hatten Hall – for neighbors to provide input before the 1/26 City meeting.
JuNO is excited to announce Rich Koehler and Carl Guess are Co-Chairs for the newly formed JuNO Land Use Committee, which is a part of JuNO that will focus on helping the West Seattle Junction neighborhood influence programs that include proposed land use changes such as HALA and ST3! The JuNO Land Use Committee will be hosting this meeting. Thank you Rich, Carl, & all the new volunteers!
The January 19th meeting will be a community-organized “workshop meeting,” Commons says, “to discuss a response that is related to rezoning, infrastructure, and affordable housing in our West Seattle Junction Urban Village in an open forum.” Then a week later, it’s the city-sponsored January 26th workshop, also at the Senior Center, 6-9 pm. If you’re interested in being there, JuNO hopes to see you at one or both of this week’s meetings. The Senior Center (Sisson Building) is at 4217 SW Oregon.
Two updates as the city continues collecting comments on proposed rezoning as part of the Mandatory Housing Affordability component of the city’s HALA (Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda) initiative:
CITY’S TOP PLANNER RESPONDS TO REQUEST FOR EXTENSION: The Junction Neighborhood Organization asked for a six-month extension in the current feedback phase of the rezoning process. Here’s the full letter; one of the concerns: How the city did, and didn’t, inform those affected. Today JuNO director René Commons received a reply from Office of Planning and Community Development director Sam Assefa, who replied, in part:
… While I recognize that the City can always do more, we have worked conscientiously to offer many opportunities for the neighborhood to learn about HALA and MHA, and to weigh in. With regard to implementing zoning changes that create additional affordable housing, the initial draft maps were released to the public in mid-October last year and have been the subject of significant citywide community engagement and discussion ever since. In West Seattle, we have held at least 7 community meetings to provide information and to collect feedback. We anticipate many additional opportunities for the public to learn about the initial draft proposal, to share their perspectives, to see other alternatives to the initial draft proposal, and to weigh in on how these alternatives respond to the community priorities and concerns. We look forward to additional public meetings, open houses, and design workshops, both across the City and in your neighborhood, as we move forward in 2017.
We also continue to collect online comments at hala.consider.it. Of course, additional public process including environmental review, and City Council public hearings will take place before any zoning changes needed to implement MHA are made.
You can read Assefa’s full reply here. He didn’t elaborate on which meetings he was counting in the mention of 7 in West Seattle; the major city-organized meeting so far was the two-location December 7th “open house,” with the draft maps among a long list of topics on which participants were invited to comment. Meantime, city-organized “community design workshops” are continuing, with one set for The Junction on January 26th, 6-9 pm at the Senior Center of West Seattle. That’s also the location for JuNO’s next meeting, 6:30 pm next Tuesday (January 17th).
ADMIRAL NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Admiral has its own “community design workshop” set for February 11th (9:30 am-12:30 pm at West Seattle High School) Because of that upcoming event, this past Tuesday’s Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting had HALA rezoning on the agenda, and a bigger crowd than usual, about 40 people.
Deb Barker, a retired land-use planner whose volunteer public-service roles include being president of the Morgan Community Association, came to talk about the rezoning proposal. “It’s nothing that you really want to sit in a chair and have someone preach at you about,” she noted, adding that on first hearing about it, people’s eyes tend to glaze over. But people are hungry to find out more, she continued, mentioning the 130+-person turnout at the neighbors-briefing-neighbors event she and Cindi Barker led in Highland Park back in November (WSB coverage here).
On Tuesday, she asked who in themaudience had heard of HALA; most raised their hands.
“How many remember the 1998 Admiral Residential Urban Village plan?” A few hands went up for that.
“Anybody who’s going to redevelop is going to have to pay into a pot of money that goes to affordable housing” is how she summarized the Mandatory Housing Affordability concept, “the idea up for review right now.”
She also noted that while the draft map for the West Seattle Junction would expand the urban-village boundaries in some areas, that is NOT proposed for the Admiral Residential Urban Village.
Most of this section of Admiral’s meeting, though, was truly a case of “you had to be there” – Barker answered a few questions and then invited everyone over to the counter area in The Sanctuary’s main room for a look at some of the maps that she and Cindi had developed for their Highland Park meeting:
Then she mentioned the December 7th city “open house” that was meant to gather comments. She had developed a page of notes to help people read and comment on the draft maps and offered those again at the Admiral meeting too – find some of the links here. And from there, conversation ensued, all around the maps, and lasted well past the meeting’s projected end time.
WHAT’S NEXT: Along with the Junction and Admiral HALA rezoning “community design workshops” mentioned above, Morgan Junction is supposed to have one too – but the date is off the city calendar, so we’re awaiting word on its fate. Keep an eye on this page.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
It started with a tree.
It’s grown into something more.
We first wrote about it seven months ago, in early June, when a neighborhood 9-year-old was going door to door to let people know that the Ponderosa Pine’s days might be numbered.
Its fate was seemingly sealed by this preliminary city opinion, sought right after the sale of the site, including an existing house at 3038 39th SW, was finalized in November 2015. Allowing a new house on a site smaller than 3,200 square feet – this one is measured at 3,166 sf – requires a “special exception.” The city announced in October that it would grant one.
The ensuing months have taken the case through twists and turns. As also reported here in October, the Seattle Green Spaces Coalition filed its own appeal of the city’s decision allowing a new house, but that appeal was dismissed in November. Neighbor Lisa Parriott, leading the neighborhood appeal – part of which was dismissed in the same November ruling – learned that the cost of the challenge could go well into five figures.
She and other residents involved in the case gathered at her house on Sunday to talk about it as the hearing drew near. Read More
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The apartment project planned for 3039 SW Avalon Way has gone before the Southwest Design Review Board for the second and final time.
As with the first review of the evening (4220 SW 100th – our report is here), board members were chair Matt Zinski, Alexandra Moravec, and an ex-member filling in, Robin Murphy. From city staff, Lisa Rutzick was sitting in for the project’s assigned city planner Bruce Rips.
The biggest contrast from the night’s first review – only a few members of the public in attendance, and only one offered comment. But first: Read More