West Seattle, Washington
Photos by Christopher Boffoli for West Seattle Blog
Two years after ceremonial groundbreaking launched construction of The Whittaker – West Seattle’s biggest mixed-use project ever – its first building at 4755 Fauntleroy Way SW is officially open, with a ribboncutting celebration today, including namesake Jim Whittaker, the West Seattle native who made history on Mount Everest. The lobby displays a photo of him on Everest in 1963:
Whittaker’s partner Dianne Roberts told Christopher that they still have the ice axe and flags in the iconic photograph, as well as the camera used to shoot it. She said that the clothes he was wearing in the photo are now on display at the Bradford Washburn American Mountaineering Museum in Golden, Colorado.
The ribboncutting marked the fact that residents are moving into the south building this month, and will follow in the north building next spring. Property manager Ashlie Quon of Windsor Communities told WSB’s Christopher Boffoli that the South building has 129 units complete and open, 39 of which are leased so far.
Art for the site was commissioned from West Seattleite Troy Pillow – who also created the new kinetic sculpture in Junction Plaza Park. Some of his work is up outside the south entry:
The lobby sections open today feature sitting areas with gas fireplaces, a “wine room” upstairs with a function area with a small kitchen just off it for events, a mailroom, and a separate package room.
The large, open lobby features reclaimed wood throughout and a suspended Douglas Fir staircase (which leads up to the wine room/function area. That’s where some of today’s speeches took place.
While the residential units are opening, the commercial tenants won’t start to open until next year. So far, as we reported last summer, they include – besides anchor tenant Whole Foods Market, taking the retail space in the north building – BECU, City MD, MOD Pizza, and T-Mobile.
West Seattle Chamber of Commerce CEO Lynn Dennis, among today’s speakers, said, “The Whittaker represents an example of creating density while preserving green spaces and celebrating the real character of West Seattle.” Jim Whittaker spoke too, saying he felt “lucky” to be born in West Seattle and that the new building was marvelous and he was delighted to be on hand for the opening.
Meeting last night at the Sisson Building/Senior Center, the Junction Neighborhood Organization also was looking ahead to tonight’s city-organized “open house” about topics from housing to roads to parks to parking – though it had two other major topics.
REZONING ACTION PLAN: On the eve of the city’s big “open house,” JuNO director René Commons talked about community concerns, especially about how poorly the city had been communicating about the rezoning that is part of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda‘s Mandatory Housing Affordability component. The area is just now feeling the effects of changes in the late ’90s, she noted, with major projects. So input means more now than ever.
“This is a draft proposal… and activism matters,” said Commons. “It’s about not being angry, but about being passionate – to make change, good change.”
One attendee brought up that “this is not the only upzone we’ll be dealing with – Sound Transit 3 will put two elevated stations in our area, and these stations are big, and each one comes with a ‘station overlay,’ to ensure that there’s adequate density around the stations, to make them more viable… (but) people working on HALA are not necessarily talking to the people working on ST3.” For one, he said, the area should have options – “at least two materially different proposals” – for how to accommodate growth, not just the “blanket approach that every urban village should be treated the same way.”
Another attendee talked about finally hearing about the proposed upzoning in late October from coverage on WSB – “oh, that’s my street!” She tried to find out if she had missed some outreach that would have helped her understand; no, she hadn’t. Even the city’s title “Mandatory Housing Affordability” was not conducive to helping people understand about rezoning – “it sounded like somebody’s finally doing something about the rising rents, and that’s not it at all.”
So what kind of feedback should JuNO offer, tonight and beyond? Read More
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The proposed rezoning for the Housing Affordabiity and Livability Agenda‘s Mandatory Housing Affordability component was a major topic for the two community councils who have met this week in advance of tonight’s city-organized 2-location “open house” about that rezoning, and more.
First was the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council, which met Monday night at the Southwest Library. Feedback on the rezoning plan comprised most – but not all – of the night’s discussion; later in this report, you’ll see toplines from other topics including a big change in WWRHAH leadership as well as an SPD update on crime trends.
Back to HALA rezoning:
One member observed toward the end, “The scary part of this is that the majority of the community has no idea about the tidal wave that is headed their way.”
That was a reference to the shortage of direct city communication – no briefings or announcements directly explaining “this is the rezoning we’re proposing in your area and why” – since the draft rezoning maps appeared online in October.
In recent weeks, community groups have taken to organizing their own discussions of those maps in hopes of at least helping neighbors comment effectively – pro, con, or otherwise – online and at tonight’s open house (5:30-7:30 pm at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, 4408 Delridge Way SW, and Shelby’s, 4752 California SW).
The rezoning is focused on the city’s long-designated “urban villages,” as well as multifamily/commercial property in all areas. Read More
Wednesday, proposed rezoning for the city’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda is the biggest (but not only) topic at the multi-department city “open house” in The Junction. Before then, two West Seattle neighborhood groups are talking about it, and you’re invited:
MONDAY – WESTWOOD-ROXHILL-ARBOR HEIGHTS: 6:15 pm tomorrow (Monday, December 5th), the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council meets at Southwest Library (35th SW/SW Henderson), and the central item on the agenda is the draft rezoning map for the Westwood-Highland Park Urban Village.
Notes co-chair Amanda Kay Helmick, “We will answer questions as best we can, but all feedback should be directed to the City.” (Those three ways are via hala.consider.it, e-mailing email@example.com, or Wednesday’s “open house,” 5:30-7:30 pm at Shelby’s and Uptown Espresso in The Junction, on opposite sides of the California/Edmunds intersection.)
TUESDAY- JUNCTION NEIGHBORHOOD ORGANIZATION: The draft rezoning map for the West Seattle Junction Hub Urban Village also expands its boundaries.
JuNO organized a much-attended presentation/discussion back on November 15th (WSB coverage here) and now plans to discuss the map as well as an action plan for communicating concerns during a 6:30 pm meeting Tuesday (December 6th) at the Senior Center/Sisson Building (4217 SW Oregon). The agenda also includes updates on city lighting in the Junction, and discussion of a Residential Parking Zone application.
SIDE NOTE: Speaking of parking, our next planned story tonight includes the city’s ongoing review of parking policies and how you’ll be asked to comment on that topic, too, at the big Wednesday open house.
The last major project on the drawing board right now in the heart of the West Seattle Junction passed its final test before the Southwest Design Review Board tonight.
The 6-story, 74-apartment mixed-use building at 4532 42nd SW is expected to be under construction starting next spring, according to the project team. Its site is between Capco Plaza (Altamira Apartments, QFC, Petco, etc.) and a single-family home; part of the site was cleared eight years ago, when a different project, under different ownership, was planned, then shelved.
Some of the final concerns voiced tonight included landscaping; some trees are to moved from the south end to the north end to enhance pedestrian safety and visibility. More visibility into the proposed retail was advised, as well as more space for sidewalk seating.
In the public-comment period, Cindi Barker called attention to the official design guidelines for the Junction area. Board members focused on a few components of those guidelines including the need for more lighting along the front of the building, and the requirements to which its signage will have to confirm. Currently the project team is looking at a blade sign around three stories in height but without interior lighting. (The project is as-yet-unnamed; what you see in the rendering above is a placeholder.) Board members requested that the sign’s colors stay consistent with the building’s look
They also were pleased to see how the north side of the building now responds to the house next door, including more of a buffer – previously a major point of contention – and more “blank wall” space facing toward it. And they suggested moving the building’s “amenities room” to the top floor to reduce noise.
You can still comment on the project until it gets final city approval; that includes comments about what are considered “environmental” aspects such as traffic, noise, parking. The assigned city planner is Joshua Johnson – firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. The “packet” used for last night’s meeting, with renderings from various angles as well as other information on the project, can be seen here.
11:37 AM: When 135+ people showed up for Tuesday night’s unofficial community-organized workshop about proposed Mandatory Housing Affordability rezoning (WSB coverage here), that raised capacity concerns about next Wednesday’s official city open house – concerns that community leaders voiced to the city weeks ago, after getting early word that the 5:30-7:30 pm event on December 7th was booked for Shelby’s Bistro and Ice Creamery (4752 California SW) in The Junction rather than a large meeting venue.
Now, to try to add room for a prospective sizable turnout, the city has just confirmed via Twitter what commenter Kay posted last night – it’s booked space across the street at Uptown Espresso (California/Edmunds) too, so this is now a two-location open house. The marquee topic is your chance to comment on and ask questions about the draft rezoning maps for West Seattle and South Park, but the city also is offering “casual conversation” on other topics (we hope to get the full list soon) This is a drop-in event, so go whenever you can on Wednesday, to either site, between 5:30 and 7:30 pm (and be sure to sign in, because that’s where the city gets the official count).
ADDED 12:49 PM: The open house has long been billed as including “other topics” but no list has been made public yet. However, we now know another long-term city plan will be among those topics you’ll be invited to comment on next Wednesday – Seattle Parks‘ “2017 Development Plan, Gap Analysis and Long-Term Acquisition strategies for open space.” We missed the reference to the December 7th open house (and others around the city) when this news release arrived yesterday. You can read more about this here – if there are parks/future parks/possible future parks in your neighborhood, you’ll want to weigh in on this too.
ADDED 3:58 PM: And we’re continuing to get more information about what other city programs/services will be featured at the open house. This is the official lineup, but we’re still seeking specifics. (The first one, of course, involves the rezoning we’ve been reporting on.):
Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda: DRAFT Neighborhood proposals to create more affordable housing. See a city-wide map HERE.
Parks and Recreation: Come and learn about using walkability and other transportation metrics to map how new parks and green spaces will be chosen in the future.
SDOT: Learn about how Move Seattle is shaping transportation projects and programs in your neighborhood. Learn more about Rapid Ride, what it is and what to expect. Also, shape your Greenway by telling us where you want to see new connections and safer crossings for people walking and biking.
SDCI/SDOT: Parking Reform are in the works. Learn more about flexibility and sharing off-street parking, on-street parking, carshare and bicycle travel choices and frequent transit service.
We’ve also heard directly from SDOT that the re-activated Fauntleroy Boulevard project – funded in the mayor’s new budget – will be part of what it’s showcasing. Still checking for more specifics!
Story by Tracy Record
Photos/video by Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers
“We didn’t make this stuff up, but we’re here to help you know about it.”
That’s how Deb Barker introduced the standing-room-only workshop that she and Cindi Barker led last night at Highland Park Improvement Club, with more than 135 people there to find out more about the rezoning proposals that are part of the city’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA).
Deb and Cindi – which is how we’ll refer to them due to the surname coincidence – are both with the Morgan Community Association, one of West Seattle’s many all-volunteer community councils, and both have long been involved with land use-related issues. In recent years, they have offered several workshops and briefings to help their West Seattle neighbors make sense of major projects and/or processes, and last night’s workshop was one such case.
The city went public a month ago with draft rezoning maps for the “urban villages” around Seattle, five of which are in West Seattle/South Park. (Here’s our first report, published October 20th.) But no major official announcement accompanied the maps’ online release, and the only official city meeting scheduled in West Seattle so far is an “open house” one week from tonight, for which some postcards have been sent out promising “conversation” on a variety of city initiatives but not including any mention of “rezoning.”
Cindi and Deb stressed repeatedly last night that the intent of the workshop was to prepare people for that December 7th open house, which includes an official chance for feedback on the draft rezoning maps, as well as to offer guidance on how to read the maps, how to efficiently comment online, and other information including the rezoning proposal for areas outside the “urban villages.”
Basically, the city is proposing to upzone “urban villages” – and multifamily/commercial properties citywide – for a HALA initiative called Mandatory Housing Affordability.
Our video below, of the hourlong presentation at the heart of the meeting, picks up after the introduction by Deb Barker (who is retired from a land-use-planning career in a nearby city, and also has served on and chaired West Seattle’s all-volunteer Southwest Design Review Board).
Cindi Barker – who has been involved as a citizen volunteer with the HALA process going back about two years – first offered a primer on MHA, with the help of city-provided slides (again, this was NOT an official city-organized meeting, though Brennon Staley from the city Office of Planning and Community Development was on hand to answer questions as needed). Here’s the full slide deck that she and Deb used through their hour-long presentation (embedded below, or review it as a PDF here):
MHA basics: The city is offering more development capacity via upzoning, in exchange for developers either building a certain percentage of “affordable” housing in their projects, or paying fees to fund it to be built everywhere. “The city believes it will increase housing choices through the city,” Cindi added.
“Affordable” per the MHA definition means a rent that would represent about a third of the monthly incoe of someone making no more than 60 percent of the Area Median Income (half make more, half make less). Right now, that would be $1,009 for a one-bedroom unit. 6,000 of those units are to be created via MHA (which is just one part of HALA itself) in the next 10 years, contributing to a total of 20,000 affordable homes that the mayor is hoping will be created through a variety of programs.
Cindi went on to explain the volunteer citizen “focus groups” whose members were involved in the runup to the maps’ release, working with “principles that guided (the) zoning changes” (read them here). She then explained the types of zoning – residential small lot (“very much like cottage housing”), Lowrise 1, Lowrise 3, Neighborhood Commercial – with a diagram showing details of height, density, and other characteristics that would be allowable under each one. (Look for “MHA Development Examples” halfway down this page for more background on the zoning types.)
Continuing to explain how to read the maps – she pointed to the titles in each area, “existing zoning” on the left side of a vertical line, followed by “draft zoning,” and then a designation such as (M) or (M1) showing how much affordable housing it’s expected to produce. In some cases, as she explained, the zoning will leap more than one level.
If you’re in an urban village on a single-family lot, “residential small lot” is likely what you’re proposed to be upzoned to. You could have two homes on the lot instead of one, if it’s a 5,000-ish-square foot lot. Now that you’ve gotten a crash course in map-reading, here are the four West Seattle maps again:
And here’s an interactive map you can use to see other areas proposed for rezoning, as well as to zoom all the way in to your street.
Back to the meeting. As it moved into an early round of Q&A – there was an early question about “how does parking play into this?”
“Parking is not what we’re here about tonight – (though) parking is what we ultimately all care about,” Cindi said. She noted that the Environmental Impact Statement would have to address that topic. “That process is going to start (in the first half of next year).” Deb added that there will be parking topics at the city’s December 7th open house (we’ve talked about that before too – here’s the page for what the city is currently considering).
Highland Park Action Committee chair Gunner Scott added at that point a suggestion to bring that up with your city councilmember (District 1 rep Lisa Herbold was not in attendance, as she is traveling, but at least one of her legislative assistants, Andra Kranzler, was announced as present).
Next question, from Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council chair Amanda Kay Helmick, wondered about the chance to comment on the “livability” portion of HALA. That too is part of the early Environmental Impact Statement “scoping,” Cindi said. “Plug into your community associations and media” to watch for deadlines and opportunities.”
Another question: “Where did ‘mandatory’ come from?” Cindi’s reply: “Mandatory for developers.”
Then: “How many trees are we going to lose?” The workshop leaders did not have an answer for that.
Following that, concerns about the size of the venue the city chose for the December 7th meeting (Junction restaurant Shelby’s), given that 130+ people showed up just for this informal briefing. Cindi and Deb noted that they told the city as soon as they heard of the venue that it would be too small “but we were shot down.” Some attendees vowed to call the city and voice their concerns.
Continuing the presentation, Cindi said the Morgan Community Association has some questions they are pursuing with the city: “We need affordable housing, but it is not clear if the Grand Bargain is “the best bargain” – is 7% enough to ask from developers? Also: “Can the 6,000(-home) goal be reached without ‘double-plus upzones’?”
She also pointed to a chart just posted to the city’s website, showing that it only expects 1,000 units to be built “on site” among the projects – if you divide that by the 38 urban villages, that’s 27 affordable units for each one – and the rest elsewhere, “in much larger chunks of buildings” via the fund that will be overseen by the city Office of Housing, “centralizing it … and they’re going to build it where the nonprofit organizations can find the land to build it.”
They also have concerns about how MHA upzoning relates to existing neighborhood plans (linked here), created in the late ’90s to “guide the livability of growth anticipated in the new Urban Villages.” Each of those plans, she pointed out, “provides the goals and policies the city committed to in support of the Seattle Comprehensive Plan.” And the proposed upzoning is being done outside the context of the neighborhood plans. In Morgan Junction, for example, the zoning changes “are in direct conflict with our Neighborhood Plan,” she noted.
An attendee then wondered, “How do we find out who the HALA focus group (members are) and how they were (chosen)?” Cindi said, “They put out a call for volunteers.” (We published it, as did many others – here’s our story from February.)
Helmick asked the next question: “Is this a new form of redlining?”
Another good question to officially bring to the city, Cindi replied.
“If the city wasn’t willing to listen to you guys to change the venue – if I write to Lisa Herbold and, oh say, 90 percent of us decide they aren’t thrilled with this – is the city really going to listen to us and make changes in this program?” asked the next person.
“It feels like this program is going to happen – the mayor is very supportive of it – but … you’ve got to get there and give them input” to potentially have some effect on the details, Cindi stressed.
Deb noted that other neighborhoods around Seattle are affected too – Google some of them and you might see an “interesting yard sign,” she said.
Next question observed that, considering the HALA plan was set into motion before the presidential election, is the city taking into account possible changes in the federal government and funding?
OPCD’s Brennon Staley answered that one: “Obviously the changes in federal policy might affect (the non-MHA 14,000 units of “affordable housing”) … this (MHA) is probably not going to be affected by federal policy all that much.”
How does this affect people outside urban villages? Answer: All multifamily/commercial property is affected citywide, not just in the UVs, it was stressed. (Here again is the new interactive city map, which was included in our Monday night story preview.)
After the presentation and Q&A, the second phase of the meeting was freeform – going over to tables and looking at the urban villages’ maps.
The organizers put together some multi-dimensional renditions, and advised that people write questions down so they are prepared to ask city staffers questions at the city Open House next week.
Right now, you can offer feedback by choosing (from the dropdown) a map at hala.consider.it – not a popular option, apparently, as Cindi observed that only 11 people had done that for Morgan.
Besides the December 7th meeting, the only other official meeting expected in this area is one in South Park for which a date is not yet set – likely to happen in January.
Just before everyone headed over to the maps, Phil Tavel, MoCA vice president, urged people to attend the December 7th meeting no matter what: “If you have any issue with feeling that you were left out … show up, be heard, be seen.”
WWRHAH’s Helmick then took the microphone and told people to please understand that everything happening here tonight is all-volunteer. Her organization, WWRHAH, meets next Monday night, 6:15-7:45 pm at the Southwest Library, and will be looking at the Westwood-Highland Park Urban Village draft rezoning map (one of the four we included above) as part of the meeting.
*The links mentioned by Deb Barker and Cindi Barker last night are now in this post on the MoCA website.
*The city’s page for the HALA focus groups also has many direct links you might find of interest.
WHAT’S NEXT BEFORE ANY REZONING BECOMES OFFICIAL
*The December 7th city “open house” in West Seattle
*Continued comment on the draft rezoning maps, via hala.consider.it (and e-mail, email@example.com)
*The city will revise the maps and come out with “final” versions next year that will require City Council approval; the latest estimate for that is next June
First, one more reminder that TOMORROW is your chance to get briefed on everything from how to read these maps to how to effectively comment, via a community-organized workshop for all of West Seattle and South Park, 6:30 pm at Highland Park Improvement Club (12th SW/SW Holden). We previewed it here and here.
Second, the city has gone public with some of the feedback it’s received so far, from the “focus groups” whose members were recruited earlier this year. Rather than assemble the groups geographically, they were organized by types of “urban village” they lived in. The focus groups’ November meetings are being done online, and include slide decks with information including feedback from their previous meetings. Tonight, the group from “lower-density urban villages” including Morgan Junction, South Park, and Westwood-Highland Park met, including this slide deck with background information preceding the draft maps, each of which has short comment surveys on the side:
If the Scribd format doesn’t work for you, see the deck on the city website here.
Last week, the “hub urban village” focus group had its online meeting, and the slide deck from that one – including the West Seattle Junction map and preliminary group feedback – is below:
You can see that deck on the city website here.
The slide deck with feedback for the “medium-density urban village” group, including Admiral, isn’t available yet – that group has its online meeting Thursday.
While the focus has been on the urban villages, this also will affect multi-family zoning outside UVs, and you can take a look at this interactive map for a closer look at your neighborhood. (NOTE: That map ALSO will allow you to zoom in to street level, helpful if you’ve had trouble reading the draft maps so far.)
Again, tomorrow night’s workshop in Highland Park is an excellent chance to hear from, and talk with, local neighborhood leaders who have been immersed in this process. At any time, you can get feedback to the city via its special website for this – hala.consider.it – and/or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. And then there’s a city “open house” meeting about the rezoning maps, with other topics promised, next week – 5:30-7:30 pm December 7th at Shelby’s Bistro and Ice Creamery in The Junction (4752 California SW).
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER ALL THAT? A final set of maps will go to the City Council next year (June is the latest estimated timeframe) – councilmembers’ approval is needed before zoning can be changed. And the city also is working on an Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed zoning changes – environmental impacts aren’t just what you would traditionally think of as “environmental” but also aspects such as traffic and noise. The draft EIS is due in February-March, according to a timeline shown during tonight’s online meeting.
We’ve received multiple e-mails today noting that demolition has begun at 2310 California SW in Admiral, former site of Brickyard BBQ. In case you were wondering too – a 4-story mixed-use building is planned at the site, as reported here three weeks ago when mentioning issuance of the demolition permit. The documents for this proposal have mentioned gym, child care, and residential units; one new document describes the residential units as “condominium,” which would be unusual, as almost everything multi-family that’s been built over the past decade in West Seattle has been apartment or townhouse/rowhouse. A different proposal for the site stalled after going through Design Review in the mid-’00s; we noted in February 2014 that the site was for sale, and 10 months later, it was sold.
Three notes from today’s edition of the city’s twice-weekly Land Use Information Bulletin:
12-UNIT APARTMENT BUILDING @ 3026 SW CHARLESTOWN: In July of last year, we mentioned an early-stage proposal for a “10-12-unit apartment building” on this parcel uphill from Avalon [map]. Now, there’s an official proposal for an apartment building, and this notice in today’s LUIB invites you to comment on it. (While the notice calls it a 3-story, 12-unit building, there’s conflicting information elsewhere on the city website, including documents that say it’s four stories – which is allowed in the site zoning – with 11 units over six parking spaces.)
12-UNIT APARTMENT BUILDING @ 3017 SW CHARLESTOWN: Almost directly across the street is a similar proposal – 12 apartments on three floors over 6 parking spaces; same development-team contact, with a separate notice announcing a comment period through December 4th. A single-family house is planned for demolition on this site.
PARKING LOT NEXT TO PECOS PIT: Last month, we reported on a meeting focused on the old substation building east of Pecos Pit BBQ (WSB sponsor). One of the issues that came up was whether the city had gone through the appropriate permit process for Pecos Pit to use the substation property (3243 SW Genesee) as overflow parking. According to online records, it had not, but a notice in today’s LUIB indicates an attempt to fix that – an application for a temporary land-use permit to allow parking there “for up to six months.” You can comment on this application through December 4th.
Four development notes this morning:
DATE SET FOR ARBOR HEIGHTS PROJECT @ DESIGN REVIEW: We first told you back in April about a plan for nine live-work units replacing a former church building at 4220 SW 100th in Arbor Heights. The first Southwest Design Review Board meeting on the project is now penciled into the city schedule – 6:30 pm January 5th; details including the design proposal should appear on this page soon.
And from today’s edition of the city’s twice-weekly Land Use Information Bulletin:
KEY APPROVALS FOR ALKI TOWNHOUSES: A 7-unit townhouse project replacing houses at 1706 and 1708 Alki Avenue SW has received key approvals, and that opens an appeal period. Details are in the notice.
APPROVALS FOR 41ST SW PROJECTS: One year after we reported on a new 7-unit proposal for what once was the site of a community-challenged 40-apartment proposal at 4439 41st SW, it’s received key approvals, opening an appeals period. The notices are for two addresses – a four-unit townhouse building at 4437 41st SW, two townhouses and a single-family house at 4439 41st SW.
STREAMLINED DESIGN REVIEW FOR 4534 40TH SW: A four-townhouse proposal at 4534 40th SW is now open for comments as part of the Streamlined Design Review process – no meeting, but if you have something to say, you have two weeks to say it. The notice explains how.
(UPDATED 11:25 am Wednesday with clearer version of map as sent by city, embedded and linked below)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
“This has been brewing for a long time, but what’s been missing has been the community outreach,” observed Junction Neighborhood Organization director René Commons as her group began tonight’s meeting, with more than 50 people there to hear the first West Seattle briefing about the rezoning proposed as part of the mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA).
Commons explained that she had expected JuNO would have been contacted by the city about a briefing once the proposal was ready to go public – but that didn’t happen, so JuNO had to request this briefing, on relatively short notice. She mentioned the “focus groups” that the city set up to work on this (when she asked if anyone from the focus group that included The Junction was here, no hands went up).
Who WAS there: Nick Welch (above) from the Office of Planning and Community Development, the staff person who had led the meeting of the Junction-included focus group that we covered downtown last month. (We recorded his presentation and the ensuing Q&A on video – 12:21 am update, see it below:)
While there still wasn’t a neighborhood-by-neighborhood review of the proposed Junction rezoning map, there was a lot of new information: Toward the start of his presentation, Welch said, in response to a question, that the final HALA maps weren’t likely to go to the City Council before “June at the earliest” – which is months later than we’d heard previously. Read More
(King County Assessor’s Office photo)
Two and a half years ago, a two-building, 80+-apartment proposal for 3257-3303 Harbor Avenue SW [map] sailed through its first Southwest Design Review Board meeting. But it never came back for round two, and now city files indicate the plan has been scrapped entirely. A newly filed, early-stage plan for the site calls instead for 32 townhouses, in two rows between Harbor and 30th SW. Documents indicate the project will go through Administrative Design Review – no meeting, but a chance for public comment via e-mail, once the project proceeds further into the system.
This site already had a history before the now-dead apartment proposal – it had been owned by fugitive real-estate investor Michael Mastro, and had a development plan when it went on the market in 2007 under the working title Aqua Bella. County records show a bank took it over in 2010 and sold it to a real-estate firm in 2013.
P.S. Immediately west of this site, there’s a new proposal at 3239 Harbor SW for four townhouses and four live-work units.
If you’re on that map and interested in a city briefing about the proposed rezoning that’s part of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda – Tuesday is your big chance. The Junction Neighborhood Organization has announced its meeting on Tuesday night will include a presentation by, and Q&A with, senior planner Nick Welch of the city’s Office of Planning and Community Development. JuNO leader René Commons says Welch will “present the upzoning plan for our neighborhood and provide detail around the timing and process of proposed rezoning for increased density.”
The HALA rezoning is toward the HALA goal of Mandatory Housing Affordability; it will affect all property in the city that is currently zoned multifamily and/or commercial, as well as single-family properties that are in urban villages.
Draft maps for all the urban villages in the city – including the four in West Seattle (The Junction, Admiral, Westwood-Highland Park, and Morgan Junction) – were released online last month without an announcement, and the “outreach” since then has been scattered. Besides this guest appearance at the JuNO meeting, your major chance to find out more about what is (or isn’t) proposed for your neighborhood is a citizen-led, West Seattle/South Park-wide event coming up on November 29th (here’s the announcement we published last Monday). Following that, the city has an open house-style event planned for 5:30 pm December 7th at Shelby’s Ice Creamery and Bistro in The Junction, but no presentation, and the maps aren’t the only topic planned.
So if you are in the Junction “urban village” or the areas planned for expanding its boundaries (see the map), come to the Senior Center/Sisson Building (California SW/SW Oregon) on Tuesday (November 15th) at 6:30 pm to get a briefing, and answers to your questions. The questions and comments received by the city regarding the draft maps are expected to lead to final proposals
That pile of debris is all that was left late today of the 96-year-old triplex at 4122 36th SW [map], where a microhousing building that drew concerns from dozens of neighbors is set to start going up. (Thanks to AA for the tip that demolition was under way.) We first reported on the plan in July 2015, when it was described as a four-story building with an unspecified number of “small efficiency dwelling units.”
It’s now a two-building, 4-story project, with some conflicting numbers – the official description mentions 20 units, but lines on the city docket mention wiring for “33 microunits.” (We’ll check with SDCI on Monday to confirm that’s just a mistake – the design-review packet reinforces the 20-unit count and shows floor plans.) One thing that’s remained consistent is that the project does not include offstreet parking spaces. The city file includes a generic acknowledgment of neighbors’ concerns about that, and points them to this city webpage, which says city planners are working on a citywide plan with these principles:
*Provide integrated and accessible transportation choices that are readily available for Seattle’s growing population – such as ORCA passes, car and bike sharing and shared parking.
*Support Comprehensive Plan goals to encourage growth in Urban Centers.
*Retain and enhance Seattle neighborhoods’ walkable and livable urban qualities, which are essential and preferable to automobile‐oriented public places and buildings.
*Prioritize housing affordability to preserve and enhance the ability of persons of all economic means to be able to live in Seattle. Parking is a significant cost factor for developers.
*Help ensure that racial and socio‐economic equity is a key consideration in setting parking policies.
*Manage on‐ and off‐street parking most efficiently.
*Promote designs for better quality, more secure, and more comfortable bicycle storage facilities.
*Achieve local and regional environmental objectives through sound choices to achieve air quality, climate change, and natural environmental protection goals.
To the south of 4122 36th SW, the single-family house at 4126 36th SW is set to be torn down and replaced by a two-unit rowhouse building that will have offstreet parking. The developer of that project had the lot split, and plans show that two parking spaces will go onto what is now technically a separate lot off the alley.
If you haven’t already taken a close look at the four maps below, now is the time. The city has yet to make a wide announcement about them, but this is the window for comments and questions. They are the West Seattle “draft maps” as part of the city’s plan to upzone properties for a component of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda called Mandatory Housing Affordability – focused on the areas known as “urban villages”; beneath the maps, a special event at which your neighbors are offering to help you find out more about “what’s going on”:
We first published those maps when they were released by the city, virtually unannounced, almost three weeks ago. Comments are being taken right now at this city website; an official city open house in West Seattle is planned December 7th, but before then, two community advocates with deep knowledge of land-use issues are leading a West Seattle/South Park meeting to help you understand the maps and the process. They have just formally announced it:
The Morgan Community Association (MoCA) will host an informational session to help you understand Seattle’s Mandatory Housing Affordability rezones proposed for the five District 1 Urban Villages, in advance of a December city-sponsored Open House. This learning session will enable you to go the Open House knowing what is proposed and prepared to give input or ask questions of City staff.
For the past year, the City of Seattle has been developing plans to fund affordable housing. One of the proposals is the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) concept. Under MHA, new development in Seattle will contribute directly to affordable housing by either building affordable homes on site or making a payment to the City to fund affordable housing throughout Seattle. To put MHA requirements into effect, the City must make zoning changes that will allow more development within Urban Villages and other areas zoned for multifamily and commercial development. Proposed areas of rezoning are depicted in newly released maps, and City staff will want input on proposed District 1 rezones at their December 7 Open House.
It is a complicated issue, with lots of ‘moving parts.’ To help you figure out what is going on, we’re setting up a user-friendly informational session with goals of:
° To give enough background information so people understand the MHA proposed program;
° To understand how to read the proposed rezone maps;
° To remind people of their Urban Village Neighborhood Plan Goals and Policies and relationship to MHA principles;
° To give people tools so that they enter the City’s Open House able to give informed input and/or ask questions to get the information they need.
Please join us –
Rezoning for Affordability in District 1: The City Wants Your Input – Do You Know What’s Going On?
Tuesday, November 29, 2016, from 6:30 – 8:30pm
Highland Park Improvement Club
1116 SW Holden Street
o Street parking is available nearby
o Metro Routes 125 and 128 stop at 16th Ave. SW at Holden; walk east on Holden to 12th Street
o Light refreshments will be available
o There will be a coloring corner for kids.
Again, though MoCA is sponsoring it, it’s for everyone in West Seattle and South Park (whose “urban village” is to be upzoned as well).
Southwest Design Review Board members thought it might have been one of their shortest meetings ever, as they gave their final blessing to the four-story, 40-apartment mixed-use project planned for 9030 35th SW. The review at the Sisson Building/Senior Center on Thursday night lasted 45 minutes; no one showed up for public comment.
The board agreed that the project team had addressed the issues that came up in the previous review last May. As shown in the new project “packet,” the architects added a green roof and upgraded the plans for exterior materials; the exterior remained an area of concern for board members, recommending high-grade concrete and siding material. The dark brown/gray color scheme was superior to the one shown in the spring, they agreed, and they warned the project team against oversized signage. After the aforementioned 45 minutes, board members voted unanimously in favor of final design approval. If you have comments/concerns about the project, its assigned city planner is still the person to send them to – email@example.com – until the final permits are issued some weeks/months down the line.
When we reported four weeks ago that the mixed-use project at 9030 35th SW would go back to the Southwest Design Review Board on November 3rd, the new “packet” wasn’t available. Now it is; the rendering above is from the packet, and you can see it in its entirety on the city website. The project is on the east side of 35th, two parcels north of SW Barton, proposed as a four-story building with 40 apartments, ~3,100 square feet of ground-level retail, and 32 offstreet parking spaces. The packet says the development team intends to “provide market-rate housing with vibrant, small-scale retail activity at the street level.” It’s the only project on the SWDRB agenda Thursday night, 6:30 pm, at the Sisson Building/Senior Center at 4217 SW Oregon in The Junction.
KEY APPROVALS FOR 35TH/GRAHAM: The latest development proposal for much of High Point’s most-visible vacant site has won two key approvals, according to a notice in today’s Land Use Information Bulletin. The project is described in the city files as “two 4-story structures, one containing 61 apartments above 5,604 sq. ft. of retail and one containing 41 apartments above 4,346 sq. ft. of retail and 2 live-work units. Parking for 110 vehicles,” mostly in an underground garage. The decision announced today opens a 2-week appeal period, filing deadline November 14th; here’s how that works. Here’s our April report on final Design Review approval for the project, called (at least at the time) Upton Flats.
DEMOLITION PERMIT FOR 2310 CALIFORNIA: Nine years after the first redevelopment proposal for this site that in the interim was briefly the home of Brickyard BBQ, a demolition permit has been issued. The current redevelopment plan appears to be the same one we mentioned a year ago – a 4-story building for a gym, child care, and four apartments. The demolition permit is for three buildings on the site.
NEW PLAN FOR 6921 CALIFORNIA: Last July, we reported that the then-owners had scrapped a plan for this house in south Morgan Junction to be rezoned and remodeled to include a restaurant. (They explained their decision in this comment.) Now there’s a new plan for the site – tear down the house and replace it with a fourplex. Online records show the site was sold to a construction company earlier this month.
JUNCTION BUILDING FOR SALE: One of the newest apartment buildings in The Junction is up for sale. The year-old Lofts at The Junction, 38 apartments at 4535 44th SW, is listed as an “unpriced offering” – you can find out more via this website.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Less than a week after the city went public with proposed rezoning maps for the city’s “urban villages,” the feedback process remains diffuse.
Last night, for a firsthand look at how part of it is working, we went to one of the “focus groups” that have been meeting monthly on related matters involved with the initiative known as HALA, the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda. (We wrote about the recruitment process last winter.) This group has been focused on areas including the West Seattle Junction. More on that shortly, including an alternative way to comment if you are having trouble with the site the city set up at hala.consider.it.
And today, the city announced that Mayor Murray will preside over a live Q/A about HALA via the mayoral Facebook page tomorrow (Thursday) morning at 10:45 am. Since it’s not a two-way video connection, you are asked to post questions now, either via this “event” page or via your Twitter account, with the hashtag #AffordableSeattle.
Now, to the background. Read More
The calendar for the Southwest Design Review Board has been a little empty lately, but another meeting has just been set – what could be the final review for 4532 42nd SW, a 6-story mixed-use building planned for ~74 apartments over 5,302 square feet of retail and office space, with 71 offstreet parking spaces. This is immediately north of Capco Plaza (home to apartments and businesses including Junction QFC). The review is set for 6:30 pm Thursday, December 1st, at the Senior Center/Sisson Building (4217 SW Oregon). A 2008 proposal for the site fizzled; the current proposal went through three Early Design Guidance meetings (here’s our report on the third one last April), and you can find the city reports on them by following the links here.
A long-awaited set of maps is public this afternoon. They show zoning changes proposed for the city’s Urban Villages to meet one of the mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) goals, Mandatory Housing Affordability, in which developers either commit to building a certain percentage of what’s considered “affordable housing,” or pay fees to a city fund that will bankroll some of it. West Seattle has 4 official Urban Village areas – The Junction, Morgan Junction, Admiral, and Westwood-Highland Park. Here are the draft maps:
The draft maps quietly appeared on a HALA feedback website – no formal city announcement yet, but they were due out this week, and that’s why last night’s Morgan Community Association meeting offered a primer on how to read them, once they’re out. MoCA board member Cindi Barker has been on one of the “focus groups” that have been working on the principles to shape the maps. Here’s what she explained to the group last night – these key points:
-Some urban villages were proposed for expanded boundaries – in this area, The (West Seattle/Alaska) Junction is the only one.
-Whichever areas on a map are colored in, that’s where a zoning change is proposed. Single-family zoning inside urban villages is orange on the maps and proposed for changing to “residential small lot.” Also when reading the maps for a change, look for a white zoning label (like SF 5000, single-family 5,000 square feet, followed by a slash, to RSL).
-The solid-color change areas will be getting a “typical” amount of upzoning via Mandatory Housing Affordability, such as one story. If a change area has diagonal lines through it, it’ll be more.
The meetings, Cindi Barker explained, focused on what principles should be applied, in order to make this work around the city. The text boxes on the maps feature some of these principles.
Solid-color change areas will be getting a “typical” amount of upzoning, likely one more story. With diagonal lines, it’ll be more.
-Multi-family-zoned property will see changes, even outside Urban Villages.
-Single-family-zoned property will NOT see changes outside Urban Villages.
Barker says the city will be having open houses and workshops around the city in the months ahead to explain and answer questions about all this. MoCA will also have its own meeting to help Morgan Junction residents. No date for any of this yet;
And the focus groups that have been meeting for several months will also be going over the draft maps at their upcoming sessions, which are all on this page.