FOLLOWUP: Myers Way Parcels recommendations ‘short-sighted … slice-and-dice,’ say preservation supporters

(Click to see full-size PDF)

11:17 AM: For the first time since the city Finance and Administrative Services‘ “draft recommendations” about the Myers Way Parcels came out – May 25th, as first reported here – we’re hearing from the group that’s been the loudest voice for keeping the site as open space.

The Seattle Green Spaces Coalition calls FAS’s three-part recommendation (update – here’s the PDF summarizing it) “short-sighted,” saying that the city has been less than thorough in evaluating the site’s ecology and its value, and in reaching out to the community. Here’s its statement:

The 33 acres of Myers Parcels is the largest plot of undeveloped land that the City of Seattle owns. It provides a wide range of benefits for the City of Seattle, and people in the White Center, Highland Park, South Park, Roxbury, Delridge and Georgetown neighborhoods. The City’s Finance & Administrative Services (FAS) Department issued a formal Notice of Excess Property for a large area of Myers Parcels on January 15, 2016. But it only distributed notice to a limited number of people. Then on May 25, 2016, FAS presented its draft recommendation for disposing of Myers acreage at the Highland Park Action Committee meeting.

The Seattle Green Spaces Coalition (SGSC) finds the draft recommendation short-sighted, and calls on FAS to withdraw it. It also calls on FAS to significantly increase engagement with the affected neighborhoods, and to re-assess the Myers Parcels ecology.

The FAS Department’s top-down recommendation runs contrary to Mayor Murray’s Equity and Environmental Action Agenda, which call for grassroots, community-driven planning.

FAS recommends breaking up and selling off parts of Myers Parcels, before it has assessed the current value of this forested area, which contains a watershed with two streams that feed clean water into the Duwamish River.

SGSC is working with numerous individuals and community organizations, such as White Center Community Development Association (WCCDA), Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association and others, to demand robust community engagement, and clear strategies to promote environmental sustainability and social justice.

The FAS recommendation presents nothing new. It does not take into account any of the 400+ comments sent to FAS, nor the more than 800 signers on SGSC’s petition calling for the City to stop the sale until communities are fully involved in the future of this site, and new environmental studies are conducted.

FAS recommends using part of the land immediately south of the Joint Training Facility for an expanded parking lot, selling the flat portion of the site for a commercial warehouse operation, and keeping the unmarketable wetlands and critical slope, with the addition of a possible adventure park on the critical slope above SR 509. FAS does not take into account that Myers Parcels holds origins of Hamm Creek, part of the most fragile link in Chinook Salmon Recovery, and within the Superfund Site of the first five miles of the Duwamish River.   Its plan does not keep that watershed healthy, or help to restore the Duwamish River and promote salmon habitat.   While we are spending millions of taxpayer dollars to clean up the Duwamish River, it makes no sense to jeopardize this watershed.  As a city we should be improving it, not building warehouses around it.

The land has healthy, mature trees that filter water, retain storm water run-off, control erosion, clean the air and help keep the city cool.   They create a green buffer for the communities of South Park and White Center.  Decreasing the green buffer by selling it for warehouse operations will degrade air quality with increased car and truck pollution. Increased hardscape will also increase stormwater runoff.  The inclusion of an adventure park can also potentially degrade the forest and wildlife habitat.

FAS’s recommendation to “slice and dice” this land, selling off parts of it, fails to recognize the land’s value as a whole. In a true “balance,” clean water and clear air would clearly win out over more warehouses that South Park and White Center do not need. 

Seattle Green Spaces Coalition demands meaningful community engagement and a valuation of all the benefits this land does and can continue to provide.  If we are going to live up to the commitment of the Equity & Environment Action Agenda and our Climate Action Plan, important questions must be answered:

·      What is the most environmentally friendly use of the land?
·      What is healthiest for the neighborhoods?
·      What ecosystem services will the proposed uses provide or reduce?
·      Will wildlife habitat be enhanced or reduced?
·      Will it be of use and used by the diverse communities?
·      What will its value be in the future for different uses?
·      How broadly will the land serve diverse community and the City?
·      How will it impact the watershed and recovery of the Duwamish River?
·      What are the land’s unique features and role in the ecosystem?
·      What will be the interplay of planned upland development of housing and the land?
·      Who will benefit from commercial development?
·      Would alternate uses such as fee activities benefit or exclude neighboring communities?

 So far, over 850 people have signed Seattle Green Spaces Coalition’s online petition demanding a robust, transparent and inclusive community engagement so that all people can participate in the decision-making process.

The city’s webpage with information about the parcels is here. Two weeks before the draft report came out, we toured part of the site with FAS reps, community members, and City Councilmember Lisa Herboldsee that report here.

ADDED 12:49 PM: We checked back with FAS’s Hillary Hamilton, who provided electronic versions of the draft-recommendations map and summary, both of which you’ll now see above. She says a public meeting is still planned but that they’re not yet ready to finalize the announcement. Meantime, comments are still being taken, she reiterates:

Comments are taken continuously through the review process, and a full report of people’s names and comments will be provided to the City Council before any decision is made. People can send comments at any time; we will acknowledge receipt. Those who contact us can be sure to be on the mailing list for updates. Email or regular postal mail is encouraged to Daniel Bretzke, Real Estate Services, Dept. of Finance and Administrative Services. Email is Postal address is Daniel Bretzke, FAS Real Estate Services, P.O. Box 94689, Seattle, WA 98124-4689.

11 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Myers Way Parcels recommendations 'short-sighted ... slice-and-dice,' say preservation supporters"

  • Chuck June 7, 2016 (12:07 pm)

    Bravo! Now that is a proper push-back. A parcel with two streams feeding the Duwamish needs to be given a much harder look. Hopefully this will get the desired results. 

  • Azimuth June 7, 2016 (1:16 pm)

    There seems like so much wasted space and derelict properties already south of downtown that carving out more warehousing space and parking lots from undeveloped land seems foolish.

  • Rose June 7, 2016 (11:04 pm)

    Feel grateful that folks are looking out for the health of this part of West Seattle, and not just the higher priced areas. Great letter!

  • AmandaKH June 8, 2016 (8:14 am)

    Thank you for this letter!  I would hope that the FAS and City would consider tabling this issue until the White Center Annexation vote.  I would imagine that the folks living just West of this land, in unincorporated King County would like to have a say about what happens there.

    • John June 8, 2016 (9:06 am)

      ” I would imagine that the folks living just West of this land, in unincorporated King County would like to have a say about what happens there.”  AmandaKH

      Why do outsiders need to keep lobbying for the locals on this issue?

      It is clear from all of the responses that local people representing the actual community are not engaged.   All we get are urban green activists (nearly all white, middle age homeowners)  speaking for a community that has other concerns than urban green space.

       Some of the reasons the local community is not active in this, may be that they are saddled with real issues like employment,  housing, transportation and schools.

      If you ask any of the now majority of renters as well as new arrivals whether,  they would prefer to live in the city close to work and amenities or commute an hour and contribute to spreading our suburbs, the answer is obvious.

      The Green Space Coalition’s intent to acquire city property to eliminate it from housing is at heart against preservation of our natural resources as it forces development into the truly green areas and stately forests that we are desperately trying to preserve.

      Not only development in our natural areas, but all of the infrastructure and permanent pollution/warming of increased  long distance commuting. 

      It makes no sense.

      • WSB June 8, 2016 (9:15 am)

        Please note, as you keep bringing it up, housing is not being considered for this site. FAS explained why, as covered in our story on their announcement of the draft recommendations:

        (If TL:DR – a. Polluted land – kiln-dust fill – and b. Too expensive to put in the infrastructure)

        There are large swaths of land nearby that DO have housing in their future. Including right up at the top of the bluff to the east – large King County Housing Authority-owned parcels (I don’t know the status of the potential projects there) – and as reported in our White Center Now coverage of last week’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting, the long-fallow former supermarket site in Top Hat has a large mixed-use project on the way with 200+ units to be built by an affordable-housing developer. (Standalone followup in progress) – TR

      • AmandaKH June 8, 2016 (4:14 pm)

        John, since you are so obviously concerned that only “outsider, white, middle aged homeowners” speak up, I can only imagine you are not one of them.  So I look forward to meeting you next week at the Boundary Review Board public hearing in White Center.  I plan on being there at the Tuesday session.  Since annexation will effect not only White Center, but also West Seattle, I am hoping you can understand why locals care about this issue.   I look forward to meeting you and hearing  the many ideas you have about our community.

  • Mike Loebe June 8, 2016 (4:46 pm)

    I’m grateful the Green Space Coalition is advocating for the environmental benefits of the people of South West Seattle.  We are an area that has been neglected and forgotten for a long time.  

    Thank you for your advocacy and I will continue to provide my input and vote on any petition that helps further your efforts for a more environmentally friendly use of the land.  

    Mike Loebe

  • Mary Fleck June 9, 2016 (7:16 pm)

    Seattle Green Spaces Coalition is a very open and inclusive group.  We are engaged with people and community groups throughout Seattle, including many in White Center, Highland Park and South Park.  We meet twice per month at public libraries throughout the city, in order to be open to all.  You are invited to come and meet some of us!   You may find that we have something in common!

    Our mission is to re-purpose city-owned land in ways that are consistent with the goals of local communities and the city’s environmental policies.  While Seattle has many policies like the Climate Action Plan, Urban Forestry Stewardship Management Plan, Equity and Environmental Action Agenda and neighborhood plans, its implementation of these plans is lagging way behind the push to develop.  As a result, our “concurrencies” are not keeping up with our growing density.   We support development of housing, as one of many public goods.  But rather than putting up a “for sale” sign, we must make decisions that will have long term benefits and truly match up with our long term goals.  That is why we want meaningful public engagement when it comes to the future of our public land.

  • Karl June 12, 2016 (1:35 am)

    Why warehouses? This city is in desperate need of affordable housing and there is a park and ride just up the street from this location. If anything is going to be built on this open space it should be high density affordable housing. Even then, most of the space should be preserved as green space.

    • AMD June 12, 2016 (6:38 am)

      WSB has a couple comments above explaining why.  The land itself have some issues that make putting housing there prohibitively expensive.

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