West Seattle development: City, builder seek to dismiss challenge to ’14 units, not 104′ microhousing building at 3050 Avalon Way

September 28, 2015 at 9:55 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 32 Comments

(WSB photo from August)
New developments in a neighborhood group’s challenge to what would be West Seattle’s biggest microhousing building, 104 “bedrooms” at 3050 SW Avalon Way: The city and developer Columbia Builders are both asking the Hearing Examiner to dismiss the latest appeal filed by Seattle Neighbors Encouraging Reasonable Development (NERD), which was founded in the neighborhood just north of Avalon. The group’s fight, now in its third year, continues to center on the city’s definition of microhousing and the reviews that are required, or not required, because of it. In this case, while the 3050 Avalon project will include 104 “bedrooms,” each a unit with a private bathroom, they’re clustered around shared kitchens, allowing the city to consider it 14 “dwelling units.” That means it falls beneath thresholds for environmental and design review, because in both categories, that threshold is 20 “dwelling units” in the midrise zone where the property is located.

This latest appeal relates to an announcement in early August, as reported here – an “interpretation” which Seattle NERD had requested, regarding whether the development really could be viewed as “14 dwelling units” and therefore exempt from those reviews. The city said yes:

The question raised for interpretation was whether the 104 bedrooms in the proposed building should be regulated as separate dwelling units. Each of the bedrooms has a private bathroom. Early versions of the plans showed counters with sinks in each bedroom, outside the bathroom, but those features were eliminated before the plans were approved. The interpretation concludes that the individual bedrooms are not designed and arranged as separate dwelling units, and that the proposed building is appropriately regulated as a 14-unit apartment building based on the plans as modified.

On the environmental front, the site does include what the city considers a “steep slope,” which triggered a limited environmental review, but otherwise, the city issued a “determination of (environmental) non-significance.” A full environmental review would include issues such as traffic effects; this building, like most microhousing buildings, was designed with no offstreet parking.

The appeal currently is set for a November 5th hearing before the examiner, if the dismissal motions aren’t granted. The points on which they are argued are complicated but basically contend that the examiner doesn’t have jurisdiction, and that SeattleNERD made a procedural error by not appealing the “underlying decision” on the issue. You can read all the documents in the case here.

The project has now been in the pipeline for almost three years; we first noticed and mentioned it in November 2012. It’s been almost exactly a year since the city told its developers – among others – that, as the result of a court ruling, they would have to undergo Design Review if they didn’t change their plans. This project, and the microhousing building under construction at 3268 Avalon, did that, and continued on through the system.

Beach Drive apartment building becomes ‘sober living’ complex: New ownership explains what that means, refutes rumors

September 26, 2015 at 8:35 pm | In West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 42 Comments

(WSB photo)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

“It is not shared housing, a treatment facility, or a halfway house. It is simply an apartment building where all tenants commit to a sober lifestyle and all drug and alcohol use, possession, or consumption is prohibited.”

That’s how the new owners of the waterfront Beachwood Apartments at 4027 Beach Drive SW (map), a company called Seattle Sober Living, explain what they’re doing with the 10-unit building. After we received questions from readers who were curious and/or concerned after rumors started circulating in the community, we contacted SSL to request an interview, and got a quick, affirmative reply. The company bought the building earlier this year and stresses that it will be operated as an apartment building – albeit one whose tenants must meet a particular condition.

“Founded by local families, Seattle Sober Living is a local company focused on providing housing options that support individual tenants’ sobriety,” SSL’s David Gould told WSB in an interview conducted via e-mail. “This effort is deeply personal for the organization’s founders, as each have been touched in a profound way by loved ones struggling with addiction. As such, Seattle Sober Living’s focus is on helping everyday people – our family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors – to successfully live drug and alcohol free.”

Gould says this type of housing is “almost impossible to find in Washington State.” (The website says that was a problem for the company’s five founding families, who “had to send their loved ones away to find a safe and sober environment.”) But, he emphasized repeatedly in our exchange, this remains an apartment building, with units being leased to tenants – not a halfway house or transitional housing:

Click to read the rest of Beach Drive apartment building becomes ‘sober living’ complex: New ownership explains what that means, refutes rumors…

West Seattle development notes: South Delridge, Admiral, Morgan

September 17, 2015 at 5:48 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 4 Comments

Three notes, two of which are updates on projects we’ve mentioned before:

(Rendering: S + H Works Architecture & Design)

DESIGN REVIEW FOR APARTMENT BUILDING AT 9021 17TH SW: Back in June, we reported on a plan for a 31-unit, 31-parking-space apartment building at 9021 17th SW in South Delridge. The project is now on the Southwest Design Review Board‘s schedule, as the second review of the night on Thursday, October 15th, 8 pm at the Sisson Building (home of the Senior Center) in The Junction.

THREE TOWNHOUSES BEHIND 2336 44TH SW: New project just popped up in the system – a plan to demolish a building described as a “garage/carriage unit” (see the bottom photo here) behind this address, on the alley between 44th and California SW, and replace it with three townhouses.

THREE HOUSES REPLACING 1 AT 6715 CALIFORNIA SW: Back in January, we mentioned this south Morgan Junction plan. This week, work has begun, with the 97-year=old house on the site torn down, and the rest of the site-clearing work under way.

West Seattle development: 5-home site on Highland Park Way; plus, ‘what’s in a name?’ x 3

September 11, 2015 at 6:39 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 32 Comments

Haven’t had much time this week to report on development/housing, but four quick notes:

FIVE NEW HOMES REPLACING ONE ON HIGHLAND PARK WAY: Brand-new early-stage proposal just turned up for 7717 Highland Park Way (between Holden and Portland), including the vacant parcel to its west, 8,500 sf total, demolishing the 72-year-old house shown above and replacing it with what’s described as “five small 3-story single-family homes with rooftop decks.” Here’s the configuration on the preliminary site plan filed with the city. Watch for a notice at project #3022246.

Now, three projects in varying stages of completion/construction, all of which now have names:

FAUNTLEROY LOFTS: This is the name for the just-complete-and-now-renting microhousing (Small Efficiency Dwelling Units) project to open in West Seattle, 5949 California SW. Thanks to Diane for pointing out to this Craigslist listing announcing the opening, declaring the building on a “quiet street,” and listing rents from $950 (for a 200-sf unit) to $1500. That’s furnished and includes all utilities plus wi-fi, we should note. No off-street parking in the building; the ad declares, “Bike parking is available and street parking is easy to find in the surrounding neighborhood.”

SPEAKING OF PARKING … remember the kerfuffle over the 30-unit, no-offstreet-parking apartment building at 6917 California SW? Neighbors challenged it and eventually settled with the builder. Now, it’s almost done and has a name, according to the sign that went up this week: Viridian.

This is NOT microhousing – it’s self-contained studios, about 300 sf, developer Mark Knoll told neighbors in late 2013. No rental listing yet that we can see (in ’13, Knoll guessed units might go for about $700). Meantime, if you look up the word, it seems to mean either a “bluish-green pigment” – not unlike the building’s color – or a slang definition that could be paraphrased as “good-looking, cold-hearted guy.”

RALLY ROUND: We also noticed earlier this week that the townhouse/live-work development under construction since June on the site of the former Charlestown Café now has a name: Rally. The 27 units will be available for sale this winter, according to the Rally website.

58-unit microhousing at 4528 44th SW OK’d by Southwest Design Review Board

September 4, 2015 at 3:04 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 26 Comments

(From the “design packet” by Alloy Design Group)

The 6-story, 58-unit microhousing project planned to replace an 8-unit apartment building at 4528 44th SW in The Junction is the first West Seattle project in a while to make it through Design Review in the minimum amount of meetings. The Southwest Design Review Board has approved it after one Early Design Guidance-phase meeting (in March) plus, last night, one Recommendation-phase meeting. One member of the public offered comments. Patrick Sand was at the meeting for WSB; toplines ahead:

Click to read the rest of 58-unit microhousing at 4528 44th SW OK’d by Southwest Design Review Board…

Next affordable-housing proposals advanced by mayor, councilmember: ‘Linkage fee’ and Mandatory Inclusionary Housing, with additional height in exchange

September 1, 2015 at 12:43 pm | In West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 31 Comments

(One of the city’s graphics for today’s announcements, explaining the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing)
When Mayor Murray announced his housing plan and the report from the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda advisory committee in mid-July, it was pointed out that the proposals will roll out over a period of up to two years. Two of the first proposals to be pursued were detailed today by Mayor Ed Murray and City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, whose announcement says they’re expected to “create 6,000 units of affordable housing” in the city as part of what was called a “grand bargain” involving developers and housing advocates. The announcement (which you can read in full, here) continues:

… “Seattle is experiencing unprecedented growth, and our challenge is to build fairly and affordably. We want sustainable, socially inclusive and economically diverse neighborhoods that are walkable, close to transit and job centers. To build these equitable communities, we must ensure that our teachers, nurses, hotel and restaurant workers who work in the city can also afford to live here,” said Mayor Murray. “With this legislation, Seattle – for the first time ever – will require that all new development in the city will pay for affordable housing. This is a bold, progressive proposal where growth itself will support affordable and environmentally sustainable neighborhoods. I am eager to work with the Council as we engage the public on this proposal as it moves through the legislative process.”

“I continually hear from people in our city struggling to keep up with rising rents. The Grand Bargain represents 6,000 desperately needed, new affordable units that we cannot build fast enough—especially not for those in need today,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien, Chair of the Select Committee on Housing Affordability. “I will be working with my colleagues on the City Council to act as swiftly as possible on the legislation behind the Grand Bargain.”

There are two major components to the “Grand Bargain.” The first establishes an Affordable Housing Impact Mitigation Program (AHIMP) – commonly referred to as a commercial linkage fee – that will directly fund the construction of new affordable housing by requiring developers to pay a fee on every square foot of new commercial development. The linkage fee will range from $5 to $17 per square foot, based on the size and location of the commercial development.

The second part of the “Grand Bargain” calls for Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) for new multifamily developments, requiring five to eight percent of units be affordable for residents earning up to 60 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) for 50 years.

Click to read the rest of Next affordable-housing proposals advanced by mayor, councilmember: ‘Linkage fee’ and Mandatory Inclusionary Housing, with additional height in exchange…

West Seattle development: 1st Design Review meeting set for 1250 Alki SW ‘Perch’ project

August 28, 2015 at 2:25 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | Comments Off

An Early Design Guidance packet is on file and a date is set for the Southwest Design Review Board’s first look at “Perch,” the mixed-use project proposed for 1250 Alki SW: 6:30 pm October 15th. (Remember as you look at the “packet” above that Early Design Guidance is for size and shape – once those are determined, the details follow.)

We first reported on the proposal three months ago; it’s the first new 100+-residential-unit project proposed in West Seattle in a few years – all the others in the pipeline are under construction or complete. The developer is SODO-based SolTerra, which began as a company focused on sustainability-focused systems such as solar power, and has branched out into housing. Their designs are aimed for LEED Platinum and Perch, SolTerra says, will be designed to that standard “at minimum.”

From the packet, key points of the project:


+/- 125 residential units
Five stories of residential floors over a ground floor of lobby space, support, service and public parking
188 Parking Stalls for residents and visitors, in a below-grade garage
Dedicated space for car-sharing programs
Ample bike storage for residents and exterior bike parking for guests


Extensive vegetated green roof with a variety of seating areas and scenic viewpoints
Solar panel array on the rooftop
Rainwater collection cistern
Potential native marine bird habitat on the rooftop
Public green space along Alki Ave. with multi-purpose programmed uses for the neighborhood
Rear courtyard space at the foot of the hillside with a water feature and lush plantings

Five 2-story residential structures – described in the packet as three multiplexes and two single-family homes – would be demolished to make way for this development. A SolTerra spokesperson tells us that in addition to the Design Review process, they also will be seeking feedback from community members including the Alki Community Council.

Renew the Multi-Family Tax Exemption? City Council committee briefing this morning

August 20, 2015 at 9:09 am | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 25 Comments

It’s a tax-break offer that many developers have long accepted from the city: If your project’s being built in certain areas, and you allot a certain percentage of units to a certain number of tenants at a certain income level, you can get the residential portion of your building (not the land) exempted from property taxes for 12 years. It’s called the Multi-Family Tax Exemption, and the council soon will have to decide whether to renew it for the fourth time since its inception in 1998. That discussion officially starts with a briefing during the end of this morning’s 9:30 am meeting of the council’s Housing Affordability, Human Services, and Economic Resiliency Committee. It’s a lead-up to a meeting next month at which the committee will consider legislation renewing the program.

Here’s what the committee will be shown and told this morning – first, the slide deck with stats on the program, which it says involves almost 2,000 rental units now, with almost 2,000 more “in the pipeline”:

Here’s the council-staff memo:

Wondering which West Seattle projects got the MFTE? From the newest list on the city website, dated August 14th:

*Element 42
*Footprint Avalon
*Footprint Delridge (microhousing)
*Oregon 42
*Youngstown Flats
(WSB sponsor)

The list does NOT include under-construction projects that will be getting the MFTE – the program’s annual report included an expanded list that does, but only as of last December, so some might be missing. The additional projects on that list are:

*Spruce (open now so we’re not sure why it’s not on the first list)
*Admiral East Apartments (on the list as 3210 California)
*3050 Avalon (microhousing)
*Footprint’s Morgan Junction project (microhousing)
*4730 California
*Junction 47
*Trinsic West Seattle
*Lofts at The Junction
*The Whittaker
*Broadstone Sky
*6917 California
*Junction Flats

Right now, September 20th is the date for the committee to look at renewal legislation. If you’re interested in watching this morning’s discussion, the meeting will be live on Seattle Channel, cable channel 21 or online stream; it’s the last item on the agenda.

West Seattle development: 10 houses, one duplex for Pigeon Point site

August 19, 2015 at 1:14 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 11 Comments

New from the city files today: An early-stage proposal for 10 houses and one duplex at 3710-3722 21st SW on Pigeon Point (map). The north side of the site faces a Seattle Parks-owned slope over the West Seattle bridge; the south side, SW Charlestown. The 12 new homes would replace two single-family houses, one more than a century old, the other, 58 years old. Documents in the online files suggest the site’s been under consideration for development for at least two years. Brad Khouri is the architect.

West Seattle development: Westwood apartments; Alki projects; 36th SW microhousing update

August 18, 2015 at 6:54 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 13 Comments

Four projects in this roundup of West Seattle development notes:

WESTWOOD APARTMENTS: A preliminary “site plan” has just been filed for a proposed 32-apartment, no-offstreet-parking building on a vacant triangle of land at 2221 SW Barton Place, southeast of Westwood Village. Notes in the city’s online files say the project would require Design Review.

ALKI TEARDOWNS: Three century-old beach bungalows have just been demolished on a site long planned for redevelopment in the 3000 block of 63rd SW in Alki, just across the south-side alley from the commercial building that is home to Cassis (WSB sponsor), Cactus, and Alki Urban Market.

An earlier proposal for the site passed Administrative Design Review more than six years ago. Six townhouses and one single-family house are to be built.

1307 HARBOR PROJECT FILES APPLICATION: This is the site that includes the former Alki Tavern, now closed for almost 2 1/2 years. The mixed-use proposal went through the first stage of Design Review in spring 2014; though no date is set, its next Design Review is getting closer, as city files show the developers have applied for their master-use permit. The project is now described as including 15 residential units, fewer than the original proposal.

4122 36TH SW MICROHOUSING FOLLOWUP: When we first reported last month on this proposal to replace a triplex with a microhousing building, the proposal didn’t specify a number of units. Now it does – approximately 24.

West Seattle development: 14-house project, 8 years in the making

August 13, 2015 at 10:14 am | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 9 Comments

From today’s Land Use Information Bulletin: A sloped site in East Admiral that was first proposed for a multi-house subdivision almost eight years ago is moving more deeply into the review/approval process. A 14-house proposal is now in the works for 3601 Fauntleroy Avenue SW, which is hard to find on online maps, but documents in the project file show it’s in the vicinity of 33rd SW & SW Spokane, just northwest of where Admiral Way meets the West Seattle Bridge, and you can get a better idea from this map in the plans filed online:

The land, currently undeveloped, is zoned single-family 5000. The LUIB notice says the application would require “administrative conditional-use” approval because of “clustered housing in a steep-slope area,” and an environmental determination. Comments on the revised application will be accepted through August 26th, says the city (unless someone requests and is granted an extension). It proposes 14 houses with offstreet parking for 28 vehicles, to be developed by West Seattle-based Inhabit LLC, which was also the applicant when this site appeared in DPD records as a possible 21-house project in August 2007, and is shown in county records as owning other undeveloped parcels nearby. You can comment via this form linked to the city notice, or via contacting the assigned DPD planner, Michael Dorcy, michael.dorcy@seattle.gov.

West Seattle development: Madrona Glen back on the market

August 12, 2015 at 1:31 pm | In West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | Comments Off

(WSB photo from January 2014)
Back on the market: Madrona Glen, the future subdivision site at 2646 SW Holden that now holds one crumbling, vandalized old house and is approved for 18 new ones. It was re-listed for sale a week ago, asking price $2,160,000. The plan for 18 houses (each three stories, with a two-car garage) got key approvals last September, more than a year and a half after going through Streamlined Design Review. The last time the site changed hands was three years ago, with the sale price shown in county records as $470,000.

FOLLOWUP: Mayor Murray backs off proposal that would potentially densify most single-family-zone neighborhoods

July 29, 2015 at 3:01 pm | In West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 65 Comments

3:01 PM: Two weeks after Mayor Murray went public with his housing-affordability recommendations, while also releasing the Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee‘s report, he is backing off the most controversial proposal – the plan to change not the zoning, but the rules, for most single-family neighborhoods (as detailed in this WSB report). Here’s the news release:

Today Mayor Ed Murray issued the following statement announcing he will not recommend pursuing a Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) committee recommendation that could have changed 94 percent of single-family zones in Seattle. Instead, he is calling for renewed public dialogue on how best to increase affordable housing in denser neighborhoods:

“The Council and I created the HALA process because our city is facing a housing affordability crisis. In the weeks since the HALA recommendations were released, sensationalized reporting by a few media outlets has created a significant distraction and derailed the conversation that we need to have on affordability and equity.

“Fundamentally, this is a conversation about building a Seattle that welcomes people from all walks of life — where working people, low-income families, seniors, young people and the kids of current residents all can live in our city.

“We also must not be afraid to talk about the painful fact that parts of our city are still impacted by the intersection of income, race and housing. Look at a map and take a walk through our neighborhoods. We can move beyond the legacy of the old boundaries of exclusion that have remained largely unchanged since nearly a century ago when neighborhood covenants were used to keep people of color south of Madison Street.

“I have always believed that Seattle can step up and have a difficult conversation about our history of racial discrimination and economic inequality. Our shared vision for Seattle includes affordable housing and diversity in all our neighborhoods.

“To advance the broader conversation about affordable housing and equity, I will no longer pursue changes that could allow more types of housing in 94 percent of single-family zones. Instead, we will refocus the discussion on designing denser Urban Centers, Urban Villages and along transit corridors that include more affordable housing.”

ADDED 6:16 PM: What is still on the table for 6 percent of Seattle’s single-family-zoned area is explained in the second half of this fact sheet issued with the original proposals two weeks ago. But all the discussion remains in the early stages, as no legislation has been sent to the City Council yet – its new Select Committee on Housing Affordability is not scheduled to meet again until August 10th. We reported on its first meeting here.

Mayor’s housing plan: First council discussion; plus, clarifying what’s proposed for single-family neighborhoods

July 21, 2015 at 11:16 pm | In West Seattle housing, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 55 Comments

The week after Mayor Murray went public with his housing proposals – concurrent with release of a report by the advisory committee appointed to examine the issue – the City Council got its first official briefing:

The Seattle Channel published video today of Monday’s first meeting of the council’s Select Committee on Housing Affordability – the creation of which was announced last week, at the same time as the mayor’s proposals and the Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory committee (HALA) report.

For this update on the plan, we also sat down with a West Seattleite from the HALA committee, Cindi Barker, to talk through a few of its more-confusing points. (She was not on the committee as a West Seattle representative, but as a member of the City Neighborhood Council.)

First – some toplines from Monday’s council meeting. Early on, a city staffer offered an understatement, saying it will be a “long conversation” because “some of the suggestions do step outside of the comfort zone.”

Much of the briefing focused on the backstory of how this all happened.

One major issue of interest brought up by Councilmember Tom Rasmussen was the oft-quoted contention that the city has enough “capacity” for all the new housing it needs, without any upzoning.

Click to read the rest of Mayor’s housing plan: First council discussion; plus, clarifying what’s proposed for single-family neighborhoods…

Want to follow the process as city pursues more housing via zoning changes? Here’s the next step

July 16, 2015 at 10:43 am | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 30 Comments

Following up on Monday’s much-discussed mayoral announcement (WSB coverage here) of proposals the city hopes will lead to more housing, particularly more affordable housing: Most if not all of the proposed changes have to go through the City Council. Its members now have a new set of hats to wear while considering those changes: The Select Committee on Housing Affordability. The agenda is now out for its first meeting, next Monday (July 20th) around 2:30 pm (after the regular afternoon council meeting). Linked in the agenda are several documents, most of which went public with Monday’s announcement; one you might want to take a close look at includes this list of proposed multifamily/commercial zoning changes:

While most of this has been widely described as “adding one floor” to current zoning, note what’s proposed for the zone currently known as NC-85 – much of the heart of The Junction is zoned that way, as is part of Avalon, and that generally allows up to 8 floors. If this part of the new proposals is approved, that zone would fold into NC-125 – meaning up to 12 floors, four more floors beyond what’s now allowed. (If you’re not familiar with the term FAR in the table, that is short for floor-to-area ratio, explained here.) This has NOT been written into proposed legislation yet, so public hearings, counterproposals, and votes are still some distance off.

Meantime, we’re working on a separate followup looking at some of the other proposals including (but not limited to!) all the confusion and conflicting statements regarding what’s proposed for single-family zoning.

VIDEO: Housing-affordability committee report goes public; mayor announces ‘action plan’ including ‘inclusionary housing’ and upzoning

July 13, 2015 at 11:12 am | In West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 81 Comments

(What was the live-video window, then a placeholder screengrab, is now the archived video of Monday’s announcement)

11:12 AM: Click the “play” button to see the live Seattle Channel webcast that’s about to begin, with Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember Mike O’Brien leading the presentation of the long-awaited report from the Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee, created almost 10 months ago. The report is live here, and the “action plan” the mayor is announcing is here (and embedded below):

11:20 AM: The briefing has begun.

11:24 AM: Here’s the full text of the news release from the mayor’s office, hailing a “grand bargain” between developers and housing advocates, which includes a requirement for “affordable” units in all multi-family developments, and also increases allowable heights in certain zones:

Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember Mike O’Brien today hailed an unprecedented agreement that will lead to at least 50,000 new homes in Seattle, including 20,000 affordable homes, over the next 10 years. Affordable housing will be included in nearly every residential development across Seattle as the rate of construction of new affordable homes triples.

“As Seattle expands and experiences rapid economic growth, more people are chasing a limited supply of housing. We are facing our worst housing affordability crisis in decades,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “My vision is a city where people who work in Seattle can afford to live here. Housing affordability is just one building block to a more equitable city. It goes hand in hand with our efforts on raising the minimum wage, providing preschool education for low-income children, and increasing access to parks and transit. We all share a responsibility in making Seattle affordable. Together, this plan will take us there.”

“Since 2013, the City Council has called for a robust, citywide, mandatory affordable housing program to help ensure that the people who work in this city can afford to live here. The combination of Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and a Commercial Linkage Fee will ensure that as Seattle continues to grow, we are creating housing for all incomes,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien.

At the heart of the action plan to make Seattle affordable is Mandatory Inclusionary Housing, a requirement that developers reserve five to seven percent of units in every new multifamily building to be affordable for residents earning up to 60 percent of King County’s Area Median Income (AMI). Developers could opt to contribute to a fund for off-site construction of the units.

In 2015, 60 percent of AMI is $37,680 for an individual and $53,760 for a family of four. Current market-rate rents in new buildings on Seattle’s Capitol Hill currently average $1,887. In 2015, individuals with incomes of 60 percent of AMI pay $1,008 for income-restricted apartments.

New buildings will have taller height restrictions in existing multifamily residential, mixed-use and commercial zones throughout the city. A substantial portion of the additional development will occur within the existing Urban Centers and Urban Villages, designated two decades ago as the preferred location for denser housing. Only single-family zoning within Urban Villages and along major arterials will be converted to low-rise residential.

A map of the proposal, which was negotiated by Murray, O’Brien, developers and affordable housing advocates, shows where the growth could occur.

Here’s the aforementioned map – the mayor’s news release continues after it:

The action plan also includes a Commercial Linkage Fee on new commercial development, phased in over three years, to fund additional affordable housing for the lowest-income families. The linkage fee will range from $5 to $14 per square foot, based on the size and location of the commercial development.

When fully implemented, Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and the Commercial Linkage Fee will lead to the construction of at least 6,000 new affordable homes over 10 years.

The Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) advisory committee today delivered to the mayor 65 recommendations after 10 months of work. The consensus-driven proposal was crafted by a 28-member committee of affordable housing advocates, community voices, developers and housing experts appointed by the mayor and Seattle City Council last September.

“Many thanks to all the committee members and staff for an extraordinary amount of work over the past 10 months,” said HALA co-chairs David Wertheimer and Faith Li Pettis. “We were asked by the mayor and council to offer bold, new concepts in our approach to solving the affordable housing crisis. We think this plan fully delivers on that request. We were able to complete our task because we approached the challenge with a single, shared goal: to make Seattle affordable for all families. None of us got exactly the solution we may have envisioned at the outset, and every one of us had to give a little to reach this landmark agreement. In the end, we are confident that our collaboration will result in thousands of new affordable homes across our city.”

Murray immediately responded to the recommendations with his roadmap to make Seattle affordable, a path to reach his goal of 50,000 new homes, including 20,000 new homes for low- and moderate-income people, over the next decade. Some items in the action plan could be completed this year, while others will require at least two years to implement. In the coming weeks, the mayor will transmit to council a resolution to formalize the elements and framework of the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program.

Today, about 45,000 households in Seattle spend more than half their incomes on housing. An estimated 2,800 people sleep outside each night in Seattle. Currently, about 700 income-restricted homes are built in Seattle each year.

The increased development capacity across the city will ensure increase supply of housing to respond to growing demand, as Seattle is forecast to add 120,000 residents over the next 20 years.

Single-family zones currently represent 65 percent of all land in Seattle. After the proposed zoning changes, single-family zones will still cover 61 percent of Seattle. HALA proposes code changes that will make it easier to build accessory dwelling units and backyard cottages (only one percent of homeowners have done so), as well as allow duplexes and triplexes, while preserving the character of single-family neighborhoods.

Residential development continues to be excluded from industrial areas under the proposal.

The City is currently engaged in a community process to update its Comprehensive Plan, called Seattle 2035. Over the past two decades, the Comprehensive Plan has been successful in locating 75 percent of Seattle’s new housing in Urban Centers and Urban Villages. The update, to be completed in 2016, contemplates expansion of Urban Villages and denser housing around transit hubs and light rail stations. HALA’s recommendations will be implemented in conjunction with the updated Comprehensive Plan.

Doubling of Housing Levy in 2016

To meet the needs of the Seattle’s lowest-income residents, those earning less than 30 percent of AMI, HALA also proposes to double the existing $145 million Seattle Housing Levy scheduled to expire in 2016. Over the past 30 years, the levy has funded $400 million to build and preserve nearly 12,000 units of affordable housing.

In 2015, 30 percent of AMI is $18,850 for an individual or $26,900 for a family of four.

This year, the City will award a record $42 million from the Housing Levy and the existing Incentive Zoning program for the development and preservation of low-income housing. The Seattle Office of Housing will issue project guidelines and invite partner applications later this week.

The HALA report also urges the Washington State Legislature to allow Seattle to adopt a 0.25 percent real estate excise tax dedicated to affordable housing development, as well as an increase in the State Housing Trust Fund.

To support moderate-income families, HALA recommends expanding the Multifamily Property Tax Exemption Program (MFTE) that is set to expire at the end of the year. Under MFTE, developers receive a tax exemption when they dedicate 20 percent of units in new buildings for moderate-income people, typically between 65 percent and 85 percent of AMI. HALA proposes to expand the program to all areas where multifamily housing can be built and incorporate a new incentive for three-bedroom units to extend program benefits to larger moderate-income families.

In 2015, 80 percent AMI is $46,100 for an individual and $65,800 for a family of four.

HALA recommends a range of tenant protections to ensure better access to housing, prevent housing discrimination and minimize displacement as rental and ownership costs increase across the city:

· Prevent displacement as rents increase across the city through a Preservation Property Tax Exemption and other mechanisms.

· Remove barriers to housing for renters with a criminal history that disproportionately impact people of color.

· Strengthen the Tenant Relocation Assistance paid to low-income renters who are displaced by new development.

· Develop new homeownership tools for Muslim buyers who cannot use conventional mortgage products due to their religious convictions.

· Establish new protections to prevent discrimination against renters due to their source of income.

HALA also recommends that the City continue to review parking policies that contribute to the growth of housing costs or inhibit development in single- and multifamily residential zones.

11:47 AM: We’ve added embedded versions of the key documents/maps mentioned so far. Also of note, but not mentioned in the news release above – the mayor mentioned that, as part of the “bargain,” a lawsuit has been settled. Council President Tim Burgess, meantime, mentioned he’s creating a new City Council committee on housing that will deal with this, starting later this month.

West Seattle development: Microhousing proposal on 36th SW

July 13, 2015 at 9:27 am | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 52 Comments

Today you can expect to hear a lot about housing, construction, and zoning, as the long-awaited Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee report is going public at City Hall at 11 am. We’ll have the details when available. In the meantime, new project proposals continue to surface in city files daily, and we have another one to mention today:

MICROHOUSING ON 36TH SW: A brand-new early-stage plan in the files would replace that 95-year-old triplex at 4122 36th SW (map) with what’s described as a “4-story apartment building” featuring “small efficiency dwelling units” (SEDU), the official name for the studios more commonly known as microhousing. The site is zoned Lowrise 3; the potential number of units is not mentioned in what’s been filed so far. No offstreet parking is planned; it’s not required because of its proximity to what’s considered “frequent transit.”

SIDE NOTE: Two SEDU buildings are under construction in West Seattle right now – 5949 California SW (approximately 40 units) and 3268 Avalon Way SW (62 units), which is next to one of the two already-open SEDU buildings, 3266 SW Avalon Way.

West Seattle redevelopment: Harbor project under way; new plans for California, Fauntleroy, Charlestown sites

July 9, 2015 at 2:02 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 9 Comments

Four residential-redevelopment notes this afternoon:

1201 HARBOR SW PROJECT UNDER WAY: Harbor Avenue has had many proposals but not much action for a while. This one at 1201-1205 Harbor Avenue SW is now under way after demolition of two old houses last week (WSB photo above)city files show a 4-unit rowhouse on the way. (UPDATE: After publishing this, we received a rendering from the architects Allied 8:

You can also see a daylight version on the firm’s website.)

REDEVELOPMENT @ 5440 CALIFORNIA SW: From the city files, a new proposal to demolish this 92-year=old single-family house and “accessory unit,” to be replaced by three live-work units, two townhouses, and two single-family homes.

5652 FAUNTLEROY WAY SW: Redevelopment also continues along Fauntleroy Way, where a 101-year-old single-family house and “accessory structure” are now planned for demolition and replacement with three single-family houses.

3026 SW CHARLESTOWN: In the Luna Park area, there’s an early-stage proposal on file for a 10-to-12-apartment building on this site that’s just uphill from Avalon.

From The Times: West Seattle a big draw for people fleeing the Bay Area

June 11, 2015 at 9:01 am | In West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 46 Comments

Thanks to the many people who’ve sent us this link – if you haven’t already seen it, data reporter Gene Balk at The Seattle Times (WSB partner) says people interested in getting out of the Bay Area are zeroing in on West Seattle – in a BIG way, at least according to one real-estate website. Doesn’t surprise us – when we got here from San Diego in 1991, we found more than a few other ex-Californians in WS. But that was pre-consumer Internet, so, no data-crunching possible! Any recent Bay Area arrivals within sight of these pixels, would love to hear how you wound up here – comments or editor@westseattleblog.com.

West Seattle development: Charlestown Court comes down

May 22, 2015 at 4:49 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 81 Comments


4:49 PM: Twice nominated, and rejected, for city-landmark status, the Charlestown Court apartments across from the ex-Charlestown Café are coming down.

Townhouses will replace them, as we’ve reported previously.

5:40 PM: We’re adding images and backstory. Video:

And – thanks to Bryce for the tip that demolition was under way; unexpected at 4 pm on a Friday going into a long holiday weekend. This site has been on our watchlist for many weeks, and we’ve driven by daily to check for signs of impending teardown, but hadn’t been by today, until that tip.

Back in 2008, with a different demolition/development proposal pending for the site, the city Landmarks Preservation Board rejected a bid for landmark status, saying basically that it was nice-looking but not “special.” The proposal to replace it with a four-story apartments-over-retail building was scrapped later that year, and a new proposal emerged, one that would have preserved its distinctive facade:


(2008 NK Architects proposal incorporating Charlestown Court facade; eventually scrapped)
A land-use permit was granted in early 2009 but the project stalled in the economic downturn, and the apartments remained status-quo until early 2014, when we discovered a new teardown-to-townhouses proposal in the city files. Here’s the concept in the files, from architects S&H Works – 4 buildings, 2 townhouses in each one:

Last summer, as part of the process, Charlestown Court was again considered, and rejected, for landmark status. That cleared the way for the project getting under way now.

SIDE NOTE: Its block is about to have a whole lot of building going on – it’s across the street from the former Charlestown Café, with live-work and townhouses slated to fill that site, and a few doors down on the west side of California, demolition is expected soon at 3829 California, with a 29-unit apartment building to replace it. While demolition was under way to the north, we noticed firefighters training in the now-vacant building:

ADDED 9:54 PM: Sent by Jackie (who has also mentioned this in the comment section):

We saved the azalea, though! The kindest operator and my neighbor, who owns the truck, helped get it up and out of harm’s way. Thank you, Cajun Excavating! You made our day.

Meantime, we went back before sunset to see if the south side of the building had been taken down since we left; it had.

4730 California apartments: Welcoming a new WSB sponsor

May 19, 2015 at 4:41 pm | In West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 22 Comments

Today we’re welcoming 4730 California, new apartments in the heart of the West Seattle Junction, as a new WSB sponsor. Here’s what they’d like you to know:

(Copyright: The Wolff Company / Doug Scott Photography)
Experience 4730 California apartments. Next to amazing restaurants, bars, shops, transit connections, yet mostly undiscovered by outsiders. 4730 California is the quintessential West Seattle address. It’s right smack dab in the heart of West Seattle. Yet at just 88 apartments, it is boutique enough to allow individual passions and living tastes to come through.

(WSB photo)
What ‘best in West’ means:

*Best Seattle is the sunset over the Olympics from your loveseat
*Best Seattle is sleeping in and grabbing a Low Rider at Easy Street
*Best Seattle is a stroll through Lincoln Park with Fido in tow
*Best Seattle is a year-round farmers’ market darn near in your back yard
*Best Seattle is Talarico’s New York-style slice as big as your head
*Best Seattle is a fat burger and beer from Elliott Bay Brewing

4730 California is available by appointment for tours Mondays-Fridays, 10 am-5 pm. The building is “very pet-friendly” and has special events such as wine tastings hosted by Bin 41 every third Thursday. And they’ve signed on as a major sponsor of this year’s West Seattle Summer Fest. Find out more at 4730ca.com.

We thank 4730 California apartments for sponsoring independent, community-collaborative neighborhood news via WSB; find our current sponsor team listed in directory format here, and find info on joining the team by going here.

VIDEO: Senior Center housing forum now viewable online, on cable

April 29, 2015 at 2:57 pm | In West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | Comments Off

If you weren’t at the Senior Center of West Seattle last Thursday for the discussion forum that led to last week’s most-discussed WSB story, now you can watch the Seattle Channel‘s video. Thanks to Diane for the tip; it’s available online (here, or embedded above) and is being shown on SC’s cable channel (21), with upcoming schedule slots listed as 4 pm tomorrow (Thursday) as well as 1 am and 11 am on Friday (May 1st). Though the forum sought to address a multitude of housing issues, they primarily boiled down to affordability, as well as tenants’ rights.

‘Affordable housing’ forum starts with West Seattle tales of unaffordable housing, and what (little) you can do about it

April 23, 2015 at 7:11 pm | In West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 63 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Rather than starting with numbers and trends, this afternoon’s affordable-housing forum at the Senior Center of West Seattle cut directly to the heart of the crisis, with two women telling their stories.

They were introduced by the center’s social worker Holly McNeill: “I’ve had an incredible increase in the number of people coming to me each week telling me they’re homeless, or their apartments are being torn down, or they’re being priced out by the landlord or manager in order to upgrade the apartments and turn them around at twice the amount they’re currently being rented at … it’s just happening to so many people.”

First, Nancy:

“I lived in a 9-unit mom-and-pop-type apartment complex.” She thought it would “be there forever.” They told her they were selling the building but “selling it to people just like us” – then, “the new owners who came in and bought the building raised the rents anywhere from 130 to 140 percent – “In a studio apartment, my rent went from $650 to $1500 a month” – the audience groans – “Each unit was going to be responsible for the common area utilities like electric and water,” which was another 93/month. They got two months’ notice. “My first reaction was to go into research mode – my kids always say, mom’s on a mission, get out of her way.” She worked to find out, “is this legal … what are our rights … to no avail, really.” She had had surgeries recently, ended up having to take early retirement. “I don’t really have wiggle room to go from $650 to $1590, that’s even more than I make per month.” So she started “an arduous process” to find someplace else to live – “day and night I was on the computer looking for a place to live.” She finally found somewhere, “not my ultimate, ‘isn’t this great,’ but I accomplished my goal. I had to be out on the 28th of February, or else pay $1590 on the first of March for rent. ”

They were going to make some changes, “lipstick on a pig,” she said, but not until the new rent kicked in. She found a two bedroom, one bath apartment with “some guy I don’t know” – she had “a pit in the bottom of my stomach … I took a leap of faith, and moved in, and I’ve been there two months and he decided this month not to pay his rent, and I just found that out two days ago, and I’m going to be homeless again …”

Click to read the rest of ‘Affordable housing’ forum starts with West Seattle tales of unaffordable housing, and what (little) you can do about it…

‘Affordable-housing challenges’ forum ahead @ WS Senior Center

April 21, 2015 at 1:51 pm | In West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | Comments Off

In case you missed our first mention – this is just two days away, 12:30 pm-2:30 pm Thursday (April 23rd) at the Senior Center of West Seattle:

Councilmember Tom Rasmussen will host a community forum regarding affordable-housing challenges for senior citizens and options for those on fixed incomes. Rasmussen is hosting the meeting in response to concerns he has heard regarding the increasing cost of housing, particularly from low-income seniors. Representatives for senior citizens, social workers, housing affordability advocates, Seattle Housing Authority, and from the Seattle Utility Discount Program will be part of the presentation.

Forum topics include:

· Increasing housing costs
· Landlord and renter rights in Seattle
· Affordable housing options for seniors
· Opportunities for participation in the Utility Discount Program
· Q&A

Everyone is invited to attend to learn more and ask questions.

The Senior Center’s entrance is on SW Oregon just east of California SW.

Mayor puts a number on ‘affordable housing’: 20,000 units in 10 years

March 26, 2015 at 1:52 pm | In West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 42 Comments

Will runaway rents chase (more) people out of the city? With heartbreaking tales like this one emerging, and discussions like this one ongoing, Mayor Murray has stepped up While his affordable-housing advisory committee continues to work on its recommendations, Mayor Murray has just given them a goal with a specific number:

Mayor Murray today directed the Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee to meet his new goal for both income-restricted affordable and market-rate units to be created over the coming decade.

Mayor Murray asked the committee to develop specific proposals that will allow the building and preservation of 50,000 housing units over in the next 10 years within the city limits. 20,000 of these must be income-restricted affordable units for individuals and families making 80 percent of the area median income (AMI) and below. 30,000 units would be market rate.

“Seattle is facing a serious lack of affordable housing options that displace families and people in this city,” said Murray. “Next week, Seattle’s minimum wage workers are getting a raise as a part of our broader affordability agenda. We need to make sure that those who work in Seattle can afford to live here.”

The increase in income-restricted affordable units is nearly a tripling of the current rate of units being built for those at 80 percent of AMI or less. Currently, income-restricted affordable housing is being built at a rate of around 700 units per year.

“As the HALA enters the last stretch of analysis and discussion of strategies, this target will sharpen our focus,” said Faith Le-Pettis, co-chair of the advisory committee. “No matter your perspective, the target we’ve been given by the Mayor is an enormous number. We’ll need determination, long-sightedness and civic commitment to meet the challenge.”

The Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee was formed by Mayor Murray and city councilmembers in the fall of 2014 to develop policy recommendations for the city. The committee is made up of 28 housing experts, activists and community leaders. They will issue their recommendations to the Mayor in May.

Right now, the Multi-Family Tax Exemption is one incentive the city has been offering developers for some years – if they agree to keep a certain number of units in their projects in certain areas (including West Seattle’s urban villages/centers) at a certain percentage of the area’s median income, they get a 12-year tax break, no property taxes on the residential portion of their buildings.

When we talked to Mayor Murray at his neighborhood-press availability last week, he mentioned he would be announcing an affordable-housing goal and that it would take “a series of tools – not just one tool” to make it reality. He said in that interview that it would be vital to build units for people who will “never qualify for subsidized housing” but are being priced out of the “market” nonetheless.

Happening now: Triple demolition at Junction Flats project site

March 18, 2015 at 10:52 am | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 3 Comments

While Junction leaders were gathered at Husky Deli to launch a survey of the area’s historical character, another development project was ramping up just blocks away. Thanks to Sally and Carl for sending photos from 42nd SW in The Junction, just north of SW Oregon, where three houses are coming down at the Junction Flats site, weeks after the demolition equipment was brought in and parked in the houses’ front yards. This is right across the street from Hope Lutheran School, which has provided an audience of sorts:

It’s been more than a year since Junction Flats finished going through Design Review.

The 4-story building is planned for 80 units (all apartments except for two live-work units) and 52 off-street parking spaces.

West Seattle development: New plan for 4532 42nd SW, six years post-demolition

March 3, 2015 at 2:46 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 5 Comments

(WSB photo from November 17, 2008)
At 4532 42nd SW in The Junction, that house with history – a long-ago hospital, WSB’ers told us – came down in fall of 2008. At the time, a 35-residential-unit, 54-parking-space development was in the works. As happened to some other projects right around that time, it got shelved. Now a brand-new proposal has emerged, a mixed-use building with 84 apartments and 70 underground parking spaces. The project would also include the site of the small brick house-turned-office at 4536 42nd SW, placing the building immediately north of Capco Plaza (QFC/Altamira).

(WSB photo, taken this morning)
According to the early-stage site plan that just turned up in city files, the building’s parking garage would have an entry on the same alley used for the Capco Plaza garage, and the residential entry on 42nd would be just north of the alley. This will require Design Review – no date yet. It’s an NK Architects project, as are the two noted below:

SIDE NOTE: This proposal’s emergence means three projects are now in the works for the two-block stretch of 42nd between Genesee and Alaska in the heart of The Junction. Construction equipment has been parked for a while outside two of the three houses scheduled to come down for 80-apartment Junction Flats on the west side of 42nd just north of Oregon; just south of Oregon, 4505 42nd SW, with 41 apartments and 9 “lodging” units, won Design Review approval earlier this year.

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