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

3811californiaphoto.jpg

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:

charlestownctnew.jpg

(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.

Lower rent limits for tax-break-qualifying microhousing units? City Council to consider rule change

February 2, 2015 at 10:27 pm | In West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 23 Comments

Another new rule regarding microhousing units is about to go before the City Council. With two micro buildings open here, two more under construction, and one in the pipeline, you might find it of interest.

BACKSTORY: Right now, if a microhousing building is eligible for the city’s Multi-Family Tax Exemption tax-break program, the maximum rent and income eligibility numbers are the same as for studio units in non-microhousing buildings. A proposed rule change going before a council committee this week would lower those numbers for microhousing – now formally known as SEDUs (small efficiency dwelling units) –

The MFTE program, explained in full here, currently involves more than 140 of all types around the city. Participating property owners must rent out at least 20 percent of their units at a city-set affordability level, and in exchange, they don’t have to pay property tax on the residential portions of their buildings for 12 years (they DO keep paying the tax on the land and on any non-residential parts of the structure, such as retail space).

The current list of participants of all types, citywide, includes both completed West Seattle microhousing buildings, Footprint Avalon I (3266 SW Avalon Way) and Footprint Delridge (4548 Delridge Way SW). (The exemption is only available in certain areas.)

WHAT WOULD CHANGE: It’s explained in a memo to the council – here’s an excerpt:

What prompted the need for this legislation?

* In 2014, the Council passed an ordinance establishing SEDUs as a new unit type, distinct from other unit types. Because existing Code does not set affordability requirements specifically for SEDUs in MFTE, the MFTE program would regard a SEDU as a studio, restricted at 65% of AMI. This translates to a maximum monthly housing cost of $1,004 and a maximum annual income for a one-person household of $40,170. However, typical SEDU market-rate rents are anticipated to be less than not only market-rate rents but also the restricted, affordable-rate rents for studios.

What would be the result of the lower affordability threshold in terms of affordable rent and annual income limits?

* The proposed legislation would reduce the maximum rent threshold for income-restricted SEDUs in MFTE projects to a level affordable to individuals earning 40% of AMI [area median income], resulting in a maximum monthly housing cost of $772 and a maximum annual income for a one-person household of $30,900.

Again, this wouldn’t cover ALL units in a microhousing building participating in the tax-break program – just the 20 percent required for eligibility. In some areas, this might not mean much of a change – doing a spot check online, for example, we note Footprint Avalon I is advertising rents $800-$899 right now.

Two more microhousing/SEDU buildings are under construction in West Seattle right now, 3268 SW Avalon and 5949 California SW, with another one planned at 3050 SW Avalon. Both of the latter have been approved for participation in the MFTE program, according to this report to the City Council last spring (which also includes data such as how much tax was *not* collected because of the exemption – scroll all the way down the document). The proposed changes will be discussed when the council’s Committee on Housing Affordability, Human Services, and Economic Resiliency, chaired by Councilmember Sally Clark, meets at 9:30 am this Thursday (February 5th) at City Hall.

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What do you think about growth? How can Seattle encourage affordable housing? These and other questions …

December 16, 2014 at 2:32 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news, West Seattle online | 31 Comments

The city’s been running online surveys in abundance lately. This one, though, speaks to topics that we cover often here on WSB, and after going through its questions and open-comment spaces, we thought you might be interested, given its questions about everything from housing costs to your opinions of growth. It’s being presented as part of the mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda. It’s not the usual basic online-survey format; be forewarned, you’ll find some spots requiring scrolling, and some questions where you can check as many circles as you want, others where you have to settle on one. Start the survey here (and note the open-comment thread at the bottom of the start page, if you just want to say something without taking the survey at all).

West Seattle development: New Junction apartment-building proposal, 60 units at 4528 44th SW

November 21, 2014 at 8:57 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 67 Comments

Scouring the latest Department of Planning and Development data, we turned up another new apartment-building proposal for The Junction. The 1952-built 8-unit building at 4528 44th SW (map), shown above in a King County Assessor’s Office photo, is proposed for replacement with what the city website describes as a “new 60-unit apartment building, five stories plus basement, five enclosed parking spaces.” The 5,850-square-foot site is zoned for development up to 65′ and borders the alley behind several retailers. It’s also almost directly across 44th from the under-construction 38-unit Lofts at The Junction at 4535 44th SW. According to the DPD website, this proposal will have to go through the Design Review process; no date set yet – it’s in the relatively early stages, with its newest “site plan” filed just this past Monday.

West Seattle development: 3824 California’s new design; 4505 42nd back to Design Review; 7-lot Beach Drive site for sale; more

November 14, 2014 at 7:25 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 32 Comments

Development notes:

REVISED DESIGN FOR 3824 CALIFORNIA SW: The 14-townhouse/13-live-work-unit development on the ex-Charlestown Café site goes back to the Southwest Design Review Board next week (as noted here last week), at 6:30 pm Thursday (November 20th), Senior Center of West Seattle. And now, the “packet” showing the newest design proposal is online – see it here. This will be the fourth time the project goes before the board. It changed architects before the third meeting (WSB coverage here), and the new firm, Johnston Architects, remains at the helm.

ALSO GOING BACK TO DESIGN REVIEW, WITH A NEW COMPONENT: 4505 42nd SW, just across the alley from the Senior Center, now described as:

7-story structure containing 50 residential units, 6,900 sq. ft. of lodging use and 3,600 sq. ft. of ground floor retail use. Parking for 15 vehicles to be provided below grade.

No design packet yet; “lodging” was not part of the project in its previous reviews (most recently, seven months ago). It’s just been added to the schedule for the 8 pm December 4th SWDRB slot (following the 6:30 pm review of the assisted-living project at 4515 41st SW).

DELRIDGE SITE IN FOR ‘STREAMLINED DESIGN REVIEW’: 5206 Delridge Way is proposed for a “five-unit townhouse structure” that’s in for streamlined design review, which means no meeting.

7-LOT BEACH DRIVE SITE ON THE MARKET: Just spotted last night in an online listing, seven lots comprising 2 acres of potential homesites at 5606 Beach Drive, listed at $2,432,250.

TEARDOWNS: In the city permitting system, updated over the past week or so: Demolition permits issued or sought for 3810 California SW (aforementioned ex-café site that’s being developed as 3824 California); single-family house at 4035 36th SW (new house to be built); duplex and garage at 5003 Fauntleroy Way SW (7-unit rowhouse to be built); single-family house at 5269 California SW (West Seattle Nursery expansion site); 4500 40th SW (development plan reported here); single-family houses at 2835 and 2837 SW Adams (three-story, 6-unit rowhouse proposed to replace them).

BOUNDARY CHANGES: 5915 Fauntleroy Way, lot-boundary change sought (rowhouse project proposed); 5008 Fauntleroy Way, lot-boundary change sought (rowhouse project proposed and comments being taken).

P.S. – NEW WAY TO SEE WHAT’S HAPPENING WHERE: The city Department of Planning and Development home page has a map that will show you spots where projects are proposed. But someone outside city government has just come up with an even-better way to take a look at what’s happening where – at least, for now, the larger projects. It’s called Seattle In Progress. Ethan Phelps-Goodman explains it here.

Affordable, livable housing: What do you want the city to do to ensure/enhance it?

November 10, 2014 at 10:04 pm | In West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 12 Comments

Affordable, livable housing. Everybody needs it. Not everybody can find it. So the city’s trying to figure out what it can/should do, to fix that. To help shape its Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda, it’s working with an advisory committee. Among its members, West Seattle community advocate Cindi Barker, who says the committee met for the first time last week and is now looking ahead to three community meetings at which you can be heard.

Above is the slide deck with issues and data put before the committee, but you might already know in your heart and gut what it would take to deal with this issue. The key “starting points” for discussion are growth, affordability, recent development, and race/social justice. Back to the upcoming meetings: They’re all outside West Seattle, but the first two are not far:

South Seattle: Ethiopian Community Center (Map)
Wednesday, November 19, 2014, 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Central District: Garfield Community Center (Map)
Thursday, November 20, 2014, 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Northgate: Northgate Community Center (Map)
Thursday, December 04, 2014, 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Meeting format:

6:00 pm, doors open

6:30 – 6:45, introductions and remarks

6:45 – 7:30, Survey of meeting attendees (hand held survey devices so people can respond to presentation material and provide direct input)

7:30 – 8:00, display stations of information and interaction with staff and committee members present

The full committee roster, by the way, is listed on the right side of this city webpage. They are expected to get recommendations to the mayor and council by the end of May.

West Seattle development: Microhousing on the move

November 2, 2014 at 9:04 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 72 Comments

Updates tonight on three in-the-works West Seattle microhousing projects:

5949 CALIFORNIA: WORK EXPECTED TO BEGIN – The smallest of the three, at 5949 California SW in north Morgan Junction, has had its permits for a while, and now, Morgan Community Association president Deb Barker says she’s learned that construction is about to begin. The house in our photo above is to be replaced with a five-story micro-apartment building with ~38 “sleeping rooms” and no offstreet-parking spaces; we first reported on the project in May 2013.

The next two projects were considered to be more or less on hold because of a city letter sent in September, as reported here. That letter sent to these and other projects around the city referenced a court decision, saying that their current plans meant each room would have to be counted as a separate dwelling unit, so either those plans would have to change or the projects would need to go through Design Review.. But we’ve discovered new developments on both projects:

3268 SW AVALON WAY: Just before the city memo in late September, the start of work on this 50+-unit project (next door to an already-complete microhousing building) was considered to be imminent – a temporary power tower had gone up. But nothing happened until Friday, when we noticed toward day’s end that the old multiplex on the site next to the 35th/Avalon 7-11 had been torn down. The file shows that the construction and demolition permits were issued three weeks ago. But we haven’t yet found anything online indicating what might have changed, if anything, in relation to the city memo.

Different story down the street …

3050 SW AVALON WAY: This 100+-unit, no-offstreet-parking-spaces project also appears to be proceeding. After seeing the demolition work up the street, we checked the file for this project and found a memo from architect Jay Janette, dated Friday, responding directly to the September letter from the city, by saying:

So rooms are not counted as separate dwelling units, per the City of Seattle DPD letter dated September 22, 2014, all sinks, refrigeration equipment, built-in cabinet and counters outside the bathrooms have been removed from each room.

That’s followed by, “If there are any remaining issues that we need to resolve, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly to resolve over the phone or email in lieu of another review cycle.”

Future microhousing projects will be reviewed under the city’s new rules passed a month ago.

Charge a development fee to encourage ‘affordable housing’? Seattle City Council committee says yes

October 14, 2014 at 1:45 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 16 Comments

(Click the image to go to the full-size map on the city website)
Would a new type of development fee lead to more affordable housing in the city? The City Council’s Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee has just voted in favor of a proposal for a so-called “linkage fee” intended to make that happen. If it became law, it would affect commercial and multifamily development in certain parts of the city, shown on the map above – including parts of West Seattle:

A City Council committee today recommended approval of a plan to create an affordable housing linkage fee to preserve and create affordable housing in Seattle. The resolution directs City departments to develop legislation whereby new construction in multi-family and commercial zones would mitigate the cost of increasing rents by funding housing affordable to those households making $45,000 – $65,000 per year, which is 60% – 80% of area median income (AMI).

“If we want Seattle to be an inclusive city for people of all incomes, then we need to see more housing produced that’s affordable to more people. Up until this point, the market has clearly not given us the housing we need,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien, chair of the Planning, Land Use and Sustainability Committee and the legislation’s sponsor.

Developers could either pay a per-square-foot fee, which is variable based on project’s location in the city, or avoid the fee by dedicating at least 3% – 5% of the units in their project to households making less than 80% AMI. The money generated from fees would be invested in workforce housing.

“Our expert economic consultants suggest that at this fee level, development would absorb the fees without constricting new supply or significantly raising rents,” Councilmember O’Brien added.

The (above) map illustrates where the linkage fee would be applied in multi-family and commercial development in the city.

Full Council is expected to vote on the resolution on Monday, October 20. Draft legislation for Council consideration is expected by June 1, 2015. The final legislation is anticipated to gradually phase-in over a three year period and would not affect existing projects or new projects with permit applications already submitted.

Additional information about O’Brien’s proposal for an Affordable Housing Linkage Fee in Seattle is available online.

This is separate from the city’s Multi-Family Tax Exemption program, which enables a partial tax exemption on projects that commit to below-market rents for part of their units. The city’s current list of projects in that program includes nine buildings in West Seattle.

West Seattle development: ‘Streamlined design review’ proposals for townhouses at 3811 California

October 14, 2014 at 9:16 am | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 9 Comments

The latest plan for 3811 California SW is advancing, with a plan now in city files for “streamlined design review” (SDR) – which means public comments will be accepted, but there’s no Design Review Board meeting. The site is currently home to Charlestown Court, the brick fourplex that has been rejected twice for landmark status. The proposal, as first reported here in January, is to replace it with four 2-unit townhouse buildings and eight offstreet-parking spaces on the alley. Here’s what architect S+H Works has filed with the city for the SDR process:

(If you can’t see the embedded document, try this link.) If you’re interested in commenting on the proposal, this page on the city website explains how.

West Seattle development: Abatement/demolition begins for The Whittaker; six other teardown/rebuild notes

October 8, 2014 at 6:40 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 19 Comments

Seven West Seattle development notes:

ABATEMENT/DEMOLITION WORK BEGINS AT THE WHITTAKER: If you have driven past the site of The Whittaker (400 apartments plus retail including Whole Foods Market) at 4755 Fauntleroy Way SW, you might have noticed the heavy equipment beginning work. A project spokesperson confirms that they have “officially started abatement work,” adding that the “auto body shop on 40th is scheduled to be demolished sometime tomorrow.” Major demolition is about two weeks away, if all goes as planned, and construction is set to start next month.

Six smaller demolition/construction projects of note, with permits granted or applied for in the past week or so:

4101 SW OREGON: In The Junction, the demolition permit has just been granted for a project first mentioned here almost a year ago; an 87-year-old house will be demolished and replaced with a 4-unit rowhouse.

4316 SW THISTLE: The application is now in for a “lot boundary adjustment” at this corner parcel, on the books as two lots, as mentioned here in July, though holding one house for more than a century. That house is planned for teardown, and replacement with two single-family houses including “accessory dwelling units,” which means four residences in all. (For “accessory dwelling units” to be legal, the city rules say, the property owner has to live on site, either in the main house or ADU.)

6540 FAUNTLEROY WAY SW: In Morgan Junction, this 98-year-old house is proposed for demolition and replacement with a new single-family house.

9007 45TH SW: In Fauntleroy, this 71-year-old house is planned for demolition and replacement.

6047 47TH SW: In Seaview, this 71-year-old house is planned for demolition and replacement.

6470 MARSHALL SW: Also in Seaview, this 95-year-old house is planned for demolition and replacement.

Seattle microhousing has rules, definition, and a name – SEDUs – after unanimous City Council vote

October 6, 2014 at 4:37 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 10 Comments

The city officially has rules for microhousing – or, if you prefer, SEDUs (small efficiency dwelling units). They’ve been in the works for months and, two weeks after the final committee discussion, won official, unanimous council approval this afternoon. Read the full bill here; here are the highlights from the city toplines featured our story about them last month:

*Creates a definition for small efficiency dwelling units (SEDU).

*Clarifies the definition of dwelling unit.

*Establishes required components of SEDUs, including a 150-square-foot minimum sleeping room area, a 220 square foot minimum total floor area, a food preparation area (sink, refrigerator, countertop, cooking appliance) and a bathroom (sink, toilet, shower or bathtub).

*Limits the issuance of Restricted Parking Zone permits to no more than one per SEDU or congregate residence sleeping room.

*Requires Streamlined Design Review to be applied, in all zones, to congregate residences and residential uses that are more than 50 percent comprised of SEDUs if they contain between 5,000 and 11,999 square feet of gross floor area.

*Limits the construction of congregate residences that do not meet certain ownership or operational requirements to higher density zones that are located within Urban Centers and Urban Villages

*Increases the minimum required area of communal space in a congregate residence from 10 percent of the total floor area of all sleeping rooms to 15 percent of the total floor area of all sleeping rooms.

*Creates a new vehicle parking requirement of one parking space for every two SEDUs for areas of the City where vehicle parking is required for multifamily residential uses.

*Increases bicycle parking requirements for SEDUs and congregate residences to 0.75 bicycle spaces per SEDU or congregate residence sleeping room.

*Requires the bicycle parking required for SEDUs and congregate residences to be covered for weather protection.

*Allows required, covered bicycle parking for SEDUs or congregate residence sleeping rooms to be exempt from Floor Area Ratio limits if the required parking is located inside the building that contains the SEDUs or congregate residence sleeping rooms.

*Calls on the Department of Planning and Development to complete an analysis of the City’s vehicle and bicycle parking requirements and present its recommendations for regulatory changes to the City Council by no later than March 31, 2015.

That last item, as we noted last month, goes beyond microhousing.

West Seattle has two microhousing buildings already open – Footprint Delridge and Footprint Avalon I – and three on the drawing board. As reported here two weeks ago, two of the not-yet-under-construction projects – at 3268 SW Avalon Way and 3050 SW Avalon Way – are on hold because of a court decision that would require them to go through Design Review, or undergo a significant redesign.

During this afternoon’s council meeting, discussion preceding the vote included a rebuke by West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen for city departments not catching “loopholes” he said developers exploited when first opening these projects here. (You can watch the discussion and vote in the archived Seattle Channel video atop this story; the vote is 71 minutes into the video.)

Video: Protests split Seattle Housing Authority rent-increase meeting into two gatherings

September 29, 2014 at 7:18 pm | In High Point, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 64 Comments

FIRST REPORT, 7:18 PM: We’re at High Point Community Center along with a crowd we’d estimate to number at least 200, at what was supposed to be an informational/Q-A meeting about the Seattle Housing Authority‘s controversial Stepping Forward” rent-increase proposal.


SHA executive director Andrew Lofton barely got through the pre-planned slide deck, with chants and shouts between almost every line.

After a few attempts at Q/A – really, just Q, because SHA said it would not answer any of the questions – one man shouted that those in attendance were being insulted and should walk out.

Many did, and went into the gym, where they and protesters rallied, with City Councilmember Kshama Sawant on hand.

(Added 9:26 pm – here’s our video of what Sawant told them, amplified via “human mike”:)

Others, meantime, stayed behind, and some spoke about the “stepped” rent increase proposal, which could take a subsidized household now paying $50 in rent, up to $1,000 in the fifth year. Even those who said they supported the concept of encouraging self-sufficiency said unemployment is high and there’s no guarantee anyone can get work, no matter how hard they try.

There were declarations that while SHA is calling for tenant accountability, no one is calling for developer accountability to provide more low-income housing.

The meeting is now in an “open house” phase at which those with questions are seeking answers in one-on-one conversations.

9:26 PM: Above, we’ve added our video of what Councilmember Sawant said after “the other meeting” convened in the Community Center’s gym – we had one crew in each room.

Our full video of the meeting in the original room, including all of the protests and the presentation they punctuated, will be added after we get it uploaded later tonight. (Added: Here it is:)

Meantime, Sawant told those gathered in the gym that the SHA meeting was “a joke” and called for “a big action in City Hall” on October 15th.

Opponents of “Stepping Forward” have a petition, and details of their position and objections, online here.

Meantime, the “next steps” slide in the official presentation said a possible “workforce pilot” would begin late this year, and that the proposal would be revised, more public comment taken, a recommendation made to SHA’s Board of Commissioners, then a phase-in with about 4 years from Board approval to full implementation, “rent changes no earlier than 2016.”

“We don’t want it revised!” someone yelled. “We want it gone!”

West Seattle development: New 35th/Graham proposal; comment time for 4849 21st SW

September 29, 2014 at 2:55 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 7 Comments

Two development notes this afternoon:

REVISED PROPOSAL FOR HIGH-PROFILE HIGH POINT CORNER: The placement of that sign might make you think the big stretch of vacant land at 35th/Graham is the future site of more Polygon-built single-family homes. Not according to the newest proposal, with a “preliminary assessment report” added to city files just a week ago. It is now described as:

Develop the Block 9 High Point site, including utilities and infrastructure, 52 townhomes and a 4 story mixed use building containing approximately 80 apartment units, 8,500 square feet of office space, and 1,500 square feet of retail space located on the ground floor.

The mixed-use building is similar to something a Seattle Housing Authority spokesperson mentioned last October, when we reported on the previous plan. At the time, a mix of houses and townhouses was in the works, with an expectation of a “commercial building” at the corner, SHA said. In this plan, that is now a mixed-use building running along the entire 35th SW frontage of the land, according to a preliminary “site plan” filed this month, with the townhouses to the east. The new plan is in the name of High Point III, LLC, which traces to Polygon Northwest‘s Bellevue address. We’ll be following up on next steps for this plan.

2 WEEKS TO COMMENT ON 4849 21ST SW SUBDIVISION: Last week, we reported on an application to split one big lot at 4849 21st SW (map) into nine parcels for single-family houses. Today, the official notice is in the city’s Monday/Thursday Land Use Information Bulletin, which means you have two weeks to comment. Here’s how.

West Seattle development: 9-lot subdivision proposal

September 25, 2014 at 1:00 am | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 4 Comments

An acre and a third of land in eastern West Seattle is proposed to be split into nine single-family-house lots, according to documents accompanying a land-use application filed with the city this week. Its official address is 4849 21st SW (map), but you can barely glimpse the site from 21st – as shown in our photo, it looks like greenbelt behind a fence, but the site stretches westward to 23rd SW. Two lots would front on 21st, three on 23rd, and the other four inbetween; documents in the online file say a private drive would be built for access to the latter seven. An arborist’s report says the site has 99 “significant” trees, 20 of them “exceptional,” but assesses 35 of the trees as unhealthy and in need of removal. If the subdivision is approved, the lots would be mostly 5,000-7,000 square feet, in keeping with the site’s single-family 5,000 zoning, but one of the lots on 21st would be double-sized, at 10,000 square feet. A two-week comment period will open as soon as the proposal officially appears on the city’s Land Use Information Bulletin.

City tells 2 in-the-works West Seattle microhousing projects that they need Design Review because of court decision

September 23, 2014 at 5:30 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 28 Comments

(WSB photo: Planned site of 3268 Avalon microhousing, next to recently opened Footprint Avalon I micros)
ORIGINAL REPORT, 5:30 PM: Two of West Seattle’s three in-the-works microhousing projects face major revisions/reviews because of a recent court decision involving a project on Capitol Hill. PubliCola broke the news that the city sent a letter this week to more than 20 developers of in-the-works projects, explaining that they will now have to go through additional levels of review, including Design Review, if they want to proceed. We found the letter in the online files for two planned West Seattle projects, 3050 SW Avalon Way (here) and 3268 SW Avalon Way (here). Follow either of those links, or read on for the text:
Click to read the rest of City tells 2 in-the-works West Seattle microhousing projects that they need Design Review because of court decision…

Out: ‘Microhousing.’ In: ‘SEDU.’ And it’s your turn to comment

September 22, 2014 at 8:59 am | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 28 Comments

The word “microhousing” does not appear anywhere in the brand-new official city notice announcing that it’s your turn to comment on the revised proposed city rules for it. That notice, published today, and includes the toplines of the latest changes in the rules the City Council is considering, including the new official name “SEDU”:

*Creates a definition for small efficiency dwelling units (SEDU).

*Clarifies the definition of dwelling unit.

*Establishes required components of SEDUs, including a 150-square-foot minimum sleeping room area, a 220 square foot minimum total floor area, a food preparation area (sink, refrigerator, countertop, cooking appliance) and a bathroom (sink, toilet, shower or bathtub).

*Limits the issuance of Restricted Parking Zone permits to no more than one per
SEDU or congregate residence sleeping room.

*Requires Streamlined Design Review to be applied, in all zones, to congregate
residences and residential uses that are more than 50 percent comprised of SEDUs if they contain between 5,000 and 11,999 square feet of gross floor area.

*Limits the construction of congregate residences that do not meet certain ownership or operational requirements to higher density zones that are located within Urban Centers and Urban Villages

*Increases the minimum required area of communal space in a congregate residence
from 10 percent of the total floor area of all sleeping rooms to 15 percent of the total floor area of all sleeping rooms.

*Creates a new vehicle parking requirement of one parking space for every two
SEDUs for areas of the City where vehicle parking is required for multifamily residential uses.

*Increases bicycle parking requirements for SEDUs and congregate residences to 0.75 bicycle spaces per SEDU or congregate residence sleeping room.

*Requires the bicycle parking required for SEDUs and congregate residences to be covered for weather protection.

*Allows required, covered bicycle parking for SEDUs or congregate residence sleeping rooms to be exempt from Floor Area Ratio limits if the required parking is located inside the building that contains the SEDUs or congregate residence sleeping rooms.

*Calls on the Department of Planning and Development to complete an analysis of the City’s vehicle and bicycle parking requirements and present its recommendations for regulatory changes to the City Council by no later than March 31, 2015.

That last point, as mentioned in our coverage last week, goes beyond microhousing.

So if you have something to say about any of this, say it now – in e-mail or postal mail to Councilmember Mike O’Brien, mike.obrien@seattle.gov (the postal address is in today’s notice seeking comment), before October 6th. Again, what’s above is an excerpt from today’s notice, highlighting recent changes in the proposed microhousing (SEDU) rules. You can see the entire Council Bill by going here.

SIDE NOTE: In case you’ve lost track – two microhousing projects have opened in West Seattle, at 4546 Delridge Way SW (file photo above) and 3266 SW Avalon Way, with at least three more planned – 3268 SW Avalon Way, 5949 California SW, and 3050 SW Avalon Way.

West Seattle demolition watch: Next ‘microhousing’; school rebuilds

September 21, 2014 at 1:08 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 9 Comments

Three updates from West Seattle’s current demolition/redevelopment/rebuilding boom:

PERMIT APPLICATION FOR NEXT ‘MICROHOUSING’ SITE: On Friday, the demolition-permit application turned up in the city’s online files for 3268 Avalon Way, the microhousing building set to go up between the 35th/Avalon 7-11 and its sibling Footprint Avalon I building. A temporary-power pole has already been up in front of the site for a while. The new microhousing rules, including clarity on number of units, won’t be affecting this project or others already in the pipeline; note the last line of the screengrab from the city webpage:

Each “unit” in current city code stands for up to eight individually rented sleeping rooms.

GENESEE HILL SCHOOL DEMOLITION: Now in even higher gear. Here’s what we were to see from SW Genesee after the end of Friday’s workday:

The current Schmitz Park Elementary program is scheduled to move into a new 650-student campus (not much more capacity than the current SPES enrollment) here in 2016.

ARBOR HEIGHTS SCHOOL DEMOLITION: This is now moving quickly too. Thanks to Mike R. for the end-of-week view:

The new Arbor Heights Elementary‘s capacity won’t be determined by the school board until next year.

West Seattle development: Key approvals for 18-house subdivision proposed at 2646 SW Holden

September 18, 2014 at 9:43 am | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 15 Comments

(WSB photo from January 2014)
From today’s city Land Use Information Bulletin: Key approvals are in for the 18-house subdivision proposed for that 73,000-square-foot site at 2646 SW Holden (map), which stretches to a smaller amount of frontage on SW Webster, all just west of the Navos mental-health facility.

We reported on the proposal at the end of last year, when it was reactivated in the city site after being dormant for some time, following “streamlined design review” approval. Today, the land-use-permit decision has been published (read it here). The decision details why the city believes the development would not substantially disturb the “steep slope” area on the site, though it acknowledges the development will result in “increased surface water runoff due to greater site coverage by impervious surfaces” and “loss of plant and animal habitat.” . Each three-story house would have a two-car garage; part of the site is zoned single-family, part is zoned low rise. While the site was up for sale when we last reported on this proposal, county property records show it hasn’t changed hands since becoming the property of Madrona Glen LLC two years ago. More than 30 of the trees on the site would be removed under the 18-house plan, 10 of them classified by the city as “exceptional.” Today’s publication of the approval opens a two-week period for potential appeals (that process is explained here).

Followup: New court action in West Seattle foreclosure fight

September 18, 2014 at 3:20 am | In West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

Today marks one month since the last public event related to the foreclosure/eviction fight involving Jean and Byron Barton and the Morgan Junction home his family owned for decades. August 18th was the day Jean Barton joined in a protest against King County Sheriff John Urquhart, days after its detectives removed her and her family from the house, saying they were being arrested for trespassing. That was four weeks after they had been formally evicted amid a crowd of demonstrators, with Byron Barton carried away on a stretcher.

While the protests and press conferences have faded away, the Bartons’ lawsuit continues, and we have a followup. Making a periodic check of the online files in the case Wednesday, we noticed the Bartons’ lawyer had filed a motion for default judgment against the entities they’re suing, JP Morgan Chase, Quality Loan Service of Washington, and First American Title:

At the heart of the motion: The Bartons’ lawyer Jill Smith pointed out that while the lawsuit was filed in early May, four months had passed and none of the respondents had filed a response. Chase and QLS acknowledged being served, but hadn’t filed responses; FAT hadn’t even acknowledged being served. A deadline was set, and Chase finally filed this response:

The other two respondents did not. We checked with Smith via e-mail on Wednesday, and she replied that they “are awaiting the judge’s signature on the Order for Default Judgment against Quality Loan Service Corp. of Washington and First American Title. JP Morgan Chase filed a woefully inadequate Answer to the Complaint last week, but nevertheless, we will not likely be able to obtain default against Chase.” (This court action does not involve the company that bought the house at a foreclosure auction in April; its “unlawful detainer” eviction action against the Bartons, however, remains under appeal.)

We asked Smith about the Bartons’ housing status, and she replied, “Mr. Barton is still in the facility in Columbia City and Mrs. Barton and her sons made other arrangements after the eviction for their well-being. They are all still seeking long-term housing that will allow them to all live together again.”

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