Alki Community Council: Development plan unveiled; police/Metro updates; parking-zone proposal

Busy meeting last night for the Alki Community Council, including first word of a development proposal for the heart of the beach business zone:

Architect Roger Newell, noting he grew up in the Alki area, gave the ACC first word of a project he says has been in the works for several years. It’s proposed for a 13,700-square-foot site owned by West Seattle resident Borge Steinsvik on the east corner of 59th/Alki, which currently includes the buildings housing Alki Beach Properties and Saigon Boat Café.

Newell showed the four options they’ll take to the Southwest Design Review Board (no date set – the plans haven’t yet been submitted to the city, but he said they will be soon). It will be one or two mixed-use buildings, three stories (the maximum allowable for the site), with some apartments, some live-work units – numbers not firmed up yet – and commercial space, likely a restaurant. The site actually spans two zones, NC1-30 (where the commercial space will have to be) and LR-2. (Here’s the Seattle zoning-classification list.)

At least 25 parking spaces are planned (city rules set requirements such as 1 1/2 spaces per living unit and 1 car for every 250 feet of restaurant). The parking will be on the ground floor, under two levels of living space, because an underground garage can’t be built on the site, Newell explained, much as they would have preferred to do that – turns out there’s a peat-settlement zone beneath it.

All but one of the proposed alternatives would have the parking entrance off 59th.

The property owner is intent on environmentally friendly features, and Newell says they’ll be aiming to qualify the project for LEED Silver certification. Though the early stage of the Design Review process is only for shape/size of the building, he showed one concept for its appearance – with glass and “heavy timber.”

However, he said, the materials choices could go in a variety of directions, since buildings in the area “have no particular style.” (That drew laughter from the attendees.)

They’re expecting it’ll take a year to get through the permit process before construction can begin. Newell also said the property owner plans to keep the building – it’s “not something he’s going to build and then turn around.”

The 20 or so residents on hand for the meeting were impressed enough, they applauded at the end of Newell’s presentation.

Ahead – toplines on the meeting’s three other topics, from police and Metro updates to a resident who wants to revisit the idea of parking restrictions:

POLICE’S PLAN FOR ALKI: “Every year we try to ramp up our presence – you’ve probably seen us, our bikes, let us know if that’s working … we’re looking at the statistics every week as we ramp up our emphasis patroling out there (on Alki).” So said Southwest Precinct Operations Lt. Pierre Davis. “Obviously we can’t camp out endlessly for periods on end … (but we want to) give the citizens what they need so we can have a nice quiet summer.” He reiterates that Block Watches are “the first tier of defense,” as are alert citizens in general, whom he credits for helping them catch some “prolific burglars in the area.” He also says that the precinct is ramping up community outreach such as safety walks and something along the lines of “Coffee with the Captain,” a chance to sit down with Precinct Capt. Joe Kessler in a local coffee shop and chat. No dates yet – stay tuned.

RPZ FOR ALKI? A restricted-parking zone has been proposed before, and now it’s being proposed again. Local resident Marty says he lives at 64th and Alki and came home from the store one day and couldn’t find any place to park. He knows the area’s a big draw and that’s good for businesses, but … He says he’s here because he talked to SDOT about the parking all getting taken up by visitors, and they told him the first step would be talking to the local community council, which, he then learned, had gone through an unsuccessful process about eight years ago that got caught up in red tape. (That hadn’t been the first attempt.) He says he’s talked to his neighbors and “everybody’s in favor” of the idea. He got some empathy, and then the group had to discuss: What’s next, now that this proposal has been thrown out there? Maybe getting an SDOT rep in for a meeting and public input, ACC president Tony Fragada and vice president Randie Stone suggested. That won’t likely happen before fall, since Marty, the proponent, said he wouldn’t be in town for next month’s meeting.

METRO’S POSSIBLE CUTS: Two Metro reps came to the meeting to talk about the potential cuts looming if no replacement is approved for the two types of funding that are expiring next year. Same basic information as previous briefings in other venues – see our coverage, including here and here – but there was a bit of extra West Seattle-specific information:

Service planner Doug Johnson recapped that West Seattle ridership has increased, and the service is more efficient, after last fall’s changes; Route 50 is carrying 2,200 people a day; Route 37 ridership has gone up 25 percent per trip; 56 Express “is also more productive,” he said, “so the greater net effect of these changes is positive.” But if the dramatic changes are required, the 37 could completely go away, he noted. The Water Taxi shuttles would remain, since “their funding is separate from Metro.” One attendee said she’s not surprised that the 50 is busy, because with the service cuts in this area, they feel like they are “captive.” Another attendee said the commute time from this area “has doubled” to up to 45 minutes, “and you have to take three buses if you want to get from Alki to the north end of downtown.” Direct service is most desirable, the Metro reps were told. “That was a tradeoff,” they replied. And another attendee offered a counterpoint that “the hardship placed on us down here is not too bad” (he identified himself as a 5-day-a-week bus commuter”).

How does Metro anticipate population growth? they are asked. They pull the data “on an annual basis to assess where the needs are … when (the current development) comes on board, that could bump it in investment needs … we take that into consideration as we set target service levels.” But, they admit, “we need to be better at foreseeing where that growth is going to be.” ACC president Fragada asked about transit impact fees. Hasn’t been discussed, he’s told.

The Alki Community Council meets most months on the third Thursday, 7 pm, at Alki UCC, and recently resumed posting agendas and other info at

11 Replies to "Alki Community Council: Development plan unveiled; police/Metro updates; parking-zone proposal"

  • Diane June 21, 2013 (11:51 am)

    sorry to have missed this design presentation; just looked through his website, hoping to see some renderings of this project; could not find; but on the news page, there are a couple West Seattle mixed used projects listed; do you know if those are old/not happening, or perhaps new/planned, or something already built that I’m not recognizing; I can’t place where either of these would be

  • RestaurantLover June 21, 2013 (12:50 pm)

    Any idea on what will happen to the Saigon Boat Café? It is slotted to move into the new space or will they need to relocate?

  • james June 21, 2013 (1:10 pm)

    8-year Alki resident here. I’m not in favor of an RPZ. If you live in Alki, you choose to live in a unique environment and city/area treasure that should be easily accessible to all. Yes, that causes inconvenience at some points during the high season but that’s the “tax” for living in such an amazing location.

  • Eric June 21, 2013 (1:39 pm)

    Three year Alki resident and agree completely with James.

  • Alki Mkay June 21, 2013 (1:46 pm)

    5 year Alki resident here, I concur with Eric and James.

  • Rob June 21, 2013 (3:10 pm)

    I love my reserved spot on 62nd and Alki.

  • Joanne Hedou June 22, 2013 (7:55 am)

    What really needs to be done is that Alki be closed at peak use times to cars except for emergency and handicapped vehicles and shuttle buses run to the beach area. Shuttle buses are needed in any case to get people to the Admiral District and Junction every 15 minutes. The 775 is unpredictable and does not serve that purpose.

    There is a fuzzy picture of the building proposed in the article and it looks like the same boring architecture going up all over Seattle. Whatever is done should be open to the beach and views and reflect the quirky character of Alki.

  • Marie M June 22, 2013 (9:23 am)

    I was impressed with Roger Newell’s presentation. First, it was refreshing to have someone come to consult with neighbors in the early stages of a project’s design. He and his associate both asked us to let them know if we have any concerns about the plans. Second, it appears that a lot of thought has gone into the project so far and that they’ve looked at various options. Third, he talked about incorporating green methods like solar, wind, rainwater recycling and green roof systems. He says it’s early in the design process to say how those methods will be used, but he and the owner are considering them.

    It would be nice if other developers and architects would follow this example and start discussions with neighbors before those land use signs go up.

  • Di June 23, 2013 (3:58 pm)

    Wouldn’t it be nice if the parking lot by the burned out Homestead restaurant could be opened for use during the high season.

  • wetone June 24, 2013 (1:34 pm)

    What Alki needs is a large parking garage. As the city allows more and more venues on the beach and promenade along with all the businesses with more coming in the future, parking is needed and the city should supply. Residents in the area can’t park, and in the summer time I doubt if fire trucks could make it around many of the side streets from all the cars parked everywhere and traffic. Maybe the city should step up to plate and by the Homestead and put a parking garage there as it is a good central location and would be great for residents and businesses. I would much rather have the Homestead back, but it would never be the same anyway, so put her to sleep.

Sorry, comment time is over.