West Seattle, Washington
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
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
For the first time in months, the Southwest Design Review Board had a full house – this time for the first look (aka “Early Design Guidance”) at nine live-work units proposed at 4220 SW 100th in Arbor Heights.
At meeting’s end, they told the project team to come back for a second round of Early Design Guidance, after an intense hour and a half of comments, questions, and concerns.
The project’s assigned city planner Tami Garrett asked if anyone had questions before the meeting – and they did. About parking, and even about who the board members were and how they were appointed. (Like the city’s other DRBs, they are volunteers, appointed by the City Council. When there’s an opening, it’s announced publicly, with a call for applications.)
Three were present – Matt Zinski as chair, with Robin Murphy (a fill-in and former member) and Alexandra Moravec.
Here’s how the meeting unfolded: Read More
Two development notes tonight:
DESIGN REVIEW DOUBLEHEADER TOMORROW: If you’re interested in either of the projects that go before the Southwest Design Review Board tomorrow (Thursday) night, you’ll want to review the “packets” first.
Here’s the one for the 6:30 pm review, nine 3-story live-work units at the former Church of Christ site in Arbor Heights, 4220 SW 100th. Though the packet by Lemons Architecture contains the shown-above concept for the Claremont Partners LLC-owned site, this is the first phase of review, Early Design Guidance, and so the discussion will largely center on massing – size and shape.
Nicholson Kovalchick is the architecture firm; Union Street Investments is the owner/developer. We covered the first review back in February; this is now in the Recommendation phase, which means this could be the final meeting about the project.
COMMENT TIME FOR 2222 SW BARTON: The application is in for the 4-story apartment building proposed at 2222 SW Barton, southeast of Westwood Village, currently described as “containing 27 small efficiency dwelling units and 39 apartment units,” replacing a small apartment building. This notice opens an official comment period. Here’s the notice from the latest edition of the city-circulated Land Use Information Bulletin. You can comment until January 16th – here’s how.
It might take until next year before the City Council finalizes a rezoning plan for the Mandatory Housing Affordability component of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda. That’s what Councilmember Lisa Herbold told us during an interview about her first year in office (full story on that here tomorrow). Meantime, her office has confirmed that three more “community design workshops” are planned in West Seattle in connection with the rezoning proposals. We’re sharing the dates so you can at least set your calendar:
*For Morgan Junction – January 23rd, 6-9 pm, Gatewood Elementary (4320 SW Myrtle)
*For West Seattle Junction – January 26th, 6-9 pm, Senior Center of West Seattle (4217 SW Oregon; final location confirmation pending)
*For Admiral – February 11th, 9:30 am-12:30 pm, West Seattle High School (3000 California SW)
The fourth “urban village” in West Seattle, Westwood-Highland Park, had a workshop in November.
The workshops are organized by the office of Councilmember Rob Johnson, who chairs the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee, which is the lead on consideration of HALA-related items. Here’s how his office explains the design workshops:
The goal of this workshop is to help inform City Council about your community’s vision of how our Urban Villages should look, feel, and function in support of important citywide goals for increased affordability, design quality, and housing options in neighborhoods throughout the city.
We welcome a lively interchange of ideas and opinions on the recently proposed zoning changes for your neighborhood, including where the boundary for urban villages should be drawn, what mix of zones best support the context and conditions of local areas, and how to encourage more housing options and elements of livability (including neighborhood amenities such as frequent and reliable transit, community-serving businesses, parks and schools). Our goal is to increase choices for more people of all incomes to benefit from working and living in urban villages across the city. More information on other methods to provide input one the proposed draft urban village boundary, draft zoning changes, and building types can be found at www.seattle.gov/hala/focus-groups.
We look forward to hearing from you. To RSVP, please e-mail Spencer.Williams@Seattle.Gov or call (206) 384-2709. Please inform us at that time if you require accommodations for accessibility or interpretation services.
While the rezoning proposals are mostly focused on the “urban villages” around the city, they also involve multifamily/commercial property everywhere. Check this citywide map to see if/how your neighborhood would change under the current draft proposals, for which the city is still taking comment at firstname.lastname@example.org and via this website.
P.S. If you are just catching up on all this – our coverage of a neighbors-helping-neighbors briefing a little over a month ago will probably be helpful. It includes all four West Seattle urban villages’ draft maps, with current and proposed zoning.
Now that government offices have reopened, you’ll be hearing a lot about what’s new for 2017. We took a look at the city’s news.seattle.gov portal, and this one caught our eye, from the Department of Construction and Inspections website:
On January 1, 2017, the updated Seattle Building Code takes effect. The updated code requires all applicants to complete a rat eradication program as a condition to getting a demolition permit. Only projects that apply under the 2015 Seattle Building Code will be subject to this new requirement.
The rat eradication program must be in place on the project site at least 15 days prior to the start of any demolition or any clearing or grading on the site. Applicants must provide proof to the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections that a licensed pest control agent successfully completed the eradication. You can find licensed pest control operators at the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s website. (Search for commercial applicators with a CA endorsement of PCO General within King County.)
We are updating our demolition permit process and accompanying forms. During this transition, applicants can submit a letter from a certified pest control agent that includes the planned eradication method and a statement that they will continue eradication until the demolition begins.
Also spotlighted by SDCI: Street-use permit-fee changes and new rules for tree-protection signage on construction sites,
Another Delridge Way SW redevelopment proposal has appeared in the city files today. Earlier this week, we featured one toward the south end of Delridge; this one is closer to the north end. The early-stage proposal would replace a 26-year-old single-family house at 4810 Delridge Way SW [map] with five townhouses. The 4,800-square-foot lot is zoned Lowrise 2; five open parking spots are planned between the townhouses and the alley behind the lot. The project will have to go through what the city calls Streamlined Design Review – which includes public comments, but no public meeting – so watch for the official comment period to eventually turn up on the twice-weekly Land Use Information Bulletin.
While the bigger development projects get more attention (like the new Triangle proposal we discovered last week), more of the day-in, day-out proposals in city files are like these two:
7716 DELRIDGE WAY SW: From today’s city-circulated Land Use Information Bulletin, the 65-year-old house below is proposed to be replaced with six homes – four single-family houses and a two-unit townhouse building.
County records show the house’s 9,500-square-foot site is on the books as three lots, zoned Lowrise 1. The notice published today is formal announcement of your chance to comment on the application (here’s how) – deadline January 9th.
5015-5017 FAUNTLEROY WAY SW: These addresses are on one 8,200-square-foot lot zoned Lowrise 1, according to county records, currently housing a 67-year-old duplex to be replaced by seven 3-story homes:
The proposals for both sites are shown on the “site plan” in city files as a four-unit rowhouse building facing Fauntleroy, and three single-family houses behind it. The formal application is not on file yet – these are early-stage proposals.
12:23 PM: There’s a new development proposal for 4722 Fauntleroy Way SW, where – as reported here last summer – CVS gave up its plan for a drugstore. We just found the new early-stage proposal on the city docket, where it’s described as:
Construction of both a 7-story apartment structure on the Fauntleroy-facing property and a 4-story apartment structure on the 38th Ave SW facing property. Structures to include rental apartment units, commercial uses where appropriate, and structured indoor parking. All existing structures to be demolished.
No unit counts are mentioned in what’s online so far; the project will go through Design Review.
The site is currently home to West Seattle Produce and Suite Arrangements. The preliminary site plan shows the development also would include 4736 and 4740 Fauntleroy Way SW, bringing it all the way up to the proposed mixed-use building that’s in the works for the former pawn-shop site on the northeast corner of Fauntleroy and Edmunds; the property on 38th is listed as street number 4721, immediately east of the aforementioned business buildings. The prospective developer is listed as Legacy Partners, which built Youngstown Flats (WSB sponsor) in North Delridge; the architect is listed as Nicholson Kovalchick.
1:46 PM: While out of HQ just now, we went over for a quick look at the project site. The 38th SW-facing lot proposed for a 4-story apartment building is immediately south of Les Schwab and currently being used as food-truck parking. The two lots south of the Suite Arrangements/WS Produce building both have small structures on the alley side.
The Southwest Design Review Board‘s next meeting on January 5th now has a second project.
We already reported a month ago that the Arbor Heights plan for 9 live-work units at 4220 SW 100th would go before the board that night (6:30 pm, Senior Center/Sisson Building). It’s an Early Design Guidance hearing but this concept rendering of the project is already in the file:
The formal notice of that hearing finally appeared in the Land Use Information Bulletin today.
What’s not in the bulletin yet – but has just been added to the Design Review website – is an 8 pm hearing that same night (January 5th) for 3039 SW Avalon Way. This is the second and potentially final review for the six-story, 71-unit, 20-offstreet-parking-space project. Here’s our report on its first review back in February. The “packet” for this review is not in the system yet but will eventually be linked here.
42nd Avenue SW continues to be the busiest street for West Seattle Junction redevelopment. Newly filed documents show the local developers who built Junction Flats at 4433 42nd SW have a new early-stage proposal on the same block, between SW Genesee and SW Oregon. We just found the “site plan” for 4417 42nd SW in the city Department of Construction and Inspection files. The site plan filed less than a week ago proposes a four-story building with 55 apartments and an unspecified number of underground parking spaces. The site plan shows the new building replacing what county records say are three 1930s-built houses at 4417, 4421, and 4423 42nd SW, separated from Junction Flats by a parking lot owned by the West Seattle Eagles. No formal application filed yet, but this will have to go through the Design Review process.
Two projects in West Seattle are going through Design Review, but at the levels that don’t require public meetings, so if either or both interest you, you’ll want to send in comments ASAP. First one is in north Morgan Junction:
6016 CALIFORNIA SW: This project [map] is going through “administrative design review.” It’s proposed for 36 apartments – thirty of them “small efficiency dwelling units,” formerly known as microhousing – plus three live-work units. No offstreet vehicle parking; 28 spaces for bicycles. Through December 21st, you can comment on “early design guidance,” which focuses on the size and shape of the project. The EDG “packet” by architecture firm Hybrid is here, including this roughed-out concept:
Now, the South Delridge project:
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.