Satterlee House case: Owner’s taking it to the state Supreme Court


An update tonight on the 2-year fight over what can be built on the expansive front lawn of the Satterlee House, the 103-year-old city landmark that’s also known as the Painted Lady of Beach Drive: The attorney for the Satterlee House’s owner says they’re taking the fight to the next venue – the state Supreme Court. This follows a series of rulings against the specific 3-home plan that Conner proposes for the land in front of the house: First, the city Landmarks Preservation Board rejected the proposal two years ago, saying the proposed homes’ size and scale would take away from the landmarked traits of the site. Conner appealed the decision to the city Hearing Examiner, who upheld it in April 2008; then he asked King County Superior Court to review the decision, where it again was upheld; from there it went to the state 1st Division Court of Appeals, which heard oral arguments last June, and then announced on December 21st that it too upheld the previous decisions. Next potential step was asking the state Supreme Court to review the case, and tonight the lawyer who’s led the case for Conner all along the way, Richard Hill, confirms to WSB, “Yes, the Conners intend to ask the Washington Supreme Court to review the Court of Appeals decision.” We’ll watch the court records and keep tabs on what happens next; as we reported after last month’s ruling, the case has drawn national attention.

20 Replies to "Satterlee House case: Owner's taking it to the state Supreme Court"

  • thelmasue January 7, 2010 (9:47 pm)

    is this the same conner as conner homes?

  • wseye January 7, 2010 (10:02 pm)

    Yes, it is the same Conner as Conner Homes. Also the owner of the big (and controversial) development site at Alaska Junction.
    As for the Satterlee House, it is unfortunate that the owner would not follow the recommendation of the Design Review Board a number of years ago, which allowed for a cottage development on the site which would have preserved the view of the “painted lady”. That was acceptable to the community and would have worked out financially as well.

  • steve January 7, 2010 (10:13 pm)

    Should read:

    An update tonight on the 2-year fight over what can be built on the 3 platted, legal building sites due west of the Satterlee House, the 103-year-old city landmark that’s also known as the Painted Lady of Beach Drive:

  • celeste17 January 7, 2010 (10:30 pm)

    Give it up. You are well past the three strikes and you are out. I feel that this would detract from the beauty of the house and grounds. Lets hope the supreme court will see it the same way as all the other courts.

  • WSB January 7, 2010 (10:52 pm)

    William Conner is the company’s founder but is retired; he is the father of its current boss, Charlie Conner – TR

  • Living in West Seattle Since 1985 January 8, 2010 (12:36 am)

    Wow! They won’t give up! Progress is progress, but history never changes. I don’t think they will get anyone to say its ok to change the home’s yard. There is a house up on Sunset that is also old and historical looking. They have had the place on the market for sometime now. No one has baught the double lot and so the owner sub-devided it. Now, there is litterally a million dollar yard for sale! The price value of a large yard is crazy!

    • WSB January 8, 2010 (12:45 am)

      In this case, to be clear, as we have been throughout the coverage for 2 years now, the city didn’t say “nothing on the front lawn” – as referred to by another commenter, the lawn was subdivided into 3 building lots. The Landmarks Board suggested that the three-house proposal be scaled down, but the owner said he needed the homes to be about 3,000 square feet each for them to be economically viable, and, according to the most extensive testimony in the case along the way (at the Hearing Examiner hearings that spread across two weeks in spring 2008 – we were there for the duration) did not make the suggested changes. In the last followup we linked in this story, the one about national attention, we also had reaction from the city historic preservation officer, who said that they remain ready to consider any new proposal that comes forward.

  • jeannie January 8, 2010 (12:53 am)

    Amusing that “Con”ner’s lawyer is named Rich Hill. It’s all about the money. The grand old house with the wide, expansive lawn is a breath of fresh air – something seen all too rarely in Seattle. Some things are worth more than money.

    • WSB January 8, 2010 (1:01 am)

      Oops, I need to change that back to his more formal name, which we have used in most previous coverage; we have corresponded with him enough (and covered his court presentations in person many times, as he has worked on other high-profile cases too) that he signed his reply “Rich,” but his official sig name is Richard. Thanks for indirectly pointing it out.

  • Dan\'a January 8, 2010 (8:47 am)

    It would seem to me that his lawyers fees would be eating up any profit he might make on ANY houses built on the property and this is just him trying to ‘prove a point’ now. I thought the cottages were a nice idea, if something HAD to be built on the site.

  • Eliza January 8, 2010 (9:44 am)

    This house is a historical institution and a landmark in West Seattle, and we should respect that.

    Dear Conner Homes,

    Please take your unimaginative eye sore developments and stop trampling on West Seattle. Leave a piece of history untouched and step back, appreciate it for what it is and stop trying to mutilate it.

    No Cheers to you,

    Sorry to be so mean but enough is enough.

  • demon nulu January 8, 2010 (10:40 am)

    2 AMAZING years of highly entertaining coverage,
    as entitled WSB’ers rant about development of vacant privately owned lots.
    NIMBY’s and architecure critics need only gaze north or south of the site to confound their arguments about what is appropriate…ugliness abounds.
    2 AMAZING years of WSB’ers mob mentality towards “Developers” along with WSB’s “fair and balanced” editing have left me entertained but incredulous.
    WSB’ers by volume and tenor simply love to demonize;
    Want to build your dream home? WSB’ers attack you.
    Want to develop your land? WSB’ers demonize.
    Want to improve a Park? WSB’ers attack.
    Who’s next?

  • sillygoose January 8, 2010 (2:25 pm)

    I agree wtih Eliza West Seattle has turned into a dumping ground for unimaginative developers, they have junked up every other big piece of property in West Seattle might as well do it to Beach Drive also so we can all flow together as one big happy Urban Village!!! On a bright note these places are all built so cheap and crappy they won’t be around long so save up your money they will soon be falling apart and we will have lots for sale again.

  • Eliza January 8, 2010 (4:10 pm)

    In this case, the developer is not taking this case to the state supreme court so they can improve a park, or build their “dream home”. They are fighting to develop a piece of land in front of a historic property, blocking the house that is currently there and subsequently ruining the historical value of the land.

    I don’t mean to “rant” or “demonize” or “attack” anyone, but to say that “ugliness abounds” as an excuse to continue the ugliness is a weak and pointless argument.

  • demon nulu January 8, 2010 (5:48 pm)

    Eliza, thanks for chipping in with your own 2 cents worth.
    “Please take your unimaginative eye sore developments and stop trampling on West Seattle.”
    If that is not a rant, attack or demonizing of this developer, what is?
    Correct, this is not about a park.
    But you are wrong when denying what could become someone’s dream home as the people who acquire and inhabit the houses Conner builds would point out.
    You are also wrong in stating that, “They are fighting to develop a piece of land in front of a historic property, blocking the house that is currently there and subsequently ruining the historical value of the land.”
    For those who have not been following even the last few WSB reports of this saga, the fight is not about allowing development, but controlling it.
    Houses are allowed on the front lawn.
    Houses have been allowed on the front lawn.
    The records show that “the historical value of the land” was compromised long before Mr.Connor got a hold of it.
    I would hazard to guess that Mr. Connor rues the day he ok’ed this purchase, but feels wrongfully denied of his rights.

  • vp January 8, 2010 (8:05 pm)

    The city does not impose historic designation on a property. The owner must apply for it and explain why the property is worthy of the designation. The previous owner did this and therefore the property has the limitations that agreed designation entails. There are also tax benefits for the owner. Conner knew about the designation, the limitations and the tax benefits when he bought the property — or at least he should have. He is just trying to change the rules now because he’s decided he doesn’t like them. As for the “cottages” on the front lawn, they were agreed upon by the community, but they were not what one imagines as a cottage — they were 2 story townhomes — lined up along the north side of the lawn with carriage-house-topped garages facing them on the other side of the lawn. Conner’s representatives would not accept the changes requested by the Design Review Board that attempted to mitigate their size and bulk.

  • old timer January 8, 2010 (11:14 pm)

    It would be a hoot if, after all the shouting is done, the Connors would
    donate the property to the city for a park.
    Big tax write-off for them, and the city would be responsible for keeping the place up, picking up the litter, painting out the tags, and all the other wonderful things that go with public property.
    And, all you folks who are so in love with the ambiance of the place would be so glad to see the place well used, with playground equipment, maybe a ball court, and a skate spot occupying that big lawn instead of homes.

  • demon nulu January 9, 2010 (8:41 am)

    Sorry old timer, even if it was donated, the city has no money to maintain it.
    And NIMBY neighbors & No Changers would oppose anything on the usual trumped up concerns of safety, added traffic, parking, noise, crime, etc.
    We’ve seen it all here repeatedly.

  • vp January 10, 2010 (7:59 pm)

    Actually, the neighbors tried to find a way to use neighborhood funds and matching funds to buy the property and turn it into a city park. The amount of $$ asked for the property was the stumbling block… not “NIMBY neighbors & No changers”

  • demon nulu January 11, 2010 (11:30 am)

    Correct VP, neighbors immediately adjacent the Connor property support the city purchasing the land.
    This removes the property from the market and guarantees no development. This also provides a giant backyard for those lucky few neighbors.
    Once the city owns it, the NIMBYs emerge with concerns of the usual suspects – safety, sex, drugs, loud music, litter, traffic, parking, crime…
    A great example of this is the “Green Crescent”
    Highpoint to Puget Sound trail system that has been successfully stymied by small organized “stakeholders”.
    Eddy Street Ravine has no official trail.
    Orchard Street Ravine was maneuvered into a “private” park with the same “concerns”, just check it out!

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