West Seattle Triangle: Zoning changes officially proposed; open house set June 29; comments till July 1

After two series of meetings with a citizens’ advisory group, the city planners working on the future of the West Seattle Triangle have gone public with two draft plans, opened a public-comment period, and announced a public open house.

THE PLANS: The draft “urban design framework” can be seen here; the draft “land use code and zoning amendments” can be seen here. The proposed zoning changes include a recommendation to increase maximum height to 85 feet in the bluish-purple area you see in the graphic above**; that suggestion had drawn concern in previous community-group reviews. The changes also would rezone what is now “commercial” land throughout The Triangle to “neighborhood commercial.”

COMMENT PERIOD AND OPEN HOUSE: The open house is scheduled for 6-8 pm June 29th at the Senior Center of West Seattle; public comment is being accepted on the two draft plans through July 1st – susan.mclain@seattle.gov – note that these plans are supposed to be voted on by the City Council later this summer, so if you want a say in what might eventually turn up in this area, this is your chance. Read on for an excerpt from the zoning/land-use document summarizing the proposed zoning changes, and more:

Summary of Draft Land Use and Zoning Recommendations
The following amendments to Land Use Code regulations are recommended to apply in the West Seattle Triangle planning area. A more detailed accounting of the recommended code amendments begins on page 14 of this report.

Rezone from general commercial 1 (C 1 zoning) to neighborhood commercial 3 (NC3) throughout the Triangle Planning area.
The primary effect of this proposal would encourage new development that would be neighborhood-oriented and pedestrian-friendly in design, while allowing existing businesses to operate and expand.

Establish a pedestrian-designation (P) along SW Alaska Street between the Junction business district and SW 36th Street.
The “P” designation would require a higher-intensity of pedestrian-oriented design and retail uses along the designated street front. This action is consistent with neighborhood plan recommendations to encourage a strong pedestrian connection between the Junction and Triangle business districts.

Retain existing height and density in most of the Triangle business district east of 38th Avenue SW.
Many very small businesses are located in the Triangle. Retention of existing heights and densities is consistent with a strategy to preserve the overall scale of the business district.

West of 38th Avenue SW and Near the Intersection of Fauntleroy/Alaska (area in blue on the map on the previous page)
Several acres of land in the West Seattle Triangle planning area remain vacant or under-used since the Huling auto dealership closed in 2007. Additionally, as other parcels redevelop in the coming years, they are likely to have a defining effect on neighborhood character and functions due to their highly-visible location. These areas were the subject of more focused study regarding possible future development scenarios and streetscape. The following recommended code amendments would apply in the area west of 38th Avenue SW near the intersection of Fauntleroy Way SW and SW Alaska Streets.

In a two-block area, increase allowable height to 85 feet through incentive zoning.
The 85’ zoning would be located in such a way as to avoid direct proximity to low density residential areas (lowrise and single family residential zones). In combination with the amended development standards and density limits, the 85’ zone would provide an incentive to integrate elements of the West Seattle Triangle Street Concept Plan, a component of the urban design framework.

Within the 85’ zone, the proposal would allow an increase in maximum density, expressed as a floor area ratio (see page 21). Density above the existing limit of 4.75 FAR would be achieved through participation in the City of Seattle’s affordable workforce housing program …

In the 85’ zone, apply development standards to mitigate the potential bulk of structures on very long lots and to complement the Triangle Street Concept Plan for Neighborhood Green Streets. The recommended development standards include:

a. An upper level 10’ setback along SW Alaska Street beginning at 45’ in height
b. 80% lot coverage limit for structures on lots over 40,000 square feet in size
c. A maximum wall length of 275’
d. Separation of 30’ between structures that meet the maximum wall length dimension
e. A required building setback abutting a neighborhood green street: an average of 10’ from the lot line along 25% of the property frontage or 100 feet, whichever is less

The 27-page document outlining the proposed zoning changes goes into even greater detail.

The “urban design framework” document is much more sweeping, and includes proposals on which we have reported from multiple previous meetings and reviews – what the streetscapes might look like, the storefronts, the character of the area as it continues to evolve, not something that would be implemented right away, but as parcels in The Triangle “redevelop.” Again, you can see that all in this 53-page document.

Even more document links, and a summary of intent, plus the formal June 29th meeting announcement, is all on the main page of the city’s Triangle planning website – find that here. DPD also says it’s planning a presence at this Thursday’s mayoral town hall at Hiawatha Community Center, where you can find out more.

**For reference, the area proposed for 85-foot zoning includes the ex-Huling lot that now holds West Seattle Produce, both Triangle gas stations (including the one that abruptly closed in the middle of a switchover to Arco), the ex-Huling lot that now holds Cycle U, and other parcels. The west-east street you see through the area, on its north border except for the Arco/Cycle U parcels, is SW Alaska.

13 Replies to "West Seattle Triangle: Zoning changes officially proposed; open house set June 29; comments till July 1"

  • Mary June 21, 2011 (11:09 am)

    I know everyone is afraid of height, but the proposal is to combine better design and streetscapes that will result in a better neighborhood than the existing big box zoning. West Seattle needs good public places and green. After 37 public meetings on the matter, I am supportive.

  • JB June 21, 2011 (11:37 am)

    I welcome the increased density and additional greenspace, particularly if we can keep the junction area economically vibrant and livable. However, I FIRMLY believe that the city is behind on transportation planning for our community. IMO the proposed rate of development far outstrips the road and transit capacity currently in place or planned for W Seattle. We need more ferry and transit service before we talk about adding thousands more people to our ‘hood.

  • Cascadianone June 21, 2011 (11:47 am)

    I agree with JB’s point.

    Until West Seattle has a firm plan for grade-separated mass transit, we should dig our heels in with these developers and fight this “progress”.

    They and the city will profit from this while we all suffer with ever-worsening traffic and air quality for years before transit improvements catch up.

  • Brian June 21, 2011 (11:47 am)

    I get the concept, but would prefer we focus our engergy on the development of the Fauntleroy/Alaska blocks first which have the famouse “hole” as well as several vacant car lots. It’s closer to the established junction too. It seems like that would give business a better chance for success.

  • Glendafrench June 21, 2011 (11:47 am)

    I agree with both Mary and JB. I welcome Triangle development, and wish that we could swap that in lieu of height increases in the Alaska Junction. Let the taller buildings go into the Triangle and some transit/traffic help please!

  • smarkle June 21, 2011 (12:23 pm)

    85 feet seems like an awful lot of height, that’s 8 or 9 stories of buildings over shadowing what could become a vibrant pedestrian area. I just think of how little sunshine that area would get with these tall buildings. Building density doesn’t mean we need towering height to do so. Given that this will be the portal into West Seattle, I think we can be smarter about how this looks.

  • CandrewB June 21, 2011 (12:38 pm)

    Agreed, leave the Junction alone. Develop the Triangle w/ rail. Otherwise it’s just robber barons ruining the neighborhood.

  • WestSeattleDrew June 21, 2011 (1:19 pm)

    More Condos! More People! More Traffic!! Great.

  • JW June 21, 2011 (4:21 pm)

    I agree in principle with what JB, etc., are saying about the need for better transit, but…I was looking at some statistics released by Metro and published on Seattle Transit Blog, and the numbers give the impression that we are under-utilizing the transit we already have, at least in comparison to other neighborhoods (this is less true in the Delridge corridor). Yes, you may have been on a crowded bus 54 lately, but…as a fairly frequent rider on that bus line, I’m also surprised at how often the bus is half-empty.

  • Billy June 21, 2011 (6:05 pm)

    I agree with JB, our West Seattle streets are the worst. Traffic out of WS is bad. Lets add more density. Look Public comment means nothing. Developers are in the city councils back pocket. Look at Link buildings overflow parking lot on 36th SW. That didn’t last long. Now the developer will develope that Overflow Link Parking into more UNITS, UNITS,UNITS, with little if any parking. Don’t be fooled they will have cars. Oh well lets walk to Huskys

  • Cascadianone June 21, 2011 (6:10 pm)

    JW, I don’t understand their (or your) implication. Because every bus isn’t full, we should cut bus lanes, tax driver tabs and also densify West Seattle even more? How can our perception versus their claimed “reality” be so far apart? Who really paid for that study and who benefits?

  • DF June 21, 2011 (7:33 pm)


  • JW June 22, 2011 (4:15 pm)

    There was no implication in terms of whether the buildings should go up or not. I also support improving the bus system and doing whatever we can. And as far as that goes, I am prepared to put my money where my mouth is.

    My implication was that there are areas of Seattle that have higher ridership on Metro than ours, particularly the western half of WS.

    The numbers are Metro’s. Here you go:


    You’ll see that the 54 and 55 are pretty far down the list.

    And as far as my personal opinion goes, I think that most of the loudest complaints about density come from car drivers who have never set foot on a Metro bus in their lives. That is to say, people who are part of the traffic problem.

Sorry, comment time is over.