West Seattle, Washington
We received some questions today about a big deployment of cranes and trucks that took over a block in Gatewood for most of the day, 41st SW between SW Southern and SW Rose. Workers on scene told us they were there to place a prefab DADU (Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit, aka “backyard cottage”). The company involved in this installation was Abodu; permit filings say this DADU was planned to be just under 500 square feet. We weren’t there for the actual placement but it likely looked a lot like this one in Highland Park in early June:
Thanks to Kay for that photo. Same company built that DADU too.
It’s been more than 7 years since the last time a ceremonial groundbreaking launched construction of a residential project in West Seattle. That was for The Whittaker in 2014; today, it was for the first of at least eight West Seattle projects on which Housing Diversity Corporation and STS Construction Services (WSB sponsor) are partnering. This will be a 114-apartment building at 3405 Harbor Avenue SW (previously 3417 Harbor, when we covered its journey through the Design Review process). Before the shiny ceremonial shovels went into the ground, the project was explained by HDC’s Adina Eaton and Brad Padden, STS’s Craig Haveson, and architect Atelier Drome‘s Michelle Linden (whose firm is also investing in the project):
We asked Haveson a few followup questions, starting with a question about the “puzzle parking” he had mentioned in his remarks. This building was planned with 65 parking spaces, and Haveson says that’s only because they’re required by the city – while the project is in a “frequent transit” zone, that only partially reduces the amount of required parking, as the site is not part of an urban village. “Puzzle parking” enables more cars to be parked in less space, thanks to a mechanical system (explained here) that stacks and shuffles them. If traditional lot or garage spaces had to be built, Haveson says, this project wouldn’t have penciled out.
The word repeatedly used for the future apartments, especially by HDC, is “attainable” rather than “affordable”; though there will be some 1- and 2-bedroom apartments, the focus is on smaller spaces. The target residents, Haveson observed, are more into experiences – if their rent is $100 cheaper, that’s “two more dinners out.” The partners also stress the location of this project, on the path to Alki and the Water Taxi dock, a bus ride away from the businesses in The Junction.
WHAT’S NEXT: As we reported four weeks ago, site work has begun; construction of a project this size typically takes at least a year and a half. We asked Padden which of the partnership’s seven other West Seattle projects – all listed on the HDC website – is likely to break ground next; he said 9201 Delridge Way SW and 4448 California SW are the closest.
If you’ve been affected by the city’s pandemic-related eviction moratorium, as a renter or landlord, the city wants to remind you that it’s ending today, and wants to be sure you know about an informational resource. Here’s the announcement:
As directed by Mayor Harrell in Executive Order 2022-02 on the City’s eviction moratorium, the City has set up an Eviction Assistance web page as part of the broader Renting in Seattle online resource. The Eviction Assistance page offers renters and small landlords key information they should know about the expiration of the moratorium, set to end on February 28, 2022, and post-moratorium tenant protections. It also provides links to resources and more detailed information. We will be adding translated information as it becomes available.
The website – seattle.gov/EvictionAssistance – lists resources available to tenants once the moratorium ends, including:
-Free legal assistance from the Housing Justice Project
-Assistance for rent and utility payments due to COVID financial hardships
-Rules limiting eviction of tenants with delinquent rent accrued between March 3, 2020, and up to 6 months after the end of the moratorium
-Rules limiting eviction from September to June based on Seattle Public Schools’ calendar for households with students (childcare—under 18), educators, and employees of schools
For a more complete look at the City’s renter protections look at seattle.gov/rentinginseattle.
$59 million has been allocated for rental assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic to help Seattle renters stay in their homes. This includes a variety of federal dollars allocated to respond to the pandemic, as well as City General Fund designated for rental assistance.
If you live in a single-family home within the city limits, the land it sits on is likely zoned SF 5000, SF 7200, or SF 9600. Those names will go away under a city proposal unveiled in today’s Land Use Information Bulletin. The city already is in the process of changing neighborhood plans to show “neighborhood residential” as the new name for areas that had been “single-family’; now it’s planning to change the actual zoning designations citywide. The notice is an early alert that the City Council’s Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee will hold a public hearing next month. Here’s what the proposal would do:
• Single-Family 9600 (SF 9600) zones would be renamed “Neighborhood Residential 1” (NR1);
• Single-Family 7200 (SF 7200) zones would be renamed “Neighborhood Residential 2” (NR2);
• Single-Family 5000 (SF 5000) zones would be renamed “Neighborhood Residential 3” (NR3); and
• Residential Small Lot (RSL) zones would be renamed “Neighborhood Residential Small Lot” (RSL).
Zoning district names would be updated on the zoning map and in the Land Use Code (Title 23 of the Seattle Municipal Code (SMC)), short-term rental regulations (SMC 6.600), traffic administration regulations (SMC 11.16), street use regulations (SMC Title 15), building and construction codes (SMC Title 22), and environmental regulations (SMC Title 25).
Though there’s talk of eventually changing the actual zoning, all this does for now is change the names. The public hearing is planned for the Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee’s 9:30 am meeting on December 8th; you’ll find the agenda here when it get s closer. In the meantime, you can read the entire 218-page bill here. You can also email comments through December 7th to Noah An in the office of Land Use/Neighborhoods chair Councilmember Dan Strauss; firstname.lastname@example.org is the address.
Introducing West Seattle’s newest luxury waterfront development, Infinity Shore Club Residences (1250 Alki Avenue SW), one of WSB’s newest sponsors, which means they get the opportunity to tell their story:
Set in what is arguably Seattle’s most desirable waterfront location, there is no other new condominium project quite like Infinity Shore Club in Seattle right now. Infinity rests on a stunning stretch of Alki Beach that looks out over Puget Sound to the Olympic Mountains and offers a vista of Seattle’s one-of-a-kind skyline. The building, currently under construction, will house a boutique collection of just 37 condominium estates with more amenity space than other buildings of its size — promising residents the privacy and elevated feel of a luxury resort experience every day.
Residences include one-bedroom-plus-den, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom options, which range in size from 1,108 to 2,382 square feet. In addition to several spacious layouts, Infinity offers a lot of the things home buyers will expect to find in new construction homes: a modern design and large window walls to let the outdoors (and large amounts of natural light) in, brand-new appliances, and high-quality finishes inspired by the project’s natural surroundings. But this community offers so much more!
With multiple shared amenity spaces and unique perks, Infinity ia designed to allow homeowners to live life on the water to its fullest. Residents will enjoy private outdoor terraces that maximize their living space plus access to a shared rooftop terrace with panoramic views, several distinct areas for relaxing or socializing, and firepits around which to cozy up on chilly evenings. They will also enjoy the back deck oasis, with spaces for lounging and entertaining in a peaceful garden environment, and the fully equipped fitness center, pet spa, and storage for bikes, kayaks, and other recreational equipment. But perhaps the most luxurious amenity of all is the infinity pool which, along with a heated spa, sits in a central location between the building’s two residential arms, and allows patrons to swim and relax while taking in the incredible views that only this West Seattle location can provide.
Currently entering its final phase of construction, Infinity Shore Club will be ready for occupancy in early 2022. For those searching for their perfect home at the edge of the shore, this is the ideal time to learn more about Infinity’s floor plan options and availability—take the opportunity to tour and choose the ultimate beachfront home now, while there are still many options available, and be move-in ready by early next year! Pricing starts at $1,149,950.
We thank Infinity Shore Club Residences for sponsoring independent, community-collaborative neighborhood news via WSB; find our current sponsor team listed in directory format here, and find info on joining the team by going here.
Eight years have passed since Seattle City Light declared its ex-substation at 16th/Holden to be surplus, along with several others in West Seattle, and proposed putting it up for sale. The site’s underlying zoning was for single-family housing, but community members counterproposed that commercial development might be better. It was rezoned for mixed use a few years later – as described during a Highland Park tour with then-Mayor Ed Murray in 2017 – but has continued to sit idle.
Now there are some possibilities in play, and HPAC heard about them at tonight’s meeting. City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who shepherded the rezoning years ago, first explained that City Light still owns the site and remains amenable to a no-cost transfer of the site to the city Office of Housing. So OH and Enterprise Community Partners have been evaluating the feasibility “to explore further what’s possible at the site.” She said they’re opening a dialogue to “get moving on a path forward.”
Enterprise Community Partners’ Jess Blanch explained her organization is national and works on affordable housing from policy to finance to development. “We cover it from end to end.” She directs the program Home and Hope – housing on publicly owned tax-exempt land, like this site. She says “a few issues are in play” – it’s zoned NC-40.”Given the site size [10,000 sf], it is really too small of a site for affordable rental housing, the way (that) is financed.” But affordable homeownership might be a possibility. It would have to be 100 percent “public benefit” for the land to be given for this purpose – that means low-income community members – making no more than 80 percent of the area mean income – would have to be served in its commercial space, such as a food bank or preschool. It could also be live-work space.
Erika Malone from the Office of Housing explained her department doesn’t develop, own, or manage projects so if the property is transferred to them, they would then put out a Request for Proposals. The site would have to be developed as “permanently affordable housing.”
Herbold said that “if there’s interest in a ground-level use that provides a public benefit, it makes it more possible to develop the property for affordable housing.” They wouldn’t be able to do a low- or no-cost transfer if it was going to be ground-floor retail and housing above it – they’d probably have to sell it to a for-profit developer.
HPAC co-chair Kay Kirkpatrick said having commercial space there would be a public benefit in its own way because Highland Park needs more walkable businesses; the guests said that wouldn’t meet the technical definition of public benefit. Kirkpatrick and attendees pointed out that an adjacent property is currently up for sale. But that site (about 5,000 sf) wouldn’t add enough land to make affordable rental housing “pencil out,” said Blanch.
Some brainstorming ensued; community ideas about ways to have a business that served low-income residents included a FareStart-type café, serving the public and training people emerging from homelessness.
So what’s the next step? Herbold said they want to know if HPAC would be OK with a potentially non-commercial ground-floor use. Then the Office of Housing would explore seeking a nonprofit homeownership organization – Community Land Trust, Habitat for Humanity, for example. “There are still a lot of iunknowns regarding what’s possible,” Malone said. Then discussions between oH and SCL would ensue; if they worked out how it could be transferred, Permanently affordable homeownership vs. development that would include bjusinesses – which would mean a for-profit developer.
Enterprise has worked up some concepts, Herbold said. Blanch said she didn’t want to share those publicly but said the site could hold 8 to 10 townhouses, for example. Since the site is adjacent to single-family homes, that puts “some constraints’ on the “developable envelope.” Or, “condo apartments” would be an option.
What kind of a timeline are they working on? Kirkpatrick asked. Enterprise has a contract with the city that’s being renewed at least through next year, Blanch said. So a decision on a direction can apparently wait until early next year (this was HPAC’s last scheduled meeting until January).
(We’ll report on the rest of tonight’s HPAC meeting – two discussions with SDOT – in a separate story Thursday.)
Six years ago, the Beachwood Apartments at 4027 Beach Drive SW were momentarily in the spotlight because of community questions regarding their takeover by Seattle Sober Living. The organization stressed that it wasn’t a halfway house or treatment facility – just a building renting apartments to men committing to drug- and alcohol-free living. The years passed and it didn’t return to our radar until this past weekend, when a reader emailed to say the building looked empty. Checking the Seattle Sober Living website, we found the Beach Drive location was no longer listed; though in 2015 it was the organization’s only location, now SSL lists buildings in Capitol Hill and Kirkland. Unable to find anything else about the West Seattle building’s status, we emailed David Gould, director of SSL then and now (and a West Seattle resident). He replied:
We have found another property in the Seattle area which we believe is even better suited for our tenants. SSL is no longer renting the property at 4027 Beach Dr SW.
Speaking for myself and representing feedback I’ve received from tenants and their families, the West Seattle community is owed a debt of gratitude for welcoming us. This is a beautiful area and hundreds of recovering addicts who have come through the Beach Drive home hold a special place in their heart for this community. Lives have been changed. Thank you, West Seattle.
Alliance Multifamily is managing the building now. While stressing that he wasn’t speaking for the ownership, Gould said he had “heard it was going to be rented as standard housing.” And indeed, when we subsequently went over for a photo of the building, we noticed sandwich boards advertising “Now Leasing.”
That’s the “packet” from Public47 Architects for tomorrow night’s Southwest Design Review Board meeting about the proposal for a new building to replace the Golden Tee Apartments – keeping the name – at 3201 SW Avalon Way [map]. From the packet, here’s the overview:
The proposed 8-story, mixed use project seeks to achieve the following development objectives:
• Provide approx 144 residential apartment units
• Parking for 70-80 vehicles
• Provide +/- 3500 SF of street-level commercial space
• Foster pedestrian friendly sidewalk experience
• LEED Gold construction standard
The review meeting is online, at 5 pm Thursday, and includes an opportunity for public comment on the proposed design, Information for videoconferencing or calling in is on the city website. This could be the final Design Review meeting for this project; the site has been upzoned to 80′ maximum, leading to project revisions, since its first review meeting three years ago.
Almost all the sizable apartment buildings that have gone up in West Seattle in the past decade-plus are participants in the city’s Multi-Family Tax Exemption (MFTE) program. It’s a voluntary program that enables building owners to not pay property tax on the residential portion of their projects, as long as they provide a certain number of units at lower rents pegged to tenants’ income levels. Tomorrow (Friday, September 10th), the City Council’s Finance and Housing Committee looks at legislation that among other things would extend the program – otherwise, nine participating properties will expire this year, after 12 years, including two in the West Seattle Junction, Mural and Altamira. (For an example of how the exemption works, you can look at Mural on the King County Assessor website – the property’s assessed value is $47.7 million, but it’s taxed on $5.7 million of that.) The slide deck for tomorrow’s meeting says 28 apartments at Mural and 32 at Altamira have MFTE-restricted rents. The proposed MFTE changes also could mean lower rents for tenants if they meet new, lower-income levels; otherwise, they’d be grandfathered in at the current rent level. The city says the proposed updates are the result of recent changes in state law. Tomorrow’s committee meeting is at 9:30 am, online; see the agenda for how to comment and how to watch.
We’re continuing to check on stalled development sites. Today, an update on 5242-5258 California SW, the site that includes a former strip mall plus two former restaurants (most recently Papa John’s, closed since 2017, and Thaitan, closed since 2019) north of Brandon. The site is listed for sale again, this time as a “permitted development site” approved for 32 townhouses. The asking price: $7.7 million.
The land is owned by entities traceable to Memphis-based Lexington Asset Management, which bought it in 2018 and 2019 purchases totaling $4.6 million, according to King County Assessor’s Office records. Development proposals for the site went through the city process in stages going back to 2017. The sales flyer for the site calls it “the largest permitted townhome opportunity in the heart of West Seattle in over 20 years,” though Rally – the townhome development at the former Charlestown Café site – isn’t far behind, at 27 units. The flyer also makes note of the closed bridge, observing that “West Seattle Bridge reopens in 2022, which will accelerate home value and rent growth (work is already underway).”
Meantime, the graffiti and trash at the site has led to complaints filed with the city, most recently early this year (we noted a crew placing new plywood over the windows in mid-March, but as our photo above shows, the tagging has been re-accumulating since then).
Construction of the new Lam Bow Apartments (6935 Delridge Way SW) has finally begun, almost five years after a three-alarm fire gutted one of its buildings. In 2019, the Seattle Housing Authority decided the remaining building should be replaced too. Here’s a rendering of the 82-unit affordable-housing building that will replace the two original buildings.
(The project went through Administrative Design Review – public comment but no meetings; here’s the packet by SMR Architects, if you’re interested in design/layout details.) When the city first put the project out to bid last year, no one bid. So they tried again this year, and Walsh Construction was the winning bidder; SHA spokesperson Kerry Coughlin says the contract is for $32 million and that the building is expected to open by spring 2023.
As reported here last month, citywide Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (a West Seattle resident) is proposing a name change in the city zoning code – dropping “single-family” and replacing it with “neighborhood residential.” Her proposal would not change the actual zoning, just the name, but it’s considered a potential step toward eventually ending what some call “exclusionary zoning.” If you’re interested in hearing more about the name-change proposal, it’s one of the agenda items for tomorrow night’s quarterly meeting of the Morgan Community Association, 7 pm online; attendance info (Zoom or phone) is in our calendar listing. The council is accepting comments now, and plans a public hearing one week from tomorrow, at 9:30 am Wednesday, July 28th – info on that is on this webpage about the proposal.
We reported briefly via Twitter this morning that citywide Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, a North Delridge resident, is proposing what could be seen as a step toward getting rid of single-family zoning, which she has long opposed – changing its name. From the news release we just received:
Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (Position 8, Citywide) announced legislation today that will change the name of single-family only zones, a recognition that the term “single family” as used in Seattle’s zoning code is a misnomer, inaccurately describes current uses, and has roots in exclusionary practices.
The legislation, co-sponsored by Councilmember Dan Strauss (District 6, Northwest Seattle), is in response to the Seattle Planning Commission’s repeated request since 2018 to change the name of single-family only to “Neighborhood Residential,” as laid out in their Neighborhoods for All report. The Planning Commission has reiterated this call in their recommendations for 2019/2020 Comprehensive Plan amendments and in their recommendations for analysis for the 2020/2021 Comprehensive Plan update.
“Seattle’s neighborhoods have always been more diverse than the single family only designation would have us believe—from some of the longest-standing and beloved neighborhood businesses, to brownstone apartment buildings built before tightening zoning restrictions, connected housing with shared courtyards, that all allow for residents to live near schools, parks, and services our communities rely on. Changing the zoning title can help reflect the diverse housing we need across our city to support community well-being, walkability and affordability in Seattle, and create a more equitable and inclusive Seattle to accurately reflect our diverse neighborhoods,” said Mosqueda.
“Language matters. ‘Single family’ zoning may seem to some as merely a planning term, but we know historically it has been used to further exclusionary practices and discriminatory policies of the past. If Seattle is going to be an equitable and just city, then we must also apply that same lens to our zoning code. After years of discussion, we are acting on what we know is right to undo the legacy of exclusion that exists within our planning documents — starting with how we talk about our neighborhoods,” Mosqueda concluded. …
The City Council requested this zoning name change be studied by the Executive every year since 2018 in the Comprehensive Plan Annual Docketing Resolution. This proposal would finally implement that recommendation by first amending the City’s Comprehensive Plan to make the change, and then follow with changes to the land use code.
This change will touch many elements of the Comprehensive Plan, including: (1) the Future Land Use Map; (2) the Land Use, Housing, and Parks and Open Space elements; (3) seventeen neighborhood plans; and (4) the Housing appendix.
These proposed changes can be seen on the Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee website at: seattle.gov/council/committees/land-use-and-neighborhoods. The City Council’s Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee will hold a public hearing to receive input on the preliminary proposal on Wednesday, July 28, 2021 at 9:30 AM. Councilmember Mosqueda intends to formally introduce legislation in August as part of the annual Comprehensive Plan update.
See the proposed legislation here. The announcement also notes this would change official neighborhood plans around the city, including, in West Seattle, those for Admiral, Morgan Junction, West Seattle Junction, and Westwood Highland Park.
While this is a proposal to change the zoning type’s name, not the zoning itself yet, it’s been a hot topic in this year’s mayoral and council races, with most candidates voicing support so far for ending “exclusionary zoning.” Mosqueda said during this morning’s council briefing meeting that potential future zoning changes could come in 2023 and 2024.
While a long-in-the-works development plan proceeds for the north side of SW Orchard just east of Delridge Way, there’s now a new one for the south side of the street.
An early-stage site plan has just been filed with the city for 2051 SW Orchard (the site highlighted yellow in the screengrab above from King County Parcel Viewer). The site plan shows 39 townhouses, with offstreet parking in “shared underground garages.” The prospective development team is currently the most prolific in West Seattle – an entity of STS Construction (WSB sponsor) is listed as the owner (though not yet in county records), with architect Atelier Drome. Since this is an early-stage plan, there’s no timetable yet for feedback, reviews, and public comment.
As for the proposal on the north side of the street – city files indicate the 18-townhouse project, which hasn’t yet finished Design Review, is still being actively pursued. That project has a different owner/architect team.
King County’s Eviction Prevention and Rental Assistance Program is now open for applications from renters facing housing instability because of the pandemic. Three weeks ago, we published news of the first phase of applications, for landlords; more than 5,000 properties and 1,429 landlords with 5 or more tenants behind in rent are now registered. If your landlord is getting funding, you don’t have to apply directly; if not, you do. Eligibility information is here. If you qualify, the program will “offer payments for back rent, utility expenses and even future rent obligations,” according to today’s full announcement, which also says that if a property qualifies, “Landlords must agree not to terminate or refuse to renew tenancy until after December 31, 2021, except for special circumstances such as sale of the property or health and safety issues.”
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Another twist in the ongoing saga of the West Seattle Junction’s public parking lots.
A nonprofit housing developer has made an offer to buy the land for future development, according to documents we’ve obtained.
The West Seattle Junction Association has long leased the lots, operating them as parking for customers of local businesses. Its lease requires WSJA to cover the costs of the property taxes for the lots, which finally led, earlier this year, to the lots’ conversion from free parking to paid parking. For years before that, as reported here, WSJA had been trying to strategize how to deal with the six-digit tax bill, which is approaching $200,000 a year. While the parking fees are now covering some of it, they won’t cover all. And, as pointed out in that 2018 WSB story, the lots’ long-term future as developable land has always been kept in mind – it’s a major reason why the taxes have gone up.
With eviction moratoriums continuing, some have asked about support for property owners as well as renters. King County has just opened applications for help in this year’s version of a county program that will help them as well as tenants. The King County Eviction Prevention and Rental Assistance Program is now accepting applications from landlords who have five or more tenants behind in rent. On May 17th, it will start taking applications from tenants. The county announcement includes these points:
*The new program is significantly larger than the 2020 program, with over $125 million available to assist residents.
*EPRAP will help King County residents in danger of eviction by paying past, current, and future rent.
*Landlord sign-ups are being collected first and the Tenant pool will open in mid-May.
*The 2020 eviction prevention program provided rent assistance to 9,073 households countywide and expended over $37 million.
Find out more by going here.
Today we welcome a new WSB sponsor – Mitch Moore with Inspired Home. New sponsors get the chance to explain what they do – here’s what Mitch would like you to know:
I have been an established General Contractor in West Seattle for over 20 years.
Although I have worked throughout Seattle and Bellevue, West Seattle is my home, where I have raised my family and been an integral part of the community and where I focus my work efforts.
My work has been featured in Seattle Met Magazine, Upscale Living Magazine, and I have been awarded accolades by Curbed Seattle, and HGTV.
I personally manage each project and am on-site throughout the day. Your home is my office.
I take great pride that my reputation has been built on being on-time and on-budget.
I enjoy the creative design process, creating new spaces that fit your needs aesthetically and within your budget parameters.
Whether you want your dream kitchen or a simple kitchen change-out, you are ready to finish your basement, finally add a Master Suite or want to remove walls to create an open concept living space, I am happy to help conceptualize and deliver a quality project.
I very much look forward to assisting you with the transformation of your space.
Mitch Moore, Inspired Home
We thank Inspired Home for sponsoring independent, community-collaborative neighborhood news via WSB; find our current sponsor team listed in directory format here, and find info on joining the team by going here.
One year into the pandemic, the mayor’s office has an announcement today with news of extending some city proclamations and ending at least one. The announcement includes:
-Extending the moratoriums on residential, nonprofit, and small-business evictions through June 30, 2021 (full details in the announcement)
-Extending temporary loading zones for restaurants and small businesses
-Ending the suspension of the 72-hour parking rule; the city plans to reinstate it April 1st
That last rule has been suspended for almost a full year.
If you own property here (and/or elsewhere in King County), your 2021 bill is arriving this week (either sent to you directly or to your mortgage company). Valuation and bills are calculated by the office of King County Assessor John Wilson, who briefed reporters Wednesday on this year’s key points. First thing to remember – as explained here last fall – your tax bill is based on the property value set on January 1st of the previous year. So what you’re paying this year is what your property was worth at the start of last year. As noted in that report last fall, West Seattle values dropped about 1 percent, but that was based on a pre-bridge assessment.
We asked Wilson at the Wednesday briefing whether the West Seattle Bridge closure has been affecting property values at all since then, and he told us that so far, their continual monitoring of sales data shows “no significant impact” on residential property, though commercial property has been affected by a drop in rental rates. Citywide, the median assessed value is $674,000, and that’s down a little more than two percent from a year earlier. Tax bills continue to rise, though, with major factors including school funding (which we note comprises half of the tax bill for our house) and various voter-approved levies (our bill says that totals almost a third of what we owe). This year, they’re not delaying the due date – first half of the bill is due by April 30th, second half by October 31st. As a notice in the bill reminds you, there’s a tax-relief program for homeowners who are at least 61 years old with annual incomes of $58,423 or less. For others, there is also a payment-plan option. If you have questions about your taxes, go here.
A Habitat for Humanity homebuilding site near Westwood Village is the only West Seattle project on a list of new affordable-housing investments announced today by the city. The “additional investments of $55.8 million to support 840 low-income and affordable rental and homeownership opportunities” touted by the mayor at a media briefing include $400,000 for the four-house project at 2117 SW Trenton [map]. The Habitat for Humanity project webpage describes the plan as:
-4 units, three 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath, 1130 sq. ft.; one 4 bedroom, 2 bath, 1300 sq. ft.
-Homes will be owned by families earning <80% AMI [area median income] -Homes will be resale-restricted to provide for permanent affordability -Buyers must be willing to partner and complete sweat equity hours -Buyers must meet lender requirements and secure financing to meet minimum mortgage amount -Buyers must reside or be employed in King County for 1+ years
Another webpage for the project says they expect to start taking applications from prospective buyers next spring.
Our area’s King County Councilmember Joe McDermott is the main sponsor of a one-tenth-of-one-percent sales-tax increase that the council approved today, first proposed in County Executive Dow Constantine‘s 2021-2022 budget plan. A council news release explains what it’s meant to pay for: “The legislation will provide permanent, supportive housing for those deemed ‘chronically homeless’ – people who reside in a place not meant for human habitation for at least a year, and with serious physical or behavioral health issues.” (That’s the type of housing provided in West Seattle by two nonprofits, Transitional Resources, with several buildings in the Luna Park area plus one under construction, and DESC, with Cottage Grove Commons in Delridge.)
The tax increase will not go to a public vote; the state Legislature voted earlier this year to allow local governments to increase sales taxes this way for affordable-housing. However, as The Seattle Times‘ report notes, cities have the option to levy their own 0.1% increase instead, and several King County cities have opted to do that, so they will have more of a say in how the housing dollars are spent. The council releass says that “King County plans to bond against future tax revenues and use the funds to buy existing hotels, motels and nursing homes around the county and convert them into affordable, supportive housing for people who have struggled to access and maintain housing.” The tax increase would take effect next January 1st; you can read the legislation starting on page 41 of today’s County Council meeting packet.
(2017 photo by Long Bach Nguyen)
If you’re a property owner, you should get information soon on your next valuation. In a news release today, the King County Assessor says median values in West Seattle dropped a bit. However, that’s NOT because of the bridge closure – as we learned earlier this year in a conversation with the department, all the info going into your valuation for taxes in a given year is compiled before the start of the previous year. In other words, your 2021 taxes are based on what your property was worth January 1, 2020 – before the bridge closure (and the pandemic, for that matter). Keeping that in mind, here’s the Assessor’s news release:
The King County Assessor’s office is wrapping up the annual process of mailing out re-valuation notices to taxpayers. Notices will be arriving in West Seattle soon. Median values fell 1% in West Seattle.
Each year, County Assessors appraise every commercial and residential parcel in the state. These values – set effective as of January 1 by state law – are then applied to the next year’s tax bill. Property values are being set on January 1, 2020, for taxes due in 2021.
Data indicates that home sale prices and overall home values have been relatively flat in the aggregate compared to last year. As always, values vary from city to city and neighborhood to neighborhood – some are up, and some are down. One significant factor in residential home values in King County is the increase in values in suburbs around Seattle, especially in the south end.
The Assessor has been monitoring the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. While housing values have remained relatively steady so far, some commercial sectors have had their values severely impacted. These changes in value will be reflected in the 2021 assessed value for taxes payable in 2022.
“While home values did not rise significantly countywide, some areas, such as Auburn and Kent are seeing a lot of demand and therefore increases in median value, as more and more buyers are being priced out of Seattle and the eastside,” said Wilson.
You can appeal your valuation – as explained here – but not your tax bill.