DESC in Delridge: Design Review packet now published; another community conversation

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Public money is paying for it, so where’s the public process?

That is the still-unanswered question roiling the waters of concern over the Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) plan to build a 75-unit apartment building in the 5400 block of Delridge Way SW for currently homeless people living with challenges such as mental illness and substance abuse.

Put another way: A city-park playground project, for example, costing a few hundred thousand dollars and taking up less land than the average single-family homesite, might involve at least three public meetings about the site, the design, and a litany of community requests/concerns, with a city-assigned project manager and opportunities to comment by e-mail, phone, or postal mail, as well as in person. But here’s a $12 million project, publicly funded – including more than $4 million city dollars – and no clearly outlined public input process on anything beyond Design Review (by the way, the “design packet” for that 12/8 meeting has just been published to the city website – see it here).

For the second time in two weeks, concerned Delridge residents gathered for an invitation-only discussion at a private home to talk about the project and their concerns, not only neighborhood-specific, but relevant to the big picture – perhaps resulting in changes for other areas who find themselves in a similar situation in the future.

There were several differences from the first meeting, which was held at the home of Betsy Hoffmeister 12 days earlier (here’s our report).

This one was at the home of Parie Hines, recently elected co-chair of the North Delridge Neighborhood Council, though the gathering was not an official function of NDNC or any other group. And while 11 of the community members who participated last time were back for this, they were joined by invitees who changed the dynamic somewhat: County Councilmember Joe McDermott and City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, as well as three county and city staffers.

And instead of the city Office of Housing director Rick Hooper – represented this time by staffer Maureen Kostyack – DESC’s executive director Bill Hobson was at centerstage, joined by director of administrative services Nicole Macri.

The conversation to some degree picked up where the last one left off – after Hooper had suggested to Delridge residents that they could and should negotiate with DESC regarding conditions of the project.

Before this one was over, though, DESC was suggesting that the neighborhood might be entitled to something from the city, which is providing the largest direct contribution of public funding to the project (up to $4.45 million, more than a third of its projected cost, compared to about half a million each from the county and state).

Some consensus did seem to emerge around the next step: Forming a neighborhood advisory committee regarding the project.

Now, back to the beginning. As introductions went around, some key questions/declarations:

Tanya wanted to find out “how to make this project positive for the neighborhood.”

Patrick: “How will this facility integrate the goals of the Delridge Neighborhood Plan?”

Michael: “If DESC is going to come into our community, we’re concerned with how the community welcomes DESC, and how it becomes a community partner.”

Pete: “We’d like to have some assurance that the homeless population already in West Seattle would be the first choice as residents of this facility,” and “I would like to see DESC directly address concerns of the folks in the Delridge neighborhood … that’s one thing that’s been lacking.”

Angela and Aaron, who live adjacent to the site, voiced trepidation about its density, as well as with the interaction with DESC to this point. She said, “I feel like our community has not had a great relationship with DESC thus far – the process has been very quick, streamlined, on DESC’s end, difficult for a group of previously mostly disorganized individuals to react and respond, I’m cautiously optimistic that this is an opportunity for us to turn the corner on that.” Aaron’s version of that sentiment: “I feel there needs to be a dialogue … this is literally my backyard. What we’ve heard from both DESC and the city has been dictation, not extending a hand.”

Betsy, host of the previous gathering, picked up on that: “If the city or DESC had come to (the neighborhood) and said, we have a group of homeless, ill, indigent individuals, (from a population that’s) dying on the streets every year, we have the opportunity to house them, we’ve done it in other communities, it’s West Seattle’s turn, can we start the conversation? the Delridge neighborhood would (likely have responded), ‘OK, let’s start the conversation’ … It’s very different to say … ‘these are incapacitated folks, they’re not cooking meth, they can’t cook soup!'” Betsy also noted that a sizable percentage of area residents still likely has no idea this project is in the works. “We need help moving forward, we feel powerless, we feel disenfranchised, we need your help bringing in the community to make this project work for everyone.”

Vonetta was next: “I’m hoping one of the outcomes tonight will be to find a way to give the community the way to make itself heard, the good and the bad, let it all out.”

Host Parie again recalled, as she had at the previous gathering, her experience as a project manager for Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association on Croft Place Townhomes, which had seven units to house homeless families and drew neighborhood opposition. As for this, she said, “There are legitimate fears that aren’t about prejudice or fear or worry about property values … this is a big project in a little neighborhood.” Parie offered an idea about making the commercial space in the building available for “small spaces with low rents, sharing infrastructure, connected to a gathering area” – such as the building’s dining area, where members of the greater community might interact with the building’s community. “Could we reimagine projects like this to have a positive impact, instead of setting the standard as ‘not being a negative impact’? What if future (DESC-targeted neighborhoods) got excited that they could get ‘something cool like Delridge’?” She said she worried the building would otherwise be “lifeless … the people in it never leave, the building just takes up space.”

Mat also called for an example to be set, for everyone involved in the project, including the funding governments, to recognize the community’s feistiness: “I love this community. They’re fighters, they fight, they’ve been fighting for good things – parks, sidewalks, crosswalks, restaurants … (taking care of) derelict houses … partnering with the city and police to do all this, and making progress. … The goal for this time, and this location, for the city and county to look at, ‘time to step up the game, see what we can do’ … Make it ‘win’.”

With the presence of elected officials who hadn’t been at the first meeting, Michael revisited a point he had made then, about the developers of the newly renamed Youngstown Flats, not far from his home, reaching out to the community “immediately” when they took over the site, “wanting to learn more about the neighborhood,” and adding a component to their project, improvements on city-owned right-of-way across the street, for Longfellow Creek access potentially benefiting the wider neighborhood as well as their building’s future residents.

The concept of being reached out to – rather than stepped on – resurfaced frequently. “People in the neighborhood thought the siting was a cynical choice,” Vonetta pointed out, “whether that was true or not … people question it, when they think they are underdogs already. How about a public process? … I think people need for that to happen.”

Finally, DESC’s Bill Hobson spoke – addressing Delridge residents for the first time since about 150 gathered at the Delridge Community Forum-organized gathering at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center in October (WSB coverage here).

“I think we want the same things, in a big-picture sense,” Hobson began. “We want a dialogue with you folks, one that’s productive and going to generate a project in which fragile people are safe and welcomed into the neighborhood and not stigmatized – we’re very into that.”

Parie’s concept of “bringing the neighborhood into the building” intrigued him, he said, recapping what a smaller group of Delridge residents had learned during their September tour of DESC facilities in other neighborhoods (WSB coverage here), that Rainier House between Columbia City and Hillman City included commercial space funded by DESC “with our own money because we wanted to.” The space now houses the Rainier Valley Chamber of Commerce, and the building also includes a meeting room that holds 40, hosting gatherings for community groups of all types: “The reason we put that there was to bring more folks into the building … I’m very interested in destigmatizing mental disorder; I’d like folks to come in and see, they are not dangerous people.”

However, he said DESC “would not want to create so much activity in the building that it grinds against clinical activity … what you’re hearing from me is a commitment on DESC’s part to listen objectively to all these suggestions (for) improvements to benefit the neighborhood as well as meet DESC’s objective.” There’s a cost issue for his agency, too, Hobson said: “It will cost $210,000-$350,000 for us to develop 2800 feet of core and shell.” But he said they don’t need to charge high rent, and mentioned later that they are still talking with Delridge Produce Cooperative as a potential tenant.

Regarding Pete’s hopes that West Seattle’s homeless community would have priority for a homeless-housing building in West Seattle, Hobson put a damper on that: “Funders want the building to be populated (in a more centralized way) – the sickest, most neediest person gets the next available unit – but we do have a clinical outreach and engagement program … If you point out where the homeless people are in West Seattle, we can assess those folks and see if they meet the criteria.” As for other concerns, “I’m very eager to get dialogue (going) … We can’t respond to every citizen in Delridge with a concern, but would like to create a structure where every citizen’s concern can be addressed.” Could the project be an asset? That would be good, Hobson said, “but we’re inexperienced” in handling more than their basic mission, he warned, with the office space and meeting room in Rainier House their only such venture to date, “and we didn’t know what we were doing, frankly.”

At that point, DESC’s Nicole Macri distributed a sheet of paper with the project’s anticipated timeline, which seemed to shift the mood in an even-more-somber direction, as the sheet of paper made the tremulousness-causing project more of a reality, with a projected opening date in late 2013 – two years away.

While most around the room appeared to be squinting at the small print on the sheet, Macri recapped, “I think you know we got state, city, county funding,” and explained they will apply next month for the tax credits that will constitute the most “significant” share of the $12 million project’s costs. The next public-involvement point for the project is the first Design Review Board meeting, set for December 8th; perhaps, she suggested, the “project advisory committee” could be set up by January.

Parie said her North Delridge Neighborhood Council colleagues believe “people still feel like we need more process, at least one more sort of big meeting where everyone gets to be heard, structure it differently so people get to talk more … people feel they haven’t gotten to talk (enough) in public comment meetings.” Who would organize it wasn’t clear.

“What kind of help are you getting from the city?” asked Councilmember Rasmussen.

Nothing, really, was the reply.

Michael interjected: “The public-engagement process on this, even for folks who support it, has (not been working).” That’s not necessarily DESC’s problem, he suggested, as they don’t have “outreach staff,” but on the other hand, “the Office of Housing says they expect the developer to be doing this.” Delridge is full of “engaged neighbors,” he suggested, but the process for involvement, if any, is a mystery, unlike other situations with which they’ve dealt: “We have no idea what we’re doing; we’re just trying to drag everybody in to tell us what to do. One thing we hope comes from this – if the city and county think that something funded with public money should have a robust public-outreach process, they” need to define how it works.

This was a popular statement. Patrick went on to suggest it seemed to be the city Office of Housing’s responsibility, in particular – “I think they have a responsibility (like other city departments) to our community.”

Councilmember Rasmussen said he agreed and would be “happy to organize” a community meeting and invite key people to the table, particularly to clarify “timelines and intricacies of various reviews.”

“To hear you say this,” Betsy said, “my heart leaps … A ‘grownup’ is going to help us!”

“We want neighborhoods to thrive,” Rasmussen went on. “I want the city to honor neighborhood plans and goals.”

At that point, DESC’s Hobson offered some explanation of the first phase of the Design Review process, with the “early design guidance” meeting coming up on December 8th, “that’s where we will offer our options for lot coverage and massing … you’ll be able to see all that and offer comments.”

Pete spoke from experience with a project at Delridge and Andover, warning, “Don’t just come and say ‘I don’t like that,’ come and say ‘here’s what I want’.”

Participants asked if the renderings planned for the Design Review meeting could be shown to the neighborhood as soon as possible. Hobson said he had chosen to have them embargoed because of a problem with a previous project at a previous meeting having been seen by the public before the reviewers; told that it seemed to be SOP for design packets to be available at least a few days before the meeting, he said he would investigate that.

Before that, Tanya wondered, how would more community meetings fit into the timeline, which indicated that the “community engagement” period was already over – even before, for some, it had really even begun. Aaron, the project neighbor, added his frustration at not knowing about the proposal months earlier, as he had reinvested in his home after a fire but, “we likely would not have done this if we had been notified when this whole process started a year ago.”

Hobson revealed DESC first took an interest in the site even further back – a year and a half ago – but “the asking price was too high,” so they turned their attention to a North Seattle site (where they just broke ground), before prices came down and other factors rekindled their interest in the Delridge property.

The question of whether projects like this were clustered in lower-income neighborhoods came up. Councilmember Rasmussen pointed to the Fort Lawton site in Magnolia, where a city-led plan for 200 housing units, almost half for the homeless, is still in the works (though delayed by a court fight).

Kostyack from the city Housing Office noted that “the greatest concentration of subsidized housing is downtown, which is very expensive, and there are quite a few (units) in Capitol Hill.” Regarding the plea for her department to be involved more deeply and quickly, she cited a conundrum, that “we hadn’t funded this project until a few weeks ago, and we funded only half the applications we got. Until we’re through reviewing and selecting, we can’t really be the face of a proposal in the neighborhood.”

“You need to involve the neighborhoods before you make decisions,” admonished Jerry. “It’s disingenuous to not involve us.”

The Delridge Community Forum volunteers did a lot of research, making public a variety of documents including the detailed funding application. From that standpoint, Michael said, directing his remarks to Kostyack, “The application makes an expectation that a public-engagement process is already under way, yet it’s clear that you’re making your decisions without verifying what public-engagement process is occurring. That’s a disconnect. It didn’t happen here, it didn’t happen in Rainier. I don’t understand how putting (the onus on) the developer is going to bring a good outcome in this process.”

“So how do we fix this process?” Parie asked, suggesting that the timeline clearly shows the project moving ahead without the neighborhood really having had a chance to have a say. “What kind of flexibility is there? If the neighborhood is angry, they’re going to start an appeal process and that’s going to slow down the project anyway.”

Not really any flexibility, according to Hobson: “It would be very difficult because of what we promised the funders.” And then he said bluntly: “I think we have a bottomless appetite for process. I’m sorry, I’m not interested in extending it.” Within the timeline his agency has laid out, he said, “we will come to, or stay away from, any meeting you want.”

He proceeded to try to explain his communication style, which had drawn criticism in the previous meeting (at which DESC was not represented). “I really feel an obligation to be transparent, and it dictates the way we interact with the public. (Back at the June community meeting), I could have told you the project was going to get funded … I felt like I had an obligation to say something about the likelihood of this project … What was I supposed to do? Lie to you? I don’t know how to help your neighborhood through this.”

Even more intensely, he tried to explain: “I get a message every time a client passes away. I get one every week. Yeah, there’s an urgency for me. (Building this) means that in two years, there’s going to be fewer homeless folks subjected to mortality risks, rapes, and muggings. Our population might as well have bullseyes painted on their backs. They’re easy targets. We’re not going to be terribly interested in pushing the timeline back.”

The “advisory committee” concept resurfaced at that point. DESC’s Macri offered conciliatory comments about this being “thoughtful engagement” with the community, then another insight: “We know there’s a huge buzz (in the Delridge neighborhood) but our phones aren’t ringing off the hook. In other neighborhoods, we have had more direct communications with neighbors.”‘

“I would say a whole lot of the neighborhood does not understand what this is going to look like, what’s happening,” explained Michael, adding that the neighborhood also happens to have a sizable percentage of people whose first language is not English.

If there’s an advisory committee, Hobson suggested, it should be “the most representative it can be” – with membership including “major stakeholder institutions in your community” such as the North Delridge Neighborhood Council and Delridge Neighborhoods District Council, as well as at-large members and reps from “important businesses.” He suggested a neighborhood representative also might be involved as DESC works on a “management service plan” for the building.

As for what an advisory committee would do – in DESC’s view, it could have the objective of “how to bring the neighborhood into the project,” and/or perhaps working on a “Good Neighbor policy.” The agenda, ultimately, would be set by the committee, Hobson suggested.

Close to the three-hour mark, the meeting got a bit raw. Aaron reiterated his concerns about the size/bulk of the building – “the fourth floor is (what will block) the sun on my house.” DESC’s response was that the zoning, NC2-40, meant anyone could build a four-story building on the site, nonprofit or not.

Then Patrick returned to the subject of the timeline that DESC had passed around. “Everything here is set in stone. I don’t see how our community is going to have any role in the process. How can your needs and ours converge? It sounds like you are working in a vacuum, unaware that our community has problems.” Every time a concern was voiced, Patrick said, “I heard pushback, ‘that might not work for (DESC)’. What about us? The city rezoned the area to encourage business. The library building is nice, but we have no business. The process is so infuriating on so many levels. I think what you guys do is great but … You say there’s no negative effect. What if there is? Do you close up shop? I’m sorry if I’m furious but I feel like there’s (no point). No one is looking at common sense and saying, ‘this does not make sense’. … No one has done due diligence. ‘This is an empty piece of land, let’s build on it’.”

After he spoke, there was a moment of silence, until Parie observed, “A lot of the community feels that way.”

Michael challenged the claim that DESC projects hadn’t harmed neighborhoods. “What we are hearing is that thriving neighborhood groups (in other areas) we torn apart, that existing low-income residents were forced out. We don’t want to stop growth, but there is something broken in the process.”

Mat suggested “the tone of the conversation” could change,” interpreting that “what you are hearing is a community already fighting (for its future) … What we want to hear (from DESC) is, ‘We’re joining your community and going to fight for it too’.”

Shortly thereafter, DESC’s Hobson suggested that neighborhood residents might change their stance too, proposing “something concrete instead of lamenting how dispossessed you are. You may be entitled (to do that), but it’s not very constructive.”

Councilmember McDermott agreed, saying that anyone’s free to “vent at” him but “I can be more proactive and helpful if you tell me what you want, what I can do.”

“We’re not sure what we can be asking for,” countered Mat.

Pete urged that no one succumb to negativity or hopelessness. “The library, community center, Longfellow Creek Trail, Camp Long (improvements), all got done because people like us sat in meetings like this to get things done. … A lot of it is showing up at meetings and making yourself heard.”

And the next step in this process in fact does involve a meeting – the first of at least two Design Review Board sessions, 6:30 pm Thursday, December 8th, at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center (4408 Delridge Way SW). As mentioned at the top of this story, the informational “packet” for this meeting is now available online – see it here.

WSB coverage of the Delridge DESC project, newest to oldest, is archived here; the project’s official webpage on the DESC site is here; its file on the city website is here.

25 Replies to "DESC in Delridge: Design Review packet now published; another community conversation"

  • Mel November 28, 2011 (10:40 pm)

    I think it comes down to this:
    “Participants asked if the renderings planned for the Design Review meeting could be shown to the neighborhood as soon as possible. Hobson said he had chosen to have them embargoed
    You can give all the lip service to “transparency” and “input” you want, but when you’re purposely holding back information until the last minute, yet telling people “if you don’t like it, you had better tell us how to do it better,” it’s just another politician ramming his agenda through.
    And I don’t care how righteous your agenda might be, it’s still wrong.

    • WSB November 28, 2011 (11:12 pm)

      Since you call that out, Mel, I should note that his explanation was something about a Design Review Board in another neighborhood having been miffed that the public saw the proposal before the board members did. Having covered what seems to have been a hundred DRB meetings in this area in the past four years, I piped up that design packets traditionally go online a week or so ahead of time, at least over here, and I’d never seen a board grouse about that. And there, as noted in this story, the packet for the 12/8 meeting is available online today – a full week and a half early … TR

  • dailyreader November 29, 2011 (8:59 am)

    Tracy, this is what journalism is all about. I don’t know when you sleep with all you do, but keep it up.
    Thanks from the community

  • Mel November 29, 2011 (9:15 am)

    Sorry, WSB, but someone being “miffed” isn’t even close to a sincere reason.
    It’s good they had a change of heart afterward – no doubt the pressure of people like Joe McDermott having this on their radar makes a difference, as did your comment.
    However, the fact that they’re trying to push things through with as little scrutiny as possible should be very troubling indeed, especially considering how noble they believe their purpose is.
    Oh, and did anyone bring up the potential of an elementary school (Boren) being open just over a block away?

  • Lux November 29, 2011 (4:06 pm)

    I recently bought a home here within 1000′ from the site. My only concern is drug and alcohol use. DESC needs to commit to stricter rules regarding enforcing existing no drug/alcohol policies, such as evicting users and searching suspected user living quarters. Nothing else is really going to affect the community. I think this fledgling advocacy group for North Delridge needs to focus on this alone.

  • Seattle Processssssssss November 29, 2011 (6:50 pm)

    This flap has turned into an infinite-mirror of the self perceived gushing wounds already wrought by a building not yet built.
    Reading this coverage of a small obviously well connected private group discuss their concerns is quite revealing, as is WSB’s exclusive.
    I have been looking for an official WSB update as promised of the confirmation of the Mercer Island meeting results.
    In this latest exclusive meeting, I see the same few community activists listed making vocal the same “concerns” about community involvement, apparently without irony when they are getting the second helping of outreach about their “concerns.”
    That would actually be the third special consideration this group has wrangled,(the delay of the Mercer Island meeting being the first).
    Do we realize just how few people are involved and how far they live from the project? Aaron may be the only actual concerned neighbor.
    Do we have any mention of an update on the compromises DESC has promised? No.
    Do we have any discussion about the actual proposal? No.
    All we have is a viral spiral of the process of the process.
    Please, how about some facts?

    • WSB November 29, 2011 (6:58 pm)

      The facts are that this meeting happened, and that what I reported, was said, and that the design-review packet is out. You can follow the link and read it in depth, if you are interested. Got nothing else for you at the moment, sorry. – TR

  • RL November 29, 2011 (8:44 pm)

    Bottom line is that the project will be good for some indigents and bad for the neighborhood. Our government officials understand this very well – their jobs just happen to be to push government initiatives and they will do so by whatever means are expedient and likely to encounter the least significant resistance (i.e. stick it to a low-income area).

    Hopefully there won’t be any Marcus Combs types in there, a couple of blocks from the school. I’d hate to see any additional women stabbed 15 times in front of their 9-year old daughters while walking home from school. I’m sure that metal illness was only a coicidental factor when that happened a couple of miles away in West Seattle at High Point –

  • Seattle Processssssssss November 29, 2011 (8:50 pm)

    TR, no need to take it personally, as I was referring to the content of the many quotes you provide in this marathon (three-plus hour?) meeting that provide copious opportunities to relish the now standard “concern” over opportunities missed long ago.
    Too bad you were unable to attend or report on the County’s meeting which may have been the last harrah on this. There all sides spoke, facts given & promises made. I dare say, this meeting that you did devote so much time and coverage may be filling exactly what was promised, community outreach.
    It is just too bad that the community now has nothing to say, but complain about the process in the past.
    I followed the link, I looked stuff over. I think the building is sensitive to its site in the manner it keeps the tree and the southwest part of the lot green and open to the street. Keeping this much space green is not typical of non-taxpayer funded projects.

  • Seattle Processssssssss November 29, 2011 (9:05 pm)

    RL, such paranoid scare tactics are exhausted in this forum.
    Bottom line is, you, me or anyone else can’t be sure whether this will be good or bad for the neighborhood.
    We can share a few facts and claim that projects like these have no history of property value decline.
    They have no history of “women stabbed 15 times in front of their 9-year old daughters while walking home from school.” But it does happen, everywhere.
    The several dozen facilities that are not “(i.e. stick it to a low-income area)” in low income areas defines the ignorance of RL’s statement.

  • MyEye November 29, 2011 (10:23 pm)


    Thank you for the excellent reporting on this issue. It’s most frustrating that the bulk of the discussions are happening behind closed doors in these private events.
    I empathize with DESC because as Mr. Hobson said he get’s the message every time someone passes away. Unfortunately Mr. Hobson seems to have developed a myopic vision for what he sees as a solution. His vision and DESC’s apparently don’t include the surrounding community, they don’t include the impact these projects have on a community. Build ’em anywhere. They should work just fine.

  • Seattle Processssssssss November 29, 2011 (11:22 pm)

    MyEye, now we are getting somewhere beyond churning the process.
    But, what is the impact of this project on the community that you allude to but fail to include? If property values have not been an issue and other market housing is indistinguishable, then what is the impact?
    I believe history shows us that DESC has already “built them everywhere” and “they work out just fine.”

  • mcbride November 30, 2011 (12:12 pm)

    The meetings were “private”, because they were held in the living rooms of people who opened their homes. The attendees were neighbors, members of that very specific community (Brandon Node), or community leaders who are involved regularly with matters throughout the North Delridge area and/or Delridge Neighborhoods District. The blog is there because it is a trusted neighborhood resource for journalistic integrity and the discussion should be documented and disclosed to the public. The officials, elected and appointed, were there because they were asked. In short, anyone can have one of these meetings.
    Which leads to special considerations. Since this project was announced, there have been a number of individuals involved at a number of levels, at a number of different meetings and aspects of the public process. Except for the two meetings described above, any member of the public (read, everyone) has had the option and the ability to engage at whatever level they chose. Many did, and voiced dissent, support, or concerns. Indeed, it has been up to the public to engage local government, who has been acting in many ways as an absentee landlord. There have been no special considerations. Quite the opposite.
    Regarding the specifics of the project. Perhaps you haven’t noticed, specifics have been about as easy to come by as pulled teeth. There have been very few individuals and agencies who have generated them. Other individuals and agencies who you might expect to be able to furnish detailed information have been, in an almost plausible deniability fashion, unable to provide them. Again, it has been citizens who have done the hard work to create as much discussion as currently exists. The appropriate response is “Thank you.”
    The impact to the community is the biggest moving target of all, and I agree – the downstream impacts of this project are unknown. However, it is arguable that this project at this location in respect to developmental timeline was not the intended development path for this specific community (which is geographically unique from all of the other projects of this type). Is it a bad idea? Maybe. Can it be made to work? We’ll see. Will it be a boon? Depends. Are people right to be concerned and highly engaged? You bet.
    Here is a link the Delridge Neighborhood Plan. The area to research is “Brandon Node”. Hopefully it will answer or provide perspective to the rest of your questions.

  • Seattle Processssssssss November 30, 2011 (1:31 pm)

    mcbride, I followed your link and this is what I found,
    “2.2: Create concentrated nodes of activitv
    Our goal is to create a series of activity nodes or centers along Delridge Way
    clustering commercial, business, entertainment, community, and public facility
    uses in mixed use structures or arrangements with adjacent or upper story
    housing opportunities.
    These compact, mixed use neighborhood anchors will provide services to
    residents of adjacent neighborhoods within compact village centers accessible
    from walkways, park trails, bikeways, transit routes, and local residential streets.
    By integrating mixed use structures into these neighborhood anchors, housing
    opportunities will be increased and evening activities will be created, providing a
    community focus and sustaining neighborhood businesses.”

    mcbride, after chasing down this red herring, I see that the DESC project actually meets the recommendations of these guidelines.

    What are you talking about?

    The special considerations that you deny include the delay of the county funding vote, the addition of another county funding meeting, the two private meetings attended by public officials,
    the upcoming DPD development primer.

    Yes, you and the other special few opponents have the right to meet in private. WSB has the right to devote several hour segments to the meetings and incredible word count pieces. The agencies involved have a right to attend. But what I am describing are indeed special privileges and not available to all.

    Answering the query about specifics of the project
    that are now availalble on line, you respond with the standard whine about the past process just like those quoted by TR above.

    How about moving into the present and evaluating the DESC project on its merits, not on the history of its process.

  • Tanya Baer November 30, 2011 (2:23 pm)

    With the Early Design Guidance Meeting next week, a few volunteers worked with the City of Seattle’s Department of Planning to get someone out early to help us all understand the Design Review Process and how neighbors can effectively give input on DESC’s building design.

    It is very last minute, but we have a Land Use Supervisor confirmed to come speak for one hour tomorrow night (Thurs. Dec. 1: Design Review 101). We will follow that with an hour of informal discussion about neighbors thoughts about this building’s design. The meeting is co-hosted by the NDNC and Delridge Community Forum. With the holiday and other scheduling conflicts, this is the best we could do to pull together a meeting before next week’s offical Design Review mtg.

    Whether neighbors are in support of or against the proposed DESC project, the building itself will have an impact on Delridge. Together we can help make that a positive impact by providing our comments and considering what is possible to bring vitality to the Brandon Node. For example, how do you feel about the commercial space that will be a part of the DESC building, or the building’s proposed size? How can the courtyard or potential community space be used by the community? These types of comments are a part of the Design Review process.

    The NDNC put together a Comment Form for neighbors to use as part of the Design Review process. The actual Early Design Review meeting will be next week, Dec. 8, and although there is a public comment period at that meeting, it is limited in time. However, written comments (via email or mail) are accepted and encouraged – the sooner the better. The Comment Form was generated to help neighbors facilitate this process.

    All these details at:

    I encourage everyone to participate in the Design Review process and influence the development of the DESC building.

    [note: The Design Review Process is not an opportunity to discuss overall concerns about the DESC project, but rather, to facilitate specific concerns and considerations about the proposed building design.]

    • WSB November 30, 2011 (2:36 pm)

      We have posted the announcement of that meeting separately – just a couple down on the main page at the moment – TR

  • mcbride November 30, 2011 (2:55 pm)

    Not a red herring. It’s just information.
    I encourage you to continue becoming informed.

  • Tanya Baer November 30, 2011 (3:01 pm)

    Getting clear about what that process should be, what will work for North Delridge neighbors, etc, is, from my perspective, actually very challenging. I, personally, am doing what I can to learn about what is possible and to get folks, such as elected officials, involved so that an established process will have some value.

    If we don’t get something together, then we will have no say in DESC’s Good Neighbor Agreement, for example, or other decisions where neighbors can have some voice. This is exactly what a group of neighbors is trying to do. We are concerned that there hasn’t been acceptable process for neighbors’ involvement in this project.

    There is talk about another large meeting to get everyone that is interested involved. What that meeting will look like and how to facilitate it is unknown at this time. As someone that was very involved in the logistics of the Oct. forum, I can say that is very hard to face such a divisive issue and put together a worthwhile event. You can criticize that event all you want, but I did my best as a volunteer and stepped up when no one else was doing so. Consultants get paid a lot of money to organize and facilitate what a handful of neighbors tried to do. Hopefully a future meeting can allow more room for public comment and be useful to those attending. I personally learned a lot and know there is plenty of room for improvement.

    As for these small meetings, some neighbors are choosing to put time into this issue to get a better understanding of what is possible, how the community can influence the DESC project, etc. Yes, larger, open meetings are needed, but they are hard to plan and organize and take a lot of effort. Please volunteer if you are able to help.

    As for small meetings, it is worth noting that anyone can choose to organize a meeting. Just set a date, invite guests, and run with it. DESC or City staff are willing to come, I’m sure. I can help connect you, if you need assistance. If you have questions, seek answers. There is no limit to the number of people that can get involved. Trust me, I just decided this issue was important to me (I live on the block behind the Delridge library) and now I know every city official (practically) that is involved in this project and they know me. This is all new to me and it’s been a steep learning curve, but it is possible.

  • Another Delridge Resident November 30, 2011 (3:39 pm)

    Someone please correct me if I’m reading this all wrong… But having followed this issue closely, am I understanding this to mean that there’s no longer a fight against this project happening? Has DESC won and now it’s up to us to try and figure out how to make lemonade out of lemons?

  • Tanya Baer November 30, 2011 (4:04 pm)

    This remains unclear (if there is any way to further fight against the project).

    In the meantime, the project is moving forward – even though all of the funding is not in place. The funding application specifically states that due to a tight project timeline the design review process will begin before all the funding decisions are made (see tab 7 of the funding application here:

    As I take it, even if you still want to fight against the project, it is best to multi-task and get involved in the design process. If the project turns out to be a ‘go,’ you’ll be glad you didn’t miss your chance to give design feedback.

    This is a large development coming to the Brandon Node and neighbors can help shape it. Consider attending the upcoming meetings.

  • Seattle Processssssssss November 30, 2011 (7:03 pm)

    Great passion and great work Tanya.

    Without actually speaking your opposition, it is clear that you are opposed.

    Just why you are opposed is not clear.

    After all valid concerns are answered, there is one remaining issue…their was not enough process at the start. It appears that this singular issue is being exercised to the max.

    It appears one strategy is meetings, meetings and meetings (even private ones) “DESC or City staff are willing to come, I’m sure. I can help connect you, if you need assistance.”
    That is not a service available to all. It just wastes precious tax dollars. It is the squeaky hinge getting the lubrication.

    It will be interesting to see the opposition’s plans finally revealed at the Design Review. Do you think they will go after height as their main attack on crippling the project?

    Once again, now that the plans are available, how about some discussion of those plans?

  • John Eggers December 1, 2011 (11:11 am)

    Do we have an attorney yet? I’m fully against this project. DESC/Hobson has done the absolute minimum they/he felt required to have his building constructed. I have commented before, we need to make this building prohibitively expensive to build.

    1)Environmental Impact (this is a watershed)
    2)Business Impact (enlist all the business owners)
    3)Green Building (require it to be built to conform with our communities energy goals using green conforming materials)
    4)Crime Risk Prevention (Proximity to schools, both existing and proposed, proximity to daycares both private and commercial, proximity to community centers such as the library where children are present)
    5)Street improvements (Not just on the site but all approaches and corridors)
    6)Transit funding (require additional buses, shuttles, and cab stands)
    7)Do not allow smoking in or around the building.
    8)Security (they must provide surveillance cameras throughout the building, additional funding for the police, and private security guards after 11pm when the local police station closes
    9)Require additional legal review of all contracts by a community sponsored attorney – working on behalf of Delridge, partly funded by the city, state, and county – allocate some of the $1M towards the community legal representation
    10)Architectural standards review by a community representative & Architectural panel – requiring sign-off before permits will be allowed
    11)Require third party consultant to provide Sewer and Gray water assessment – paid for by the developer. Require any infrastructure improvements to be paid for by the devloper
    12) Crosswalk requirements and new lights
    13) Bus stop improvements with more covered stands, lighting, and trash facilities
    14) Sanitary Services – REquire the developer and DESC to provide ongoing funding and organized support for weekly garbage pickup – not just what’s in the can, but what will end up in the alleys and in the gutters.
    15) Community Parks and Recreation – Require 5% of any public funding from City/State/County to go towards additional park space and community shared space. Require DESC to match funds.
    16) Arts – Require 2% matched by DESC and City/State/County to go towards local West Seattle artists – Sculptures
    17 Tenants – Require community participation and overriding authority to refuse violent, pedophile, sex offenders, criminals from becoming tenants in the building.
    [ ]
    Delridge community vs DESC = It’s not about being nice and letting DESC decide what’s best for Delridge,it’s business.

  • Pete December 1, 2011 (3:49 pm)

    John Eggers…..please go back and re-read some of your points. Does the word discrimination come to your mind at all. the city, county nor the state can treat this housing development project differently then any other housing development. They have to apply the same criterai as they did to the project that is under construction behind the DSHS building further north just off of Delridge or the project that is being developed further south by the Home Depot.


    As others have stated….anyone has the ability to opne their home to invited guests to have a free exchange of ideas about this topic or any topic for that matter. the folks that were at both of these meetings come from varying backgrounds, varying perspectives and not all are for or against the DESC project. It was nice to hear all points of view in a non-combative environment.

  • Delridge Res December 2, 2011 (6:40 pm)

    John Eggers,

    If you feel that way, why should those standards of development not be applied to your home or business property if people are opposed to how you want to build on your private property?

    The last time I checked, we still lived in a relatively free society and when you try to apply such draconian development standards they establish precedents that can and are often applied with a broad brush approach.

    Perhaps you should move to a communist country if you believe you should have such influence on property you have no ownership of as private ownership of property is not permitted. You would likely fit right in.

  • Mel December 8, 2011 (9:54 pm)

    “the city, county nor the state can treat this housing development project differently then any other housing development. They have to apply the same criterai as they did to the project that is under construction behind the DSHS building further north just off of Delridge or the project that is being developed further south by the Home Depot.”
    But they don’t. This development has had special treatment. This development has been fast-tracked and special status has been granted (the rules on the amount of extremely low-income housing that could located in this neighborhood were specifically bent – with DESC, it will exceed the previously stated maximums).
    I’m not really against this project. What I am against is the rule-bending and the overlooking of critical details (I say again, an elementary school just over a block away from a project that specifically targets substance addicts?).

Sorry, comment time is over.