West Seattle, Washington
Highland Park Action Committee leaders continue their tour of West Seattle community groups, tonight visiting the Fauntleroy Community Association‘s monthly meeting. HPAC chair Dorsol Plants and vice chair Rory Denovan told the FCA about a letter that’s being drafted asking the Port of Seattle to support them in opposing the two potential city-jail sites in West Seattle, particularly the West Marginal Way/Highland Park Way site; HPAC contends the site’s location near the Duwamish Waterway and its industrial area means a jail “has enormous potential to permanently impair efficient movement of freight” and would run counter to the port’s Seaport Shoreline Plan, which the HPAC draft letter says “calls for discouraging non-industrial uses in the industrially zoned area around Terminal 115.” Next scheduled event in the city’s jail-site-vetting process: A public forum at 9 am Saturday at North Seattle Community College, intended to focus on the Aurora site that’s on the “final four” location list (with the two West Seattle sites as well as a spot in Interbay), but open to anyone. All WSB coverage of the jail-sites fight, by the way, is archived here.
That was the request when we talked with cleanup organizer Nancy Driver after tonight’s JuNO meeting (more on the main topics, development, later). We’ve told you before about the plan for a huge community cleanup from Walking on Logs to Fauntleroy/35th on September 13th, including the recent details that it’ll be 9 am-3 pm, and volunteers 14 and up can sign up for 2-hour shifts. Nancy explains that she needs signups now because this is a major organizational effort – everything from loaner orange vests to donated treats – and she has to have a rough head count. No obligation if you have to change your plans later, but if you think there’s even a remote chance you’ll be able to help out on September 13th, please e-mail Nancy right now: email@example.com
As mentioned earlier, the long-awaited “multifamily code (zoning) update/changes” proposal by Mayor Nickels just went public this afternoon. Next step is City Council review, starting with the Planning, Land Use, and Neighborhoods Committee led by Councilmember Sally Clark, who was cautiously optimistic (and also reiterating no one’s saying townhouses themselves are “bad”):
For full details of the proposal, the right side of this page has links you can check; the full ordinance is 271 pages. We’re still going through them. Here’s what West Seattle architect and Design Review Board member Brandon Nicholson, who appeared with the mayor and Clark at the announcement this afternoon outside a Capitol Hill townhouse cluster (here’s our first report), said he considers most promising:
Regarding townhouses in particular, there are also some design specifics mandated, such as: “Limit the height of fences in a street facing setback to four feet (4â€™) in height .. Limit building overhangs over driveways and aisles to 3â€™.”
Another topic of intense interest ahead of time: Height. It’s not changing as much as once feared. In the mayor’s ordinance, it’s addressed starting on page 101, and here’s all the summary says:
1. Maintain the current overall scale and density of zones, including the 25â€™ height limit in certain Lowrise zones (LDT, L1 and L2).
4. Use an incentive program in the Lowrise 3 (L3), Midrise (MR) and Highrise (HR) zones to encourage affordable housing in exchange for additional height and floor area.
As mentioned in our previous report, “affordable housing” will be defined two ways – for purchasable units, affordable by those making 100% of the state-defined median income; for rental units, affordable by thosemaking 80% of the median.
So how high can you build, if you merit the incentives? That’s what we asked Department of Planning and Development director Diane Sugimura after the news conference. She and assistants say L3 is the West Seattle zone most affected – it’s a 30′ zone but a developer who merits the incentives could go up to 37′. Then there could be an additional 5′ in L3 for a pitched roof, and more height beyond that in this instance:”Additional height is permitted for sloped lots, at the rate of one foot (1â€™) for each six percent (6%) of slope, to a maximum of five feet (5â€™). The additional height is permitted on the down-slope side of the structure only …” And two more feet could be allowed as part of a “green roof.” But then there’s a later clause about “additional height and floor area” that says it does NOT apply to L3 in Admiral and Morgan Junction “urban villages” (but does not rule out the West Seattle Junction and Westwood UVs). What does that all really add up to? We’re at the JuNO meeting right now, and expecting to hear some further expert analysis that we’ll include in our report later tonight. 10:55 PM UPDATE: Nicholson was pre-scheduled to speak at tonight’s JuNO meeting, and while the focus of his presentation was townhouse-design-improvement advocacy on behalf of the Congress of Residential Architects, he also wove in some points about the zoning proposal, particularly what had changed from reports/expectations in recent months – including the fact it will not change height limits in most of West Seattle’s zones after all, and does not drop parking requirements below 1 space per unit (except in a certain type of area that doesn’t exist in West Seattle) – he also noted the design-review mandate for townhouse projects was a last-minute addition.
Just in from the office of West Seattle’s King County Councilmember Dow Constantine – Elliott Bay Water Taxi ridership for June has been tallied and it’s 14 percent higher than last year, following a double-digit increase for the preceding month — news release with full details, ahead:Read More
At the podium is Brandon Nicholson of Junction-based Nicholson Kovalchick Architects, who was asked to join Mayor Nickels and Councilmember Sally Clark as the long-awaited proposed changes in the Multi-Family Code — aka zoning for townhouses and other multi-family units — went public a short time ago on Capitol Hill. Nicholson also is a member of the Southwest Design Review Board, and a strong advocate of the design-review process, as he explained during his presentation at Clark’s recent townhouse-design forum (WSB coverage here) — and more design review (mandatory “administrative design review” for townhouse projects) is a component of what the mayor unveiled today, along with a proposal to allow developers more height and density in exchange for reserving a percentage of the project for “workforce housing” (those earning 100% of the state-set median income for ownership, 80% of that number for rentals). We’ll add more details shortly – three documents including the full text of the proposal have just been linked from the right side of this page; many reviews and public hearings are ahead, and whatever emerges at the end will not be finalized till sometime next year. (By the way, Nicholson coincidentally is scheduled to speak about townhouse design at tonight’s Junction Neighborhood Organization meeting, 6:30 pm at Ginomai, 42nd/Genesee.) 2:53 PM ADDITION: Here’s the official city news release toplining today’s announcement. We will be working on a “what’s in it for WS”-specific breakdown when we get home shortly. Note that the “urban centers” mentioned in the news release are NOT synonymous with “urban villages” – West Seattle has u-villages but not u-centers. (Here’s a map of UVs and UCs citywide.)Read More
“Flying damsel” is how Libby Carr of the Seattle (Alki) Statue of Liberty Plaza Project described the sight you see in that two-minute video clip (she was next to us atop a picnic table, watching it all unfold; we’ll add video of our interview with Libby and Paul Carr later), as the statue is lifted off its old base, not to return till a new pedestal is in place as part of the plaza work. As we showed you in updates earlier this morning, the statue is off to storage and demolition of the old base, asphalt, and benches is under way – project manager Patrick Donohue, who’s been on site supervising, says demolition should be done by day’s end; “regrading” will get under way tomorrow; actual construction of new elements should start next week. Goal is for this to be done by September 6th. 4 PM UPDATE: Ran by Alki again and noted the construction crew leaving, with the final core of the old statue base still standing, so that may not be coming down before tomorrow.
That’s the Stroller Strides class at Green Lake, warming up before participants and their young charges head out on the path for a unique bring-the-wee-ones workout that’s coming to West Seattle and offering a free class this Thursday. Kelli Currie teaches this class, which we visited last week, and will teach the one on Alki too – to check it out for free, she says you just have to show up at Alki Bathhouse on Thursday morning; sign-in starts at 10, class starts right at 10:30. You can read more about Stroller Strides at its website.
(see the bottom of this post for newest pix/info)
The crane’s in place and will soon be lifting the Alki Statue of Liberty off its old base – never to return to that one – since a new pedestal is part of the plaza project for which construction started this morning. More to come.
10:12 AM UPDATE: Lady Liberty has been removed from the pedestal and is en route to temporary storage (till sometime before the planned Sept. 6 dedication); Paul and Libby Carr of the Statue of Liberty Plaza Project have been here watching the milestone unfold on a spectacular sunny morning. They note that the benches and plaques being removed – three in all – as part of the demolition/construction work are all being replaced; two of the families, they say, chose to have benches in the new plaza, another asked to have a bench/plaque elsewhere on the beach. Now that the statue’s gone, the fencing is completely closed, and jackhammering has resumed (it’s pretty noisy down here right now). 10:34 AM UPDATE: Now the demolition of the old base is under way.
Two pieces of heavy equipment are at work on the site now, tearing up the blacktop within the fenced area as well (as mentioned elsewhere, the promenade along the water is NOT blocked, though it’s a little narrower now at the plaza-construction site) 11:05 AM UPDATE: Jacqueline Tabor of the Parks Department is putting up historic photos on the fence around the construction site – not just of the statue’s past, but also Alki from as long as a century ago. They’re going up today along with an informational sign about the project.
More pix and video to come.
Much to report from the latest batch of West Seattle police reports we reviewed at the Southwest Precinct. These are from reports processed in the past five days – some of the incidents are more than a week old because the department review process took a few days – and it’s a long list because it’s been a while since we downloaded reports. Among the summaries you’ll read ahead, an online car buyer gets scammed; a toddler turns up wandering in the street; a couple of unusual “road rage”-type cases and slightly older kids get the police called on them just because they’re … playing? Read on:Read More
That backhoe has just moved into place as the Parks Department gets ready to start construction of the plaza to be built around the Alki Statue of Liberty, which –as reported here yesterday — is scheduled to be taken away this morning and put in storage for the two-month duration of the construction. Right now, Parks is loosening the statue off its soon-to-be-replaced base to prepare for the move. (Archived coverage here; more updates later.)