West Seattle, Washington
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.
Two development notes:
4401 42ND SW APPROVAL: The city has given a key approval to the 5-story apartment building planned to replace the former Ginomai arts-studios building at 42nd/Genesee. It’s expected to include 72 “small efficiency dwelling units” – microapartments – and 5 live-work units, with 36 offstreet parking places. We first reported on the proposal in May of last year. The decision means appeals can be filed until October 5th; this notice explains how.
9038 21ST SW: South Delridge’s development boom continues. City files show an early-stage proposal for a 3-story (plus basement) building with 21 apartments, replacing a house on what’s now a Lowrise 1-zoned lot. The preliminary site plan shows Atelier Drome as the architecture firm.
As the COVID-19 economic crunch continues, the city has just announced a mayoral order extending the moratorium on residential, nonprofit, and small business evictions through year’s end. From the announcement:
… While the moratorium is in place in Seattle, property owners may not issue notices of termination or otherwise initiate an eviction action with the courts unless there is an imminent threat to the health and safety of the community. The order also prohibits late fees, and when paired with Governor Inslee’s proclamation, increases to rent and security deposits are prohibited through October 15. Tenants who receive any eviction notice during the moratorium should contact the Renting in Seattle hotline at 206‐684‐5700 or go online to submit a complaint.
The moratorium on nonprofit and small business evictions impacts independently-owned businesses with 50 employees or fewer per establishment, state nonprofits, and 501(c)(3) nonprofits. Along with halting evictions, the order also prevents eligible small businesses and nonprofits from incurring late fees, interest, or other charges due to late payment during the moratorium.
Residential, nonprofit, and small business tenants who must appear in court should use the moratorium as a defense. If a tenant does not appear in court, the court may grant a continuance to allow the matter to be heard at a later date after the moratorium has lifted. …
The full announcement is here.
Those old houses in the 2800 block of SW Yancy are about to be demolished so construction can start on Yancy Street Permanent Supportive Housing. We first told you about West Seattle nonprofit Transitional Resources‘ plan almost two and a half years ago. Now the project near TR’s headquarters and other buildings is ready to start.
As summarized by TR:
The project will provide 44 independent studio units on three levels for adults living with mental illness who are either coming from homelessness or institutional settings.
Transitional Resources will provide 24/7 staffing to enable residents to live independently in a supportive community. The site is within a block of TR’s main offices and other housing developments, where residents can access additional mental health and other supportive services. Onsite amenities include a secure access, a community room and outdoor recreation areas, a common laundry, covered bike parking, and an office for onsite supportive services.
Public and private sources are covering the project’s $16 million cost. The project team includes SMR Architects and Buchanan General Contracting. Construction is expected to take about a year, TR tells us; demolition will start as soon as their street-use permits are approved..
Two months after the bridge closed, and three months after the pandemic hit, prospective West Seattle home buyers and sellers just might have some questions. You might also be curious even if you’re not planning to buy/sell any time soon. So West Seattle Realty (WSB sponsor) has set up a chance to chat next Tuesday. Here’s the announcement:
We’ve all come to expect that the spring real-estate market is crazy. This year, COVID-19 and then the West Seattle Bridge have created a lot of uncertainty. But even with these setbacks, the market is building. Just like so many of us chomping at the opportunity to get back to work, the real-estate market is quite busy right now.
We want to make West Seattle Realty available to our community in a socially responsible way. Please join us on Tuesday, May 26th at 4:00 pm for our online Zoom discussion. The goal is to give everyone a chance to get their West Seattle real estate questions answered. We look forward to meeting you virtually! Please email us at email@example.com to be added to the invite list.
Here’s what we plan to cover:
Buyers are still very active. Despite restrictions on showings and stock-market volatility, in some ways the “Stay Home” order has made people want to have a place of their own, even more. Along with historically low interest rates, buyers, especially those who already have roots in our community, have been undaunted. Our advice to buyers has always been that real estate is a long-term investment, and that is unchanged. Market volatility is always something to consider, but even looking back on the Great Recession where home values dropped nationally almost 20%, prices recovered quickly. Time has shown us that residential real estate is a sound investment.
Sellers are anxious, but the market is still good. And this has led to yet another year where there are not enough homes to satisfy demand. It’s still a good time for sellers, but because buyers also need to be cautious, preparation, timing and of course pricing are as important as ever. It is likely that other areas in Seattle will see price growth that we will not, but thus far prices have held steady.
The West Seattle Bridge is a huge X factor that no one anticipated. West Seattle Realty has led the effort to let the City know this is an urgent problem with untold ramifications. We are rallying our neighbors around this issue by starting the online community “West Seattle Bridge Now.” We need a solution as quickly as possible. And the sooner we have a definitive answer to fixing or replacing the bridge, the sooner we can establish our new normal.
Again, to join in on next Tuesday’s real-estate discussion, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
That’s the final rendering for Yancy Street, the supportive-housing complex that West Seattle nonprofit Transitional Resources plans to build on the project’s namesake street, with 44 studio apartments for people living with behavioral-health challenges. It just got key city approvals, as announced in Monday’s Land Use Information Bulletin. We first reported on the project in February 2018; it’s replacing houses at 2811, 2821, and 2827 SW Yancy that TR has long used as shared housing. (Our past coverage also includes a design-feedback open house last year, plus news of partial city funding.) You can read the full decision here; its publication opens a 2-week appeal period, explained here. TR CEO Darcell Slovek-Walker tells WSB, “We anticipate that demolition/construction will start end of June/early July.” Her nonprofit, headquartered nearby, already provides housing for more than 80 people.
Announced by DNDA, an update on plans that were in the works pre-pandemic:
DNDA currently owns seven buildings in the Delridge area of West Seattle with a total of 144 units for rent. All of our buildings offer housing that is less expensive than for-profit buildings so that families with lower incomes can always live in Delridge. With these properties, DNDA’s goals are:
· To offer housing that is less expensive than for-profit buildings so that families with lower incomes can always live in Delridge
· To take good care of the properties that we own so that they are comfortable to live in, and assets to the community
DNDA had planned for the renovation of three multi-family buildings; Centerwood, Delridge Heights, and Holden Manor during the Spring of 2020. These plans are currently pending due to complexities presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Both Delridge Heights and Holden Manor were built in the 1960s. Centerwood was built in the 1980s. The planned work for each building will include the following;
· Roof replacement
· Plumbing replacement
· Fencing Replacement ·
Replace older toilets with low-flow toilets.
· No tenant relocation necessary
· Roof Replacement
· Replace existing fencing.
· Removal of unhealthy/dangerous trees and pruning of healthy trees, per arborist report.
· Parking lot repairs, seal-coat, and striping
· No tenant relocation necessary
· Roof replacement,
· Replace existing galvanized plumbing lines with new hot/cold plumbing lines
· Parking lot repairs and striping
. · No tenant relocation necessary
The week’s first announcement from Mayor Jenny Durkan heralded a nine-figure investment in “new, affordable rental homes.” The only West Seattle project on the list is one that’s been in the works a while, the Seattle Housing Authority‘s Lam Bow Apartments replacement project. The announcement and citywide list are here. The Lam Bow project (6955 Delridge Way SW) will replace both the building destroyed in a 2016 fire and the one left standing. The total 82 units to be built are up from 51 in the original complex. The cost of the project was estimated earlier this year at $35 million. Today’s announcement of citywide investments notes:
Funding sources for the Office of Housing investments include the 2016 voter-passed Seattle Housing Levy, incentive zoning and Mandatory Housing Affordability payments, $32 million in Real Estate Excise Taxes and over $13 million through retained sales taxes, made possible by changes in state law authorized by the 2019 Washington State Legislature and Seattle City Council.
A check of online files shows the Lam Bow project is still going through the city permit process.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Five years after becoming pastor of Admiral Congregational Church, Rev. Andrew Conley-Holcom has to shepherd it through a process with much at stake: The church and its neighborhood’s future.
That’s happening not through sermons, but through conversations like the one he led last week, standing before dozens of people in the church’s living-room-esque gathering space, wearing not a collar but a beanie.
“You’re here on the ground floor,” he explained, as a preface to the presentation on Tuesday night (October 8th).
If that was the ground floor, then you could say the foundation for the conversation was laid last December, when the church hosted an Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting, and the pastor told ANA the same thing: Not changing is not an option.
He began last week by putting it all in context, for those not familiar with the church’s operations and the role in the community. “Our goal is to be the neighborhood church of North Admiral.” And with the Jehovah’s Witnesses moving out, he said, “we kinda are.”