West Seattle housing 554 results

FOLLOWUP: Admiral Church finalizes affordable-housing future for its campus with Homestead Community Land Trust

(Photo by Joanne Murray for Admiral Church)

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.

VIDEO: ‘Gratitude gathering’ beneath two doomed Gatewood trees with advocates who say ‘housing vs. trees is a false dichotomy’

(The Gatewood Douglas Firs)

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.

VIDEO: Grand opening and homecomings celebrated at Salish Landing in Delridge

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.)

Questions about senior-living options? Panel discussion August 17th at Village Green West Seattle

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.

FOLLOWUP: Rebuilt and expanded, former Lam Bow apartment complex opens with new name

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.

Some King County property valuations ‘going down for the first time in a long time’

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.

FOLLOWUP: Rebuilt, expanded Lam Bow Apartments close to completion, 7 years post-fire

(WSB photo)

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.

$147 million in city funding announced for affordable-housing projects, none in West Seattle

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.

FOLLOWUP: Board convened to take ‘social housing’ from ballot to buildings

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.

BIZNOTE: West Seattle senior-living complex changes name but not ownership

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.

DEVELOPMENT: Comment time for 16th/Barton apartments

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.

FOLLOWUP: New plan for West Seattle’s most visible vacant house

(WSB photo)

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.)

ELECTION 2023: Mayor proposes billion-dollar renewal/expansion of Seattle Housing Levy

So far this year, you’ll be voting on a $1.25 billion behavioral-health levy in April and the half-billion-dollar renewal of the Veterans, Seniors, Human Services Levy in August. Those are both countywide proposals. Now, one from the city – Mayor Bruce Harrell has gone public with his $970 million proposal to renew/expand the Seattle Housing Levy, aiming for the November ballot. The city has had a housing levy since 1986; the one that’s expiring now was passed in 2016 and was for $290 million, less than a third the size of the new plan. From the mayor’s office, here’s how this version would break out:

Rental Housing Production & Preservation: $707 million

Creates and preserves affordable rental housing, including Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH), for seniors, people exiting homelessness, working families with children, people with disabilities, and other low-income households.

Operating, Maintenance, and Services (OMS): $122 million

Ensures safe, sustainable operations at in Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) and creates a new wage stabilization fund for workers in PSH buildings.

Homeownership: $51 million

Creates new permanently affordable for-sale homes, provides down-payment assistance for low-income homebuyers, and stabilizes low-income homeowners through emergency home repair grants and foreclosure prevention assistance.

Prevention & Housing Stabilization: $30 million

Provides short-term rent assistance and housing stability services to help low-income households avoid eviction or homelessness.

Program Administration: $60 million

Ensures continuous and effective administration of all Housing Levy-funded programs by covering costs associated with project selection and contracting, development underwriting, construction monitoring, project performance and compliance, fiscal management, program policies and reporting.

Tax rate: $0.45/$1,000 assessed value

Cost to median Seattle homeowners: $383/year or $31.92/month (based on assessed value of $855,136)

The City Council will review the levy proposal in a series of meetings before deciding whether to put it on the November ballot.

FOLLOWUP: Initiative 135 passed. Want to help figure out what happens next?

One month after Seattle Initiative 135 won approval in the February special election – final count was 57 percent yes – the process of turning its provisions into reality has begun. Its provisions stipulate that the Seattle Renters Commission appoint a majority of the board for the new Seattle Social Housing Developer, for starters. So they’re looking for potential board members. Here’s the announcement:

The Seattle Renters’ Commission is seeking community members to serve on the board for the newly established Seattle Social Housing Developer, a Public Development Authority (PDA) responsible for developing, owning, and maintaining social housing in Seattle.

The Seattle Social Housing Developer was established with the passage of Initiative 135, a citizen-initiated measure approved by Seattle voters on February 14, 2023. Under this initiative, social housing will be publicly owned, publicly financed, mixed-income housing, removed from market forces and speculation, and built with the express aim of housing people equitably and affordably.

A new board of directors to oversee the Seattle Social Housing Developer will be formed in the coming weeks. Seven of the 13 board members will be initially appointed by the Seattle Renters’ Commission. Per the terms of the initiative, the board members appointed by the Seattle Renters’ Commission shall include at least one member who has experienced housing insecurity; at least one member who has experienced financial eviction; and at least one member who has been displaced. In addition, they shall represent a range of incomes, including three members living at 0-50% Area Median Income (AMI); two (2) members living at 50-80% AMI; and two members living at 80-100% AMI.

Full details on the roles and responsibilities of the board of directors can be found in the Charter for the Seattle Social Housing Developer PDA. Prospective board members can expect to spend up to 20 hours per month in their role.

Those interested in being considered for the board should complete the online application by Friday, March 31 at 11:59 p.m.

The Seattle Renters’ Commission will review applications on a rolling basis and reach out to applicants who advance in the application process to coordinate next steps.

The charter is also where you’ll find the explanation of the various entities who appoint the other six members.

ELECTION 2023: Approval margin widens for ‘social housing’ I-135

The second set of results is in from the special election on Seattle Initiative 135 to create an entity to develop “social housing.” Last night, “yes” was almost six percentage points ahead of “no”; today, that’s widened:

Yes – 53.96% – 64,345
No – 46.04% – 54,900

The ballots counted so far represent almost 25 percent of Seattle voters; 33 percent of the ballots sent have been received as of this afternoon.

ELECTION 2023: First results for Seattle ‘social housing’ Initiative 135

Here’s the first round of results for tonight’s one-issue special election:

Yes – 52.82% – 53,824
No – 47.18% – 48,085

The ballots counted tonight represent just over 21 percent of Seattle voters; just under 26 percent have been received so far. The initiative seeks to create a Public Development Authority to build what’s called “social housing.” Where, how much, and how it would be financed are all to be worked out. The next round of results will be announced Wednesday afternoon.

PROPERTY TAX: King County Assessor says this year’s bills are ready

If you own a house and/or other property in King County, you can now see your property-tax bill for this year. The King County Assessor is sending out 2023 bills starting today, but you don’t have to wait for yours to arrive in the mail – you can look it up right now online via kingcounty.gov/propertytax. If you pay your tax bundled with your mortgage, you won’t get a paper statement, but you can still see the new amount online. The assessor’s website also enables you to see how the tax you pay is split between various agencies – though the bill comes from King County, the money goes to a variety of entities. A few other notes from the announcement:

Because of the way the calendar falls this year, property taxpayers will have an extra day to pay the first half of their property taxes. The statutory due date for the first half falls on a Sunday in 2023, so payments will not be due until Monday, May 1. Payments are accepted online, by mail, and by drop box. Visit kingcounty.gov/PropertyTax for details on payment options. Customer service representatives are also available to assist Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Contact King County Treasury Operations at 206-263-2890 or email propertytax.customerservice@kingcounty.gov.

Information on tax exemption and deferral programs for seniors, people with disabilities, or other qualifying conditions can be obtained from the King County Assessor’s Office at TaxRelief.kingcounty.gov, by emailing exemptions.assessments@kingcounty.gov, or calling 206-296-3920.

SIDE NOTE: The Legislature has been looking at expanding tax relief, and Assessor John Wilson has been advocating for it. Both proposals are still in committee.

ELECTION 2023: Watch for your one-measure ballot later this week

Wednesday’s the day that King County Elections plans to mail ballots for the February 14th special election. You’ll get a ballot with one measure – Seattle Initiative 135, which we wrote about earlier this month. If passed, this “would create a public development authority to develop, own, and maintain publicly financed mixed-income social housing developments.” The initiative does not specify how that housing will be funded, but supporters explains in their FAQ, “Once the public developer is established, they can receive and request funds from city, state, federal governments, as well as private donations if those donors feel so inclined.” Read I-135’s full text here. Ballot dropboxes open Thursday – West Seattle has three – one day after ballots are sent; you’ll have until 8 pm February 14th to get your ballot into one, or you can send it via USPS mail as long as it’s postmarked by that day.

P.S. If you want to find out more about I-135 before voting, it’ll be a major topic at the West Seattle Democratic Women‘s meeting Thursday night online – our calendar listing has info on how to RSVP.

ELECTION 2023: Less than 3 weeks until your next ballot arrives

checkbox.jpgAlthough this year’s biggest election will be the City Council primary in August, that won’t be the first election of the year. You’ll get a ballot in less than three weeks for the February 14th special election, with just one measure on your ballot: Seattle Initiative 135. Not familiar with it? Here’s the text that you’ll see:

City of Seattle Initiative Measure 135 concerns developing and maintaining affordable social housing in Seattle.

This measure would create a public development authority (PDA) to develop, own, and maintain publicly financed mixed-income social housing developments. The City would provide start-up support for the PDA. The City Council would determine the amount of ongoing City support. Before it transfers any public lands for nonpublic use, the City would be required to consider a transfer to the PDA. The PDA’s Charter would govern the election, composition, and duties of the PDA’s Board of Directors.

So what’s “social housing”? Here’s how the organization behind the initiative explains it:

Housing created outside of the private market, publicly financed and publicly controlled. Unlike public housing models in the United States, social housing does not rely on profit motives, the private market or private partnerships, which creates permanent affordability and housing free from market speculation. Residents and their homes are shielded from the free market, with specific measures prohibiting the sale and marketization of social housing to ensure it remains in the public’s hands, for public use.

Also from their FAQ page, the explanation of “who will pay for it?”, since the city “start-up support” does NOT include funding:

Our initiative follows the path of the Pike Place Market and the monorail. This is a multi-step process. We are setting up the structure and the vision to get this public developer started, then we will begin raising money. We are pursuing several options, but money that is available today will not necessarily be the extent of what’s available tomorrow.

Once the public developer is established, they can receive and request funds from city, state, federal governments, as well as private donations if those donors feel so inclined.

You can read the full text of I-135 here. For a slightly shorter overview, see this page on supporters’ site (which also includes the full text). The House Our Neighbors political committee of Real Change gathered signatures to get it on the ballot. No opposition campaign is registered, so far. Ballots are scheduled to be mailed January 25th. Not registered to vote? Here’s how to do it.

HELPING: Volunteers assist at Habitat for Humanity homebuilding site in South Delridge

Another infusion of volunteer help was at work this past Saturday at Habitat for Humanity‘s Highland Terrace project in South Delridge. The site in the 9000 block of 15th SW will hold six “permanently affordable” two- and three-bedroom homes that’ll be complete by next summer, to be owned by families earning less than 80 percent of the Area Median Income. Future homeowners help with the construction, too – Penny was among those working at the site on Saturday:

Also there on Saturday was a contingent of volunteers from ADT, one of the companies that has donated to the project.

ADT donated $30,000 to cover the cost of energy-efficient heat pumps for the homes at Highland Terrace. Last month, AT&T sent volunteers to the site along with a $10,000 donation. This is not the first Habitat for Humanity project in West Seattle – others include a 4-unit site near Westwood Village and 20 homes scattered around the High Point redevelopment in the late ’00s.

West Seattle Junction apartment building in deal to become ‘affordable housing,’ partly with public funding

(WSB photo)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

On Tuesday, we reported on a microapartment project in The Junction. Across 44th SW from that site is a relatively new all-studio building that is in the process of being sold. That alone is not unusual – a check of commercial real-estate listings will show that apartment buildings are often on the market (and some sell without ever being publicly listed). However, this deal is unique: Post-sale, the Vega Apartments (4528 44th SW) are to be managed as “affordable housing,” according to a letter sent recently to nearby residents. A WSB reader forwarded it to us. The letter reads:

SRM Development is in contract to purchase the Vega Apartments located at 4528 44th Ave SW.

SRM is partnering with the Urban League of Seattle to preserve rents at affordable levels for 99 years and offer resident services. Our goal is to create and maintain safe, quality affordable housing options for individuals and couples in urban Seattle neighborhoods.

The Vega is an existing 5-story apartment building in West Seattle, built in 2017, which includes 58 studio units. It will serve tenants ranging from 50% or below of the Area Median Income (AMI) up to 80% of AMI, which ranges from $45,300 to $66,750 for an individual or $51,800 to $76,250 for a couple living in Seattle.

The acquisition offers a unique opportunity for low to moderate income residents to afford to live where they work and with close access to public transport line, which meets to goals and objectives of the City of Seattle’s Consolidated Plan for Housing and Community Development. We are seeking financing for the acquisition and management of the Vega Apartments in part from the City of Seattle Office of Housing.

SRM and Urban League are grateful for the opportunity to provide and maintain more affordable housing in the West Seattle neighborhood and look forward to being long-term community partners.

The letter also points to a page on SRM’s website which says this is one of six apartment buildings around the city that would be involved in the deal; the others are all outside West Seattle. The information on the page otherwise largely replicates what was in the letter sent to neighbors. It also links to a current page for Vega, showing vacancies for ~240-square-foot studios at rents ranging from $1,325 to $1,425.

So what would change for current and future tenants if this partly publicly funded deal goes through? And will the deal proceed if public funding is not obtained? We have been trying to get answers to those and other questions, but both SRM Development and the Urban League have not responded to our inquiries. The city Office of Housing would only say, through spokesperson Nathan Haugen, “We can confirm that SRM and Urban League have applied for funding … We unfortunately cannot comment any further as we are currently in process of closing out any awards.” According to the Office of Housing’s website, the department was accepting applications through mid-September for shares of $44 million in its Rental Housing Program. The notice says in part:

Seattle OH seeks to fund projects that:

• Combat residential displacement in communities that have experienced and continue to be at greatest risk of displacement.

• Address essential preservation and rehabilitation needs in existing OH-funded properties.

• Deliver new housing in geographic locations that offer access to transit, job centers, and services

According to this industry-publication report, the SRM Development executive who signed the letter about the West Seattle plan was hired by the company last year to head a new “affordable housing” division. One more note: Five of the six buildings involved in the pending deal are owned by West Seattle-headquartered Blueprint. We’ll continue following up.

WEST SEATTLE WEEKEND SCENE: Admiral Station Apartments’ grand opening

The first major mixed-use project to be built in The Admiral District in several years is now open. A grand-opening celebration is happening through 4 pm today at Admiral Station Apartments (2715 California SW) – all are welcome to drop by for food (catered by Husky Deli and Puerto Vallarta), a raffle, swag, and tours through 4 pm.

We visited Admiral Station, which has 49 apartments – 12 already leased – earlier this week for an advance tour. Here’s what we saw:

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Here’s how much West Seattle residential-property values have risen, according to the King County Assessor’s Office

The King County Assessor’s Office has announced that “the annual process of mailing property valuation notices to taxpayers” has begun, and West Seattle property owners will get theirs soon. According to the announcement: “Median residential property values rose by 18.3% in West Seattle, and by 11.4% in North Central West Seattle.” (The median is “half more, half less,” NOT the average.) For the latter, that’s a higher increase than the 8% a year earlier. As decreed by state law, these valuations were set at the start of this year for taxes that will be due next year – these notices are not a bill. The KCAO says a major factor in the rising property values was the continued low inventory of housing for sale, coupled with high demand.

P.S. You don’t have to wait for the postcard to arrive by mail – if your new valuation has been finalized, it’ll show up online; one way to look it up is to use the King County Parcel Viewer to check – once you’ve gotten to the page for your address, click through to the “property detail” page. One more note: If you disagree with your valuation, you can appeal it – here’s how.