Morgan Community Association: From HALA and mural money, to where Lowman Beach’s crumbling seawall stands

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The lower-level meeting room at The Kenney was full for tonight’s Morgan Community Association meeting, and everybody there had the chance to vote on some big decisions – including spending thousands of dollars:

MORGAN NEIGHBORHOOD FUND: MoCA has no dues but does have this fund that resulted from the settlement of the neighborhood appeal of the project that became the Viridian Apartments. In settling the appeal, its developers agreed to donate $25,000 to MoCA, though the organization was not a party to the appeal. MoCA has never done anything with the money, but now has two applications for a share of it.

Vice president Phil Tavel presented the applications – one for restoring and protecting the mural behind the California/Fauntleroy Starbucks/Peel & Press/etc. building.

(WSB file photo)
P&P (WSB sponsor) proprietor Dan Austin has been exploring the project for 2+ years; the family that owns the building has committed some money, and told Austin they have no plans to sell the building. The family says it’ll contribute $3,000; the total cost, Austin says, would be about $10,000 – $8,500 with a discount the artist has offered – and he’s applied for $5,000 from the fund.

The other proposal to spend some of the money was for contributing to the HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability Final Environmental Impact Statement citywide-coalition appeal, which MoCA and dozens of other community groups around the city are supporting. The coalition has raised about $15,000 so far; MoCA is proposing contributing $5,000 from the fund.

Tavel, a criminal lawyer, said he had been at a coalition meeting this morning and believes the coalition has excellent legal help. Asked about the ultimate goal (by an attendee who says she works on affordable housing), president Deb Barker said, “a neighborhood say.” Board member Cindi Barker said the EIS acknowledges impacts on neighborhoods but “did nothing on mitigation,” so that’s also a way that a redone EIS could improve things. Deb Barker underscored, “We agree that affordable housing is needed – our zoning is going to change – but (this) is to make sure that these impacts dumped on us – that there is mitigation.”

Tavel addressed criticism that “we’re just NIMBYs trying to save our single-family homes.” He said the appeal is entirely about the inadequacy of the EIS – “it should be exemplary, not crappy.”

Both funding proposals passed.

ALSO ABOUT THE HALA MHA APPEAL: This discussion came after the funding vote since it was “old business,” though MoCA leaders acknowledged they probably should have switched the order. They explained that MoCA’s board decided in November to join the citywide coalition appeal without having taken a vote of attendees – it was a decision that needed to be made quickly, Deb Barker explained. So now at this meeting they asked whether group participants support/validate that decision. As first published in our November coverage, here’s MoCA’s appeal, PDF here, or embedded below:

After a flurry of questions, and discussion of the Morgan-specific points of appeal – including a previously dropped pedestrian-zoning overlay resurfacing in the FEIS without outreach or explanation – a majority of those present voted to support proceeding with the appeal. Next step: The Hearing Examiner proceedings starting in mid-April, at which the appeals – coalition and individual groups – will be heard together.

Also on the MHA topic – Cindi Barker noted that more than half the acreage in the Morgan urban village is single-family zoning that will transform to multifamily under HALA MHA. That would dramatically change the land valuation, so Morgan is looking at “permanently affordable home ownership” so that the multifamily wouldn’t all be rentals, people who wanted to buy would still have options. So they’re forming a committee to work on how to achieve that. They’ve already talked with the Office of Housing, and have a lot of work to do to figure out how to proceed – possibly through tools such as Community Land Trusts.

Deb Barker reiterated, they know the urban village is changing. They want to figure out how the transformation will work. It might even set a “path forward” for the entire city, Cindi Barker said. “Be a trend-setter,” she added, exhorting people to join the committee. (Contact for MoCA is on its website, morganjunction.org.)

LOWMAN BEACH SEAWALL: Seattle Parks‘ David Graves was back to talk about what’s next, now that a feasibility study is out for what could be done to remedy the failing seawall at Lowman Beach Park. If you haven’t seen it yet:

This comes half a year after a public meeting that went over the problem and potential solutions. The study offers the range of what’s “possible – not necessarily permittable.” The total project cost would be about $2 million. Just replacing the seawall isn’t likely to be the ideal option, Graves said, while adding that they do acknowledge shoreline changes in nearby waterfront properties, especially to the north of the park. “There is an opportunity depending on where we end up on the design to add additional material to the system to help our neighbors to the north” since the state of the shoreline has kept additional “material” from moving naturally. In response to a question, he explained that the problem is that, with an “armored shoreline,” wind and wave action has scoured out material and there’s no natural source in the system to replace it.

He said some “study work” needs to be done, especially checking for “cultural resources” – since this was a “creek mouth back in the day – it’s a logical spot with the potential to run into Native American artifacts,” so digging will be done (not large-scale – mostly with hand tools, Graves says). And there will be a recommendation to the superintendent – then comes the quest for money, grant dollars to be specific, since there’s nothing in the Parks budget right now.

Responding to a question, Graves said, “In a perfect world, we would just yank the seawall out and be done with it.” But they have to have some consideration for effects on the neighbors. Another question: Timelines on next step? Third quarter of this year for the grants they’re angling for, Graves replied. If they did get a grant, that would mean money in 2019, followed by design, and construction not likely before 2020. You’ll see the next round of investigatory work at the site in spring. He hopes to make a recommendation to the superintendent by March. In the meantime, they’re monitoring what’s left of the seawall in case of total failure. Shouldn’t there be a warning sign on the failing wall, to keep people away? That’ll be looked into.

One neighbor said he’d been told by an expert that the existing wall “could be saved for $100,000” and said that idea shouldn’t be discounted.

Graves was also asked about Pelly Creek uphill; most of its flow gets discharged offshore, and there’s just a bit that still comes through the Lowman seawall. He also mentioned that “trees will be a component of whatever we do.” Something to say/suggest/ask? You can reach him at david.graves@seattle.gov – “I’m always accepting comments,” he promised. He’ll likely be back at MoCA with an update this summer.

BOARD CHANGES: Treasurer Eldon Olson and public-information officer Cindi Barker are departing after a decade on the board. Candidates have come forward to succeed them; elections are at the next quarterly meeting in April.

MORGAN MINUTES: Quick updates –

*Tamsen Spengler provided an update on the Southwest District Council‘s January meeting (WSB coverage here). She is now SWDC co-chair. She spoke of the plan to use SWDC as a “community forum” to bring forth issues and potential solutions. The February 7th meeting (6:30 pm, Senior Center/Sisson Building) will feature a rep from Mayor Jenny Durkan‘s office.

*Tavel reported on the Southwest Precinct Advisory Committee. Property crimes are “down a little,” he says, and police are continuing to run stings – following package-delivery trucks in hopes of catching thieves who are doing the same thing. SPD also exhorts everyone to report crimes, no matter how small (even for example a car prowl with nothing taken).

*West Seattle Church of the Nazarene townhouse project – the City Council did not waive the Mandatory Housing Affordability fee for the project (as reported here last month). The church told us at the time they plan to proceed anyway.

*California/Orchard water-on-road fix – separate update to come.

*Morgan Junction Community Festival – VP Tavel said the first meeting of the festival committee is just a few weeks away and would welcome additional volunteers to get involved in planning the June festival.

*Your Voice, Your Choice – Cindi Barker provided a reminder that it’s suggestion time for this year’s round of community-proposed, city-funded projects (as mentioned here two weeks ago).

HERBOLD POSTPONEMENT: City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, a late addition to the agenda, ended up postponing her appearance until the April MoCA meeting.

The Morgan Community Association meets in January, April, July, and October, on the third Wednesday, 7 pm at The Kenney (7125 Fauntleroy Way SW) – watch morganjunction.org between meetings.

6 Replies to "Morgan Community Association: From HALA and mural money, to where Lowman Beach's crumbling seawall stands"

  • Rob January 17, 2018 (10:57 pm)

    WSB,whatever happened to the Morgan junction park?  They tore down the building north of  Beveridge place, it’s been empty fenced for over a year now.

    • WSB January 17, 2018 (11:10 pm)

      Parks has not yet started the planning process. The site remains landbanked and will eventually be developed as an extension of Morgan Junction Park. It’s one of three landbanked sites in WS, and Parks is just now starting the planning process for the one in The Junction. – TR

  • Natalie January 18, 2018 (5:45 pm)

    Yes, thank you Tracy.  I am forming a committee to work with the City on the design and development.  I am the secretary of the MoCA Board.  I’ve coordinated with the City planner for our MJ park expansion project to speak at our April meeting.  

    Rob, (or anybody else!) if you would like to be on the committee, please email me, and I’ll sign you up.  Our first meeting will be this later month.

    -nataliesees@gmail.com 

  • PF January 21, 2018 (2:19 pm)

    That 25,000 was supposed to be used against developers or other unsavory characters to fight legal battles that we thought were not in the neighborhoods best interest. Now we want to spend 5,000 on a mural that not very many people can even see, are you kidding!!!!!!!!

    • WSB January 21, 2018 (2:55 pm)

      Here’s the actual agreement, as linked in archived coverage in the story above, first uploaded and linked in WSB coverage in 2014:
      https://westseattleblog.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/agreement.pdf

      We also have a mention from MoCA’s quarterly meeting three years ago that use of the $ hadn’t been decided yet. At its next meeting, in April 2015, MoCA decided to administer the money as a neighborhood-grant fund. – TR

    • Gatewood January 22, 2018 (9:23 am)

      The mural is part of a series of 13 know as the “Murals of West Seattle”. 2 have been permanently lost and most are in disrepair.  Most of the Murals in the Alaska Junction are tagged, rotting or fading.  I applaud MOCA and the folks at the meeting for voting in favor of the project.  Anyone at a meeting can vote or express concerns.  Want you voice heard, get involved. I think keeping a mural that depicts what the morgan junction looked like in the past is cool in a time when too many parts of our history are getting torn down.  Good job MOCA!

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