Alki Elementary moms organize support campaign for school’s appeal-delayed rebuild/expansion

(WSB photo, past-and-future Alki Elementary site earlier this week)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

“We’re frustrated that the school’s not being built, and that our voices are not being heard.”

That’s how Eva Chappell explains the letter-writing campaign she and Stefie Deeds have organized in support of the Alki Elementary rebuild/expansion, so far delayed almost a full year because of appeals filed over zoning exceptions involving parking.

Chappell and Deeds are both parents of Alki Elementary kindergarteners. The old school closed after the 2022-2023 school year and has been demolished, with other site preparation under way, but no construction until the latest appeal is resolved. Right now, it’s set to go before a city hearing examiner right after Memorial Day.

A bit of backstory if you’re just tuning in: Seattle Public Schools sought nine zoning exceptions (“departures”) for the rebuild/expansion. The city granted them. Nearby residents appealed. A hearing examiner denied the appeals on all but one point – the plan for no on-site parking (following zoning rules would require 48). The district went to court to try to overturn the ruling but was unsuccessful. Finally it submitted a new plan with 15 parking spots. The city approved that. A different set of nearby residents appealed in March. And that’s the subject of the upcoming hearing.

Meantime, Alki Elementary students and staff are wrapping up the first of at least three years in temporary quarters at the former Schmitz Park Elementary, which is so small, Chappell and Deeds say, some of the classes – third- through fifth-graders – are in portables.

But what they’re most concerned about is that parents like them have no voice in the process that’s extended their children’s stay in temporary quarters. In a conversation with WSB earlier this week, they explained that many Alki parents don’t even know what’s going on with the project – they “have no clue that it’s being held up,” Deeds says. “Nobody thought this was going to happen.” She’s an eight-year Alki resident who was excited about being able to send her child to a neighborhood school – but now for at least three years, they’re not within walking distance. “Alki really deserves a walkable school.”

She contends that appellants are wrong to contend that the new, larger school will pose a traffic nightmare because everybody drives, saying that in fact, many parents they’ve spoken with say they’ll be walking, as will her child.

So they’re hoping their voices of support can make a difference; more than 200 letters have been sent already via their online campaign. District officials including our area’s School Board director Gina Topp are the designated recipients.

They’re stressing that their intent isn’t “to diss anyone” – not even those who’ve been fighting the rebuild; they want to “regain a sense of community, in raising awareness.” They hope to “sit down together” with school neighbors as well as with other school families and staff, to discuss the school-related traffic concerns.

But first – they want to see the project back on track.

WHAT’S NEXT: The appeal hearing is scheduled to start at 9 am Tuesday, May 28, in the Hearing Examiner’s hearing room in the Seattle Municipal Tower downtown (700 5th Avenue). If a second day is needed, that’s scheduled for Thursday, May 30.

33 Replies to "Alki Elementary moms organize support campaign for school's appeal-delayed rebuild/expansion"

  • Delridge resident May 16, 2024 (5:44 pm)

    Perhaps this suggests voices of opposition tend to be over-amplified… 🤔

  • Beachside May 16, 2024 (8:12 pm)

    “Delridge Resident” has the right of it. This campaign, like others in this part of Alki, has been the result of a small handful (and to be clear, the same handful) — of NIMBYs who aren’t happy with any amount of change in the neighborhood. They have used any anecdote or data they can to try to get their way, and they have not been receptive to any two-way conversations.
    Most of us in the area are so tired of the constant griping and complaining and the willful disruption of important projects from a small minority of loud people with too much time on their hands. We are also tired of the city bending over for them repeatedly — that has been the most mystifying part.
    We welcome the improvements to the elementary school, and I assure you the gravity of the parking and traffic situation has been entirely overblown purely to serve personal and selfish wishes.

    • Jim May 17, 2024 (3:32 am)

      You people have got to stop with the NIMBY bs. Just because people want to preserve the neighborhood doesn’t make it a bad thing and your language is dehumanizing them

      • Lagartija Nick May 17, 2024 (11:16 am)

        You’ve got this completely backwards. “Preserve the neighborhood” is synonymous with NIMBY and “you people” was the only dehumanizing language used here.

        • Beachside May 18, 2024 (12:17 am)

          Thanks, Nick. That’s exactly my experience. The NIMBY folk have been angry, bitter, and divisive and it’s always this thread about “preserving the neighborhood” — but only for their idea of “the neighborhood”.Another NIMBY commenter just tried to imply I’m new to the neighborhood (and therefore, they imply, less informed or less important).This type of “brick wall” makes it impossible to have real conversations about this topic and others. It’s exhausting.

    • Alki resident May 17, 2024 (2:19 pm)

      Beachside, not sure why you’re calling people names and I’d love to see your data you speak of but for those of us who’ve  been here much longer than perhaps you, it’s perfectly fine to have different ideas and thoughts. Alki Elementary is much smaller than other schools in our area. It doesn’t even make sense at this point to rebuild it. Who’s to say it’s not even going to be in the chopping block with so many schools closing? You don’t speak for everyone and the nay sayers are definitely not the minority when it comes to speaking out and making decisions in West Seattle projects. 

      • Beachside May 18, 2024 (12:29 am)

        > been here much longer than perhaps youThis is another common line from this minority. “We’ve been here forever, you must be new, therefore listen to us…”I’ve been here a long time. So have a number of my neighbors. We have a lot of lovely new people too. It doesn’t really matter. I go to the meetings — it’s always the same folks fighting against any change, with any nonsensical argument that comes to their mind. Your comment is based purely on feeling (“it’s crazy”) and basically implies you’re a time traveler that has seen the future of our school system and population trends. It’s madness. Like I said above… exhausting.Most of us, truly, are just here to live, and be part of a community that is ever changing. That’s a great part of living in a city. Things will always change.

  • Kyle May 16, 2024 (8:24 pm)

    The article says it was two different groups who opposed. The first plan of zero parking spaces was short sighted by SPS. The 15 spot compromise seems reasonable. We should get the school built. So much has already been spent on design, demolition, etc. it would cost even more money SPS doesn’t have to reverse course.

  • Insanity May 16, 2024 (10:14 pm)

    Fight to rebuild a school that’ll most likely get closed anyway because it’s one of the smallest student populations around, in a neighborhood that can’t support a larger one. Now that’s short sighted.

    • Sam May 17, 2024 (8:34 am)

      That’s exactly my question–in light of the upcoming closures, how likely is SPS to build this school?

      While I feel for the parents’ frustration with the protracted build process, to me it sounds entitled to say Alki specifically “deserves a walkable school.” All students deserve a walkable school, and not many get it… Why should Alki be any different? 

    • Wouldn’t it be nice May 17, 2024 (10:09 am)

      Agree. A school at the “edge” of a neighborhood makes no sense. Everyone has to drive to and from school through the neighborhood  on busy streets with no parking is a recipe for congestion. It’s a nice thought that kids could walk to school but that’s just not happening anymore.   Also, there should be no new construction with no plans for off-street parking but that’s an argument for a different issue.  

  • Out of curiosity May 16, 2024 (11:11 pm)

    The typical short sightedness of the SPS. Be wary of their applauds for I fear, with school closures, the new space will probably want to have more than 15 parking spaces. And it would be great if that was a walkable school, mind you that majority of the kids don’t walk but with the condense roadways compounded with the increased street parking due to off site parking, I think we can see that the loud minority might just have a point worth really pondering about. But what do I know, I just work in that area 6 days a week. Like Jurassic Park has shown, SPS was so bother if they could, they never stopped and thought to themselves if they should.

  • Whisky Woods May 17, 2024 (1:31 am)

    SPS should just sell the Alki property, Re zone it as residential. No Apt or condos.

    • K May 17, 2024 (6:46 am)

      Apartments and condos are residential.  

    • WestSeattleBadTakes May 17, 2024 (9:19 am)

      Truly insane recommendation.

    • Patty May 17, 2024 (9:39 am)

      Why are they rebuilding Alki?  It makes more sense to me to rebuild Schmitz Park to accommodate both schools and use Alki Elementary for residential use. Driving up to the 3 existing schools makes more sense to me than to build another school in an already traffic-congested area. 

  • Jon Wright May 17, 2024 (7:22 am)

    The NIMBYs driving the appeals deserve to be dissed.

  • Pinto May 17, 2024 (7:38 am)

    Really sorry to hear about these parents and their frustration. However, they should keep in mind that Schmitz Park Elementary was a great community before it moved to Genesee Hill. And most of the students were also in portables. Including those really old dilapidated portables in the back. so you can make a great community there despite the hardships. I wouldn’t view it as temporary and instead make it your home because your kids could be there for their entire elementary school experience

  • Jommo May 17, 2024 (7:52 am)

    Likely those in favor of eliminating the parking and the new design have never actually been around the school in the am or pm during drop off and pick up to see what a zoo it is. Or to realize that now 30ish more staff will be using street parking during the day in an area where it is already difficult to park on the street. 

    • Platupus May 17, 2024 (10:42 pm)

      It is possible to not drive. I don’t mean that as a jab, but a a realistic approach to transportation. Cars are one method, but they are expensive to own and operate, have huge externalities, and make cities worse. If teachers are in the alike community, or really anywhere in West Seattle, biking and bus are legitimate great options and then you wouldn’t need to deal with the stress of finding parking, amongst all the of the other issues associated with driving.Yes I own a car (2 actually).

  • Fredrik May 17, 2024 (8:27 am)

    These “Karens” and “Chads” are so much fun, my kid has been in portables his entire school experience so far and hes in 4th grade now. You all need to grow tf up…and let this school get built. let me guess, these same ppl whine about ppl having fun at the beach and loud noises too?

  • SPS Mom May 17, 2024 (8:37 am)

    If they finish building it and then SPS closes Lafayette then all of the families who can walk to Lafayette will be driving to Alki. None of their new efforts are aligned or making any sense. I am baffled and angry, we are headed for chaos.

    • Parent May 17, 2024 (5:01 pm)

      I hear you, SPS Mom.  I am baffled and angry as well.  

  • Parent May 17, 2024 (8:50 am)

    I believe the Alki school should be build. Also keep in mind, if Seattle continues on the path to closing other elementary schools in West Seattle, there will be an increase of bus and car traffic to the new Alki school. Zoning will change. Some parents will not have the option to have their child walk to school because Alki will be their assigned school, not their neighborhood school. 

  • Parent May 17, 2024 (9:11 am)

    This is especially true if other West Seattle elementary schools are closed. 

  • josh May 17, 2024 (11:34 am)

    Alki elementary does not need parking.  One of my daughters went there for kindergarten and most parents do walk to pick up their kids and there is more than enough street parking in close proximity for those that dont.  The staff dont need a big parking lot because there is abundant street parking during school hours.  Parking in the neighborhood is only an issue on weekend, in the summer, and some rare evenings.The real issue, even prior to the budget crunch.  Is that it is crazy to build a giant school here.  It is geographically isolated and in a neighborhood that will never have enough young families to fill the school.  If they rebuild it it should be half the planned sized and better yet they should sell the property, half of it to the city to expand the park and the other half to developers.There is plenty of capacity elsewhere even assuming the peninsula will have growth in the coming decades especially given they are likely going to shutter 2 or 3 elemantary schools on the peninsula soon.  There is a huge cost to closing schools and then re opening them.  Keep it simple and get rid of Alki Elementary completely.

    • Albert Einstein over here May 20, 2024 (3:44 pm)

      It’s almost as if the parking is for… people who have to commute there and work. 

  • wetone May 18, 2024 (9:48 am)

    Growing up at Alki and attending Alki school in the 60’s very few kids were driven to school, most all walked and few rode a bike. Alki’s population consisted of mostly blue collar families with lots of kids in area. The school had a parking/delivery area behind school that was well used. Today area has changed greatly as family housing is disappearing along with the kid population area once had. If district has to bus kids to school in an area like Alki, that just shows me the school is not needed anymore, especially when there multiple other schools with in a few miles………If new school is built then it should include parking for staff, buses and deliveries. Impacts to neighborhood will be huge as more new multi units replace single family homes and streets fill beyond capacity. It amazes me how city is pushing a cult like mentality on transportation issues ;) anyone that says there’s lots of parking available on streets in Alki area needs their eyes checked….

  • WS Troll May 18, 2024 (1:17 pm)

    Finding parking for a car is a hard thing in Seattle. All street parking should be metered, city wide.  All new construction or remodels should include appropriate parking onsite OR it should be illegal to garage cars at address that have been remodeled and don’t include parking.  I’d SPS doesn’t want parking at Alki, they need to hire people who are committed to commuting without a car, and have only families who won’t rely on a car to get their students to and from school. Over time this will eliminate street parking city wide. 

  • Arbor Heights Resident May 20, 2024 (2:25 pm)

    I’m confused about why parking is so important. Why do you need a parking spot to drop off a kid? Can’t you just pull up on the curb, have them hop out then leave?Why do you need to drive your kid anyway? Why not just have them walk or bike?If you live too far away for that, well, that’s why school buses exist. I rode the bus almost every day as a kid, does SPS not have them anymore or something?Truly, parking is a baffling reason to spend so much of your free time to force kids to use temporary facilities for years while costing the taxpayers money and getting nothing done.

  • Lola May 20, 2024 (4:25 pm)

    Why they did not just remodel Schmitz Park School is beyond me.  The city can’t use it for anything else and that is where Alki Kids are at this year.  It is not that much further with more property to be able to build up and more parking than Alki.  They could sell the school portion to the City Parks and Rec and just have one big field for kids to use. 

    • NoParkingNeeded May 21, 2024 (9:37 am)

      They need Schmitz Park Elementary as a backup for renovations and other uses (IE renting it to the YMCA for camps).  It can’t be a permanent backup/contingency location when it’s converted to a full time school. Alki is there this year, West Seattle was there previous years. If any other schools need work they will be there, otherwise it’ll be used for other purposes. 

  • K May 21, 2024 (3:38 pm)

    The school will eventually get built, it’s just a matter of time. Families will have to live with portables like so many other families have experienced for years all over ws. 

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