West Seattle, Washington
January 26th is the next major city meeting in West Seattle related to proposed rezoning for the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda‘s Mandatory Housing Affordability component – and this week, the Junction Neighborhood Organization has two meetings to prepare for it. From JuNO director René Commons:
1/17 Tuesday, JuNO Meeting, 6:30-7:30 pm – West Seattle Senior Center’s Nucor Room
Guest Speaker Cindi Barker: Cindi will be sharing the MoCA (Morgan Community Association) response to the MHA HALA rezone. She will offer her insights on how best to plan and prepare our WS Junction community to respond at the upcoming city meeting on 1/26.
1/19 Thursday, JuNO Land Use Committee meeting – 6:30-7:30 pm, West Seattle Senior Center’s Hatten Hall – for neighbors to provide input before the 1/26 City meeting.
JuNO is excited to announce Rich Koehler and Carl Guess are Co-Chairs for the newly formed JuNO Land Use Committee, which is a part of JuNO that will focus on helping the West Seattle Junction neighborhood influence programs that include proposed land use changes such as HALA and ST3! The JuNO Land Use Committee will be hosting this meeting. Thank you Rich, Carl, & all the new volunteers!
The January 19th meeting will be a community-organized “workshop meeting,” Commons says, “to discuss a response that is related to rezoning, infrastructure, and affordable housing in our West Seattle Junction Urban Village in an open forum.” Then a week later, it’s the city-sponsored January 26th workshop, also at the Senior Center, 6-9 pm. If you’re interested in being there, JuNO hopes to see you at one or both of this week’s meetings. The Senior Center (Sisson Building) is at 4217 SW Oregon.
As reported here last week, more “community design workshops” are coming up to talk about the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda draft proposals for rezoning, including one for Admiral on February 11th. To get ready for that, tomorrow’s Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting (7 pm Tuesday, January 10th, The Sanctuary at Admiral [42nd/Lander]) will include an informational discussion with West Seattle community advocate Deb Barker. She co-led the peninsula-wide, community-organized HALA briefing back in November. Come to the ANA meeting to find out what’s being proposed and how best to understand it and comment on it before the proposals get much further down the road.
P.S. City Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s newest online update has the latest information on the timeline. As she told us during our “first year in review” interview published last week, this is all expected to play out over most of 2017.
It might take until next year before the City Council finalizes a rezoning plan for the Mandatory Housing Affordability component of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda. That’s what Councilmember Lisa Herbold told us during an interview about her first year in office (full story on that here tomorrow). Meantime, her office has confirmed that three more “community design workshops” are planned in West Seattle in connection with the rezoning proposals. We’re sharing the dates so you can at least set your calendar:
*For Morgan Junction – January 23rd, 6-9 pm, Gatewood Elementary (4320 SW Myrtle)
*For West Seattle Junction – January 26th, 6-9 pm, Senior Center of West Seattle (4217 SW Oregon; final location confirmation pending)
*For Admiral – February 11th, 9:30 am-12:30 pm, West Seattle High School (3000 California SW)
The fourth “urban village” in West Seattle, Westwood-Highland Park, had a workshop in November.
The workshops are organized by the office of Councilmember Rob Johnson, who chairs the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee, which is the lead on consideration of HALA-related items. Here’s how his office explains the design workshops:
The goal of this workshop is to help inform City Council about your community’s vision of how our Urban Villages should look, feel, and function in support of important citywide goals for increased affordability, design quality, and housing options in neighborhoods throughout the city.
We welcome a lively interchange of ideas and opinions on the recently proposed zoning changes for your neighborhood, including where the boundary for urban villages should be drawn, what mix of zones best support the context and conditions of local areas, and how to encourage more housing options and elements of livability (including neighborhood amenities such as frequent and reliable transit, community-serving businesses, parks and schools). Our goal is to increase choices for more people of all incomes to benefit from working and living in urban villages across the city. More information on other methods to provide input one the proposed draft urban village boundary, draft zoning changes, and building types can be found at www.seattle.gov/hala/focus-groups.
We look forward to hearing from you. To RSVP, please e-mail Spencer.Williams@Seattle.Gov or call (206) 384-2709. Please inform us at that time if you require accommodations for accessibility or interpretation services.
While the rezoning proposals are mostly focused on the “urban villages” around the city, they also involve multifamily/commercial property everywhere. Check this citywide map to see if/how your neighborhood would change under the current draft proposals, for which the city is still taking comment at firstname.lastname@example.org and via this website.
P.S. If you are just catching up on all this – our coverage of a neighbors-helping-neighbors briefing a little over a month ago will probably be helpful. It includes all four West Seattle urban villages’ draft maps, with current and proposed zoning.
12:23 PM: There’s a new development proposal for 4722 Fauntleroy Way SW, where – as reported here last summer – CVS gave up its plan for a drugstore. We just found the new early-stage proposal on the city docket, where it’s described as:
Construction of both a 7-story apartment structure on the Fauntleroy-facing property and a 4-story apartment structure on the 38th Ave SW facing property. Structures to include rental apartment units, commercial uses where appropriate, and structured indoor parking. All existing structures to be demolished.
No unit counts are mentioned in what’s online so far; the project will go through Design Review.
The site is currently home to West Seattle Produce and Suite Arrangements. The preliminary site plan shows the development also would include 4736 and 4740 Fauntleroy Way SW, bringing it all the way up to the proposed mixed-use building that’s in the works for the former pawn-shop site on the northeast corner of Fauntleroy and Edmunds; the property on 38th is listed as street number 4721, immediately east of the aforementioned business buildings. The prospective developer is listed as Legacy Partners, which built Youngstown Flats (WSB sponsor) in North Delridge; the architect is listed as Nicholson Kovalchick.
1:46 PM: While out of HQ just now, we went over for a quick look at the project site. The 38th SW-facing lot proposed for a 4-story apartment building is immediately south of Les Schwab and currently being used as food-truck parking. The two lots south of the Suite Arrangements/WS Produce building both have small structures on the alley side.
Announced by the Seattle Housing Authority:
On Monday, February 6, 2017, Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) will open a lottery for places on a new waitlist for the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, formerly known as Section 8. These vouchers provide rental assistance for people with low incomes to rent homes owned by landlords in the private market.
Registration for the lottery will be available online only, and will be open from 8 a.m. on February 6, 2017 until 5 p.m. on February 24, 2017, Pacific Time. Registration is only available at seattlehousing.org/waitlist, not at any other website. Registration is free; if any website asks for money to complete registration it is not the correct site. The only way to safely register and avoid misleading websites is to type seattlehousing.org/waitlist into an internet browser.
The chances of being selected for the waitlist are the same no matter when households register during the open period. Once registration closes, 3,500 applicants will be chosen at random by computer to be placed on the new waitlist. Letters will be mailed by March 31, 2017 notifying all registered households whether or not they received a place on the new waitlist.
42nd Avenue SW continues to be the busiest street for West Seattle Junction redevelopment. Newly filed documents show the local developers who built Junction Flats at 4433 42nd SW have a new early-stage proposal on the same block, between SW Genesee and SW Oregon. We just found the “site plan” for 4417 42nd SW in the city Department of Construction and Inspection files. The site plan filed less than a week ago proposes a four-story building with 55 apartments and an unspecified number of underground parking spaces. The site plan shows the new building replacing what county records say are three 1930s-built houses at 4417, 4421, and 4423 42nd SW, separated from Junction Flats by a parking lot owned by the West Seattle Eagles. No formal application filed yet, but this will have to go through the Design Review process.
Wednesday, proposed rezoning for the city’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda is the biggest (but not only) topic at the multi-department city “open house” in The Junction. Before then, two West Seattle neighborhood groups are talking about it, and you’re invited:
MONDAY – WESTWOOD-ROXHILL-ARBOR HEIGHTS: 6:15 pm tomorrow (Monday, December 5th), the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council meets at Southwest Library (35th SW/SW Henderson), and the central item on the agenda is the draft rezoning map for the Westwood-Highland Park Urban Village.
Notes co-chair Amanda Kay Helmick, “We will answer questions as best we can, but all feedback should be directed to the City.” (Those three ways are via hala.consider.it, e-mailing email@example.com, or Wednesday’s “open house,” 5:30-7:30 pm at Shelby’s and Uptown Espresso in The Junction, on opposite sides of the California/Edmunds intersection.)
TUESDAY- JUNCTION NEIGHBORHOOD ORGANIZATION: The draft rezoning map for the West Seattle Junction Hub Urban Village also expands its boundaries.
JuNO organized a much-attended presentation/discussion back on November 15th (WSB coverage here) and now plans to discuss the map as well as an action plan for communicating concerns during a 6:30 pm meeting Tuesday (December 6th) at the Senior Center/Sisson Building (4217 SW Oregon). The agenda also includes updates on city lighting in the Junction, and discussion of a Residential Parking Zone application.
SIDE NOTE: Speaking of parking, our next planned story tonight includes the city’s ongoing review of parking policies and how you’ll be asked to comment on that topic, too, at the big Wednesday open house.
The photo is from Jeff McCord, a West Seattleite who has long worked for Nickel Bros., a company well-known for “rescuing” older houses by moving them to new locations. You probably recognize this house – 5458 California SW, headquarters of Ventana Construction (WSB sponsor), which has to move because its landlord plans to build six live-work units on the site.
After we first reported the redevelopment plan back in April, many wondered, couldn’t the 107-year-old house be saved? McCord was among those asking that question, so he investigated, and tells WSB today that his company has obtained permission to give it a try. They’re looking for someone with a lot in the West Seattle area; the price to buy it and get it moved is listed at $69,000. The house is 3 bedrooms, 1 bath – the process, McCord explains, involves moving it to an excavated site, where the buyer then puts in a foundation, and then Nickel Bros comes back and lowers the house onto it.
“It has been one of my favorite houses for a long, long time!” he adds. “We really hope to find a nearby local recipient who can ‘adopt’ the house for us to move to their lot.”
ADDED 8:59 PM: We talked tonight with Ventana co-proprietors Anne and Clarence Higuera; they are still seeking a new West Seattle location, but they still have some time, because their lease here goes through the end of July.
11:37 AM: When 135+ people showed up for Tuesday night’s unofficial community-organized workshop about proposed Mandatory Housing Affordability rezoning (WSB coverage here), that raised capacity concerns about next Wednesday’s official city open house – concerns that community leaders voiced to the city weeks ago, after getting early word that the 5:30-7:30 pm event on December 7th was booked for Shelby’s Bistro and Ice Creamery (4752 California SW) in The Junction rather than a large meeting venue.
Now, to try to add room for a prospective sizable turnout, the city has just confirmed via Twitter what commenter Kay posted last night – it’s booked space across the street at Uptown Espresso (California/Edmunds) too, so this is now a two-location open house. The marquee topic is your chance to comment on and ask questions about the draft rezoning maps for West Seattle and South Park, but the city also is offering “casual conversation” on other topics (we hope to get the full list soon) This is a drop-in event, so go whenever you can on Wednesday, to either site, between 5:30 and 7:30 pm (and be sure to sign in, because that’s where the city gets the official count).
ADDED 12:49 PM: The open house has long been billed as including “other topics” but no list has been made public yet. However, we now know another long-term city plan will be among those topics you’ll be invited to comment on next Wednesday – Seattle Parks‘ “2017 Development Plan, Gap Analysis and Long-Term Acquisition strategies for open space.” We missed the reference to the December 7th open house (and others around the city) when this news release arrived yesterday. You can read more about this here – if there are parks/future parks/possible future parks in your neighborhood, you’ll want to weigh in on this too.
ADDED 3:58 PM: And we’re continuing to get more information about what other city programs/services will be featured at the open house. This is the official lineup, but we’re still seeking specifics. (The first one, of course, involves the rezoning we’ve been reporting on.):
Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda: DRAFT Neighborhood proposals to create more affordable housing. See a city-wide map HERE.
Parks and Recreation: Come and learn about using walkability and other transportation metrics to map how new parks and green spaces will be chosen in the future.
SDOT: Learn about how Move Seattle is shaping transportation projects and programs in your neighborhood. Learn more about Rapid Ride, what it is and what to expect. Also, shape your Greenway by telling us where you want to see new connections and safer crossings for people walking and biking.
SDCI/SDOT: Parking Reform are in the works. Learn more about flexibility and sharing off-street parking, on-street parking, carshare and bicycle travel choices and frequent transit service.
We’ve also heard directly from SDOT that the re-activated Fauntleroy Boulevard project – funded in the mayor’s new budget – will be part of what it’s showcasing. Still checking for more specifics!
Story by Tracy Record
Photos/video by Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers
“We didn’t make this stuff up, but we’re here to help you know about it.”
That’s how Deb Barker introduced the standing-room-only workshop that she and Cindi Barker led last night at Highland Park Improvement Club, with more than 135 people there to find out more about the rezoning proposals that are part of the city’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA).
Deb and Cindi – which is how we’ll refer to them due to the surname coincidence – are both with the Morgan Community Association, one of West Seattle’s many all-volunteer community councils, and both have long been involved with land use-related issues. In recent years, they have offered several workshops and briefings to help their West Seattle neighbors make sense of major projects and/or processes, and last night’s workshop was one such case.
The city went public a month ago with draft rezoning maps for the “urban villages” around Seattle, five of which are in West Seattle/South Park. (Here’s our first report, published October 20th.) But no major official announcement accompanied the maps’ online release, and the only official city meeting scheduled in West Seattle so far is an “open house” one week from tonight, for which some postcards have been sent out promising “conversation” on a variety of city initiatives but not including any mention of “rezoning.”
Cindi and Deb stressed repeatedly last night that the intent of the workshop was to prepare people for that December 7th open house, which includes an official chance for feedback on the draft rezoning maps, as well as to offer guidance on how to read the maps, how to efficiently comment online, and other information including the rezoning proposal for areas outside the “urban villages.”
Basically, the city is proposing to upzone “urban villages” – and multifamily/commercial properties citywide – for a HALA initiative called Mandatory Housing Affordability.
Our video below, of the hourlong presentation at the heart of the meeting, picks up after the introduction by Deb Barker (who is retired from a land-use-planning career in a nearby city, and also has served on and chaired West Seattle’s all-volunteer Southwest Design Review Board).
Cindi Barker – who has been involved as a citizen volunteer with the HALA process going back about two years – first offered a primer on MHA, with the help of city-provided slides (again, this was NOT an official city-organized meeting, though Brennon Staley from the city Office of Planning and Community Development was on hand to answer questions as needed). Here’s the full slide deck that she and Deb used through their hour-long presentation (embedded below, or review it as a PDF here):
MHA basics: The city is offering more development capacity via upzoning, in exchange for developers either building a certain percentage of “affordable” housing in their projects, or paying fees to fund it to be built everywhere. “The city believes it will increase housing choices through the city,” Cindi added.
“Affordable” per the MHA definition means a rent that would represent about a third of the monthly incoe of someone making no more than 60 percent of the Area Median Income (half make more, half make less). Right now, that would be $1,009 for a one-bedroom unit. 6,000 of those units are to be created via MHA (which is just one part of HALA itself) in the next 10 years, contributing to a total of 20,000 affordable homes that the mayor is hoping will be created through a variety of programs.
Cindi went on to explain the volunteer citizen “focus groups” whose members were involved in the runup to the maps’ release, working with “principles that guided (the) zoning changes” (read them here). She then explained the types of zoning – residential small lot (“very much like cottage housing”), Lowrise 1, Lowrise 3, Neighborhood Commercial – with a diagram showing details of height, density, and other characteristics that would be allowable under each one. (Look for “MHA Development Examples” halfway down this page for more background on the zoning types.)
Continuing to explain how to read the maps – she pointed to the titles in each area, “existing zoning” on the left side of a vertical line, followed by “draft zoning,” and then a designation such as (M) or (M1) showing how much affordable housing it’s expected to produce. In some cases, as she explained, the zoning will leap more than one level.
If you’re in an urban village on a single-family lot, “residential small lot” is likely what you’re proposed to be upzoned to. You could have two homes on the lot instead of one, if it’s a 5,000-ish-square foot lot. Now that you’ve gotten a crash course in map-reading, here are the four West Seattle maps again:
And here’s an interactive map you can use to see other areas proposed for rezoning, as well as to zoom all the way in to your street.
Back to the meeting. As it moved into an early round of Q&A – there was an early question about “how does parking play into this?”
“Parking is not what we’re here about tonight – (though) parking is what we ultimately all care about,” Cindi said. She noted that the Environmental Impact Statement would have to address that topic. “That process is going to start (in the first half of next year).” Deb added that there will be parking topics at the city’s December 7th open house (we’ve talked about that before too – here’s the page for what the city is currently considering).
Highland Park Action Committee chair Gunner Scott added at that point a suggestion to bring that up with your city councilmember (District 1 rep Lisa Herbold was not in attendance, as she is traveling, but at least one of her legislative assistants, Andra Kranzler, was announced as present).
Next question, from Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council chair Amanda Kay Helmick, wondered about the chance to comment on the “livability” portion of HALA. That too is part of the early Environmental Impact Statement “scoping,” Cindi said. “Plug into your community associations and media” to watch for deadlines and opportunities.”
Another question: “Where did ‘mandatory’ come from?” Cindi’s reply: “Mandatory for developers.”
Then: “How many trees are we going to lose?” The workshop leaders did not have an answer for that.
Following that, concerns about the size of the venue the city chose for the December 7th meeting (Junction restaurant Shelby’s), given that 130+ people showed up just for this informal briefing. Cindi and Deb noted that they told the city as soon as they heard of the venue that it would be too small “but we were shot down.” Some attendees vowed to call the city and voice their concerns.
Continuing the presentation, Cindi said the Morgan Community Association has some questions they are pursuing with the city: “We need affordable housing, but it is not clear if the Grand Bargain is “the best bargain” – is 7% enough to ask from developers? Also: “Can the 6,000(-home) goal be reached without ‘double-plus upzones’?”
She also pointed to a chart just posted to the city’s website, showing that it only expects 1,000 units to be built “on site” among the projects – if you divide that by the 38 urban villages, that’s 27 affordable units for each one – and the rest elsewhere, “in much larger chunks of buildings” via the fund that will be overseen by the city Office of Housing, “centralizing it … and they’re going to build it where the nonprofit organizations can find the land to build it.”
They also have concerns about how MHA upzoning relates to existing neighborhood plans (linked here), created in the late ’90s to “guide the livability of growth anticipated in the new Urban Villages.” Each of those plans, she pointed out, “provides the goals and policies the city committed to in support of the Seattle Comprehensive Plan.” And the proposed upzoning is being done outside the context of the neighborhood plans. In Morgan Junction, for example, the zoning changes “are in direct conflict with our Neighborhood Plan,” she noted.
An attendee then wondered, “How do we find out who the HALA focus group (members are) and how they were (chosen)?” Cindi said, “They put out a call for volunteers.” (We published it, as did many others – here’s our story from February.)
Helmick asked the next question: “Is this a new form of redlining?”
Another good question to officially bring to the city, Cindi replied.
“If the city wasn’t willing to listen to you guys to change the venue – if I write to Lisa Herbold and, oh say, 90 percent of us decide they aren’t thrilled with this – is the city really going to listen to us and make changes in this program?” asked the next person.
“It feels like this program is going to happen – the mayor is very supportive of it – but … you’ve got to get there and give them input” to potentially have some effect on the details, Cindi stressed.
Deb noted that other neighborhoods around Seattle are affected too – Google some of them and you might see an “interesting yard sign,” she said.
Next question observed that, considering the HALA plan was set into motion before the presidential election, is the city taking into account possible changes in the federal government and funding?
OPCD’s Brennon Staley answered that one: “Obviously the changes in federal policy might affect (the non-MHA 14,000 units of “affordable housing”) … this (MHA) is probably not going to be affected by federal policy all that much.”
How does this affect people outside urban villages? Answer: All multifamily/commercial property is affected citywide, not just in the UVs, it was stressed. (Here again is the new interactive city map, which was included in our Monday night story preview.)
After the presentation and Q&A, the second phase of the meeting was freeform – going over to tables and looking at the urban villages’ maps.
The organizers put together some multi-dimensional renditions, and advised that people write questions down so they are prepared to ask city staffers questions at the city Open House next week.
Right now, you can offer feedback by choosing (from the dropdown) a map at hala.consider.it – not a popular option, apparently, as Cindi observed that only 11 people had done that for Morgan.
Besides the December 7th meeting, the only other official meeting expected in this area is one in South Park for which a date is not yet set – likely to happen in January.
Just before everyone headed over to the maps, Phil Tavel, MoCA vice president, urged people to attend the December 7th meeting no matter what: “If you have any issue with feeling that you were left out … show up, be heard, be seen.”
WWRHAH’s Helmick then took the microphone and told people to please understand that everything happening here tonight is all-volunteer. Her organization, WWRHAH, meets next Monday night, 6:15-7:45 pm at the Southwest Library, and will be looking at the Westwood-Highland Park Urban Village draft rezoning map (one of the four we included above) as part of the meeting.
*The links mentioned by Deb Barker and Cindi Barker last night are now in this post on the MoCA website.
*The city’s page for the HALA focus groups also has many direct links you might find of interest.
WHAT’S NEXT BEFORE ANY REZONING BECOMES OFFICIAL
*The December 7th city “open house” in West Seattle
*Continued comment on the draft rezoning maps, via hala.consider.it (and e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org)
*The city will revise the maps and come out with “final” versions next year that will require City Council approval; the latest estimate for that is next June
First, one more reminder that TOMORROW is your chance to get briefed on everything from how to read these maps to how to effectively comment, via a community-organized workshop for all of West Seattle and South Park, 6:30 pm at Highland Park Improvement Club (12th SW/SW Holden). We previewed it here and here.
Second, the city has gone public with some of the feedback it’s received so far, from the “focus groups” whose members were recruited earlier this year. Rather than assemble the groups geographically, they were organized by types of “urban village” they lived in. The focus groups’ November meetings are being done online, and include slide decks with information including feedback from their previous meetings. Tonight, the group from “lower-density urban villages” including Morgan Junction, South Park, and Westwood-Highland Park met, including this slide deck with background information preceding the draft maps, each of which has short comment surveys on the side:
If the Scribd format doesn’t work for you, see the deck on the city website here.
Last week, the “hub urban village” focus group had its online meeting, and the slide deck from that one – including the West Seattle Junction map and preliminary group feedback – is below:
You can see that deck on the city website here.
The slide deck with feedback for the “medium-density urban village” group, including Admiral, isn’t available yet – that group has its online meeting Thursday.
While the focus has been on the urban villages, this also will affect multi-family zoning outside UVs, and you can take a look at this interactive map for a closer look at your neighborhood. (NOTE: That map ALSO will allow you to zoom in to street level, helpful if you’ve had trouble reading the draft maps so far.)
Again, tomorrow night’s workshop in Highland Park is an excellent chance to hear from, and talk with, local neighborhood leaders who have been immersed in this process. At any time, you can get feedback to the city via its special website for this – hala.consider.it – and/or via e-mail at email@example.com. And then there’s a city “open house” meeting about the rezoning maps, with other topics promised, next week – 5:30-7:30 pm December 7th at Shelby’s Bistro and Ice Creamery in The Junction (4752 California SW).
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER ALL THAT? A final set of maps will go to the City Council next year (June is the latest estimated timeframe) – councilmembers’ approval is needed before zoning can be changed. And the city also is working on an Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed zoning changes – environmental impacts aren’t just what you would traditionally think of as “environmental” but also aspects such as traffic and noise. The draft EIS is due in February-March, according to a timeline shown during tonight’s online meeting.
We’re welcoming West Seattle Realty to the WSB sponsor team today. Here’s what they want you to know about their business:
You belong in our neighborhood. West Seattle Realty welcomes you to the warmth and comfort of community here. We’re a homegrown agency with highly engaged local leadership. Shelby White, owner and founding broker, started the business in 2006 based on his affinity for the culture and values of this stunningly beautiful, down-to-earth place. In fact, the whole team of brokers and staff at the agency are devoted, long-term residents.
Whether you are looking for a new home or getting ready to sell the one you live in now, West Seattle Realty is ready to help. We take pleasure in making the process easier. Our knowledge base and professional network span the whole peninsula of West Seattle as well as White Center, Burien, Georgetown, South Park, and Beacon Hill. We know the terrain and character of each area on a block-by-block basis.
Give us a call – 206-935-0503 – or come by for a cup of coffee at our office in The Admiral District, 2641 42nd Ave SW.
We thank West Seattle Realty 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.
Before you get entirely into holiday mode … a reminder about a process that’s playing out right now, and seeking your comments on major zoning changes:
Those are the newest versions of the city’s “draft maps” showing proposed rezoning in West Seattle’s four “urban villages” as part of the mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA). Besides what’s shown on the maps, all multifamily zoning in the city is proposed for upzoning as part of the HALA component called Mandatory Housing Affordability – adding more development capacity in exchange for requiring developers/builders to either include a certain percentage of “affordable” units, or pay into a city fund that will be used to build “affordable” housing elsewhere.
Right now, the city is planning one open house-style meeting to answer questions and take comments about all four of these maps (and the one for South Park), 5:30 pm-7:30 pm on Wednesday, December 7th, at Shelby’s Bistro and Ice Creamery in The Junction (4752 California SW). You might already have received a mailer about it, though as the recipient who shared the mailer with us pointed out, it doesn’t mention the word “rezoning” (below, photos of its front and back):
Since the open-house event has no presentation scheduled, local community members are planning a pre-meeting to explain the maps and the process – including the guiding principles – in hopes of helping you understand what’s being proposed and comment most effectively, whether you’ll be doing that at the December event and/or via the special city website hala.consider.it. As explained in this announcement earlier this month, that meeting is one week from tonight – 6:30-8:30 pm Tuesday, November 29th, at Highland Park Improvement Club (12th SW/SW Holden), and everyone is welcome.
TIMELINE: At last week’s Junction Neighborhood Organization discussion of this, Nick Welch from the city Office of Planning and Community Development said that after the comment and review period this winter, final rezoning maps are likely to go to the City Council around June.
Three notes from today’s edition of the city’s twice-weekly Land Use Information Bulletin:
12-UNIT APARTMENT BUILDING @ 3026 SW CHARLESTOWN: In July of last year, we mentioned an early-stage proposal for a “10-12-unit apartment building” on this parcel uphill from Avalon [map]. Now, there’s an official proposal for an apartment building, and this notice in today’s LUIB invites you to comment on it. (While the notice calls it a 3-story, 12-unit building, there’s conflicting information elsewhere on the city website, including documents that say it’s four stories – which is allowed in the site zoning – with 11 units over six parking spaces.)
12-UNIT APARTMENT BUILDING @ 3017 SW CHARLESTOWN: Almost directly across the street is a similar proposal – 12 apartments on three floors over 6 parking spaces; same development-team contact, with a separate notice announcing a comment period through December 4th. A single-family house is planned for demolition on this site.
PARKING LOT NEXT TO PECOS PIT: Last month, we reported on a meeting focused on the old substation building east of Pecos Pit BBQ (WSB sponsor). One of the issues that came up was whether the city had gone through the appropriate permit process for Pecos Pit to use the substation property (3243 SW Genesee) as overflow parking. According to online records, it had not, but a notice in today’s LUIB indicates an attempt to fix that – an application for a temporary land-use permit to allow parking there “for up to six months.” You can comment on this application through December 4th.
Four development notes this morning:
DATE SET FOR ARBOR HEIGHTS PROJECT @ DESIGN REVIEW: We first told you back in April about a plan for nine live-work units replacing a former church building at 4220 SW 100th in Arbor Heights. The first Southwest Design Review Board meeting on the project is now penciled into the city schedule – 6:30 pm January 5th; details including the design proposal should appear on this page soon.
And from today’s edition of the city’s twice-weekly Land Use Information Bulletin:
KEY APPROVALS FOR ALKI TOWNHOUSES: A 7-unit townhouse project replacing houses at 1706 and 1708 Alki Avenue SW has received key approvals, and that opens an appeal period. Details are in the notice.
APPROVALS FOR 41ST SW PROJECTS: One year after we reported on a new 7-unit proposal for what once was the site of a community-challenged 40-apartment proposal at 4439 41st SW, it’s received key approvals, opening an appeals period. The notices are for two addresses – a four-unit townhouse building at 4437 41st SW, two townhouses and a single-family house at 4439 41st SW.
STREAMLINED DESIGN REVIEW FOR 4534 40TH SW: A four-townhouse proposal at 4534 40th SW is now open for comments as part of the Streamlined Design Review process – no meeting, but if you have something to say, you have two weeks to say it. The notice explains how.
(King County Assessor’s Office photo)
Two and a half years ago, a two-building, 80+-apartment proposal for 3257-3303 Harbor Avenue SW [map] sailed through its first Southwest Design Review Board meeting. But it never came back for round two, and now city files indicate the plan has been scrapped entirely. A newly filed, early-stage plan for the site calls instead for 32 townhouses, in two rows between Harbor and 30th SW. Documents indicate the project will go through Administrative Design Review – no meeting, but a chance for public comment via e-mail, once the project proceeds further into the system.
This site already had a history before the now-dead apartment proposal – it had been owned by fugitive real-estate investor Michael Mastro, and had a development plan when it went on the market in 2007 under the working title Aqua Bella. County records show a bank took it over in 2010 and sold it to a real-estate firm in 2013.
P.S. Immediately west of this site, there’s a new proposal at 3239 Harbor SW for four townhouses and four live-work units.
If you’re on that map and interested in a city briefing about the proposed rezoning that’s part of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda – Tuesday is your big chance. The Junction Neighborhood Organization has announced its meeting on Tuesday night will include a presentation by, and Q&A with, senior planner Nick Welch of the city’s Office of Planning and Community Development. JuNO leader René Commons says Welch will “present the upzoning plan for our neighborhood and provide detail around the timing and process of proposed rezoning for increased density.”
The HALA rezoning is toward the HALA goal of Mandatory Housing Affordability; it will affect all property in the city that is currently zoned multifamily and/or commercial, as well as single-family properties that are in urban villages.
Draft maps for all the urban villages in the city – including the four in West Seattle (The Junction, Admiral, Westwood-Highland Park, and Morgan Junction) – were released online last month without an announcement, and the “outreach” since then has been scattered. Besides this guest appearance at the JuNO meeting, your major chance to find out more about what is (or isn’t) proposed for your neighborhood is a citizen-led, West Seattle/South Park-wide event coming up on November 29th (here’s the announcement we published last Monday). Following that, the city has an open house-style event planned for 5:30 pm December 7th at Shelby’s Ice Creamery and Bistro in The Junction, but no presentation, and the maps aren’t the only topic planned.
So if you are in the Junction “urban village” or the areas planned for expanding its boundaries (see the map), come to the Senior Center/Sisson Building (California SW/SW Oregon) on Tuesday (November 15th) at 6:30 pm to get a briefing, and answers to your questions. The questions and comments received by the city regarding the draft maps are expected to lead to final proposals
That pile of debris is all that was left late today of the 96-year-old triplex at 4122 36th SW [map], where a microhousing building that drew concerns from dozens of neighbors is set to start going up. (Thanks to AA for the tip that demolition was under way.) We first reported on the plan in July 2015, when it was described as a four-story building with an unspecified number of “small efficiency dwelling units.”
It’s now a two-building, 4-story project, with some conflicting numbers – the official description mentions 20 units, but lines on the city docket mention wiring for “33 microunits.” (We’ll check with SDCI on Monday to confirm that’s just a mistake – the design-review packet reinforces the 20-unit count and shows floor plans.) One thing that’s remained consistent is that the project does not include offstreet parking spaces. The city file includes a generic acknowledgment of neighbors’ concerns about that, and points them to this city webpage, which says city planners are working on a citywide plan with these principles:
*Provide integrated and accessible transportation choices that are readily available for Seattle’s growing population – such as ORCA passes, car and bike sharing and shared parking.
*Support Comprehensive Plan goals to encourage growth in Urban Centers.
*Retain and enhance Seattle neighborhoods’ walkable and livable urban qualities, which are essential and preferable to automobile‐oriented public places and buildings.
*Prioritize housing affordability to preserve and enhance the ability of persons of all economic means to be able to live in Seattle. Parking is a significant cost factor for developers.
*Help ensure that racial and socio‐economic equity is a key consideration in setting parking policies.
*Manage on‐ and off‐street parking most efficiently.
*Promote designs for better quality, more secure, and more comfortable bicycle storage facilities.
*Achieve local and regional environmental objectives through sound choices to achieve air quality, climate change, and natural environmental protection goals.
To the south of 4122 36th SW, the single-family house at 4126 36th SW is set to be torn down and replaced by a two-unit rowhouse building that will have offstreet parking. The developer of that project had the lot split, and plans show that two parking spaces will go onto what is now technically a separate lot off the alley.
If you haven’t already taken a close look at the four maps below, now is the time. The city has yet to make a wide announcement about them, but this is the window for comments and questions. They are the West Seattle “draft maps” as part of the city’s plan to upzone properties for a component of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda called Mandatory Housing Affordability – focused on the areas known as “urban villages”; beneath the maps, a special event at which your neighbors are offering to help you find out more about “what’s going on”:
We first published those maps when they were released by the city, virtually unannounced, almost three weeks ago. Comments are being taken right now at this city website; an official city open house in West Seattle is planned December 7th, but before then, two community advocates with deep knowledge of land-use issues are leading a West Seattle/South Park meeting to help you understand the maps and the process. They have just formally announced it:
The Morgan Community Association (MoCA) will host an informational session to help you understand Seattle’s Mandatory Housing Affordability rezones proposed for the five District 1 Urban Villages, in advance of a December city-sponsored Open House. This learning session will enable you to go the Open House knowing what is proposed and prepared to give input or ask questions of City staff.
For the past year, the City of Seattle has been developing plans to fund affordable housing. One of the proposals is the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) concept. Under MHA, new development in Seattle will contribute directly to affordable housing by either building affordable homes on site or making a payment to the City to fund affordable housing throughout Seattle. To put MHA requirements into effect, the City must make zoning changes that will allow more development within Urban Villages and other areas zoned for multifamily and commercial development. Proposed areas of rezoning are depicted in newly released maps, and City staff will want input on proposed District 1 rezones at their December 7 Open House.
It is a complicated issue, with lots of ‘moving parts.’ To help you figure out what is going on, we’re setting up a user-friendly informational session with goals of:
° To give enough background information so people understand the MHA proposed program;
° To understand how to read the proposed rezone maps;
° To remind people of their Urban Village Neighborhood Plan Goals and Policies and relationship to MHA principles;
° To give people tools so that they enter the City’s Open House able to give informed input and/or ask questions to get the information they need.
Please join us –
Rezoning for Affordability in District 1: The City Wants Your Input – Do You Know What’s Going On?
Tuesday, November 29, 2016, from 6:30 – 8:30pm
Highland Park Improvement Club
1116 SW Holden Street
o Street parking is available nearby
o Metro Routes 125 and 128 stop at 16th Ave. SW at Holden; walk east on Holden to 12th Street
o Light refreshments will be available
o There will be a coloring corner for kids.
Again, though MoCA is sponsoring it, it’s for everyone in West Seattle and South Park (whose “urban village” is to be upzoned as well).
(June WSB photo of Ponderosa Pine at 3038 39th SW)
Two weeks after two appeals were filed against the granting of a permit to build a house at 3038 39th SW that would take out a Ponderosa pine deemed an “exceptional tree,” the hearing date is set. January 12th is when the city Hearing Examiner will hear arguments in the consolidated case, according to a notice in today’s Land Use Information Bulletin. The tree is in what was considered to be the side yard of the house next door, neighbors say, until that house was sold and the buyer got a city opinion that the “side yard” was a separate lot on which a house could be built. We first wrote about the tree tussle back in June. The appeal hearing is scheduled for 9 am January 12th at the Hearing Examiner’s chambers on the 40th floor of the Municipal Tower downtown (700 5th Ave.), and is open to the public for observation. You can see the case documents here.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Less than a week after the city went public with proposed rezoning maps for the city’s “urban villages,” the feedback process remains diffuse.
Last night, for a firsthand look at how part of it is working, we went to one of the “focus groups” that have been meeting monthly on related matters involved with the initiative known as HALA, the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda. (We wrote about the recruitment process last winter.) This group has been focused on areas including the West Seattle Junction. More on that shortly, including an alternative way to comment if you are having trouble with the site the city set up at hala.consider.it.
And today, the city announced that Mayor Murray will preside over a live Q/A about HALA via the mayoral Facebook page tomorrow (Thursday) morning at 10:45 am. Since it’s not a two-way video connection, you are asked to post questions now, either via this “event” page or via your Twitter account, with the hashtag #AffordableSeattle.
Now, to the background. Read More
(June WSB photo of Ponderosa Pine at 3038 39th SW)
Two weeks after the city announced it would grant a “special exception” permit for a house to be built on a 3,166-sf lot at 3038 39th SW [map], taking out a Ponderosa Pine acknowledged as an “exceptional tree,” two appeals have just been filed with the city Hearing Examiner. This one is from a neighbor, making the argument that the lot previously used as a “side yard” had not been established as a buildable lot:
The online file for that one is here.
We first reported in June about the neighborhood’s campaign to save the tree. Since the appeals have just gone into the system, no hearing date is set yet.
SIDE NOTE: While working on this, neighborhood advocates have been talking with Councilmember Lisa Herbold about a larger issue – the city’s requirement of a minimum payment for staff time to work on requests for interpretations, saying the resulting multi-thousand-dollar minimum can be onerous; as discussed briefly in today’s morning session of the Budget Committee, her proposal for a rule to require that requesters are charged only for the time needed:
Accompanying the budget, SDCI has submitted a bill that would adjust fees and charges (see the introduction for more details). This action would amend the bill to reduce the minimum number of hours charged for a code interpretation letter. A code interpretation is a process whereby someone can request a formal decision on the meaning, application, or intent of any development regulation in the Land Use or Environmentally Critical Area code. Examples include questions of how structure height or setback is properly measured, or how a proposed use should be categorized. Failure to request an interpretation can preclude raising the issue on appeal. Today, a request for a code interpretation letter is charged, at minimum, for 10 hours of work; hours worked beyond the minimum are charged the Land Use hourly rate (currently $280/hour; proposed to increase to $315/hour). The average number of hours charged for interpretations is 31.25 hours, however, in the rare case where the number of hours is less than 10, this change would ensure that the requesting party is only charged for time needed to produce the letter.
The proposal is not specific to this case; its fate will be determined when the budget is finalized in November.