New microhousing rules: West Seattle groups join citywide challenge to city ‘non-significance’ ruling

(Under-construction microhousing at 3266 Avalon Way SW)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Ten community groups from around the city, including West Seattle’s Morgan Community Association and SeattleNERD (Neighbors Encouraging Reasonable Development), are pursuing an appeal to a city decision regarding proposed new rules for microhousing.

The verbiage and details are about as bureaucratic as it gets, but here’s what it boils down to: What they’re appealing is the Department of Planning and Development‘s “determination of non-significance” (DNS) regarding effects of the new rules (which were reported here last month, weeks AFTER the DNS was issued).

A DNS generally means no environmental-impact review/report is required. Environment, when it comes to land use, includes factors such as traffic and noise – and the groups argue that microhousing brings plenty of both. The original appeal document lists 53 of what the appellants consider environmental impacts (#39, for example, is “Failure to have a reasonable, reality-based discussion of the impact on availability of affordable housing.” Here’s the full document (PDF), or read it embedded below:

Microhousing-rules-related appeal by neighborhood groups by WestSeattleBlog

(Other documents in the case are downloadable from links on this page.) Summarizing, the appellants write that they “object to the DPD’s audacious disregard of the requirements of SEPA [the State Environmental Policy Act] … Its conclusion that the 2,842 units created by the existing, under construction, and proposed micro-housing projects will have no significant environmental impacts … would be laughable, did it not have such tragic consequences for Seattle’s natural and built environments.”

The appeal document also includes a “concern that the current definition DPD is suggesting doesn’t accurately encompass all of the microhousing being built.”

The city’s Hearing Examiner will hear the appeal; if she upholds the DPD determination, the challengers would have the option to go to court. This is scheduled for a pre-hearing conference next Wednesday (November 13), and the actual appeal hearing is set for January 7th.

Separate from this, the proposed microhousing rules need City Council approval before taking effect; no hearing/vote dates are scheduled yet.

SIDEBAR: As noted in our October coverage of the proposed rules, here are the four known West Seattle microhousing projects:

*4548 Delridge (3 stories, 16 sleeping rooms, 2 “dwelling units,” close to completion)
*3266 Avalon Way (5 stories, 56 sleeping rooms, 7 “dwelling units,” top photo)
*3050 Avalon Way (5 stories, 110 sleeping rooms, 14 “dwelling units,” not yet under construction)
*5949 California SW (4 stories, 38 sleeping rooms, 5 “dwelling units,” not yet under construction)

19 Replies to "New microhousing rules: West Seattle groups join citywide challenge to city 'non-significance' ruling"

  • DTK November 8, 2013 (3:32 pm)

    How is this considered 5 stories? I guess I’m 6 foot 9 then.

  • cj November 8, 2013 (5:00 pm)

    This is not housing and we really shouldn’t go along with normalizing it.

  • Mike November 8, 2013 (5:38 pm)

    Ah yes, McGinn’s legacy lives on. Can’t say I’m sorry he lost.

  • Diane November 8, 2013 (6:28 pm)

    so where is the definition for “R3 Boarding House Units”?

  • SGG November 8, 2013 (7:27 pm)


  • WestofJunction November 8, 2013 (8:02 pm)

    No, this is not NIMBY. These are overpriced rooming houses that could be used as halfway houses. Using that line of thinking, then let’s plop heavy industry in the middle of our residential neigborhoods. Not all density is smart density.

  • 56bricks November 8, 2013 (10:03 pm)

    Ignore nimby

  • onion November 8, 2013 (10:14 pm)

    If they gut public transportation, they should also stop building housing with inadequate parking.

  • William November 9, 2013 (6:34 am)

    Are you kidding me? Who wants this kind of rooming house in their neighborhood?! We invested a huge portion of our savings and monthly income in our home and do not want to see it devalued by this kind of housing in a residential neighborhood.

  • frank bradley November 9, 2013 (8:58 am)

    We have until Wednesday, Nov 13, to voince our concern over the plan to build a 3 story, 30 unit apartment with no parking at 6917 California Ave.

    Send a letter immediately to:
    City of Seattle
    Dept od Planning and Development
    PO Box 3410
    Seattle 98124

    Get it in the mail today.

  • Civik November 9, 2013 (9:33 am)

    Frank, be sure you include the city council and mayor in that. DPD alone will likely ignore you because they are some of the largest advocates for this kind of construction.

  • buckwheat November 9, 2013 (9:46 am)

    That apodment looks like one big fire hazard. It looks like crap. Thanks Frank for the posting. This is horrible development and is totaly out of control…

  • CE November 9, 2013 (11:18 am)

    These developments should be opposed for all of the above reasons, as well as the fact that microhousing is part of the UN’s Agenda 21 to promote high-density, and accustom people to living in tiny spaces, without cars.

  • Jill Loblaw November 9, 2013 (11:33 am)

    Well said Buckwheat. I also agree with the lack of parking provided and the impact on transportation into and out of West Seattle especially with Metro cutting back. Mayor McCheese helped eighty-six the monorail so one option for transit was eliminated. The question I have is how the addition of all these new people are going to impact quality of life in our “little burg”. I would love to see more folks use Metro if at all possible. Additionally, I have van pooled everyday for 12 years and save money on gas and care for my 12 yr. old vehicle which has only 60,000 miles on it.

  • G November 9, 2013 (3:01 pm)

    Let’s spend our time on restoring, increasing, or heading off bus cuts, rather than limiting housing options for people.

  • bolo November 9, 2013 (6:15 pm)

    Let’s do both, G.

  • Matt November 10, 2013 (12:08 am)

    The appeal throws everything and the kitchen sink at this-53 possible impacts such as failure to consider increased risk of explosion (30) (really?), parking for the elderly (23) (doesn’t exist), global climate change due to cars circling the block looking for parking (12).

    About 50 of these impacts are covered by current building, land use, health and energy codes already or are nonsense and dpd is trying to address the remaining ambiguities that someone found to exploit the land use code by writing in some pretty reasonable regulations which agree with most people’s concerns.

    Comment for sure, but this DNS appeal is not going anywhere.

  • Kristina November 11, 2013 (7:04 pm)

    Building codes aren’t being followed for these buildings. Complexes are often permitted as town homes, each “home” has eight bathrooms to avoid design review and neighborhood notification. City wants to avoid the fuss, right? Two extra floors usually appear despite zoned height limits. There are no fire escapes, only one entrance/exit near the kitchen. Heat, smoke and fire concentrate on the steep wooden staircase to kill as many as possible. The DPD code guy said that the tenants on the upper floors are expected to jump since fire ladders can’t reach them. Lots of other violations and unplanned impacts. More than 30 complexes in a square mile on Capitol Hill. Take a look. It is like a cancer and now it has spread to Ballard and West Seattle. Shock, dismay and denial are the first stages.

    Local landowners will start to realize that the high square footage rents of this “affordable housing” makes them look foolish so they will start raising rents. That is how it happened on Capitol Hill! And local land owners will be able to advertise a full size sink in both the kitchen and bathroom! Don’t forget that micro housing units have only a shallow mini bar sink to serve BOTH the bathroom and kitchen. Wash those fecal hands over the salad greens. Managers will explain that the kitchenettes are designed to discourage use. Eating out is part of the “affordable experience.”

    Capitol Hill has groups of people smoking in front of complexes, in the middle of the sidewalk and we have to walk around them. You wouldn’t want to spend time inside units smaller than a parking stall, either. My brother said he’d commit suicide if he had to live in one of them–and we were brought up in a rooming house!

    Seattle used to have minimum standards for all human beings living here, regardless of how much money they have. Now, we are creating an underclass who don’t deserve a full size sink or a fire escape. Let them eat packs of peanuts from 7-11. Do you want to share the sidewalk with these grumpy people? Do you want your children and grandchildren living in these fire traps? Where is your humanity?

    I talked to Mayor McGinn’s aide who said he wouldn’t ever live in a microhousing unit, “I want to live with my friends,” he said, aghast. So who are these units being built for?

    Welcome, West Seattle, to a very unhappy club!

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