WEST SEATTLE REZONING: 1 week to community-led briefing; 2 weeks to city-convened open house

Before you get entirely into holiday mode … a reminder about a process that’s playing out right now, and seeking your comments on major zoning changes:

(Direct link to draft West Seattle Junction Urban Village rezoning map)

(Direct link to draft Westwood-Highland Park Urban Village rezoning map)

(Direct link to draft Admiral Urban Village rezoning map)

(Direct link to draft Morgan Urban Village rezoning map)

Those are the newest versions of the city’s “draft maps” showing proposed rezoning in West Seattle’s four “urban villages” as part of the mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA). Besides what’s shown on the maps, all multifamily zoning in the city is proposed for upzoning as part of the HALA component called Mandatory Housing Affordability – adding more development capacity in exchange for requiring developers/builders to either include a certain percentage of “affordable” units, or pay into a city fund that will be used to build “affordable” housing elsewhere.

Right now, the city is planning one open house-style meeting to answer questions and take comments about all four of these maps (and the one for South Park), 5:30 pm-7:30 pm on Wednesday, December 7th, at Shelby’s Bistro and Ice Creamery in The Junction (4752 California SW). You might already have received a mailer about it, though as the recipient who shared the mailer with us pointed out, it doesn’t mention the word “rezoning” (below, photos of its front and back):

Since the open-house event has no presentation scheduled, local community members are planning a pre-meeting to explain the maps and the process – including the guiding principles – in hopes of helping you understand what’s being proposed and comment most effectively, whether you’ll be doing that at the December event and/or via the special city website hala.consider.it. As explained in this announcement earlier this month, that meeting is one week from tonight – 6:30-8:30 pm Tuesday, November 29th, at Highland Park Improvement Club (12th SW/SW Holden), and everyone is welcome.

TIMELINE: At last week’s Junction Neighborhood Organization discussion of this, Nick Welch from the city Office of Planning and Community Development said that after the comment and review period this winter, final rezoning maps are likely to go to the City Council around June.

40 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE REZONING: 1 week to community-led briefing; 2 weeks to city-convened open house"

  • Mike November 22, 2016 (9:35 pm)

    The marketing around this is amazing, “housing for all”.  Unless rent is $600 / month or less they’ll be hard pressed to make this affordable to anyone on the new minimum wage plans, much less the current minimum wage.  This city council is so out of touch with reality and so in the pockets of developers it’s like Trump placed them there.

  • WSGuy November 22, 2016 (10:15 pm)

    The flyer is a sham.  It fails to notify the residents of the major impacts proposed to their street.  The city is clearly trying to hide HALA from us.

    • 98126res November 29, 2016 (3:02 pm)

      The flyer and event are PR pieces for HALA zoning changes. The postcard was mailed only to residents within the urban village or nearby.  The rest of West Seattle did not receive it.  I wish city officials had mailed an invitation to all WS residents at the beginning of the process.

  • Jeanie November 23, 2016 (12:48 am)

    At the risk of seeming obtuse, I can’t seem to find where exactly I can submit my comments. Oh, and I agree with much of what Mike and WSGuy are saying. Of course, increased density NEVER means that traffic around here will get even worse because everyone will take the bus (/sarcasm). Air pollution, more sewage problems, less parking, etc. 

    • WSB November 23, 2016 (1:18 am)

      At http://hala.consider.it, scroll down and choose the pulldown for the map on which you want to comment.

      Or – and I need to add this to this story; we had it in an earlier one … halainfo@seattle.gov

  • Rick November 23, 2016 (1:49 am)

    “Don’t pay any attention to that man behind the curtain”  keeps to coming to mind when I read this.

  • John November 23, 2016 (7:31 am)

    This whole thing upsets me.  I worked many jobs through college to get my degree.  It took me 7 1/2 years before I finished.  I had to make the money to continue classes.  I’ve worked hard my whole entire life to buy a home.  I spent years fixing up my home and another 1 1/2 years building a backyard cottage.  I’m renting the cottage and have a nice income from it.  I bought my home in it’s current location so I can walk to my dentist, gym, True Value, and restaurants.  Also knowing the location will get me more money for my cottage.   I’ve been riding my bike to work since 1988.  I’ve done everything the City wants us to do.  Now the City wants to legally ‘take’ my property from me and turn my lot into multihousing….to provide a home to those that were not motivated as myself.  I get screwed in this process, while others will get my location.  All my work on my home and cottage will be torn down by a developer.

    I would love to live in upper Queen Ann or Magnolia but I can’t afford it.  The City of Seattle needs to realize that those that can’t afford to live in West Seattle will find affordable housing in White Center, South Park, etc.   I had to move south to find affordable living….others simply need to go further south.

    As you can tell this really upsets me.  Oh….and I was planning to retire mid-2018.  Now I have no idea what’s going to happen.

    • sam-c November 23, 2016 (8:57 am)

      I am confused.  Does it actually say somewhere that just because your lot is upzoned, that is has to be taken from you and redeveloped?  remember that house in Ballard, the woman refused to sell her house to the developer, and the apartment building was built around her house?  Nobody will force.  I haven’t read through this information to know whether or not that is the case.

      • sam-c November 23, 2016 (8:59 am)

        * nobody will force. should be ‘nobody will force you to  move’

        • Junction dood November 23, 2016 (9:35 am)

          Nobody is forced, it’s still your property. You could have adjacent development you don’t like though which could push you out because you don’t like living there anymore. There are stand alone houses all over the city in areas that aren’t zoned single family. As far as a property being upzoned it will be able to accommodate more than a SF home so it will also go up in value and your property tax I would think will reflect that.

    • John November 23, 2016 (9:48 am)

      @Sam C and Junction Dood….  You’re both correct.  They can’t take my property, but to be surrounded by apartments/condos is not what I expected for my final home.  I moved to a single family neighborhood for that reason.  The new surrounding structures and increased property taxes will make me leave the new “Urban Zone”.  It’s a legal way of getting us out of our homes.

      I will have to move outside the “Urban Zone” and now drive to my dentist, drive to Safeway, drive to my gym, drive to True Value, and drive to the restaurants. 

      I’ll cool down one day….   :-)  

      • Junction dood November 23, 2016 (10:46 am)

        I totally understand and don’t blame you. And I’m not advocating hala or anything else. I just think that cities constantly change and have to grapple with growth and make decisions on how to manage it. Some good, some bad, some a matter of how much it impacts us individually. I have a friend that just moved back from a way outside of San Fran and was paying $4280 rent for a tiny house. I hope that doesn’t happen here. One thing is a lot of people are probably in the same boat as you and won’t sell. That also depends on how big of a carrot is our there money wise I guess though.

      • s November 23, 2016 (12:30 pm)

        John, but didn’t you go into a single family neighborhood and build a cottage to rent out? Maybe you have some neighbors who just want to live next to houses with yards, without a tenant in a backyard?

        At least your property values will go up, so if you want you can sell and move just a couple blocks away out of the up-zoned area. You’ll probably come out ahead, dollar-wise, and will still be able to walk to where you want to go.

    • KM November 23, 2016 (10:21 am)

      Nowhere in the HALA proposals does it say that property will be taken from you or other residents and given to “those not as motivated” as you. That is literally not happening. 

    • Moose2 November 24, 2016 (11:41 am)

      I think you misunderstand. There is no plan as far as I can see to take property for anyone. It merely (for some people) means that their property will be upzoned, which means (in most cases) when you come to sell you’ll get much more value for the land than current. 

      • Fairmount Springs Mom November 28, 2016 (9:13 pm)

        There is no evidence at all that our property values will go up.  When I asked the City for data about properties in other neighborhoods that have been upzoned holding their values, they can offer no data.

  • Mark Schletty November 23, 2016 (7:34 am)

    Just another dog and pony show bringing the “Grand Screwing” to our neighborhoods. The city officials could care less about how you feel. They think they are elected to do what they want, not to represent the majority of their constituents. A very strange twist on the meaning of representative democracy. 

    • Moose2 November 24, 2016 (11:51 am)

      I don’t understand what possible what this is a  “grand screwing” of neighborhoods. It seems to be an attempt to increase the supply for more affordable housing,  by tying developments to providing housing at lower rents. This seems a very reasonable approach to a complex problem that will only get worse if nothing is done about it now.

  • Junction dood November 23, 2016 (8:25 am)

    We’re getting more dense with or without hala. Unless we can get trump to build a wall around Seattle this will continue for the foreseeable future. On average 40 people a day have been moving to Seattle for years now. What do we do? Nothing?

  • BJG November 23, 2016 (9:48 am)

    I live across the street from the upzone, meaning many more apartments with no parking are coming. The new tenants will be vying for space with scores of commuter cars that arrive each morning to sit all day. I have had to call SPD twice this week, and it’s only Wednesday, to deal with cars parked across my driveway. One ticket and one tow later, I am tired of sitting on the phone a half hour for each report. I’m sure the meter maids are tired too. People don’t care about me and my neighbors, and this is only getting worse here. How does the City plan to address the problems that they are creating?  Oh. I forgot. NO plan at all!

    • Junction dood November 23, 2016 (10:48 am)

      I just learned the city has a policy of having no park and rides. Why?!?!

      • WSB November 23, 2016 (11:20 am)

        Not *no* park and rides – for example, we have them in West Seattle under the bridge and over by Olson/Myers. But we’ve definitely heard it repeated in recent years that the city’s policy is against building *new ones*.

        Speaking of which, while we haven’t confirmed this yet, we’ve heard that the city’s proposed parking-policy changes will also be part of the information at the multi-topic December 7th open house. The changes are somewhat buried here:


        (While the URL shows the page was set up to talk about parking policy, its language has evolved to “Residential Transportation Options” as the page title.

        The parking proposals are nested in that page – here’s a direct link to a seven-page document linked on one of the nested subpages, suggesting where they’re going.


        • Junction dood November 23, 2016 (11:28 am)

          Thank you WSB for the clarification!

      • Anonymous Coward November 23, 2016 (11:23 am)

        This.  To this day I still scratching my head as to why the SW corner of T-5 isn’t already a park and ride for a commuter train utilizing the existing tracks and rail bridge.  It’d cost some paint and some right-away fees to the freight railroad.  But On, no, the only way to get rail service to West Seattle is to build an entirely new bridge at a cost of hundreds of millions…

  • Heather November 23, 2016 (10:14 am)

    I’ll be attending both meetings as there’s really quite a bit to digest with all these proposals.

  • CMT November 23, 2016 (10:36 am)

    It seems like the City has slapped the words “housing affordability” on this steamrolling process in order to make it look like something other than developers getting what they want and the City getting money from the developers.  As I understand it, none of the property to be built within the residential neighborhoods to be devastated by the re-zone actually has to be “affordable.”  Rather, developers can build whatever they want so long as they pay the City money so that the City can build affordable housing . . . somewhere to be determined.  A bunch of happy cartoon drawings and the name “HALA” is supposed to make everyone feel like this is going to increase affordable housing in the Junction “Urban Village.”   The City also likes to throw around “increased density” as a justification for the re-zone.  However, I note that every single new huge apartment complex built within a several block radius of the Junction has vacancies.  For heaven’s sake, there is a guy dancing around with a sign on the corner every week-end trying to lure potential tenants.  

    • Moose2 November 24, 2016 (12:04 pm)

      Yes, the affordable housing may be built elsewhere in the city. I am not sure that is a significant problem, though. It doesn’t really matter exactly where the affordable housing is built. If you feel it should be in the specific developments, then please object to the plan that allows developers to pay a fee instead.

      Of more importance is that the upzone will increase opportunities for development, so lead to either developer-built affordable housing or developer fees. Doing nothing would lead to continued price increasing, driving even more people out of the market into long commutes.

      • CMT November 24, 2016 (1:53 pm)

        The problem is the City’s attempt to slide a massive rezone in West Seattle under the radar by the implying through its name and all related materials that it is for the primary purpose of providing affordable housing rather than affordable housing being a possible byproduct that “may” occur elsewhere.

      • CMT November 24, 2016 (2:07 pm)

        Additionally, it does actually matter to those who live in the neighborhoods that are singled out to be completely changed at great benefit to developers for hypothetical affordability elsewhere.

  • CMT November 23, 2016 (10:39 am)

    And to anyone who attends the meetings, amidst all of the “affordable housing” and “increased density” double speak, try to pin down the actual connection between the proposed re-zone and affordable housing.

  • Anonymous Coward November 23, 2016 (11:25 am)

    Affordable housing, growth management act, and preserving the character of the neighborhood.  Pick two.  

  • OTF November 23, 2016 (11:52 am)

    To preface my take on this, I live in a SF zone that is slated to be upzoned to LR2.  

    To those in the upzoned areas who are near retirement age, I’m willing to bet you won’t see the affects of the rezone until you are in a old folks home.  It took 20 years to see developers take advantage of the Urban Village concept passed in the late 90’s I believe.  RELAX everyone.  In 15-20 years when developers start building in these areas, and your block is changing, your home value will have increased dramatically because of it.  Please try to look at the positive side.  People keep having babies, we need more housing.

    • Junction dood November 23, 2016 (12:09 pm)

      Exactly. This is part of a 20 year plan to prepare for projected growth. For once the city is doing something pro-active instead of re-active.

  • Double Dub Resident November 23, 2016 (12:19 pm)

    Well there are quite a few people that need to quit having babies,  OTF.  People who are both financially and emotionally lacking often have multiple kids even though they can’t even take care of themselves financially or emotionally.  If you can’t take care of yourself please stop having kids 

  • TheKing November 23, 2016 (12:55 pm)

    I can see a domino gentrification effect happening as developers offer lofty sums to homeowners, who in turn buy a double lot that is run down and build high end. Somebody needs to stop putting big ideas in the mayors little head. 

    • Junction dood November 23, 2016 (3:51 pm)

      As long as there is appreciation, inflation and growth there will be gentrification. At least with MHA developers will share a little bit with the little guy to make “less expensive” housing. As far as “affordable” that remains to be seen. There is no silver bullet and people with lower incomes will never afford higher demand areas. Stratification is real. Case in point: I live in West Seattle. I want to live in Beverly Hills or Queen Anne. Not happening. Someone else wants to be in my shoes just like I want a mansion in the hills. If we don’t have more housing, especially rental housing stand by for major gentrification where people making $150,000 a year spend 50% of their income on housing like San Fran and everyone else spends 50% of their income to live 2 hrs away from work. We should already have more density and better transit like the rest of the world IMHO

  • Double Dub Resident November 23, 2016 (3:40 pm)

    Well I dunno about that.  If I get offered a hefty lump sum for my house,  I’m out of this backyard and city. I’ll take a farther commute anyday over this so called “progress”  our so called city leaders are trying to convince the people of  

    • TheKing November 23, 2016 (11:55 pm)

      I’m with you, I would also move out of the city, but not everyone is willing to give up roughly 800 hours of their time stuck in traffic. 2 hours each way takes it toll on you. I did it for about a year and a half, Memorial Day weekend back in ’05 took me 3.5 hours to get from Edmonds back to West Seattle. 

  • morgan November 23, 2016 (7:58 pm)

    Along with setbacks, let’s be sure all to talk about stepbacks.

    there are ways to mitigate density impacts on neighbors apparently not on the table yet from the City.

  • Jennifer November 28, 2016 (12:24 pm)

    As a property owner in South Park, I definitely have NOT been informed about any zoning changes.  Why???

    I don’t think the poor homeowners/ neighborhoods should carry the burden of this growth.  I chose not to have kids so I could afford a house.  I bought a house to have a beautiful garden. Trees.  South Park will no longer be a livable area without our trees/yards/living things.  I’ve invested 10 yrs in my garden.  Now it will die in the shadow of apodments?  I will pay for it in increased taxes?  

     Pretty sure most other people in my neighborhood are also unaware of upzoning.

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