Zoning exceptions for new Alki Elementary? 10 more days to comment

(Rendering by Mahlum, from the info packet for proposed zoning ‘departures’)

The Alki Elementary rebuild is proposed with nine elements that would be zoning exceptions – formally known as “departures” – and the city is seeking community comment by October 14th on whether they should be approved. If you haven’t already commented but would like to, here’s the overview from the city, including how to comment:

The public is invited to share feedback regarding the development plans for Alki Elementary School located at 3010 59th Ave SW. The Seattle School District is requesting modifications (also known as “departures”) from City zoning regulations per Seattle Municipal Code, SMC 23.51B, and the Public School Departures Process, SMC 23.79.

1) Greater-than-allowed building height
2) Reduced vehicular parking quantity
3) Bus loading and unloading
4) New curb cut to service area without vehicular parking
5) Increased curb-cut width
6) Increased curb-cut flare
7) Reduced bicycle parking (long-term) quantity
8) Amended bicycle parking performance standards
9) Signage/changing-image sign

The school district has a detailed presentation of the modifications which you can view here.

Upon receiving your feedback, the comments will be shared with the Director of the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods. After review, the Director will provide their recommendations regarding the proposed departures to the Director of the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections for the final decision. Please submit your written comments by Friday, October 14 to:

Nelson Pesigan
E-mail: Nelson.Pesigan@seattle.gov
Mailing Address:
Seattle Department of Neighborhoods
PO Box 94649
Seattle, WA 98124-4649

For additional information, visit our website or contact Nelson Pesigan at 206-684-0209.

Alki Elementary is scheduled to move to temporary space at the former Schmitz Park Elementary for two years starting next fall while the new school is built.

23 Replies to "Zoning exceptions for new Alki Elementary? 10 more days to comment"

  • Amy Thomson October 4, 2022 (11:09 am)

    I get why the reduced car parking.  But why reduced BICYCLE parking?  I thought the city was trying to support bicycles and alternatives to cars.

    • CarDriver October 4, 2022 (6:07 pm)

      Amy T. Reduced car parking impacts teachers and support staff as the VAST majority, if not all drive to work. People living in the neighborhood have cars and if you come down to Alki on a nice weekend you’ll see the mass of cars as pretty much everyone drives to the beach. And as much as people wish would magically happen less parking does not translate to people selling their cars.

  • WestSeattleBadTakes October 4, 2022 (11:34 am)

    They are stealing children’s independence with these departures on the quantity and quality of the bicycle parking. This is what everyone seems to be asking for though, more cars shuttling kids around. Kudos.

  • Frog October 4, 2022 (12:31 pm)

    Was it ever explained why Alki ES is being expanded to 500 students from the current 300?  Where is the huge increase in students expected to come from?  Even holding current enrollment seems like a stretch.  The  current principal has, for example, eliminated walk-to math instruction, so the school very consciously does not put students on a path to study STEM fields at major universities.  That would not seem to make it a popular destination in the future.

    • JJ October 4, 2022 (2:16 pm)

      I would argue that having walk to math in elementary school doesn’t have much bearing on where someone goes to college. Also, the school district will redraw neighborhood boundaries once capacity increases, thereby increasing enrollment.

      • Frog October 4, 2022 (7:43 pm)

        SPS is famously opaque about its enrollment planning estimates, but
        overall, enrollment has been declining recently (according to Seattle
        Times articles; and elimination of advanced learning was mentioned as a reason,
        so no reason to think Alki would defy the trend.)  Nearby schools are
        not over-filled. More the opposite — Genessee hill has a rated capacity of 664 but currently 519 enrolled per SPS website.  Contra the baby-boom theory, check the enrollment profile of Genessee Hill — 5th grade by far the largest, and K the smallest.  Further enrollment decline seems baked in.  Lafayette seems about right — rated for 508 and has 482.  Old Schmitz park is used only as an interim site, and not sure if old Roxhill is used at all.  I still wonder why they think a capacity increase is needed at Alki.  Maybe the gradual transition from West Seattle to West Manhattan really will bring a lot more students over the lifespan of the building.  Or maybe they have some other secret plan.

        • neighbor October 5, 2022 (8:28 am)

          Look around the neighborhood- every 1940s house that comes down is replaced by 3-4 townhomes, and the houses on larger lots are split into two lots with housing on both. The population density is absolutely increasing in this area, and school enrollments will increase as a result.

  • Chemist October 4, 2022 (1:07 pm)

    The code requires 78 long-term bicycle parking spaces.  SPS proposes 40 long-term bicycle parking spacesThe code requires full weather protection for all required long-term bicycle parking. SPS proposes no weather protection for 18 of the 40 long-term bicycle parking spaces

    Sounds pretty unacceptably compromised on bike parking to me.  Not only are they shortchanging the building on the bike parking spots by nearly half what codes require, they’re only going to provide weather protection for a little over half of the parking that they do provide.  If you want your teachers and students to bike, you need to provide some awnings to keep the bikes from the harshest elements.

  • Jade October 4, 2022 (1:33 pm)

    I understand decreased parking for The Junction, but not Alki–its lack of transit access is absurd, and the schools don’t pay wages high enough to live nearby.

  • Mj October 4, 2022 (2:33 pm)

    Frog – as a parent of a 5 year old I can tell you that there is a baby boom in the area.  Just on my small block there are five young kids and just down the street there are numerous more kids.  If you go to the local parks you can see for yourself.

    • Kyle October 4, 2022 (8:22 pm)

      This is anecdotal. The data says otherwise.

      • CS October 5, 2022 (7:58 am)

        We’ll need to wait until the 2025-26 school year, or maybe 2026-27, to see if the downward trend holds. That will be when the pandemic babies start hitting kindergarten.

    • Mel October 5, 2022 (9:36 am)

      But are these parents sending their young kids to public schools? I’m not.

  • Gw October 4, 2022 (2:48 pm)

    What a swindle to measure the parking needs in December rather than May, June, or September. Parking is already limited in that area during nicer months. 

    • Alki Neighbor October 12, 2022 (10:10 am)

      Excellent point. The school currently has fewer than 20 parking spaces for a staff of over 30….. The new Alki Elementary will have close to 65 staff members, and 5 designated parking spaces. Those spaces are typically given to the Principals (yes, the new build will have additional administration…) Food service worker, and custodial staff. There will not be any available parking for staff, and at this time the ADA required spaces look to be located on the other side of the community Center, as the design team has not specifically displayed where those spaces will be located.

  • jim October 4, 2022 (4:58 pm)

    Also just how much Greater-than-allowed building height  are they asking for?  We  pay very  high property taxes for a view.  How many will loose theirs?

    • Chemist October 5, 2022 (1:13 am)

      22 extra feet of height.

      Departure for Building Height
      SMC 23.51B.002.D – SPS proposes a maximum building height of 57’ above average grade plane for a
      departure of 22’

    • smoosh October 5, 2022 (4:19 am)

      Do you even know where the school is?  There are no building I can think of that would have their view impeded by even a 6 story building.  Come off it.  You pay the same property tax as everyone else, including people neighborhoods where their view has been completely obstructed by new tall apartment buildings.

      • Don Brubeck October 5, 2022 (1:52 pm)

        Smoosh, The residents on Admiral Way above the school site
        will have their views taken due to the extreme height increase.   When we paid for our homes and those views, we had the reasonable expectation that the existing school buildings could be increased in height to the 35 feet maximum for schools in a residential zone, but not 57 feet.

        • Kyle October 5, 2022 (9:12 pm)

          Alki is the smallest SPS Elementary site. There is no where to go but up to serve the needs of the community. I feel like the greater good is served by creating an adequate building on existing public land vs a few homes that might have altered views on properties that have likely still tripled in value over the past 10 years.

  • Alki dad October 4, 2022 (8:02 pm)

    I really hope that is not the design of the exterior.  Taking away teacher parking with reduce parking for neighbors as well.

  • N October 4, 2022 (10:15 pm)

    Yes, several ST articles and editorials have pointed out that enrollment has fallen significantly and is expected to continue falling.  The pandemic really changed the school equation and what parents and students want and in many cases that meant leaving the district.

  • Alki Neighbor October 12, 2022 (10:02 am)

    When the citizens of Seattle approved the levy to rebuild Alki Elementary, public meetings were held to answer questions. I attended those meetings. I also teach here in West Seattle. Way back when we were asked to approve the dollars for the Alki rebuild, those in attendance were specifically told that the school would house no more than 400 students due to the small footprint of available land…..  We were shown concept designs. Fast forward to this year, and suddenly, the capacity has jumped to 652, with a projected enrollment of 500…. Genesee Hill also had the same design and projection figures, and has seen years with a student body of over 700 students. When questioned about this discrepancy, the SPS staff and the designated design team simply stated that “The people who made those presentations during the funding levy are no longer with SPS, and therefore, we can’t comment on what they said during those presentations….” And yet, the levy passed, and they have now changed the design aspects. Personally, I feel this is dishonest. Neighborhood residents are correct with their concern about traffic and parking issues… These issues were the #1 and #2 priorities as surveyed by staff… Both issues were not addressed in the final design.

Sorry, comment time is over.