West Seattle development: Microhousing proposal on 36th SW

Today you can expect to hear a lot about housing, construction, and zoning, as the long-awaited Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee report is going public at City Hall at 11 am. We’ll have the details when available. In the meantime, new project proposals continue to surface in city files daily, and we have another one to mention today:

MICROHOUSING ON 36TH SW: A brand-new early-stage plan in the files would replace that 95-year-old triplex at 4122 36th SW (map) with what’s described as a “4-story apartment building” featuring “small efficiency dwelling units” (SEDU), the official name for the studios more commonly known as microhousing. The site is zoned Lowrise 3; the potential number of units is not mentioned in what’s been filed so far. No offstreet parking is planned; it’s not required because of its proximity to what’s considered “frequent transit.”

SIDE NOTE: Two SEDU buildings are under construction in West Seattle right now – 5949 California SW (approximately 40 units) and 3268 Avalon Way SW (62 units), which is next to one of the two already-open SEDU buildings, 3266 SW Avalon Way.

52 Replies to "West Seattle development: Microhousing proposal on 36th SW"

  • mr. the horse July 13, 2015 (9:31 am)

    No! This is a residential street! How can they let this go thru without parking? What is wrong with this city?

    • WSB July 13, 2015 (9:43 am)

      While this site is LR3, the one next door to the north is SF (single-family) 5000, as is the one across the street. But to the south of this site, on the east side of the street, it’s all multi-family zoned, with small apartment buildings (six, eight units) … looks like this site escaped notice/redevelopment until now. – TR

  • Seattlite July 13, 2015 (9:41 am)

    No parking for all of the cars that will come with the tenants in any of the mentioned locations. Residential areas in close proximity of these tiny apodments will suffer the consequences.

  • sam-c July 13, 2015 (10:01 am)

    Oh Man- No I really NEVER will be able to find parking to come pick up some Buddha Ruksa take-out!

  • CMP July 13, 2015 (10:10 am)

    Enough with the SEDU already, especially in a more residential neighborhood, that’s ridiculous. Parking on that block is tough already from Buddha Ruksa and I feel really bad for people that own homes on that street. I’m sensing a bubble ready to burst in West Seattle with the overabundance of housing…anyone else agree?

  • anonyme July 13, 2015 (10:26 am)

    Dumb and dumber.

  • STB July 13, 2015 (10:44 am)

    CMP, no question.

  • West Seattle since 1979 July 13, 2015 (11:04 am)

    sam-c, can you ever find parking for Buddha Ruksa? I agree though, they do need to do something about parking, as some tenants will have cars.

  • Ttt July 13, 2015 (11:58 am)

    Does anyone know who we write our concerns to about this parking issue?

    It will be intersting to see how much of these apts/condos get filled. It amazes me how many are being built. And if there are any kids that will live in all the new construction, where will they go to school? The schools are packed!

  • HelperMonkey July 13, 2015 (12:12 pm)

    I lived on this street in a duplex for 5 years. Parking was always at a premium (except Mondays when Buddha Ruksa was closed, haha) I am astounded they’re packing more people onto that street. But yeah, it’s mostly multi-zone on that street – lots of duplexes, a few apartment buildings, some condos – more than the SFRs.

  • enufisenuf July 13, 2015 (12:17 pm)

    how do we “take back” west seattle? How does Edmonds keep itself together without all of the density (or at least the appearance of)?

  • MJ July 13, 2015 (12:21 pm)

    @CMP, doubt it. Ask anyone who has tried to buy a house here in the last couple years. Unless you come with suitcases full of cash, it’s a long battle.

  • Brian July 13, 2015 (2:23 pm)

    @Enufisenuf: A good way to not get taken seriously is to try to compare Seattle to Edmonds. Try again.

  • Brian July 13, 2015 (2:23 pm)

    @MJ: Bought a house in 2012 without a bidding war and no hassles. Try again.

  • Ex-Westwood Resident July 13, 2015 (2:24 pm)

    They want to forgo parking spaces at these units because of their proximity to Transit?
    In the lease agreement for these units stipulate that at NO time will a resident own or operate a motor vehicle while leasing a “unit” at this establishment. Violation of this rule, are grounds for IMMEDIATE eviction.
    Provide bike lockers/locking areas for the residents.

  • Out priced July 13, 2015 (2:25 pm)

    @mj…so true . I just got priced out and moving to the south east. I went to the dirty south , they said they are having a large influx from Seattle and Portland.

  • Ex-Westwood Resident July 13, 2015 (2:29 pm)

    @Brian: A lot changes in the real estate market can, and does, happen in 3 years.
    In 2012, I’m not surprised you got a house without a bidding war. Try it today and 9 out of 10 times there are MULTIPLE offers given on EVERY home in West Seattle.

  • JanS July 13, 2015 (3:01 pm)

    ex-westwood…I ;ike the bike idea a lot….no cars.

    And, yes, things change. I’m glad that Brian could afford buying a house in WS, and is happy with how things have gone for him. But, as previous threads have talked about…Things Change! In 2012, my rent was 40% cheaper, too, and I haven’t moved !

  • Matt S. July 13, 2015 (3:43 pm)

    @Brian: A snarky “try again” was fair for the bizarre comparison to Edmonds, but we bought shortly after you (blocks from the house in this story) and the competition was definitely intense. If the two recent sales on our street are any indication, things have *not* calmed down.
    @CMP: Bubble, yes. Ready to burst, no. I’m no economist, but I expect that retail and housing investors are calculating and expect returns because that’s the point of their investments. We don’t know whether they care about the neighborhood, but we can safely assume that they’re gambling on a boom and not a bust with at least some cursory Googling to inform their decisions. That said, I *do* suspiciously wonder how many of these new apartments/condos are spoken for.
    @mr. the horse: “Thru” is an informal spelling best reserved for fast food and text messaging when about to go through a tunnel. I agree with your sentiment, but I object to your word choice.

  • aa July 13, 2015 (4:16 pm)

    I live on this street and this is sad news. Parking is extremely difficult as people have mentioned. Recently the brewery has gotten popular and I’m happy for them but its additional cars on the streets when their parking is full.

    Someone asked if there is anyone to write to, is there an answer to that question?

    • WSB July 13, 2015 (5:13 pm)

      AA, for now, it’s the City Council. The city laws won’t change without going through them.

  • mr. the horse July 13, 2015 (5:08 pm)

    The grownups are talking about a threat to a real neighborhood. Thanks for stooping to offer a grammer lesson, tho.


    Mr. TH

  • buckwheat July 13, 2015 (5:36 pm)

    Again elections have consequences. West Seattle is continually getting dumped on. Do you believe the village idiots are going to help west seattle out?! I bet it will be an hour commute to downtown for those who need to drive. At least we are getting a Chipotle!

  • Matt S. July 13, 2015 (5:38 pm)

    Mr. Horse, your last sentence was either self-defeating or sarcastically brilliant. Please forgive my childish notions of spelling, grammar, and word usage. And like I said, I agree with your sentiment anyway.

  • BJG July 13, 2015 (5:58 pm)

    This was my home in 1964-65. We raised a baby there. At the time,it was viewed as a “mother-in-law” unit. We lived in the south unit and the owners lived in the north. There was no tri-plex and nothing appears changed. Parking was the slab behind. It was a single family neighborhood, but for the old brick multiplex…an aberration even back then. How did these poor neighbors draw the micro-housing short straw? How close to the full-up bus line does this need to be to qualify for no parking? It didn’t seem close to me.

  • Matt S. July 13, 2015 (6:28 pm)

    BJG, it looks like that property is .14 miles from the bus stop at 35th and Avalon, and the DPD appears to require a max of 1/4 mile. Sources: Google Earth and http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/cityplanning/2015parkingfaq.pdf. (I’m just a concerned-and-Googling neighbor, not an expert.)

  • tonenotvolume July 13, 2015 (7:56 pm)

    We live in one of the townhomes down the street. Yeah, Buddha Ruksa is not my favorite restaurant due to parking, late night customer noise, and…can only take so much of that garlic chicken smell. It would be nice to have some parking in front. Maybe they can negotiate with Jones BBQ or WSBC to share that lot. Here’s a link
    http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/parking/parkingrpz.htm for anyone interested in trying to change the street to restricted parking only.

  • CMP July 13, 2015 (8:01 pm)

    I was referring to all of the apartment buildings and not actual single family homes for sale. I know the latter are selling like crazy again and for good reason since rents are ridiculous. There are only so many people that can move here with high paying jobs that can afford these more expensive luxury apartments. I suspect either (a) high vacancies down the road if Amazon stops growing or (b) landlords lower rents to something more reasonable so us lower middle class folks can afford to stay here. Something has to happen eventually.

  • NIMBY July 13, 2015 (8:04 pm)

    I am uber-confused about the complaints concerning the lack of parking on this street. If I’m not mistaken, the great majority of these homes have driveways and/or garages in the alley behind the street. And even if they didn’t, street parking is not a given right just because you happen to own a house in that vicinity. I live very close to Alki and have an old, tiny garage that doesn’t fit a car. So, I have no dedicated parking spot. I park on the street and have to share that street parking with everyone else who parks on the street. It’s such a NIMBY attitude – “I was here first, and thus I shouldn’t have to compete with others for a street parking spot.” Give me a break! Another comment – I bought a house in summer of 2014, a block from Alki, with no bidding war. And no, it didn’t involve an all-cash offer or waiving of contingencies.

  • Matt S. July 13, 2015 (8:26 pm)

    @CMP, I see what you’re saying and agree, I just assume that West Seattle is at the *beginning* of a boom. Truthfully, I have no idea and there might be some baseless wishful thinking mixed up in there.
    @NIMBY, sounds like you were lucky with your purchase. I’m curious what the larger trends look like beyond individual anecdotes. As car-dependent folks, we were careful to find a house with a driveway just in case, but I’ll also lump myself in with the NIMBY crowd not because of entitlement but because this kind of development creates a new problem that it passes on to neighbors who can’t do as much about it.

  • East Coast Cynic July 13, 2015 (9:03 pm)

    @CMP, (a) would happen if the IT industry seriously crashed in the Seattle area and I don’t see any signs of that happening (b) ain’t happening as long as software engineers keep moving here since they can pay the rents.

  • Kimmy July 13, 2015 (9:43 pm)

    Kind of silly they would remove a MF unit to build a MF unit. Wish it was a SF home being replaced.

    • WSB July 13, 2015 (9:59 pm)

      Many multifamily developments we’ve reported on replaced multifamily buildings, albeit ones with fewer units. Like both Avalon microhousing buildings in the 3200 block (just east of 7-11). And the two recent demolitions on the west side of California between Andover and Charlestown – I think it was an eightplex making way for the 3829 California 29-unit apartment building, and four apartments at Charlestown Court making way for townhouses … In this case, it will certainly be a double-digit unit count replacing three.

  • Mark schletty July 14, 2015 (8:00 am)

    I have proposed the lease restrictions prohibiting car ownership for these units before. The developer/landlords won’t agree to this because, unlike the city staff people, they know they cant rent up the buildings with such a restriction. They know most, if not all, the renters will have cars and will adversely affect the surrounding neighborhood. But since they don’t live where they build they don’t care. Allowing these developments without parking must stop.

  • John July 14, 2015 (8:36 am)

    Any proposal to single out renters would be difficult to enforce and unjust.
    Any statement that microhousing tenants have more cars than other renters is questionable, as even in parking included apartments, 15% of Seattle renters do not own cars.
    An equitable solution would be to charge for all street parking, which would actually alleviate some of the demand.

  • Born on Alki 59 July 14, 2015 (9:46 am)

    Yes, great idea, lets charge for all street parking. And while were at it, how about taxing our shoes, the sidewalk you walk on, the “parking” strip you can’t park on (but must maintain) and the street you drive on. Additionally, lets tax everybody for any off street parking and garage spaces.
    Oh wait, we already pay taxes on all this.
    Nevermind. (sarcasm off)

  • Ex-Westwood Resident July 14, 2015 (10:01 am)

    OK, then, to use your figure of 15%, stipulate that developers MUST provide parking for 85% of their tenants.
    We can all lament about cars. The simple fact is that we will NEVER get rid of cars.
    Some of the reasons:
    1. Not everyone can, or are able to take bus/buses to work.
    2. Trips to the grocery store, esp. for families would be unmanageable.
    3. People want to go places around the region where buses don’t go. Try finding a bus to go to Snoqualmie Falls.
    When I worked at NOAA on SLU, 12 miles “door-to-door, (before they moved to Newport, OR) I was able and did take the bus. Now I work closer, 8 miles door-to-door, but it would be unfeasible for me to take mass transit to work. First because there are no buses running at the time I would have to leave to get to work.
    Second, since I work 10 hour days, I would have leave around 4-4:30 AM (assuming a bus ran ATT to get me to work) and I wouldn’t get home till 6:30-7 PM using the routes that run now. That situation is a big NO-GO.
    Third, with three kids, a trip to the grocery results in 6-8 bags. Try getting on a bus with them and then carrying them 3 blocks home!
    Fourth, we like to go camping, try taking a bus camping.
    Some can get by without a car, and that’s GREAT, but the VAST majority of us can’t, esp. with the poor mass transit planning, routing and operation of Metro and ST. The various DoTs don’t help either, but just add to the problems.

  • Kimmy July 14, 2015 (10:44 am)

    @WBS I’ve noticed this in the past too, MF replacing MF. Seems more effective to have it replace SF in our rapidly growing city, though I understand there are restrictions to doing so in our current and proposed zoning laws.
    Plenty of families lives in major cities without cars, and we were one of them, in a much denser, much more expensive city. We would car share for large grocery trips, bike or walk for other trips, and also car share to go out of town for the weekend. Individual car ownership is not the only solution. Some look past familiar convenience in order to live where they want.
    We’re experiencing growing pains currently and we don’t have transit to keep up with demand, it’s up to our local leadership, who are doing a pretty poor job. That noted, I can’t see how a major city with limited area to grow out (but room to grow up) can support development plans prioritizing individual car ownership.

  • Matt S. July 14, 2015 (11:35 am)

    Reading John and Ex-Westwood’s comments, it seems like there has to be some way to reduce demand and still accept the reality of having more cars. Free street parking isn’t a god-given right, but I ultimately think this should be the *developer’s* problem since they’re coming in and creating it, not simply the *neighborhood’s* problem because renters simply will have cars. Is that frothingly NIMBY?
    @Born on Alki 59: I don’t like the idea of paying to park outside my own house, but what alternative would you suggest to deal with the inevitable flood of vehicles courtesy of this developer’s efforts?

  • Born on Alki 59 July 14, 2015 (1:53 pm)

    Matt. I wish I had an answer to that. Requiring some off street parking for these type of developments would certainly help. It’s naive to think this won’t have a negative impact on residents and businesses when available parking in the block and bordering neighborhoods is non existent. I certainly will not patronize that neighborhood. I can’t imagine not having friends and family over for a visit because no one can park due to short sighted over development.

  • WS girl July 14, 2015 (3:53 pm)

    No! No! No! This is just wrong. I live on this street and this will dramatically affect everyone. The alley behind this apartment unit will turn into a freeway and there will be no street parking whatsoever. I don’t care if it’s close to transit – people have cars. Thanks Tracy for posting this in the early stages – we need to keep our community together and fight this!

  • Ex-Westwood Resident July 14, 2015 (4:34 pm)

    @Matt S.
    Yes, there a way to balance both cars and transit, unfortunately Metro/ST uses political pandering and appointing people who have no idea how to plan and arrange bus routes instead of looking for those that have that specific experience. Case in point…LLR – instead of servicing East Marginal and the SODO business district, they ran it through Rainier Beach, an area that had and has ample bus service. Add to that, the TOTAL lack of parking facilities along the LLR route and you have the major cause of them taking 6 YEARS to reach their original predicted ridership. Then add the removal of a lane of traffic to placate 3% of the commuting population.
    As far as the parking situation being the *developers* problem, I disagree. Developers are going to get away with ANYTHING the city allows them to. It is the city that is allowing them to build thousands of units throughout the city without providing adequate parking at those buildings; saying that they are close to major transit hubs and people will naturally take a bus (on a eff’ed up transit system.)
    The ONLY way this situation can even approach a solution is to get the right people together, with the right attitude of trying solve the problem instead of the idiots we have now who are more concerned with “Social Engineering;” forcing people to conform to their twisted, paid for by special interest groups, socialistic thought process.

  • Kirsten July 14, 2015 (6:20 pm)

    It is unfortunate that neighborhoods continue to “degrade” in their spacious, comfortable single-family lifestyle qualities but we must remember that our zip codes all still remain within the City of Seattle limits. Most of us live within 8 miles to the bustling life of downtown. The densification of our wonderful hidden gems in West Seattle was to take place sooner or later. West Seattle does still feel like a small town, removed just far enough from the urban life, but we must face the reality of the locale, convenience and desirability which inevitably brings more residents. Perhaps the bigger issue we should focus on is the lack of sufficient transit (highways, freeways and public transportation) which will only get worse.

  • Neighbor July 14, 2015 (7:38 pm)

    Welcome to the new Seattle, where the Mayor/HALA proposes allowing 70 foot tall multi family units throughout the Junction on lots of 5,000 sf or greater. Unless residents stand up against the proposed zone changes.

  • Kimmy July 14, 2015 (8:13 pm)

    Well said, Kirsten.

  • Matt S. July 15, 2015 (8:11 am)

    @Ex-Westwood: I’m just saying that I think it *should* be the developer’s problem, even if that means change at the city level. Ultimately I think Kirsten has the right attitude, it just doesn’t address irresponsible fast+cheap building.

  • John July 15, 2015 (8:53 am)

    @Ex-Westwood Resident,
    Seattle has about 147,000 rental units, if 15% of those occupied units do not have cars, then that would be 22,000 residents paying for parking spots they don’t need.
    22,000 units is far more than micro-housing has to offer.
    People that choose not to add to the automobile burden, should be able to rent without having to pay for a parking garage.
    People who choose to own and maintain automobiles should not receive free storage on our streets, whether they live in micro-housing, a McMansion with a four car garage, or an old Seattle box with substandard garage.
    Ironically, both Matt S and Born on Alki lament new residents doing exactly what they expect for themselves – free street parking. Yet they choose to blame it on the developer?
    I agree that cars will always be around. But not everyone needs to use cars as they currently do. A relatively small change in habits can lead to substantial changes in traffic and parking woes.
    Younger people today are less enamored with our car culture and sometimes choose not to own a car.
    Car2Go, Uber and other services are increasing in popularity.
    One question again.
    If there is a shortage of street parking, why not charge everyone for parking on the street? This would create an even playing field. It would encourage people to utilize their garages and off-street parking. It would generate money to maintain the streets. It would free-up and maintain an average of one available space per block.

  • Matt S. July 15, 2015 (9:48 am)

    @John: I actually didn’t consider the 15% paying for parking they don’t use, and that’s a good point. Even though I’m in the car camp, it’s obviously better for everybody to embrace transit. If anything that 15% should get a credit or some kind of bonus, not the burden of paying for more parking.
    I still think that developers of larger units should have to contribute somewhat to solving the problem they’re exacerbating, even if it’s somehow putting resources into transit.
    Your charging-for-parking scheme makes sense. Do you imagine a parking-on-street resident could buy a pass, or is this a meter-feeding situation? I lived the latter in Belltown for a while and it was terrible (having a car), and it forced me to be more carless but that’d be an excessively sudden shock for this particular street.
    I don’t expect free parking or even park on the street most times (small driveway), I’m just trying to decide whose problem this *is* and who *should* own it. Something doesn’t seem fair about increasing people density and accommodating for *zero* additional parking. Consider me solidly confused and in the middle here.

  • bill bradburd July 15, 2015 (12:47 pm)

    The HALA proposal relaxes micro-housing rules to allow them into the Lowrise zones, including LR1, and would also allow congregate projects into the lowrise zones as well. (the recent regulations that we put in place restricted congregate to NC3 and above). There are limited room size and number of unit restrictions in congregate housing.

  • Born on Alki 59 July 15, 2015 (2:24 pm)

    Fyi….None of my vehicles park on the street, nor do I expect to have a “free” parking space in front of my house. That is your assumption. We improved 55′ of our back yard with driveway for vehicle and boat storage. That $20k improvement is now added to our assessed value and we are taxed accordingly. Hardly free parking. Apodment dwellers can park in front of our house, I really don’t care. My point is, these developments offer no off street parking whatsoever and will negatively impact surrounding businesses and neighborhoods when , by your calculation, 85% of the tenants will have cars. These additional vehicles are forced to park on the street, as off street parking is not an option. I don’t blame the developers, I blame our lackluster mayor, council and dpd.

  • Matt S. July 15, 2015 (2:27 pm)

    @Born on Alki 59, the 15% John cited were tenants expected *not* to have cars. In other words, 85% would. His Kool-Aid’s alright! :)

  • Born on Alki 59 July 15, 2015 (3:02 pm)

    Yes, I apologize for my mis-read and have edited my comment. But if we use 85% of the tenants having vehicles as a baseline, then roughly 30-40 additional vehicles are parked the street with no other options available. Multiply this by many micro units and we have a serious problem.
    Just my .02, nothing more.

Sorry, comment time is over.