West Seattle development: Permits for ‘boarding houses’ project

ORIGINAL REPORT, 12:46 PM: On a routine check of the city-permit files, we noticed something unusual a few days ago: Permits issued for a Delridge site to include “boarding houses.” Also catching our eye besides that seldom-seen term, the fact that the permit applications were filed more than three and a half years ago, and granted just now – not unheard of, but not common, either. The permits issued last week are for 4546 Delridge Way and 4548 Delridge Way, the overgrown site in our photo (between two houses); there is a demolition permit for a foundation at the latter address, and a construction permit for each address, described as “establish use … as single-family residence, construct boarding house.” (The one for 4546 is here; the one for 4548 is here.) A city website featured the boarding-house classification back in June, as a new “director’s rule” was implemented by the Department of Planning and Development. Seeking specifics about this project, we called the architect listed on the DPD pages as a contact, Novion; they noted that the project – as the DPD pages show – started several years ago as townhouses, and “the use has changed” because “the economy changed” – the idea is indeed, according to Novion, that the design would be “providing multiple bedrooms within a dwelling” and “the potential is that they would be rented or leased by the bedroom.” The architecture firm didn’t know about the current timetable for construction; the permits are good through 2014, so it could be soon – or could be a while.

6:40 PM UPDATE: We just heard from a neighbor who says a handwritten note was delivered yesterday saying construction will start on Monday.

20 Replies to "West Seattle development: Permits for 'boarding houses' project"

  • Xman October 10, 2012 (3:47 pm)

    Hell no!

  • Jeannie Hale October 10, 2012 (4:22 pm)

    We have a 13-bedroom “boarding house” here in Laurelhurst. The developer exploited all the loopholes in the Code (the house is massive) and it took a few years for occupany due to code violations. We were told at the time that “boarding houses” were not allowed in single-family zones. In our case, there is an accessory dwelling unit and the code requires owner occupany. There’s no real way for DPD to enforce that requirement and we’re pretty sure the owner isn’t living in the home. It’s very frustrating. Please keep Laurelhurst informed as you acquire more information about this issue. Thanks.

  • Jean amick October 10, 2012 (6:09 pm)

    So does single family zoning mean nothing any more?

  • cascadianone October 10, 2012 (7:27 pm)

    WSB, I feel like we really need some sort of informational page about density for the NIMBY crowd that explains the Growth Management Act and its effects: city code changes, urban village neighborhood plans and especially the extensive public outreach process that has attended this process for the last 22(!) years.

    It’s one thing not to LIKE density, that’s an OPINION. But not KNOWING that this growth is literally a specific goal we’ve been pubicly aiming at makes it hard to have a meaningful civil discourse. Thanks!

  • Been There October 11, 2012 (2:33 am)

    Property is zoned LR2, not Single Family as commenter Jean above alluded to.

    It is very telling that the truck parked in front of the property has been abandoned, reported to SPD as such and has been Orange Tagged for towing within 72 hours. Also telling that the truck is partially up on the curb and planting strip. More telling is that the owner of the property, Columbia Builders Inc., aka Paul and Lisbeth Labellarte, who live on the waters of Puget Sound near Fauntleroy have done the typical thing when owning and speculating on property in Delridge, meaning they have not cared one iota about it until it comes time for them to ‘cash in’ on their ‘investment’. They let it lay fallow, with blackberry covering and blocking the sidewalk until some citizen has to take the time out of their day to call the city who then has to send someone out to let the Labellarte’s know they have responsibilities for owning property in, GASP!, Delridge, and that they have to at least see that the sidewalk is clear of crap so that parents pushing strollers, people out for a walk, or that person in a wheelchair can get through to catch a bus or make it to the Delridge Community Center. I imagine the Labellarte’s 12,584 square feet of waterfront in Fauntleroy is likely better tended. Probably by a staff gardener.



  • Been There October 11, 2012 (2:50 am)

    It should be noted that with the exception of 3-4 single family houses in that section of Delridge Way from Oregon to Alaska the rest are all rental houses or rental apartments. So the continued destabilization of the Delridge neighborhood continues. More rental units equals more people moving in, and then moving out a year or so later. It all equals to less involvement and care for the neighborhood.

    That massive DESC project is the real killer in terms of escalating the destabilization of what was for a few hopeful years a slowly solidifying neighborhood.

    Just stating the reality. If you beg to differ with my analysis, I imagine you don’t live right in the thick of it or recently arrived and don’t know the history.

  • cr October 11, 2012 (9:15 am)

    Been There,

    What does the Labellarte’s personal property have to do with this development? Why would you feel the need to put that out in the public?

  • Hellridgian October 11, 2012 (9:44 am)

    Great opportunity for the crack dealers of Delridge!

  • Been There October 11, 2012 (11:03 am)

    @cr, It has EVERYTHING to do with it, and it is all a matter of public record. Columbia Builders Inc., aka the Labellarte’s, have been horrible at adhering to the city’s code that states that property owners keep the sidewalk clear of debris and vegetation. Just because there is no house on the property, and therefore no one is living there, does not abdicate the responsibility of the Labellarte’s to maintain their property per city code. I do not for one minute believe that the Labellarte’s waterfront Fauntleroy residence is ever allowed to look as shoddy as their Delridge property has. The Labellarte’s created the mess, I am doing a public service by calling them out on their illegal and irresponsible behavior .

    FYI – There are plenty of other Richy-Rich, land speculators, developers, slum lords, etc., who own property in the Delridge neighborhood and specfically along Delridge Way. Many of those owners reside in very posh neighborhoods of West Seattle. As the opportunity presents itself, they will be outed, publicly, with the public documents to back up it up. If need be, they will be embarrassed by a demonstration on the sidewalk outside of their fancy homes. Got it? The game that they have played here in Delridge is coming to their neighborhood for all their neighbors to see what we who live here in Delridge have tolerated for way to long.

  • Been There October 11, 2012 (11:23 am)

    @ WSB – Thank you for posting that link regarding the documented history of Notices Of Violation from DPD at 4546 Delridge Way SW. I had intended to do so.

    There are other vegetation complaints that have been filed against that specific property as well as others along the stretch of Delridge Way SW north of Genesee that do not show up on the DPD Website due to the fact that until, or unless a property has been issued a numbered street address by the County/City the property does not receive an online file of complaints or other activity on them. This is the case with many, many undeveloped, vacant parcels in Delridge which makes it very difficult for the average citizen to get action from DPD and or SDOT when it comes to trying to make the neighborhood somewhat navigable on foot when you have to bring pruning shears or wear canvas pants just to go to the park or catch a bus. Imagine if one is elderly, or disabled, you’d just give up.

  • JoAnne October 11, 2012 (4:46 pm)

    I would be curious to see a how the impact of a privately managed boarding house would be vs. the impact of a government-run, government-subsidized DESC project.

  • jhoff October 11, 2012 (11:08 pm)

    I’d be curious too – but I’ll put my $$ on the DESC project.

  • The Last Unicorn October 12, 2012 (10:25 am)

    Hi, we’re the owners of the little yellow house to the South. We have sent many more complaints than this to the City about overgrowth, rodents, dumping, and abandoned vehicles in this nightmare of a lot. Our renters received the note to move our shed because they would be starting demolition on Monday, but there was absolutely no notice posted, nor was there any contact made with us as neighbors beforehand alluding to upcoming construction.

    We are still reasonably new at this sort of crap. Any thoughts on how to proceed? Thank you, Been There. You are far more eloquent in your outrage. I would LOVE to picket with you, and anyone else who is game in Delridge. We live on Beacon, and have similar problems with land maintenence here. Unbelievable!

  • Mike October 13, 2012 (10:48 am)

    Lawyer up. If there’s one thing you can do that’ll drive Columbia Builders Inc. nuts, it’s burying this in a legal battle. Get enough people on board and shut them down then take their home along the water front since that’s the registered address of their business.

  • Denise October 13, 2012 (5:12 pm)

    Having lived in north Delridge for 15 years I find this news disheartening. It seems like we get one drug house, car chop shop or party house to move on then another one pops up under a different guise. I am sick of all of the townhouses that were built on a single home lot. There are so many cars parked on Delridge that you take your life in your hand to turn out of a side street. Now they have repainted the lane lines on the north part-does anyone know what that is for? Are they making a bus lane so all of those cars that park on the east side of Delridge now need to find other parking? I think the last thing the neighborhood needs is a “boarding house”

  • Rae October 14, 2012 (7:26 pm)

    This reminds me of the fight that folks took on in S Jackson area over a decade ago. Easy money for some and a downward trend/hit for others. Wait until the rats get dislocated on the first day or two of construction! Time to set out your traps. I wonder how the city regs handle such a change in use. This is quite a leap from condo… Not even to apartment. I lived next to a (probably unofficial) boarding house once – crazy people need to live somewhere – but when we overheard the chat coming from their open window “You’re on probation, I’m on parole” we knew this was no place to raise a family (granted we had the choice). Good luck to the Delridgers. It’s a long road to hoe.

  • Russell Korman October 14, 2012 (9:48 pm)

    As a resident of Delridge for the past year, the news of this so called Boarding House is extremely disheartening.

    I do not understand the relevance for such a place in a neighborhood like Delridge. I can just picture it attracting all sorts of derelict and dangerous folks. It just doesn’t compute.

    Why on earth would you build something like this directly across from a community center, ball field, and basketball court regularly used by young children?

    This boarding house, in this part of town, is going to be a huge blow in an already struggling part of West Seattle. It’s superior in it’s backwards movement.

    I understand that boarding houses have their place (in densely populated downtown areas), but Delridge is absolutely not one of those places.

    What can we do to try to stop this from being built? I would really like to take this company head on.

    As a part of this community, we really do need to act before it’s too late.


  • Cat October 14, 2012 (9:52 pm)

    This will be devastating for the community. Boarding houses work in areas of high density; Delridge is not ideal for this! What a blow for a community that is trying so hard to reinvent itself. Hellridgian said it best: this is a win for the crack dealers only.

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