West Seattle, Washington
(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.
We’ve received a couple questions about this site-clearing work underway in southeast Admiral.
It’s the site of the 14-house 3601 Fauntleroy Avenue SW [map] development. As we reported in August of last year, development proposals have been in the works for this site for at least nine years – in 2007, it was proposed for 21 houses, and then the plan resurfaced last year with 14 houses. After it received key approvals this past May, neighbors filed an appeal, then withdrew it following a settlement with the developer last month. The arborist report filed with the city says that the only “exceptional trees” on the site are four madrones in the “east steep slope buffer” that are not expected to be affected by the construction project; the report says the rest of the ~100 trees “in general” are “structurally weak … diseased … smothered in invasive species.” If you’re following the permit on this project, you’ll see here that the 14 houses will have addresses on SW Spokane.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
It’s been almost two years since a high-profile foreclosure fight led to disabled veteran Byron Barton and wife Jean Barton being evicted a second time from the Gatewood house they long owned.
Their fight, it turns out, is not over.
We heard from Byron Barton recently when the house at 6548 41st SW went on the market, listed at $1,299,000.
The listing didn’t last long. Barton said he pointed out to the listing agent that the title would be “clouded”; a court case involving the foreclosure had not been resolved. He told WSB, “I have spent $20,000 in legal fees and waited two years to get my home back.”
The house was taken off the market two and a half weeks later, according to NWMLS records Barton obtained.
The case is still before the Washington State Court of Appeals, Division 1, as the Bartons challenge the King County Superior Court ruling in their wrongful-foreclosure lawsuit against JP Morgan Chase, Quality Loan Service, and Triangle Property Development, the house’s current owner of record. The COA heard oral arguments in early June (see the docket here), and a ruling is pending. (As linked from the COA’s website, the Bartons’ brief is here; QLS’s brief is here; Triangle’s brief is here; Chase’s brief is here.)
In September 2015, the COA declined to overturn a separate decision against the Bartons’ challenge related to the eviction, but that ruling (see it here) specifically noted that it is not meant to be a reflection on anything involved with the still-pending wrongful-foreclosure suit.
Triangle bought the house in April 2014 for $646,000, according to King County records, half the recent listing price. In a comment on our first report about the Bartons in 2014, a Triangle representative said they intended to do remodeling/renovation work, not a teardown/rebuild, and city records show they did.
(Added 5:43 pm: We asked Byron Barton where they’re living now; Renton, he replied.)
If you are a renter – or own rental property – you’ll want to know about new rules passed by the City Council today. They were sponsored by our area’s City Councilmember Lisa Herbold. Read the related documents; here’s the announcement:
Council unanimously adopted comprehensive tenant protection legislation today. Currently it is illegal to discriminate against a prospective renter whose primary source of income is a Section 8 voucher. The legislation adopted today expands that legal protection to include people who receive alternate sources of income such as a pension, Social Security, unemployment, child support or any other governmental or non-profit subsidy. It also creates a new First- come, First-served screening process that will seek to help address discrimination in housing across all protected classes.
According to the Seattle’s Renting Crisis Report from the Washington Community Action Network, “48% of individuals who pay for rent with Social Security Disability Insurance or Social Security retirement income said that discrimination prevents them from having successful rental applications.”
Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle & South Park), the legislation’s sponsor said, “When the Seattle Office for Civil Rights conducted secret shopper fair housing testing relating to applicants who applied for housing using Section 8 vouchers, 63% of applicants were shown different treatment, which is already illegal. Today we’re expanding those protections, and I expect this new law will have positive impacts for renters.”
The legislation adopted today is aimed at making the housing application process more objective as a tool to mitigate unconscious bias and ensure the city investments in addressing our affordable housing crisis and homeless crisis are effective.
The source of income discrimination proposal was developed following recommendations from the Mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda task force. Council further amended the proposal to provide further protections:
Development updates from today’s edition of the city’s twice-weekly Land Use Information Bulletin:
4437-4439 41ST SW: Back in December, we mentioned the latest scaled-down plan for this Junction site once proposed for a 40-unit apartment building. According to today’s notices, the 7-unit plan remains; you can comment on the land-use-permit applications through August 10th. The notices are here and here.
These next projects, also announced via today’s Land Use Information Bulletin, are going through the no-meeting versions of Design Review – so your comment period starts now:
4 TOWNHOUSES AT 3032 CHARLESTOWN SW: Here’s the official notice of “administrative design review” for this proposal. It explains how you can comment, through August 10th.
5 TOWNHOUSES, 1 SINGLE-FAMILY HOUSE AT 3710 21ST SW: Here’s the official notice of “streamlined design review” for this proposal. It also explains how you can comment, through August 10th.
5 TOWNHOUSES, 1 SINGLE-FAMILY HOUSE AT 3722 21ST SW: This too is proposed for “streamlined design review”; here’s the official notice, which also has information on how to comment, through August 10th.
Also in today’s bulletin, two matters of land-use policy that you might want to take a closer look at, because they’re expected to lead to zoning changes; comment periods are now open:
POTENTIAL AMENDMENTS TO ‘MANDATORY HOUSING AFFORDABILITY’ PROPOSAL, RESIDENTIAL VERSION: Read about them here, and if you have something to say, August 15th is the deadline.
WHAT SHOULD ‘MANDATORY HOUSING AFFORDABILITY’ MULTI-FAMILY/COMMERCIAL REVIEW INCLUDE? Before the city’s environmental review of this part of the plan gets going, the city is asking what it should include. Here’s how to have a say.
Today we’re welcoming Junction Flats Apartments, newly opened in the West Seattle Junction, as a new WSB sponsor. New local sponsors get the chance to let you know what they’re about:
Junction Flats is at 4433 42nd SW, with studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments. Its features include large windows, in-unit washers and dryers, a 24-hour fitness room, rooftop deck (photo above), and barbecue area. And Junction Flats is pet-friendly, with a dog run and pet-wash station. Read more about the Junction Flats amenities here.
Another major attribute: Junction Flats Apartments is within walking distances of a multitude of services, from stores to restaurants to schools, but since it’s “just on the edge” on the north side of The Junction, it’s a quiet setting. Its logo is based on the historic Junction photo at right – the meeting of the tracks (click the photo to see how the two images are linked).
Junction Flats is owned by longtime West Seattleites; Paul Cesmat and Steve Butler (photo above) are West Seattle High School graduates who have been business partners for more than 30 years.
Find out more about Junction Flats Apartments at JunctionFlatsSeattle.com, or call 206-420-8222.
We thank Junction Flats 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.
Multiple readers have sent us this Seattle Times link, and when that happens, it means it’s worth sharing, and worth a closer look. Business reporter Mike Rosenberg‘s report is really a two-part story – one part about an East Admiral house that sold for a surprising amount despite reportedly having been in poor condition, the other part about how real estate prices in general continue to rise, sharply.
First, about the house, which Rosenberg reports sold for $427,000 in May, twice the asking price, despite “crumbling floors and ceilings that could collapse at any moment, about five feet of standing water and toxic air not safe to breathe.” It was only 65 years old, built the year before this county-archives photo:
Though the plan for its site was a mystery at the Times story’s end, we found a “site plan” on file. It was filed for the house at 3243 Belvidere just before Tang Real Estate Investments closed the sale in May and it proposes not teardown, but adding another story and remodeling the interior. It’s a very early-stage plan, though, so it could change. One note of interest – county information shows the house is on 5,000 square feet platted as two lots, which could have been part of the perceived value.
The second part of the Times story is about real-estate prices continuing to rise. Rosenberg reports that Northwest Multiple Listing Service stats show: “In West Seattle, the median single-family house cost $506,600 in May, up 17.3 percent just in the past year, and up a whopping 83 percent in the last five years.”
Four West Seattle development notes this afternoon:
QUAIL PARK: The 60+-bed memory-care center that’s long been in the works for 4515 41st SW in The Junction is about to begin construction, according to David Haack with parent company Living Care Lifestyles. If you have questions about the project, a community meet-and-greet is planned at Senior Center of West Seattle 2:30-4 pm on Wednesday, July 13th. Two weeks after that, they’re planning a groundbreaking ceremony on July 27th, time TBA. It’s been almost four years since we first found early word of the plan, which went through Design Review in 2014-2015.
Three projects covered here previously have formal notices in today’s city-circulated Land Use Information Bulletin:
DESIGN REVIEW DOUBLEHEADER FOR 9021 17TH SW & 2749 CALIFORNIA SW: We’ve already published word of both of these reviews set for a July 21st Southwest Design Review Board doubleheader – the four-story, 32-apartment building at 9021 17th SW at 6:30 pm (as reported here two weeks ago; formal notice here; and the four-story, 112-apartments-and-retail building at 2749 California SW (as reported here Monday, formal notice here) at 8 pm. If you can’t make it to the meetings, you can comment on the projects by following the instructions in the notices.
APPLICATION FOR 2116 ALKI SW: We mentioned this site back in January, when it was proposed for six condos and nine parking spaces. In today’s Land Use Information Bulletin, this notice announces its owners have applied to build a 3-story, 6-apartment, 11-offstreet-parking-space project. You have until July 29th to comment; here’s how.
Almost four years after an 18-house development proposal surfaced in the city permit system for the site above – now identified as 2768 SW Holden [map], previously 2646 SW Holden – there’s an “open-record hearing” downtown tomorrow morning. (We first mentioned it a month ago.) This has to do with splitting the site, currently on record as three lots, into 18, before the homes are built. The hearing is for anyone with something to say about the proposal and is set for the city Hearing Examiner‘s chambers starting at 9 am Monday, 40th floor of the city Municipal Tower downtown (700 5th Avenue). The project has been making its way through the city system since a “site plan” was filed in summer of 2012; the 18-house plan passed “streamlined design review” in early 2013, and other key approvals were granted in 2014.
The site stretches across more than one and a half acres between SW Holden and SW Webster, with one house remaining on the site (barely visible in our photo above). It had been on and off the market for a while and records show it sold within the past month for $2.2 million, not far below its previous asking price, to Jabooda Properties, an LLC with Mercer Island and Renton addresses. Neighbors have voiced concerns along the way including traffic, noise, and drainage effects; each house is planned with a two-car garage, and the subdivision entrance/exit will be from SW Holden. City planners’ report recommending approval is here.
From today’s city-circulated Land Use Information Bulletin, three West Seattle notes:
REVISED PLAN FOR 2626 ALKI SW: For those wondering what’s up with this mixed-use development, long slated for the corner of 59th SW and Alki Avenue SW:
(WSB file photo of future development site)
first announced at an Alki Community Council meeting three years ago – here’s an update. It went through two Design Review meetings in 2014 with at least one more required, yet, to date, not scheduled. In 2015, its official land-use application was submitted. Now, one year later, the prospective developer has turned in a revised application, according to this notice in today’s bulletin. It’s now summarized as “a 3-story structure containing restaurant, 12 apartment units and parking for 23 vehicles”; at the time of the last Design Review meeting almost two years ago (WSB coverage here), the description was “14 residential units, 5 live-work units, commercial space, and 23 parking spaces.” This opens a new comment period for the project – send comments to email@example.com by July 6th.
3601 FAUNTLEROY APPEAL: The recent approvals (reported here in May) for this proposed 14-house development in East Admiral have been appealed. Here’s the notice. A hearing is set August 23rd in the city Hearing Examiner‘s chambers downtown.
3838 59TH SW ROWHOUSE: The bulletin includes the “environmentally non-significant” decision allowing a 3-story, two-unit rowhouse building on a sloped site (“environmentally critical area”) uphill from Beach Drive. The decision is appealable, and the notice explains how, with a deadline of July 7th.
(King County Assessor photo)
The new owners of a former church in Highland Park have officially filed to replace it with a residential rowhouse. Until a few months ago, as 1200 SW Holden, it was The Potter’s House, on the northwest corner of 12th SW and SW Holden, across from the Highland Park Improvement Club. Now, with an address change to 7551 12th SW – the site plan on file shows the five units facing 12th – it’s proposed for a five-townhouse rowhouse building. (The church, by the way, has moved to White Center.)
Five development/construction updates:
COMMENT TIME FOR 3856 21ST SW: Another West Seattle project going through “streamlined design review” has just opened for comment. According to the notice in today’s city Land Use Information Bulletin, you can comment through June 15th on a three-story, 2-unit townhouse building proposed for 3856 21st SW on Pigeon Point. The notice explains how to comment.
COMMENT TIME FOR 4505 23RD SW: This is another three-story, 2-unit townhouse building. This one, however, is not going through design review; it’s being built behind 4506 Delridge Way SW, where the existing structure will NOT be torn down, the city website says, but it’s open for comments on potential environmental effects, as the notice explains.
FORMAL APPLICATION FOR 5908 FAUNTLEROY WAY SW: We first reported last September that a six-townhouse “rowhouse” building is planned for this once-commercial site northeast of Morgan Junction:
The formal application has just been filed, so watch for an official notice soon.
BLOCKS AWAY, AT 6311 FAUNTLEROY WAY SW: Another “rowhouse” project, four units this time, is in the early stages for this site that currently holds a 72-year-old single-family house (but is zoned Lowrise 1).
4505 42ND SW UPDATE: NLB, who sent the original tip yesterday about site-clearing work for this Junction project, tweeted this video of the house coming down this morning:
— NLB (@g7on) June 2, 2016
As noted again in our update last night, this is a mixed-use project with residential units, commercial space, and lodging.
A new move today in the city’s attempts to address the affordable-housing crisis: New rules proposed to crack down on alleged abuse of the new technology-enabled short-term-rental market. Here’s the announcement, just out of the WSB inbox:
Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember Tim Burgess today announced a proposal to prevent long-term rental units from being converted to short-term rentals, while still providing residents the flexibility to earn additional income by renting out their homes.
The measure focuses on commercial operators who use platforms, such as Airbnb and VRBO, to rent multiple properties year-round. Approximately 80 percent of existing short-term rentals in Seattle will see no new regulations.
“Property owners are shifting hundreds of homes from the long-term residential market to short-term rental platforms like Airbnb, and in doing so dangerously reduce our housing supply,” said Councilmember Burgess, chair of the Council’s Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods and Finance Committee. “At the same time, Seattle homeowners offering short-term rentals in their own homes earn valuable supplemental income. These proposed regulations focus narrowly on the commercial operators that take advantage of home-sharing platforms to exacerbate our housing crisis.”
Under the proposed rules, any property may be provided as a short-term rental for up to 90 nights in a 12 month period. Only properties that are the primary residence of the short-term rental operator will be allowed to rent past the 90-night threshold. The primary residency requirement will curtail the growing year-round commercial operation of these platforms.
“We must protect our existing rental housing supply at a time when it is becoming harder for residents to find an affordable home in Seattle,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “This proposal ensures that apartments and houses are not being used exclusively as short-term rentals, while still providing a means for homeowners to earn some extra money by occasionally renting out their property.”
Consistent with current City rules, all short-term rental operators must secure a City business license tax certificate and pay all applicable taxes.
“Our communities are facing steep rent increases and having difficulty staying in their homes, and the fast growing short-term rental industry is making it worse,” said Rebecca Saldaña, Executive Director at Puget Sound Sage. “The Mayor and Councilmember Burgess have started an important conversation about how short-term rentals should help, and not hurt, people who want to stay in Seattle.”
The small percentage of operators renting their primary residence for more than 90 nights will be required to also obtain a City regulatory license. This license will require proof that the unit being rented is the operator’s primary residence, proof of liability insurance that covers the short-term rental use, a local contact number for guests, a signed declaration that the unit meets building and life safety codes, and basic safety information posted for guests in the unit.
Under the proposed regulations, all short-term rental platform companies will also need to obtain a new regulatory license with the City. The platforms will be required to give the City limited data on a quarterly basis necessary for enforcement of the proposed law.
More information on the proposals can be found in these documents:
The proposal is due to get its first council review before the Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods and Finance Committee two weeks from today, 9:30 am Wednesday, June 15th.
Three West Seattle properties are among 23 citywide that are accused of having shown “evidence of housing discrimination” in testing conducted for the city. We asked for the list of accused properties after receiving this news release from the city Office for Civil Rights:
The Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR) has filed 23 director’s charges of illegal discrimination against 23 different property owners after a new round of fair housing testing showed evidence of housing discrimination.
“Housing discrimination is real in Seattle – not something that just happens in other places,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. “These test results tell us that we still have work to do to achieve fair housing in Seattle.”
The testing revealed that prospective renters experienced different treatment from Seattle landlords across all three categories that were tested: familial status, disability, and use of a federal Section 8 voucher.
To address housing discrimination citywide, the Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR) will reach out to landlords and renters, including working with community partners to hold workshops for both landlords and the public.
Testing discovered evidence of different treatment
SOCR conducted a total of 97 tests, focusing on three different groups protected under fair housing laws.
Test findings revealed:
· Familial status (32 tests): 2 charges / 31% of all tests showed evidence of different treatment.
· Disability (33 tests): 6 charges / 64% of all tests showed evidence of different treatment.
· Section 8 voucher (32 tests): 13 charges / 63% of all tests showed evidence of different treatment.
SOCR also filed 2 additional charges (national origin and marital status) based on information that emerged from two of the tests.
SOCR contracted with the Northwest Fair Housing Alliance in Spokane to coordinate the testing, which was conducted by telephone and e-mail. To test for hearing disability, testers used Washington State’s free Telecommunication Relay Service. Testers posed as prospective renters, so the different treatment they experienced depended on the information they received from landlords and the questions they were asked.
For familial status, some landlords provided less information about rental units to testers who said they had children then they did to testers who indicated they did not have children. One manager advertised for “professional tenants only.” Testers found that some landlords’ occupancy standards (the number of people legally allowed to occupy units of specific sizes) were too restrictive: for example, requiring a maximum of two people for a 2-bedroom apartment.
In the disability tests, some landlords refused to allow a service animal, refused to waive pet fees, or hung up repeatedly when they received a call from the Washington State relay service.
Some landlords refused to respond to applicants who mentioned using a Section 8 voucher or simply turned away Section 8 applicants. Other landlords refused to consider adjusting their leasing policies to consider Section 8 applicants.
“We have filed 23 charges where the differences in treatment were undeniable,” said Patricia Lally, Director of the Seattle Office for Civil Rights. “These test results are not isolated incidents – they demonstrate patterns of behavior that have profound impacts on people’s lives.”
SOCR sent letters to all tested property owners and management companies informing them of their individual test results, and has offered to meet with managers whose test results showed some evidence of discrimination to evaluate their rental process and to help them improve their policies and procedures.
Fair housing outreach to address housing discrimination
The Seattle Office for Civil Rights will launch a new round of outreach and public engagement to address housing discrimination in Seattle, including free training to property management staff on request, and working with community partners to provide fair housing workshops for organizations and the general public.
“It is unfortunate that SOCR testing revealed that some renters face additional barriers to housing, but this also illustrates an opportunity for the City and rental housing industry to partner in offering fair housing education for landlords,” said Rental Housing Association of Washington (RHAWA) Executive Director, Melany Brown. “We believe that organizations such as RHAWA can be an asset to the city, and raise the standards for the entire industry.”
How fair housing testing works
Fair housing testing uses paired testers posing as prospective renters to measure differences in the services they received from leasing agents, as well as information about vacancies, rental rates, and other conditions. The matched pairs of testers have similar rental profiles in every respect except for the protected class being tested – that is, family status, disability and use of a Section 8 voucher. Test sites were selected at random from all geographic areas of the city, and were conducted from September to December, 2015.
The Office for Civil Rights receives $50,000 in City funding to conduct testing on an annual basis. In-person paired testing in 2014 revealed discriminatory housing practices based on race, national origin, sexual orientation and gender identity.
The three West Seattle properties on the list of 23 are Willow Court at 6901 Delridge Way SW, City Watch Apartments at 4744 41st SW, and a house at 5018 35th SW. We don’t yet have details of specific allegations against those properties; if you have something to report about them or any other properties, please get that information directly to the Office for Civil Rights, 206-684-4507.
P.S. The “director’s charges” process is explained starting on page 11 of this document.
Buying and/or selling real estate? This morning we’re welcoming a new sponsor, Kathy Crotts Real Estate; new sponsors are offered the chance to introduce themselves, and here’s what they’d like you to know:
The Kathy Crotts Real Estate team is excited to be a new sponsor on the West Seattle Blog. Our team is the dynamic duo of Kathy Crotts and Tatum Spalding, bringing together more than 25 years of real estate sales and marketing experience in the greater Seattle area.
From Arbor Heights to Admiral, Kathy Crotts Real Estate has been guiding clients through the ins-and-outs of today’s real-estate market. We’ve weathered the ups and the downs of real estate and set clear strategies for our buyers and sellers alike. Our clients become more like family, and that’s who matters most to us.
Kathy Crotts is a lifelong Seattle-area resident who is looking to make West Seattle her permanent home. Tatum Spalding enjoyed 2 years on Beach Drive before purchasing in the Fairmount neighborhood, where she’s been for nearly 10 years now. Both love the quality and pace of life West Seattle provides, and look forward to helping you navigate the West Seattle real-estate market.
Read more about Kathy and Tatum at www.kathycrotts.com.
We thank Kathy Crotts Real Estate 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.
If the City Council goes along with Mayor Murray‘s request, you’ll vote on the renewed/increased Housing Levy in August – until now, there hadn’t been a decision about whether it would be on the primary or general ballot. From the announcement, just out of the WSB inbox:
Building on over 30 years of success, today Mayor Ed Murray delivered his proposal to City Council to replace and expand the Seattle Housing Levy in 2016. His $290 million proposal follows three months of stakeholder and community engagement to discuss the levy and hear what the community’s priorities are for this affordable housing resource.
“Expanding the Housing Levy is the most important thing we will do this year to support affordability in Seattle,” said Mayor Murray. “The levy is a powerful resource to build more affordable homes for low-income families and help people at risk for falling into homelessness. We value an equitable and diverse city and we will renew our commitment to affordable housing.”
The Mayor is recommending the Housing Levy be placed on the August ballot.
The City Council has created a select committee, chaired by Councilmember Tim Burgess, to consider the Mayor’s proposal. A public hearing on the proposal will take place at City Hall on April 4, 2016 at 5:30 p.m. …
Read the rest of this morning’s announcement here.
Two West Seattle meetings with briefings about and discussion of the levy have already been held. We covered both. Here are our reports:
As you’ll hear the city Office of Housing director Steve Walker explain toward the start of our video, last night’s second West Seattle briefing on the proposed Housing Levy expansion/renewal was scheduled for a variety of reasons – because it was requested, because the first one was in a small room, and because on that previous night the slide projector didn’t work. So if you couldn’t be there last night, but have questions about the levy, which is expected to go to a vote this August or November – watch and/or listen. Many of the questions/concerns focused on whether this is doing enough to help, given the cost, and also on how increasing property taxes are affecting payers. You’ll find lots of info about the levy here.
(1st & last photos, by WSB: This one’s from SW Yancy; look closely and you’ll see ‘Bethlehem,’ the plant’s 1930-1985 owner)
We called the plant to find out why; here’s what environmental manager Pat Jablonski told us:
The water tower hadn’t been used in decades. It’s being decommissioned and removed as part of construction/renovation work for a two-story office building at the plant. They’re not sure exactly how old it was but believe it dates back to the 1920s-1930s (the plant itself is more than a century old), built to hold an emergency water supply “before this part of Seattle had a reliable water system,” Jablonski explained.
Perhaps the tower’s most noticeable feature, catching eyes in the holiday season, has been its illuminated star (featured here in 2007). Jablonski says they’re keeping it, “upgrading it to LEDs,” and relocating it somewhere else at the plant, though they haven’t decided where yet.
As for the steel that comprises most of the tower – yes, it’ll be recycled at Nucor.
The next step for how HALA – the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda – happens in our city might include you, if you’re interested in being part of a Community Focus Group. City planners asked us to help get the word out that they’re accepting applications for two more weeks, and are looking for people from all over the city. Full details are on the FAQ page that’s attached to the application form – find it here. It explains what the groups will do, how much time they’ll take, what kind of commitment you’d need to make, and it stresses that they’re looking for people across the spectrum of Seattleites, including renters as well as homeowners. That page also notes, “A key focus of the Community Focus Groups will be land use and zoning changes that could affect neighborhoods.” Apply by February 26th if you’re interested.
ORIGINAL REPORT: Last Wednesday night’s Southwest District Council meeting included the only scheduled West Seattle discussion of the proposed $290 million, 7-year housing-levy renewal/expansion – though levy details had only been announced hours earlier. As reported here, city reps at the meeting were asked for a second West Seattle meeting, with more lead time – and it’s just been announced by Department of Neighborhoods district coordinator Kerry Wade:
The meeting will be hosted by the Senior Center of West Seattle (4217 SW Oregon Street) and will take place on Tuesday, February 23, 2016 (6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.). A flyer will be created next week announcing the meeting details.
Bring your questions and comments. As explained Wednesday night, the city hasn’t finalized the levy details yet, nor has it decided whether to put the levy before voters in August or November.
ADDED: Here’s the official flyer for the meeting.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Hours after Mayor Murray officially unveiled the $290 million, 7-year Housing Levy renewal/expansion, it was the centerpiece of this month’s Southwest District Council meeting.
First – here’s the overview flyer:
The briefing was led by Office of Housing director Steve Walker, with colleague Maureen Kostyack. He first tried to explain where HALA (the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda) and the levy overlap, and where they don’t.
Voters have elected “to tax themselves for affordability” since 1981, he said, segueing into the levy-specific discussion.
This will cost you about $10/month if you have a home around $480,000 in value – double the $5/month for the housing levy that’s expiring, according to Walker, who added: “In the end, the levy’s about people … How can we create an opportunity for our children to be able to live in Seattle? … At the pace we’re going, that’s not possible. How can we be sure people aren’t displaced by the community and the community connection they have?”
Kostyack summarized the three areas the levy is intended to address (the city team was supposed to have a slide deck but couldn’t get the setup to work, so they improvised without it):
5:20 PM: If your phone rings at 6 pm, tonight or Thursday – here’s what it might be about:
Join us for the Mayor’s telephone town hall to talk about the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda, or HALA for short. We will be calling over 50,000 people in their homes today and Thursday, but if you want to make sure you are on the call, just call the number below. You will have a chance to ask questions and learn more about the HALA recommendations.
Tuesday, February 2nd: (855) 756-7520 Ext. 31029# at 6 p.m.
Thursday, February 4th: (855) 756-7520 Ext. 31028# at 6 p.m.
5:35 PM: In related news, the mayor’s office just announced that details of the Housing Levy renewal will be out at a noon event tomorrow. Considering that the first official community discussion of the levy is at 6:30 pm tomorrow here in West Seattle, seemed the announcement was going to have to be made by Wednesday afternoon.