West Seattle, Washington
Four months after the mostly-microapartments proposal resurfaced for 5952 California SW [map], it’s received key city approvals. The project description is the same as last December, when it went into a second round of Design Review, 2+ years after the first – “29 small efficiency dwelling units and 6 apartment units (35 units total). Parking for 5 vehicles proposed.” Today’s publication of the notice for this opens a two-week appeal period; the notice explains (PDF) how to file one. Meantime, the property was re-listed for sale a week and a half ago (PDF), with the notation “back on market,” asking price $1.8 million, a bit less than its August 2017 listing.
New in city files: An early-stage proposal for an apartment building at the southwest end of Harbor Avenue SW, just north of the West Seattle Bridge. The documents in city files say what’s being considered is a five-story, 75-apartment building that would have 38 offstreet parking spaces in a garage accessed off Harbor. The parcels are listed in documents as having the street numbers 3405, 3411, and 3417 Harbor; the latter, the address at which documents are filed, currently holds a small commercial building. The site’s current zoning is for 40 feet in height but under the HALA MHA upzoning that’s about to take effect, 55 feet will be allowed. The area is a mix of commercial and residential, across the street from Emerald City Pet Rescue and ActivSpace, with houses to the west and condos to the north.
Three more West Seattle projects have informal community meetings coming up as part of the city’s semi-new Early Community Outreach for Design Review process. All three of these projects are going through Administrative Design Review, which means no other meetings involved beyond these casual drop-in opportunities:
8415 DELRIDGE WAY: This 14-townhouse plan has a community meeting set for 4:30-5:30 pm next Monday (April 8th) at Southwest Library (9010 35th SW). There’s also a basic webpage set up for it, offering other ways to provide early feedback on the design, including this survey.
1606 CALIFORNIA SW: 12:45 pm Saturday, April 13th, is when you’ll be able to drop by the West Seattle (Admiral) Library for information on this 8-unit rowhouse project planned to replace a house and fourplex at 1600-1606 California SW. Here’s a webpage for the project, also with a link to a survey you can answer.
4800 ERSKINE WAY: The microapartment project planned to replace the Junction 7-11 will be discussed 5-6 pm April 15th at the Senior Center/Sisson Building (4217 SW Oregon), according to this poster:
Thanks to the reader who spotted it and sent the photo – since there’s no online mention yet in the city system. We have reported on the project before. The poster says construction is not expected before 2023 and notes that commercial space is planned as well as 65 microapartments, with no offstreet parking.
If you just looked at the unanimous final vote, you’d never guess that the Housing and Livability Agenda‘s Mandatory Housing Affordability upzoning had traveled a long and sometimes-bumpy path before final City Council approval late today. (The Seattle Channel video above shows the three-hour council meeting, including 46 minutes o public comment.)
It dates back to an advisory committee convened in 2014 that delivered its report to then-Mayor Ed Murray in 2015. What he announced at the time as Mandatory Inclusionary Housing with a promise of 20,000 “affordable homes” in 10 years morphed to Mandatory Housing Affordability with an expectation of 6,000 affordable units in 10 years. In exchange for the upzoning – which in most cases adds an extra floor – developers must create affordable units either as a specified percentage of what they build or by paying the city a fee to fund affordable-housing projects. Here’s how today’s post-vote city news release explains “affordability”:
People must income-qualify for affordable housing; for example, an individual earning less than $42,150 will pay no more than $1,128 for a one-bedroom unit, while a family of four earning less than $60,200 will pay no more than $1,353 for a two-bedroom unit.
The upzoning affects commercial and multifamily property citywide, and some single-family-zoned property in or adjacent to urban villages. You can look up how – or if – the changes would affect any specific part of the city by using this map (but be aware that it doesn’t reflect some changes that were made toward the end of the review).
Today’s votes followed speeches by most councilmembers; West Seattle/South Park’s Lisa Herbold said that while she supports MHA, she remains deeply concerned that it will cause displacement, and her separate proposal on that front is pending. Another who spoke at length was citywide Councilmember Lorena González, whose remarks included how much she enjoys living in The Junction as a dense neighborhood with good access to transit, businesses, and services.
Next step is for Mayor Jenny Durkan to sign the MHA legislation into law (the bills finalized today are linked in the council news release); she issued a statement late today saying she’ll do that before the week is out. The legislation would then become law a month later.
The citywide coalition of community groups (including five from West Seattle) that lost its appeal of MHA’s Final Environmental Impact Statement, SCALE, has issued a statement too. The group says it’s “considering appealing the inadequately considered impacts of the MHA legislation to the Growth Management Hearings Board.” (That state board is explained here.)
Two West Seattle projects that are going through Administrative Design Review – seeking your comments, but without board meetings – now have design packets available for viewing:
3084 SW AVALON WAY: This 35-microapartment, no-offstreet-parking project is going through a second round of the final (“recommendation”) phase of Administrative Design Review. Here’s the packet.
It notes that the design has been changed somewhat to respond to the townhouse project to the north, which the same design firm, Cone Architecture, is handling, as well as to a variety of critiques offered by city staff in previous phases. Some of those are focused on the transition between the project and the neighborhood behind it. If you have comments, email the assigned city planner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2000-2050 SW ORCHARD: This 18-townhouse, 18-offstreet-parking-space project is in the Early Design Guidance phase of Design Review. Rowhouse-style buildings are the “preferred alternative” of the size/shape options proposed by B9 Architects:
Here’s the packet for half of the site. The official review notice hasn’t been published yet so this is basically a preview. You can email comments to the assigned planner at email@example.com.
(Substituted Friday morning: Seattle Channel video of Thursday night hearing)
Click into that stream and you’ll be watching the event we’re at City Hall to cover – the City Council’s last big public hearing before its vote next month on HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability upzoning. (You can follow along with the agenda, and its relevant materials, here.) It’s been eight months since the council’s hearing in West Seattle; this one is for the entire city, and the chambers are full – with five of the 9 councilmembers here (Lorena González is chairing in the absence of vacationing committee chair Rob Johnson; also here are Lisa Herbold, Debora Juarez, Teresa Mosqueda, Kshama Sawant). We’ll be chronicling highlights as they happen.
First to speak is a representative from the SEIU. “Middle- and low-income workers will continue to be priced out of the city” if there’s not more housing stock, she says, expressing support for HALA MHA.
Second is also a HALA MHA supporter who says the process has taken too long. “Working families are struggling,” she says. “… More people need housing, and this is the chance to mitigate that need.”
Third and fourth are two members of 350 Seattle’s “housing team.” They say “housing is a climate issue” and express relief that “MHA is so close to the finish line.” They express opposition to some proposed amendments including the ones that would reduce the level of upzoning in some areas (including part of West Seattle).
Fifth is another MHA supporter who says, “We’ve been working on getting to the Grand Bargain [with developers] since the Nickels administration.” (That former mayor left office in 2009.)
Sixth, a representative of the city Planning Commission, in favor of MHA, who says they’re excited about its potential to “distribute more development capacity” to neighborhoods that could use it.
Seventh, the first opponent to speak, who says “tech bros” who are “strip-mining the city” and “venture capitalists” among others will continue to “pour in” and redevelop the city. She says that she and her husband feel they are being “pushed out of Seattle” so it’s “time to leave.” She draws a smattering of boos.
Eighth, an opponent who calls MHA “fundamentally flawed.” She also says she supports Councilmember Herbold’s anti-displacement proposal (announced yesterday). She wants to see neighborhood planning restored.
6 PM: Ninth, a speaker who says that MHA will lead to more displacement. So she wants the 23rd/Jackson urban village to not be upzoned. She specifically appeals to CM Sawant, saying her district, 3, has had “sacrificial lambs” already displaced. She draws strong applause (we should note that the pro-MHA speakers had drawn some applause too).
AHEAD: THE REST OF OUR 4 1/2 HOURS OF AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGE: Read More
Four project notes:
EARLY DESIGN OUTREACH FOR PROJECT @ EX-CHARMANN APARTMENTS: As we first reported last year, townhouses are proposed for the site of the former Charmann Apartments – demolished last October – at 5917 California SW. The 9-townhouse project is now in the city’s Early Design Outreach process, and a drop-in discussion is set for 2 pm Saturday, March 9th, at High Point Library (3411 SW Raymond). You can also comment by going here.
COMMENT TIME FOR 9037 35TH SW: We’ve also reported previously on a microapartments-and-retail mixed-use project to replace a house and small commercial building at 9037 35th SW – four stories, 26 small-efficiency dwelling units, 6 offstreet-parking spaces, plus retail. The permit application is now open for comments through March 4th; the notice is linked in the city’s newest Land Use Information Bulletin.
COMMENT TIME FOR 4 ALKI HOUSES: A land-use-permit application is in for a plan at 2530 55th SW, four 4-story houses with 4 offstreet-parking spaces on the sloped site above, which you might recall as the site of a slide back in 2013. Comments on the application are being accepted through February 27th.
ROWHOUSES INSTEAD OF APARTMENTS IN NORTH ADMIRAL: Three years after a 16-unit apartment building won Design Review approval for 1606 California SW, a different project is proposed. City files show 8 rowhouse units are now proposed to replace a fourplex and house at the site.
“If you take away affordable housing, you have to replace it.” That’s how one community member at tonight’s Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting summarized their take on the goal of proposed city legislation announced earlier in the day by West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who wants to bundle it with consideration of HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability, the subject of a council public hearing tomorrow night. Here’s the announcement sent by Herbold’s office:
Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle, South Park) will introduce an anti-displacement ordinance that would authorize additional displacement mitigations for housing projects located in South Park, Rainier Beach, Othello, Bitter Lake, and Westwood-Highland Park. These neighborhoods have been identified as having a high risk of displacement and low access to opportunity, according to Growth and Equity: Analyzing Impacts on Displacement and Opportunity Related to Seattle’s Growth Strategy, in the Comprehensive Plan Seattle 2035, an analysis conducted by the Office of Planning and Community Development.
“I appreciate Mayor Durkan’s efforts to address the displacement impacts of development by proposing to introduce legislation that the Council requested in 2017 by Resolution 31754. As described in the March 2018 status report to the Council, a community preferences policy will be useful for our non-profit developers. Nevertheless, we also desperately need a tool to address the displacement that occurs when for-profit developers build. Displacement is a challenging issue and we need many tools to address it,” said Herbold.
Councilmember Herbold will this week send the proposed bill to the Council’s Introduction and Referral Calendar. Councilmember Herbold has requested that the Council hear this bill concurrently with the MHA Citywide legislation.
“This ordinance would use authority granted under the State Environmental Protection Act (SEPA) to create a requirement for developers to mitigate the impacts resulting from the loss of affordable housing in those areas of the city that, if we didn’t do so, the result would be a failure to fulfill our obligation to ‘affirmatively promote fair housing’ — in other words, in areas where disproportionate displacement of communities of color and other protected classes is likely to occur,” Herbold said. (See upper left-hand corner of this image.)
“MHA Framework legislation, passed in 2016, Section 2.A.2.a, stated: The Council intends to consider whether to include higher performance and payment amounts, subject to statutory limits, for those areas where the increase in development capacity would be likely to increase displacement risk. Resolution 31733, passed in 2017, stated: The Council intends to consider a range of strategies to increase affordable units sufficient to offset the affordable units at risk of demolition due to new development.”
“I’m proud that the Council has a long legislative record of its commitment to address displacement. Now it’s time to act again,” Herbold continued.
“I have, over the years, expressed my great concern that the City describes MHA as ‘housing displacement mitigation tool,’ but has badly analyzed how development removes more affordable housing than the resources from MHA are sufficient to replace.
“For example, in the case of the University District MHA upzone in 2017, the City estimated that only 40-275 units of existing affordable units of housing would be demolished over 20 years. The EIS estimated likely demolition by identifying specific redevelopable parcels and quantifying their existing housing (zero, for parking lots and commercial buildings). The “full build out” scenario wherein construction occurs on all redevelopable parcels to the full capacity of the proposed rezone was estimated to result in the demolition of 275 homes over 20 years. In less than 2 years, based upon a Council Central Staff analysis of new development projects that are currently in some stage of having their Master Use Permit issued or Early Design Guidance reviewed and that are subject to the new zoning put in place in 2017, 96 units of affordable units are already planned for demolition.
“Using the same approach used in the University District in 2017, the City estimates that over 20 years 574 units of housing will be demolished in MHA rezone areas. My concerns about displacement today are heightened, especially considering how far afield the University District estimate has proven to be.”
This announcement comes on the eve of the council’s HALA MHA public hearing, 5:30 pm Thursday at City Hall downtown (600 4th Ave.), as previewed here Monday.
(West Seattle section of map featured on City Council’s MHA committee page)
Out of the snowstorm, into the fire. Just as we emerge from the all-consuming wintry weather, major projects and policies are approaching big decisionmaking points. Here’s another one: The city’s proposal for HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability upzoning. Thursday night at City Hall, it’s the final big public hearing before the City Council votes on the proposal, which has been more than three years in the making. Before the vote, councilmembers will consider possible amendments to the plan. Among them are amendments proposed by West Seattle/South Park (District 1) Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who explained them in her most-recent weekly update:
… I have been working with community members in each of the Urban Villages in District 1, specifically South Park, Admiral, West Seattle Junction, Westwood-Highland Park, and the Morgan Junction. They have helped me to develop a number of amendments that will, if passed, make changes to the current proposal to reflect the goals held by the community organizations representing those communities, while still implementing MHA in all areas proposed from MHA implementation.
Specifically, I am proposing five amendments with the Junction urban village that would upzone those five areas currently zoned as Single Family to Residential Small Lot (RSL), as opposed to the Executive’s proposal for Low Rise 1, 2, and 3 zoning. The reasoning for this is that the Junction has been identified as the location of a future light rail station; however, the specific alignment and location of the station have not yet been determined. Once that is determined, it will become more clear which properties Sound Transit will need to acquire. This is important because increasing development capacity in these locations may increase the value of the land, and Sound Transit is required to pay for the highest and best use of the land. Sound Transit is already needing third party funding for the development of these lines, and I do not want to see that problem exacerbated. The Community has expressed a desire for additional zoning capacity, but in accordance with the light rail station. To that end, the Office of Planning and Community has committed to beginning a neighborhood planning process in 2019 and 2020.
Additionally, three other amendments I have proposed, one in the Morgan Junction and two in the Westwood-Highland Park urban village, would provide better stair-stepping and avoid harsh transitions from one zone to the next.
At the last meeting of the Council’s Select Committee on Mandatory Housing Affordability, I presented these amendments and some of my colleagues expressed concern. I am proud of District 1, for the most part, embracing the conversion of Single Family Zoning in Urban Villages to RSL. This is significant progress from a year ago when there was fierce opposition in some corners to any changes to Single Family Zoning in Urban Villages. I believe it’s my responsibility, in governing to collaborate with my constituents, and in that spirit, I will continue to champion these amendments. I encourage you to come to the public hearing on Thursday the 21, to share your thoughts about these amendments, because I could use your help. …
Herbold also talked about HALA MHA and her proposed amendments at last Thursday’s West Seattle Chamber of Commerce lunch meeting:
If you can’t make it to Thursday’s hearing (5:30 pm in Council chambers, 600 4th Ave.) you can also voice your opinion to councilmembers by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
TIMELINE: After Thursday’s hearing, the council expects to vote on amendments and other related bills next Monday afternoon (February 25th), after their regular weekly afternoon meeting, around 2:30 pm. The final vote on HALA MHA, amended or not, is expected during the 2 pm council meeting on March 18th.
NOT SURE WHAT HALA IS? Herbold’s aforementioned weekly update includes a short primer/recap. The city’s interactive maps will show you how any particular property will or won’t be affected by the upzoning proposals, as they stand now.
Today we welcome one of our newest sponsors, The Kenney. New WSB sponsors get the chance to tell you about who they are and what they do – here’s what The Kenney would like you to know:
(WSB file photo)
The Kenney is West Seattle’s original senior-living community. The Kenney has been a beloved icon, serving seniors in West Seattle since 1909. Representatives of The Kenney are proud to say that what started as one couple’s dream is now one of the most respected nonprofit retirement communities in the region.
In 2015, The Kenney affiliated with Heritage Ministries for additional stability. Through this partnership, The Kenney can ensure that it is well positioned for future stability and growth as a 501c3 nonprofit Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), sometimes known as a life-care community.
With three distinct living levels, each with services and features designed to support current and changing needs, residents may enter The Kenney in any of the three living levels as appropriate. Gourmet dining service offers three daily meals, with a focus on organic and locally sourced delicious foods. With a lifestyle free of home maintenance, residents are able to take full advantage of many life-enriching opportunities to socialize, enjoy fitness, engage in the arts and current events, and get out and about with transportation for shopping, events, and appointments.
Independent Living at The Kenney
The Kenney is a perfect home for an active, relaxed lifestyle in the heart of West Seattle, with its many parks, beaches, restaurants, and shops close at hand. Independent living is offered in apartments located in the Ballymena, Seaview, and Sunrise buildings. The Kenney offers more than 100 beautifully appointed Independent Living Apartments ranging from the coziest studio to spacious 2-bedroom apartments with patios and stunning views. They have also recently announced plans to build 5 row houses which will include private garages, with construction slated to begin in late 2019. The apartments and row houses come in a variety of sizes and are customized with choices of finishes, appointments, and features to suit individual tastes. Entering The Kenney at this level allows the resident to experience the full benefits of community living, with a safety net of support services for current and future needs.
Assisted Living at The Kenney
The Lincoln Vista apartments offer a unique residential experience of maximum independence and privacy, with staff ready to offer support and services as needed 24/7. Studio and one-bedroom apartments include kitchens and accessible bathrooms. Services include three meals daily, weekly housekeeping, laundry service, and activities. A team of licensed nurses and nursing assistants offers services adjusted to the need of each resident, including a higher level of care that may help a resident avoid the need for long-term nursing-home care. Monthly fees correspond to the size of the apartment and level of service needed.
Memory Care at The Kenney
The Kenney offers memory care in a secured residential environment. With only 12 apartments, Memory Care offers all of the benefit of Assisted Living with the addition of specialized programing, in a small intimate setting. The design of the memory-care area enables residents to enjoy the privacy of individual apartments and the freedom to stroll and socialize in a secure environment. A staff of licensed nurses, nursing assistants, and activity professionals is specifically trained to assist residents with memory difficulties caused by Alzheimer’s and other dementia illnesses. With the support of staff, residents are stimulated to socialize, exercise, engage in the arts and participate in learning
For more information on The Kenney, or to schedule a tour of their facilities, visit thekenney.org or call 206-937-2800.
We thank The Kenney 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.
ALKI POINT PROJECT: 3220-3224 Alki Avenue SW is not a big site, but it caught some readers’ attention because of its prominent location where Beach Drive becomes Alki Avenue at Alki Point. The 97-year-old house above and a smaller building behind it were demolished earlier this week; only debris remained by Friday.
City records show this site, purchased by a homebuilder for $1.2 million, will be redeveloped with two three-story, 2-unit townhouse buildings, each with three parking spaces (as required by the Alki Parking Overlay, one and a half spaces per unit). The site is zoned Lowrise 2.
A few blocks south …
BEACH DRIVE ROWHOUSES: Two duplex buildings at 6003 SW Orleans, just off Beach Drive near Cormorant Cove Park, are proposed for replacement with six rowhouse-style townhouses, with six offstreet-parking spaces. It’s an early-stage proposal for a site that also is zoned Lowrise 2.
ORIGINAL REPORT, 11:58 PM TUESDAY: More than tbree years have passed since then-Mayor Ed Murray proposed the upzoning plan eventually named HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability,to affect commercial and multifamily property citywide, as well as other property in the city’s “urban villages.” Now it’s moving toward a final vote, expected in mid-March. First, councilmembers will consider potential amendments to the plan. Wednesday morning at 9:30 am, they will look at 10 amendments proposed for West Seattle, as well as 1 for South Park, plus dozens in three other City Council districts. From the agenda documents, here are short descriptions of the 10 amendments proposed to modify what HALA MHA upzoning would otherwise do in West Seattle:
Intersection of SW Carroll St and Beach Dr SW
Do not rezone the Residential – Commercial node at the intersection of SW Carroll St and Beach Dr SW.
That’s the area by Weather Watch Park, best known businesswise for La Rustica.
1-2 through 1-6
Single-family zones within the West Seattle Junction Residential Urban Village: Modify all proposed rezones from Single-family within the West Seattle Junction Urban Village to Residential Small Lot.
Otherwise, the single-family-zoned areas there are slated for upzoning to Lowrise 1.
West Seattle Junction Residential Urban Village: Triangle Area
Increase proposed maximum heights of Neighborhood Commercial zones within the Junction triangle area from 75′ to 95′.
The Triangle area went through its own planning process early this decade.
Area west of Fauntleroy, south of SW Graham Street
Reduce the proposed zone designation in the Morgan Junction Urban Village south of SW Graham Street and northwest of Fauntleroy Way SW to a less intense Lowrise multifamily zone designation.
That would be LR2 instead of LR3.
Area bounded by SW Barton, Barton Pl SW and 21st Ave SW
Reduce the proposed zone designation within the Westwood-Highland Park Urban Village in the area generally between SW Barton Pl and Delridge Way SW from Lowrise multifamily to Residential Small Lot.
Here’s an explainer of RSL and other zoning designations.
26th Ave SW between SW Barton & SW Roxbury ST
Reduce the proposed zone designation within the WestwoodHighland Park Urban Village along 26th Av S from Lowrise multifamily to Residential Small Lot.
(Close-up maps for each proposed amendment are toward the start of this document from the meeting packet.) The council will discuss these, and the amendments proposed for three other council districts, at Wednesday morning’s meeting (9:30 am, City Hall, live coverage as usual via Seattle Channel) with more discussion planned February 8th. An evening public hearing is planned February 21st, and then the council is scheduled to vote on amendments February 25th.
ADDED WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON: The video of today’s council committee meeting is now available online.
That’s Seattle Channel video of today’s City Council committee meeting resuming consideration of HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability upzoning. The meeting was a refresher of sorts, including an update on city staffers’ progress working on a historic-resources addendum to the HALA MHA Environmental Impact Statement, as ordered by the city Hearing Examiner. It’s expected to be completed by the end of the month, councilmembers were told. (Here’s the slide deck from that part of the briefing.) The briefing also looked at potential amendments to the HALA MHA housing – those are detailed in this memo, along with a different type of amendments – proposed changes to the city comprehensive plan.
Among the latter are neighborhood-planning-related proposals made by the Morgan Community Association two years ago. Speaking in the public-comment period at the end of today’s meeting were MoCA’s Cindi Barker and Deb Barker, who observed that it’s been frustrating to await their fate; “We could have had a really nice neighborhood planning process since then.”
Of note, West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who met last week with local neighborhood advocates about HALA MHA issues, wasn’t at today’s council meeting. She and at-large Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda were in New York City speaking to an organization that is upset about Amazon’s plan to locate part of its second headquarters there, Make the Road. That group paid for Herbold’s trip, according to her staffer Alex Clardy. In case you’re interested in what she said – the event’s host, New York’s Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, published this video; Herbold’s speech starts about 39 minutes in:
The event included New York politicians with whom Herbold was shown in photos on Twitter:
It was great to join @SeattleCouncil Members @Lisa_Herbold & @TeresaCMosqueda for RWDSU’s #AMZHQ2Brief. Their experiences fighting Amazon’s anti-union, anti-progressive tactics in Seattle should be a lesson for us all in NYC. Amazon must respect workers & our #LIC community. pic.twitter.com/q5E5d2hPP8
— Jimmy Van Bramer (@JimmyVanBramer) January 7, 2019
Seattle City Council member Lisa Herbold shares how her city’s experience with @amazon HQ became the perfect model for this company to try to take over the world, “this company has to put in place a new model for accountability and better conditions for workers” #AMXHQ2Brief pic.twitter.com/fGFmC3WM2F
— NYCC (@nychange) January 7, 2019
Herbold and Mosqueda were not the only absences from today’s HALA meeting; also not there, Councilmembers Lorena González and Kshama Sawant. As Deb Barker detailed to the Southwest District Council last week (WSB coverage here), the council has a busy schedule of HALA-related meetings from hereon out – including Monday and Wednesday of next week (January 14 and 16) – with a final vote on the upzoning proposal expected in mid-March.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Five years ago this month, Cottage Grove Commons opened at 5444 Delridge Way SW.
In December 2013, homelessness was not as ubiquitous or contentious a topic in Seattle. But the 66-unit “supportive housing” building that has changed ~100 people from homeless to housed rose from a bed of controversy anyway.
The building’s owner/operator, DESC (the acronymic name comes from its start as the Downtown Emergency Service Center), didn’t throw a five-year anniversary party nor send out an announcement. We noticed the five-year mark while looking through WSB archives for something unrelated. So we requested an interview with the organization’s executive director, Daniel Malone. We sat down with him and CGC project manager Colin Maloney recently.
First – the backstory.
(From the packet by Cone Architecture)
New on the city website today: The updated design packet for 3084 SW Avalon Way [map], planned as a 7-story building with 37 “small efficiency dwelling units” (microapartments) and no offstreet (vehicle) parking spaces. This project is going through Administrative Design Review, which means no public meetings, but you can send feedback to the project’s city-assigned planner, Joe Hurley, at email@example.com. This is the second and final review phase for this proposal; you can find the first-phase report by going here.
Shortly after work started on the 42nd SW site of the future Junction Landing apartment building, a new project plan has turned up next door. The 81-year-old house at 4411 42nd SW is proposed for demolition, with 4 townhouses and 4 live-work units to replace it. The city docket for the project describes it as “with parking” but doesn’t specify how much.
Two weeks ago, the City Council talked about a “best-case scenario” for moving toward a vote on HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability upzoning, since the city Hearing Examiner upheld most of the plan’s Final Environmental Impact Statement. Today, neighborhood advocates sent us the schedule that councilmembers are circulating – including a deadline of tomorrow for potential amendments, and a final vote on March 18th if all proceeds without a hitch:
The timetable is not yet (as of this writing) on the official city page for the City Council’s Select Committee on MHA. The amendments will be closely watched, as our area’s Councilmember Lisa Herbold noted at the meeting earlier this month that they could be a way to address some of the concerns that led to the appeal.
The mayor’s announcement today of $75 million for “affordable” rental housing includes money for one West Seattle project that’s already been mentioned here multiple times, the new Transitional Resources apartments in the 2800 block of SW Yancy, not far from TR’s headquarters on Avalon Way. Back in September, TR’s CEO Darcell Slovek-Walker told WSB they’re proceeding with the project, saying they would soon be “submitting funding applications to develop up to 44 studio units in two buildings.” This city grant is apparently one result. The city announcement doesn’t include the specific award amounts but this Office of Housing document indicates TR requested $3.8 million. TR says the new building, replacing three old houses, “will serve adults in need of behavioral health treatment and support to live independently in permanent housing,” as with their other properties, which as of September provided housing to 85 people.
The council met Monday morning as the Select Committee on Citywide MHA. They got a briefing on the ruling, plus this potential timeline for what happens next:
Council staff cautioned that the timeline is a “best-case scenario.” (Among other potential complications, the coalition hasn’t yet announced whether it will pursue a court challenge to the city Hearing Examiner’s ruling. Its leader said during the meeting’s public-comment period that the coalition remained open to talking with the city.)
West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold noted that she had asked for urban-village-specific resolutions regarding planning, and didn’t see that reflected in the timeline. Committee chair Councilmember Rob Johnson said he intends for that to happen and it was an “oversight” that it wasn’t shown on the timeline. Herbold said that she felt specific resolutions would address some of the concerns that led to the appeal. Later in the meeting, she repeatedly stressed concerns about displacement that could result from the upzoning, including that city staff has underestimated how much of it could happen.
Two months after we last checked on Upton Flats – the mixed-use development at 35th SW/SW Graham in High Point – its management has announced a “grand opening” event for this weekend. They’re inviting people to stop by for a look at the ~100-apartment complex Saturday or Sunday, 10 am-5 pm, and they’re promising beer and snacks. No confirmed tenants yet for the retail space, though; as we’ve reported previously, Seattle Housing Authority offices will occupy about 80 percent of the complex’s commercial space.
6:44 PM: One year after a coalition of neighborhood groups, including five from West Seattle, challenged the Final Environmental Impact Statement for HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability upzoning, city Hearing Examiner Ryan Vancil issued his ruling late today.
Short version: He says the city’s FEIS stands, with the exception of one section.
That’s Vancil’s decision, toward the end of the 38-page ruling:
The neighborhood groups had argued that the EIS was inadequate in a variety of ways, including contentions that it was “one size fits all” rather than addressing unique potential impacts on neighborhoods. They argued their case in hearings over a two-plus-month period this summer; documents and audio recordings are all linked on this page of the Hearing Examiner’s website.
HALA MHA would implement upzoning in urban villages, as well as on commercial/multifamily property throughout the city, in exchange for developer/builders either including a certain percentage of “affordable” units, or paying the city a fee to finance construction of such units elsewhere. The plan now needs City Council approval; the council has had months of hearings (including this one in June in West Seattle) but its vote has been awaiting the appeal decision. (You can use this interactive map to see how any specific property would or wouldn’t be affected.”
So what happens now?
The Hearing Examiner’s decision is the final word from the city but not necessarily the final say in the matter – the appellants could choose to pursue a court case. We’re awaiting their reaction to the ruling.
On the city’s side, Mayor Jenny Durkan has issued a statement calling the ruling “a step forward for more affordable housing in Seattle.”
We’ll be updating this story as the evening goes on.
7:26 PM: First appellant reaction is from the Junction Neighborhood Organization, which filed its own appeal as well as being a member of the citywide coalition:
“On behalf of our neighbors and friends along the West Seattle peninsula, we are deeply disappointed with this ruling,” said Carl Guess, a member of the Junction Neighborhood Organization’s land-use committee. “It’s a big setback for neighborhood-level planning, and represents a new low in the relationship between the City and its urban villages.”
Indeed, hearing examiner Ryan Vancil chided the City for its lack of neighborhood-level analysis even as he largely affirmed its final environmental impact statement.
“[T]he choice not to tell a more detailed story of the City’s neighborhoods contributed to why the City faced a very protracted appeal and hearing process from representatives in many of its neighborhoods,” he wrote.
JuNO made those details the centerpiece of its appeal, pointing to what it called deficiencies in everything from traffic-flow analysis to conflicts between the HALA/MHA legislation and the neighborhood plan of the West Seattle Junction Urban Village.
Guess said those deficiencies remain, despite today’s ruling.
“When we wake up Monday morning, the City will continue to tell us that it takes only eight and a half minutes to cross the West Seattle Bridge during peak traffic flows, which is absurd. It will tell us there is enough infrastructure to support development, when we showed that 90% Seattle’s sewer lines are at or above capacity. It will tell us there are no conflicts with our neighborhood plan when we cited those conflicts specifically and repeatedly.”
Guess said JuNO will study the examiner’s ruling more deeply, then meet with its neighborhood to talk through possible next steps.
“Our neighborhood has been incredibly supportive throughout this process and we can’t thank them enough,” he said.
As for next steps beyond that meeting, one possibility for JuNO is to lobby the City Council in the ritual horse trading expected to take place as the HALA/MHA legislation moves toward approval. Another is to join a nascent effort to create an organization representing neighborhood groups within City Council District 1, now represented by Lisa Herbold.
“The City has destroyed a lot of goodwill in this process, and voters have very long memories,” said Guess.
ADDED 11:25 PM: We also asked Deb Barker, president of the Morgan Community Association – which joined the SCALE appeal as well as filing its own – for comment. Her reply:
MoCA is proud to have joined with the communities of SCALE. We took a stand against the city that acted without properly taking into account the voice of its residents and the impacts of its plan. SCALE made a tremendous effort to identify MHA FEIS deficiencies, and we are saddened how easily that effort was dismissed. MoCA is committed to ensuring that affordable housing remains in our community. To that end, MoCA will be evaluating options to achieve that goal as well as those of SCALE.
The MoCA and JuNO appeal documents were part of this 2017 WSB report.
Today we welcome a new WSB sponsor, Brio at Greenbridge, which opens tomorrow at 9888 7th SW. Here’s the announcement:
11 am-6 pm Tuesday, November 13th, we’re opening a delightful new neighborhood, 22 modern townhomes close to West Seattle, Burien, and White Center!
Greenbridge is a planned community at the center of the recent Southwest Seattle revival. We just made it more exciting with the debut of BDR Urban’s newest collection of modern, thoughtfully designed townhomes. These stunning homes are modern in style, packed with features and designed for both family life and entertaining. Imagine an in-city, brand new home, in an area with a quick commute to both Seattle and Sea-Tac Airport. And at a price you’ll find quite attainable!
The Greenbridge planned community offers a variety of neighborhood and pocket parks, walking trails, playgrounds, and its own community center with shops, a recreation center, and brand-new library.
SURPRISING SIDE OF SEATTLE
More and more families are discovering the fun and style of Southwest Seattle’s many vintage neighborhoods, spacious parks, and walkable beaches. They are also discovering a unique blend of culture and style.
Rich in history, Southwest Seattle is a group of neighborhoods welcoming new families, trend-setters, and cultural creatives who are all uncovering its many charms and are happy to call it home.
We invite you to come visit and discover for yourself The Surprising Side of Seattle. Visit BDR Urban on the web at bdrhomesllc.com.
We thank BDR Urban 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.
(Design packet provided for tonight’s meeting, downloaded from city website)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Eight months after getting thumbs-down on its first Early Design Guidance try, the 15-apartment Alki proposal for 3015 63rd SW (map) got thumbs-up tonight.
The proposal went through some major revisions before returning to the Southwest Design Review Board.
Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections‘ assigned planner Tami Garrett noted that since the project’s first turn at Early Design Guidance, the project team has said it will seek a contract rezone that would allow an extra floor plus incorporate Mandatory Housing Affordability. That will be considered in a separate process after this one.
Board members present: chair Don Caffrey along with Crystal Loya, John Cheng, and Scott Rosenstock.
ARCHITECT/PROJECT TEAM PRESENTATION: Oly Wise, representing the family that owns the site (see our original report here), opened by saying they’d learned a lot had changed since the project was initiated. They were pleased to learn about MHA and thought it would turn their project from good to great. He then made way for architect James Raptis.