DEVELOPMENT: 1 project canceled; appeal time for 2 others

Development notes this afternoon:

PROJECT CANCELED: Last month, we mentioned early-stage plans for four new single-family houses to be added to a site that already has one at 9441 26th SW, south of Westwood Village. We noticed an “early outreach” meeting for it on the city calendar – and then the listing disappeared before we could even write a story. Now a note sent to area community advocates by the project architect explains it: “The title report for the project turned up to have covenants restricting development. Unfortunately, this application and meeting is being canceled.”

(corrected) APPEAL TIME: Applications have just been approved for two projects elsewhere in West Seattle, and that opens two-week appeal periods for both: One is 4807 41st SW, “a 4-story apartment building with 22 small efficiency dwelling units. No parking proposed” (in the works almost three years); the other is 9251 35th SW, “two 3-story, townhouse buildings (8 units total). Parking for 6 vehicles proposed.” Follow each address’s link for the official notice, including how to appeal.

13 Replies to "DEVELOPMENT: 1 project canceled; appeal time for 2 others"

  • zephyr December 12, 2019 (4:23 pm)

    Quote:  “The title report for the project turned up to have covenants restricting development.”  *******************************************************Could someone in the know about covenants weigh in on this statement?  How does this work?  Would an earlier owner have specified something in the sale contract or would this be language in the deed?  What would be an example of a covenant restricting development?  Maybe something like the property could only be for Single Family Residence, or no more than (a specified number)…?Thanks. 

    • Peter December 12, 2019 (4:43 pm)

      They’re a legal document that restricts the sale and future use of a property. The originated as a part of redlining to keep minorities out of white neighborhoods. They are generally not legally enforceable as most of them have racist motivation, and as they allow prior owners of a property to dictate what future owners can do with the property. Most likely the builder doesn’t want to pay the legal and administrative fees and jump through the legal hoops to have it removed. 

      • Will S. December 12, 2019 (5:44 pm)

        Peter’s answer more or less correctly describes racially restrictive covenants, but it is completely off base with respect to other covenants. Many real properties are encumbered by covenants, conditions or restrictions for a variety of purposes—such as covenants that require properties to be used only for affordable housing, or covenants that prohibit development at one location so that development rights can be transferred to another location. Title research is the only way to determine what restrictions apply to any given property, but Zephyr might be interested in the county’s Transfer of Development Rights program. 

    • John Smith December 12, 2019 (10:34 pm)

      zephyr, Wikipedia says (in part) “Restrictive covenants are somewhat similar to easements.” The barrier to development of the project could/might be something as simple as an easement for a shared/combined sewer line with an adjacent property, or an easement for four feet for a fence on the property that was proposed for development. All single house/home redevelopments that I have seen “feature” townhouses built almost all the way to the property line, so even a four foot easement for a fence could cause the redevelopment to not pencil out with enough profit. It would not surprise me if a developer blamed covenants instead of easements in order to ride the wave of unpopular opinion regarding racial covenants. Racial covenants can still exist in the documents for a given property but are no longer enforced.

  • zephyr December 12, 2019 (8:18 pm)

    Thanks Peter and Will S. for the replies.**********************************************Quoting Will:  “Many real properties are encumbered by covenants, conditions or restrictions for a variety of purposes.”*************************************************Yes, that’s what I thought was more likely.  Surely there can be legal covenants or restrictions that have been agreed on–as long as they don’t run afoul of public policies and laws such as those against discrimination, etc.    It would be interesting to hear what the particular restrictions were in this case. 

  • 1994 December 12, 2019 (10:04 pm)

    The Safeway grocery store that used to be located at 35th & Roxbury had a restriction for future property owners that the property could not be used for a grocery store. It became a church, and now it is a school. 

  • K8 December 13, 2019 (7:05 am)

    For the 41st property “The public comment period ended on May 31, 2018.”

    They really need to make that area of 41st into a one way street. It’s always lined with cars on both sides and with 22 more people on it it’s going to be even harder to avoid meeting another vehicle head on.

    • Airwolf December 13, 2019 (9:21 am)

      Or no parking on one side of the street    

    • WSB December 13, 2019 (9:30 am)

      Sorry, I screwed up. The decisions in the bulletin opened an appeal period, not a comment period. Correcting. Thank you. – TR

  • TSFG December 13, 2019 (1:51 pm)

    How can we appeal the lack of parking on the 41st street project? It’s incredibly tight there and all around. Do I have to register for an account to appeal? The process is not intuitive.

  • Added December 13, 2019 (3:24 pm)

    Parents neighbor sold with a covenant that the property couldn’t be subdivided and the tree’s couldn’t be cut down.

  • zephyr December 13, 2019 (5:47 pm)
    December 13, 2019 (3:24 pm)


    Parents neighbor sold with a covenant that the property couldn’t be subdivided and the tree’s couldn’t be cut down.***********************Aha!  That’s  the missing piece.  Thanks!.

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