FOLLOWUP: City Council OKs church’s rezone for townhouse project, but without waiving Mandatory Housing Affordability requirement

(Proposed project site – WSB photo from last month)

FIRST REPORT, 3:35 PM: This afternoon at City Hall, the City Council voted unanimously to approve the rezoning of land owned by the West Seattle Church of the Nazarene to Lowrise 1 from its current Single Family 5000, requested by the church so it can build and sell six townhouses to raise money for renovating its old building (5911 42nd SW). However, the council did not grant the church’s request to waive a requirement that it either devote part of the project to “affordable housing” or pay a fee, estimated at $200,000, to the city to fund affordable housing elsewhere.

This is the same Mandatory Housing Affordability requirement that is to be implemented with upzoning around the city, proposed as part of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda, but even though that is not in effect citywide yet, and this project has been in the pipeline for four years, a council decision last year called for applying MHA. Only the council had the power to waive it, and they declined; local Councilmember Lisa Herbold said that while the argument was that the church had agreed to set aside open space as part of the site, that wasn’t a reason to waive it. (In a side note, she had to read a disclosure statement before voting today, because she had responded to a social-media criticism after last week’s committee vote, from which she abstained, saying she wanted to read the Morgan Community Association‘s letter supporting a waiver before she voted.) We have a request for comment out to the church, to ask if they will proceed with the project despite the decision to not waive MHA.

ADDED 7:17 PM: We’ve heard back from the church’s pastor emeritus Terry Mattson, who’s been a spokesperson for the church during the years the project’s been in the works. He says it’s on:

West Seattle Church of the Nazarene was extremely pleased to see the Seattle City Council unanimously approve our project today. This decision ensures we’ll be able to make the necessary repairs to our church to continue to serve our members and neighbors. Although it would have been an ideal scenario to have the MHA fees waived, we want to assure the community we will be proceeding as planned and that you’ll still have access to the open space and the trees will be preserved.

We look forward to the development in the months ahead and will keep all of you up to date on progress. If you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to visit us any Sunday morning or Wednesday evening. We’d be happy to chat. We especially want to thank the Morgan Junction Community Association, Deb & Cindi Barker, our partners Paar Development and Neiman Tabor Architects and our council representative for West Seattle Lisa Herbold for her support in helping carry this through the PLUS committee.

We can’t wait for you to experience the upgrades to our park and facilities with us.

14 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: City Council OKs church's rezone for townhouse project, but without waiving Mandatory Housing Affordability requirement"

  • AmandaK December 4, 2017 (5:03 pm)

    Can anyone tell me what other projects within the Urban Villages are paying MHA fees on their developments?

    • WSB December 4, 2017 (5:09 pm)

      Here is what SDCI told us for an earlier story:

      In August 2016, City Council adopted Ordinance 125108, which establishes the regulatory framework for MHA. Council’s intent was that MHA should apply through future legislative or quasi-judicial rezones (See SMC 23.58C.015). To facilitate this action, Council also established that MHA could be applied through the terms of a contract rezone (See SMC 23.34.004.B), but delegated the rule-making to SDCI to determine interim payment and performance amounts. Director’s rule 14-2016 outlines the intent of the Mayor and the Council to make rezones subject to MHA.

      City Council has the authority to approve a rezone subject to a property use and development agreement (PUDA) that includes the condition that development be subject to MHA requirements. As such, SDCI is directed to recommend that all rezones be subject to MHA. The Council has the final decision-making authority to apply MHA to a rezone application, depending on the facts of the record.

      I’m covering a meeting and can’t read it now but that director’s rule is here:

      • AmandaK December 4, 2017 (5:23 pm)

        Thanks TR, bet you know where I am going with this.  There is a lot of development happening in the Urban Villages.  How many rezones have been approved, and how many MHA fees have been paid?  Would  OPCD have that information?  If I was the church, I would have my lawyer ask for that information.

  • Alan December 4, 2017 (5:45 pm)

    Of course the church tried to waive the low income housing requirement. Why would a church want to help out the less fortunate.  

    • WSB December 4, 2017 (5:59 pm)

      Sorry, Alan, your scorn is off-target here. This church hosted homeless shelters, for example, even before homelessness was a headline-making emergency.

      More recently, a free dinner on Thanksgiving. And a variety of other things. If you think most churches don’t help the less fortunate, I can tell you that the problem is that most don’t get credit for it because they don’t want to brag about what they do … I tend to discover these things accidentally while covering events and noticing something up in a church lobby about hosting a shelter, collecting warm clothing, taking meals to a camp, etc.

  • rob December 4, 2017 (7:27 pm)

     can you imagine how the city could help the homeless with 175 million they choose to spend on a coo coo down first ave

    • KM December 4, 2017 (10:05 pm)

      Ah, an underrated Beatles classic.

  • Swede. December 4, 2017 (7:57 pm)

    So where are the city building all these ‘affordable housing’ they get money from all these fees and penalties they get paid? 

    • Canton December 4, 2017 (8:43 pm)

      Ask the city about the Insignia towers that were built downtown, that they forgot to collect the 3.4 mil in fees. What account should that been saved in for low-income housing? Where will it be built? The city is hypocritical, in how it puts the rules together. A non profit church, that wants to build out to secure money for for the future remodel, is getting the shaft.

  • TJ December 4, 2017 (8:06 pm)

    Wow Alan, pretty kneejerk comment? As the blog mentioned above, this church does a lot for the less fortunate. You really think they should flat out give their money to someone else? That is what this really is…redistribution of wealth. But in this case, not really wealth, just a church trying to make money to fix up a old building. MHA is a joke and should be dumped all together. The church wants to build 6 townhouses on a empty lot. That is adding supply to tight demand. But not good enough for the city? They rather have more cheap 300 sq ft boxes. Strange things going on in this city right now. All the talk is dominated by “help the poor and less fortunate” and “tax the rich”. Only lip service to the middle class really, which actually MHA hurts. 

  • Bruce December 4, 2017 (10:24 pm)

    Does City Council have credible studies of how many more cars the West Seattle Bridge can absorb at rush hour? And do they evaluate the additional cars that go with increased density since transit to/from WS is NOT good enough to live without a car?

    • DH December 5, 2017 (12:23 am)

      I’d say say a blanket statement that transportation in/out of West Seattle isn’t accurate in many cases. I can’t speak to beyond downtown but I’ve lived in WS and commuted downtown for close to a decade. It’s not that hard and very workable with occasional hiccups. Based on how full buses are it seems many people in a similar situation agree. I’d give up my car but I have a fixer upper house and my large rescue dog wouldn’t do well with public transportation. 

      • Winnie December 5, 2017 (5:10 am)

        That’s the problem. Not everyone works downtown… then bus to work for me is 1 hour and 10 minutes. And that’s why I drive a half an hour instead. 

        • DH December 5, 2017 (7:22 am)

          Understood. The comment I was replying to made it sound to me like public transit wasn’t a real option period. I know if I worked on the east side or Ballard, for instance, or needed my car for work, it would be very different. 

Sorry, comment time is over.