“Micropermitting”: From the pixels to the airwaves

Remember West Seattle architect and Design Review Board member David Foster’s beef about — guadalajaratownhouses.jpgand investigation into — so-called “micropermitting,” the loophole through which some big (and sometimes not-so-lovely) townhouse developments escape design review? Two weeks after the original WSB report (and followups here and here), KUOW picked up on it today, featuring Foster and someone who’d taken a different viewpoint in our original comments thread, High Point resident and real-estate agent Wendy Hughes-Jelen. Read the story and get audio links here.

9 Replies to ""Micropermitting": From the pixels to the airwaves"

  • picklemom February 12, 2008 (1:45 am)

    Thank you, David Foster, for speaking out against the uglification of our neighborhoods. Those townhomes are hideous and depressing.

  • cleat February 12, 2008 (6:11 am)

    Yahoo … the more publicity this issue gets the better …. I don’t there there is a single person who likes these built the way they are …. eventually voices will be heard!!! Thanks for getting the ball rolling!!!

  • Dell February 12, 2008 (8:00 am)

    I think it is funny David Foster is complaining against micro permitting and avoiding design review. His previous townhome projects have not differed much from the projects he is speaking up against, maybe he is upset that he had to go through design review? I am very skeptical that design review is a good answer to creating better projects in Seattle, just look at all of the design review approved projects, mediocre at best. Why doesn’t Seattle donate a fund that would be the same value as holding a property for 16 months during the mandatory design review process (say 70-120k), give it to the developer to hire a real architect. One that can design a quaility building with-out the need of a board to create mediocracy.

  • Christopher Boffoli February 12, 2008 (8:45 am)

    Dell, it sounds like you are the one with an axe to grind against the Design Review. David Foster’s projects have consistently demonstrated his commitment to good design and environmentally friendly building in West Seattle and beyond. He has served the public by being ON the Design Review board in West Seattle. It is unreasonable to blame review members for mediocre architecture as they are merely trying to bring thought and balance to the design process where most developers are design-illiterate and would like to think only of maximum profit without a care about proper siting and the relevance of their projects in the broader community.

  • SLK February 12, 2008 (9:05 am)

    Dell, have you actually BEEN to a design review meeting? They are open to the public, and there are at least two meetings for each project that goes through the process. Anyone can comment on the proposed designs and request changes to make them less mediocre, or maybe even good. Since you consider yourself to be a judge of good architecture, I’m sure the design review board will welcome your comments.
    I’m also curious who you would recommend as a “real architect”? In my opinion David Foster’s projects are some of the most creative and thoughtful projects around.

  • JMR February 12, 2008 (9:50 am)

    There’s this kind of ideal that we all have of you know a culture of interaction and casual encounters, you know, connecting with your neighbors.

    No, it’s not true that “we all have” this notion. Mr Martin states this like it’s a law of physics. This idea of wanting to maximize interaction with your neighbors is more of a romantic ideal inside the heads of a few design busybodies than an actual reality – as Wendy, who sells these properties, seems to know.

  • E February 12, 2008 (1:04 pm)

    Wendy is probably right that there are some folks who would like to be anti-social hermits with no community contact. I sure hope those people don’t move to West Seattle.

  • Elizabeth February 12, 2008 (4:54 pm)

    Firstly, David Foster is an excellent architect by anyone’s standards. His projects have been much better than the average. Design Review Boards, of course, are only as good as 1) the people on them; and 2) the design of the buildings they are reviewing. They’re not infallible, but they are certainly do more good than bad to the process. Finally, I don’t think well designed mult-family housing and resident privacy are mutually exclusive. There are many examples of mult-family housing that allow both. But there are too many examples of bland, cookie cutter townhouse projects that are obviously built on the cheap with nothing but profit in mind. That’s not good for any community.

  • Wendy February 12, 2008 (11:18 pm)

    Wow – I can’t believe a one hour conversation was boiled down into one sentence. And what was actually quoted was not even the point of the conversation I had with Joshua. Pretty disappointing.
    Be that as it may, it takes all kinds to make up the world. Some are going to be hermits – and might live next door to you. And after a few rebuffs you’ll eventually learn to leave them in peace. You will have a lot more fun interacting with the neighbors that are social and know how to have a good time! Just throw a party and see who shows up – those are going to be your friends. People who actually know how to leave their house…
    I know it’s not fair to compare High Point to these 4-12 unit chunks of townhomes. But even in a planned community such as High Point, where many people have moved with the intent of building community, there are a lot of people who have no interest in interacting with their neigbors. There’s nothing you can do about it. The ratio of [proactive] engaged homeowners to disengaged [reactive] (or disinterested or uninformed) is staggering, in my opinion. But I will take quality over quantity any day. The friends we have made since moving into this more dense part of West Seattle are wonderful! It’s been a much more fulfilling experience in just six short months than 10 years of the other neighborhoods we have lived in here in WestSea.

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