West Seattle development: Alki neighbors appeal ‘rowhouses’ approval on 55th SW

Another group of West Seattle neighbors is formally challenging a development plan.

This time, it’s the neighbors on 55th SW in Alki who are concerned about the effects of an 11-unit “rowhouse” development. This is the group who petitioned for a city hearing, and got that hearing in July; earlier this month, they learned the development would be approved (here’s our Oct. 17th report), and at the time, they did not believe they would be able to muster the resources required for an appeal.

Today, neighbor Marie McKinsey tells WSB they put one together after all:

Today, Alki Neighborhoods for Sensible Growth, a new association comprised of neighbors affected by the Alki 11 rowhouse project MUP 3014675, filed an appeal challenging the DPD’s decision to approve this development. … I am attaching the two documents filed today (here and here)

There’s a lot to review here, but among other interesting findings is this one: the city apparently violated its own rules by approving LBAs (lot boundary adjustments) prior to doing the SEPA review. The procedure is supposed to be SEPA review first and then LBAs are decided afterward or concurrently with the SEPA analysis. I believe the LBAs were approved August 27th. The SEPA decision was published October 10.

It is impressive that our neighborhood has been able to come together to form an association, raise money and mount an appeal in the few days we have had available to us. The city notified us on October 15th of the decision and gave us only until October 24th to appeal.

McKinsey has been chronicling the situation on her website here. She says the association will be represented by land-use lawyer Cynthia Kennedy, who also represented the Benchview neighborhood in its recent case. No hearing date(s) set yet.

28 Replies to "West Seattle development: Alki neighbors appeal 'rowhouses' approval on 55th SW"

  • natinstl October 24, 2013 (4:16 pm)

    I commend this community for banding together. I think a lot of other people think it’s silly to fight development, but when it happens in your neighborhood then you may think differently. The buses are getting more crowded every day and there is a noticeable difference in traffic going and coming from WS also. The city needs to address infrastructure here before approving all these projects. Unfortunately it seems like the DPD just approves everything regardless.

  • Money to Burn October 24, 2013 (4:21 pm)

    I am glad some folks have time and money to burn, because this development will go in as approved.

    The land-use lawyer(s) may tell you otherwise, but, heck, they love the cashola.

  • AmandaKH October 24, 2013 (4:23 pm)

    Huzzah Neighbors!! Power to the People. And good luck :)

  • CW October 24, 2013 (4:43 pm)

    Money to Burn, you are totally wrong. Please follow the link in the article to the Benchview case. The same land-use lawyer beat the city and stopped that development project.

    It sounds like the land-use lawyer has a solid case here with the mistakes made by the city.

  • steve October 24, 2013 (4:51 pm)

    Any money to block this project is money well spent, as far as I’m concerned. Power to the
    people!! Post for donations, I’ll be the first in line. IF it goes thru, fine, but I won’t make it easy for them.

  • Parker October 24, 2013 (5:01 pm)

    The Appeal is very compelling; the Alki neighbors simply want to protect their environment. This proposed project is simply too big; 11 towering homes, replacing 3 single family homes, with virtually no greenspace. I suggest reading the Appeal. We simply want more consideration for our neighborhood and the preservation of our beach environment which includes wildlife.

  • anonyme October 24, 2013 (5:02 pm)

    Development may be inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be done in ways that are ugly, irresponsible, and destroy neighborhoods rather than helping them. I commend these neighbors for preserving the old American tradition of standing up to City Hall.

  • DTK October 24, 2013 (5:08 pm)

    What was that the BORG said…

  • Jeffrey October 24, 2013 (5:17 pm)

    Yet the people will seemingly re-elect McGinn and Conlon.

    Money to burn indeed.

    What you vote for today will be in your backyard tomorrow.

  • Money to Burn October 24, 2013 (5:34 pm)


    With all due respect, you would be better off gambling at Tulalip. I would spend your cash on fast growing evergreen trees to block the view you so fret about.

    That development is going in, and there is nothing you and your pals can do about it.

    Not a dang thing.

  • Civik October 24, 2013 (6:33 pm)

    Hey Money to Burn,

    Are you the developer or do you have an in with Ms Sugimura who has assured you that the project will go through regardless? If so, can you please forward the correspondence? I’m sure we’d all appreciate the info. :)

  • Lisa October 24, 2013 (6:37 pm)


    I think the link to the second document doesn’t work for some reason. It says the documents are “here” And “here” but only one of the hyperlinks works.

    Thank you for covering this issue.


    • WSB October 24, 2013 (6:42 pm)

      Probably the one I had to convert from Word to PDF. Sorry! Will fix fast!

  • Lisa October 24, 2013 (6:48 pm)

    Steve –

    If you wanted to join the association (ANSG) and/or donate to the costs of the representation you could certainly do so. It would be wonderful.

    I would suggest contacting Marty McQuaid, whose contact info is in the appeal itself because he is the manager of the association. We don’t yet have an official contact email or something like that, though we probably need one. I will add it to my list of “to dos.” With less than 10 days notice of the decision, we have been scrambling to get the appeal together. But we did it and here we are.

    For what its worth, I think we all know that development is inevitable. Its my hope, and that of my neighbors, that over-development is not inevitable.


  • G.O. October 24, 2013 (6:52 pm)

    Parker doesn’t want his view taken up by this development. I don’t want the extra traffic/pollution. If you drive a big BMW or Lexus you’re not concerned about the “wildlife”.

  • G October 24, 2013 (7:49 pm)

    Come on, really – lack of “green space?” West Seattle is practically one, big green space. I grew up in WS and all the great parks, and huge greenbelts circling the peninsula are still here, even in better health. Wildlife? Coyotes, owls, hawks, falcons, and other animals are even MORE numerous. Transportation, there you have a point. But don’t close the gate to others just because you’re here, keep working on transportation solutions.

  • GJP2013 October 24, 2013 (8:03 pm)

    Kudos to these committed folks for taking a courageous stand against over-development – an inspiration.

  • lisa October 24, 2013 (8:58 pm)

    No one wants to close any gate to others.

    If you read the appeal, rather than making assumptions, you can see that. There is no claim in there that the land should not be developed or that it should not be developed as multi-family housing. We all know the quaint, quirky beach cottages will be replaced by multi-family housing.

    It is the particulars of this proposal that are a problem. There has been plenty of new multi-family townhome constriction on 55th in recent years and no complaints have been filed.

    The complaints re Alki 11 relate to the particular project as it is presently proposed.

    As I said there is development and there is overdevelopment One is appropriate, one isn’t.

    You simplify the issue if you think that the neighbors oppose all development or worry only about views.

    The city got it wrong on this one. So, that’s why there are appeals.


  • MellyMel October 24, 2013 (11:38 pm)

    @ CW, regarding “Money to Burn, you are totally wrong. Please follow the link in the article to the Benchview case. The same land-use lawyer beat the city and stopped that development project”
    The latest update on the Benchview blog was the Benchview folks did not prevail.

  • M October 25, 2013 (8:47 am)

    The more we fight this one at least the next ones will be more expensive. I’m tired of all the traffic, etc. Murray claims to be more neighborhood friendly then McSchwin; perhaps we should discuss it with his campaign

  • Marie M October 25, 2013 (10:09 am)

    At the heart of this controversy is the subject of lot boundary adjustments (LBAs). Without them, this project would be illegal by the city’s definition. Without them, this would not be a row house project, it would be a townhouse project and there would never have been a protest. But the city wouldn’t allow us to challenge them in the review process. Here’s more detail. http://www.whereiamnow.net/2013/10/it-aint-over-till-its-over.html

  • Azimuth October 25, 2013 (12:40 pm)

    We have the right and duty to shape our neighborhoods as we see fit. It’s tough and there is a lot of money, power, and inertia to fight against, but ultimately it is worth the effort.

  • wetone October 25, 2013 (5:03 pm)

    Another project in the works up a few doors maybe with house that just sold ? hum seems to be a lot of these projects are related to the same building group ? that has pooled their resources together to fight opposition and has lots of pull with city folks, next door from the house just sold, 2 more empty houses and large piece of land that I’m sure will have something going on in the next few years as with one more house with-in spiting distance. Everyone should be able to build up their property but what this CITY is allowing is way to much for infrastructure in this area. Builders can only build what the CITY allows. If you don’t like what is going on find out who is pro this type of building practice and vote them out. Next is to sue or challenge the city’s decisions as happening here and hold the city accountable to their building codes.

  • lisa October 25, 2013 (7:19 pm)


    Are you talking about the light blue house that was just rehabbed and fixed up, rather than torn down? I think (and hope) that it was bought by someone intending to live there. Have you heard something different?

    What building group are you referring to?


  • Wetone October 25, 2013 (7:45 pm)

    Yes , not 100% but any house in that area with that zoning and selling price most likely will have other plans in near future. Keep your eyes open on city records and permits. Sad deal they did a nice job fixing it up.

  • lisa October 26, 2013 (4:13 pm)

    I hope not. For that price it could make sense for a family. I hope that’s what’s happening.

  • wetone October 26, 2013 (7:29 pm)

    Back in mid 2000’s the owners of single family houses on 55th were being offered 600k and replaced with what is there now. Builders have a lot of people keeping their eyes and ears open in areas like this and get the deal tied up very quickly with cash, don’t know if that happened here. Money to be made if they can get into it under $600k which this blue house was. That is what sends red flags up for me and access from two streets, zoning…..

  • Lisa November 7, 2013 (9:27 am)

    The blue house also sold in one day. Most individuals could not pull that off. I fear you are correct wetone.

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