Upzone uproar: Cayce & Gain face the neighbors

UPDATED FRIDAY MORNING: Last night’s West Seattle HS meeting on the California Ave upzoning proposal drew a big crowd (SRO in the library, almost 100 people). Very spicy meeting, with the landowners behind the proposal — real-estate/property-management partners Roger Cayce and Mike Gain — there not to make a presentation (that was done by their representative Josh Stepherson, and it was no different from what we heard at an informal meeting two weeks ago), but to participate in the discussion, where they heard lots of angry opposition, before and after explaining why they want the zoning changed. Here’s our complete report:

Permeating the atmosphere were fear and distrust — fear that the character of the neighborhoods behind both sides of this California Ave block will be destroyed by big development, distrust of the applicants’ motives, absent a specific project plan to review — all that is on the table now is the basic proposal to rezone California between Hanford and Hinds, both sides of the street (and a short distance further south on the west side) from the current NC1-30, to NC2-40 (the last number represents maximum allowable height).

Mark Wainwright, president of the Admiral Neighborhood Association, inferred the fear and distrust might have been a much lesser factor if Cayce and Gain had approached the group before applying for the rezoning. “This was not a mandatory meeting. We asked for it. But it’s a meeting we should have had a long time ago. You could have come to us and said, ‘Hey guys, we have an idea’.”

Instead, first public word of the rezoning proposal came when the city published word on its website and sent it out in the semiweekly Land Use Information Bulletin on November 8th; that’s when we saw it and posted a short item (followed by other coverage including the informal presentation made at the ANA meeting the following week). But the LUIB is not something every resident should have to watch like a hawk for any hint of big changes coming to their neighborhood out of the blue.

Just HOW big a change this rezoning would represent, was also a significant part of last night’s debate. Another of the property owners, construction company proprietor Gary Cobb, asked, “Is 10 feet really that big a deal? With 30 feet (of height), you’re talking three stories. With 40, this would be four stories.” One resident interrupted him to note it’s not just a matter of height, but also of “bulk” — the zoning change from NC1-30 to NC2-40 would also mean significantly larger businesses could appear on the ground floor of any buildings in the area, 10,000-sf for the current zoning, 25,000-sf for NC2.

As has been the case in their comments and those of their supporters here on WSB (scroll down here), Cayce and Gain tried to portray the change as more of a restoration. Mike Gain (a longtime West Seattle resident; this report earlier and inaccurately suggested otherwise) said, “When I purchased this land in 1987, the zoning was NC1-40. I think it’s only fair to have the zoning put back. I don’t think it’s going to be devastating to the community if it’s someone who wants to build something nice.”

Repeatedly, audience members asked for details on what that “something nice” would be. One woman burst out in frustration, “I feel like you [Cayce & Gain] are in a bubble. I hope you are hearing your community. What do you want to build there? Let’s open the dialogue!” Aside from mentioning 2 floors of underground parking — maybe about 120 stalls — and apartments/condos somewhere in the mix, the landowners couldn’t say exactly what they want to build — they say they have to get the zoning changed first, then they would work with an architect to develop a plan. (And both insisted that neither has ever talked to Trader Joe’s, for which some audience members seemed to suspect this project might be a Trojan horse — first time in a long time we had heard any potential WS TJ’s discussed in a somewhat negative light.)

They were more detailed about what they say they don’t want to do. Cayce: “We don’t want to build townhomes. We COULD — we would make more money if we built townhomes … We’re not asking to build a big building that’s not allowed. We could build a big building NOW that’s three stories, with one floor of parking. We don’t want to, because it’s going to be an ugly building. (The buildings on the block now are) functionally obsolete. There WILL be growth. Do you want an ugly 30-foot building, or something nice?”

Growth could occur in the other Admiral areas already zoned NC2-40, contended Mark Wainwright. “(The areas already with that zoning) total at least 400,000 square feet — enough for 700, 800 housing units if built out. There’s enough room to accommodate growth NOW.” He said the ANA’s other reasons for not supporting the rezoning request include the fact it “runs contrary to the current neighborhood plan.”

For the many residents who spoke, and who frequently, loudly applauded each other, “neighborhood” was a word that came up time and again. One frequently voiced concern involved the already formidable traffic trouble on California and adjacent side streets, including the parallel-running 42nd and 44th W, on which many attendees live. One man noted other areas of California further south have this type of development and have been plagued with car collisions as drivers try to emerge from their buildings’ entrances.

Others disagreed vehemently with the property owners’ contention that change is inevitable, and big buildings are part of that. One lamented the “canyon” that parts of California Ave have become, with taller buildings blocking the light. (An allusion here on WSB months ago was the “Death Star Trench” from the memorable end sequence of the original “Star Wars” movie.) Another said, “I’m not against change, but this would destroy a beautiful neighborhood,” and drew laughter by angrily saying that if he has to sell his home because of any ensuing development, no agency associated with the property owners would have any part of the transaction.

Several people described themselves as area renters afraid they would be priced out by the pressures that would come with new, big buildings, or that they would lose quality of life to other factors. A woman talked about her respiratory health problems and concerns about increased car emissions replacing the seabreezes that “blow up from Alki” toward her apartment now. A man asked how long it might be till he gets an eviction notice (city planner Malli Anderson earnestly told him that the process of rezoning and reviewing projects could take more than a year, so he shouldn’t worry too soon).

While Cayce and Gain talked a lot about the “functional obsolescence” of the current buildings on the block, one woman said, “I think a lot of us are fine with the buildings on California (now), because THAT’S OUR NEIGHBORHOOD.”

Close to the end of the heated hour of public comments, a man who said he had worked on the original Admiral Neighborhood Plan said, “Seems to us a lot of red flags are waving here — they don’t know what they want to build, meaning we don’t know. I’m requesting this be treated as a ‘contract rezone’ which would require the City Council to approve it with self-imposed restrictions on how the land could be used. What do I have to do to make that request?”

Planner Anderson said, “You just did” and said she would take that back to City Hall. (This morning, WSB reader Forest (thank you!) sent us the section of the city code that describes “contract rezones”: SMC 23.34.004: A. Property Use and Development Agreement. The Council may approve a map amendment subject to an agreement by the legal or beneficial owner of the property to be rezoned to self-imposed restrictions upon the use and development of the property in order to ameliorate adverse impacts which could occur from unrestricted use and development permitted in the zone. All restrictions shall be directly related to the impacts which may be expected to result from the amendment. The agreements shall be approved as to form by the City Attorney, and shall not be construed as a relinquishment by the City of its discretionary powers.

As for what’s next — Anderson is taking comments by phone, e-mail and postal mail. She explained at the start of the hearing that she will eventually make a recommendation to a hearing examiner, who then would hold a hearing; after that, the hearing examiner would make a recommendation to the City Council, which would also hold a hearing before a final vote, which is required for a zoning change like this.

Here’s how to send your comments to Anderson:
700 5th Avenue, Suite 2000
Seattle, WA 98124

One comment she will be receiving is from a younger member of the audience, a 10-year-old girl, and it was forwarded to WSB this morning by that girl’s dad — this handwritten, illustrated letter:



96 Replies to "Upzone uproar: Cayce & Gain face the neighbors"

  • BB November 30, 2007 (8:52 am)

    I must admit I am surprised by how much anger there appears to be towards the re-zone. I was anticipating push-back from those residents who’s view would be blocked but not so much from others. It seems clear their biggest mis-step has been not divulging their plan it’s pretty tough to get people on-board with an un-known idea.

    I suspect Cayce & Gain are right in that development in that space is inevitable. Lobbying and hoping that nothing happens is likely wasted energy. I am hopeful that C & G are sensitive to the neighborhood and there is a “happy medium” that can be reached between West Seattle’s growing commercial needs and it’s residential needs.

  • Cami November 30, 2007 (9:28 am)

    I wonder if they want to build a hotel? It is now allowed in NC2 zoning — up to 50 rooms ( which would require only 12 parking spots). There are very few NC1 zones in West Seattle and I think it’s important that we preserve them. They perform a function for small neighborhoods. No matter how BIG Seattle gets, it needs to maintain some character and a variety of neighborhood sizes. West Seattle has much of the “quaint” small town feel that make Seattle a great place to live. And the comment about “only 10 more feet” is really off base. There is 4 more feet added to that for rooftop venting and other wonderful items like cell antennas. Good luck to the neighborhood and I will be sending my comments in support of maintaining the current zoning. Isn’t the city pushing neighborhood planning again? If so, why are they ignoring Admiral’s plan?

  • Concerned Neighbor November 30, 2007 (9:36 am)

    West Seattle Blog: Thank you for this fantastic update! I, like other neighbors are probably exhausted this morning. You guys are amazing to get this all written up so soon.

    What a lovely, lovely, and sad, scary post from our 10-year-old neighbor. I second and third every single sentiment and picture.

    Concerned Neighbors: a couple things stick in my mind above and beyond my gratification for the fantastic turnout of the approximately 100 neighbors who spoke eloquently and vociferously last night against the rezone application by Cayce and Gain and their representative, Josh Stepherson.

    1. One was an interesting question posed of Josh Stepherson, who filed the application for the upzone with the city, while C&G paid the approximately $3,500 fees (all total). Someone asked if there might be a conflict of interest, given Josh works for the City of Seattle. “Do you?” they asked. Josh mumbled something about his position being part-time or very part-time; it was hard to hear he said it so quietly. (He was seated up front with city planner Malli Anderson and helped her clean up/straighten tables afterward, not that that means anything.) Given the controversy surrounding this unusual rezone proposal, if the applicant is a city employee, in my opinion (I am not sophisticated in land use planning or law) a conflict of interest seems possible; at the very least it seems worrisome. So far I have strong respect for Malli Anderson, who has been helpful in answering questions and seems somewhat thrown into this situation, so this is not meant to question her integrity.

    2. To the 100 or so neighbors who attended the meeting last night, I wonder how we might continue the discussion among ourselves and continue to communicate with each other, to stay on top of and share developments and news? This might be imperative to making sure the city (including the Examiner and the City Council) hears loud and clear what many, many of us want – to stop this highly unusual rezone request that runs contrary to our Admiral Neighborhood Plan. For example, the Seattle DPD readerboards in the neighborhood still list the comment period as ending Nov. 21. This could discourage some from making comments. Not everyone will have the current news. All neighbors should be made aware that Malli Anderson, the City Planner, has said she will take comments through end of December, even though the official comment period ends Dec. 5. Given that this is an unusual request for rezoning a huge block of property, a request made through a process that does not have community informational/discussion opportunities built in by design (which is contrary to what the Admiral Neighborhood Residential Urban Village Plan would dictate in this case), it might behoove us to work together to fill in some blanks. Malli has said that our voices, those of neighbors and concerned business owners, will count.

    This blog is great, but not everyone reads it, plus the posts very quickly end up far down the page; also, given people can post anonymously, it is difficult to accurately gauge public sentiment since people can post under multiple handles. Perhaps we could use an email discussion list or website as a way for those who oppose the rezone to stay in touch. Compared to the longterm impacts, this rezone process could move pretty quickly. Next step (at this point) is for the City Planner to make recommendations/report to the Hearing Examiner, which will make a report to the City Council, which will vote. Perhaps we could rally around the Admiral Neighborhood Association, which is the steward of our Admiral Neighborhood Residential Urban Village Plan. This Plan will help protect us, as it was designed to do, but we need to stand behind it. Any ideas for how neighbors and other concerned citizens might stay directly in touch and share news through this process?

    Just some thoughts from a tired, concerned neighbor… So nice to know now that there is plenty of concerned company!

  • DW November 30, 2007 (9:46 am)

    It’s not like what is there now is that nice. It’s time for West Seattle to step into the 21st century – this isn’t 1980 anymore folks. All over, you see neighborhoods from Bellevue to Ballard to Issaquah to Tacoma embracing development and becoming more upscale in the process. I’m continually flabbergasted the WS wants to embrace so much of it’s trashy, relicy past.

  • WSB November 30, 2007 (9:58 am)

    Concerned Neighbor: You could certainly set up a Yahoo! group for discussion on the project. In our short time observing, though, sometimes it’s hard to keep participation going – the Our Town West Seattle group set up during the heat of the battle over the Charlestown Cafe site has been very lightly trafficked. One thing we will do to help in the short term is to create a tag as soon as possible for all posts on this project. We’ll call it California Ave upzoning. Then you can look in the “WSB categories” list on the right side of the page, click on that link, and see all the posts on the topic, in reverse chronological order, so you don’t have to use the search box or wade thru the “development” category where it’s all going now.

  • granted November 30, 2007 (10:24 am)

    So-called “development” (aren’t there already buildings there?) is neither necessary nor inevitable. People in communities can and do regularly decide the type of neighborhood they want to live in regardless of what century it happens to be.
    There’s nothing inevitable about a couple shady cons rearranging your community for their own profit, unless you let it happen.

  • jenny n. November 30, 2007 (11:07 am)

    Concerned Neighbor,

    Mark Wainwright and the Admiral Neighborhood Association already have a YahooGroup set up. If you live in the Admiral District, you may want to take a closer look at this group:

    Excerpted from the ANA YahooGroup home page:
    “Who we are:

    The Admiral Neighborhood Association (ANA) is comprised of residents, business people, and others who care about the environmental, economic and social sustainability of our Admiral neighborhood. We believe in maintaining the quality of life we have come to enjoy, and exist to serve our neighbors and our community.”

  • MW November 30, 2007 (11:15 am)

    Well done, WSB. Great work as usual.
    And good comments from everyone.
    BB, I think you’re spot-on about the lack of work up front. There’s a much better way to go about this, and its totally unfortunate that they didn’t recognize the need to get the community involved earlier.
    Concerned Neighbor – I wouldn’t make too big of a deal about the Josh S. conflict thing. I believe that he has been working part time for SDOT on public outreach for the SLU streetcar. I don’t think there is a conflict. He is hired to do what he is doing now for various types of clients – that is what he does. So he’s literally “the messenger”, and shooting him wouldn’t move the discussion forward.
    Also, I’m happy to assist with communications. I’ve been involved with the Charlestown Cafe/Petco project (which is very quiet right now), and a similar Yahoo Group thing would be good. I’m going to see if Malli can provide the list of attendees to the ANA for the sake of better communication.
    DW – You’re right in that we shouldn’t sit on old stuff just because it’s old. And I bet that Cayce & Gain were right when they said that some of those buildings were “functionally obsolete”. I think the displacement of the current tenants is a big deal, though. That’s a tough one.
    Anyone can contact me about this project or getting involved in the Admiral Neighborhood Association in general. This is what we do. Every neighborhood needs an organizer, and the ANA is it.

    Mark Wainwright
    Admiral Neighborhood Association

  • villagegreen November 30, 2007 (11:46 am)

    Was anyone from the public actually in support of the project? After reading the notes from the meeting, it seems people are mainly concerned about the ‘unknown’ of what will replace the existing buildings (not so much the height increase in the rezoning).

    Since Cayce and Gain own the land, it is inevitable that the existing buildings will be torn down and new ones will be built. The obsolescence of the buildings seems apparent just from looking at the dilapidated state of some of them. Would you rather they pull a ‘Waste Water’ and simply slap ‘lipstick on a pig’ instead of replacing them?

    The ‘neighborhood’ will change (as all things in life do) regardless of whether the rezoning goes through. To buy property right next to the only major commercial street in the largest neighborhood in Seattle and think otherwise is simply naive.

    I agree that if the neighborhood plan calls for community involvement in planning of major projects, it would behoove Cayce and Gain to be more forecoming about what they intend to build. However, it is possible that nothing is concrete at this point and they’re waiting for the rezoning to determine what makes the most sense.

    Automatically assuming that all developers have evil designs to ruin neighborhoods with big ugly mega projects, is like saying all politicians are corrupt, all police are racists, and all West Seattlites are backwards, small minded, white trash, NIMBYs.

  • Eddie November 30, 2007 (12:08 pm)

    Am I mistaken or is one of the affected buildings home to the recently remodeled Spiro’s Pizza?

  • Concerned Neighbor November 30, 2007 (12:21 pm)

    Thanks Mark. I am all for neighbors working with and within the ANA! I wonder how we might also reach neighbors who might not use the internet much or at all. Can we post notices on the poles like the city does? Of is it still illegal? Grocery stores don’t provide the old community bulletin boards like they used to. One meeting soon, though, with neighbors to discuss routes of communication that would work best and reach everyone might be worth it. I am glad that ANA is trying to get a list of attendees from Malli. I plan to attend your next ANA meeting and I hope others will, too, on Dec. 11, 7pm, at the West Seattle Congregational Church at 4320 Hill Street.

    In terms of the need for developing the 3200 and 3400 blocks, as keeps being referred to as a way to justify the upzone… No one is holding anyone back. Boy, I would love to own even one of those little NC1-30 properties! Property owners are free now to develop three stories up and one parking lot down, as I understand it, and to combine plats. Why does it need to be rezoned so new buildings won’t be ugly, as Cayce and Gain stated last night? Like much in this rezone application, that simply doesn’t make sense.

    In any case, as the ANA has shown, there is really nothing to support the need for bigger/taller development in the 3200/3400 blocks. Data shows there is plenty of NC2-40 property ripe for development in the Admiral Junction where it belongs to meet projected numbers for housing and business development. Not to mention the big issue involving potential displacement of current tenants that this rezone application ignores along with many other issues. I have spoken with some who live in these “functionally obsolete” apartments, as Cayce and Gain describe the buildings in this area, and some of them have lived there 15 years and more, and want to stay. And, personally, and I admit to an old-fashioned sentimental bent, I think buildings like the “Mutley Crew Cut” are cute as a bug and I hope they don’t get squashed. Face lifts; some redevelopment? Great ideas within the city’s land use codes and and/or by guidance of our Admiral Neighborhood Plan.

  • LisaM November 30, 2007 (12:56 pm)

    Hello Neighbors,
    I was the frustrated woman at the meeting saying those guys were in a bubble and they really were.
    I stayed after an spoke with Bob Derry who was very informative and if only he were the one speaking, I think a lot of the anxiety would have been alleviated. What a strange meeting and situation! That an individual has the power to re-zone a neighborhood is new to me.
    We must, as a neighborhood, come together on this one, and work as a group with our ‘boys in a bubble’ to at least make this project as beneficial as possible to our community.

    ANA – let us know next stpes, please!

    Thank all, I love our neighborhood – quirky buildings and all.

  • cami November 30, 2007 (1:38 pm)

    DW…I don’t think the issue is replacing the old with new…it’s upzoning the area.

  • Mickymse November 30, 2007 (5:31 pm)

    You know I spent years traveling around West Seattle advocating monorail. My friends and I told people over and over that California was going to become one long “canyon” of 3-4 story condo buildings and sidewalk retail and the like, and that traffic would increase and cause problems (thus the need for rapid, grade-separated transit).

    I find it hard to have sympathy for the people who couldn’t stop for even a few minutes to listen to us, who voted against the monorail, and are now complaining that West Seattle is densifying and taller buildings are being built in areas that are planned as “urban villages.”

  • nunya November 30, 2007 (6:23 pm)

    Most of these building were never quiality building and the cost of upkeep and maintenance is very expensive. I read a comment about someone living there for 15 yrs; if seniority counts Cayce and Gain have owned most of this property for a lot longer than that. To have new business there and better housing would be much better than the alternative…the property being sold to someone to do townhouses, which I believe is permitted under the current zoning.

  • grr November 30, 2007 (7:31 pm)

    sounds to me like a whole hell of a lot of ‘fear of change’ being sloshed around. It seems to me like C&G are honestly TRYING to get the local community input and that they CARE about what they do to the area, UNLIKE the majority of the hideous developments that have sprung up, like The Big Orange Box on Cali in the Morgan Junctions, or the HUGE ThanBros sign, and the god-awful bldg across the street (behind the 7-11).

    And where’s the neighboord outrage at the Green Slum Bldgs on Cali, across from the beautiful Osborne Bldg. That monstrosity has been there since I can remember.

    these neighborhood meetings just always reek of ‘change is bad, no matter what’. And I really won’t make any comments about the PARENTS of the 10 year old who did the drawings..gee..wonder where THEY stand on the issue.

  • Admiral Resident November 30, 2007 (7:48 pm)

    Eddie, the newly remodeled Spiro’s is within the area requested for upzoning to NC2-40; so is the newly renovated Beato’s restaurant.

    WHO OWNS PROPERTY ON 3200 – 3400 CALIF. IN THE PROPOSED REZONE AREA? Upon request, I got a list of property owners from the City. WS Bloggers, do you have the list? This could perhaps be scanned in. I show “Argestes LLC” as the owners of the Spiro’s Building at 3401 California, so it’s anyone’s guess who owns that. And I show “California Avenue Properties LLC”, another unknown, as the owner of the Beato’s building at 3247, which includes an apartment upstairs.

    Eight properties are listed as being owned by LLCs or groups. M & R Properties and Diller Diller & Diller Group, plus the ones noted above, are examples. I understand an owner can hold properties under different group or company names (e.g. an LLC is a Limited Liability Company).

    Cayce and Gain are listed as individuals owning five properties (and I imagine could own some of the LLCs with unspecific names, like RAFH LLC.?; don’t know).

    The properties owned by Cayce and/or Gain are: 3228 (listed as owned by Roger Cayce; an apartment/mixed on a lot of 7,500 square feet); 3211 (Cayce; an apartment/mixed use on a lot of 8,273 sq ft), 3219 (Cayce; office building on 5,532 sq ft); 3221 (Cayce; office building 5,544 sq ft); 3239 (Cayce; retail store, 5,581 sq feet). I get a total of 32,430 sq feet, which includes two extra large lots with two apartment buildings for the property they are listed as owning. Standing on the roof of a single-story home on 44th Ave SW, looking west, you can see Puget Sound; if you go up four stories I can only imagine the view!

    Lisa and Cami. Well said! It seems those who want the rezone mainly or wholly skirt the issues involving the rezone and resort to labeling others as “anti-change” or “stuck in the 80’s”. I think it just underscores the reality that no valid arguments have been forthcoming in support of the rezone. How could there be? It’s been requested in a vacuum (a bubble so to speak), devoid of community input and involvement, and specific plans. I think Cayce and Gain have discussed one building, the one slated to have a two-floor underground parking garage with 120 or so stalls. The arguments against the upzone, on the other hand, e.g., those put forth by the ANA, are cogent, well thought out, and based on years of community input and discussion.

  • LisaM November 30, 2007 (8:16 pm)

    Those who did not attend the meeting were not there to see the arrogance of these guys. Why didnt they present their ideas to us themselves instead of using a paid “consultant” who seemed to think our neighborhood lacks vitality? They were assuming that they knew what was best for the hundreds of people surrounding them. Nothing they said made me thing they were genuinely interested in our input or feedback at all, nor would they take it into consideration.
    Also, once we did hear their “vision” – it was scarry – apartments – dependind on how many buildings they build on that huge lot and how high they are allowed to go, that could mean hundreds to THOUSANDS of residents stuffed into a one block area. Again, how does this benefit the surrounding neighborhood exactly?
    I am all for change, but in good taste, moderation, and benefit to everyone involved.
    I would rather townhouses – much less density.
    But what I would really like to see is moderate new consruction mixed with upgrading the current business buildings and keeping the small merchants in tact.

    My 2 cents –

  • Admiral Resident November 30, 2007 (8:29 pm)

    DID CAYCE AND GAIN PURCHASE THE PROPERTY AT NC1-40 AS THEY SAID LAST NIGHT? Perhaps, if their own documents that argue in support of the upzone are wrong.

    Quoted from WS Blog above: “…Cayce and Gain tried to portray the change as more of a restoration. Mike Gain, who no longer lives in West Seattle but mentioned he has two children who do, said, ‘When I purchased this land in 1987, the zoning was NC1-40. I think it’s only fair to have the zoning put back…'”

    Someone at the meeting pointed out that they were requesting NC2-40 zoning (not NC1-40), to much applause. However, it appears not to have been zoned at a 40-foot maximum when purchased, per their own statements supporting the upzone request.

    From one their supporting documents from their application (documents handed out last night at the meeting): “From 1923 until 1957, the period when most of the development in the neighborhood was accomplished, the area under review was zoned for businesses with building heights of 40′. In 1957 the height limit was reduced to 35′ and in 1987 it was further reduced to 30’. (General Rezone Criteria, West Seattle Rezone 3200 block California Avenue SW, Permit Number: 3007538, Section C, pg.3- 4)

    So, it was apparently NC1-30 or NC1-35 when purchased, depending when they bought in 1987. Yet, Gain said last night, “I think it’s only fair to have the zoning put back…'” Wow. Still and all, I suggested to my partner that perhaps one should give Cayce and Gain the benefit of the doubt and consider they made a mistake. What did I get? An assertion that realtors don’t make these kind of mistakes when it comes to zoning. Hmm….

  • Mike November 30, 2007 (9:38 pm)

    I’m Mike Gain, one of the applicants for the proposed upzone. I received a call this morning from my neighbor who told me to check out the blog. She felt I should respond and correct some inacurate statements that were made.

    After reading this blog my better judgement tells me I should be more like Bill Clinton and ignore it. Well, that is not my style. Here goes.

    Whoever is the author of the introduction to the blog who wrote the update is in my opinion, very biased and is only giving a slant on the meeting. There are inacurate statements made and it is at best, incomplete reporting. Shame on you.

    First of all it was stated “Mike Gain, who no longer lives in West Seattle but mentioned he has two children who do” is a false statement. I was born,raised,lived and worked my entire life in West Seattle, and still do. I have lived in the same home in the Admiral area of West Seattle since 1983, that’s 24 years. I still work out of my office at 3210 California Avenue and have had an office on this block since 1981 or for the last 26 years. I was quoted and it was stated that the zoning of this block and my properties when I purchased them was NC 40. I stated and feel it fair and reasonable to request the height be returned to what it was when I purchased them. It should remain consistent with the properties to the north and south at 40 feet.

    Second, I think the rest of the story should be told rather than slanted reporting and 1/2 truths. The best example is the reporting of Gary Cobbs statements. It quoted Gary asking “Is 10 feet really that big of deal?” He was not quoted when he explained that residential height in this area is currently 35 feet and thought 5 feet more for NC40 zoning in this block was very reasonable. He was not quoted when he explained the economics of the expenses to build two floors of much needed underground parking that could be afforded by the additional increase of 10 feet or one additional floor to a building. Again, 5 feet higher than the current RESIDENTIAL ZONING. He was not quoted when he brought up the the many run down functionally obsolete buildings and used the old porno shop as one example.

    As far as “living in a bubble”, I have been an active part of this West Seattle community my entire life. Just because I happen to have a different vision and opinion of what I feel is best for this particular block doesn’t mean that I’m not listening and don’t care. I care deeply about this community and am willing to put my money where my mouth is. I’ve been purchasing these properties and maintaining them for over 20 years. I’d like to build a building I can be proud to own or sell. I feel strongly that I can do something that will enhance not harm the neighborhood. Whatever I decide to do will have to make financial and economic sense. I can always sell my properties to one of many developers who would like to purchase and develope them. They may not have the deep roots or care for the community as I do. Maybe I should just sell my properties and walk away quietly.

    For the record we have not talked with Trader Joe’s and I assure you this project is not a Trojan horse. Maybe I should call Trader Joe’s and see if they would like to purchase and develope one of my properties. Maybe the upset neighbors in the community over our request would support them and my wife would not have to drive to Queen Anne or Burien to shop there.

    Roger Cayce and I are very interested and will meet with Mark Wainwright, the President of the Admiral Neighborhood Association. We are experienced and have been very succesful in Real Estate in West Seattle. We are not and don’t pretend to be big time experienced developers as many seem to think. We have never attempted to do a rezone. We always felt the pedulum would swing back again and the height would eventually be returned to 40 feet. It hasn’t and we hired Josh Stepherson as an experienced professional to represent us and take us through the process. We will be happy to discuss our vision and plans with Mark. We have no secrets or hidden agenda. Developing this block is something we would like to do to. It is not something we have to do.

    Another Quote was from a gentleman who said “I’m not against change, but this would destroy a beautiful neighborhood,” and drew laughter by angrily saying that if he has to sell his home because of the ensuing development, no agency associated with the property owners would have any part of the transaction”. I don’t know if this was written as a slant or intended to be a slam or just some humor. Either way I’m OK with it. I would choose not to do business with the gentleman as well. There are plenty of customers who do business with me and my associates because they feel we offer the best Real Estate service, advise and council.

    Another comment by the same individual that was not mentioned or quoted was the fact that the property taxes on this commercial block had doubled. He stated that the assessments on some properties in this block were as an example $600,000 with $1,000.00 being applied to the building and $599,000 being applied to the land. He is correct and he should have been quoted on this. This is very important because many of these properties have lived their useful lifes and are now what is known as functionally obsolite buildings. Their current values are in the land not the structure. It is time to replace many of them.

    The rents are going up on these properties and will continue because of the costs and expenses to maintain, support and to pay the increased taxes.

    There were and are many who attented the meeting and in the community who have voiced, written and e-mailed in support of this rezone because they feel it is the right thing to do. Please keep it up and keep you comments of support comming.
    Sometimes they are known as “THE QUITE MAJORITY.”

    Well, I almost took up as much space as the author who reported on the blog introduction and for that I appologize.

    Mike Gain
    3210 California Avenue SW
    Seattle, Wa. 98116

  • Mike November 30, 2007 (10:05 pm)

    Reply to comment by Admiral resident. I assure you my facts and statements are correct and I don’t make those kind of mistakes. I would be happy to share the certificate of land use that was given to me by the City of Seattle dated
    10-26-87. i still have it in my possession. In those days any commercial property sale required the purchasers to receive such a certificate to assure them they were getting what they were paying for.
    The existing zoning classification at that time was in fact NC140.

    Mike Gain

  • Tom November 30, 2007 (10:15 pm)

    I am confused by the assertion that a 30 foot building would be ugly, yet a 40 foot building would be attractive?

  • WSB November 30, 2007 (10:41 pm)

    Mike, re: your first comment above, we apologize for the inaccuracy on where you live and will strike that from the post. We have mentioned your community roots in other coverage on this matter — noting that we in fact rented a Cayce & Gain-managed condo when we moved to West Seattle in the early ’90s and then bought a Cayce & Gain-listed house. Regarding your claim of other inaccuracies, please tell us what you see in our report (besides the residence, again, for which we apologize) that is inaccurate — absolutely we agree that we did not mention every comment made at the meeting; we took 15 pages of notes for the hour-and-a-half meeting and certainly could not include everything that was said; if we had known what a lively meeting it would be, we would have brought our video camera. Aside from an outright transcription, no media coverage of meetings/events ever includes absolutely every last word that was said. Regarding the “quiet majority,” however, if they were present at last night’s meeting, it certainly would have behooved them to speak up, because our report reflects what we saw and heard — a meeting where 95% of the public comment expressed opposition to and/or concern about the proposal. Meantime, we were among only a handful of people at the Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting attended by Josh and Malli two weeks earlier and didn’t hear any characterization of our detailed reporting on that (as the only media representatives there) as inaccurate. Thanks for coming here to comment – that’s why we keep this site in blog format, so everyone who wants to speak out, can.

  • Adam November 30, 2007 (11:19 pm)

    I haven’t yet read any of the above. Everyone tuning in to this issue please read this.
    I am a Structural Engineer who has worked in this community for over 12 years and in this business for 22. I know a lot about the economics of development. I went to the re-zone public hearing last night with neutral feelings about this proposal. And what I heard there swayed me considerably to be strongly opposed to it.
    I learned what type and size of retail facility would be permitted with the NC2 rating. Picture QFC in Wallingford. That’s what would be allowed here.
    I learned that at least one owner group controls a contiguous set of properties comprising 300 feet of street frontage. Picture QCF in Wallingford.
    I learned that the owners “magnanimously” propose two levels of underground parking. Does everyone understand why two levels of underground parking are necessary? This is not because the law office on the ground floor might throw a big party. This is because a 25,000 square foot retail facility can draw a huge volume of customers, who will likely get there in cars.
    My wife and I drive to the Trader Joe’s in Burien. Do you?
    Many people are focused on the height issue. And rightly so. Land owners east of the development will be the biggest losers if this zoning change is approved. The current applicant has offered them nothing in exchange beyond an aesthetically pleasing building. So will they be using fancy tile and installing local art on the east façade that blocks the neighbors’ view of the Olympics?
    The proposed up-zone occurs mid-way between Admiral and Alaska junctions. The applicant argues that the 40’ height limit is trivial, and more consistent with zoning in adjacent areas. But there is a reason this neighborhood is zoned NC1-30 while the neighbor to the north is NC2-40. The northern neighbor is closer to Admiral junction. You’ll find an NC2-40 neighborhood again as you go south toward Alaska. Things get bigger as they get closer to the junction for a good reason. Lots of transportation options are available to get you there with ease. But if you live outside of Admiral or Alaska and not on the 55 or 128 bus route, there are few transportation options to get you to 3300 California more conveniently than your car. You would therefore drive your car to get to 3300 California.
    NC1-30 zoning permits the kind of retailers or businesses that fit not only the current residential environment, but also the current transportation infrastructure that feeds the proposed up-zone area. Imagine if this neighborhood were up-zoned to enable a tenant like Trader Joe’s to move in. Can you imagine how many new vehicles would be coming into this neighborhood from other parts of Seattle?
    You can put a Trader Joe’s, or a QFC, or a Whole Foods, or a Pier One Imports in a 25,000 square foot retail facility. I list these businesses for example only. The up-zone would accommodate businesses of this ilk. The current landowners control a parcel large enough to make that happen.
    Mark Wainwright, president of the Admiral Neighborhood Association, said it best last night. This re-zone is a big deal. The current applicant has not proposed any real and tangible benefit to the community. Why on earth should they be blessed with the financial windfall that would come from this up-zone at the expense of Admiral District residents’ quality of life? More density is not required on these particular city blocks. There is room to grow in Admiral District areas that have been designated and planned for such growth.
    Last night at the meeting I was overwhelmed by the quality and the volume of criticism toward this up-zone proposal. I did not hear one positive comment that wasn’t from someone who stood to benefit financially by the up-zone. I hope the City of Seattle heard that as well. I urge this community to make sure they hear it load and clear.

  • Concerned Neighbor December 1, 2007 (1:47 am)

    Mike, I am glad you have joined the discussion. I see some inaccuracies in your message that worry me and some things that are disturbing, but also something hopeful.

    You said, “Second, I think the rest of the story should be told rather than slanted reporting and 1/2 truths. The best example is the reporting of Gary Cobbs statements. It quoted Gary asking “Is 10 feet really that big of deal?” He was not quoted when he explained that residential height in this area is currently 35 feet and thought 5 feet more for NC40 zoning in this block was very reasonable… Again, 5 feet higher than the current RESIDENTIAL ZONING. My understanding that NC2-40 zoning allows a 40-foot building plus 5 feet for roof pitch = 45 feet; or a 40-foot flat building plus 15 feet of mechanical equipment and a 4-foot parapet. And bordering single-family zoning allows for a 30-foot house plus a five-foot pitch = 35 feet. So the difference is 10 feet, not five. For many living or walking near the buildings 10 additional feet can have a very adverse affect and be a really big deal.

    You said: “Maybe I should call Trader Joe’s and see if they would like to purchase and develope one of my properties. Maybe the upset neighbors in the community over our request would support them and my wife would not have to drive to Queen Anne or Burien to shop there.” I understand NC1-30, the zoning of the discussed area, allows for ground-floor retail space of 10,000 sq feet. I don’t think that’s big enough for a Trader Joe’s. Although you seemed to be speaking somewhat tongue in cheek, Trader Joe’s, or something comparable, is a real possibility within the NC2-40 zone being proposed.

    You quoted Gary as saying: “$600,000 with $1,000.00 being applied to the building and $599,000 being applied to the land… …many of these properties have lived their useful lifes… … Their current values are in the land not the structure. It is time to replace many of them.” The issue is the rezone, not developing or not developing (though it is hard to believe many of the buildings in the 3200 block are assessed at $1,000). I understand you could develop buildings worth much more, but the area in question has never been zoned NC2-40 and it is not necessary within this community’s vision and plans to have it so now. This request is to rezone is for 150,000+ sq feet outside the context of community planning and with no designs or specific benefits defined for the community; if allowed, this could set a dangerous precedent. Adding an additional floor aboveground and below for up to 150,000 square feet adds up to a lot of potential impact! I think most people living nearby would gladly go for the choice you offered last night of a new, ugly 30-foot building with one floor of underground parking, rather than an attractive 40-foot building with two underground floors.

    “The rents are going up on these properties and will continue because of the costs and expenses to maintain, support and to pay the increased taxes.” With new buildings taxes and rents would increase more, though I guess profit margins would go up as well, perhaps offsetting some costs and expenses.

    “There were and are many who attented the meeting and in the community who have voiced, written and e-mailed in support of this rezone because they feel it is the right thing to do.” I agree with the WS Blog that at the meeting last night about 95% of the people spoke against the rezone; about 5% – I heard you, Roger, Josh, and Gary – spoke for it..

    “We will be happy to discuss our vision and plans with Mark. We have no secrets or hidden agenda. Developing this block is something we would like to do to. It is not something we have to do.” This is the first time I have heard you say you would like to develop the block. I know that you and Roger Cayce own about a third of the 150,000+ sq feet requested for upzoning. Imagine how the development process of building up a huge part of the block would affect the neighborhood could magnify the impacts of development, comparing the results within NC2-40 versus NC1-30 zoning. I don’t really understand why developing within the NC1-30 code keeps being presented as a non-option. They could still be buildings you would be proud of and the neighborhood could continue to be livable. The hopeful part is when you say, “It is not something we have to do.” Per our Neighborhood Plan that aims to cluster housing and business at the Admiral Junction, where there is enough NC2-40 zoning to support projected housing and business needs, it is not necessary, nor is it wanted, to create NC2-40 development here. I hope you will accept that your residential neighbors have dreams of a nice life, too. You are very successful and, as naive as this may sound, I have hope you will not continue on in this direction that is contrary to the Admiral Neighborhood Plan and your neighbors and neighborhood. Even if the great amount of property you and Roger own (estimated low at $600,000 per property multiplied by at least seven properties easily equaling $4.2 million at current value and probably much more) stands to gain in value, if rezoned, by hundreds of thousands of dollars, perhaps millions.

  • Concerned Neighbor December 1, 2007 (2:14 am)

    Adam, you have said so much so eloquently! You cannot imagine the anxiety this has caused in the neighborhood. Mixed into the holidays and how it was announced on a DPD zoning placard, with little information available and a comment period posted as closing in two weeks after the sign went up, it’s been hell. But finally you have given the fear and anxiety a clearly defined and very robust voice in words that seem irrefutable in the face of what’s being proposed. Please, please help the neighborhood and send your excellent comments to Malli at the email listed by the WS Blog above, if you haven’t already. I will sleep better tonight thanks to you. Thank you very much, and I hope you will be involved during the process. The ANA will be involved of course and, though you probably already know of it, they have a Yahoo groups site, at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/AdmiralNeighborhood/

    Thank you Adam!

  • grr December 1, 2007 (7:56 am)

    and yet..with all this bitching about 5 extra feet, and maybe a Trader Joes (or whatever), Omni Construction can pretty much go anywhere in WS they want, buy an old 1950’s warbox house, mow it down, and build three story houses. Sometimes two/three of them on the same land that occupied ONE previously. AND block the view. Nobody’s whining about THAT?

    and..GOD FORBID I want to cut down the gigantic overgrown TREE that’s hanging on the powerlines and taking up 70% of MY view now, or just TRIM the branches that are up against a business that’s damagaing an awning and blocking a sign. Need a freakin’ act of congress to touch a tree around here.

  • grr December 1, 2007 (7:58 am)

    Mike..thanks for your post here. Personally, I have no problem with ya’ll building whatever you want, especially since it’s OBVIOUS that you care about the community.

  • jissy December 1, 2007 (10:34 am)

    I’m surprised no one’s mentioned that maybe these guys are about ready to retire and “sell the farm” — with the upzoning, these properties would be MUCH more valuable. Maybe that’s why there isn’t any ideas or concepts that have been presented b/c they have no intention of developing them themselves but it would give a new owner free reign to do whatever — and if they’re not conscious locals, who knows what we’d get……

  • Huindekmi December 1, 2007 (1:19 pm)

    Mr. Gain,
    Thank you for your comments. I still have a number of concerns about your proposal and statements.
    1) If you are seeking a restoration, why aren’t you trying to rezone to NC1-40? You’ve admitted that was the original zoning when you purchased, but then only focus on the height in subsequent statements. It’s almost as if you are trying to bamboozle people who don’t know the difference between NC1-40 and NC2-40.
    2) In your statements about the current ugly buildings being past their functional life, you make it sound as if no improvements can be made under the existing NC1-30 zoning. As one poster mentioned, there’s no reason a 30-foot building can not be as attractive as a 40-foot building. It’s not like the existing zoning prevents improvements in the neighborhood.
    3) As an active real estate investor in the area, I’m certain you knew about the Admiral neighborhood plan and that this plan is in conflict. Why didn’t you try to resolve the conflict between your rezone request and the neighborhood organization before filing?
    4) This rezone request does seem to be timed horribly (scheduled around the holidays, only one community hearing, no publicity, incorrect comment periods listed on public signage, etc). This could be interpreted as a deliberate attempt to sneak the zoning change through the system unnoticed. Could you explain your choice in timing and limited public disclosure on this matter?
    All in all, you and your partner appear to be trying to pull one over on the other residents of the neighborhood. You certainly have not gained my trust and I will oppose this rezone request until such time that I am fully satisfied that it is in the best interest of the neighborhood. At this point, it looks like a proposal that is only in the best interest of your own pocketbook with little regard for the community.

  • Paul December 1, 2007 (3:39 pm)

    I was at the public gathering last Thursday night at West Seattle High School and was concerned with some of the objections that were made. One of the objections were so bad that someone thought this one extra floor would make there asthma worse? Then others went on saying that there views would be blocked, that they would get less sun, and that they like the current look of the old buildings that are on the site and that they don’t want anything to change. It was after that last comment that I realized most of the people around me were just making ridiculous excesses because they didn’t want “change”.

    The Greater Seattle-Tacoma area is expected to increase by one million people by the year 2025. I wanted to ask everyone Thursday night were they thought these people were going to live. This particular part of West Seattle is 10 min from downtown and has great access to parks, beaches, and water/city views all around it. People will want to live here, this will cause demand for housing and retail in the area. Other builders will develop other blocks on California until that demand goes down. This particular properties location to Admirals urban village is in walking distance. I like the idea of trying to centrally locate a dense population around these urban villages. This has a positive affect on the local businesses and act’s as a one stop shop for the community. Those two or three blocks of neighbors that were upset Thursday night should have know that if you buy next to a major hub in a growing area, changes will eventually happen. It is irresponsible of these few that claims they will lose there views or an extra 10min of sun, pushing another project to be built further from this Village and blocking someone else’s views. If this happens the retail would be more likely to fail and people would rather drive to the Village rather than walk. I am 29 years old and a home owner here in West Seattle for 3 years now. I don’t want to drive down California Avenue and see an old run down 1970’s building. There is a huge difference between old charm and plain ugly. I can understand the owners need for this additional floor. If they are not granted this additional floor the community might not get a 2nd floor of underground parking that it badly needed in this area. Also gives them room to spend more on making the building cosmetically pleasing and pedestrian friendly.

  • grr December 1, 2007 (4:44 pm)

    great points, Paul.. I completely agree.

  • Concerned Neighbor December 1, 2007 (5:20 pm)

    Paul, you completely miss the point. The issue isn’t that people don’t want change, it’s about a request for a huge rezone. And it isn’t something that can be simplistically dismissed. One bottom line, though, is that data shows there is enough NC2-40 in the Admiral Junction area, where this development belongs, to develop businesses and housing that will meet projected target numbers for growth. Them’s the facts, buddy. All I am seeing from proponents – despite eloquent, thoughtful, and accurate arguments set forth against the rezone – are cries that those who oppose it simply fear change. T’isn’t true. The “fear change” mantra strikes me as a knee jerk reaction from those who can’t make a better argument.

  • Admiral Resident December 1, 2007 (5:27 pm)

    Reply to Mike Gain:

    1. Mike, can or would you please explain the discrepancy I had previously noted between verbal and written statements you have made? The following is a statement from one of three documents distributed at Thursday’s meeting and entitled, “Function and Locational Criteria Analysis”; “General Rezone Criteria”; and “Height Limits of the Proposed Rezone – Analysis”. I was informed these documents were submitted to the City by the applicants in support of the upzone request.

    It reads: “From 1923 until 1957, the period when most of the development in the neighborhood was accomplished, the area under review was zoned for businesses with building heights of 40′. In 1957 the height limit was reduced to 35′ and in 1987 it was further reduced to 30′. (General Rezone Criteria, West Seattle Rezone 3200 block California Avenue SW, Permit Number: 3007538, Section C, pg.3- 4)

    Here is one of your discrepant statements: “Reply to comment by Admiral resident. I assure you my facts and statements are correct and I don’t make those kind of mistakes. I would be happy to share the certificate of land use that was given to me by the City of Seattle dated 10-26-87. i still have it in my possession. In those days any commercial property sale required the purchasers to receive such a certificate to assure them they were getting what they were paying for. The existing zoning classification at that time was in fact NC1-40.”

    2. Mike, can or would you please also explain the following discrepancy between these two statements? The same document as referenced above, states: “The Admiral District Neighborhood Plan has no specific guidelines about rezoning of NC properties.” (General Rezone Criteria, Section “D”, Neighborhood Plans, pg. 4)

    2b. But here is a quote that seems quite contrary to the above. It is from The Admiral Neighborhood Plan, referring to the Urban Village, including the 3200 block: “The Planning Coalition recommends that existing zoning should remain with no changes within the Admiral Residential Urban Village because of the Coalition’s strong desire to maintain the existing character of the community.” (Key Strategy 1, of Recommendation 1.2, pg. 6).

    And here is Seattle Municipal Code (Chapter 23.34.008), which the upzone request “General Criteria” document quoted along with its statement that the Admiral Neighborhood Plan has no specific guidelines about rezoning NC properties: “Where a neighborhood plan adopted by the City Council after January 1, 1995 establishes policies expressly adopted for the purpose of guiding future rezones, but does not provide for rezones of particular sites or areas, rezones shall be in conformance with the rezone policies of such neighborhood plan…. If it is intended that rezones of particular sites or areas identified in a Council adopted neighborhood plan are to be required, then the rezones shall be approved simultaneously with the approval of pertinent parts of the neighborhood plan.” (Seattle Municipal Code Chapter 23.34.008, quoted in General Rezone Criteria, Section “D”, pg. 4-5)

    3. Just one other quote from the same document I would like explained: “This rezone will not have a significant impact on the streets environment.” (General Rezone Criteria, F.1., pg. 7).
    Mike, I now see that in addition to the property Cayce is listed as owning (listed in a post above), you own 3210 Calif. (a 10,000 sq ft lot) and a 5,000 parking lot at address “not available”, which is probably the lot right next to 3210 (both being listed as owned by M & R Properties). I was told (hearsay) Cayce owns apartments on 3200 California (5,000 sq feet). Leaving 3200 California off, Mike, you and Roger own at least 47, 430 sq ft, almost a third of the requested rezone. You have said you want to develop the block. Can you please explain to me how upzoning to NC2-40 of 30 separate properties (including one property that has a remodeled home on land zoned C/l) in an area including 150,000+ sq ft , and developing at that scale, “will not have a significant impact on the streets environment”?

    To others: I have concerns about these discrepancies since I understand these documents were submitted to the City in support of the upzone request. Perhaps others with more experience might see more in these documents. Malli, the City Planner, who will make recommendations/report to the Hearing Examiner, said it would be helpful if she got companion documents to the documents (listed above in #1), that would provide a parallel analysis showing why the upzone should not be approved. I wonder if anyone would be willing and able to accomplish this.

  • Forest December 1, 2007 (7:28 pm)

    I’d appreciate if Cayce and Gain would name a few newer buildings in West Seattle or other Seattle neighborhoods that jibe with their ideas of a building they could be proud of and that would fit with the existing neighborhood. I don’t think it’s useful to just say that whatever gets built will be up to your standards unless you’re going to give at least some nonbinding examples or hints of the local standards (design standards, at least) that you aspire to meet or surpass.


  • Lifelong WS Resident December 1, 2007 (7:34 pm)

    Right on Paul. I also completely agree with you. It is nice to see young people moving into the area and getting involved with good input.

    Those people who I saw at the meeting on Thursday that seemed to be the vocal ones were mostly people who lived on the streets that are adjacent to or directly behind the requested rezoned properties. I also felt here opinions were based more on emotion about any change. Those who purchased those properties on 42nd and 44th behind the commercial properties paid reduced prices for what they bought because the properties they bought are adjacent to or are across the alley from commercial properties. Even appraisers reduce the value of those types of residential properties because of their commercial proximity. If you move the same home one or two blocks away it would sell for more than if it is behind a commercial property and would also be tax assessed higher. You can’t have it all ways. Anyone who purchased a home next to a commercial zone should have known what they were getting. I feel sorry for them but they had to know the risk when they bought. Lets be honest.
    If the zoning was truly reduced from NC140 to NC130 a few years back how can they complain now if it returned to 40′.

    It sounds to me like maybe a solution here would be to simply grant, approve and support a rezone but not the NC240 that is requested by Cayce & Gain but to NC140. Most of what I’m reading here sounds like that is the issue. Give them the 40′ they say they had and keep the zoning to NC1. This sounds to me like it will allow them to accomplish what they say they want to build a nice building with adequate parking and will protect the neighborhood. Then they could not build a big office building or Trader Joes that seems to be of concern. However, I’d like to see a Trader Joes in West Seattle and most everyone I talk to agrees.
    I’m all for Cayce & Gain “the local boys” developing and building something nice and trust because of their local roots and involvement that they will do something nice. Lets not give them too much though. NC140 should be plenty to allow them to do what they want and protect us in the neighborhood. Lets return the block to what it was. Why not?
    I wanted to speek the other night but as anyone who attended knows the meeting time was taken up by the angry neighbors. Many of us that wanted to speek in favor of the building of something nice with conditions didn’t get a chance. The meeting was shut off at 8:00. The squeaky wheels definetly got the grease.
    What do you think?????
    Why not have the Admiral Neighborhood Association go to the rezone applicants with their support of NC140 zoning that should give them the height and protect us. What do you say Mark?
    I don’t think if they are telling the truth, and I think they are, that they need the NC240 they are requesting. Lets call their bluff.

  • John Bennett December 1, 2007 (8:15 pm)

    Before all the conspiracy theorists raise too much hell , you might want to consider the following :
    If the re-zone is squashed , the property could go up for sale and be sold to an out of state builder that would erect cracker box town houses. It seems that most of these new townhomes are put up with only one thing in mind , profit.The builders could care less about quality or style. Build em’ , sell em’ and move on.
    C/G claims that they want to build something nice and leave a legacy that they will be proud of. I know Roger and Mike and believe them on this point. Both of these successful business men are beyond the point of needing to make big money.They have worked hard and taken a lot of chances to get to where they are today.I get the impression that they are more interested in building something outstanding than making a big profit. I am afraid that they will give up and we will end up with some ugly vinyl sided boxes that can be built in nc 130 zoning.
    Growth is inevitable in this area. We are paying the price for the years of articles in national magazines awarding Seattle as one of the most livable citys in the country.People will come whether there is a housing shortage or glut.We are living in a prosperous time in a prosperous city. Housing needs will increase and so will property values and rents powered by supply and demand.
    In theroy , it would be better living next to beautiful 4 story buildings with retail storefronts than cheap slapped together, low rent ,3 story town homes or old decaying buildings.I am sure that C/G would present plans to facilitate the re-zone (contract re-zone ?). If they say they will have 2 parking spots per unit , quality construction , architectural beauty , etc. , then let them proceed contingent on those promises.
    As a landlord also, I get tired of the “guilty until proven innocent attitude”. Believe it or not , property owners are not all greedy money grubbing cheats. We are hard working entrepreneurs that care about the neighborhoods we have invested our life in. Keep an open mind. Listen before objecting. Change is inevitable. Lets go drink beer.

  • Forest December 1, 2007 (8:34 pm)

    Death is inevitable too. So what?

  • bj December 1, 2007 (8:56 pm)

    Right On Mike! I know how hard you and Roger have worked and anything is better than the the eyesore buildings that are there now. The cry babies are getting old!
    Hope you get the rezone and do something we can all be proud of

  • MW December 1, 2007 (10:31 pm)

    Ok, I’ll weigh in…
    And I have to say that I love all the comments. I think people are really trying to think this whole thing through, and that is good.
    I stand true to my statements at the meeting, with a couple additions:
    1. It goes against the Neighborhood Plan. Sure, things have changed in the last ten years, and that is why the City is going to revisit/revise/rework Neighborhood Plans over the next few years. But the fact of the matter is, the Plan doesn’t support this, and that’s a pretty big deal, and a major issue to deal with during the rezone process.
    2. There is enough developable space within the existing NC2-40 zone to accommodate the current projections of housing and commercial growth. The Safeway site alone, if redeveloped, could provide the majority of this. Yes, parking would move underground, but that is a reality of current development. We really want development, especially retail development, to happen as close to the Admiral Junction as possible. Think about the two main blocks of retail in the Alaska Junction. There is lots of activity between Oregon and Edmonds, but beyond that, things start to thin out quickly. Retail in the proposed rezone area won’t get pulled into or “strengthen” the Admiral business district. I just don’t think people will want to wander that far south, especially with the amount of separation created by the park and high school.
    3. There aren’t any proposed plans of redevelopment. No pretty renderings. No smart ideas. Just a mention of some potential outcomes. We need, and quite frankly deserve, more than that.

    And here’s what I have to add – both of these things were mentioned, I believe, by Dennis Ross:
    I think a project-specific, contract rezone wouldn’t be totally out of whack. I’m not saying that I’m all for that, but its a much more reasonable way to approach this situation. There are generally “community benefit” strings attached to such deals, and that is a good thing. And it would just be with one project, which may cover a fraction of the currently proposed rezone.
    The other thing is, the current NC2-40 zone in Admiral is surrounded by “transition parcels”, which are less intense, NC1-30 or L3 (multifamily) zoned areas. The proposed rezone would create a situation where an NC2-40 zone would be adjacent to SF5000 zones with no “transition parcels”. And I’m pretty sure the east side of the proposed rezone has no alley between it and the SF5000 zone. I’ll call that a double whammy, because there won’t even be the 16 feet or so of an alley separating the two zones, and any new developments won’t be able to use the alley for loading, parking access, etc. Current design guidelines force new developments in NC zones to use the alleys for loading and parking circulation to create a better, safer pedestrian environment on the sidewalk. Not possible on the east side.
    All for now… keep us the great work, everyone.
    Mark Wainwright
    Admiral Neighborhood Association

  • granted December 1, 2007 (10:33 pm)

    Still more evasion and now open threats from the Cayce and Gain crowd.

    What a shame that they go to th trouble of using this forum but can’t address the simple questions posed by their neighbors. Instead they resort to intimidation and name-calling.

    Trust has to be earned and Cayce & Gain have done everything possible to ensure they’ll never earn this community’s trust.

  • Admiral Resident December 1, 2007 (11:12 pm)

    I would like to know how Mike Gain can both claim he bought NC1-40 property in 1987 and submit a document to the city that states this:

    “From 1923 until 1957, the period when most of the development in the neighborhood was accomplished, the area under review was zoned for businesses with building heights of 40′. In 1957 the height limit was reduced to 35′ and in 1987 it was further reduced to 30′. (General Rezone Criteria, West Seattle Rezone 3200 block California Avenue SW, Permit Number: 3007538, Section C, pg.3- 4)

    It appears facts and truth aren’t big on the upzone agenda (though name calling is). The City Planner may be interested, at least. In any case, there has been no information, argument, or data presented that supports any rezone at all, NC1-40, NC2-40, contract rezone – none.
    My guess – the strategy is to ask for something they think they probably won’t get, thinking this will make a compromise more attractive for zoning that isn’t needed and is being requested where it doesn’t belong.

  • grr December 1, 2007 (11:44 pm)

    Mr. Bennett makes the most sense of anyone here.

    I’d love for C&G to work with whoever developed the Osborne Bldg. If more new development in WS took the approach that bldg did, we’d have a lot less complaining about the ‘condo-izing’ of WS.

  • Admiral Resident December 2, 2007 (12:12 am)

    Mark, thanks for your thoughts. You’re right. There is not an alley on the east side of the rezone area. I understand the alley on the west side is already pretty heavily utilized by cars and trucks. A two-floor 120-car parking garage, even one, sounds pretty disruptive placed next to SF-5000, given added traffic in the alley that could magnify adverse affects for all the residences off the alley.

    I agree it makes better sense for an NC2-40 zone to be surrounded by “transition parcels” of less intense, NC1-30 or L3 (multifamily) zoned areas rather than SF-5000, given NC1-30 can be pretty intense itself. (And, as Gain and Cayce argue, they bought NC1-40 property, even if their documents supporting the upzone state it was NC1-30 or NC1-35, neighbors might concurrently argue that they bought property abutting NC1-30 zoning, not NC2-40.)

    If upzoning isn’t needed in this area, I would be very interested to know what would justify a contract upzone to NC2-40 zoning next to this SF-5000 zoning, what kind of precedent there is for it, and what affects these types of contracts upzones have had in similar situations (e.g., have they “snow-balled” so to speak). I worry that the strategy here may be to ask for the whole enchilada in hopes of getting at least a large bite. Not to reject it out of hand, but I think any upzone request should be considered completely on its own merits, not as a foil for the initial request to upzone 150,000+ sq feet and, given the way it has been handled, the anxiety it has caused. Just my .02 on initial thoughts.

    Thanks again, Mark!

  • Concerned Neighbor December 2, 2007 (1:05 am)

    grr, says: “Mr. Bennett makes the most sense of anyone here.”

    Mr. Bennett said: “Change is inevitable. Lets go drink beer.”

    And this: “In theroy, it would be better living next to beautiful 4 story buildings with retail storefronts than cheap slapped together, low rent ,3 story town homes or old decaying buildings.”

    Perhaps Mr. Bennett didn’t hear the 100+ West Seattle residents at Thursday night’s meeting who disagree. Or maybe 100+ community voices aren’t worth a dime.

    ‘nother “change is inevitable” mantra from the pro-zone coupled with a handy ability to ignore data and a long-term plan that does not support the upzone.

  • Realistic December 2, 2007 (7:07 am)

    Talk about living in a “Bubble”! All of you opposed are living in the bubble ~ enclosed
    and lacking reality.

  • Einstein December 2, 2007 (7:48 am)

    Reply to Forest:

    GO TO BED.

  • LR December 2, 2007 (7:58 am)

    To Granted,
    You must be new to the area. Cayce & Gain worked very hard and were an active part of this community since the early 80’s. They supported alot of activities my son and daughter were involved in and over the years were quite generous donors. They earned this communities trust and became the largest and most successful real estate company in West Seattle for a reason.
    Give them a break.

  • Paul December 2, 2007 (10:59 am)

    This block is very close to the Admiral Village (3 blocks) where I believe most of these projects should be built. Someone stated that “data shows there is enough NC2-40 in the Admiral Junction area, where this development belongs” yea the block to the south of this proposed site is NC2-40 and is further away from the neighborhood “Planned Village”. Let me guess it’s NC2-40 because it’s closer to the Alaska Junction right? Why do we want to distance these projects from these planned Villages? I grew up in Lake Hills over in Bellevue were we had places like Crossroads, Eastgate, and Factoria to go to for one stop shopping and acts as the surrounding neighborhood hubs. It is very convenient and centralizes the major developments into one area/Village. Not to mention the local businesses thrive in these Villages. Go drive by these Villages over in Bellevue and see if you see any for lease signs.

    Living here in West Seattle for the past 6 years I have grown to love it here. One thing I miss though is the lack of local businesses or a one stop shopping area near my house. Call me crazy for wanting this “HUGE” zoning change, just imagine a healthy local economy with a vibrant Admiral Village…that would be way to extreme for some of you hu? You say your not afraid of change, I don’t believe you. Those who bought houses around these major planned villages should have known better. The demand for more homes in West Seattle is here today. If it’s not Mike and Roger than it will be someone else that will develop and probably further down the street where the Zoning is better and away from these planned urban Villages. What you are going to do is spread everything out so that we have businesses that will be more susceptible to fail and people will have to get in there cars to drive to Met Mart or Safeway instead of just walking. Who ever said this block is to far from Admiral Way needs to get a membership at All-star Fitness. It is only 3 blocks people.

    I also have three friends in the area that all currently rent apartments here in the Admiral district. All three would love to buy a home someday, hopefully in the Admiral area as I did. Houses are now $450k + for a fixer, new townhomes are $400 +, condos usually start at around $220k and go up from there. So what’s this about wanting more affordable housing in the area? What do you think a lot of these condos projects bring? Opportunities for my friends to buy homes in the Admiral district.

    Another friend of mine has a Grandma that lived in a large house in the Admiral area. Knowing she can’t keep up with maintaining a large home, but wasn’t ready for a retirement home, she had to find something else. She was very worried that she wouldn’t be able to stay in her beloved neighborhood that is Admiral. She ended up buying a condo in one of the more recent condo projects in the Admiral Village. Which allowed her to live in her old neighborhood and the best part, since she can’t drive, is the fact that she can walk to grocery stores, restaurants, and Bartels. Even gets over to the Admiral Theater to watch a movie from time to time. Point of story, if it wasn’t for these horrible, massive buildings around these planned urban villages she might not be living in her old neighborhood and wouldn’t be able to walk to the stores. Think about it.

    As I stated before I am 29 years old and have a fairly large social crowed me and my wife hang out with here in West Seattle. Everyone I talk to is for a more vibrant Admiral Village. They want Trader Joe’s, more restaurants, more shops, hell a Quizno’s would be great! Lot’s of you keep saying the community says this… the neighborhood is saying this. Please only speak for yourself, there are people in this community that do not agree with you, so why should you get to speak for them?

  • old timer December 2, 2007 (11:50 am)

    Wow, what a hornet’s nest!
    IMO, you all ought to take a step back and take a deep breath.

    For one thing, I wish you would all get over the idea that QFC wants to put a store 3/4 of a mile away from the one they are currently building. And, contrary to your pretentious fantasy, Trader Joe’s has no designs on this area, especially with a Whole Foods coming in.

    You ought to take a look at Sylvan Ridge for an example of what development delayed produces. The original plan provided for multiple styles of housing, including stand alone single family.
    Well, the ‘can’t deal with change’ neighbors raised a squawk and put those dreams to death. A few years later, here comes the new development. Crackerbox cookie cutter jammed to the max.
    Inflation and circumstance have stripped all the possibility of character and individuality from any kind of project, so we have what’s going in there now.

    Instead of digging in why not try to explore the ideas of what could be possible?
    What’s wrong with the idea of a boutique hotel?
    We have no where to send overflow guests except to the city, or the airport. It may not pencil out, but it’s worth looking at.
    How about work/live loft spaces?
    What about a rehab center ala BettyFord NW?

    I’m sure ther won’t be ‘thousands’ of new inhabitants placed on the site, but some new housing is always a good thing for people who want to have a local business that is supported by nearby residents.

    If the ‘neighborhood’ makes things too contentious, I’m sure the whole mess could be handed over to some out of state developer who will put in the cheapest, ugliest piece of crap that can be fit into the current zoning envelope. This will be done without ANY consideration for the neighborhood’s so called ‘concerns’, and all of West Seattle will be the victim of that kind of action.

    Squawk away, I’m done.

  • Keith December 2, 2007 (11:52 am)

    It’s interesting how most of the “no rezone” voices are focusing on the hard facts of the situation and yet are still willing to consider alternatives, while the pro crowd mostly makes the same generic generalizations over and over with little to no supporting evidence and a “we know what’s best for you” attitude. I also get a sense from the postings here of a wider number of voices for no rezone, while the pro comments/attacks sound more like the same few people posting under different names.

  • Roger Cayce December 2, 2007 (12:14 pm)

    As the co applicant for the upzone, Roger Cayce, I have been sitting back this weekend reading this blog with the intent of trying to learn of any valid concerns that Mike and I might have overlooked in our thought process of attempting this rezone. What I am seeing is many entries on the blog that are very emotionally charged, light on facts and heavy on anger and anxiety about what our beloved Seattle is becoming. Like it or not Seattle is a very desirable place to live and people are moviing here from places near and far. What was interesting to me is that many of the very vocal people at the meeting the other night were stating that they had moved here recently from places like Bainbridge Island, Texas, etc. due to the overcrowding in those areas to come to the “small town feel” of West Seattle. I too like the small town feeling but, unfortunately, people like those complaining about the growth have caused the growth that they are now complaining about.
    Just a few clarifications and comments:
    1) There appears to be some confusion as to to the history of the allowed height for the property. Some of the blogs have accused Mike Gain of not being honest about what the zoning was when we purchased the property. Until recently the City of Seattle had a legal requirement that stated at the time of a sale the seller had to supply the buyer with what was called a “Certificate of Land Use” which was a document provided from the city that, among other things, stated the current zoning. Without question we have, in our file, the city document showing that when we purchased the the property in 1987 the zoning allowed for buildings to be built to 40′. (copy available upon request)
    2) It appears that many comments indicate we are attempting to build something that will radically change the neighborhood, and we should not be granted the ability to do so. Most comments are pertaining to: view blockage of the properties to the east, increase in traffic due to new units being built, sun blockage, air quailty due to more cars and changing the character of the neighborhood. What needs to be noted is that these are all things that are currently allowed and changes that will take place under the CURRENT zoning. No changes are needed to build big bulky buildings that will bring along with them all of the potential problems and concerns of big buildings and more people. As a property owner myself I have compassion for the feelings of those that own property adjacent to ours on 42nd and 44th. What needs to be remembered is that the zoning has always allowed commercial and bulky buildings that when built will bring with them changes to the immediate neighbors. That is why they bought their homes at much lower values than homes not affected by neighboring commercial zoned properties, and also why their taxes have been substantially lower for all of these years. If they didn’t realize the inevitability of change that’s unfortunate.
    In conclusion I want to state for the record that, yes, if the rezone is granted the entire block will see an increase in our property values, however, the reasoning behind the request, for the rezone, is based more on the increased latitude it will offer by opening the doors for a much more creative type of design. The ability to offer a specific design is not really feasable until such time as we know what the zoning will allow. We really cannot put the cart in front of the horse and design buildings for zoning that we do not have. In answer to the question as to what type of building we want to build our vision coincides with the character of the building at the south west corner at the top of Queen Anne.
    Thanks, Roger Cayce

  • Concerned Neighbor December 2, 2007 (1:39 pm)

    In terms of trust for Cayce and Gain, I’ve got none. Lived here since 1990; took a month to have none. The upzone has been justified through statements claiming it would restore land to the original zoning as when purchased in 1987. (I realize online databases are fallible, as our typists, so I apologize in advance if there are any errors.) A trend here seems clear. Below is all the land in the upzone that I could find as purchased by Cayce and/or Gain. I have listed Gary Cobb’s land below as well. The street numbers are on Calif. Ave SW It is easy to take a look for yourself at the DPD Seattle Parcel Data website:


    3210 Calif. purch. by Cayce & Gain Inc Rental of C: 1990-01/17

    3228 Calif. p. Cayce, R.W. et al: 1998-06/16,

    3211 p.Cayce, R. w.+Jennifer w.et al: 2007-01/10,

    3219 p.Cayce, R. w. + Jenn. w. et al: 2007-01/10

    3221 p. Cayce, R. w. + Jenn. w. et al: 1983-05/24
    (quit claim deed 2007-01 for $0 fr. Cayce &
    Gain to Cayce + J. w. et all)

    3239 p. Cayce, Roger w. et al: 1996-03/28
    3272: p. Cobb, Gary: 2003-10/23

    Gain is quoted by WS Blog above at the meeting stating: “When I purchased this land in 1987, the zoning was NC1-40. I think it’s only fair to have the zoning put back…” And he posted a message on WS Blog stating: “I would be happy to share the certificate of land use that was given to me by the City of Seattle dated 10-26-87… The existing zoning classification at that time was in fact NC1-40.”

    I’m not saying I doubt something was purchased in 1987, but, if so, what was it and where? (Note: they are asking for NC2-40, not NC1-30).

    Indeed, there was one property listed as purchased in 1983, although by Roger Cayce. But, documents distributed at the 11/29/07 meeting as part of the justification for the upzone, state: “From 1923 until 1957… the area under review was zoned for businesses with building heights of 40′. In 1957 the height limit was reduced to 35′ and in 1987 it was further reduced to 30′. (General Rezone Criteria, West Seattle Rezone 3200 block California Avenue SW, Permit Number: 3007538, Section C, pg.3- 4)

    How is it possible to trust in this scenario? Does anyone care to explain these apparent discrepancies?

  • Concerned Neighbor December 2, 2007 (1:49 pm)

    One more note:

    Even if the document quoted above as stating the land was downzoned to a 30ft height limit in 1957 is wrong, and the land was downzoned from 40ft or 35ft to 30ft in 1987, assuming accuracy of the data above all but one of the parcels in the upzone area would have been purchased at NC1-30.

  • John Bennett December 2, 2007 (3:07 pm)

    As for all the people that have moved to West Seattle over the last few years because of its small town appeal and are concerned that it will get too populated………….
    All I can say is that my family has had trouble with emigrants ever since we moved to this country.Keep up the hot debate ! It makes the community strong!
    P.S. What about the beer?

  • noremac neslien December 2, 2007 (5:04 pm)

    Good point John. This is getting almost as interesting as light beer vs. dark beer.

  • grr December 2, 2007 (5:14 pm)

    I’m all for the beer, John. And some tequila too.

    Roger. That bld in Queen Anne is wonderful. Just curious…what do you think of the Osborne Bld in WS?

  • Roger Cayce December 2, 2007 (5:35 pm)

    Seems like several of you refuse to believe the truth regarding the zoning for the property at the time of purchase. The Certificate of land use we have is for one of the purchases that I think you must have missed. It was for 3222-24 Calif SW and the certificate is dated 10/26 87. The county records are hard to put together sometimes for a clear picture. You seem to be very interested and as both Mike and I have stated we have nothing to hide. If you really want to make it easy for yourself just give us a call at the office and leave your name and phone number. We would be happy to give you a complete run down on what we own and when we purchased! Why keep filling up the blog with accusations when you can see the truth for yourself!!!

  • LR December 2, 2007 (7:36 pm)

    Great comments John!!!
    Why don’t you take the concerned neighbor for a beer. It sounds like he/she needs one. They have said basically the same thing 7 or more times on this blog.
    Concerned Neighbor, give Cayce or Gain a call as Cayce offered rather than continuing to accuse them of not being truthful. This is not a Columbo episode. They have offered to give you whatever you need. Make the call.
    Thank you Cayce for your comment and offer to Concerned Neighbor.

  • Michael December 3, 2007 (5:25 pm)

    There are 2 realistic options here:

    1. Two local guys Roger Cayce and Mike Gain can build a new building themselves.

    2. Roger Cayce and Mike Gain can sell the property to the highest bidder and some out of town developer can build there instead.

    Take your pick. Would you rather have two local and respected residents of West Seattle who actually care about West Seattle and live in West Seattle build a new building here? Or, you could have some out of town developer from Las Vegas or God knows where else, come in here and buy the land from Mike Gain and Roger Cayce? An out of town developer would only care about making money. Yes, Mr. Gain and Mr. Cayce want to make money as well, but they also want to build a quality building that they can be proud of here a place that they call home and a place that they really care about. Unlike an out of town developer, they care about more then just money. Not building here is not a realistic option. So instead of disrepecting and making Mr. Gain and Mr. Cayce mad, you should instead face reality and decide to work with them and support them in building a quality building that will work good for this community. If you piss them off, they will just end up selling to the highest bidder. That would be the worst thing that could happen to this community. Mr. Gain and Mr. Cayce don’t have to take crap from you people. They are good guys who want to build something nice. They could just sell and say the hell with it. They should not have to take crap from people in their own community of which they have lived and contributed to all of their lives.

  • SLK December 3, 2007 (9:30 pm)

    I’m joining the thread late, but I wanted to post a somewhat different perspective in support of the rezone. Following is my letter to Malli Anderson, the planner at DPD:

    I am writing in support of application number 3007538, the rezone of the 3200 block of California Avenue SW in West Seattle. I live on 40th Avenue SW, four blocks away from the proposed rezone. I attended the public meeting on November 29, so I am aware that there is opposition to the rezone from other neighbors. I believe, though, that a rezone would be overwhelmingly positive for the neighborhood, and that most of the perceived fears would not be realized.

    I have heard several times now that this area of California Ave SW was downzoned in the 1980’s to the current zone of NC1-30. I cannot fathom why the city ever thought this was a good idea. I would expect to find an NC1 designation in a “small shopping area”, such as a commercial node around an intersection in an otherwise residential area. California Ave SW runs through most of West Seattle, with shopping and offices along most of its length. The businesses currently provide much more variety than “convenience retail sales and services.” I agree with the proponents that the area is presently functioning like an NC2 designation should.

    The existing 30’ height limit is also problematic. As an architect, I frequently work with real estate developers. I know that most developers have no interest in developing NC1-30 zoned land. The costs of land and construction are simply too expensive and cannot be supported by the revenues from a three story building. Adding a fourth story in most cases makes a project economically feasible, meaning that the value of the new building exceeds the costs required to construct it. For that reason most developers looking for a site for a mixed-use or multi-family building will seek out land with at least a 40’ height limit.

    The exception is townhouse developers. Because most townhouses are three stories tall and can be constructed relatively quickly and cheaply, they are an economically feasible option for NC1-30 zoned land not within a pedestrian-designated area. The current legal climate in Washington State encourages townhouses on subdivided lots, essentially allowing attached single-family houses along commercial streets. Almost all of West Seattle consists of single-family houses already; it would be a waste of our limited commercially zoned land to allow it to be privatized for individual use. For this reason, I do not want to see this land developed as townhouses.

    California Avenue SW is the one commercial street in our neighborhood. It is part of the Admiral Residential Urban Village, and it is the major vehicular and pedestrian connection to the West Seattle Junction. I frequently walk between the two Junctions, and I patronize grocery stores, shops and restaurants both in the Junctions and in the area between. Because I live between Hinds and Hanford, I consider this portion of California Ave. SW to be “my” section of the neighborhood’s main street. I would love to have more businesses located here, and I welcome the possibility of new neighbors.

    In my opinion, increasing density in our urban neighborhoods is one of the most important things we can do as a society to protect and improve our natural environment and quality of life. Only with more people sharing resources can we expect to have a diversity of services and transportation options available to us. I don’t accept the arguments that density brings more traffic and parking problems; in fact, I think it is only with more density that we can get beyond our dependency on automobiles. I also believe that increasing the number of housing units available in our community ultimately makes housing more affordable for everyone.

    I prefer to shop locally, and I avoid crossing the West Seattle Bridge when possible. But this area of West Seattle does not yet have a full selection of retail shops and services to meet all of my needs. Someday there will be construction on the Viaduct, and I hope that West Seattle will be more self-sufficient by then. Personally, I would love to have a Trader Joe’s within walking distance of my house. I would also love to see the expansion of the Swedish Physicians Clinic, located at California Ave SW and SW Hinds. I recently tried to find a new doctor there and was told that NONE of the female doctors are accepting new patients. I’d love to have a couple more restaurants in the neighborhood, and judging by the crowds at nearby establishments, they would have no trouble finding other patrons. And why not have some more businesses, especially since they would provide employment and easy commutes for other neighbors? It is partly selfish to want these things near my house, but it would also contribute to a more sustainable neighborhood.

    To summarize: the current NC1-30 zoning discourages the development of new mixed-use or multi-family buildings by limiting their height to three stories. If the zoning remains, it will likely lead to the development of new townhouses that do not benefit the surrounding neighborhood. A rezone to NC2-40 would encourage the type of development that I would like to see and be able to support in my neighborhood. Over time, it would improve the availability and diversity of retail businesses and services, provide more multi-family housing units, and make this part of West Seattle a more interesting and sustainable place to live.

  • grr December 3, 2007 (11:23 pm)

    well put, slk.

  • AN December 4, 2007 (2:13 am)

    SLK, your argument does not support a request for NC2-40 versus NC1-40. You talk about height being a limited factor in design but NC2 allows for 25,000 versus 10,000 square feet in retail space, a glaring difference. Outside the context of neighborhood planning they are requesting basically a blank check to build really big retail space should they choose to.

    The Admiral Neighborhood Plan for the Urban Village this area is part of is designed so people will walk or bus to Junction businesses, as you do. In fact, townhouses would fit in quite well in this area, given there are no step-down zones to the SF-5000 homes, as there is in the Admiral Junction where NC2-40 is buffered by NC1-30 and multi-family zoning. Townhouses would be much quieter than businesses and would include required parking, and work well at 30 ft.

    Importantly, the city should not ignore the Admiral Neighborhood Plan and grant an upzone because property owners want it and own 36-40% land. All or almost all the land was purchased at NC1-30 and they knew exactly what they were getting, even though now they are trying to say it is not worth development, or that basically the zoning itself is “functionally obsolete”.
    It appears the land has been bought piecemeal with the plan to push through an upzone. The city should not ignore neighborhood policy on zoning here for the benefit of a few, nor should they set a precedent in granting a huge upzone to these individuals outside the context of community planning. The Neighborhood Plan was designed over a two-year process to be a blueprint for guiding and sculpting West Seattle’s inevitable growth. The City of Seattle adopted this Plan. And individual-driven upzones should not be allowed to subvert the influence neighborhoods have on how they grow. Those who agreed to be within the Urban Village, including nearly all the approximately 30 parcels of land involved here, did so with the understanding they would be protected by the Admiral Neighborhood Plan. The voices of neighbors who developed this Plan, and are now speaking in support of it, should not be ignored..

    There is enough NC2-40 property in the Admiral Junction to support targets of projected growth in business and housing and this is an excellent place for Cayce and Gain to leave a legacy, a place where it is needed and would probably be welcomed with open arms.

    Keep walking to those Junctions, SLK! It’s healthy and we will all breathe better and live more peacefully, as planned.

  • Roger Cayce December 4, 2007 (7:31 am)

    SLK, Very well stated!!! As to AN stating that “all or most of the land was purchased as NC1-30 that is just not true!!! Like I told others call and set up a time to come to see the Certificates of Land Use for proof of the truth!!! The City forms do not lie.

  • Mike December 4, 2007 (9:27 am)

    Reply to AN
    It would be hard for Cayce & Gain to leave a legacy behind on land they don’t own. They are trying to leave their legacy on land they do own and have purchased over the last 20 plus years.
    As you can see if you walk up and down the currently zoned NC240 blocks, many are just the same as they have been for many years. It is very expensive to build and develop. Zoning does not make development happen. It is the property owners who are willing to invest their money and take the risk. Many owners are going to continue to maintain their properties as they are regardless of the current zoning or zoning change requested.
    The Admiral plan was from another time and needs to be updated

  • AN December 4, 2007 (11:23 am)

    Mike, thank you for your reply. If you think the Admiral Plan needs to be updated, certainly that is something that could be requested in lieu of an individual upzone that will clearly benefit a few greatly, but includes no clearly defined benefits to the community and potential for maximizing negative impacts.

    My hope is that the involved Admiral business owners will in the end strive to work with the shepards of the Plan, the Admiral Neighborhood Association, in proposing changes to the Plan and to the neighborhood it was designed to guide in growth, as well as to protect. Perhaps they have already taken steps to do so. It is certainly not too late to initiate a new direction that would bring the ANA and the neighbors into a planning process where all can have a voice and where the result, whether it be developing at the current zone, a ontract rezone, or something else, can be a vision that is shared and supported by the community.

  • Why ask why? December 4, 2007 (4:58 pm)

    I’m still on the fence about this issue. Why don’t people want Trader Joe’s in West Seattle? It’s my favorite grocery store and I would love to see them here. Is it because of the increased traffic they would bring? If the zoning stayed at 3 floors, would new developments be able to include underground parking? I rarely shop in the Junction, due to the lack of parking.

  • grr December 4, 2007 (5:01 pm)

    I think maybe they should just build a wal-mart there and put an end to all of this.

  • granted December 4, 2007 (6:05 pm)

    Excellent points AN. The only thing I would add to what you said is that noone owes Cayce & Gain a place to leave their “legacy”, and certainly not at the expense of a well thought out longterm neighborhood plan.

    Cayce & Gain should have participated in the creation of the neighborhood plan if they really wanted a certain zoning for their properties. If at that time they had voiced their concerns and presented persuasive evidence of any need for upzoning, perhaps they could have gotten the windfall they are currently looking for. Perhaps they lacked the vision or courage to do so.

    Given the existing availability of NC2-40 zoning, the case at this time cannot be made for an upzone, especially when it is clearly against neighborhood wishes and in an entirely inappropriate area transit-wise.

    Additionally, Cayce & Gain have not helped their case any by offering blatantly false choices (“It’s either what we want or it’ll be something you hate!”) and unsupported assertions (“You simply can’t build an attractive three story building!”). Condescension, deception and evasion will only get you so far.

  • grr December 4, 2007 (6:44 pm)

    oh puleeeze.

    “well thought out neighborhood plan”…yeah..right. Was that big retirement home across from Mission part of ‘the plan”?? I do believe that was SUPPOSED to be something else, wasn’t it??

  • villagegreen December 5, 2007 (10:22 am)

    To Why ask why, ‘I rarely shop in the Junction, due to the lack of parking.’ That’s the funniest thing I’ve read on this blog in a while! There are free lots everywhere you look and non-metered spots on the street. What more could you ask for? It’s the easiest street shopping area (as opposed to a mall) in the entire city.

  • Been There December 6, 2007 (9:51 am)

    It is interesting reading these posts. I grew up in West Seattle, graduated in 74, bought me first house there, and still own a rental in the area.

    I have lived on the eastside for 20 years, but come back to West Seattle often. Some of my thoughts are:

    The California Ave, as described by some as having charachter, is for the most part a hodge podge of architecture that has NO charachter, and is a an aging area that needs a big facelift.

    The Junction? That is an eyesore, with very little parking with a cluster of buildings that shout out “this place is old”.

    Everytime I come down the Ave, and through the junction, I cringe. It has not changed much from the days of my childhood. It is not an asset, it is a liability.

    I think the negative response here are representative of a vast minority, and probably from those that hate development for development sake. The bottom line is this rezoning request is not the issue here. The issue is having a plan that will make sure new development happens, and that it upgrades the West Seattle Junction and Avenue.

    I suggest that you embrace new developers. Don’t make ten feet the issue, focus on the type of project, sitelines, and value that the right type of development will bring to the area.

  • grr December 6, 2007 (8:40 pm)

    —Don’t make ten feet the issue, focus on the type of project, sitelines, and value that the right type of development will bring to the area.–

    ding ding ding..we have winner.

    of course…we don’t want WS to become too much like the East Side… :) :) :)

  • grrrrta December 7, 2007 (1:44 am)

    To Been There, who wrote, “The bottom line is this rezoning request is not the issue here.”

    I must need new glasses or this is now the funniest post I’ve seen in awhile. Eight headlines on the Blog, all with “upzone” in the titles. Well, well over 100 messages about the “upzone” and dozens of neighbors against the “upzone”. But we all must be wrong thinking it’s about the upzone, since “Been There”, another West Seattle landlord, decrees it so.

    To grr: “Don’t make ten feet the issue, focus on the type of project, sitelines, and value that the right type of development will bring to the area.– ding ding ding..we have winner.”

    Grrrr, growling his usual saw. Okay, we’ll all just conveniently forget about the 25,000 feet of retail space – the Petco or Walmart – zm NC-240 “upzone” would allow, and the parking and the traffic and the blocked views, you know, that kinda’ stuff. Ding Ding! for the landlords; too bad for the neighbors.

    It amazes me some are still hiding behind that initial milketoast story: Ah, we just want to put in a nice new building, something, not sure what, with a two-story underground parking garage that will really be nice, ease parking and all. Though Mike Gain has since posted he wants to develop the block. Though together Cayce and Gain own a third of the property, two sides up the block, and along the north end. But of course, “don’t make ten feet the issue” says Grrr. Guess what Grrr, it’s not!

    To Mike, who wrote, “Many owners are going to continue to maintain their properties as they are regardless of the current zoning or zoning change requested.”

    I’m sorry, what was the point? The point is they COULD do it, at NC2-40, and some would.

    Guess what guys, it’s about the upzone. The cat’s out of the bag. It doesn’t belong and isn’t wanted, my many, many, many people, where requested, and it subverts the Neighborhood Plan.

    And here’s a real mind blower: not everyone cares about how buildings look.

  • GenHillOne December 7, 2007 (6:26 am)

    Can I just ask about this Neighborhood Plan? It was even suggested that those who bought houses believed that they were doing so under the umbrella of this plan and should be able to count on it. What??? Did my realtor forget to give that to me? Does it get mailed to new homeowners? Where is it? There’s a lot of weight put on it and NONE of my neighbors know about it. Many didn’t know about this project either. Turns out, most aren’t worried about it. But guess what, we’re on the west side. While many of us have had new home construction block our views, a four-story building would not. I agree that I’d feel better if I knew what kind of businesses would be targeted for the leases, but otherwise I’m just not that concerned. I don’t think underground parking fits into WalMart’s rigid formula…

  • Been There December 7, 2007 (9:58 am)

    To Grrrr.

    “And here’s a real mind blower: not everyone cares about how buildings look.”

    That is obvious by the way the ave looks today.It is a dump and does nothing to enhance West Seattle.

    You appear to be simply anti development.

    10 feet? Please. That is not at the root of your beef, is it?

  • Huindekmi December 7, 2007 (3:04 pm)

    Been There, please go read the upzone request again. There are two pieces in play.
    One is to raise the height limit by 10 feet. That could be done by requesting a rezone to NC1-40. Based on the documentation provided by Cayce and Gain, that was the zoning for the property on this block that they purchased before 1987. Anything they purchased after 1987 would have been zoned NC1-30. That’s not what is being done.
    The other piece is the request to move to a NC2 zoning, which allows even higher density, more traffic and significantly larger retail space than NC1. This area has NEVER been zoned NC2. Typically, a buffer is provided between a NC2 zone and a pure residential zone. This proposal would have none, thereby potentially lowering property values of homeowners directly adjacent to the rezone.
    If this rezone were ONLY about 10 feet, there probably wouldn’t be as much opposition.
    I just wish Cayce and Gain would come clean and stop trying to obfuscate the issue, rather than trying to fool people into believing a lie about “restoration” of old zoning or about the only change being 10 feet of max height. Instead, they come on here and throw accusations around about opponents, dodge the questions asked directly of them and make statements that contradict the official paperwork that they filed on this issue.

  • grr December 8, 2007 (2:26 am)

    Been There….you have me complete wrong. I’m VERY PRO-developement, especially if it rids the neighborhood of the old dump buildings and eyesores, and provides more parking for EVERYONE.

    as far as the ‘25,000’ of retail space/underground parking’…I would love nothing more than to see a beautiful shopping/retail/office building there that could support JOBS for people in WS and keep traffic OFF the roads/bridge. How many people would LOVE to NOT have to commute to downtown if there were a suitable facility in WS to work from??

    the 10 extra feet of height simply does not bother me. I’ve already seen Omni and others build whatever they want (single family homes) and completely block their neighbors views. It’s pervasive all over WS…

    and, sort of on topic, are there any ‘renderings’ of what the new QFC/Office Depot bld is going to look like??? Nobody seems to be complaining about it (OR the Whole Foods for that matter).

    yes. a FEW homes might loose what’s left of their ‘territorial’ veiws. Sorry about that. Where was the uproar when the retirement home was built? It’s pretty huge…

    OH….re: parking…has anyone EVER seen the exisitng underground garage in that area FULL of cars??? Ever?? Go to Mission/Circa on peak time on a friday/saturday..no problems finding parking in that garage.

    GenHil..you’re right..pretty sure WalMart’s not eyeing WS. hell..Trader Joes ain’t even interested..

  • Mike December 9, 2007 (10:32 am)

    Reply to:
    Concerned Neighbor, Admiral Neighbor, Granted, LisaM, et al.
    The WS Blog site is great and informative. The only thing wrong with any blog site is that they give individuals a platform to speak without a face, a name, or any facts to back up their claims or accusations. My name is Mike Gain and I am available to talk and discuss this rezone request. I am willing to give a face, a name, an address and a phone number. I always return my calls and my phone # is West-8-6880 or for those of you new to the area that is 938-6880. My address is 3210 California Avenue SW Seattle, Wa. 98116. I have no secrets and nothing to hide.
    I met with Mark Wainwright last week and gave him copies of everything I had that supports all of my claims. I showed him conceptual plans we had drawn for the NC130 zone by Roger Newell, a well known Seattle architect. Mr. Newell graduated from West Seattle High and specializes in designing properties that blend in a neighborhood
    like ours. His conclusion and ours was that it wasn’t financially feasible to build the quality of building with the amenities we wanted to include. The plan we have is awesome. We just can’t afford to build it with only 30′. After reviewing the plans, Mark said “I get it. I know this block can’t be developed and build the type of building you are proposing. No one could afford to do it and have it make financial sense, especially with two floors of underground parking as your plan shows.” I gave Mark a copy of our Certificate of Land Use showing the zoning at NC140 when we purchased one of our properties at 3220 California Avenue as we stated. I also gave him details on all the properties we own.
    We have always told the truth. The people we hired gave some wrong information in our application as it related to the zoning history. They made an error and will correct it. An error does not become a mistake unless it goes uncorrected.
    Roger and I are offended by being referred to as “two boys living in a bubble”, “lack vision and courage”, a couple of “shady cons”, and “two guys wanting to leave their legacy”. Anyone making such statements must be new to the area and know nothing about us or our past accomplishments. We would not have become as successfull as we are making a living selling real estate in West Seattle if those claims were true. It was our vision and courage that allowed us to grow from a start up company in 1980 and become the most successful real estate company in West Seattle. We employed up to 400 people, many who lived and worked in West Seattle. From 1986 through 2002 we were the #1 West Seattle real estate company. We sold up to 50% of all the homes sold in West Seattle when compared to the other local companies. We sold our sales, mortgage and escrow companies in 2002. During those years we were very active in the community and considered quite generous donors to numerous charities. We gave a lot of time, energy, effort and money to this community.
    We are now just buying, selling, managing and developing our properties. We have never said we want to leave our legacy here. We realize twenty years from now most will not know or care who Cayce & Gain were. Many don’t know or care now.
    Well, in closing, we spent many years, have worked hard and have a lot invested in this community. OUR COMMUNITY! We do like to make money. Is there something wrong with that? We do care about the community, its future and plan to be here for quite awhile. Roger and I are simply “TWO LOCAL BOYS” trying to do good things. We are “LIVING THE AMERICAN DREAM” or should I say “THE WEST SEATTLE DREAM”.
    Mike Gain

  • grr December 9, 2007 (10:45 am)

    thanks for the great post, Mike.

  • WSB December 9, 2007 (11:04 am)

    Mr. Gain – We hope to be able to take you up on your offer to discuss this any time with anyone – we are in the process of clearing some things off our plate early this week and then will be calling you by midweek asking for an opportunity to interview you face to face about your project, with video camera if you don’t mind.

  • Admiral Resident December 9, 2007 (10:10 pm)

    Mike, since you say above “We have always told the truth”, and appear to want to be open and transparent, would you mind sharing how much square footage/pieces of property you and Roger Cayce currently own in the proposed upzone area that was zoned NC1-40 at the time you purchased it? And how much total square footage/pieces you both currently own? Also, was any of the property ever NC2-40 when purchased by either of you? You have said you want to restore the property to original zoning, so this seems reasonable to ask.

    Also, what changes are being made to the application from what was distributed at the public meeting? You mention an error in the zoning history. What is the correct zoning history? Are errors being corrected to a statement made about the Neighborhood Plan? It recommends against upzoning in this area, though your application seemed to say the Plan did not make specific recommendations regarding upzoning in NC areas. Corrected information for the public would be helpful and appreciated.

    I am glad that WSB has asked to take you up on your offer to come by and talk, it is a good chance to learn and share more about the issues. I hope this will occur and that you allow the videotaping, since you wrote above regarding WSB’s reporting on the public meeting that they are “very biased” and made “inacurate (sic) statements” and you wrote “it is at best, incomplete reporting”. I have never heard this said by anyone else about the WSB and personally believe them to be highly professional and accurate, but this way everyone will be assured of accuracy and objectivity, a win win. And, as you’ve written, you have nothing to hide. I very much hope co-applicant Roger Cayce would be there, too, since he appears to be the majority property owner on the block.

    The ability to post anonymously here, by the way, is available to all, those who support and those who oppose the upzone. Perhaps this is beneficial in allowing some to share candidly who might otherwise be intimidated, by the wealth involved and the power that can wield, and/or by intimidating tones set by some posting in support of the upzone. You and Roger, apart from this Blog, on the other hand, have placed yourself in the public eye as individuals who have requested a large upzone with far-reaching ramifications.

  • GenHillOne December 10, 2007 (6:58 am)

    I too look forward to the possibility of a video interview. You’re right Admiral Resident that this forum is, for the most part, anonymous. It looks to me though that intimidating tones are not exclusive to one side or the other. From my perspective, there is something to C & G’s current and past involvement with the community. They ARE known. How miserable would it be for them and their families if they were actually ‘pulling a fast one on us?’ I don’t believe that they would risk their business reputations, let alone their personal relationships, that way. They haven’t been successful for this long by taking those kind of risks and that carries weight for me. And p.s., I don’t know either of them personally, just an observation.

  • WSB December 10, 2007 (8:37 am)

    GHO’s observation is a sound one. As the administrators of this website, we see the IP addresses and e-mail addresses for everyone who leaves comments. The latter can be faked; the former generally cannot. Part of our policy at WSB is NOT to make a point out of interesting observations regarding the former — that would destroy the concept of an open forum (some other blogs in this city, by the way, have no such policy) — even at “in-person” public hearings, like the recent one on this issue, not everyone who spoke identified themselves, so to some degree they were almost as anonymous as they could be online. But back to site business — let it just be said, in MOST of our lively discussions, not just on this issue, “both” sides (and sometimes there are more than two sides!) have taken advantage of the opportunity to post multiple, similar comments with different screen names but coming from the same IP address (which in fairness can mean it’s multiple people at one home or at one business). On occasion, we mull the concept of requiring log-ins (which WILL be required for our upcoming forum feature, separate from comments on blog posts), but that still wouldn’t stop anyone from acquiring multiple log-ins.

  • Angry Neighbor of Cayce and Gain December 10, 2007 (9:59 am)

    I know this – I’d love to see a total BOYCOTT of CAYCE & GAIN/PRUDENTIAL NW REALTY.

    10 FEET MATTERS, and that they and COBB say otherwise is proof that they are “in a bubble”. 10 Feet is over an hour less direct sunlight for my home. 10 Feet is a view changed from trees and sound to Apartment door entrances.

    I can’t believe that he can hold his head up high and claim to care about this neighborhood. Caring about a neighborhood means caring about the neighbors in it.

  • grr December 10, 2007 (12:30 pm)

    yo..angry neighbor…would you have the same outrage if it wasn’t C and G, but maybe Omni Construction, or some other -private- individual who bought the house next to you and built a huge home blocking ALL of your view and sunlight? Not just ‘an hours’ worth? Come to my neighborhood and have a look…that’s what it’s like. Doubt that Omni cared what the neighbors thought..

    How about going OUTSIDE for that hour if the sun is out, walking to the new business that might go into that development, and support them?? Just a thought.

  • Been There December 10, 2007 (12:44 pm)

    Grr, sorry I misinterpreted your comments.

    Angry Neighbor, if your complaint is about a hour less sunlight, well, I need to ask if you live in a tent on California Avenue?

    WSB, I am curious, why the need for a video interview?

  • AN December 11, 2007 (12:06 am)

    I’m totally with you, Angry Neighbor. Ten feet makes a huge difference, although those who want the upzone approved seek to trivialize it, along with those who speak up.

    Ignore those who seek to intimidate and bully, using sarcasm and making fun of others. Intimidate means to make another fearful and timid, exactly what bullies do if successful. If in response to your post some think that asking if you live in a tent (Been There), or trivializing the time you want to enjoy outside in your yard (grr), or trotting out the effects of badly planned development on their neighborhood (grr) – as I recall, in an earlier comment it was a tree blocking his view… if they think these tactics will further Cayce and Gain’s cause, so be it. Let them shoot themselves in the foot. It won’t go overlooked by some reading this blog.

    I’m with you on the boycott idea, but there doesn’t seem to be anything to boycott, per Mike Gain’s last post: “We sold our sales, mortgage and escrow companies in 2002. During those years we were very active in the community…”

    Though there is definitely a stand to take against these their upzone request, which is not about whether Cayce and Gain are nice guys, as many for the upzone imply, but is about how the requested upzone would impact – what it would do for or against – the community. For some, it’s sufficient to know the scale of business that would be allowed by NC2-40: by many that is not wanted; plus data has shown that is not needed; and the Admiral Neighbor Plan recommends against that in the area of the proposed upzone..

    And yet, Cayce and Gain, who have presented absolutely no specific design plans or statements of community benefit, whose request is highly unusual due to the amount of land requested through individual permit (the type of permit you use for a home remodel), these seasoned businessmen and their supporters express chagrin that this is not being welcomed with open arms and great faith, because, well, because apparently they deserve it. As far as I can see, Gain’s words in his latest post are about the only justification they’re provided to their community: “Well, in closing, we spent many years, have worked hard and have a lot invested in this community. OUR COMMUNITY! We do like to make money. Is there something wrong with that? We do care about the community, its future and plan to be here for quite awhile. Roger and I are simply “TWO LOCAL BOYS” trying to do good things. We are “LIVING THE AMERICAN DREAM” or should I say “THE WEST SEATTLE DREAM”.

    Mike, where do your neighbor’s voices pleading against the requested upzone, the numbers that don’t support NC2-40 development in this area, and the Admiral Neighborhood Plan that recommends against it here… where do these fit into your “WEST SEATTLE DREAM”? Or into your “OUR COMMUNITY”?

  • Been There December 11, 2007 (10:46 am)


    I am not trying to further anyones cause.

    It sounds as if you are physically right next to the proposed area of change.

    I am looking BIG PICTURE.

    West Seattle is my community and has been for decades.

    The Junction and Ave need a master plan, and if ten feet lets profesional developers upgrade the area in a manner that enhances the current state, I am all for it.

    As I said before, the area in question is not anything anoyone should be proud of. It needs a major update.

  • Admiral Resident December 11, 2007 (11:43 am)

    I haven’t gotten a response to previous questions, but a re-read of Mike’s recent message leads to more questions.

    Mike Gain wrote: “I met with Mark Wainwright last week and gave him copies of everything I had that supports all of my claims. I showed him conceptual plans we had drawn for the NC130 zone… After reviewing the plans, Mark said “I get it. I know this block can’t be developed and build the type of building you are proposing. No one could afford to do it and have it make financial sense, especially with two floors of underground parking as your plan shows.”

    Mike or Mark, I understand NC1-30 only allows for only one floor of underground parking, while NC2-40 zoning is required for two. Why do the conceptual plans drawn up for NC1-30 development referenced above include two floors of underground parking? Is this the feasibility issue? It seems to make sense a building designed for NC1-30 zoning would not support two underground floors of parking, since NC2-40 buildings, being taller, have more square footage, and NC2-40 allows for 25,000 square feet of retail space versus 10,000 allowed in NC1-30. Please claify!

    Mike, it seems you are implying Mark supports the upzone, but I don’t see this in his statements. In fact, I don’t understand how your building plan is relevant, since it has not been shared with the public or the city and the permit request to upzone more than a block of property does not require a design review. If the requested upzone were approved you would mainly just need to meet code, which allows for more height and much greater ground floor retail space, and two floors of underground parking.

    Mike, if you are offended by statements made, consider the process. The usual public process involved in an upzone request of this scale is not available, so some with comments and questions and no outlet for having them heard or answered are understandably frustrated. There has been only one hour of public meeting time available for discussion about this huge upzone request. This should be handled through a much more public, community process, and is one of many reasons the request should be denied. Peronally, I have tried stick to the facts and argue points with civility. I am not against you, and I don’t think your community track record or reputation is the issue at hand.

    I am against your carte blanche upzone request, as you would clearly be winners (and big ones at that); and I believe the neighborhood, which would bear the brunt of magnified negative impacts by NC2-40 building, would be losers; and the Admiral Junction businesses and neighbors – those who have developed according to the Neighborhood Plan, and those who have moved near the Junction expecting that they will be near NC2-40 scale of businesses, would be losers. The requested upzone is a much more complex issue than whether you can afford to build what you want to build where you want to build it.

  • MW December 12, 2007 (10:06 pm)

    Hey Admiral Resident –

    Thanks for the note. I met with Mike Gain and he did show me some of their work they’ve done with an architect. And I did say that “I get it”, but there’s always more to the story…
    I work at an architecture firm, so “I get” that development is very expensive, especially with buildings that include below grade parking and a lot of concrete work. Building the upper floors isn’t nearly as expensive per square foot.
    So a 30 foot building, and frankly even a 40 foot building, constructed like they want to build it, would be pretty expensive to build and making it “pencil” would be a challenge.
    My recommendation?
    Be smart. Actually, be very smart. And take a more creative approach to a solution that will work within the existing zone. Sure, I can point to plenty of not-so-great buildings in zones like these, but I can also think of a bunch of very creative, cool ones.
    I don’t buy the argument that they can’t make something handsome and good quality in the existing zone. No way.
    Want some examples?
    Here ya go:
    Victoria Townhomes on Queen Anne Hill – Mithun
    Lionsgate in Redmond – GGLO
    Fremont Lofts – Johnston Architects
    The Boulders at Greenlake – Johnston Architects
    … and there are many more.
    Most of these are focused on residential uses on the first floor, but Lionsgate does a good job of integrating commercial and live/work spaces at ground level. Any of them could do the same.
    Mark Wainwright
    Admiral Neighborhood Association

  • Been There December 14, 2007 (7:37 am)

    Want some examples?
    Here ya go:
    Victoria Townhomes on Queen Anne Hill – Mithun
    Lionsgate in Redmond – GGLO
    Fremont Lofts – Johnston Architects
    The Boulders at Greenlake – Johnston Architects

    Mark, this sounds like a commercial for architechs firms?
    I actually think havving an “architect” as president of the association may be a conflict of interest, and you may also be looking at ideas through a guilded eye.

    Just curious, how long have you lived in West Seattle?

    Also, can you tell me the idea behind video taping the Caycee and Gain interview.


  • WSB December 14, 2007 (9:14 am)

    Sorry “Been There,” didn’t see the question the first time. As I said in the voice mail I just left for Mike Gain about 45 minutes ago, video is optional – we shoot video of certain events for WSB because that’s what you do in Internet news these days – it’s a nice augmentation to the words and still photos, to be able to see and hear people in their own words, and it’s much easier to upload and play online video these days than it was when I produced my first news website as executive producer at KOMO-TV in the mid-’90s. I worked as a TV newsperson for more than 20 years – the video we are able to produce for WSB with a $600 camera is not quite the level of what we could do at my former employers with gear that cost five digits, but it still helps people learn more about the people and events in their community (our video yesterday of the Schuck’s demolition was certainly the next best thing to being there, and that’s the kind of event a citywide TV station is never going to turn out for, but we are). However, I’m also more than willing to just show up for an interview conversation with my notebook (before TV, I worked as a newspaper reporter and editor in CA and NV for several years, so that’s why I am able to write long-form on this site in original coverage of meetings etc.) — TR, WSB editor

  • Been There December 14, 2007 (10:22 am)

    thanks for the update.

  • Angry Neighbor of Cayce and Gain December 17, 2007 (11:37 pm)

    Idiotic comments don’t bother me (i.e. “tent” remark), but thanks AN for the support.

    Look, if there is property available and someone wants to build WITHIN EXISTING zoning, I may not like what they build but I don’t cry about it.

    I’m also not against any/all development. Things change, I can accept that. This isn’t about that.

    For me, this is about one (wealthy, somewhat powerful) land owner (Cayce & Gain) seeking to change the rules at the expense of all their “little guy” neighbors. It is personal simply because I’m certain their gain is worth at least 50k loss of value to my property.

  • Angry Neighbor of Cayce and Gain December 17, 2007 (11:40 pm)

    On another note: I’m sure others have noticed that the east side of California is sloped (eastward)?

    Help me here if you know the rules but my understanding is that they get to average out the height restriction to match the grade of the land, meaning that Cayce and Gain can possibly build even higher that 40 feet (as measured from the front of the property).

    Is this correct? Any input?

Sorry, comment time is over.