West Seattle, Washington
If you own property in King County, your bill for this year is due to be sent to you this week. You don’t have to wait for it to arrive to see what you owe – the amounts are now posted online. You can find yours by starting here, and when you get to the page about your property, click “Property Tax Bill.” (Below the bill are expandable lines showing the breakdown of where that money’s going.) The first half is due by the end of April. As explained on this page of the King County Assessor‘s website, the amount you’re being charged this year is based on how your property was valued as of January 1st last year.
Last fall, Admiral Church finalized a deal to turn over its half-acre site to Homestead Community Land Trust, which would in turn build housing and a space for the church and its community partners. More than three months after this open house provided more details on the plan, a city Office of Housing grant has been finalized to fund part of it: $1,430,000, as part of the city’s annual affordable-housing funding round. After the city’s announcement on Wednesday, we checked in with Homestead CLT to see where the project is at.
First a bit of backstory – Admiral Church had been working for years to figure out a sustainable future to deal with its deteriorating building, while using its half-acre campus for community good, preferably including affordable housing. The church started working with Homestead in 2022 and announced an agreement in fall 2023 that is expected to result in townhomes on the site, all for sale, some at market rate, more at “permanently affordable” prices facilitated by Homestead holding the actual land “in trust.” The latter is made possible by funding Homestead obtains from both public and private sources.
So we asked Homestead’s Kathleen Hosfeld what the newly finalized city grant means to the project: “The City funding is one of several sources we need. It represents a little over half of the public funding to make the project feasible. Unfortunately, the project did not receive an award from the State in the 2023 funding round just announced. This means we’ll need to apply again next fall.”
The city announcement included some specific projected numbers for the housing that the project would create – saying the project would “construct 18 new townhomes, where 11 will be permanently affordable 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom townhomes.” However, Hosfeld tells WSB that the numbers are not final yet: “We are still in the scenario exploration phase – working to create a cohesive campus with a church facility that meets their needs, housing that meets our mission goals, and an overall design that fits with the neighborhood. As a result, we have not finalized the number of affordable and market rate homes. The funding amount awarded by the city can be amended if we reduce the number of homes. We will know more as we continue to learn about site constraints.”
More information for the community is expected in spring, she added: “We are hoping to have some concepts to share with the community in either March or early April for feedback.” If you’ve missed previous coverage explaining how Homestead’s model works – here’s their explanation.
The Seattle Housing Authority has changed the way people can apply for vouchers that help cover rent costs. Here’s the announcement about how it works now, and that the new ongoing application period has just opened:
The Seattle Housing Authority has opened application to families and individuals for a chance to receive a Housing Choice Voucher (formerly known as a Section 8 voucher), which provides rental assistance for people with low incomes to rent from landlords throughout the Seattle rental market.
Application is available online through SHA’s website at seattlehousing.org. Application is free. If any website asks for money to complete an application, it is not the correct site. To avoid misleading websites, applicants should type seattlehousing.org into an internet browser. Applicants are required to establish an SHA Portal user account on SHA’s website to log in and apply to the voucher list.
The opportunity to apply for a chance to receive a voucher is ongoing, which differs from SHA’s previous process in which registration was open for a few weeks every few years and a single random drawing was conducted to create a number-ordered waitlist for a set number of vouchers.
Under the new process, applicants on the list will be chosen at random when vouchers are available. The number of applicants selected in each drawing will vary, depending on the number of vouchers available. The chance of being drawn is the same no matter when households apply. Random selection ensures that all applicants have an equal chance of being drawn at any time. People may apply to the list whenever they wish.
Application is open to adults 18 years or older or emancipated minors, no matter where they currently live, however applicants selected for a voucher will initially be required to use the voucher within the city of Seattle for a minimum of one year. Applicants with a total household income greater than 50 percent of Area Median Income are not eligible for a voucher.
SHA will review eligibility and verify income at the time applicants are selected from the list. Applicants who meet the voucher program eligibility requirements and meet the program preferences will be served. Those preferences are applicants with a total household income of 30 percent or less of Area Median Income at the time of selection or for the 12 months prior to selection and applicants who are homeless at the time of selection or have been in the prior 12 months. Applicants with a total household income of 31 through 50 percent will be returned to the list until all eligible applicants who meet the preferences have been served. Applicants with a total household income above 50 percent are not eligible for a voucher and will be removed from the list.
Information in multiple languages and answers to Frequently Asked Questions can be found at seattlehousing.org. Applicants who need assistance applying online, want a paper application, want to apply in person, need accommodation for a disability, or need translation or an interpreter can contact SHA’s Housing Choice Voucher staff at 206.239.1674 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(2013 image via Seattle City Light)
A decade after Seattle City Light (SCL) started the process of divesting itself of the former Dumar Substation on the southwest corner or 16th/Holden, it’s finally happening. At this afternoon’s Seattle City Council meeting, a unanimous vote gave approval to transferring the 10,000+-square-foot parcel from SCL to the Office of Housing (OH). Now OH will start the process of finding a developer to build affordable-homeownership units, and commercial space, on the site. OH will give SCL $424,000 (its current appraised value) for the site, which the utility has owned since 1945. In discussion of the plan at a committee meeting last week (WSB coverage here), OH reps were asked where exactly that money’s coming from; they didn’t have the answer at the time, so we asked before today’s vote. According to OH spokesperson Nona Raybern, the source will be Mandatory Housing Affordability fees from developers who choose to pay fees rather than build affordable units in their projects. The property will eventually be “transferred to the developer who is selected through the RFP process at no cost,” Raybern added. It’s zoned Neighborhood Commercial 40 (four stories), as the result of neighborhood advocacy – to which Councilmember Lisa Herbold gave a shoutout at today’s meeting – for both building housing and business space on the site. Affordable-homeownership development has strict criteria, both for choosing buyers and for what can be done with the units – they have to be owner-occupied, for example, no renting, and if they’re sold, the buyers must meet the same eligibility rules (such as, making no more than 80 percent Area Median Income). It’s envisioned up to 16 units could be built on the site.
While walking along 38th SW in Upper Fauntleroy between SW Trenton and SW Henderson, we noticed the house used a month ago for Seattle Fire Department training is in the late stages of demolition. As reported here when the training plan was announced, six homes are to be built on the two-lot, third-of-an-acre site – two single-family houses, each with two accessory dwelling units (ADUs) – one attached, one detached. The site had drawn the attention of tree advocates because of the big evergreen out front (whose fate has not yet been finalized, as the building permit has not been issued):
Meantime, the latest SFD Responder e-newsletter notes that the trainees who got “live fire training” at the site for three days last month – Recruit Class 119, with 22 members – have since begun work as probationary frefighters.
47 minutes into that video, you’ll see the City Council Public Safety and Human Services Committee‘s relatively short discussion of the former substation site at 16th/Holden in Highland Park. As reported here Monday, council legislation would transfer the site from Seattle City Light to the Office of Housing. The latter department then would seek proposals for developing the site into up to 16 units for “affordable homeownership,” plus street-level commercial space. The units would likely be lofts or townhouses, available for purchase by people making up to 80 percent of the Area Median Income. The plan got unanimous approval in Tuesday’s meeting of the committee chaired by outgoing District 1 Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who has long championed this kind of future for the site, which SCL declared “surplus” a decade ago (it was decommissioned in the ’00s). Next step is a full council vote, expected on Tuesday (December 5).
(2013 image via Seattle City Light)
More than a decade after the city started the process of selling off six former Seattle City Light substation sites in West Seattle, one of them is edging closer to a new use. City Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s newest weekly newsletter previews committee consideration tomorrow for the 10,376-square-foot site on the southwest corner of 16th/Holden known as the former Dumar Substation:
(I)n my Public Safety and Human Service Committee we will be hearing legislation that:
-Approves transfer of the Dumar site from SCL to the Office of Housing (OH) in exchange for $424,000
-Authorizes OH to: Conduct a competitive process to solicit proposals for the development of resale restricted homeownership and negotiate property transfer to the selected developer
As Councilmember Herbold goes on to recap, the site is not considered suitable for rental housing, but instead was determined most likely to work for the type of “affordable homeownership” provided with units developed by organizations such as Homestead Community Land Trust or Habitat For Humanity. Here’s the summary from the slide deck that’s among the documents linked to the agenda for Tuesday’s committee meeting:
The inclusion of commercial space was the result of longtime community advocacy, as Highland Park is fairly short on supply of that, and the intersection includes businesses at two other corners (Fire Station 11 is on the third); the site was rezoned to Neighborhood Commercial in 2019 to ensure that. Tomorrow’s committee meeting, which includes an opportunity for public comment (either in person at City Hall or via phone, as explained on the agenda) starts at 9:30 am.
Questions about senior living – whether for yourself or a family member? Get answers about multiple options during an event this Tuesday (November 28), 5-7 pm. at Village Green West Seattle (2615 SW Barton; WSB sponsor). Coordinators say multiple senior-living communities are participating as well as the hosts. Call to RSVP (or if you have questions about the event), 206-937-6122.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Admiral Church‘s agreement to turn over its half-acre property to Homestead Community Land Trust is just the first step in what’s expected to be at least a four-year journey to transformation of the site into new homes and a new home for the church.
The projected timeline is part of what was revealed at an open-house-style gathering in the church sanctuary this past Sunday afternoon, four weeks after the church and Homestead CLT announced the plan. As we’ve been reporting, the church had been on a years-long quest to secure a sustainable future – the costs of maintaining an aging building could not be borne without some sort of change. The plan will enable “affordable” homes, offered for sale, to be built on the site along with a new “flexible” space for the church and its ministries/tenants, which currently include a preschool as well as various community groups.
The architects working on the project, Third Place Design Co-operative, were in attendance, with renderings showing possibilities for how the church site’s future housing could look and feel. They told us the predominant housing type they’re considering for this site is “three-story townhouses.” The easels offered people at the gathering a chance to place dot stickers on images they liked, from architecture to amenities such as greenspaces between the buildings, porches, small fenced yards. Some of the featured images, they told us, were from a project under way now in Tukwila.
That’s an 18-home development on land previously owned by Riverton Park United Methodist Church, according to Homestead CLT’s executive director Kathleen Hosfeld, who was also at the Admiral gathering, standing by an easel explaining the “Net Zero” building philosophy for which they aim – energy-efficient, which in turn means lower utility bills.
Another Homestead rep staffed a general Q&A table, including how their model works (here’s how). 60-65 percent average mean income (AMI) is their sweet spot for potential buyers; 80 percent AMI is the ceiling to qualify. They are able to offer lower prices to qualified buyers because of subsidies from public (like the Seattle Housing Levy, which is on the current ballot) and private funding, These have to be the buyers’ only homes, and they can’t be rented out – the owner has to live there. If they want to sell their home, they can find a qualified buyer on their own, but most work with Homestead, which has a long waiting list. They even have a tiebreaker system if needed.
The open house ended with a moment of recognition for City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who helped connect Homestead CLT with Admiral Church years ago. Rev. Andrew Conley-Holcom offered a few words of appreciation, telling the backstory of the church’s journey to this point (including this meeting we covered four years ago), and the councilmember briefly spoke:
We asked Hosfeld where the project goes from here: “What happens next is we start the design process. We need to engage the civil engineer, geotech and other advisers to study the site, and model out what we can build. That’s probably a 4-6 month process. Once we have some concepts to share, we’ll reach back out to the neighborhood for some input again. In the meantime, we’ll meet with the immediate neighbors across the street and make sure we set up a good communication system with them.” If all goes well, construction of the as-yet-undetermined number of homes could start in fall of 2025 and last about a year and a half. If you have questions for Homestead, you can email email@example.com.
SIDE NOTE: We noticed on the Homestead website that the first of its now-245 homes in trust was referred to as the “Delridge House.” Indeed, Hosfeld told us, it all began with a little house that was moved off the site of the Delridge Library to a site elsewhere in Delridge. The nonprofit made this video a few years back telling the story:
Hosfeld says the original owner of the “Delridge House” has since sold it – but as with the other homes they’ve acquired or built, it will forever remain in trust.
One month after Admiral Church announced it was finalizing an agreement with Homestead Community Land Trust for the future of its site, this Sunday brings your chance to hear details and ask questions about the plan. The site will be developed into for-sale units, “most … to be made affordable to those who make less than 80% of area median income,” plus a new home for the church itself. How many homes and what type, too soon to tell, HCLT told us after the announcement last month, but not “single-family detached.” Construction could start in 2025. The agreement followed four years of soul-searching by the church on how to best ensure its future while contributing the most to the community. The meeting “to discuss the partnership and listen to the community’s vision for homes at the site” is at the church (4320 SW Hill), 1:30 pm Sunday (October 22nd), all welcome.
Ballots go out two weeks from today. Although we’ve been focusing on the Seattle City Council District 1 vote, you’ll be deciding another city matter in the general election: The renewal/expansion of the Seattle Housing Levy. You can read the ballot measure in its entirety here; its official explanatory statement begins:
Proposition 1 would authorize a seven-year property tax increase, replacing an expiring levy, to finance low-income housing and provide for housing needs of low-income persons. Approximately 51 percent of levy funding is anticipated to serve households earning 30 percent or less of Seattle area median income.
Over those seven years, as we reported earlier this year, the levy would raise almost a billion dollars. When councilmembers finalized it in June, we published a breakdown of where those dollars would go. Seattle has had a Housing Levy since 1986; that first one was for $50 million, while the one that’s expiring now totaled almost $300 million. If your house is worth about $900,000, this is projected to cost you about $32 a month. The arguments for and against are linked here. Projects funded at least in part by the expiring levy include Salish Landing, the 82-apartment Delridge complex that opened this year, built on the site of the former Lam Bow Apartments
For four years, we’ve been reporting on Admiral Church‘s soul-searching over how to best ensure its future viability, while utilizing its half-acre campus for community good, ideally including affordable housing. In April 2022, the church announced it had decided what path it would follow, working with Homestead Community Land Trust “to gift them the total of our real estate for the development of permanently affordable, ownership-focused housing (including) a flexible use space exclusively for Admiral Church’s ministries …” Now, a year and a half later, the church and Homestead have just announced they’ve formalized the plan. First, the announcement:
Homestead Community Land Trust and Admiral United Church of Christ have signed an agreement that will lead to the development of permanently affordable homeownership on church land in the Admiral neighborhood of West Seattle.
Under the terms of the agreement, Admiral Church will convey its land in exchange for the ability to continue its ministries in the Admiral neighborhood in a newly constructed gathering and worship facility in the new development, representing a cost that is significantly below the market value of the property. Admiral Church and Homestead’s agreement makes it possible for most of the homes developed to be made affordable to those who make less than 80% of area median income.
“Admiral Church seeks to open the neighborhood to households that have historically been disadvantaged and excluded from homeownership,” said Reverend Andrew Conley-Holcom, pastor of Admiral Church. “We selected Homestead as a partner because their model creates generational wealth for its owners and Homestead is committed to partnering with us and the surrounding community in imagining and developing the homes.”
Admiral Church has served the North Admiral neighborhood in West Seattle since its founding over a century ago and is partnering with Homestead to continue that service well into its next century. The church conducted significant outreach with the neighborhood to gauge support for the concept of an affordable-housing project, including hosting neighborhood meetings, doing one-on-one meetings with interested individuals, and conducting an online survey through a neighborhood association. Over 80% of the 200+ respondents supported an affordable-housing project on the church’s site.
“By donating a significant amount of their land equity to this project, Admiral Church is going the extra mile to achieve its social and racial justice mission. Thanks to the members’ generosity, people who have been historically excluded from owning a home will have that opportunity in a lovely, walkable neighborhood with great schools and a thriving business district” said Kathleen Hosfeld, Homestead CEO and Executive Director. Hosfeld herself lives in the Admiral district.
Affordability at the site will be achieved through lower-cost land and the investment of public and private subsidy. The church, which will be temporarily relocated within West Seattle during construction, will return to a newly constructed gathering and worship facility co-located at the site.
The partners conducted initial feasibility to substantiate the terms of a purchase and sale agreement for the land. However, the site plan and project pro forma has yet to be finalized. The partners will host a community meeting to discuss their partnership and listen to the community’s vision for homes at the site on October 22, 1:30 pm at the Church, 4320 SW Hill Street.
Affordable housing timelines are subject to change, but the partners hope that construction will begin in 2025 and be completed in 2026.
Homestead is a classic community land trust, following the model created by Civil Rights era leaders in the 1960s and 1970s to prevent displacement and allow people to build wealth through ownership. Homestead builds new homes, fundraises to reduce the price of homes to what is affordable to a lower-income household, and keeps homes affordable permanently through agreements with our homeowners and post-purchase support. Homestead lowers barriers to homeownership for those excluded by discrimination, and has nearly 60% ownership by people of color. Typical home prices through Homestead range from $240,000 to $330,000. Homestead has 245 homes in trust and has created over 300 first-time homebuying opportunities for income-qualified buyers.
Admiral Church has been serving the people of the North Admiral neighborhood in West Seattle since its founding in 1899. The church is welcoming to all, having voted to be explicitly “open and affirming” decades ago. The church is a congregation that is God gifted, love centered, open to the future and extending Christ’s footsteps into the world. The church is committed to reach out to the un-served and the unseen in our community and seek diversity, peace, and justice in our world.
Homestead currently has 70 homes in West Seattle, said Hosfeld in response to one of the followup questions we asked her. Also:
How many homes will be built on the Admiral Church site? No estimate yet. What type? “They will not be single-family detached for sure. We have run studies to make sure the project was feasible but haven’t come up with the final mix. We do want to be sensitive to surrounding structures and homeowners and make sure the project fits in well.”
How affordable? “Affordable to below 80% AMI. The AMI levels for our homes in recent years have been 60% to 72% AMI. We will seek subsidy to get the prices as low as possible. There may be several “market rate” homes in the mix. We include market rate homes in projects to provide an internal form of subsidy so we can lower the prices of the homes for income-qualified buyers. We haven’t determined how many yet. We set the initial price of market rate homes to be at or below local comps at the time of sale.
Finally, we asked about terms of the agreement between Homestead – which is a nonprofit – and the church. “There is a technical purchase and sale agreement, and the payment from Homestead involves a limited amount of cash that serves as a bridge for the church while the project is completed. Payment also includes building and conveying a new church facility. The assessed value of the church property, according to King County Records, is $4 million. What the church might have received by selling it to a for-profit developer would be considerably higher. There isn’t a precise dollar amount value of the church facility at this point.”
P.S. For a bit more on how Homestead’s model works, see our summary in this past WSB story.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Tree advocates who helped save “Luma“ are branching out.
Tonight in West Seattle, they led a “gratitude gathering” that drew more than 40 people to pay tribute to two Douglas Firs that are among 16 trees planned for removal on a Gatewood lot where a house is to be built.
Organizer Sandy Shettler of Tree Action Seattle said they’re not sure these two can be saved as was “Luma” – she hasn’t even contacted the builder who owns the lot to plead the case – but she doesn’t want to see them go without at least a round of awareness-raising.
The trees – measured at diameters of 43″ and 27″ – are on a 4,200-square-foot lot in the 4100 block of SW Southern that, records show, had the same ownership as the house to its east until last year, when the house got a new owner, followed this past April by the separate sale of the lot to a West Seattle builder.
Shettler says she and her group were not there to vilify the builder and that they are not against housing – but they are against losing more “exceptional” trees to do it. (The Tree Action Seattle website declares, “The future is about housing and tree equity for all. Housing vs trees is a false dichotomy of the Old Way of unintelligent planning and short term profits for the few. We reject this limited thinking and embrace housing and tree equity for all.”) She says this project was cleared because the trees couldn’t be spared without the house being less than 15′ wide at one spot, but she contends the city has many homes that don’t fit the criteria, and showed a roughed-out sketch of how this lot could hold a home and accessory dwelling unit while sparing the two big trees.
Losing trees like these, lot by lot, is an ecological crisis, Tree Action Seattle contends. Leaders were joined in speeches tonight by West Seattle wildlife biologist Kersti Muul, who stated flatly, “If we don’t have trees, we don’t have whales” – trees cool and clean the air by the waterways that raise the salmon Southern Resident Killer Whales in particular need to eat.
While the two Gatewood trees may not be next to a salmon stream – though Fauntleroy Creek is only about a mile away – they are important to birds, she added, showing a photo of a mating pair of Merlins that she found nesting in the area seven years ago, with their offspring seen nearby ever since. Her photo even appeared in the book “Magical Merlins” by Bruce A. Haak; she sent us this photo post-event:
The Merlins need tall evergreens for nesting – “mostly Douglas Firs.” She offered one more point for contemplation: “We have wants, Wildlife has needs.”
We recorded her remarks as well as those of the Tree Action Seattle leaders:
Shettler said they’ve been hearing from so many local people about doomed trees, she’s planning a West Seattle section on their website. (Friday update: That page is now live.) They’re also fighting for changes in the city’s new tree ordinance, which they say actually reduces protection possibilities for exceptional trees by giving the city less leeway in considering their fate. They’re hoping to make this an issue in the seven City Council campaigns and urged attendees to ask council candidates – Rob Saka and Maren Costa in District 1 – where they stand. “Our best hope is the new council.”
As the setting sun cast a golden glow on the trees, the “gratitude” part of the gathering began; Tree Action Seattle brought a basket of flowers and created a mandala on the pavement for people to pause to contemplate the trees and offer thanks for their existence.
Some then left; many of those who stayed gathered for a group photo.
WHAT’S NEXT: The newest version of the tree-removal notice filed today for this site says removal might start as soon as a week from tomorrow. Unlike the “Luma” saga, Shettler didn’t expect “direct action” in this case, but each spotlight shone on a situation like this, she said, could plant a seed of inspiration for housing plans that spare trees.
Past and present 6955 Delridge Way SW residents were exuberant at the grand opening for the Seattle Housing Authority‘s newest property. Above is Fatuma, one of the new residents. Some of her new neighbors also lived there when it was the Lam Bow Apartments before a three-alarm 2016 fire – and have moved back now that it’s an all-new complex called Salish Landing.
Speeches, a ribbon-cutting, and Native songs highlighted the grand opening event on Tuesday afternoon.
As you can see in that photo, dignitaries were part of it – Mayor Bruce Harrell, SHA executive director Rod Brandon, City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, 34th District State Rep. Emily Alvarado. But the stars of the show were past and present residents – all who lost their homes in the 2016 fire were offered apartments at Salish Landing, SHA says – and two spoke, Briana and Theresa. This affordable housing is what saved her from living unsheltered, Theresa said.
Salish Landing has 31 more units than Lam Bow did – 82 in all, a mix of 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom apartments. They’re all spoken for, the SHA tells us – and speakers at Tuesday’s event underscored the need for much more housing like this. We recorded them all:
Some of the funding for construction came from the Seattle Housing Levy, which is expiring, with a renewal/expansion set for the November ballot.
(Thursday note: Story corrected to reflect that Fatuma was not among those who lived at the Lam Bow pre-fire.)
If you or someone in your family is considering senior-living options, you have the opportunity later this month to get answers about multiple types, during one panel discussion. Village Green West Seattle (2615 SW Barton; WSB sponsor) is hosting at 5 pm Thursday, August 17th – here’s the announcement and RSVP request:
So this is senior living? A night of great information and clarification – learn about all types of senior living local to our area. We will have a great panel with community partners from Quail Park Memory Care of West Seattle, ComeForCare home care, Avamere at Park West, and of course Village Green West Seattle. Please RSVP to event at 206-937-6122.
You can see the event flyer here.
Two months ago, we reported that the (now former) Lam Bow Apartments at 6955 Delridge Way SW, rebuilt and expanded after a fire in 2016, were almost complete. This afternoon, the Seattle Housing Authority announced that some people have moved in, and a ribbon-cutting is planned next week. Plus, the complex has a new name: Salish Landing. SHA spokesperson Kerry Coughlin tells WSB that 52 of the units are leased and the remaining 30 are in the process of being leased. That’s 31 more units than the site held before one of the original two Lam Bow buildings was heavily damaged in a three-alarm fire. Though that September 2016 fire only affected one building, SHA decided in 2019 to demolish the remaining building and redevelop the entire site. It’s a five-story apartment building with 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom apartments for income-qualified residents; SHA says pre-fire Lam Bow residents were offered the chance to move back into the new building. Its amenities include a large courtyard and playground, community room, and small library. SHA says Salish Landing apartments include sustainability features including renewable-energy panels and stormwater-detention vaults. It also has an 80-space offstreet-parking lot as well as bicycle storage. The ribboncutting next Tuesday afternoon will include Mayor Bruce Harrell.
King County Assessor John Wilson just finished a media briefing on what his staff is seeing as they work on property valuations that will affect next year’s tax bills. His assessment of the situation: “Assessed values are going down in some areas for the first time in a long time” – at least a decade. This follows a big jump last year, so Wilson sees it as “re-level-izing.” So far, his staff has finished just two of the 85 districts, so valuation notices will be going out in those two districts first – Queen Anne and Sammamish. In QA, Wilson said, valuations are down 8 percent, while in Sammamish, they’re down 22 percent. So far, they’re only seeing a few areas of the county that aren’t trending downward – Normandy Park, for example, is up, while South Seattle is flat. Wilson says the downward trend also applies to commercial property, which he attributes to the work-from-home trend reducing demand for commercial space and therefore bringing down rents. Valuation reviews for all 85 districts won’t be complete until late summer, so it might still be months before you get your valuation notice if you own property. These are 2023 valuations for the tax bills that go out in early 2024. Wilson cautions that “Assessed values are not the sole predictor of property taxes” – they won’t know how taxes are going until the taxing jurisdictions start sending their budgets for next year. One more note, while you can’t appeal your property taxes, you can appeal your property valuation, provided you do it within 60 days of the notice date – the process is explained here.
Driving along Delridge recently, we noticed that the largest current affordable-housing construction project in West Seattle, the rebuilt and expanded Lam Bow Apartments complex, appeared almost complete. We subsequently confirmed that with the Seattle Housing Authority. Almost seven years have passed since one of the Lam Bow’s original two buildings was heavily damaged in a three-alarm fire. While that September 2016 fire only affected one building, SHA decided in 2019 to demolish the remaining building and redevelop the entire Lam Bow site into an 82-unit complex, 31 more apartments than the two original buildings held. As SHA prepares for the building at 6935 Delridge Way SW to be occupied, spokesperson Kerry Coughlin tells WSB, “We are contacting former residents at this time about whether they want to move back.” The new Lam Bow, with a construction cost estimated at $26 million, has a mix of 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom units, and a mix of rents as well, including some for those making up to 60 percent of the average mean income. Funding announced in 2019 was from a mix of sources including the Seattle Housing Levy, which expires this year and is – as we reported in March, and as a council committee affirmed just today – moving toward a $970 million expansion/renewal for this November’s ballot.
Less than two months ago, the mayor proposed a billion-dollar renewal/expansion of the city Housing Levy. Some wondered what the money from the current one is being spent on. Here’s an example. The city has announced $147 million in grants for projects totaling 1,150 housing units, from sources including the current levy, as well as the “JumpStart” payroll tax and developers fees from the HALA-born Mandatory Housing Affordability program. The projects receiving grants are shown in this slide deck. None are in West Seattle. The nearest are two in South Park – a 78-unit complex that Sea Mar will build and 30 townhomes that Habitat for Humanity is planning.
Seattle Initiative 135 was approved by voters in February. Then in March, the Seattle Renters Commission sent out a call for people to help turn the measure’s vision of “social housing” into reality. Now the Seattle Social Housing Developer board’s been appointed, and its members gathered today for the first time in an introductory visit with a City Council committee (video above). You can read about them here. The board has 13 members, appointed by organizations and officials as stipulated in I-135:
Seven board members appointed by the Seattle Renters’ Commission
One board member appointed by the Martin Luther King, Jr. County Labor Council
One board member appointed by El Centro De La Raza
One board member appointed by the Green New Deal Oversight Board
One board member appointed by the mayor
Two board members appointed by the Seattle City Council
Though most of the bios don’t mention where the appointees live, this document shows that four of the 13 live in City Council District 1 (which now includes West Seattle, South Park, Georgetown, and part of south downtown) – Ebo Barton, Kaileah Baldwin, Devyn Forschmiedt, and Brian Ramirez. As recapped during this morning’s council-committee meeting, the Social Housing Developer’s startup costs are to be city funded, but where it’s going to get money to start building housing – publicly owned rental housing for multiple income levels – is an open question. The date has not yet been set for the board’s first official meeting, but it has to happen before the end of May.
What was Daystar Retirement Village at 2615 SW Barton is now Village Green Senior Living (WSB sponsor). We photographed executive director Eva Thomas and CEO Monte Powell at a reception this week celebrating the change:
The company’s Federal Way complex also is named Village Green: “We feel that branding both campuses under one name promotes continuity within our organization and our philosophy, which is simple – we believe that all people deserve to be treated with kindness and respect, especially when needs change and a helping hand is needed.” The company notes that the Powell family, rooted in regional home construction, founded the company after they “began to take notice of the lack of services, community, and opportunity available for seniors.” Village Green in West Seattle offers independent living, assisted living, and short-term care. Signage changes are planned soon – permits are pending.
The project team for the northwest corner of 16th/Barton has filed a land-use application for the project, and that opens a new comment window for the site that’s officially known as 9059 16th SW. As first reported here last July, the proposal is for a 4-story, 67-microapartment building with no offstreet vehicle parking and spaces for 67 bicycles. The site is vacant, since the fire-gutted building that formerly occupied it was demolished months ago. The deadline to comment is April 26th; this notice explains how. The project is going through Administrative Design Review, which means no public meetings; here’s the early-design packet by SHW Architecture.
3804 23rd SW is the most-visible vacant house in West Seattle – perched all by itself next to the Delridge on-ramp to the eastbound West Seattle Bridge. The first time we mentioned it on WSB was in 2009, when it was a stop on a community-organized tour of problem properties in North Delridge, with city councilmembers and department heads in attendance. It was speculated at the time that this house had already been vacant for at least 20 years. Over the ensuing 14 years, we’ve mentioned the house several times. It was auctioned in 2014 to cover unpaid taxes; it changed hands again in 2017 and 2018. In 2017, it had an early-stage proposal for eight townhouses, but in 2019, that plan stalled, and the site has remained relatively unchanged, aside from some retaining-wall work. Now a tip led us to discover there’s a new plan for the site – this time, a plan to remodel the long-vacant house and add a second story. Meantime, the site remains in the city’s vacant building monitoring program; city records show its most recent inspection at the end of March found violations such as the house not being secured against weather and trespassers. (You might recall that a person was found dead on the site last year.)