West Seattle, Washington
No snow, but there’s a strong breeze buffeting trees around, at least where we are — and that, according to Seattle City Light, is the number one cause of power outages: trees vs. power lines. As first reported here last month, City Light crews are coming to West Seattle soon for what the utility says is the first extensive round of tree-trimming here in almost a decade – and if you have a tree that’s in the way, NOT cutting is NOT an option — so SCL really wants to make sure everyone understands what’s going on here, before the trucks show up, and why the cuts tend to be big and dramatic, not just a snip here and a snip there. Best place to find out exactly what will happen and when – and to see if your specific neighborhood is included in what City Light’s announcement two weeks ago described as “Alki and North Admiral west of California Avenue in the north end of West Seattle and Genesee, Gatewood and Fairmount Park neighborhoods in the south end of West Seattle” – is to go to tonight’s meeting, 6:30 pm, Hiawatha Community Center.
During our discussion of townhouse design standards last Friday, ignited by Southwest Design Review Board member (and West Seattle architect) David Foster‘s investigation of micropermitting (first report here; City Council President reaction here), it was suggested we should photograph some of the townhouse projects. So we did. Please keep in mind that unless otherwise noted, these are NOT examples of the practice he is concerned about – instead, the thought here was JUST to take a look at townhouse faces for some of the larger, newer groupings, for anyone interested in seeing examples of current West Seattle townhouse construction, somewhat side-by-side. Here’s a sample from a weekend morning drive: (PS: TUESDAY MORNING ADDITIONS AT BOTTOM OF POST)Read More
From our latest review of reports at the Southwest Precinct (which, if you’re new here, is the “police station” for West Seattle, at Delridge/Webster by Home Depot): We start with a suspected drunk driver caught asleep at the wheel — in his Oldsmobile Cutlass, motor running, blocking an intersection. This happened after 3 am Saturday at 25th/Cloverdale. Officers woke the 26-year-old man up; one of his breath tests came in at two and a half times the level officially defined as DUI. Next — how a police car wound up with its back window smashed out:Read More
Seems the Charlestown Cafe/Petco project (most recent WSB update here; we checked directly with Petco a few weeks ago and they had nothing new to report) isn’t the only thing proceeding at a snail’s pace at California/Charlestown. That’s also the case for the determination of the fate of the brick apartments (file photo above) at 3811 California, which were pre-mourned by us and others when we first reported the surfacing last April of a proposal to replace them with a mixed-use building. A tenant’s tip back in October (WSB coverage here) revealed that the city Landmarks Preservation Board would have to evaluate the buildings before the proposal could advance. We just checked back with the Landmarks Board and the status of that part of the process hasn’t changed since October — Beth Chave tells WSB they “do not yet have a complete nomination application for this property, so it has not been scheduled for a review by the Landmarks Preservation Board.” (If and when the nomination paperwork is done, the site will eventually turn up here.) And the city planner assigned to the proposed mixed-use project, Holly Godard, says the final land-use decision on this site can’t be issued till the Department of Neighborhoods (parent of the Landmark Board) review is done.
Went to the King County Courthouse this morning to check on the trial of ex-Huling Brothers sales staffers Adrian “AG” Dillard and Ted Coxwell, since we hadn’t heard anything since testimony began 10 days ago. While we were in the courtroom, the prosecution rested its case; the defense planned to start calling witnesses later this morning. DETAILS ADDED @ NOON: The last two prosecution witnesses, called while we were there, had testified earlier, but were brought back for more questioning — one was a former Huling employee, the other a Seattle Police detective. Fairly technical stuff — the ex-employee was asked this morning to identify various spots on photographs of the then-Huling dealership property and the apartment building where the victim in the case lived; the detective was asked about records showing vehicles owned by co-defendant Coxwell. We’ll keep checking on the trial as it proceeds in the courtroom of Superior Court Judge Nicole MacInnes in the days to come.
SUMMER THEATER SIGNUPS: ArtsWest’s Musical Theater Conservatory for 12-16-year-olds is doing “Pippin” this year; signups start today.
SUSTAINABLE WEST SEATTLE: Annual meeting, 7 pm @ Camp Long. More info here.
To see what’s happening later this week – such as the City Light meeting tomorrow about where crews will soon be trimming MANY trees in West Seattle — check the WSB Events list.
This time, it’s not another mixed-use development — it’s the West Seattle Christian Church (WSB sponsor) multipurpose building, which will be available for community use as well as church functions, with auditorium, gymnasium, and banquet-type space. Construction begins Wednesday, but the first symbolic shovel of dirt was turned at a brief ceremony today:
Participants in today’s ceremony included representatives of several generations of WSCC church members, from someone who just joined 2 months ago, to someone who’s been attending for more than 60 years. And the project’s been a while in the making, according to Allan Weber:
Thanks to Heather for letting us know she spotted signs of a new business moving into the above-pictured space on the south side of Admiral, just west of California. Research led us quickly to co-owner Kent Sadow, who answered our e-mail just as quickly:
We have bought out “Hart’s Cards & Gifts” and will be opening a new, really fun store. It will now be Max & Quinn’s ATOMIC BOYS Shop-O-Rama. We will still have cards and party supplies; however, the new store will be heavily themed towards retro and nostalgic games, toys, novelties, & candy. If it reminds us of when we were growing up and even before, we will try to carry it.
We are really excited to have this opportunity to open a store in this location, since we live just a few blocks away, our kids go to school next door, and have always loved being part of our community. … We hope to be open by week’s end.
According to a listing we just found, the land under John’s Corner Deli at 35th/Webster (map), known for the cow on the roof (file photo @ left), is for sale, along with three adjoining parcels. The listing doesn’t say which three, but King County property records show the deli lot is owned by the same person as the three lots immediately south. The listing, priced at $2,685,000, says in part:
Prime mixed use development site near the highest point of W. Seattle with commanding views of Sound, Olympics & Cascades. Corner lot with alley access. Four tax parcels (zoned NC2-40) to be sold together as one 27,256 sq. ft. parcel. Preliminary feasibility report indicates the potential for at least a 79,500 sq. ft. structure. (Note that the 23,600 sq. ft. lot next door has 71 residential units).
(That last line appears to refer to 7524 35th SW, which is the fourth lot south of the deli.) A different version of the listing on the agent’s website has a few more pix.
Will West Seattle go for Obama? Edwards? Clinton? Romney? Paul? McCain? Or? Here’s another reminder that Washington caucuses are two weeks from today, 1 pm on Saturday 2/9, various WS locations for Democrats, Southwest Community Center for WS Republicans. The caucus results will count for all the Democratic presidential-candidate nomination process in our state, and half the Republican process (the GOP’s other half will come from the Feb. 19 WA primary). Tons of info links in previous WSB coverage (here, here, here) and on the websites of the 34th District Democrats and King County Republicans. Plus, a reader e-mailed WSB tonight (thank you!) to point out that February 1st is the deadline for the Democratic Party to receive the equivalent of an “absentee ballot” — it’s an affidavit that can be filed by those who say they can’t make the caucuses because of religious observance, disability challenges, or military service. You can download the form here (the second page of the PDF includes the three options for sending it in — postal mail, e-mail, or fax). P.S. Caucus talk is under way in the WSB Forums, too.
As first reported here yesterday afternoon, city Parks Department reps have met with “stakeholders” in the project to build a new plaza for the Alki Statue of Liberty. Major developments from that meeting included a new, longer timeline for the plaza, some design revisions, and another round of public involvement in the process, including an expected public meeting in April. In the day since the meeting, we’ve gathered more reaction and further details on what happens next, starting with a detailed update — and call for action — from Seattle Statue of Liberty Plaza Project co-chairs Libby and Paul Carr:Read More
The new Pegasus sign is up at the ex-Coyotes, ex-Chez Million, ex-Lighthouse, ex-Point:
Further east, new colors are painted on Slices (whose front fence was shown in the Craigslist version of this ad last month; we wrote to the listed e-mailbox but got no reply) and in the background, the ex-Alki Mail turned future Pioneer Coffee Company:
Just a few things to share from our latest review of reports at the Southwest Precinct, starting with an apparent flasher at Westcrest Park: This happened at 4:30 pm Wednesday, but wasn’t reported till a day later. Two girls, 12 and 13, told police they saw a man running up and down a hill (between the off-leash area and the rest of the park) with his private parts not-so-private. They left the area, then saw him again in another part of the park, “stretching and exercising,” and still exposed. No detailed description of the suspect was available. Next: The hit-and-run suspect who wasn’t hard to find:Read More
The first city official we pinged about this (see earlier report) was Council President Richard Conlin — and he replied tonight:
Thanks for the message. I am very familiar with this problem — we caught a developer on Greenwood doing this a couple of years ago, not for the design review purpose, but to evade sidewalk construction requirements. When we reported it to DPD, they were able to enforce the requirement by telling the developer that both parts of the project had to be permitted together. I wasn’t aware that it was as widespread as your story indicates, I thought the one we found was an isolated instance.
Since DPD did take corrective action on the one we found, that suggests that it is not the law that needs to be changed, but rather that something in DPD’s procedures. I’m wondering if there were complaints made on any of these projects and if DPD responded in any way. It may be that a Councilmember intervening might be necessary, which would be unfortunate, as that should not be required, but it is a path that can be taken.
Council President Conlin, you may recall, had some interesting comments about development — “McMansions” in particular — during his appearance last week before the Alki Community Council (WSB coverage here). One other note — we sent the “micropermitting” link from earlier today to our favorite citywide news blog, Slog, thinking they might be interested since Slog and parent publication The Stranger pay closer attention to development issues than many other citywide news sources. They posted a followup late today; if you haven’t seen it yet, that link is here.
There’s a new way to help out the son and husband of Red Cup Espresso owner Angelia Paulsen, killed in a crash on I-5 earlier this month, and the organizer says West Seattle rock superstar Eddie Vedder‘s band is involved. Here’s the announcement e-mailed to WSB by Jonathan French:
I am hoping you can spread the word about a raffle we have set up to benefit the OÂ¹Dea family. (Sean & Julian O’Dea) The band Pearl Jam has asked me to donate 2 very rare, autographed limited edition prints signed by the entire band on their behalf. There will be 2 drawings with one win per person. First person who wins chooses the first print. Buy as many tickets as you wish. Tickets are $10.00 each. They can be purchased at Red Cup Espresso (4453 California Ave. SW) (206) 923-0431. Or people can e-mail me (Jonathan French email@example.com) and I can make other arrangements to get tickets out. Drawing is at 12 pm February 23, 2008. Need not be present to win. Write your name and contact info on the back of one of the tickets and they’ll put it in the bucket. Framed prints can be viewed inside Red Cup Espresso.
As we mentioned earlier this week, Red Cup is currently open 6-2 weekdays, 7-4 weekends.
At an Alki meeting this afternoon, the Parks Department presented a new timeline for Statue of Liberty plaza completion: end of October. During the fundraising campaign successfully completed earlier this month (WSB coverage here), Statue of Liberty Plaza Project co-chairs Libby and Paul Carr had said they hoped the plaza could be built in time for a July 4th dedication this year, but that appears to be out of the question, as a “refinement” and review process is expected to take place over the next few months, and the timeline released today doesn’t even call for the project to be put out for bid until early August, with construction projected to start in mid-September. More tomorrow.
Whenever we have one of our “teardown-to-townhome” threads going – like this one – somebody wonders why so many of the new townhouses seem to have no style. Today, as a backhoe scoops debris from the latest t-to-t, we have one answer.
Those photos are before (earlier this month) and after (this morning) in the 3400 block of California. Our most recent mention of that project brought the following e-mail from David Foster, who is not just your average critic — he is an award-winning architect who serves on the Southwest Design Review Board, which you hear about a lot here on WSB, because its public meetings on projects that require design review are often the only times the public gets to hear about/comment on such projects before the backhoe shows up. This particular project, no such review. Some other ones — such as the controversial townhomes across from the church @ California/Othello — no such review. Foster says he knows why:
That project [3400 block of California] is for 16 new townhouses, which is well above the threshold for SEPA Review and Design Review, but it was issued a construction permit without going through either review.
How? The applicants employed an illegal trick called micropermitting (aka segmented permitting). The threshold for SEPA (and Design Review) in this zone (L3-RC) is 9 units or more. The developer maneuvered underneath the threshold by pulling plans for 4 fourplexes off the shelf, and applying for multiple permits. The result – unless this project is challenged – will be another crappy, cookie cutter project that did not receive proper reviews.
SEPA has specific language prohibiting this. But when I spoke to the manager of the Design Review program at DPD, he admitted that all too often the bureaucracy lets these projects slip under the radar – “it’s too hard to keep track of”, and once permits get issued, there is no real remedy short of a lawsuit. He’s tried to get the Land Use section’s support, but to no avail.
This situation got me curious about other projects that might be employing the same illegal strategy, so I took a little field trip through West Seattle. In an hour’s time I found 5 projects that were built in the last year, and 3 more that are under construction (or in the case above, about to start). I put together a chart (attached) showing the projects’ locations and permitting data. (One currently under construction is another 12-unit project in the 5900 block of California Ave.) Looking at these projects as they are now built, any idiot can see that each one was constructed by a single builder as a single project using the same recycled plan. And each could have benefited greatly from Design Review.
SEPA Review and Design Review are processes that were instituted to protect the public from environmentally- and aesthetically harmful projects. Judging by your readers’ response to [this post], people are pissed. Isn’t it time pressure was brought on the City to do its job and enforce the law?
David Foster AIA
Principal, David Foster Architects
Member, West Seattle Design Review Board
SEPA stands for State Environmental Policy Act. A city page about it is here. The attachment that Foster refers to is an Excel spreadsheet that we have uploaded so you can download it (click here). We will be seeking some city comment on this; we’ll let you know what we hear back.
Beach Drive Blog has the pix. We’re still doublechecking on which project this is for; there is one in the area that is proposed for single-family homes but the city website doesn’t show its demolition permit as having been granted yet. Elsewhere in West Seattle, the teardown-to-townhome site in the 3400 block of California is in demolition-cleanup mode today; more on that, with an unusual angle, shortly.
In addition to the call for witnesses that we posted this afternoon, we have one more bit of news tonight from the Southwest Precinct – this is directly from a detectives’ progress report forwarded to WSB:
For the first three weeks of 2008, (January 2, 2008 to January 23, 2008) Southwest Detectives were assigned 38 cases for investigations.
Detective have identified a few groups of individuals who they believe are responsible for a pattern of burglaries. Detectives have built cases on several of these individuals within these groups which has greatly interrupted these patterns.
21 of those cases have been cleared with arrests.
14 cases, detectives have developed leads and/or have identified the suspects (filing pending).
3 cases, no leads at this time.
Detectives have noticed a substantial decrease in residential and commercial burglaries.
Just anecdotal, but when we reviewed six days worth of police reports at the precinct yesterday (resulting in this writeup posted last night), we did indeed notice fewer break-in reports than we’d seen in recent weeks.
A few notes from these two public open houses in West Seattle tonight:
SPRING HILL (THE MIXED-USE PROJECT, NOT THE RESTAURANT) OPEN HOUSE: No new info or drawings since the Southwest Design Review Board meeting earlier this month (WSB coverage here). Project manager Barbara Hartley told WSB they hoped to use tonight’s open house to clarify some points of concern voiced at that meeting, such as the separation between Spring Hill and the building to the north (25 feet total), and gather more comments before architects revise the plans for the next SWDRB meeting (she says they’ll be ready next month, if the city can get them on the schedule). She also says they’re leaning toward designating the “residential units” as apartments, since “that’s where the development synergy seems to be right now, especially in West Seattle,” and for the ground-level commercial, they have no “anchor tenant” yet but are envisioning professional offices.
METRO RAPIDRIDE OPEN HOUSE: No major new info since the presentation we covered at the Junction Neighborhood Organization (JuNO) meeting earlier this month (WSB writeup here), but a few additional infoboards not shown at that meeting were on display here — including one listing possible stoplights that could have “transit priority” as part of speeding up the bus trips. (How much faster? one reader asked in earlier comments — Paul Roybal of Metro told WSB tonight, about 25% faster than the current 54.) We also learned tonight that before RapidRide starts up in 2011, Metro will do a West Seattle-wide review of ALL bus routes in 2010, figuring out how to make it all work together. Open houses without full presentations don’t make good writeups but they are EXCELLENT ways for you to get questions answered and register opinions, so if you have even the slightest interest in RapidRide, we strongly urge you to get to one of the next three West Seattle events: open house 5:30-8:30 pm Tuesday (1/29) @ West Seattle Senior Center, info table noon-3 pm Wednesday (1/30) @ WS Senior Center, 6 pm Feb. 19 @ Southwest Library. And an online questionnaire is still available for you to answer by Feb. 1; find it here. You can find more Metro contact info for RapidRide comments here.
The West Seattle crimefighters at the Southwest Precinct are hoping you might be able to help with one of the cases we reported in last night’s West Seattle Crime Watch update — involving six young men/boys attacking and trying to rob two men on a Metro bus around 6:15 pm last Saturday as it headed across The Bridge, from downtown to West Seattle. Contrary to what we wrote last night, it seems there WERE other passengers on this bus when this happened, so police believe there are more witnesses. As reported, they arrested three teenage suspects shortly afterward, but now need to find the other three. If you were on that bus when this happened, or have any otherwise-obtained information about it, Detective Nick Bauer at the Southwest Precinct wants to hear from you at 206/233-7830.
Two days after the new “enhanced” driver licenses became available at the Westwood Village licensing office and 10 other spots statewide, we just got this report from Kevin (thank you!):
You may want to mention to your readers that the wait at the West Seattle Driverâ€™s License Office are pretty long. I just called today (two days after the program started taking appointments) and I couldnâ€™t get an appointment until March 7th. If your readers want to get an EDL/ID they need to call into the office pretty quick. They can only schedule for 3 months ahead of time, and they are getting all booked. Once March appointments are all taken, it will be til end of quarter before you can apply again.
The number to call for an appointment is here.
As we reported last night, the school district has decided to hold an official public meeting on the Denny-Sealth proposals Feb. 4, the night before a meeting that the Westwood Neighborhood Council had already scheduled for Feb. 5. We e-mailed community liaison Eleanor Trainor from Seattle Public Schools today, asking for a few more details on the Feb. 4 meeting, and here’s what she just sent:
The meeting is scheduled for February 4, in the Sealth library. There will be a “gallery walk” at 630p during which folks can get a look at the latest drawings and ideas, in addition to chatting with district staff and leadership who will be on-hand. The meeting portion of the evening will begin at 7p.
If you missed last night’s update – the district also says the School Board will make its final decision on the Sealth-Denny project at its regular Feb. 27 meeting.