West Seattle, Washington
South-end redevelopment continues in The Junction. In the city’s online files, an early-stage plan has just been filed for 24 microstudios in a building that would replace a 70-year-old duplex (county assessor photo at right) at 4807 41st SW, next to townhouses that were built last decade at 41st/Edmunds. They are officially described as SEDUs (small efficiency dwelling units, the city’s name for what used to be more commonly known as microhousing), 320 square feet each. The plan doesn’t mention the height, but the site is zoned Lowrise 2, which maxes out at 35′. This project is expected to go through the city’s Streamlined Design Review process, which means no public meeting, but an opportunity for public comment.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Though both were billed as “Community Design Workshops,” there were major differences in the meetings about Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda-related rezoning for Admiral, held this past Saturday, and for The Junction, held last month.
Turnout was different – about 50 people for Admiral, more than 200 for The Junction – though that’s proportionate to both the areas’ population differences and their respective scopes of change proposed by the rezoning for Mandatory Housing Affordability, in which developers/builders will get extra capacity and in exchange will have to include “affordable housing” in their projects or pay a fee into a city fund that will bankroll some. The changes are proposed in the city’s Urban Villages (West Seattle has four) and for all commercial/multifamily property citywide (check this map to see how/if you’re affected).
Also different: The meetings’ format.
At The Junction’s meeting on January 26th (WSB coverage here), the initial explanatory presentation by a city Office of Planning and Community Development staffer was followed by a Q/A period, with slips of paper having circulated at the start of the meeting for participants to write down questions.
That didn’t happen in Admiral; a few questions were addressed when people spoke out during the presentation, but at its end, facilitator John Owen of consulting firm Makers Architecture and Urban Design pushed to get everyone into small-group breakouts, despite one attendee requesting a chance for Q&A so everyone could hear.
At Admiral on Saturday (a morning meeting at West Seattle High School), small groups were not preassigned as they had been for pre-RSVP’d participants in The Junction (an evening meeting at the Senior Center). Their work did conclude with another difference: At Admiral, each group presented a summary to the entire room; in The Junction, that didn’t happen – tables just wrapped up, left their notes, and departed.
We recorded the Admiral summaries on video, and you’ll see those relatively short clips later in this story. But first, toplines from the opening presentation: Read More
One more reminder – tomorrow is the day that people who live and/or work in Admiral are invited to a Community Design Workshop about the rezoning that’s proposed for the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) component known as Mandatory Housing Affordability.
This proposal would upzone property within the city’s Urban Villages – plus all multifamily/commercial property, in an UV or not – and require builders/developers to either dedicate part of what they build as “affordable,” or pay into a fund that will go toward affordable housing somewhere in the city. You can click around this interactive map to see what’s proposed where you are. Then, 9:30 am-12:30 pm Saturday at West Seattle High School (3000 California SW), it’s the Admiral version of this big recent meeting in The Junction – first a presentation, then Q/A, then table-by-table conversation to get your feedback. Here’s the official city announcement. Whether or not you’re going, you can get your feedback to the city via hala.consider.it or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two updates and a reminder today in the ongoing discussion of rezoning proposed for the Mandatory Housing Affordability component of the city’s HALA (Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda) initiative:
NEW DATE SET FOR MORGAN JUNCTION ‘COMMUNITY DESIGN WORKSHOP’: Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s office sends word that the Morgan Junction Residential Urban Village’s rescheduled Community Design Workshop – a meeting like this one held in the West Seattle Junction two weeks ago – is set for Monday, March 6th, 6-9 pm, at The Hall at Fauntleroy (9131 California SW). From the city: “Please bring a neighbor or a friend to join the conversation. RSVP is not required to participate in the workshop but does give priority for facilitated working groups as well as assist our team in planning for staffing, room setup, and resources.” If you choose to RSVP, e-mail email@example.com.
REMINDER – ADMIRAL’S WORKSHOP COMING UP SATURDAY: This gives us the opportunity to remind you again that the Admiral Residential Urban Village’s Community Design Workshop is now three days away, 9:30 am-12:30 pm Saturday, February 11th, at West Seattle High School (3000 California SW).
ANOTHER WESTWOOD-HIGHLAND PARK URBAN VILLAGE MEETING: Announced at last night’s Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council meeting (full report later today), the city will come back out for another HALA discussion regarding the WW-Highland Park Urban Village, on March 1st, start time TBA, since the Community Design Workshop back in November had low attendance due to little publicity.
WHEREVER YOU ARE … you can still comment on the proposed rezoning via hala.consider.it or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Not sure whether/how HALA MHA is affecting the neighborhood(s) where you live/work? Check the citywide interactive map here.
COUNCIL BRIEFING MONDAY, WITH DEADLINE FOR PUBLIC COMMENT: On Monday morning, the City Council‘s weekly briefing meeting at 9:30 am will include a HALA briefing. The documents related to the briefing are already linked to the meeting’s agenda. Two of them announce a date for the end of public comment: June 30th. It’s in this memo, and on the last page of the briefing slide deck – here’s a framegrab:
(The briefing documents note that only 600 people have used the hala.consider.it site, which has drawn complaints about user-unfriendliness.) Earlier this week, we reported that City Councilmember Lisa Herbold had learned the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the MHA rezoning was expected to go public in May rather than March. Some community groups including the Junction Neighborhood Organization and Southwest District Council have asked for an extra six months to comment; the draft rezoning maps went public in October but without a clear citywide announcement of what they were and who they would affect. The city now says its upcoming outreach will include going door-to-door:
The City will be going door to door in our Urban Villages to answer questions and leave
information about ways to comment on the draft proposals. The doorbelling will take place in March
2017 and will focus on the single-family homes that will be changing to multifamily.
That’s an excerpt from the memo for Monday morning’s briefing. Public comment is not taken during council briefing meetings, but you can attend at City Hall, or watch live via seattlechannel.org (online or cable 21).
ADMIRAL MEETING REMINDER: One week from tomorrow is the Community Design Workshop for the Admiral Residential Urban Village, 9:30 am-12:30 pm at West Seattle High School. It’s the Admiral version of the well-attended Junction meeting last week (WSB coverage here). Here’s the official city weblink about the meeting (child care provided, by the way); if you still don’t know whether your neighborhood is proposed for rezoning, explore the citywide interactive map.
One week after the standing-room-only meeting in The Junction, there’s a new development today in the proposed citywide rezoning that’s a big component of the city’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA): The timeline for the Mandatory Housing Affordability rezoning has just expanded by two months, so you have more time to get up to speed and get your comments in. The Junction Neighborhood Organization got first word from City Councilmember Lisa Herbold that the Office of Planning and Community Development …
… is amending the schedule for release of the draft EIS [Environmental Impact Statement] and now it is anticipated to come out in May. This will give the community an additional two months to provide feedback. The Department of Neighborhoods plans to door knock all of the single-family homes that are part of the potential upzones. DON and OPCD will conduct another series of conversations in May and June.
The new May timeline for the draft EIS – which will open another comment period – is five months later than the end-of-2016 projection in the “scoping” for that document (see it here) was done. The draft and final EIS will have to be done before a final rezoning proposal can go to the City Council for a vote.
Meantime, the Admiral Residential Urban Village version of last week’s Junction meeting is still to come – 9:30 am Saturday, February 11th, at West Seattle High School. No date/time announced yet for the Morgan Junction version. You can still comment online, via hala.consider.it and/or e-mailing email@example.com.
Whatever area you live in, if you still don’t know whether you are directly affected by the HALA proposal, find your neighborhood on this interactive map. While most of the proposed rezoning is for those within “urban village” boundaries (West Seattle has four – The Junction, Morgan Junction, Admiral, and Westwood-Highland Park), there are some proposals for expanding those boundaries, and all commercial/multifamily property is proposed for rezoning, even outside urban villages.
While out this morning, we spotted that demolition in progress at 5040 Fauntleroy Way SW, an 73-year-old home on a site zoned Lowrise 1, being demolished for replacement by three single-family houses.
This year, the backhoe/excavator is more of the West Seattle development icon than the tower crane – the peninsula does not have a single project with one of the latter right now. This month alone, demolition permits have been sought at these addresses (each one links to the DPD docket for the site, unless it’s a site we’ve already published a story about, in which case it’s asterisked):
3010 Fauntleroy Avenue SW
4103 SW Southern
4810 Delridge Way SW*
5015 Fauntleroy Way SW
2622 SW Nevada
2749 California SW* (apartments/PCC project, due back to Design Review on March 2nd)
6727 39th SW
3046 61st SW*
3050 61st SW*
6016 SW Admiral Way*
8854 Delridge Way SW* (fire-damaged auto-shop site, proposed for apartments)
6530 Delridge Way SW
4532 42nd SW* (mixed-use project)
7337 44th SW
4311 SW Brandon*
3044 38th SW
4748 23rd SW
4744 23rd SW
7531 13th SW (new proposal, 8-unit rowhouse)
1516 SW Henderson (new proposal, 8-unit rowhouse)
3028 63rd SW
We don’t have stats to compare if that’s more or less than usual … just a snapshot of one month in time. (Just to get those addresses, we had to search city data for any one of four terms – demolition, demo, remove, removal.) This also doesn’t necessarily mean the aforementioned demolitions are imminent … permit filings/updates vary widely in terms of timelines, from days to months. (For just one example – 2749 California SW, the apartments/PCC project, still has at least one more Design Review meeting to go, and that’s not until March 2nd, so that demolition is a ways off. And in some cases, permits are granted but the teardown doesn’t happen for quite some time; pending demolitions, with permits granted before this month, aren’t included in the list, just new applications/reviews dated this month.)
Four months ago today, a three-alarm fire gutted one building at the Lam-Bow Apartments complex in Delridge. More than 40 people lost their homes; many stayed in a temporary shelter at Delridge Community Center until the Seattle Housing Authority found new places for them to live. The fire’s cause was never determined.
During her appearance at this week’s “State of Delridge” community-group meeting in Highland Park (WSB coverage here), Councilmember Lisa Herbold was asked about plans for the charred building. That reminded us we had not followed up on it lately, so we took the question to SHA spokesperson Kerry Coughlin, who told us, “The building has been deemed unsalvageable. We will have to take it down completely. That much has been decided. What hasn’t yet been determined is what happens after that and when. We are still looking at options.” As for the demolition timeline, “We have submitted all the paperwork and fees to the City for the permit and are just waiting on that. As soon as we get it we will begin the work.” City files show, in fact, that the demolition-permit application for the building at 6955 Delridge Way SW went in just yesterday.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
“How do we grow as a city and create more affordable housing in all of our neighborhoods?”
That’s the question the current proposal for Mandatory Housing Affordability rezoning, as part of the city’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda, is supposed to address.
But despite hundreds of properties proposed for rezoning, it could result in fewer than 100 affordable units over the next 20 years in the West Seattle Junction Urban Village, according to one part of the presentation seen by ~200 people last night, filling the upstairs hall at the Senior Center for a briefing, Q&A session, and small-group discussions of that area’s part of the plan.
The meeting was officially billed as a Community Design Workshop. We were there for the entire three hours. First – in case you are still catching up on HALA, which includes 60+ components in addition to the MHA rezoning – we recorded the half-hour primer provided by Brennon Staley of the Office of Planning and Community Development – “the background and how we got here,” regarding what he described as a “housing affordability crisis”:
Other city staffers from OPCD were there, as well as a representative from the office of Councilmember Rob Johnson – who chairs the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee through which the final proposals will go – District 1 Councilmember Lisa Herbold (observing rather than speaking), and consulting-firm employees who facilitated the small-group discussions.
The Junction area has 3,880 homes today – that includes apartments, townhouses, houses – Staley said. If nothing (zoning, etc.) changes, 2,300 new homes are expected to be added in the next 20 years. If MHA rezoning is approved, that number is expected to bump to 2,800 new homes, with 80 to 130 of them “affordable.” After the four-digit building boom of the past few years, those numbers drew some audible expressions of disbelief from around the room. Staley did offer the caveat that it’s “just an estimate, could be more or less.”
The presentation had a few points of customization for the West Seattle Junction area – including “retain(ing) highest density along the SW Alaska ‘transit spine’,” the “transition from (higher heights) to single-family areas,” and larger density increases near transit, stores, Fairmount Park.
That brought the question that resurfaced at last week’s Junction Neighborhood Organization Land Use Committee meeting – what about waiting for rezoning until the station locations for Sound Transit 3 are known? There was no real answer to that, aside from the acknowledgement that it’s a unique issue for this area.
Another common question was the potential effect of rezoning on property taxes. That’s where the question-and-answer section began – here’s our video of that half-hour:
That didn’t get to all the questions, and it was promised that they all will be answered on a TBA webpage. But that could take a month, the city reps acknowledged, when asked how long that would take, given that no summary of the December 7th open house – 7+ weeks ago – has turned up yet.
If you’re interested, but couldn’t go last night, we highly advise taking the time to listen to the video, but here are a few highlights:
Questions included how “infrastructure” is being addressed, including the need for more schools. The city is “working closely with Seattle Public Schools” as it plans for the BEX 5 ballot measure (followup to BEX 4, which built new schools including Genesee Hill and Arbor Heights Elementaries), reps said.
And then there was the question of whether the “affordable housing” to be generated by MHA will “contribute to solving the homeless problem.” Staley’s response was that it’s “interrelated but not the same issue” – homelessness, he said, is caused partly by the cost of housing, and also by “other issues” (he did not elaborate).
The Junction already has absorbed much more growth than was envisioned to have happened by now, so could some of the proposed growth be shifted to other areas of the city that have not? “That’s why we are out talking to people,” Staley replied.
The perennial issue of vehicle parking came up. “We know (it) is a concern,” Staley said, adding that there is no minimum or maximum for it in urban-village projects, but most projects, he said, include it. (Many attendees shouted, WRONG! at this point.)
And then there was a followup on the small number of affordable units expected to be generated, whether by percentages or fees, from Junction upzoning, and a question about where in this area that the city already had built affordable housing. Staley contended there had been a “lot,” and when asked where, started to mention the High Point redevelopment, but the discussion veered away at that point. (He said the Office of Housing has a map, but did not have a representative at the meeting.)
Around midway through the three-hour meeting, the small-group discussions began. People who had RSVPd were pre-assigned to certain tables, and more were added for those who had not – “there’s so much interest in your community,” the facilitator explained.
The room was abuzz with conversation all the way until the 9 pm conclusion – some left early, but not many. We listened in at multiple tables, where concerns ranged from wanting to exempt single-family areas from rezoning, to wanting more green space, to wanting to be sure that West Seattle’s hilly topography was taken into account when considering how height changes would play out. By the meeting’s end, maps on tables had many comments, from discrepancies to suggestions – here are a few examples:
West Seattle Junction is one of four urban villages in West Seattle – this type of meeting was held, though little-publicized, in Westwood-Highland Park in November; Admiral will have one the morning of Saturday, February 11th; and Morgan Junction will too, with a date TBA. MHA rezoning also affects commercial/multifamily property EVERYWHERE in the city, so you might be affected even if you’re not in an “urban village” area. (Added: Here’s the interactive map you can use to zoom in on any area of West Seattle – or the rest of the city – to see whether any particular spot is affected.)
COMMENT ONLINE: You can comment on any urban-village proposal at hala.consider.it. Or, you can e-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
City inspectors are checking more apartments today at a Junction building where they ordered one unit vacated for health/safety concerns. Readers asked us Friday night about the posting on the door at the San Juan Apartments at 4840 California SW; we made contact this morning with Department of Construction and Inspections spokesperson Bryan Stevens:
Last week our code compliance inspector responded to a complaint from a tenant related to water damage in their unit. After inspection, it became clear that significant leaks were coming from the flat roof above. That specific unit is no longer habitable or safe to occupy, so our inspector notified the property manager informing them we’ve issued an Emergency Order to Close and Vacate. The tenants had already moved out most of their belongings before inspection, but this formal notice from SDCI now allows the tenant access to financial relocation assistance from the property owner. A low-income household will receive $4133; if not low-income, they will receive the equivalent of two months’ rent for relocation assistance.
Today, we’ve received additional complaints from two other tenants in the top floor and are scheduling inspections. At this point in time, the damage appears to be limited to portions of the top floor. We have not ordered the entire building to be vacated, but could see additional top floor units deemed unsafe to occupy, depending on the scope of the damage. The property owner has scheduled a roofing company to begin making repairs next week.
We asked Stevens for a copy of the full order that’s partly visible on the building’s door; read it here.
P.S. If you have concerns about conditions in any rental unit – here’s what the city says you can do.
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.
As reported here last week, more “community design workshops” are coming up to talk about the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda draft proposals for rezoning, including one for Admiral on February 11th. To get ready for that, tomorrow’s Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting (7 pm Tuesday, January 10th, The Sanctuary at Admiral [42nd/Lander]) will include an informational discussion with West Seattle community advocate Deb Barker. She co-led the peninsula-wide, community-organized HALA briefing back in November. Come to the ANA meeting to find out what’s being proposed and how best to understand it and comment on it before the proposals get much further down the road.
P.S. City Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s newest online update has the latest information on the timeline. As she told us during our “first year in review” interview published last week, this is all expected to play out over most of 2017.
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 email@example.com 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.
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.
Announced by the Seattle Housing Authority:
On Monday, February 6, 2017, Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) will open a lottery for places on a new waitlist for the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, formerly known as Section 8. These vouchers provide rental assistance for people with low incomes to rent homes owned by landlords in the private market.
Registration for the lottery will be available online only, and will be open from 8 a.m. on February 6, 2017 until 5 p.m. on February 24, 2017, Pacific Time. Registration is only available at seattlehousing.org/waitlist, not at any other website. Registration is free; if any website asks for money to complete registration it is not the correct site. The only way to safely register and avoid misleading websites is to type seattlehousing.org/waitlist into an internet browser.
The chances of being selected for the waitlist are the same no matter when households register during the open period. Once registration closes, 3,500 applicants will be chosen at random by computer to be placed on the new waitlist. Letters will be mailed by March 31, 2017 notifying all registered households whether or not they received a place on the new waitlist.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 photo is from Jeff McCord, a West Seattleite who has long worked for Nickel Bros., a company well-known for “rescuing” older houses by moving them to new locations. You probably recognize this house – 5458 California SW, headquarters of Ventana Construction (WSB sponsor), which has to move because its landlord plans to build six live-work units on the site.
After we first reported the redevelopment plan back in April, many wondered, couldn’t the 107-year-old house be saved? McCord was among those asking that question, so he investigated, and tells WSB today that his company has obtained permission to give it a try. They’re looking for someone with a lot in the West Seattle area; the price to buy it and get it moved is listed at $69,000. The house is 3 bedrooms, 1 bath – the process, McCord explains, involves moving it to an excavated site, where the buyer then puts in a foundation, and then Nickel Bros comes back and lowers the house onto it.
“It has been one of my favorite houses for a long, long time!” he adds. “We really hope to find a nearby local recipient who can ‘adopt’ the house for us to move to their lot.”
ADDED 8:59 PM: We talked tonight with Ventana co-proprietors Anne and Clarence Higuera; they are still seeking a new West Seattle location, but they still have some time, because their lease here goes through the end of July.
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’re welcoming West Seattle Realty to the WSB sponsor team today. Here’s what they want you to know about their business:
You belong in our neighborhood. West Seattle Realty welcomes you to the warmth and comfort of community here. We’re a homegrown agency with highly engaged local leadership. Shelby White, owner and founding broker, started the business in 2006 based on his affinity for the culture and values of this stunningly beautiful, down-to-earth place. In fact, the whole team of brokers and staff at the agency are devoted, long-term residents.
Whether you are looking for a new home or getting ready to sell the one you live in now, West Seattle Realty is ready to help. We take pleasure in making the process easier. Our knowledge base and professional network span the whole peninsula of West Seattle as well as White Center, Burien, Georgetown, South Park, and Beacon Hill. We know the terrain and character of each area on a block-by-block basis.
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