WEST SEATTLE DEVELOPMENT: Special community-requested meeting set for 2 microhousing projects in 1 block

It’s been a while since the last city meeting scheduled by community request for a project that otherwise wouldn’t get one. Today’s Land Use Information Bulletin brings the official notice of one meeting May 25th for these two microhousing (what the city calls Small Efficiency Dwelling Units) projects:

In response to requests from community members, the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) will hold a public meeting to gather comments on two projects located at 5952 California Avenue SW (Project No. 3024606) and 6016 California Avenue SW (Project No. 3025264). This meeting is being held jointly due to the close proximity of both projects to one another. The two separate proposals under review are described as follows:

Project No. 3024606, 5952 California Avenue SW [design packet here]
Land Use Application to allow a 4-story apartment building with 29 small efficiency dwelling units and 6 apartment units (35 units total). Surface parking for 5 vehicles to be provided. Existing structures to be demolished.

Project No. 3025264, 6016 California Avenue SW [design packet here]
Land Use application to allow a 3-story structure containing 36 small efficiency dwelling units and 2 live-work units. Existing structures to be demolished.

Both projects need approval through the Administrative Design Review (one of two types that don’t go to the Design Review Board) and State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) processes. We first wrote about the 5952 California SW project one year ago, and first wrote about the 6016 California SW proposal last August. Both have changed their proposed number of units since then (fewer for 5952, more for 6016); both have the same architect, Hybrid. They’re in the same block as the greater Morgan Junction area’s first microhousing building, 5949 California SW.

The May 25th meeting will start at 6 pm at the Senior Center of West Seattle (4217 SW Oregon)

39 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE DEVELOPMENT: Special community-requested meeting set for 2 microhousing projects in 1 block"

  • Mark Schletty May 15, 2017 (9:50 am)

    Lisa Herbold– why are you allowing this to happen to our West Seattle?  Coupled with the already approved microhousing project, this is 110 new units with 5 parking spaces in a one block length area. We know many, if not most, of the people moving in will have cars. Do you care nothing about livability? When will you say enough is enough, this has to stop? West Seattle’s unique geographic situation simply cannot take on more people and remain a good place to live. As a District Councilmember it is your job to protect your district from exploitation.  

    • Jon Wright May 15, 2017 (10:38 am)

      Mark, You are obviously very passionate about this, but it isn’t clear to me what your specific issue with this type of development is and how you feel it affects livability. I am hoping you will clarify. You mention the lack of parking provided at these buildings. Is your concern how  they will affect street parking? Would this sort of development be acceptable if they included parking? Or is it just that more cars on the road will impact traffic? While very attuned to “West Seattle’s unique geographic situation” and how that affects egress from the peninsula, doesn’t darn near all of Seattle have some sort of geographic challenge?

    • Captin May 15, 2017 (10:58 am)

      I think this is the trend that is driving this idea. I agree that that little of parking is insane. But I have a friend that’s lived in New York for 20 years with no car too. 


      • Carole May 15, 2017 (1:08 pm)

        Seattle is not NYC.  I have been there multiple times, most recently in the last few weeks.  NYC has an extensive subway system, busses, ferries, and cabs on every corner.  If we had true rapid, mass transit and the ability to move people like NYC does we wouldn’t need to use cars for everything.  That said, there are still plenty of cars clogging up NYC.

        • Captin May 15, 2017 (1:33 pm)

          ok I wasn’t aware that I needed to list those out but you are totally correct and I agree.

          i was simply making the point that there are people out there that don’t have cars and that in major cities there are more and more of them. I wish we had an extensive subway system too. I know I would use it!

          To me all of this argument is not about when or why but only how.

        • Tyler Simpson May 25, 2017 (2:58 pm)

          The C line runs more frequently than most subway lines and is a quicker commute to downtown than most boroughs in NYC have.

    • Tyler Simpson May 25, 2017 (2:57 pm)

      Owning a car is wholly unnecessary at these locations – you’re a 2 minute walk from the C line that runs every 3 minutes at peak and frequently all day including in the wee hours of the night – faster than driving. You’re in walking distance to grocery stores, restaurants, and bars. These buildings address supply and will be relatively affordable. Not building them increases the cost of housing for everyone, spreads people further away from transit making them more likely to need cars and create traffic.

  • Peter May 15, 2017 (10:05 am)

    +1 Mark Schletty

  • helpermonkey May 15, 2017 (10:46 am)

    follow the money. our city council is beholden to developers. 

  • Roddy May 15, 2017 (10:53 am)

    I agree. I’ve lived in the same house in this area for nearly 20 years, I have one car, and just in the past six months, have often had to park several houses down from my own, or sometimes even on a different block. I would love to park in my own driveway, but the city won’t permit me to have a curb cutaway, because I live on the corner. Yes, I know this sounds petty, but when it’s raining and I have bags of groceries or heavy equipment/supplies to move from car to house, it sucks. I also believe that many of these microhousing residents will have cars…it’s too bad a “no car” rule can’t be implemented for residents of these units (although admittedly, it would be difficult to enforce.) 

  • Rick May 15, 2017 (10:54 am)

    +1000 Mark Schletty.  By the way, I am 6016 California. This will will be the fourth time my business has been booted in the name of “progress”.   I’m getting real close to bailing out after having a business here since 1978. Thanks

    • Jethro Marx May 15, 2017 (1:31 pm)

      Nooooooooo, Rick! West Seattle loves you!

       Although, I guess you could probably see this coming and all.

  • Natalie May 15, 2017 (11:20 am)

    The developers MUST include underground parking.  It is the only solution.  The side streets are already parked up for three blocks all day by RapidRide users.

    • JeffK May 15, 2017 (11:30 am)

      This would probably take a minimum frontage, something like 200′ on California.  This would be to get a decent sized hole with access ramps for cars so the entire garage isn’t just all ramp.  The one or two house knock-downs would need to become more like 4 in a row.  I like it.

    • chemist May 15, 2017 (12:01 pm)

      It’s kind of funny but link light rail stations count as a demand-generator for purposes of implementing RPZs but not the stop-gap versions we have now, rapidride lines.

      I also think RPZs should be apportioned to the persons paying property taxes so apartment complexes building no parking but sited on the equivalent of 2x 5000 sq ft lots might only be eligible for say 8 RPZ passes registered at that address and each SFH on a 5000 sq ft lot would be eligible for 4.

    • Tyler Simpson May 25, 2017 (3:01 pm)

      Each parking space in a garage costs about $100,000 to build. That makes the housing way more expensive. Unlike folks driving to the C line as you describe, everyone in these buildings will be right outside a station.

  • Mr. J May 15, 2017 (12:28 pm)

    This is a bigger issue than just yelling at Lisa Herbold. Mind you, her opponent was the one that accepted large sums of money from developers. The City has a plan for growth, we may not like it, but more and more people are moving to the region and need places to live, if we stifle that, rents may go higher and higher if supply goes down. Lisa doesn’t have the authority to step in and stop these projects that would just cause lawsuits against the city (and I know how blog commenters love useless city spending).  Does anyone want to head up a mandatory parking ballot measure? I would support it and its the only way I see things being able to change. Maybe set-up a group meeting to discuss with Lisa – you know like make democracy work for us rather than using scapegoatism for our problems. 

    That said, I live a block away and I’m not happy about this either, someone who has a bit more free time should head this up and rally the neighbors.

    • WSB May 15, 2017 (12:45 pm)

      I meant to mention this earlier but didn’t have time to find the links, but have now.

      The city is reviewing the parking policy that resulted in all this. However, I haven’t seen any indication that they’re going to require more parking … the sentiment actually seemed to be more like loosening the requirements even further.

      The policy page with information about the policy review is here:

      We noted that it was one of the things on which you could comment at last December’s “open house” centered on HALA. And it also was on an easel at the second HALA “open house” two Saturdays ago at Westside School. Where exactly it stands, I don’t know, but I’m asking – TR

  • Emily May 15, 2017 (12:32 pm)

    Does anyone know if there has been a study done on the microhousing developments already in place in West Seattle?

    What is reality? What is the ratio of car owners (and # of vehicles) per efficiency unit? And does that ratio change the further from main public transport hubs?

    Avalon/Fauntleroy seems to have a number of different options, but it’s far fewer at the Morgan Junction (and for these projects, the closest one to that junction still appears to be almost a 10min walk – according to the docs by hybrid following the link)  

  • Boats May 15, 2017 (1:54 pm)

    Repeat after me: neither i nor my neighbors nor anyone else has sole rights to current street parking.  

    • Sheesh May 16, 2017 (11:29 am)

      Repeat after me- don’t let a developer profiting through a legal loophole, steal my ability to keep my car within a reasonable distance to my home. 

  • Mark May 15, 2017 (1:57 pm)

    The projects should be required to conduct a parking study to determine effect.  Providing some parking is appropriate.  0.25 stall per unit might be a reasoned value.

  • skeeter May 15, 2017 (2:16 pm)


    You guys want *more* parking?  Have you gone insane?  Our streets are over capacity as it is.  Delridge is backed up almost a mile during
    morning rush hour.  And you want more
    cars?  I want *less* parking.  Eventually all the street parking will be gone
    (or too far away for people to walk to their cars) and we will finally stop
    adding cars to the road.  I am 100%
    against any new parking spaces in West Seattle and I would encourage the city
    to start removing parking spaces at a gradual and controlled rate.     

  • Concerned citizen May 15, 2017 (3:56 pm)

    I’d be fine with no parking required by developers if we had light rail now. Until then, there should be 1 parking space for every micropod or 1br apt! Someone also needs to consider what a lack of parking does to our small business owners. Has anyone talked to them? If they lack parking for their customers they cannot run their businesses and will be forced to leave. Has anyone in city government given any thought to what the continued teardown of small (what could be considered starter homes) houses are doing to the neighborhood? I understand the need for affordable housing but once all of West Seattle is built up with micropods, apartments and condos where are these new residents going to live as they start families? The 2 bedroom 800sf homes are all being torn down to make way for micropods or $900k+ 3200sf homes! The only homes left will be middle class 3br+ homes selling over a $1M+ when light rail is finally here. These homes will be largely unaffordable to the middle class and are pricing the current middle class such as my family out due to ever increasing taxes for transportation fixes that are too little too late.

    • Captin May 15, 2017 (4:52 pm)

      That’s what a lot of these contentious battles are about.

      The city is trying to introduce more housing options such as live/work, micro housing and upzoning to create more housing options and attempt to help with affordability. We need all of these things. Apartments with less parking, missing middle housing, etc. There is no panacea for what is an absolutely inevitable dilemma. Growth.

      We are decades behind on transportation and managing density. I’m with you that this totally sucks and wish I had an answer.

  • Anonymous Coward May 15, 2017 (4:49 pm)

    Why not simply increase the car tabs for anyone registering their car at an address with no off-street parking?  If these buildings are really getting cars off the streets, it should impact no one.  

    • WSB May 15, 2017 (5:07 pm)

      If you support something like that, then you might as well assess a parking fee for everyone with a vehicle unless they can prove they have offstreet parking for that car and that they use it (no garage full of stuff, etc.).

  • Anne May 15, 2017 (5:40 pm)

    Mr. J, neighbors rallying is the only reason these projects are even getting a public hearing. 

    This single block of California Ave SW (spanning SW Raymond) already has a dearth of parking spaces serving one apodment, apartments and a mix of other housing.  The proposal is to add two more apodments– a total of more than 70 additional units.  My question to city planners is where will this end?  Can a single block  sustain 1 apodment building? 5? 10? 20?  The code needs to address both providing a mix of housing and keeping the character of the neighborhood–equally in areas of California zoned “urban village” and the single-family zones streets to the East and West.  I cannot believe 3 or more apodments in one block is what planners had in mind when this was codified–it’s inappropriate and causes far more problems than it solves.

    • Captin May 15, 2017 (6:42 pm)

      I agree that planning and attempting to identify potential problems in the future is a great idea. It’s probably harder in practice just because individual property owners can do as they wish within the boundaries of code.

      I will say though that “character” in an area that is not determined to be historical and thus protected from change is constantly changing as people sell/buy/make additions/cut down trees, etc. Some change, even incremental is inevitable over a long enough timeline.

    • Mr. J May 16, 2017 (11:08 am)

      Anne I don’t disagree with you at all, I live a block away from this and I’m not thrilled. 

      My rallying point was to Mark, who was blaming Lisa Herbold for not intervening when its clearly not in her authority to stop development projects. I submitted comments like many of my fellow neighbors and would like these projects to be smaller, the sites are to small to include much parking underground or otherwise. If we want changes made in the city we need to start meeting with officials and trying to pass measures on small efficiency dwellings (they’re a joke). 

  • flimflam May 15, 2017 (6:00 pm)

    are any of the advocates for these housing blocks researching the % that own a car while living in an apodment or is that too scary?

  • millie May 15, 2017 (7:02 pm)

    Question:  If all this new construction (micro-housing, condominiums, work/live spaces) are intended to result in “affordable housing” – why is housing so “unaffordable” for so many?   Why is the number of homeless increasing?   I am no Plato, however, it seems to me logic was not involved in the City’s planning and/or transportation processes.  As an aside, the City appears to be losing the “car battle” also per a recent news article.

    I do agree with a previous comment regarding Councilwoman Herbold’s  “to protect the district from exploitation”.   The construction of the West Seattle Bridge, but definitely all the new construction, has resulted in a tremendous population growth on the West Seattle Peninsula, yet, our infrastructure (roads/public utilities), police and fire protection has not kept up.  West Seattle does not have a hospital or an ambulatory care center to care for area residents.   Does HALA address any of these issues?

  • JRR May 15, 2017 (8:01 pm)

    We’re in a tough spot here on the peninsula. On the one hand, we have a housing crisis and can’t build things fast enough. Meanwhile, our transit is only slightly better than ‘sucks’ — if you live near a major line. To get better transit, we need density. But right now, we’re in the growing pains phase as a city, and we know millennials aren’t buying cars. I think the answer could be found in more on-street resident-only permit parking. If you want to park on the public street, which is supposed to be for everyone, pay for it.

  • Stinky May 15, 2017 (11:44 pm)

    Parking has become less,yes.  The Bridge,New Luck Toy,Ian Fitness and apodments have all been factors. Not everyone who lives in an apartment will want to have a car,though. Unfortunately,Seattle is an automobile city. There are simply not enough incentives for people NOT to have a car. 

    What I would like to know is ,who is the idiot that had the idea of putting a center turning lane on the main arterials throughout the ENTIRE CITY?!  

    Is this all part of a grand plan to line every major road with characterless condos,microhousing ,and very uninteresting retail boxes ,and have turning lanes for all of that ?  It completlely bottlenecks traffic,and drivers are forced into a single file line. What this has effectively done is take a lane away from each direction. Its ridiculous.

    If they want to invite more people ,more housing,more cars,more jobs,more money,why on Earth do planners continually throw stones in their own path?

    Seems to me there are too many fingers in the pie ,and everyone has to be pleased. Bicycle lanes where there used to be onstreet parking,bicycle lanes doubling as car lanes,rapid ride buses blocking traffic at bus stops, the city giving away property like candy to developers, and pedestrians ultimately having the right of way. 

    Seattle will never be a city like New York,Chicago or L. A. .Never. A small city with big city troubles. Huge traffic problems,obscene costs for everything,homelessness,crime,pollution,and ever increasing accidents on the roadways.

    Go check out Portland sometime,and you can see a city that has planned well.

    Seattle just loves the money too damn much to be sensible. And good people are bailing out.

    I heard also that all free parking lots in the Junction will be gone soon,in service of new development. It wont be long before solar parking meters are sprinkled all over West Seattle as well. 

  • skeeter May 16, 2017 (8:31 am)

    JRR is correct of course.  The days (and nights!) of free street parking are coming to an end.  We don’t have the space and giving something away for free distorts the market forces.

  • wetone May 16, 2017 (10:36 am)

    These type of builds are being pushed/allowed by CITY and investors as being occupied of people that are non vehicle owners. If city really believes that’s the case then city should require builds as this have property owner/management require rental/lease agreement stating person or persons renting/living in said space do not own or use motor vehicles. Therefore no impact of added vehicles to area of builds.  Done deal….. but that will never happen in Seattle as builders have to much pull, it’s all about profit and don’t give a dam about neighborhood impacts they cause now and long term.  

  • Cinemama May 16, 2017 (11:05 am)

    I got involved when the first micro housing project was proposed on the 5900 block of California in Morgan Junction.  I wanted to remain neutral and contacted all city reps, the developer, the mayor, etc. to discuss how this may affect the neighborhood (same block, one street East).  No one replied.  I  made calls to the city agencies of which I was mostly passed around.  One person noted it was really not my business.  The Morgan Junction Association was helpful, but in the end nothing could be done (to start a dialog, to make neighborhood friendly requests, etc…).  When the housing was completed, an ad was placed on Craigslist, it suggested tenants use the street parking on our street.  Our street has filled with cars, but I cannot confirm it’s the micro-housing.  Nothing else has altered substantially from my perspective.  Change is inevitable, but I think excluding the current community in major adjustments to an existing neighborhood is the miss of the decade.  The gap between feeling heard and appreciated and feeling ignored and railroaded is the difference between community and “just a place to live”.  Community makes a city great.  It should be the leading thought with every new plan to address density, poverty, etc…   Get out and talk to people in their neighborhoods.  Developers and elected officials should absolutely be doing this.  A poster for an overcrowded or obscure meeting doesn’t cut it.   The HALA meeting at Shelby’s was useless and so tone def it made me a little sad.

  • wetone May 16, 2017 (1:05 pm)

     These type of builds are being pushed/allowed by CITY and investors as being occupied of people that are non vehicle owners. If city really believes that’s the case then city should require builds as this have property owner/management require rental/lease agreement stating person or persons renting/living in said space do not own or use motor vehicles. Therefore no impact of added vehicles to area of builds.  Done deal….. but that will never happen in Seattle as builders have to much pull, it’s all about profit and don’t give a dam about neighborhood impacts they cause now and long term.  

  • Stephanie May 23, 2017 (10:12 pm)

    At present, the Design Review Board, who is reviewing Hybrid’s plans has no coordination with the Department of Transportation.  Hence, when we talk to them about lack of parking, it isn’t heard because it’s a different department.  They are doing what they can, but they operate in a silo and we bear the brunt of lack of interdepartmental communication.  Communities don’t get heard, adequate transportational infrastructure isn’t put into place.  There is no collaboration with the community, because there is no mechanism for collaboration.  I informed the Design Review Board that the Church of the Nazarene would offer up it’s venue for a large gathering and was acknowledged.  However, not sure why a different venue was chosen. The best thing we can do right now is probably write to our council members. But which ones would best represent us?

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