West Seattle housing – West Seattle Blog… https://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Wed, 15 Aug 2018 02:42:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 DEVELOPMENT: 4508 California SW’s downsized site; 5011 Delridge Way SW comment period opens https://westseattleblog.com/2018/07/development-4508-california-sws-downsized-site-5011-delridge-way-sw-comment-period-opens/ https://westseattleblog.com/2018/07/development-4508-california-sws-downsized-site-5011-delridge-way-sw-comment-period-opens/#comments Thu, 26 Jul 2018 19:24:49 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=923574 Two development-related notes:

(4508 California SW “preferred option” rendering by Caron Architecture)

4508 CALIFORNIA SW DOWNSIZED: One week from tonight, 4508 California SW goes to its first Southwest Design Review Board meeting. The packet is now available online, and we noticed a big change from when we originally reported on this project back in March: It’s proposed for a smaller footprint. The original early-stage filing described the site as stretching from the former West Seattle Cyclery storefront all the way to West Seattle Windermere; now it’s covering three current storefronts – ex-Cyclery, plus two restaurants, Lee’s and Kamei. As is standard in the Early Design Guidance stage of Design Review, the project packet proposes three possible “massing” configurations – they would each include more than 70 apartments plus 19 offstreet-parking spaces (city rules do not require any parking in this area) as well as ~11,000 square feet of retail (ground floor) and lodging. The SWDRB meeting next Thursday (6:30 pm August 2nd, Senior Center/Sisson Building, 4217 SW Oregon) will as usual include a public-comment period; if you can’t be there, you can send comments via e-mail to holly.godard@seattle.gov to get them to assigned city planner Holly Godard.

5011 DELRIDGE WAY SW: Comments open today and continue through August 8th on the streamlined design review for this six-townhouse, six-offstreet-parking-space project replacing a triplex. You can see the design packet here. The notice explains how to comment – this type of design review does NOT include a public meeting.

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The Hill Team at Keller Willliams Realty: Welcome, new West Seattle Blog sponsor! https://westseattleblog.com/2018/07/the-hill-team-at-keller-willliams-realty-welcome-new-west-seattle-blog-sponsor/ https://westseattleblog.com/2018/07/the-hill-team-at-keller-willliams-realty-welcome-new-west-seattle-blog-sponsor/#comments Fri, 20 Jul 2018 19:46:43 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=922973 Today we welcome a new sponsor, The Hill Team at Keller Williams Realty, led by Zack & Jodi Hill. Together they bring more than 15 years of experience in buying and selling homes in West Seattle. As they say, “We live here. We work here. We invest in the community here.” Which is why they’ve hosted holiday food drives for the West Seattle Food Bank and been sponsors of both Hope Lutheran School and Lafayette Elementary. Zack and Jodi said that one the of the best parts of living in West Seattle over the years has been to have the opportunity to give back to the community.

Whether it’s your first time in the market or you’ve sold a home before, Zack and Jodi are ready to talk to you about the market value of your home or what’s available in West Seattle. Like this current listing:

Zack describes the home:

We currently have an extraordinary custom home listed in the Admiral neighborhood at 2715 37th Avenue SW. The home features stunning craftsmanship, breathtaking views, and environmentally friendly design.

The green features include solar panels, an electric-car charging station, high-efficiency LED lighting, and sustainably grown bamboo floors.

For more info on this home, or to book an appointment to sell or buy, you can contact Zack and Jodi – 206-412-0149 or zack@zackhill.com.

We thank Zack and Jodi Hill 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.

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Another West Seattle project gets its first Design Review date: 3201 SW Avalon Way https://westseattleblog.com/2018/07/another-west-seattle-project-gets-its-first-design-review-date-3201-sw-avalon-way/ https://westseattleblog.com/2018/07/another-west-seattle-project-gets-its-first-design-review-date-3201-sw-avalon-way/#comments Thu, 19 Jul 2018 22:43:00 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=922896 (King County Assessor’s Office photo)

Starting with tonight’s meeting for 4747 California SW, four projects are now on the Southwest Design Review Board calendar for the next two months. A September 20th date has just been added for 3201 SW Avalon Way, proposed for 7 stories, 152 apartments, and 80 offstreet-parking spaces. We first told you about this project last December, when the early-stage proposal surfaced for the site of the 28-unit Golden Tee Apartments at Avalon/Genesee. The September 20th review – which would focus on the size/shape/siting of the building, since it’s the Early Design Guidance phase – is set for 6:30 pm at the Senior Center/Sisson Building (4217 SW Oregon); if you have comments before that, you can e-mail Abby Weber (abby.weber@seattle.gov), the city planner assigned to the project.

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HALA UPZONING: Neighborhood groups’ appeal hearing starts Monday https://westseattleblog.com/2018/06/hala-upzoning-neighborhood-groups-appeal-hearing-starts-monday/ https://westseattleblog.com/2018/06/hala-upzoning-neighborhood-groups-appeal-hearing-starts-monday/#comments Mon, 25 Jun 2018 03:55:21 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=920542 (WSB photo, November 2017)

Seven months after representatives from neighborhood groups around the city stood together at City Hall to announce they were appealing the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability upzoning, the hearing starts tomorrow.

Quick recap, if you’ve lost track: HALA MHA proposes upzoning the city’s urban villages – West Seattle has four (Admiral, West Seattle Junction, Morgan Junction, Westwood-Highland Park) – and commercial/multifamily property, while requiring developers to either provide a certain percentage of “affordable” housing in each project, or pay a fee into a fund that will pay for it elsewhere. The appeal contends that the FEIS does not adequately address potential impacts of MHA – for example, it argues that neighborhoods’ unique challenges are generally not dealt with in neighborhood-specific ways.

So far, three weeks are set aside on the city Hearing Examiner‘s calendar for the appeal – one this month, one in July, one in August – and there’s a possibility of a fourth. The City Council’s work on the bill to implement MHA has proceeded in parallel, meantime, with the last in-district hearing held almost three weeks ago here in West Seattle (WSB coverage here). The case file for the appeal hearing, meantime, has grown longer (see it here), and there have been some rulings on pre-hearing motions (summarized here [PDF]). Other changes since the appeal was announced include additional community groups joining the coalition – in West Seattle, the Alki Community Council and Fauntleroy Community Association have joined the appeal, whose original parties included the Morgan Community Association, West Seattle Junction Neighborhood Organization, and Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Coalition.

The witness lists are here (coalition) and here (city). First scheduled witness tomorrow in support of the appeal is Peter Steinbrueck, current Seattle Port Commissioner and former Seattle City Councilmember, who is expected to “testify about the inadequacy of the MHA EIS disclosure and analysis of alternatives and impacts relevant to land use impacts and relevant to the Urban Village Study” – referring to a study conducted by his consulting firm three years ago.” The coalition witness list adds that “He will also testify about the history of neighborhood planning and comprehensive planning to the extent that it is relevant to the MHA proposal and the inadequacy of the MHA EIS disclosure and analysis of land use impacts.”

In proceedings before the Hearing Examiner, the city basically gets the benefit of the doubt unless the challenger can prove otherwise. The examiner’s ruling – usually made a few weeks after proceedings end – is the city’s last say in a matter, so after that the next stop would be court.

Proceedings before the Hearing Examiner, by the way, are open to the public; the hearing room is something like a small courtroom, and it’s on the 40th floor of the Seattle Municipal Tower (700 5th Avenue) downtown.

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WHAT DO YOU THINK? Seattle Housing Authority survey seeking answers https://westseattleblog.com/2018/06/what-do-you-think-seattle-housing-authority-survey-seeking-answers/ Tue, 19 Jun 2018 22:51:20 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=920050 With a variety of Seattle Housing Authority properties in West Seattle, there’s certainly grounds for interest in how the SHA spends its money and time. It currently has a survey going, and whether or not you have a direct SHA connection such as tenancy, the SHA is interested in your answers. You can find it here.

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DEVELOPMENT: It’s all about the rowhouses – including a project inspired by tiny houses https://westseattleblog.com/2018/06/development-its-all-about-the-rowhouses-including-a-project-inspired-by-tiny-houses/ https://westseattleblog.com/2018/06/development-its-all-about-the-rowhouses-including-a-project-inspired-by-tiny-houses/#comments Thu, 14 Jun 2018 21:43:04 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=919543 Two rowhouse reports today:

PIGEON POINT PROJECT: The eight-unit rowhouse project on the former City Light substation site at 21st/Andover has taken shape in an eye-catching way. An inquiry into a neighbor’s question led us to look more closely at the project, and we found the site plan noting that each of the eight units would be 600 square feet – far smaller than the average for-sale project, so we sought further details from the designer, Cleave Architecture and Design, whose Justin Kliewer replied:

As you mention, they will be small units, but the slope of the site allows them to be spread over two floors and a mezzanine, each of which looks out over a maple grove and includes a small deck. The developer is planning to integrate some clever built-in storage ideas, spiral stairs, and other ways of making the small space livable. We approached the project with a similar mindset as a tiny house, and are excited to try out these smaller units as a way of providing a lower-cost home ownership option.

The project’s on-the-record address is 3855 21st SW [map]. County records show Greenstream Investments bought the 8,000-sf ex-substation site for $185,000 in October 2016; it was originally listed as seeking “a minimum bid of $400,000” until the broker selling it for the city changed that to a “major price reduction” a few months before the sale.

And from today’s Land Use Information Bulletin:

NORTH DELRIDGE ROWHOUSES: Today’s notice opens a comment period for a 9-unit rowhouse proposed to replace a 113-year-old house 4308 26th SW, in the rapidly redeveloping neighborhood north of the Delridge Community Center Park. 9 offstreet parking spaces are proposed. The notice (PDF) explains how to send a comment; the deadline is June 27th.

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AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGE: At West Seattle hearing, more than 50 people tell City Councilmembers what they think about HALA MHA upzoning https://westseattleblog.com/2018/06/happening-now-city-councilmembers-in-west-seattle-for-hearing-on-hala-upzoning/ https://westseattleblog.com/2018/06/happening-now-city-councilmembers-in-west-seattle-for-hearing-on-hala-upzoning/#comments Wed, 06 Jun 2018 01:03:57 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=918724 (WSB photos added post-hearing)

6:03 PM: The first big West Seattle meeting about HALA (Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda) MHA (Mandatory Housing Affordability) upzoning was December 2016, “open house” style, centered in a crowded Junction restaurant. Tonight, a year and a half later, as the proposal inches closer to a City Council vote, a public hearing is under way in the relatively cavernous Chief Sealth International High School auditorium. It’s starting with a short refresher on toplines for District 1 (also presented to councilmembers yesterday) – here’s the slide deck:

Tuesday slide deck by WestSeattleBlog on Scribd

We’ll be updating as this unfolds, and we’re recording video, as is Seattle Channel.

6:07 PM: Three councilmembers are here as the hearing begins – West Seattleites Lorena González (who has citywide Position 9) and Lisa Herbold (District 1 rep) and committee chair Rob Johnson. City staffer Sara Maxana is giving the presentation that will be followed by public comment. The slides she’s going through are the ones in the deck – if you haven’t checked yet to see what changes are proposed for your neighborhood, you can use this online map. Even if you have been keeping up with the proposal, you might consider reviewing the deck “At the end of the day, what this program is about is trying to get new income- and rent-restricted housing” for the city, Maxana wraps up.

(From left, Councilmembers Herbold, Mosqueda, González, Johnson, and Johnson staffer Spencer Williams)

6:15 PM: Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda is here now too. A group from the MLK County Labor Council is speaking first as the public hearing begins; Councilmember Johnson says about 40 people are signed up to speak. The labor group’s members say they are for the proposal because the area needs more affordable housing and their members can’t afford to live in the city. Next is Matt Hutchins, a West Seattleite who says he is “lucky” because he can live here, but he is worried about others who can’t. He’s also worried about whether he will be able to age in place, and whether his daughter will be able to live in the area where she is growing up. “Building more homes for people who need them is a fundamental societal necessity,” he says. “I want to keep West Seattle livable, affordable, vibrant, growing.”

Next, Delridge resident Kirsten Smith is first to speak for a group of architects who support MHA. Another member says they feel “more affordable housing” is needed. Yet another member says the city’s in a crisis and has only a “finite amount of land … we believe density is the answer and change needs to begin now.”

They’re followed by Laura Loe, who identifies herself as a “renter in the U District.” She reads a statement from someone else saying that there need to be apartments in 90 percent of the city.

The next man says that he agrees Seattle needs more affordable housing. He is concerned about parking availability in neighborhoods like Fauntleroy, where people park and catch Rapid Ride C Line. He would like to see more of an investment in infrastructure. He said increased density in Ballard has not resulted in more affordable housing. He gets the first major applause of the night and Councilmember Johnson tries to dissuade it – “if we get 30 seconds of applause after every speaker, we’ll be here all night.” Reply some in the audience, “That’s OK!”

He’s followed by a speaker who said that even “affordable” housing won’t be affordable for many. Next, a man who says he’s a 30-year resident and lives near Jefferson Square. “I don’t believe anyone here is against affordable housing – the concern here is responsible growth.” That draws more applause. “I am not against growth – I would like to see the council take their time,” he says, after a brief riff of complaining about traffic.

Next, Jill Fleming from Alki, who says she has lived in West Seattle most of her adult life. It’s a place where “you don’t have to own a McMansion” to have a view. She is supporting MHA because she thinks that means more will be able to afford to live here. She’s followed by an 11-year-old Junction resident who says there are no kids in the area and families need houses to live in. After her, Christy Tobin-Presser, who is involved with the Junction Neighborhood Organization’s appeal of HALA MHA’s EIS, says she’s concerned that the proposal would not add new residents but would replace those who live there. She tells the council they have a responsibility to those who live here as well as those who want to.

After her, a man who voices concern about displacement of people in current affordable units. He’s worried that building out the affordable units promised by HALA MHA will take too long. He’s followed by a woman who recalls the “crazy meeting” in December 2016 that we mentioned above. “For people who are making the decision … think of how you would feel if you were vilified (as) a NIMBY …I don’t like the way this is coming in and sweeping as if some people count and others don’t.”

Former Junction Neighborhood Organization leader René Commons is at the microphone next, holding a green I LIVE in West Seattle sign that we’ve seen around the auditorium.

Commons says one concern is that none of the affordable housing is guaranteed to come to West Seattle – developers can just pay the fee and have it built elsewhere.’ She’s followed by Carl Guess, from JuNO’s Land Use Committee, who also voices concern about affordable housing not being built here. “I’m for affordable housing – just not this implementation.” He also cites numbers about tree canopy and green space loss. “MHA’s current price for livability is simply too high.” He gets raucous cheers.

Patience from Seattle For Everyone speaks next. She says she works in the city, hopes to live in it, but has limited options, so more housing is needed.

6:48 PM: After a PA system interruption – the Sealth sports banquet is wrapping up and PTSA meeting about to start – a man starts talking about the Fauntleroy 9250 45th SW contract rezone proposal, and is told not to, because it’s a quasi-judicial matter (contract rezone). He changes his comments to more general ones saying he worries about a domino effect of increased height there. Then, Marianne McCord is next, mentioning what was briefly discussed at yesterday’s Council meeting – she’s from South Delridge, much of which is contained in the Urban Village called Westwood-Highland Park. It needs parks and thoughtful transit. “If you don’t know we exist, we do!” she concludes, and a group in the audience cheers.

Kevin Freitas is next. Density is great but it needs to bring diversity and services, he says – groceries, health care, parks.”We need to be much tougher with developers.” He says there are better ways to increase density. “Why do we need to build more” when existing buildings could be subsidized? he asked. He’s followed by Tamsen Spengler, co-chair of the Southwest District Council, speaking as a longtime Morgan Junction resident, and she is concerned about displacement, especially among seniors. She also points out that the city should “take another look at the neighborhood plans.” Next, West Seattleite Scott says he supports affordable housing “if it’s done correctly.” He mentions a neighborhood on 44th SW where one side of the street is urban village and the other is not, so rezoning that one side will disrupt the neighborhood feel. One $650,000 house will be replaced by three $800,000 townhouses, he fears.

Paul Cesmat, a 60-year West Seattle resident and builder, says it’s not right that Admiral has required parking while other areas do not. Next speaker says he is a West Seattle resident, an MHA supporter and works on historic preservation. He says the city needs more housing of every kind and “radical land-use reform.” While MHA isn’t perfect, it’s promise. Following him is Jeanine, saying she is a union member and she “disagrees with my union sisters and brothers” and opposes MHA. She says the city infrastructure is woefully deficient and needs help. Same for services staffing -“Good luck if you need a paramedic because the average response time is 5 minutes,” police need more officers, and more. Catch up with growth that’s happened already rather than adding more.

Next speaker, a 20-plus-year West Seattle Junction resident says she understands the need for affordable and more-dense housing but “HALA is flawed …I would like the city to consider some alternative plans.” She also suggests shuttles to The Junction so fewer people will feel the need to drive there. She also wants the city to consider the future light-rail line. “I hope you will listen to us because no one is more vested in livability than the residents who live here.”

She’s followed by Amanda Sawyer, current JuNO director, who says that the HALA proposal suggests only 9 affordable units will be built in The Junction in the next 20 years. “I think we should be asking more of developers.” Then, Sara, “a renter and a huge supporter of MHA. … I wish we had implemented it sooner so the growth we’ve already seen would include more affordable units.”

Lisa, who started her speech at yesterday’s City Council meeting, now continues it. She is concerned about displacement too. She’s followed by Kris Ilgenfritz of Fauntleroy, who says she hasn’t felt that the council is listening, and hopes they realize community members want to bring affordable housing to their communities – “housing that people can live in.” She adds, “Work with us in our community to keep it what it’s been.”

Fay, who says she’s a mom of a 1-year-old, notes that she is concerned about “or” – as in, build affordable housing on site OR pay a fee. She sees developers building unaffordable housing and “we’ll have to go.” Big applause.

Shawn Terjeson of West Seattle says HALA is “one-size-fits-all implementation” that “doesn’t do it for me …you’re asking us to give up a lot …” He says, “Seattle is an extremely profitable city to build in … if you guys were swinging really hard for impact fees, I would feel that you had our backs, that you were working for us. … this bill looks more like it was written for developers than for residents. … We had public meetings and you sent consultants out …. And Mr. Johnson, I would suggest that you never ever compare a Seattleite to a Trump supporter again.” Biggest cheers of the night, so far.

7:18 PM: A Seattle Housing Authority rep is next, speaking for MHA. She talks about their huge waitlist and how “stable affordable housing” changes lives. She’s followed by another MHA supporter who says she’s with Bellwether Housing and that MHA is one more tool in the toolkit for solving the housing problems. “MHA can be part of the package that” helps them build housing.

Native West Seattleite Jesse says he’s an MHA supporter and is one of the few of his peers who is still able to live here. He says his parents’ home has appreciated “obscene(ly),” from $150,000 when they bought it, to a value of $700,000 now, and more needs to be done to “accommodate more people in the city.” He gets big applause.

Cindi Barker, who was in the original HALA group, says this has gone past what the original idea. The original “1 extra floor across the whole city,” and “put that affordable housing in that building, permit,” has changed dramatically, she said. There are so many loopholes that the program “just won’t work.” She says, ‘Density can be done right, but not this way. ….To transform the whole city in one fell swoop …” She also said the city has already surpassed the goals that were set when this was first discussed in 2015.

Joseph now says the “destitution and desperation” on Seattle’s streets is the result of “housing scarcity.” He says he owns a house now in the Roxhill area but used to rent, and knows the fear of getting a rent increase notice.

Glen from Green Lake says he agrees with those who are concerned that if developers don’t have to build affordable housing on site, they’ll build elsewhere. He also says that single-family zoning has its origins in redlining. “I’m not saying that everyone who supports single-family zoning is racist, but (that) zoning is.” He doesn’t want the council to allow “wealthy white neighborhoods” to maintain that zoning. “Please go forward with MHA …it’s not perfect …but it’s what we need right now.”

Angela from Futurewise reads a statement from “my homeless neighbor, A. Alvarado.” She wonders why we are not “setting our neighbors up for success? I would like changes to allow our lower-income neighbors to stay …so everyone in Seattle has access to an affordable home.”

Kitty says she is a West Seattleite who supports more affordable housing and also supports the appeal of the MHA Environmental Impact Statement (she’s the first to mention it). “I’d like to see the council take time to (figure out how to) maintain the livability of West Seattle and other communities.” She also supports impact fees, open space and tree protections, more-stringent Design Review and development standards.

Becky, a Morgan Junction resident and Bellwether Housing employee, says she supports MHA and that the housing crisis requires “urgent action.” She says thousands of new homes are waiting to be brought online.

Gail, a 30-year West Seattle resident and “single black female who bought my house in West Seattle 15 years ago” says she does not support MHA but does support affordable housing. She says the Middle East, for example, has built affordable housing where there is “room for affordable housing.”

Brian says single-family houses are the “bedrock of our society and they should be preserved …This is really about keeping the bubble going.”

Next, a West Seattleite who says she supports affordable housing but “not in a way that destroys neighborhoods, which this certainly will.” Then, Chuck Burkhalter, Luna Park-area resident. He foresees MHA bringing “more high-priced housing into the area” and is also concerned about infrastructure, packed buses, unofficial park-and-rides. He mentioned the neighborhood planning of the ’90s. Jennifer Scarlett follows; she is a South Park resident who describes herself as a low-income resident. She says that she’s been homeless and fears displacement, as parcels near her already have been redeveloped into townhouses that cost twice as much as her house.

Philippa Nye says “People are basically upset about growth …HALA MHA didn’t create growth, it’s a response to growth. Growth and change is happening. My neighborhood is becoming whiter… it’s not like we’re protecting our neighborhoods now … they’re becoming less and less diverse.” Regarding concerns that affordable housing won’t happen in West Seattle, she notes that she used to work for DNDA and “nonprofits are really creative” in finding ways to make it happen.

7:49 PM: Danielle says she is a 10-year West Seattle resident who bought a house a few years ago in the Roxhill area, and notes that the homelessness crisis is a housing crisis, and “we must build affordable housing” to fight it. “I want our neighborhood to be welcoming to all.” She supports MHA and hopes the fees will be invested in the neighborhoods most at risk of displacement.

Duncan Sharp is concerned about Fauntleroy upzoning and says he’s glad the Fauntleroy Community Association has been keeping residents informed because the city has not. He is concerned about traffic too, especially related to the ferry terminal.

Next man, an architect, says the MHA program is “unacceptable … it looks like it’s politically driven, not family-driven.” He too is a Fauntleroy resident and worried about traffic.

Oly Wise, a lifelong West Seattleite who is looking to redevelop a family-owned site (as we’ve reported) on Alki, said they were trying to make it affordable but the Alki overlay requires 1 1/2 parking spaces per unit.

Margaret Morales and her family then step to the microphone and say they support MHA and they don’t think it goes far enough.

Next speaker says he owns land and says the council is ignoring the comp plan. He also is concerned about the packed buses, packed bridge, overloaded infrastructure, overcrowded schools, and the lack of a hospital, yet the council is trying to increase density, “change the entire character of The Junction.”

Bob Huppe, Lincoln Park area resident, asked councilmembers to “take a deep breath and really (consider) what’s going on in West Seattle, it’s way different than it used to be.” He welcomes more diversity but doesn’t think this is the path to it – apartments are not being built big enough for families. “I want kids in West Seattle, in all the neighborhoods of West Seattle … let’s be sure we have apartments are big enough and affordable.” He also wants to see more traffic and enough parking.

8:02 PM: Still a few more people to speak. Earl Lee of Westwood is speaking now. He says he has little faith in city promises because his block has been affected by bus traffic that’s led to shaking and there’s no resolution.

Yen is next. She supports MHA. But she wants to be sure the affordable housing fees are high enough, and that they ‘come back to the neighborhood.’

The next man says he’s been working on redevelopment plans for property he owns and that developers so far are just looking at the fees as a bit of an inconvenience. Two houses on the site of one would be built “each to sell for more than the one I’m living in right now.’ So he thinks “a lot of” displacement will result, along with “more expensive housing” in “one of the last places people can afford to move in.”

Bruce speaks next, identifying himself as a Block Watch captain for 20 years. “The two strongest forces in nature are change and resistance to change .. you all push through this every day .. I’m definitely against MHA, I know we need MHA … I came to Seattle with no money, I saved my pennies living in a horrible apartment …” He also urged a conversation “around infrastructure,” including buses. He said he feels the councilmembers sometimes are “passing around a crack pipe.”

Johnson was about to wrap the public hearing when Michael Oxman jumped up and voiced concern about MHA displacing trees, “not just people.” He described the council as being the people at the end of a Monopoly game who have most of the pieces and most of the money.

And that wrapped the hearing. When the council convenes as the MHA committee again next month, “we’ll talk about what we heard,” said Johnson, and at 8:13, that was it. We’re off to upload the video and add photos.

9:22 PM: The video will take a while. A few other notes: We counted about 150 people there at the peak; about 50 had signed up to speak, our photographer was told when he arrived around midway through. We did our best to include at least a one-line excerpt from each and every one above, but please note that our as-it-happened notes are not complete transcripts.

WHAT’S NEXT: Here’s the council’s calendar for meeting as the HALA committee – each meeting does have a public-comment period. When will they vote? Hard to say – one big remaining question mark is the appeal filed by a citywide coalition of neighborhood groups (which tabled in the foyer outside the auditorium) – the next pre-hearing meeting is set for next Monday, and the hearing is scheduled to start two weeks later.

WEDNESDAY MORNING NOTE, 7:34 AM: Thanks to the person who e-mailed us to ask why comments are closed. It’s been a long time since this happened, but on occasion, story shells with too many updates do that – and so far we aren’t able to fix. We will open a separate story when we post the video from last night’s meeting (dealing with a separate glitch so it isn’t ready quite yet) so if there’s anything you want to say, the commenting function should work on THAT story.

9:06 AM: We’ve published that report here.

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VIDEO: West Seattle/South Park HALA upzoning recap today, before public hearing Tuesday https://westseattleblog.com/2018/06/video-west-seattle-south-park-hala-upzoning-recap-today-before-public-hearing-tomorrow/ https://westseattleblog.com/2018/06/video-west-seattle-south-park-hala-upzoning-recap-today-before-public-hearing-tomorrow/#comments Mon, 04 Jun 2018 20:59:56 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=918613

That’s the Seattle Channel video of this morning’s City Council meeting recapping the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) toplines for District 1 – West Seattle and South Park – before tomorrow’s public hearing. No new info, but if you’ve lost track of where the plan stands, it might be a helpful refresher. Here’s the slide deck they used; here’s the online map that you can use to look up how your neighborhood might change under the proposal.

Basically, the plan would upzone all commercial/multifamily property in the city – and other types, within urban-village boundaries, while also expanding some of those boundaries – while requiring developers to either include a certain percentage of “affordable housing” or pay the city a fee in lieu of that. No date is set for the council’s vote on the plan yet, and the citywide appeal of the Environmental Impact Statement remains scheduled for hearings later this month. Tuesday night’s public hearing in West Seattle is at 6 pm (speaker signups start at 5:30) in the Chief Sealth International High School auditorium, 2600 SW Thistle, as previewed here last night.

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HALA upzoning, tunnel tolls, Avalon changes – all at once https://westseattleblog.com/2018/06/hala-upzoning-tunnel-tolls-avalon-changes-all-at-once/ https://westseattleblog.com/2018/06/hala-upzoning-tunnel-tolls-avalon-changes-all-at-once/#comments Mon, 04 Jun 2018 04:39:12 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=918577 We’ve told you about all three of these already – but since they’re happening pretty much simultaneously this Tuesday night (June 5), consider this a sort of two-night warning:

Tuesday slide deck by WestSeattleBlog on Scribd

HALA UPZONING, DISTRICT 1 PUBLIC HEARING: The Mandatory Housing Affordability proposal to upzone all commercial/multifamily-zoned property in the city, as well as parcels in “urban villages” (some of which would expand their boundaries) is moving toward a City Council vote later this year. The process includes public hearings outside City Hall, and Tuesday night is the one for District 1 (West Seattle/South Park), scheduled for 6 pm at Chief Sealth International High School (2600 SW Thistle). If you’ve got something to say about the upzoning proposal – for, against, or otherwise – this is the time and place to say it. You can get caught up in advance tomorrow (Monday) when the council, meeting as the Select Committee pondering the upzoning plan, discusses the District 1 proposal at 10:30 am at City Hall (live on Seattle Channel, of course). But for the public hearing, show up at the CSIHS Auditorium on Tuesday – here’s the agenda; the slide deck is above.

HIGHWAY 99 TUNNEL TOLLS, WEST SEATTLE PUBLIC HEARING: The last big decision before the Alaskan Way Viaduct makes way for the Highway 99 tunnel is: How much will the tolls be? The Washington State Transportation Commission gets to make the decision, but would first like to hear what you think. We previewed the proposed options when the West Seattle public hearing was announced. This too is Tuesday night, 5:30-6:30 pm informational “open house”; 6:30-8 pm, meeting for your feedback. It’s at High Point Community Center (6920 34th SW).

SW AVALON WAY RECHANNELIZATION/REPAVING: Two weeks ago, we brought you first word of the updated plan for rechannelizing and repaving SW Avalon Way – and a few blocks of 35th SW and SW Alaska just to the south – next year.

As with the early version of the plan a year earlier, it still takes away some parking on SW Avalon, and Luna Park businesses are girding for a fight. Whatever you think of the newest plan, Tuesday night is also when SDOT is coming to West Seattle to take comments and answer questions about it, 5:30-7:30 pm at the American Legion Post 160 hall (3618 SW Alaska).

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WEST SEATTLE REAL ESTATE: First homes at WestBridge almost ready https://westseattleblog.com/2018/05/west-seattle-real-estate-first-homes-at-westbridge-almost-ready/ https://westseattleblog.com/2018/05/west-seattle-real-estate-first-homes-at-westbridge-almost-ready/#comments Tue, 29 May 2018 23:00:07 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=918051 (WSB photos)

If you’ve noticed the STS Construction Services (WSB sponsor) banner on the slope as you head westbound toward the west end of the West Seattle Bridge, that marks the site where the first of 14 new homes at WestBridge are about to go on sale.

We visited recently for a closer look. The houses are clustered but sizable – each with at least 4 bedrooms and 3.5 baths (you can see the floor plans here).

Other features include custom fireplace surrounds with gas fireplaces:

Big view decks:

And spacious kitchens:

The listing prices start in the low $1 million. The development’s official website has more info and photos at WestBridgeSeattle.com.

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VIDEO: With light rail on the way to West Seattle, it’s time to talk about affordable, transit-oriented development near stations https://westseattleblog.com/2018/05/video-with-light-rail-on-the-way-to-west-seattle-its-time-to-talk-about-affordable-transit-oriented-development-near-stations/ https://westseattleblog.com/2018/05/video-with-light-rail-on-the-way-to-west-seattle-its-time-to-talk-about-affordable-transit-oriented-development-near-stations/#comments Thu, 17 May 2018 18:32:10 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=916900 (WSB photo)

Though the locations for West Seattle’s light-rail stations are nowhere near finalized yet, it’s not too soon to start talking about how transit-oriented development (TOD) can ensure there’s affordable housing near them. That was the point of a panel discussion last night, presented by Welcoming West Seattle, whose Matt Hutchins – a local architect and community advocate – was co-moderator. We recorded the entire hour-long discussion on video:

Panelists included two City Councilmembers, District 1’s Lisa Herbold and citywide Position 8’s Teresa Mosqueda (who chairs the council committee that handles housing-related matters), as well as Sound Transit‘s Edward Butterfield, Mercy Housing‘s Bill Rumpf, and Schemata Workgroup architect Marijana Cvenček, with co-moderator Bryce Yadon of Futurewise.

If you’re interested in and/or curious about the topic, you’ll want to watch the whole hour – but we do have some toplines from the event, held at Southwest Youth and Family Services in North Delridge as part of Affordable Housing Week – after the jump:

Questions for the panel were gathered ahead of time via online solicitation, so it wasn’t an audience-open-microphone event, and covered issues and projects outside WS as well as specific to this area.

Butterfield took the first one, regarding transit agencies’ involvement in affordable housing. He explains that ST is “really connected to development in general” and says transit agencies nationwide are. They work in financing and “reducing development costs for these projects.”

Herbold picks up on affordable housing – saying it’s important that housing around stations isn’t only available to the well-off. “One of our larger planning goals is for everybody to live close to where they work … or reduce the costs associated with transportation.” She also is interested in “community preferences,” so that developers can “prioritize residents that would otherwise be displaced.”

Mercy’s Rumpf says they’re working on a Roosevelt light-rail-related project. “We see the win-win … because our residents are heavy users of the transit system.” They try to focus on family-size units, while the “building boom” has been largely studios and one bedrooms. At their Othello project, 40 percent of the people they hired were from nearby, he says.

Mosqueda says affordable housing is a “democratic equalizer.” So “as we create transit hubs we have to realize that” it drives up land costs.

Schemata’s Cvenček says it’s a “more holistic approach” if agencies help address the problem.

ST recently approved an update to its transit-oriented-development policy, Yadon notes. So a question: How is affordable housing ensured and how can people advocate for more of it? Butterfield says, they think about it, talk to the community, when things get going. “When we have some established goals,” they launch their process, including seeing what the developers are proposing. And how do they figure out the discount? The new ST policy starts with a financial assessment of the project. The board determines the amount of the discount. “It’s not a giveaway … we want to tie it to how much benefit is the community getting.” As for advocacy, “really get involved” in the three extensions they’re planning now (including West Seattle/Ballard).

Herbold added that the city’s role includes ensuring that these projects happen. “In some cases, TOD might be a for-profit developer working with a nonprofit; in some cases, it’s just a nonprofit. … The city works hard to make sure these funds are spent” to accomplish goals. She says it’s also important to think about what they need to be planning – even at the early stage at which West Seattle is currently, for example.

Sloan Dawson from ST, sitting in the audience, was also asked to answer. “Property acquisition is going to be a real cost pressure for us” here, he acknowledged, so they will look to partner with public agencies. They will be looking at urban design concepts and configurations for possible station locations, he added.

Herbold asked how much room they’ll need for staging. Dawson said it depends.

Next question: How is Seattle planning for/with small businesses regarding potential displacement near stations? That led Hutchins to point out that a station will be near the site where the event was happening, low density now. How can the city help? Herbold was asked.

Herbold said it would be important to have spaces to which small businesses could return. She in turn asked Butterfield “what kind of community mitigation is part of ST3?”

ST works to keep access open to businesses during construction, he replied.

“Ultimately community advocacy plays the biggest role,” Cvenček said. She talked about a project elsewhere in the region that among other things “will hold a permanent location for (a) Farmers’ Market.”

Mosqueda said the HALA report mentioned lower density in communities facing displacement, and that, she thought, was a mistake. HALA/MHA would replace displaced units, and then some. There would be new places to fill, if there were higher, bigger buildings.

Rumpf talked about Roosevelt neighborhoods taking a year and a half to work through objections.

What are the challenges of financing affordable homes? was the next question. Rumpf said it’s important not to have too much retail activity – “everybody wants a great pedestrian experience but that doesn’t mean four blocks of coffee shops.” Maybe that means residential stoops. Cvenček said that design simplicity is important too. She also said the permitting process in the city remains “cumbersome.” Mosqueda wondered about the problem posed by not enough workers available for all the construction that is in the pipeline – she asked for two ideas on streamlining the permitting process.

“The city is doing its best,” Cvenček allowed. Some suggestions ensued. Rumpf observed that uncertainty is tough. The councilmembers agreed that ensuring all the departments had the same priorities for expediting affordable housing.

Would you support altering zoning of large parcels so more housing could be built? was another question. Hutchins suggested the West Seattle Golf Course might be one example.

Herbold said citizens are very protective of their parkland, and that’s why an initiative passed long ago, saying that if park property was used for some other purpose, an equal amount had to be procured elsewhere. The Parks Department is re-evaluating golf-course use in general, she noted.

Mosqueda suggested that it’s more of a citywide zoning issue – perhaps people should look at maps from the ’30s and see what they showed. She talked about her century-old 8-unit building on Queen Anne as an example of something that couldn’t be built in her neighborhood now but was obviously considered a positive thing back when it was constructed.

In closing, Herbold said West Seattleites should “keep these ideas in your head as we move forward on Sound Transit 3.” Butterfield: “Get involved … we want to hear from you and be sure we’re working with communities and projects to implement successful projects.” Cvenček: “I’m hoping to see more bigger-picture thnking … thknking beyond property lines.” Mosqueda said it’s “significant that on Affordable Housing Week we have just passed a down payment” on fighting homelessness (just as the event began, the mayor sent word she had signed the “head tax” bill). Rumpf: “We have a new building we’re proud of on a ST site in Othello” and offered tours. Hutchins reminded everyone that the District 1 MHA public hearing is coming up June 5th.

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YOU’RE INVITED: Discussion next week about Transit-Oriented Development in West Seattle https://westseattleblog.com/2018/05/youre-invited-discussion-next-week-about-transit-oriented-development-in-west-seattle/ Wed, 09 May 2018 21:20:26 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=916171

With light rail on the way to West Seattle … one local group says it’s time to talk about Transit-Oriented Development (TOD). Welcoming West Seattle has just announced “a lively discussion” about TOD and affordable housing, one week from tonight:

Southwest Youth and Family Services, 4555 Delridge Way SW


Councilmember Lisa Herbold
Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda
Bill Rumpf, Mercy Housing
Marijana Cvencek, Schemata Workgroup
Edward Butterfield, Sound Transit


Bryce Yadon, Futurewise
Matt Hutchins, Welcoming West Seattle

The event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be provided. Doors 5:30 pm, discussion 6:00 pm. Panelists will have a robust conversation on the ins and outs of implementing TOD, and what it will mean for further development and housing affordability; diving into the advocacy action necessary to capitalize on TOD, and how neighbors can start efforts now to be well positioned as new stations open over the next two decades. Our moderators will be asking a set of questions collected from community members and coalition partners. Please RSVP and submit any Transit Oriented Development and Affordable Housing Questions, here!

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DEVELOPMENT: New parking pushback in Morgan Junction https://westseattleblog.com/2018/05/development-new-parking-pushback-in-morgan-junction/ https://westseattleblog.com/2018/05/development-new-parking-pushback-in-morgan-junction/#comments Tue, 08 May 2018 04:55:03 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=915981

We’ve reported before on the plan to replace that old house at California/Willow with a seven-unit rowhouse building, most recently when it was approved last month. We noted then that since we first wrote about the plan last year, the plan had changed to include one offstreet-parking space instead of the original five. The notice says it’s expected to generate demand for seven to 14 spaces, but since what the city considers “frequent transit” is within 1,320 feet, it doesn’t have to include any parking. Neighbors have filed an appeal and have a pre-hearing conference with the city Hearing Examiner tomorrow. It’s not just the downsizing of the parking plan, they say in their appeal, but also they say the change wasn’t communicated. This is a block and a half north of a redevelopment plan that caused a hubbub over lack of offstreet parking four and a half years ago; that appeal was eventually settled and the 30-unit building went up.

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City Councilmember Lisa Herbold asks for investigation into whether landlord ‘loophole’ all but emptied a Highland Park building https://westseattleblog.com/2018/05/city-councilmember-lisa-herbold-asks-for-investigation-into-whether-landlord-loophole-all-but-emptied-a-highland-park-building/ https://westseattleblog.com/2018/05/city-councilmember-lisa-herbold-asks-for-investigation-into-whether-landlord-loophole-all-but-emptied-a-highland-park-building/#comments Sat, 05 May 2018 03:30:54 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=915709 (WSB photos)

When older apartment buildings are put up for sale, the accompanying listing often assures prospective buyers that a little work can bring the rents up to market level. That might be good news for the buyers, but not necessarily for the renters. West Seattle/South Park City Councilmember Lisa Herbold says the city is investigating what happened after a building in her neighborhood, 900 SW Holden in Highland Park, changed hands. This is republished from her weekly newsletter, published on the city website today:

Last Wednesday, while I was walking from my house to the Highland Park Action Council (HPAC) meeting I noticed one of the large apartment buildings in my neighborhood was boarded up. I didn’t know why that had happened, and because I work hard to keep up on what is going on in my District, and especially my neighborhood, I was feeling disappointed in myself for not being aware that a new major development was apparently occurring just two blocks away from my home. But then, during the meeting with HPAC, one of the attendees mentioned that the very building I had noticed on my walk to the meeting had been recently cleared by the landlord of all its tenants and some of them had become homeless as a result.

This immediately alarmed me because the City of Seattle has, since the 1980s, had a Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance (TRAO) that gives renters at least 90 days’ notice and financial moving assistance whenever a building is going to be renovated, demolished, or if there’s a change of use. It was immediately apparent to me that there was no way that the legal process for the Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance could have occurred so quickly and I became worried that people had been improperly displaced. On my way home that evening, I walked around the perimeter of the building and indeed, it was apparent that all but a couple of the units were vacant.

When I got home that evening, I looked up the address on the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) website to see what development activity was planned at the site. But there were no planned development activities associated with TRAO or a demolition, renovation, or change of use associated with the address. This further confirmed my suspicion that renters in the building had been improperly forced to move. The next morning, I contacted SDCI and asked them to send an inspector out to the property.

I am saddened to report that I learned yesterday that SDCI has found that the tenants in the building recently had received a 100% rent increase and that this increase led to 20 of the 23 households being displaced from the building. Again, I’ve been told by my neighbors that several of these households are now homeless. This is, I believe, a shameful result and an abuse of a landlord’s right to increase rent free from any regulation.

The TRAO says that it is unlawful for landlords to use excessive rent increases to circumvent the requirements for 90 days’ notice and access to moving expenses assistance. But, there is no limit to how much a landlord can raise the rent. You see, the TRAO entitles low income renters who must move because of renovations to money to help them pay their moving costs ($3188). But if a tenant moves because of a big rent increase, they won’t get the assistance.

Not only do rent increases in Seattle lead the nation, but some rent increases are actually used to circumvent other tenant protections such as the TRAO. In 2014, Councilmember Nick Licata brought attention to the fact that “each year more and more tenants find out they were deprived of critical relocation assistance following a massive rent hike due to loop holes created by state law” and that some property owners do this as a regular business practice. You may remember the story of the Lockhaven Apartments and the Prince of Wales. In 2014 and again in 2015, State Senators David Frockt (46th District) and then State Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles (36th District) introduced legislation to disincentive for the practice of using rent increases to circumvent TRAO.

A number of landlords and their lobbyist testified against the bill, and it did not pass the State Legislature, so in response, Councilmember Licata worked to amend Seattle’s Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance (TRAO) to help tenants deprived of relocation assistance and 90 days’ notice to move that they would have otherwise received if their landlord followed TRAO instead of displacing them with a large rent increase. Specifically, the law prohibited rent increases for the purpose of avoiding the required Tenant Relocation Assistance process. If a landlord increases rent by 20 percent or more, which results in a tenant vacating a unit within 90 days, then applies for a permit to substantially rehabilitate the unit within 6 months, the owner can have their building permit denied until the owner pays the penalties. Penalties are $1,000 per day for each day from the date the violation began. The change Councilmember Licata made to the law has helped a lot of people, see this article from March, where under the new TRAO law, SDCI was able to require a landlord to pay $168,268 in relocation payments to 46 households that were living at 104 Pine St.

But somehow, and sadly, people who want to avoid their obligations seem to manage to find new loopholes as soon as you close one set of loopholes. The owner of this property that has displaced 20 Highland Park household with a 100% rent increase found yet another loophole in TRAO. From SDCI’s investigation we have learned that the property was purchased in January 2018 and the new owners, after the rent increase of nearly 100%, and after 20 tenant households vacated as a result of the rent increases, is now doing a rehabilitation that includes painting the exterior, painting interior units, tearing out carpeting and replacing some appliances. None of this work requires that the owner obtain a permit and it does not meet the definition of substantial rehabilitation (which requires work of $6000 or more per unit).

I am thankful that SDCI is continuing to investigate and will be requesting the owner sign a certification that the rent increase was not for the purpose of avoiding application of TRAO. If people are in touch with the displaced renters, please encourage them to contact me so that I can put them in touch with SDCI for purposes of this ongoing investigation.

lisa.herbold@seattle.gov is her e-mail address. Records show the 51-year-old complex was sold for $4.2 million in January to a Renton-based LLC led by a real-estate investor who also leads the corporation that holds an Everett building that the Daily Herald reported was the subject of discrimination accusations in 2015. The listing flyer for 900 SW Holden, meantime, noted that its rents were 30 to 40 percent below market level, and that more than 80 percent of its tenants were month-to-month.

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‘Mandatory Housing Affordability upzones are coming soon!’ and other HALA status updates https://westseattleblog.com/2018/05/mandatory-housing-affordability-upzones-are-coming-soon-and-other-hala-status-updates/ https://westseattleblog.com/2018/05/mandatory-housing-affordability-upzones-are-coming-soon-and-other-hala-status-updates/#comments Tue, 01 May 2018 21:13:23 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=915426 No “proposed,” no “expected,” just a flat-out statement that HALA upzoning is on the way – that’s how the city Department of Construction and Inspections starts the newest post on its blog-format Building Connections website. The gist of the post is to tell developers that they can start including plan alternatives that include what would be allowed under the upzones. (To summarize quickly – the upzones, as explained here, are meant to be a tradeoff in exchange for requiring developers to include a certain percentage of “affordable” units, or to pay a fee to help fund some being built somewhere else.)

Meantime, the citywide community groups’ appeal continues making its way through the system; the document file gets ever bigger, with the newest document filed just today, a response to a city move for “partial dismissal.” The pre-hearing conference for the appeal of the Mandatory Housing Affordability Environmental Impact Statement is now set for June 11th; the hearing itself is on the schedule as starting two weeks later, on June 25th, with that entire week set aside, plus another week in late July. Then there’s also the prospect of mediation, as noted by City Councilmember Lisa Herbold when she spoke to the Morgan Community Association last month.

As also mentioned by MoCA – which is among the groups that are party to the appeal – the district-by-district open houses/public hearings have almost made their way to District 1, end of the line. The open house for one last look at the West Seattle/South Park upzone maps is one week from tomorrow, Wednesday, May 9th, 6-8 pm at Louisa Boren STEM K-8 (5950 Delridge), and the official City Council public hearing for the proposed District 1 changes is at 6 pm Tuesday, June 5th, in the auditorium at Chief Sealth International High School (2600 SW Thistle). The council’s last scheduled HALA meeting is August 6th.

P.S. If you’re still not caught up on what changes could happen in your neighborhood, the maps and other background are here.

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