West Seattle Blog... » West Seattle housing http://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Tue, 30 Sep 2014 08:56:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Video: Protests split Seattle Housing Authority rent-increase meeting into two gatherings http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/happening-now-protests-split-seattle-housing-authority-rent-increase-meeting-into-two-sessions/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/happening-now-protests-split-seattle-housing-authority-rent-increase-meeting-into-two-sessions/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 02:18:58 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=287251

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!”

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West Seattle development: New 35th/Graham proposal; comment time for 4849 21st SW http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/west-seattle-development-new-35thgraham-proposal-comment-time-for-4849-21st-sw/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/west-seattle-development-new-35thgraham-proposal-comment-time-for-4849-21st-sw/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 21:55:21 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=287224 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.

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West Seattle development: 9-lot subdivision proposal http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/west-seattle-development-9-lot-subdivision-proposal/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/west-seattle-development-9-lot-subdivision-proposal/#comments Thu, 25 Sep 2014 08:00:34 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=286817

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.

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City tells 2 in-the-works West Seattle microhousing projects that they need Design Review because of court decision http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/city-tells-2-in-the-works-west-seattle-microhousing-projects-that-they-need-design-review-because-of-court-decision/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/city-tells-2-in-the-works-west-seattle-microhousing-projects-that-they-need-design-review-because-of-court-decision/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 00:30:51 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=286705

(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:

I wanted to let you know about the status of your micro-housing residence project. Approval of another project with a configuration similar to yours was recently challenged in King County Superior Court. Like yours, that project included multiple bedrooms, each with a private bathroom and a counter area, including a sink, which appeared to be suited for food preparation. In a decision issued August 13 and currently under appeal, the judge ruled that each bedroom was configured for use as a separate dwelling unit, and must be regulated accordingly. We have re-examined other similar projects, including your own, in light of that decision. We have concluded that the individual rooms within your proposed development, project no. ——, also must be regulated as separate dwelling units.

If you want us to proceed with review of your project before a decision is reached on the appeal, you must either revise the project to meet code requirements based on the larger number of dwelling units, or else modify the plans so that the bedrooms no longer would be regarded as separate dwelling units.

If you wish to revise the project to reflect a larger number of dwelling units, it will be necessary to add Design Review. Development standards based on the number of units, such as requirements for bicycle parking and trash storage areas, and any applicable density requirements, must be met. Alternatively, you may wait and redesign based on standards for small efficiency dwelling units, currently under consideration by the City Council, once those standards have been adopted.

If you wish to modify the plans so that the rooms are no longer counted as separate dwelling units, you must modify the plans so that bathrooms are shared rather than privately associated with individual bedrooms, or else you must eliminate food preparation areas within each room, including sinks outside of bathrooms, cooking or refrigeration equipment and built-in counters and cabinets.

Additional modifications may be required based on Building Code standards for separate dwelling units. If the project has received bonus floor area for provision of affordable housing under Section 23.58A.014, that approval must be reviewed to ensure continued eligibility based on the change in unit count or any changes to the structure.

Please let us know how you wish to proceed.

The third West Seattle microhousing project in the works, at 5949 California SW, does not have the same letter in its online files. Its permits were granted months ago.

ADDED 4:33 AM WEDNESDAY: The city’s message to these and other projects is also summarized in a Tuesday post we just noticed on the DPD blog-format website.

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Out: ‘Microhousing.’ In: ‘SEDU.’ And it’s your turn to comment http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/out-microhousing-in-sedu-and-its-your-turn-to-comment/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/out-microhousing-in-sedu-and-its-your-turn-to-comment/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 15:59:59 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=286522 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.

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West Seattle demolition watch: Next ‘microhousing’; school rebuilds http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/west-seattle-demolition-watch-next-microhousing-school-rebuilds/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/west-seattle-demolition-watch-next-microhousing-school-rebuilds/#comments Sun, 21 Sep 2014 20:08:35 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=286468 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.

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West Seattle development: Key approvals for 18-house subdivision proposed at 2646 SW Holden http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/west-seattle-development-key-approvals-for-18-house-subdivision-proposed-at-2646-sw-holden/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/west-seattle-development-key-approvals-for-18-house-subdivision-proposed-at-2646-sw-holden/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 16:43:32 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=286094

(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).

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Followup: New court action in West Seattle foreclosure fight http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/followup-new-court-action-in-west-seattle-foreclosure-fight/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/followup-new-court-action-in-west-seattle-foreclosure-fight/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 10:20:34 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=286074 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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Video: Seattle City Council committee OK’s rules for ‘microhousing’ apartments http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/seattle-city-council-committee-oks-rules-for-microhousing-apartments/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/seattle-city-council-committee-oks-rules-for-microhousing-apartments/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 23:21:35 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=285917

(Added Wednesday morning: Seattle Channel video of this meeting in its entirety)
New city rules for “microhousing” apartments (backstory here) have just passed the City Council’s Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee. We came in on the meeting broadcast late, but in time to hear the passage of two amendments – one requiring two sinks per unit (food-prep and bathroom areas), one that goes beyond microhousing, requiring a city study of residential-area parking policies, with recommendations to be presented next spring. Seven amendments in all were proposed – they’re all linked from the agenda for the meeting that just concluded. The full council will vote on October 6th. If the new rules pass, they won’t affect projects already in the pipeline, including at least two on the drawing board here in West Seattle, where two “microhousing” buildings are now open – both under the Footprint brand – one on Delridge, one on Avalon.

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West Seattle real estate: Price drops and other notes http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/west-seattle-real-estate-price-drops-and-other-notes/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/west-seattle-real-estate-price-drops-and-other-notes/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 21:31:22 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=284990 Watching the ever-busier commercial/multifamily real-estate listings, a few things of recent note:

HOMESTEAD PRICE DROP: When the fire-ravaged Alki Homestead went back on the market last December, it was listed for $1,850,000. At some point, it went off the market, but is back again, categorized as a “new” listing, now at $1.4 million. Here’s the marketing flyer.

ADMIRAL PRICE DROP: Also listed for less, the former Brickyard BBQ site at 2310 California SW in The Admiral District. Seven months ago, we mentioned its initial $1,050,000 listing; now it’s down to $900,000.

3039 AVALON WAY: At least two projects remain in the works on the north side of Avalon (the 3268 microhousing and 3078 apartments), and now there’s a property for sale on the south side – 3039 Avalon Way SW, currently home to a duplex but, the listing says, “allows for 65` height and no parking requirements – ideal apartment location.” Listed at $1,650,000.

4140 CALIFORNIA SW: $1,575,000 is the asking price for this newly listed business-occupied building on the north edge of The Junction.

4857 FAUNTLEROY WAY: Just a block south of starting-soon The Whittaker, this apartment building known as The Dorchester is now up for sale, $1,695,000.

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Eviction-fight followup: Jean Barton says, ‘As far as I am concerned, it is still our home’ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/eviction-fight-followup-jean-barton-says-as-far-as-i-am-concerned-it-is-still-our-home/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/eviction-fight-followup-jean-barton-says-as-far-as-i-am-concerned-it-is-still-our-home/#comments Mon, 18 Aug 2014 22:53:28 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=282921

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Jean Barton never did speak at the downtown rally called by housing-justice activists as a followup to the Friday arrests that removed her, her disabled husband, and one of their sons from the Morgan Junction house they long owned, as their foreclosure/eviction fight continues.

The activists, led by the group SAFE (Standing Against Foreclosure and Eviction), gathered this afternoon in Courthouse Park, to which they’d summoned the media; we were there along with regional-TV crews. While they engaged in chants denouncing King County Sheriff John Urquhart for the Friday arrests, Jean Barton arrived on the sidelines, and reporters/photographers converged.

She basically had a news conference steps away from where the advocates continued to shout and chant. She said that husband Byron Barton remains at the Seattle VA Hospital, but she wasn’t sure where she would be staying tonight, as she had been put up in a hotel for a few days but that was ending.

She also said, “As far as I am concerned, it is still our home.” Her lawyer explained that their lawsuit alleging illegal foreclosure (90-page PDF) continues to go through the courts, as does their appeal of the “unlawful detainer” complaint that resulted in their original official eviction exactly one month ago.

It was then announced via bullhorn that the protest would move over to the courthouse next door, where the KCSO is headquartered. Demonstrators marched back and forth in front of its 3rd Avenue entrances, while Jean Barton went inside to request a one-on-one meeting with the sheriff, who, as you can hear in our video, wasn’t there, she was told:

KCSO is charged with carrying out eviction orders regardless of whether they are in the jurisdiction of an agency such as the Seattle Police Department. After they evicted the Bartons on July 18th, the couple went back inside the house. SPD arrived on the scene and could have arrested them for alleged trespassing but did not; the following Monday, Mayor Murray announced he had asked SPD to “stand by” while the case played out in court.

After that, the company that bought the house at a foreclosure auction in April, Triangle Property Development, went to court to seek a “writ of mandamus” which would have ordered the city to take action. Last week, King County Superior Court Judge Mariane Spearman denied that request, saying it would have been an extraordinary action to order the city to do something in which it had discretion, while, she said, Triangle had other avenues available for getting possession of the house.

Then last Friday, KCSO showed up at the Morgan Junction house and carried out a search warrant it had obtained, signed by Superior Court Judge Helen Halpert, citing grounds that it had evidence a crime – trespassing – was happening in the house, and swept in around 8 am, arresting and removing the Bartons. Representatives of Triangle promptly occupied the house, saying they were readying it for a renter who would move in quickly. Byron Barton was reported to have been shuttled between the VA Hospital and Harborview before winding up at the former, and that brings us to what unfolded today. What’s next? We’ll continue watching court files, among other sources, to see.

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ONGOING COVERAGE: In West Seattle eviction fight, sheriff’s deputies remove Bartons again, arresting them for ‘criminal trespass’ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/sheriffs-deputies-say-they-have-evicted-the-bartons-again/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/sheriffs-deputies-say-they-have-evicted-the-bartons-again/#comments Fri, 15 Aug 2014 15:23:53 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=282607 (SCROLL DOWN FOR NEWEST UPDATE – 9:27 pm)

(WSB photos by Patrick Sand)
ORIGINAL REPORT, 8:23 AM: Jean and Byron Barton have been evicted from their former home in Morgan Junction again, according to King County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Sgt. DB Gates. We found her there after getting a telephone tip. This comes four days after a judge declined to order the city to enforce trespassing laws against them (WSB coverage here). They were already gone from the house when we got there; Sgt. Gates says people working for the company that bought the house at a foreclosure auction in April, Triangle Property Development, are in it now.

ADDED 8:37 AM: More information from Sgt. Gates: KCSO went in under auspices of a search warrant, not a new court order for eviction.

She says they “detained three adults for the crime of criminal trespassing,” including one of the Bartons’ grown sons, and that while Byron Barton was taken to the VA Hospital, Jean Barton and their son were taken to KCSO’s Southwest Precinct “for processing.” She did not expect they would be jailed. She said the search-warrant action happened “quickly” and that there were “no issues”; the three were the only people in the house, she said. No protesters (or other media) were there. Advocacy-group signage that had been outside the house for weeks has been removed, and the “no trespassing/video surveillance” sign shown in our photo above is in place. (added) This morning’s action comes one week after the court hearing on Triangle’s petition to force the city to take action, and four weeks after deputies first removed the Bartons from the house, which they re-occupied hours later. Triangle is not a party to the Bartons’ still-pending lawsuit (90-page PDF) against Chase Bank and two other entities, alleging the house was illegally foreclosed on.

ADDED 9:35 AM: The official KCSO news release has just arrived. In it, Sheriff John Urquhart alleges “politics (were) allowed to ride roughshod over the rule of law” prior to this morning’s action. Full text:

This morning just after 8:00 AM Sheriff’s Office detectives arrested 3 people and removed them from the residence at 6548 41st Ave SW. The charges were Criminal Trespass in the First Degree. The persons arrested were not booked and the case will be referred to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for filing of charges. Detectives entered the home with a search warrant as well as consent to search from the owners of the residence.

The arrestees included one man in his 60’s, the man’s wife, and their adult son. The older man was sent via ambulance to the VA Hospital in Seattle due to his health status.

The residence is generally knows as the “Barton house”.

“There are no winners in this situation, not the least of which is Mr. Barton, who is gravely disabled, and was living in extremely unsanitary and therefore dangerous conditions”, said Sheriff John Urquhart. “But Triangle Property Development, the lawful owner of the home, is a victim of bureaucratic inaction and back-and-forth finger-pointing between the City of Seattle and the Sheriff’s Office. That is inexcusable and that’s why I ordered today’s action. When politics is allowed to ride roughshod over the rule of law, everyone suffers. I was not willing to let that continue,” Urquhart added.

Triangle purchased the property on April 11, 2014 at a trustee’s sale after a foreclosure. The occupants and former owners of the residence (“the Barton’s”) refused to move, and subsequently the Sheriff’s Office received an eviction order from Superior Court on June 11, 2014. Before the eviction could be completed, the Barton’s received a stay of the eviction until another hearing could be held. The Barton’s attorney contested the eviction but was denied, and another eviction order was issued on July 3, 2014.

The eviction was finally completed on July 18, 2014. However, that same day the Barton’s, with the assistance of members from SAFE (Standing Against Foreclosure and Eviction), returned to the house and broke in. The Seattle Police Department was called, but they refused to remove the occupants. The following day Seattle Mayor Ed Murray directed the police department to “stand down” and not arrest the Barton’s or remove them from the house.

Since then, according to Mayor Murray’s office, city representatives have been in “almost daily contact” with the Barton’s in an effort to find them suitable housing, as well as health and human services for which they may be eligible. However, according to the city, the Barton’s “have not pursued any of these options while choosing to remain in the home.”

The Mayor’s Office also reports they made a referral to Adult Protective Services due to “observed conditions inside the home.”

On August 8, 2014, Triangle Properties asked King County Superior Court Judge Mariane Spearman to issue a writ ordering the city to enforce the trespass statutes and remove anyone in the residence. The City argued they have no duty to act or to enforce any particular law. Furthermore, the City argued the Sheriff’s Office, under state law, is required to enforce the criminal trespass laws in any city in King County, including Seattle, and said Triangle should demand the Sheriff’s Office make the appropriate arrests, despite the fact that the Seattle Police Department has primary jurisdiction in Seattle.

The City also wrote in their brief to the court, that “The Barton’s, under the circumstances of this case, are guilty of trespass in the first degree.” They also conceded in court that the eviction order was valid and was properly served.

Judge Spearman issued her written response on August 13th, denying the request for a writ ordering the Seattle Police to act. She ignored the City’s erroneous argument that the Sheriff’s Office was required to respond and enforce the criminal statutes inside the city limits of Seattle.

HISTORY: Reportedly the residence has been in the Barton family for over 60 years, and court records show the Barton’s mortgaged their home in 2007, then subsequently refinanced the loan and took out a home equity line of credit, with loans totaling over $650,000. The Barton’s stopped making payments, apparently in 2011, and they defaulted on those loans. The Barton’s filed two lawsuits in Federal Court to stop foreclosure actions. In the 2012 lawsuit Judge John Coughenour dismissed the lawsuit and wrote, “The Barton’s complaint is fatally lacking in both clarity and plausibility,” among other findings. The next year the Barton’s 2nd lawsuit in Federal Court was dismissed by Judge Robert Lasnik, this time with prejudice, and he wrote that this was essentially the same claims dismissed by Judge Coughenour a year earlier.

After the trustee’s sale of the property, the Barton’s filed a lawsuit in state court, asking to void the foreclosure and for damages of $4.8 million and other, miscellaneous amounts. That case is pending with a 2015 trial date expected.

We expect other comment on these developments as the day goes on and will add to this report whenever we get it. On its Facebook page, SAFE, the advocacy group that has supported the Bartons’ attempts to keep the house, has called its members to an emergency meeting later this morning.

10:53 AM: We went back to the neighborhood to see if anything new was happening. We found Jean Barton on the sidewalk, being interviewed by TV crews:

She confirms that Byron Barton is at the VA Hospital, and says she has nowhere else to go, in terms of a place to live.

12:36 PM: As noted in the ongoing comment discussion, we have obtained the search-warrant affidavit that led to this morning’s arrests. The warrant was signed by King County Superior Court Judge Helen Halpert. You can see it here (added) or embedded below:

1:17 PM: SAFE has e-mailed the following statement:

Two weeks ago, SAFE activists held a press conference where they asked the question, “Who runs this town?” Today, Sheriff Urquhart, stepping up to the role of corporate goon, answered the question definitively; property developers do. Thanks to a hastily-obtained search warrant, a mother and her son have been handcuffed, stuffed into a cop car, and taken down to county jail to be held. Byron Barton has been removed against his will from his childhood home and taken to a hospital. The Bartons’ home is now occupied by unknown “renters”.

This was not an eviction; it was a raid against Seattle citizens outside the primary jurisdiction of the King County Sheriff’s Department –an extraordinary move to place a family in jail at the behest of Triangle. The Sheriff’s department forced their way into the Barton home with a search warrant and detectives. Unusually, they did not have an unlawful detainer, which is the specific court document that would have allowed the Sheriff’s department to enact a legal eviction. The current unlawful detainer is under appeal.

The Sheriff issued a contradictory statement about today’s arrests. Sheriff Urquhart said of the arrests that “Triangle Property Development…is a victim of bureaucratic inaction…I was not willing to let that continue.” Does this mean that he will not allow elected officials to interfere with his interpretation of the law?

This is a clear about-face from just last week. At a court hearing regarding the Barton’s case, a representative of the Sheriff’s Department argued that the enforcement of criminal statutes, including trespassing charges, was in fact the purview of the Seattle Police Department, not King County Sheriffs. The Judge agreed. Why has the Sheriff’s Department now gone out of their own stated jurisdiction, and arrested the Bartons as criminal trespassers?

“This is a total violation of civil rights,” the Barton’s attorney Jill Smith said of the forcible eviction and arrest.

At this time, Byron Barton’s whereabouts within the hospital system are unknown. “The helplessness, I’m sure, is overwhelming for him,” Jean Barton said.

Note that while the statement suggests the Bartons were jailed, the King County Sheriff’s Office says they were not booked, and as reported earlier in this story, Jean Barton was back near the home, talking with media, within a few hours. It also should be noted, since the SAFE statement mentions elected officials, Urquhart also is an elected official. Meantime, if you don’t know this from earlier stories, Byron Barton suffered a stroke in 2012 that left him barely able to speak and in need of a wheelchair for mobility, as well as a hospital bed at home.

4:43 PM UPDATE: SAFE’s Facebook page said as of 4 pm that Byron Barton was headed back to try to gain admittance to the VA Hospital; a lawyer for the Bartons was quoted by SLOG earlier as saying he had been turned away there once and then taken to Harborview. We checked with both of those hospitals; the VA said they can’t comment on any patient, and Harborview said they had no one by that name (as of mid-afternoon). Meantime, SAFE’s Facebook page also says the group plans a demonstration against the sheriff Monday afternoon in Courthouse Park.

6:18 PM: Stopping by the 41st/Holly neighborhood yet again around 5 pm just to see if TV newstime had drawn anyone there, our photographer was waved down by Triangle Properties personnel who were still in the house, getting it ready for a tenant to move into immediately. They said other media crews had already come in the house for a look and wanted us to see it too. Here’s our photo of the living room:

Since the only part of the house we’d been in previously was the basement, and that was hours after the Bartons reoccupied the house following the July 18th eviction, we can’t really make a comparison.

9:31 PM: SAFE’s newest Facebook update says that Byron Barton has continued to be shuttled between hospitals and is headed back to the VA to spend the night.

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Bartons’ eviction fight: Judge denies new owner’s request to order SPD to arrest them http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/bartons-eviction-fight-judge-denies-new-owners-request-to-force-spd-to-arrest-them/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/bartons-eviction-fight-judge-denies-new-owners-request-to-force-spd-to-arrest-them/#comments Wed, 13 Aug 2014 18:36:17 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=282408 ORIGINAL REPORT, 11:36 AM: Just in: King County Superior Court Judge Mariane Spearman has rejected Triangle Property Development‘s petition for a “writ of mandamus” which would basically have forced Seattle Police to arrest Jean and Byron Barton for trespassing, as they continue to occupy the Morgan Junction home from which they were evicted last month, three months after Triangle bought it at a foreclosure auction. The judge’s ruling comes five days after a hearing on the issue (WSB coverage here). Judge Spearman wrote that SPD has discretion on whether to make an arrest in a situation like this, and that an “extraordinary” move such as a writ of mandamus is not appropriate for compelling an action in which there is discretion. See the ruling in PDF, or embedded below:

We’re also contacting Triangle Development’s lawyer for comment; the company announced July 29th that it would take the city to court. That was 11 days after sheriff’s deputies – who enforce evictions in King County, whether within city limits or not – removed the Bartons from the house; later that day (July 18th), the couple re-entered it. SPD arrived at the house late in the day, but did not arrest them, and Mayor Murray issued a statement the following Monday saying he had told SPD to “stand by while the latest court proceedings unwind.”

ADDED 12:42 PM: A few other notes – The Bartons themselves were not a direct party in this particular legal action. It was taken by Triangle Development against Mayor Murray and Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole, and is unrelated to the Bartons’ ongoing lawsuit (read it here) alleging that the foreclosure was illegal. If you haven’t read today’s ruling yet, another reason cited by the judge was that Triangle has other options for getting control of the property – including getting the King County Sheriff’s Office to serve another order. Meantime, the mayor has posted a statement about the ruling, saying, among other things, “… the judge decided that SPD acted properly in exercising its discretion over the past three weeks.”

ADDED 4:46 PM: The advocacy group SAFE has sent a statement, which includes Jean Barton’s reaction to the city’s contention that she and her husband are ignoring/spurning housing-related services:

Today, a King County judge ruled that SPD acted properly in not interfering in Jean and Byron Bartons’ civil land dispute regarding their home in West Seattle. The judge has now put the ball in King County’s court, giving Triangle Properties the option to seek a writ against the Sheriff’s department to carry out an eviction that they claim they have already carried out.

The Bartons’ case has now become something of a hot potato, with Triangle passing it to the courts, the city passing the matter to the county, the county passing it back to the city, and now the judge tossing it back to the King County Sheriff’s Department.

Meanwhile, Byron Barton is still in his home of 61 years, in comfortable conditions, under the home care of his wife, while the couple waits for a superior court to make a decision regarding the fraudulent foreclosure practices of Chase Bank and Quality Loan Services, who auctioned the property to Triangle last April. Quality Loan Services has already been reprimanded by Attorney General Bob Ferguson last March for illegal foreclosure practices, and those same practices were used in the theft of Jean and Byron’s home.

“If someone takes your home, and they break the law while doing it, don’t you deserve your day in court before the property is removed from you?” says Randy Whitelock, SAFE Organizer, ”The AG has already gone after QLS publicly, and put a moratorium on foreclosures they’re involved in. They are the criminals, not the Bartons.”

As far as services supposedly offered by the city… “All we’ve gotten are a list of phone numbers, applications for 3 to 5 year waiting lists, and a case worker from the VA who has done nothing. The idea that we’ve turned down resources is ridiculous,” says Jean Barton.

The simple truth is that the city has no adequate resources for putting displaced citizens into stable, permanent housing, an issue that should be addressed by Mayor Murray in his mission to end veteran homelessness in Seattle.

But for now, the Bartons are in their home, awaiting their day in court.

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Barton eviction fight: No immediate ruling at hearing; city offers help, cites ‘alarming conditions’ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/barton-eviction-fight-no-immediate-ruling-at-hearing-city-offers-help-cites-alarming-conditions/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/barton-eviction-fight-no-immediate-ruling-at-hearing-city-offers-help-cites-alarming-conditions/#comments Fri, 08 Aug 2014 22:36:19 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=281944

ORIGINAL REPORT, 3:36 PM: Two developments this afternoon in the case of Jean and Byron Barton, whose Morgan Junction home was foreclosed on, then auctioned off. Three weeks after King County Sheriff’s Office deputies carried out an order to evict them – followed hours later by the Bartons re-occupying the house – the property’s new owners had a court hearing today. Triangle Property Development sought an order to require the city to enforce trespassing law and get the Bartons out of the house; you’ll recall that Mayor Murray had told Seattle Police to “stand by” while legal matters played out. King County Superior Court Judge Mariane Spearman listed to arguments but did not rule immediately. This motion, by the way, did not involve the Bartons’ separate case alleging that the foreclosure was illegal. We had a crew at the hearing, as well as in the hallway outside the courtroom, where Jean Barton joined the SAFE advocacy group in a pre-hearing news conference (added: video of her brief comments):

We will add more details from both parts of the event later.

Meantime, Mayor Ed Murray‘s office forwarded a letter from the city Office of Housing, detailing its efforts to offer the Bartons help with housing, mentioning they have not taken advantage of that help so far. The letter also, toward the end, mentions that city staff visiting the Bartons’ home “observed alarming conditions inside the residence that required them to submit mandatory reports to Adult Protective Services.” Here’s the letter as a PDF – or read it, embedded, below:

They did not elaborate on the “alarming conditions.”

ADDED: In case you’re interested in the legal documents – here’s the Triangle petition:

And the city’s reply:

10 PM NOTE: Still more to add; check back in the early morning.

EARLY AM ADD: After the jump (if you are reading from the main page), co-publisher Patrick Sand‘s notes from the hearing:

Judge Spearman heard from three people – David Lawyer for Triangle, Patrick Downs from the city attorney’s office, and Patty Shelledy, legal adviser to the King County Sheriff’s Office.

Lawyer noted that KCSO carried out the eviction exactly three weeks ago. He talked about all the legal procedures that began in April and led to the eviction in July. He contended that the city admits that the eviction was properly sought and carried out and it is the city’s duty – not their discretion – to have SPD remove the Bartons. At the end he said that Triangle has nothing against the Bartons and they have no interest in seeing the Bartons arrested – they just want the house vacated.

Lawyer hit the point several times that the writ – which he called an extraordinary measure – would only apply to this case and this case only. This was to blunt some of the case law where writs have been issued to enforce citywide issues.

Time is also an issue. Downs said the city wants time to find the Bartons alternatives; the judge pointedly asked – how long will that take? He said he did not know and mentioned that the Bartons had been “reluctant” to take some of the options presented so far (as noted in the letter shown earlier in this report).

Downs had two major points for the city. First, the police have the discretion to arrest. Second, getting people off a certain piece of property falls to the sheriff. He kept referencing the Renter Landlord Tenant Agreement from the state and how it applied to all this. Downs also brought up a case from the WTO where a business owner sued because the police did not remove rioters. Court decision in that said the police have means other than arrest to achieve their means.

All of which kept coming back to discretionary vs. mandatory.

Downs said that the city has discretion in how they wish to handle the matter, but the sheriff does not, so, he contended, it is therefore up to the sheriff. The judge asked if the property wasn’t in fact in the city and Downs said it is and the process of eviction needed to start all over again so the sheriff could remove the Bartons.

That’s when Patty Shelledy got up and said this was becoming “Groundhog Day.” Her contention was that the KCSO did their job and to ask the KCSO to enforce laws inside another jurisdiction flew in the face of state statute and existing agreements between the county and the city. She said this is a politically difficult situation but not a legally difficult one. She wanted to know how many times the city wanted the sheriff to evict so that the current situation could play itself out over and over.

Lawyer concluded saying Triangle only wants the Bartons out. Triangle is not seeking an arrest. The are asking for the writ so SPD can do just that. He said he is aware that the city and the Bartons are talking about alternaitve housing but his firm has not been party to any of that.

The judge ended by asking Downs some questions. Is Triangle the Legal owner? He said yes. She asked if the Barton had a legal right to be in the home? He said he did not know. Then she asked if they are in the house right now. He said yes, in the basement. She asked if the city can find them temporary living arrangements. He said the city is working on it. She asked if he understood that the owner wants a date and can that date be provided? He said he did not know but he knew that the city and the sheriff are trying together on this. She came back around and said – so how much time do you need? He didn’t know. Last, she asked if the Bartons are currently paying rent on the house. No, was the answer from both attorneys and that was that. She said she would take it under advisement and report back to all parties.

In a statement e-mailed after the hearing, the advocacy group that organized the pre-hearing news conference, SAFE, said in part, “Unfortunately, the judge was not given anything approaching adequate information about the Bartons’ case; it was clear that Assistant City Attorney Patrick Downs had not conducted proper research about the Bartons’ case, and it was only in the last five minutes of the hearing that the Judge received the Mayor’s legal response.” (Its full statement is here.)

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Barton eviction fight: Court hearing tomorrow afternoon http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/barton-eviction-fight-court-hearing-tomorrow-afternoon/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/barton-eviction-fight-court-hearing-tomorrow-afternoon/#comments Thu, 07 Aug 2014 21:02:49 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=281859

(July 18th WSB photo: Jean and Byron Barton, center, in the house’s basement, with police and supporters)
Tomorrow afternoon, a King County Superior Court judge will preside over a hearing related to Triangle Property Development‘s attempt to take physical possession of the Morgan Junction house where Byron and Jean Barton are still living, three weeks after deputies evicted them. We know this because the advocacy group that has been campaigning to keep the Bartons in the house has sent word of a protest outside the courtroom before the hearing. Triangle’s court filing – reported here on July 29th – is the latest development in the case; the Bartons also have legal action pending, contending that the house was illegally foreclosed on before being auctioned off last April, which is when Triangle bought it. The Bartons re-entered the house near 41st and Holly shortly after deputies removed them on July 18th, including carrying Byron Barton, who uses a wheelchair; that means Seattle Police could arrest them for trespassing, but a week and a half ago, Mayor Murray told them on July 21st to “stand by” while the case went through the courts.

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