West Seattle development: City gives key approval to 3050 Avalon microhousing, with interpretation that it’s 14 apartments, not 104

(Added: 3050 Avalon site, photographed Friday morning)

Another chapter in the saga of 3050 Avalon Way, a vacant lot proposed for a 104-unit microhousing building. As reported here in September of last year, it was one of two West Seattle microhousing projects told that it would either have to make changes or go through Design Review as a full-fledged apartment buillding. That was the result of a Department of Planning and Development interpretation related to a lawsuit involving a Capitol Hill microhousing building. Less than two months later, we reported that the developer planned to make the changes that would keep the 104 units from being considered as separate apartments.

Subsequently, the nearby neighborhood group Seattle Neighbors Encouraging Reasonable Development asked the city for an interpretation on whether the city would view the plan as 104 apartments or 14 – and today’s Land Use Information Bulletin brought the notice of that interpretation, summarized this way:

The question raised for interpretation was whether the 104 bedrooms in the proposed building should be regulated as separate dwelling units. Each of the bedrooms has a private bathroom. Early versions of the plans showed counters with sinks in each bedroom, outside the bathroom, but those features were eliminated before the plans were approved. The interpretation concludes that the individual bedrooms are not designed and arranged as separate dwelling units, and that the proposed building is appropriately regulated as a 14-unit apartment building based on the plans as modified.

See the full interpretation here.

We first made note of a potential project on this site three years ago, when it appeared on our “West Seattle development in the works” map as a “14-unit boarding house.” Along with the 104 “sleeping rooms,” the newest plan set for the building continues to show it without offstreet parking – not required because it is in a “frequent transit” area (with RapidRide running along Avalon) – and with a basement level plus 6 stories and a “mezzanine” top level.

Accompanying the interpretation today is a key land-use approval for the project, a determination of environmental non-significance (“environmental” in land-use decisions includes factors such as traffic and noise). You can read that decision here. Its publication opens a two-week appeal period; anyone who wants to appeal the “interpretation” can only do that in connection with an appeal of this approval. The process of filing an appeal is explained here.

54 Replies to "West Seattle development: City gives key approval to 3050 Avalon microhousing, with interpretation that it's 14 apartments, not 104"

  • Frank August 6, 2015 (10:59 pm)

    So what does this mean?

  • JanS August 7, 2015 (12:53 am)

    n my opinion it’s utter BS…those bedrooms aren’t part of an apartment. It’s strangers living in a dorm, for goodness sake. Each room will rent for upwards of 800 bucks, probably…

    it’s the developers pulling a fast one, and as per usual, the city is going to let them.

    Maybe the decision makers should be required to live there for a year. See what their opinion is then…

  • BD August 7, 2015 (5:43 am)

    JanS, well, based on the description in the story, with no counters and sinks in the bedrooms, it pretty clearly is a boarding house not an 104-unit apartment building so the city’s interpretation is likely correct. And, there is no requirement that the developer build housing that city decision makers would enjoy living in. I would imagine the likely target tenants are youngling tech workers with decent paychecks who will eat in our local restaurants and be fabulous neighbors.

  • Neighbor August 7, 2015 (6:20 am)

    I wonder if Lisa Herbold and Shannon Braddock approve of this “affordable” housing since they are both vague on whether they approve of the Mayor’s expanded urban villages and developer handouts in the name of affordable housing?

  • KatherineL August 7, 2015 (6:28 am)

    …or require the decision makers to live next to them. That’s another 104 people and their cars in the neighborhood. They’ll all have to go buy groceries. By bus? Of course not. And they’ll probably have visitors now and then. The area is already stressed with too many cars and no room to park them.

  • Dormer August 7, 2015 (6:46 am)

    With the skyrocketing shortage of housing as well as increasing costs, upwards of $800 can be a lifesaver when apartments average over $1,400.

    If you can’t afford or choose not to own a car, why should you subsidize a system that is already unfeasible? Adding additional parking does nothing to address our problem, too much reliance on single occupancy vehicles…as soon as you leave your garage, you are grid-locked. We can’t simply pave our way out of this problem.

    Without raising the hackles of all of us who utilize cars for jobs, health-care and recreation, there is certainly a growing younger population that is choosing not to own or rely on cars.

    Street parking is not a right and should stop being viewed as such. Monetizing all street parking offers the only viable solution. Charging for all street parking levels the playing field, is equitable and would address concerns about micro-housing tenants parking on the street.

    Personally, I don’t understand how people living together, strangers or not, is a bad thing for society?
    There are already countless unrelated people living together in SFRs, rooms for rent, co-ops, maybe even some throw-back communes here in Seattle.
    Maybe not you or me, but all of these alternatives offer someone a needed place to live. What is wrong with that?

  • Mark schletty August 7, 2015 (7:04 am)

    What does it mean. It means that the citywide uproar over the super high density, no parking HALA housing recommendations was heard by everyone but the city officials. No surprize there.

  • pjk August 7, 2015 (7:17 am)

    This is essentially a dorm – not an apartment building! While public transportation is close to this development, there will always be cars associated with a portion of these tenants – and their Zip cars will be parked on the street! Having lived in WS my entire life, the density has dramatically increased in my 60+ years but the transportation/road system has not kept up, no matter what the city says!! One lane to Nbound I-5 and one lane to Sbound I5 and in the future, no viaduct just a tunnel which I don’t care to be trapped in for any circumstance – fish truck or earthquake!

  • John LaSpina August 7, 2015 (7:59 am)

    Sounds to me like the city planners and developers are together pulling a fast one on our community. It’s always helpful to have a few friends at city hall. Let’s see how our council candidates feel about this situation.

  • JayDee August 7, 2015 (8:09 am)

    @dormer: Your anecdotal assertion that there is a growing percentage of young people choosing not to own cars is likely true but misleading–I doubt the percentage is >10%. Nor does it say anything about the likely boarders who choose to live here.

    And these 104 “tenants” will own cars. And just because is on Avalon doesn’t mean that the Rapid Ride C buses (or any others) will have any room on them when they whizz by. Avalon is the end of the line for the C and other buses going downtown.

  • ChefJoe August 7, 2015 (8:09 am)

    It means that somehow you can have 104 units of housing with zero off-street spaces for any moving vans/parking, one bike space for every 4 units (4 bike racks for the entire building) rather than the new SEDU’s requirement of 3 bike spaces for every 4 units, and somehow they’ll probably still charge over $1,000/month for this.

  • RT August 7, 2015 (8:20 am)

    Not even the quality of dorm rooms….this will become a tenement building. Proximity to transit is a laugh. There is not sufficient capacity presently….how will this pressure on commuting time be addressed? Why not build these on the EAST side of the bridge…SODO and south. Guaranteed access to the urban utopia Seattle thinks it has become. Oh Emmet, what ever happened to Lesser Seattle?!

  • Kimmy August 7, 2015 (8:42 am)

    Dormer, lots of great points there.
    Millenials are shunning ownership of homes, cars, etc. more than the older generations did, and that’s great for many reasons. I love to see the trend of car ownership decline! And unique living arrangements? Awesome too. I think this lifestyle is hard for many to grasp, like me trying to decipher a tween’s text emojis. I know people that have never lived in a co-housing situation and assumed everyine needed a car to survive. While our public transit is still far behind, owning a car isn’t a necessity anymore, and this building doesn’t mean 104 cars need parking in the area. I hope to see them also monteize street parking in the more congested areas.
    I see a lot of complaints about Seattle “turning in SF”, for the most part, I can only hope.

  • Matt S. August 7, 2015 (8:54 am)

    Kimmy, I don’t know that I feel *exactly* the same but your perspective and attitude are a breath of fresh air. I wouldn’t mind being more like San Francisco, either, and rarely see anyone questioning why that’s a terrible thing.

  • AmandaKH August 7, 2015 (9:06 am)

    Why is SF a terrible thing? Because there is no income diversity. It is NOT okay to accept a living situation like this because you believe in density. It is NOT okay to settle for a room because it’s cheap. By accepting this, you are lowering the standards of living. We can do this the right way, or the developers way.

  • Ivan August 7, 2015 (9:18 am)

    If millennials are “shunning cars,” it is not necessarily by choice. Consider:

    1. They are entering the job market saddled with debt from college loans at exorbitant interest rates.

    2. The jobs have gone to China, or India, or other cheap-labor nations.

    3. The jobs that are left are service-economy jobs, provided by huge corporations that pay low wages.

    4. These corporations loathe unions and will resist any attempts by employees to better their compensation.

    5. All these factors have placed car ownership out of reach for a lot of younger people, and

    6. The War On Cars (and don’t lie to me that it isn’t real) means that less and less, there is any place to park anyway.

    So, with all these very real, very concrete economic factors in mind, I will continue to consider this notion that “millennials are rejecting car ownership” as the most arrant propaganda.

  • Matt the Engineer August 7, 2015 (9:20 am)

    “Settling for a room because it’s cheap is lowering the standards of living.”

    And if they’re out of bread, let them eat cake.

  • Ivan August 7, 2015 (9:55 am)

    Neighbor asks:

    I wonder if Lisa Herbold and Shannon Braddock approve of this “affordable” housing since they are both vague on whether they approve of the Mayor’s expanded urban villages and developer handouts in the name of affordable housing?

    Lisa is taking a well-earned post-primary mini-vacation, but she asked me to tell you the answer is (1) No, she doesn’t approve of it, but (2) it’s grandfathered in under a law that she fought to change. Here are her exact words:

    “This project would not be permitted today under the micro housing reform legislation that was passed last year & requires that each unit be a minimum 220 square feet. This change was made with a belief that minimum standards of livability were necessary for the residents of these buildings. I support this new reform legislation despite calls from developers to repeal it.

    Nearly all of the units in this project, vested under the old law, are too small under the new law, with about 80 of the units in this project, ranging in area from 120 square feet to 122 square feet in area, and the rest 193, 212 and 250 square feet in area.”

    The same developers who are funding Braddock are the same developers who fought these needed reforms. Some of the recent comments on WSB and in other places have expressed the feeling that “oh, they’re both part of the same bunch of insiders.” Nothing could be farther from the truth.

    I’ll give it to you straight. Shannon Braddock is the candidate of developers and rent-gouging landlords. Lisa Herbold is YOUR candidate. Don’t take my word for it either. Find out for yourselves. You’ll be glad that you did.

  • Jon Wright August 7, 2015 (9:59 am)

    I’m with Dormer on this one, ESPECIALLY this part:
    “Street parking is not a right and should stop being viewed as such. Monetizing all street parking offers the only viable solution. Charging for all street parking levels the playing field, is equitable and would address concerns about micro-housing tenants parking on the street.”
    Amen [Brother|Sister]!

  • neighbor August 7, 2015 (10:02 am)

    @Ivan- You raise several valid points. So how about we start doing something to reverse factors 1 and 2 rather than just accepting them as the new normal?

    Address those two items and everything else will follow.

  • AmandaKH August 7, 2015 (10:05 am)

    No Matt, “let them fight over the crumbs”, is the phrase you are looking for. Boarding houses are not the right way to solve our livability issues in Seattle. This “crisis” has been brewing since the 1990’s and this idea that tenement housing is the answer is ludicrous. We have had a City Council not interested in making any serious decisions to help grow our City concurrently. We spend $30m on homeless issues, but our homeless population keeps rising. Why? The largest reason for homelessness, loss of job, which in turn means your lose your home. And now people are so desperate they think $800 for a room in a boarding house is a bargain! Wow, thanks Seattle. You sure do know how to treat your working poor! I think we need a mix of housing, and smaller apartments are one of those fixes. But let’s not call it affordable housing. And let’s not excuse it as the new way people want to live.

  • Matt S. August 7, 2015 (10:08 am)

    “Settling for a room because it’s cheap is lowering the standards of living. And that’s not okay.” Manhattan called, but just laughed really hard and hung up.

  • Ivan August 7, 2015 (10:13 am)

    I am delighted to stand with Amanda on her most recent comment. These apodments are TENEMENTS, and the rationale for building them is exactly the same rationale that the tenement builders of the 1880s used. “Oh, these are the poors. That’s how they want to live.”

  • dhg August 7, 2015 (10:26 am)

    I think most of us believe that reducing reliance on single owner cars is a good thing. But this building does not do that. What it does is to increase density. That’s more people who discover what a poor system of transportation we have. It is likely to result in more traffic, more parking problems because WE HAVE A POOR TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM. The mayor should not be focused on increasing density UNTIL the transport problem is solved.

  • AmandaKH August 7, 2015 (10:35 am)

    The NYC argument is bunk. NYC has 8.4 Million people living there. We have 650,000. There is no reason we need to build tenement buildings. We can build more density – building up, triplexes, duplexes, filling in large lots with DADU’s – without having to build these rooms. It’s not affordable housing Matt, it’s greed.

  • Paul August 7, 2015 (10:36 am)

    @ivan @amandakh – bingo! This is how the poor want to live. Sigh.

  • pjmanley August 7, 2015 (10:50 am)

    Thank you, Ivan, for mentioning history. It’s all been done before, folks. And with largely bad results. But, those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it, so try to enjoy the ride as here we go again.

  • Matt S. August 7, 2015 (10:58 am)

    @dhg, I agree that it’d better to have a capable transit system in place first. But throngs of taxpayers would provide demand and *resources*, right? I assume that this is how it will happen, it’s just going to be rough in the meantime.
    If transit isn’t worked out in the long run, growth will be stifled and that means less money to go around. My bet is that capital provides the primary incentive as usual.
    @Paul, etc.: I would like to live in a quiet, hilltop house with a mountain+water view in urban Seattle, yet I’m forced to accept the limitations of reality—which are subject to supply and demand. If I can no longer afford to live where I want, I will likely have to move to someplace I can. I’m sure this sounds callous, but how is this different from any other economic class? Are wages and housing costs catastrophically mismatched, or are you saying that cheap housing simply isn’t cushy enough?
    I’ll admit I’ve wondered (ignorantly, I guess) how San Francisco manages to have anyone at all working in its service industry given the cost of living and housing situation, yet it appears to work. What am I missing?

  • Ms. Sparkles August 7, 2015 (11:06 am)

    @ dhg- Absolutlely!!
    @ Matt S. – you made me choke on my tea (lol)
    @ Amanda – you have a valid point, but how is LESS housing going to fix the problem? Are you suggesting rent control? (I’m not opposed, but don’t know much about it either)
    @ Ivan (Thread jacking warning) – if you speak for Ms. Herbold, can you please explain why I received 3 unwanted calls from her campaign after I told the first caller not to call my house again? How can I expect her to represent my interests when she’s not even interested in respecting a basic request?

  • Ivan August 7, 2015 (12:04 pm)

    Ms. Sparkles:

    No, I can’t explain it, and I’m not going to try. Lisa’s campaign has hundreds of volunteers making phone calls. People who refuse to talk to volunteers are marked as “refused.”

    This information is supposed to be updated in the system automatically and electronically, and those who are marked “refused” are not supposed to be called again.

    Lisa’s opponent, I can tell you for a fact, is using the same system, so it is possible that you could have the same experience with her campaign.

    If that is the basis on which you choose who will represent you on the City Council, then good luck to you. The vast majority of voters welcome the contact, and use the opportunity to learn more about the candidates. I hope you will find another way to do that.

  • AmandaKH August 7, 2015 (12:08 pm)

    @Ms Sparkles – Not less housing, different types. I am not a huge fan of rent control – but not a fan of price gouging or economic displacement either. Like I said above “We can build more density – building up, triplexes, duplexes, filling in large lots with DADU’s – without having to build these rooms” The real problem is land value. The land values in Seattle keep going up. When a developer buys an older apartment building, they need to make a good return on their investment. In a lot of cases, they are just buying it to “flip” it. They don’t care about the people living there, and they sure as hell don’t care who lives there afterwards. They walk away with a tidy profit, and the neighborhood is left to deal with the consequences. It’s capitalism, and it’s been allowed to run rampant with our current City Council. Even Lisa Herbold’s comment is telling of the climate on City Council. “This project would not be permitted today under the micro housing reform legislation that was passed last year…”
    Why was the legislation allowed to be written that way in the first place? Greed, plain and simple.

  • Alex Clardy August 7, 2015 (12:16 pm)

    @Ms. Sparkles As a representative of the Herbold Campaign, I want to sincerely apologize to you for having received so many unwanted calls, especially having been asked to be removed from the list. It certainly is not our goal to annoy voters, nor turn them away. The campaign employed an autodialer which we found to have a few wrinkles in the software. Though I’m sure our volunteers marked you as do not call, I want to ensure we respect your privacy, you’re welcome to email me at lisa@district1forherbold.com and I will ensure that is the case.

  • Mickymse August 7, 2015 (12:43 pm)

    “They’ll all have to buy groceries.”
    “Where will the [large] moving trucks go?”
    What?!?! The residents who choose to live her will be living in 250 square feet or less in places with small shared kitchenettes. It IS like a dorm…
    So how many groceries do you think they’re going to be buying? And how many things do you expect them to be moving in with? Some people need to get a clue… The people who choose to live here DON’T WANT TO LIVE LIKE YOU DO so stop wailing about how you could never possibly live here. They’re not like you.

  • Ms. Sparkles August 7, 2015 (1:16 pm)

    @ Alex Clardy- thank you, I appreciate the apology.
    @ Ivan- I decide whom to vote for based on the information provided on their websites & by cross checking any facts or statistics they quote.
    Mickymse brings up a good point- are those opposed to this assuming this market doesn’t exist? That people who’ll be using these dorms do so only grudgingly for lack of a better option? Or are we afraid of having the people whom this is marketed toward move into our neighborhood?
    I can see the potential for this to become a problem if management isn’t good about upkeep. But if it is well maintained, then it could add something good – I’m hoping for the best, ’cause at this point it’s all I can do.

  • Kimmy August 7, 2015 (1:37 pm)

    Matt S. — thanks! I appreciate your comments as well, and believe I have seen you comment on this in past articles as well. I’m looking forward to a more dense city, for sure. I want to move things along then find ways to keep it the same.
    I will continue to live here until we decide to possibly go back to the Bay Area, or E. Washington, or we just can’t afford it anymore. That’s life. I don’t feel entitled to a specific guarantee in standard of living, and would consider downsizing yet again to stay in the city if it was important to me. It’s a privilege to live here, and I’m far, far from being able to afford my dream home!

  • AmandaKH August 7, 2015 (1:47 pm)

    @MsSparkles -My problem with this is that it is Not the answer for our affordability issues in Seattle. It’s being billed as such so that people who complain look like NIMBY jerks. Tenements have never been a good solution to housing.

  • Matt S. August 7, 2015 (2:11 pm)

    @AmandaKH: I’m not sure where I am on the NIMBY scale, but I appreciate your point about being falsely sold on the idea that a lot of these developments are a practical answer to “affordable housing,” and that the only sure thing are the profits developers are walking away with.
    After reading a New Yorker perspective on San Francisco and its income+housing situation, I’m left thinking that it’s in everyone’s best interest to accommodate *diverse* growth *now*. I think we agree that means people at various income levels, not young tech workers and more senior tech workers. Surely that can be a broader target, without being so far (where we may disagree) as artificially adding housing for people that just feel entitled to live in any neighborhood at any income. How’s my understanding holding up to your point of view?

  • Neighbor August 7, 2015 (2:37 pm)

    Kimmy – it’s nice that you think Millennials are shunning cars, homeownership, etc, but the facts do not align with your perception, or perhaps your preferences, and thus the concern that these places are bad for West Seattle: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/04/millennials-not-so-cheap-after-all/391026/

    I appreciate that you don’t feel entitled live wherever you want, but your comments here and on previous threads seem to suggest you’re all for imposing changes on those who bought in areas they researched and which they were led to believe based on building codes are not to have 104 occupant, 6-floor dormitories adjacent to their single family homes… a new entitlement program so you or others can push single family homeowners out while you realize your super-dense San Francisco-style utopia?

    Ivan – thank you for responding. Where does Ms. Herbold stand on expanding the urban villages (an issue surely to come up again) into what are currently vibrant single family communities adjacent to the urban villages?

  • AmandaKH August 7, 2015 (2:52 pm)

    Wow Matt S. – that article made me a little sick to my stomach. Oh yes! Tech Gods, we poor “support” serfs are pleased with whatever ye would offer us. The shi**ty part of town? Okay! I guess that’s all we serfs deserve. Didn’t this already happen somewhere in history?
    The largest threat to 99% of us in this county is income inequality. A home owner is 4 times wealthier than a renter (FWIW: I am a homeowner). Here people are begging to just control the rent enough so we can all still be living near our $15 / hr jobs that we get to after being stuck in traffic. The people with mega money are so awesome at distracting the rest of us into fighting with each other. Mostly about who gets to park where and who is entitled to how many crumbs they can pick up off the floor.
    We seriously need leadership in this City (state, country) that is not afraid to take this on and push back. A Community is strong when you have diverse voices represented. And diversity in culture, color, gender, wages, renters, owners, kids/no kids, etc. Do you want to live in a City run by the elite who think they are doing you a favor by building tenements?

  • ChefJoe August 7, 2015 (3:18 pm)

    I agree with the idea of RPZ in areas of such high density developments/frequent transit service, but make the number of RPZs available for an address proportional to the lot size.

    If 4 SFH lots totaling 20,000 sq ft were eligible for, say, 12 RPZ passes then a similar “no parking needed” building constructed on the same 20,000 sq ft lot should only be eligible for 12 RPZ passes. If the landlord wants to allocate those RPZ passes based on $X per year instead of building parking in the building, so be it.
    Sure is confusing that they’re going with the old standard for bike parking too… 75% of tenants will be using transit/walking and only 25% will have bikes to park (even if not regularly using them)?

  • Community Member August 7, 2015 (3:42 pm)

    Does anyone know whether this project earns a major tax break by building units that will rent for some number based on the area’s median income?
    I feel like laws have been written with the intention of encouraging the building of affordable apartments. These are not apartments and the tax breaks should not apply. But maybe the tax break laws never said apartment?

  • anonyme August 7, 2015 (3:49 pm)

    Both NY and SF have pretty efficient transit systems, and lots of options for getting just about anywhere, and both of those cities were built with high density as part of the plan. Seattle was not, and retrofitting is uncomfortable at best – especially with a complete lack of infrastructure to support it. As usual, our city government has put the cart before the horse.

    All this NIMBY name-calling is misguided and wrong. Lots of us saved for years and years before being able to buy even a humble little house in a single-family neighborhood. Wiping out the old in favor of anything and everything new and shiny is a very American, very short-sighted view.

  • Matt S. August 7, 2015 (4:03 pm)

    @AmandaKH I’ll not rush toward one of the polar answers, I sincerely want to understand the tradeoffs in play here and where I have the influence to support the kind of place I want to live. For me, it’s not as simple as fighting the 1% or letting capitalism solve all.

  • WSPK August 7, 2015 (4:16 pm)

    Something that I can’t help but wonder about whenever talk of density and growth comes up; water. We’re seeing this summer that the Seattle Metro water supply is going to be stretched. Projections are that warmers winters and reduced snowpack are increasingly likely.
    How are we going to accommodate another 25%, 50%, etc? I can “imagine” Seattle finally coming up with a workable mass transit system (though I have my doubts that the money and will to make the needed upgrades), but our water storage capacity is limited, finite, and unlikely to change significantly.

  • K-T August 7, 2015 (4:42 pm)

    Every new generation or demographic group these days seems to come with a stereotype. Just to keep things straight. Millennials aren’t all cycling urbanists and bus riding techies. But it’s a useful selling point to perpetuate even if it’s more cardboard than reality. A good article based on 2014 census, Bloomberg number crunching over housing affordability for millennials, and Urban Land Institute report looked at millennials and where they live. Hint: they are heading away from big, expensive cities for affordability, more space, and they do own cars.


    If the millennial argument lifestyle doesn’t exactly hold water, then people can use the “affordability “at $800-1000/month for one room rentals. It seems rather expensive for what you get (and not really all that affordable) for such a barebone place just to sleep, poo, and store a couple of suitcases of personal belongings. The building’s new now, but how will it hold up 20 years from now? In an odd way, all of this microhousing selling rather support the gizmodo article. I don’t know why it’s surprising to find millennials might prefer to live in real apartments and homes they can afford.

  • Kimmy August 7, 2015 (7:08 pm)

    Neighbor, to answer your question (?) yes, I do support imposing changes on myself (and others) who bought a single family home in an area being rebuilt for condos, apartments and other multi-family structures. I expect that all of our lives will change and I’m completely fine with that. As a single-family home owner and a car owner in the same situation as many here, I don’t feel my current lifestyle should prevent change for increasing density or improving our city. I’m not sure where you got the impression I would be pushing people out of their SFHs, I am not a developer or an investor, nor am I a practicing broker.
    In regards to the car ownership issue, you’re welcome to search for articles that refute your own link. A good reminder (to both of us) that with any other hot issue, stats and narrative can be found on both sides of the coin.

  • Cato the Jünger August 7, 2015 (8:11 pm)

    One again the city shows that it is more interested in lining the pockets of developers than in the quality of the lives of the citizens who live here.

    I got a feeling that this building will get an “affordable housing” tax break further pushing the tax burden onto the single family homeowner.

    It also seems that they are quite a few developer shills in this thread.

  • Dormer August 7, 2015 (10:28 pm)

    Neighbor, the article you cite makes the opposite conclusion. http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/04/millennials-not-so-cheap-after-all/391026/

    “People are buying less and driving less, and these appear to be structural changes.”

    Here in Seattle the number of cars continues to exceed the number of car owners, while the number of car owners is going down.

    I don’t understand all of the “tenement” rhetoric nor the undue focus on the small percentage of microhousing units in the rental housing stock, nor the attacks on the people who choose to rent them.

    AmandaKH is all over the place, excoriating developers for greed and excess profits with no proof offered.
    Seattle is home to thousands of Microsoft ‘lottery’ millionaires and a dozen billionaires, but please list any microhousing developers in these groups?

    AmandaKH manufactured talking points like, “this idea that tenement housing is the answer is ludicrous.”
    No one is suggesting that tenement housing is the answer.

    A viable question is, can microhousing provide some housing for some people who choose it? If not, why?

    Amanda seems to support rent control though ‘no fan’. How does she suggest to solve all of the inequities rent control is so famous for creating? Are Paul Krugman and nearly all economists wrong?

    What is truly revealing here in this discussion about housing shortages for low income is the call to eliminate the least expensive housing units and offer nothing in their place.

  • redblack August 8, 2015 (10:01 am)

    Ivan said:

    These apodments are TENEMENTS, and the rationale for building them is exactly the same rationale that the tenement builders of the 1880s used. “Oh, these are the poors. That’s how they want to live.”
    that’s part of it. let’s not pretend these owners and developers are building housing out of the goodness of their altruistic hearts. they’re business people seeking profits, and there’s nothing surprising about that. it’s pure capitalist math:
    in order for the owner/developer to earn back his initial investment on the property, permits, fees, taxes, and cost of construction as quickly as possible – and make income for himself – he will need to charge a minimum amount of rent per unit. he can build 14 apartments and rent each out for five figures per month, or he can spread his revenue generation out over 104 tenants.
    and it’s cheaper to build 14 functional kitchens than it is to build 104.
    either way, affordability for the tenants doesn’t enter the picture unless he prices himself out of the market.
    one of the toughest tasks our government faces will be to encourage developers to keep providing housing stock. if we force affordability on them, will they continue to build, if they realize less profits from these ventures?
    i’m as far left as they come, but i understand how developers and the investor class think. emotional pleas will fall on purely legal and objective ears, and new laws to curb bad behavior will only make them combative – or reluctant to build.

  • G August 8, 2015 (2:32 pm)


    I, too, cannot understand this hysterical angst over anything that is not a 1910 Craftsman home. The vast majority of West Seattle looks exactly as it did 20 or 30 years ago, and most of the new multi-housing construction has been along major arterials where one expects it to be. This is a growing CITY and we need a variety of housing for people.

    Btw, I just put my house on the market, and it’s a bit of feeding frenzy of lookers. For a variety of reasons, it’s time to move on. This new West Seattle is not resonating with me anymore.

  • wb August 9, 2015 (7:55 pm)

    Amanda– “A home owner is 4 times wealthier than a renter” — i wonder about this. Those of us who have taken a bath on the crashes may have done better to invest the money elsewhere. The idea that property is your retirement may be an instrument of our grandparents day.

  • Bunnyfer August 9, 2015 (10:07 pm)

    I have a friend who recently moved into one of the apodments on Avalon. She had to get rid of her car, and most of her belongings. She described the room this way, “Imagine the smallest dorm room you’ve ever seen. Now halve it.” And she’s right; the lack of space is vaguely horrifying. I went to college, and none of my dorm rooms were ever that small. Even back in my “salad days,” I doubt all my possessions would have fit. So please don’t anyone say that living here is a best choice – it’s often the only option other than the streets.

    Which brings me to my next sticking point: no one who lives here will want to stick around. As soon as her lease is up, my friend is moving. The size, quality of neighbors, neighborhood noise, and lack of amenities all being factors. And people who don’t want to stay are not likely to be invested in making and keeping the neighborhood nice. Why would you care if the kitchens in these buildings are clean? (Hint – they aren’t. They kitchens are filthy and none of these new renters seems willing to clean up after themselves or acknowledge that their actions may impact the livability of others.) Or, for that matter, your garbage area, alley ways or streets? If this area is not already infested with rats, roaches, and other vermin, then it cannot be long. When you deliberately create a space for people not to care about their surroundings, they will surely live down to your expectations. Build something people can appreciate and invest in – for all residents of WS.

  • Ttt August 9, 2015 (11:03 pm)

    A very good insight into these “14 apartments” aka 104 rooms with shared kitchens…. i agree with you 100%.

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