A problem that’s been before the City Council off and on for more than 10 years is back in the spotlight at a council-committee discussion tomorrow (Wednesday).
The problem: Vacant buildings. It’s been 9 1/2 years since the issue gained some attention when a Delridge community advocate invited councilmembers, department heads, and others on a tour of problem properties in eastern West Seattle.
The vacant-building problem has been addressed with incremental legislation over the years. But it’s still a problem. Stats prepared by Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s staff for tomorrow’s meeting of the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee show that West Seattle/South Park District 1 had the most vacant-building-related complaints last year of any of the city’s seven council districts – 95.
95 complaints – but only 2 properties in D-1 were enrolled in the city’s vacant-building-monitoring program. Beyond that, Herbold’s staff found that 44 District 1 addresses accounted for 284 Seattle Police responses last year alone, while 66 houses in West Seattle are signed up for SPD’s criminal trespass program. The slide deck (48 MB PDF) to be presented by Herbold assistant Alex Clardy also shows multiple examples of vacant, deteriorating properties in West Seattle and South Park.
The point of tomorrow’s briefing is to look at what might make the vacant-building-monitoring program more effective; this report from the Department of Construction and Inspections looks at a variety of possibilities, including changing the standards for enrolling properties in the program. For example, the report notes that properties slated for redevelopment usually aren’t enrolled because they’ll be demolished before long. (The report does not address the length of time that can elapse between the initiation of a redevelopment plan and demolition – sometimes years.) Another possibility addressed by the report is a “temporary caretaker” program in which good-quality vacant properties could be made available through nonprofits/social-service agencies identifying people who could live there until demolition is imminent.
You can see how the discussion goes by going to City Hall, or watching Seattle Channel, for tomorrow’s 9:30 am PLUZ committee meeting.