VIDEO: What’s up with the waterfront? What happened @ the Legislature? West Seattle Transportation Coalition gets briefed

If you didn’t make it to this month’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting – here’s the next best thing: We recorded both of the briefings that comprised most of the meeting.

The first speaker, city Office of the Waterfront deputy director Angela Brady, brought an update on the downtown waterfront district, stretching from the stadium district to Bell Street Pier. Key points:

-The seawall replacement is done.
-The Highway 99 tunnel is open.
-Viaduct demolition continues.
-Building the new (surface) Alaskan Way is key, as is building the new post-Viaduct-ramp Columbia St. to connect transit. The new park promenade will be under construction soon.
-Construction is under way on the southern half of Pier 62/63.
-WSDOT is building a new Railroad Way diagonal to get from the stadium zone to the waterfront.
-Elliott and Western, formerly exit and entrance streets for The Viaduct, will remain one-way.

The new Alaskan Way should be open by late 2021; the “promenade” will be built after that. Questions? The waterfront-construction website might have the answers.

Next up, two of the three legislators who represent the 34th District (which includes West Seattle, White Center, Vashon/Maury Islands, and a bit beyond):

This was a very casual briefing, more of a conversation. A few points:

Sen. Joe Nguyen said the work’s not over even though the session is. They’re working on a new budget now.

The Sound Transit light-rail “preferred alternatives” board vote had happened hours before the WSTC meeting (last Thursday, May 23rd), so that was one of the first topics. Nguyen said he supports the tunnel option and will be participating in brainstorming how to pay for it.

The new transportation budget includes a $1.25 million request for funding the Highland Park Way roundabout; WSTC chair Michael Taylor-Judd pointed out that the Highland Park Action Committee had learned one night earlier (WSB coverage here) that the estimated cost had jumped dramatically to $7.3 million.

He also touched on ferry funding, saying not only is that going toward new vessels, but also toward electrification. And the controversy over bus-lane/block-the-box enforcement cameras came up too.In all, transportation funding for 34th District projects totaled close to $300 million, Nguyen said.

Taylor-Judd wondered if the state could help mediate with BNSF Railway on matters including the safety proposal for crossing West Marginal Way SW at the Duwamish Tribe Longhouse; SDOT said dealing with BNSF was a problem impeding that project.

Rep. Eileen Cody noted that one chronic problem for the Duwamish Tribe is its lack of recognition.

An attendee brought up housing issues including the city’s proposed rule changes regarding “backyard cottages” and voiced concern that increased coverage of lots would mean less room for trees. Sen. Nguyen said it should be seen through the lens of the need for more affordable housing. Several other topics came up, though no revelations or surprises; watch the video for the full Q&A.

The West Seattle Transportation Coalition meets fourth Thursdays most months, 6:30 pm at Neighborhood House High Point (6400 Sylvan Way SW).

33 Replies to "VIDEO: What's up with the waterfront? What happened @ the Legislature? West Seattle Transportation Coalition gets briefed"

  • Mark Schletty May 27, 2019 (3:20 pm)

    Sounds like Nguyen is supporting the City’s proposal to convert all single family zoning to 3 dwelling all rental, no owner occupant, no parking, zoning. He was not elected to interfere in City issues on the side of the developers. If this is his position I am very sorry I voted for him. 

    • Mr. J May 27, 2019 (5:28 pm)

      Sounds like you’re misinformed and that’s not what the City is doing at all. The WSB has really good coverage of HALA.  He supports density in urban villages and represents the district which occupies the part of the City, he should be involved in those discussions. I may may have missed the fear-mongering clip of him telling people he wants all multi-family units with no home ownership.

      • Mark Schletty May 27, 2019 (6:25 pm)

        Mr. J—-I wasn’t talking about HALA. I was talking about the plan for “backyard cottages”. It is a very different plan and it is the end of single family zoning. It will allow 3 dwelling units on each single family lot. They are removing the current requirement that one of the dwellings be owner occupied, allowing for 3 rental units. They are removing the current requirement for one off street parking spot. They are allowing higher “cottages” with less side yard setback. It converts every single family zoned lot into a 3 unit multi-family zoned lot. Please do your homework before you tell me that I am misinformed.

        • HS May 27, 2019 (9:11 pm)

          Mark, Those are some of the many ideas floated when affordable housing is discussed. Your comment is broad. For example, if discussing inclusion of “every single family zoned lot”,  exceptions would only apply to parcels of a certain size or larger. I believe I read a minimum of a 6000 sqft lot could potentially be considered to allow a house, AADU and DADU. The max occupancy could increase to 12 people per residential lot versus the current occupancy max of 9 persons. Not every single residential lot would qualify. In fact, that’s quite a large lot by Seattle standards. Importantly, only a percentage of a parcel can be covered by built structure (any type). But I do agree with your concern, I think the minimum lot size should be larger, say 7500 square feet.

          • Mark Schletty May 28, 2019 (8:41 am)

            HS—There are a lot of details in the current proposed ordinance that have negative impacts on our neighborhoods, too many to go into here. The main detail that affects your comment on my, admittedly over-broad, claim that all single family lots will be opened up to 3 dwellings is the required lot size. It is currently 4000 sq. ft for a cottage addition. The current proposal reduces that to 3200 sq. ft. That change, I think, does make it apply to almost every lot. If you think it should be 7500 sq. ft. you ought to really oppose this current plan.

          • Ron Swanson May 28, 2019 (9:38 am)

            Minneapolis has just adopted a comparable reform.  It’s well past time to eliminate single family zoning.  The climate and housing crises we’re suffering from demand it.

    • heartless May 28, 2019 (12:50 pm)

      Mark, others: I find it so funny that all of you are tarring backyard dwellings with the “developer” brush. 

      I find it insane that any city would say no, you may not build a small cottage in your backyard where someone can live. 

      Think about this– we live in a world where housing for cars has priority over people!  Want to build a 700 sf building in your yard to house a car?  GOOD FOR YOU–Everyone should be doing that!  But you want to build a 700 sf building in your yard to house your mother-in-law?  HOW DARE YOU, YOU PRO-DEVELOPER SHILL!  

      • Mark Schletty May 28, 2019 (3:31 pm)

        Heartless— you’re missing the whole point. What you say should be allowed already is allowed. I have no problem with that. It is the 3 rental (not necessarily mother-in- law) dwellings per lot that I object to. And, by the way, the 700 hundred foot dwelling limit is being raised to 1000 sq. ft. per unit, and the 40% land coverage is being raised to 60%. Also someone else mentioned that the total occupancy number is being raised from 8 to 12. True, but that is for unrelated renters. There is no limit on the number if the people are in some way related.

        • heartless May 28, 2019 (4:09 pm)

          No, Mark, I’m painfully aware of the point.  Seattle regulations restricting ADUs are stupid and backwater, and they can’t be loosened soon enough. 

          Those complaining about land coverage percents don’t care one whit about land coverage percents. 

          And those who quake at the thought of 12(!!!!) renters living next door?  Well, maybe, just maybe, they shouldn’t live in a city.

          • HS May 28, 2019 (8:23 pm)

            I care quite a bit about percentage of building coverage on a lot @heartless. Maintaining those percentages is the checks and balances on structure size and is critical for green space which means proper drainage, trees, etc. Not everyone is against density. It can be designed well so that people can live comfortably and participate in a healthy neighborhood.

          • heartless May 28, 2019 (9:27 pm)

            So you care about percents because of drainage?  And trees?  Oh, and etc? 

            New York, San Francisco, lots of other cities have much more building coverage than Seattle, and they seem to be doing ok. 

            And as for trees?  I guess the question is why do you want trees?  Is it for aesthetics or the environment?  Because, as we’ve addressed previously in this comment section, the best thing from an environmental standpoint is to have dense urban centers that fit the most people. 

            So…  you care about these percentages because…?

            You mention the idea of a “healthy neighborhood.”

              What, in your mind, defines a healthy neighborhood?  I know it’s arbitrary, but I think verbalizing your concept of a healthy neighborhood will do more to distill this argument than almost anything else.

  • Ice May 27, 2019 (5:45 pm)

    “An attendee brought up housing issues including the city’s proposed rule changes regarding “backyard cottages” and voiced concern that increased coverage of lots would mean less room for trees.”

     Let’s keep our own neighborhood green at the expense of making the rest of the world more brown. 

    • Gene May 27, 2019 (7:32 pm)


      • WS Guy May 27, 2019 (9:59 pm)

        He/she is implying that the person who made the comment about preserving trees is a racist.  Because of course preserving space for trees is and always has been just a smokescreen to exclude people from an area. This is what we’ve come to, America. 

        • KM May 27, 2019 (10:38 pm)

          I think this was more about sprawl and preserving nature. We can fight all we want for trees in the city, and should absolutely plan for preservation, but blocking new housing in the lowest environmental impact areas (such as existing cities) and sprawling into our wetlands and forests is a causing an ecological disaster for the rest of the the region outside of Seattle—and this repeats itself across many more cities in the US and elsewhere. Save a green tree in your neighborhood, while tearing up a wetland in Kent.

          • Ice May 28, 2019 (10:16 am)

            Yes, KM got it. Infill is always better for the environment than further outward sprawl. 

            He/she is implying that the person who made the comment about preserving trees is a racist.  Because of course preserving space for trees is and always has been just a smokescreen to exclude people from an area. This is what we’ve come to, America. “

            Is this a joke? You are the one bringing up racism. This post is a total straw-man argument. 

    • heartless May 28, 2019 (12:44 pm)

      “Let’s keep our own neighborhood green at the expense of making the rest of the world more brown.”

      Ice: deftly put.  I am amazed by the number of people who continue to push for unfeasible amounts of green within dense urban environments when the absolute best thing for the environment is to have people clumped in cities with unmolested nature surrounding that city.  

  • Grass Allergy Sufferer May 27, 2019 (5:56 pm)

    NIMBY concerns over lack of space for trees is a ‘red herring’ as new development does require tree and green mitigation.  The ‘red herring’ is the fact that the overwhelming majority of existing homes have never planted trees in the room that their lots currently occupy.  West Seattle was clear cut by its earliest settlers and all development up until recently did not require tree and green mitigation.  Instead, generations of most homeowners have opted to plant non-indigenous grass on their denuded parcels.  Our all American love of turf has massive environmental consequences, whether it be wasteful consumption of water, combustion engine lawnmowers spewing uncontrolled pollution and the associated collection, transfer and disposal of grass clippings. Lawns require constant maintenance and the absence of trees producing shade and carbon reduction through co2 exchange for oxygen.  The new density allowances require trees and plantings as never before, limiting the wasteful polluting lawns that they replace.

    • KM May 27, 2019 (10:41 pm)

      I like this comment way better than mine. 

  • MJ May 27, 2019 (6:15 pm)

    Joe claimed while running his support for small businesses.  This was a lie, he voted to increase the B & O on small businesses by 20%.  That’s correct 20%.  This is horrendous increase and was not needed.

  • anonyme May 28, 2019 (6:57 am)

    Despite all its feel-good rhetoric, Seattle has a terrible record when it comes to preserving trees both on public and private land.  One commenter mentioned turf, the most unsustainable planting choice imaginable.  Last year SDOT installed large new planting strips along the new sidewalks.  Instead of planting trees, they planted grass.   Now we have Mr. Nguyen adding his voice to the other Seattle tradition of giving developers anything they want.  Much of the build, build, build mantra has nothing to do with affordable housing, but instead with the power wielded over local government by developers.  Further destruction of our rapidly dwindling tree cover is incredibly short-sighted as our planet (and Seattle) get hotter and more crowded. 

    • Ron Swanson May 28, 2019 (12:25 pm)

      Every new resident accommodated in Seattle by ‘developers’ is one less resident accommodated in Duvall or Auburn or other exurbs in greenfield developments that require new roads, new homesites, and all sorts of other new infrastructure that requires chopping down acres of trees and paving much of what’s left after.  Not to mention the carbon emissions baked into that land use as the new residents have to drive to everything.And tree cover is not “rapidly dwindling” in Seattle – it’s been roughly steady around 30% for decades.

    • GRASS ALLERGY SUFFERER May 28, 2019 (3:02 pm)

      rapidly dwindling tree cover?”Mr. Swanson is correct!That is an outright lie of Trumpian nature. 

  • Michael Oxman May 28, 2019 (11:20 am)

    Click here for the document of the tree canopy impacts where Accessory Dwelling Units may be built. file:///C:/Users/Michael/AppData/Local/Packages/Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_8wekyb3d8bbwe/TempState/Downloads/Closing_Statement_TreePAC%20(1).pdf 

    • WSB May 28, 2019 (11:33 am)

      That’s an internal link to something on your own computer – is the document hosted on a website somewhere, or part of the hearing file in the EIS appeal?

  • Jort May 28, 2019 (1:20 pm)

    What’s all this talk about trees and racism and backyard cottages? Did somehow the West Seattle Transportation Coalition start going in to topics far, far afield of actual transportation issues?

    • WSB May 28, 2019 (3:17 pm)

      While the comment thread seems to have seized on that topic, it was brought up by an attendee, not the WSTC itself, and in fact if you watch the video, you will see the WSTC’s chair step in to redirect the conversation.

Sorry, comment time is over.