Also in court next week: Satterlee House front-lawn fight


The Cooper School closure challenge isn’t the only big West Seattle case that’ll be argued in court next week. Wednesday is the date that lawyers for the city and for homeowner William Conner will be in the Court of Appeals to make oral arguments in Conner’s appeal of a city ruling against his proposal to build three homes on the front lawn of Beach Drive’s city-landmark Satterlee House:


We have covered the case extensively here, including the Hearing Examiner proceedings that upheld the Landmarks Board‘s rule (here’s our coverage of that decision in April 2008; then the Superior Court arguments last October, and the ruling later that month which Conner is challenging in the Court of Appeals. The city contends that the landmark status of the property — which gives the Landmarks Board the right to approve or deny development proposals, remodeling proposals, and more — includes the front lawn, and Conner’s arguments say it doesn’t, among many other points. The city’s case does not say Conner can’t build anything on the lawn, however, but that this particular proposal would be detrimental to the landmark. The case is getting national attention – the National Trust for Historic Preservation has filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the city; read about it here. (Side note, since some have asked in previous coverage: Satterlee House owner William Conner founded Conner Homes, which is developing property at California/Alaska/42nd in The Junction, but it is now run by his son Charlie Conner.)

13 Replies to "Also in court next week: Satterlee House front-lawn fight"

  • Patrick June 4, 2009 (1:07 pm)

    Imagine what a wonderful little community could rise there if someone would build say 3 ‘smallish’ (e.g. 1800 SF) cottages (with front porches) in an architectural style than compliments the main hosue, and restore the house (as either a 1 or 2 family). It could have a long sidewalk all the way to the big house with sidewalks that branched over to the smaller houses. it would have a wonderful park-like setting right across from the beach. I would think there’d be a real market demand for that.

  • elevated concern June 4, 2009 (2:10 pm)

    Mr. Conner, you bought an historic home and site. You should restore what’s there out of principal. While you are at it, start over in the Junction project(s). Two buildings, alley entrance, no need to beautify the alley because California Ave. Alaska Steet and 42nd street can remain a shopping district, not apartment lobby entrances and a cut curb to below grade parking on 42nd. No one else gets to do that, why do they let you?

  • Alvis June 4, 2009 (2:56 pm)

    Patrick –

    Are you familiar with the award-winning Ravenna Cottages design in the Green Lake neighborhood? That same developer along with the Satterlee parcel’s then owner (a Satterlee family member) proposed building cottages on the massive front lawn of the Satterlee house about 7 or 8 years ago. The cottage project never came to fruition because neighbors mounted an angry protest (as I no doubt would have if I’d been a neighbor) and said they’d rather see three single-family houses built on the parcel than see five or six smallish cottages designed to preserve a central view corridor from the street to the “Painted Lady” house at the rear of the parcel.

  • WSMom June 4, 2009 (3:48 pm)

    What elevated concern said! Amen!

  • WMF June 4, 2009 (4:24 pm)

    Yay! More Cookie Cutter homes that West Seattle doesn’t need!

    Within ten years, West Seattle will be indistinguishable from Bellevue :(

  • 56bricks June 4, 2009 (8:59 pm)

    I think the argument that has been mentioned earlier (way earlier)is that if you bought a property with restrictions it would be your right to maximize your profits on said property regardless of rules is pathetic. I guess if you have the money and connections you get to make the rules.

  • RAM June 4, 2009 (10:42 pm)

    The first big mistake with this property occurred with the previous owner. For years they were nice neighbors and allowed the neighborhood to use the lawn area for a neighborhood park. When they decided to employ the dirty word “profit” and develop what was theirs, then suddenly out of the woodwork come all these people telling them what to do with their property so they sold out to a new owner. I guess it’s because I grew up in a time when if you bought a parcel of land and paid the taxes it entitled you to develop your own property in the way you wanted as long as it conformed to the local codes. Now, if you own property it seems you have less to say about it’s use and design than all the citizens committees. I guess I better somehow get used to living in a Socialist country, because that’s what it is becoming. So much for America, the land of the free.

  • grr June 4, 2009 (11:49 pm)

    isn’t it also true that the main house is in a pretty bad state of disrepair and needs major foundation work??

  • Danno June 4, 2009 (11:50 pm)

    Right on RAM!!

  • alki_2008 June 5, 2009 (12:45 am)

    RAM – nicely said. :)

  • tipp June 5, 2009 (7:16 am)

    All old houses eventually come to an end. It is beautiful to look at and admire but it can’t stay this way forever. Can you imagine the bills? you should salvage what you can, tear down and sell the lot and move on. Sounds harsh but this house is a lot of grief. Unless a miracle happens, it’s just going to be more of the same. Good luck to all the people involved.

  • WSB June 5, 2009 (9:32 am)

    Well, that’s not at issue here. Just to be clear. The proposal is not to tear down this house, but rather involving what to build on the front lawn, which was replatted as three separate lots – TR

  • Nimby Nulu June 5, 2009 (12:09 pm)

    For comparison sake, just look next door at 4878 Beach Drive, MLS 29036841 listed for $699,950. Would this be what is a typical neighboring house with residents opposed to development?
    All of the proposed designs appear superior to neighboring NIMBY owned homes built with amenities rather than design.

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