West Seattle, Washington
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.
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:
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).
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.
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:
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:
WEDNESDAY MAY 16 | 5:30 PM
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!
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.
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.
firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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.
Three development notes as the week gets going:
SEE THE PACKETS FOR 2-PROJECT DESIGN REVIEW MEETING: This Thursday at 6:30 pm, the 2-building project at 4722 Fauntleroy Way SW/4721 38th SW takes up the entirety of the Southwest Design Review Board’s meeting. Above is the packet for the 7-story building (retail plus 231 apartments, 25 small efficiency dwelling units, 16 live-work units, 241 offstreet parking spaces); below, the one for the 4-story building (51 apartments, 1 live-work, 23 offstreet parking spaces) on 38th.
Both are by Encore Architects for developer Legacy Partners. The Thursday meeting at the Senior Center/Sisson Building (4217 SW Oregon) will be the second and potentially final review for the project (here’s our coverage of the first one back in July 2017).
CALIFORNIA/WILLOW ROWHOUSE APPROVAL: From today’s Land Use Information Bulletin, the decision approving a seven-rowhouse project at the site of this century-old house in south Morgan Junction, at 4300 SW Willow.
COMMENT PERIOD FOR 48TH SW ROWHOUSES: Also in today’s LUIB, the official two-week comment period has opened for the two-building Admiral rowhouse project that we reported on last week, thanks to a tip and photo from Graham.
Two more development notes:
13 HOUSES IN DELRIDGE, AND A RESIDENT’S REQUEST: Today’s Land Use Information Bulletin includes two notices that launch comment periods for adjacent undeveloped sites where 13 new “clustered” single-family houses are proposed. Eight of them would be at 5244 23rd SW (here’s that notice); five would be at 5232 23rd SW (here’s that notice). Each would be three stories, with parking for one vehicle. Comments are being sought on environmental impacts as well as on “allow(ing) a cluster housing development in a steep slope.” The deadline is April 25th, and you can follow the link to each notice to see how to comment.
One comment already in – and CC’d to us when sent pre-notice – is from area resident Douglas Ollerenshaw, who wrote to the city:
… I am requesting that the project include a publicly accessible stairway on the currently inaccessible Brandon St right of way on the south edge of this parcel.
A public stairway at this site would serve as a critical connection for residents of Puget Ridge to access the RapidRide H bus line that is currently being planned. It would also provide residents with access to the Delridge Library, nearby parks, and local businesses. There is currently an approximately 1 mile gap separating the closest pedestrian connections between Delridge and 23rd (at Oregon and Juneau Streets). This section of Brandon St. appears on the Feet First Trails of West Seattle map as a ‘future trail’. It is currently covered in deep shrubbery and inaccessible. …
The development site is just south of the address pinned on this map.
TEARDOWN-TO-TOWNHOUSES AT 4518 41ST SW: Three months ago, we reported on a plan to tear down a house at 4518 40th SW and replace it with five townhouses. City files now show an almost-identical plan for an almost-identical address one block west – 4518 41st SW, where this 108-year-old house will be demolished:
This five-townhouse project will go through Streamlined Design Review (public comment but no meeting), according to the city website.
Back on Monday, we reported first word of the Southwest Design Review Board meeting next month for the building planned to replace the fire-destroyed south building at Lam Bow Apartments in Delridge. Formal notice of that was published by the city today. But neighbors and others with questions can get a preview of the project sooner, when Seattle Housing Authority representatives talk about it at next Wednesday’s Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting (7 pm April 18th, Highland Park Improvement Club). Ryan Moore from SHA sent the “current concept” shown above, and these toplines:
Since the fire and subsequent demolition of one of the two buildings that comprised the Lam Bow Apartments (6935 Delridge Way SW) the Seattle Housing Authority has been working on replacement of the lost units and exploring options for redeveloping the site under the existing zoning. Our plan is to rehabilitate the existing building and rebuild on the portion we demolished. An Early Design Guidance meeting has been scheduled with the SW Design Review Board for May 3.
· Rehab of existing (north) building: 30 units (mix of 1, 2 & 3 bedroom) & 30 parking spaces
· Replace units lost on South site:
– 50 units (roughly), mix of 1,2, & 3 bedroom
– 50 spaces in underground garage
· Units in both will be affordable (income-restricted) up to 60% of area median income ($57,000/year for a family of 4)
· Central courtyard space for residents
· Preservation of existing Exceptional tree
· Height limited to 3 stories under existing LR3 zoning, not MHA upzone
· 1 parking space per unit
· Street improvements (sidewalks, curbs, and gutters) on 23rd Ave (east side)
Construction is anticipated to start in the spring of 2019 and be complete by 2020.
If you have questions but won’t be able to attend either of the meetings, you can reach Moore at SHA by e-mail at Ryan.Moore@seattlehousing.org or by phone at 206-615-3561.
P.S. If you missed our Monday report, it includes the draft “packet” for the May 3rd review.
From commercial-real-estate listings/records and the WSB inbox:
WEST RIDGE PARK SOLD: New ownership for this sprawling rental complex that made news a decade ago for a canceled condo conversion. We received a news release today saying that Canadian-based real-estate trust RISE Properties Trust and Boston-based real-estate investment firm Intercontinental Real Estate Corporation have bought the 239-unit complex at 7901 Delridge Way SW. County records show the complex was sold by Grosvenor USA for $72.2 million. The announcement says West Ridge Park “features an average unit size of 987 sq. ft. and includes a mix of one- and two-bedroom units, as well as two-bedroom townhome-style units with accompanying garages in select units” and promises that, “Upon the execution of our business plan, residents will benefit from an upgraded living experience with premier access to nearby retail, leisure and recreational amenities.”
SALE PENDING FOR JUNCTION BUILDING: From a broker’s website, we learned that one of The Junction’s newer apartment buildings, 4400 SW Alaska, has a sale pending. (It also has its own website and a promotional video – see it here.)
ALKI PARCELS FOR SALE: We found that information while researching what is currently West Seattle’s highest-priced real-estate listing, $10.8 million for a package of Alki parcels that of course have their own website, alkidevelopment.com, where you can watch a marketing video consisting largely of lush aerials as well as enthusiastic descriptions of the rest of the peninsula, including the “ultra-hip Junction” (the same adjective is used on the listing website in reference to Admiral). The parcels, 1356-1370 Alki SW, currently hold a mix of small buildings.
NORTH MORGAN BUILDING FOR SALE: Another new listing in West Seattle is 6041 California SW, a mixed-use building with 24 apartments (described as “averaging 900 square feet”) and 34 offstreet-parking spaces, asking $8.6 million. (This too has a promotional video, describing West Seattle as “dynamic.”)
C & P SALE CLOSES: And one final note – the C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor) sale has officially closed, three weeks after it was announced. County records show the sale price was $1,265,000, slightly over the original $1,250,000 asking price. We asked proprietors Cameron and Pete Moores if they had any further comment now that the deal is final; the reply, “The most important story we want to keep telling is our gratitude to the community for coming together and helping save this special place.”
West Seattle development notes, all from along California SW:
SO LONG, EX-SPANKY’S: Last August, we reported that a demolition permit was being sought for the site we photographed today, 3276 California SW, a small, long-vacant commercial building to be replaced by live-work/townhouse units. Commenters noted that it was the former adult shop Spanky’s. (Our archives include a 2007 open letter from that shop’s former owner.) Today we noticed the teardown has happened since last we looked a couple days ago.
WORK ALSO HAS BEGUN … at 7002 California SW, where six rowhouse units are going up on the corner lot that previously held a century-plus-old house.
JUST UP THE BLOCK … the “design packet” for 7111 California SW is now available. As noted here last fall, instead of what was proposed when we wrote about it months earlier, it’s now going into Streamlined Design Review (no meetings required, but comments are accepted) with a three-story, five-unit, four-offstreet-parking-space plan. The design packet is linked from this Design Review page.
NORTH OF MORGAN JUNCTION … an early-stage eight-townhouse proposal is now in the system for an old apartment building at 5917 California SW that city files show has been the subject of numerous complaints.
If you or someone you know is mobility-challenged and would benefit from a ramp at home, but can’t afford it, the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties wants you to know that its 25th annual Rampathon will be the biggest ever, so right now it’s looking for people to help with “free wheelchair access ramps for families struggling with mobility within their home and from nonprofit organizations whose clients or residents struggle with mobility.” Go here to find out more and apply – deadline is March 2.
By the end of next week, this year’s property-tax bills will be on the way. And that includes the new education-funding tax increase – $1 for every $1,000 your property’s worth – so the King County Assessor’s Office has sent an alert, in hopes you won’t be too shocked. Here’s the news release:
King County Treasury will begin sending out the annual property tax bills in mid February. King County collects property taxes on behalf of the state, the county, cities, and taxing districts (such as school and fire districts), and distributes the revenue to these local governments.
Voters have approved several property-tax increases that will make much-needed investments in veterans and senior citizen services and fire protection. In some parts of King County, as much as 50 percent of the property tax bill is the result of voter-approved measures.
New levies approved in 2017 for collection this year include:
· Fire protection levies in Maple Valley, Vashon, and Skyway.
· School bonds for Shoreline and Federal Way.
· Renewal of the Veterans, Seniors and Human Services levy in King County.
In addition to approved local measures, the Washington State legislature passed an additional property tax to increase funding of education. Previously, the State Supreme Court ruled that the state must make new investments into public education; as a result the legislature added $1.01 per thousand dollars of assessed value, in King County, to their portion of property tax collection in order to fund the mandate (this is known as the McCleary Plan).
“Communities in our region are thankful to voters for approving new funding for essential services, but we know that property taxes can be especially tough for those on fixed incomes,” said King County Assessor John Wilson. “That’s why we’ve been aggressively reaching out to seniors, veterans and disabled homeowners with the property tax exemption program. Additionally, I’ve been working with Executive Constantine to create more tools for transparency around property taxes,” Wilson continued.
Low-income seniors, veterans and disabled homeowners may qualify for a property-tax exemption offered by King County. Information on how to apply for an exemption, along with other property-assessment-related information, can be found at kingcounty.gov/assessor. Property taxes vary depending upon location, the assessed value of the property, and the number of jurisdictions levying taxes (such as state, city, county, school district, port, fire district, etc).
With property taxes going up 16.92 percent on average, that means countywide property tax billings will be $5.6 billion in 2018, up from $ 4.8 billion last year. Aggregate property values in King County increased by 13.41 percent, going from $471.5 billion in 2017 to $534.7 billion in 2018.
“Without doubt voters are going to see a property tax increase due to the funding model the legislature has passed to fund education. So at a local level we are building more tools and supporting more legislation to increase transparency and fairness around the property tax. It is a work in progress and we will continue working on behalf of King County taxpayers,” said Wilson.
To avoid interest and penalties, the first-half property taxes must be paid or postmarked by April 30, 2018. The second-half property taxes must be paid or postmarked by Oct. 31, 2018.
If you haven’t received a notice by February 16th, that’s the date you can see your bill online via the King County Parcel Viewer. You also can sign up here to get your notice electronically instead of by postal mail.
The latest early-stage proposal from city permit files is for three lots that now hold houses in the 2800 block of SW Yancy – 2811, 2821, and 2827. They would potentially be combined and redeveloped with three 3-story buildings with 43 microapartments and an underground parking garage. The draft “site plan” carries the name of Transitional Resources, the nonprofit that is headquartered nearby, on SW Avalon, with a variety of services for people living with mental-health challenges, including residential units offering “supported housing.” We contacted TR’s CEO Darcell Slovek-Walker to ask for more information on what’s being considered. She replied, “We are in the very early stage of exploring how we can sustain the properties we have rented for years on Yancy Street.” The proposal carries the address of 2821 SW Yancy, though the parcels that would be involved run from 2811 through 2829, according to city files.
In our development-notes roundup last weekend, we mentioned the Streamlined Design Review comment period was about to start for the microapartment project planned at 4807 41st SW – three stories, 22 units, no offstreet parking. Tonight, the official notice is out, setting the comment deadline as February 14th, and the “design packet” is now posted on the city website for public review. It’s embedded above, and also visible in PDF here. If you have comments on the plan, the notice explains how to send them to the city (and notes that this is the only opportunity for public comment; the Streamlined Design Review process does not include public meetings).
If you still don’t quite get what the proposed HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability upzoning plan is all about and what it would do – take some time to watch the video above, in which the City Council met for the first time as the Select Committee that will decide the plan’s fate. Monday morning’s meeting was largely devoted to a briefing presented by city staff, introduced by committee chair Councilmember Rob Johnson as “where we are and how we got here.” But it also included the toplines of what it’s hoped the upzoning would do – lead to the construction of hundreds more units of lower-priced housing in the city each year, by requiring developers to either include some in their projects or pay a certain fee to the city to fund them elsewhere.
As noted during the briefing, the council’s vote is at least six months away. And several councilmembers made it clear they are looking for lots more information: Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda asked for an overlay of publicly owned land that might be eligible for affordable housing. Councilmember Lorena González wanted to know more about affordable-housing projects already in the pipeline. Our area’s Councilmember Lisa Herbold voiced frustration that she doesn’t believe potential displacement has been adequately analyzed – there is lots of info about how many people are moving to Seattle, but not so much about how many are moving out, she noted.
During the staffers’ recap of the “engagement” efforts over the past year-plus, Herbold also brought up concerns she had heard about “missteps along the way.” She mentioned “several” events at which people walked away with concerns from changes to neighborhood plans, a lack of clarity about the MHA plan including zoning changes, and/or confusion over what upzoning would allow. And she pointed out that “Some of the promotional materials … did not give the impression” that big changes were being contemplated. She also said she’s being asked about councilmembers potentially developing “companion resolutions” that might address the plan district by district and said if that was happening, it needed to be discussed sooner rather than later. And she pointed out that while urban village rezoning in HALA MHA is presented as enabling more people to live closer to “good transit,” two urban villages without robust transit are in her district – Admiral and South Park.
After Monday’s briefing (which was followed by public comment you also can watch in the video), here’s what’s next:
NEXT COUNCIL ‘SELECT COMMITTEE’ MEETING: February 12th.
APPEALS OF THE FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT: As reported previously, the process for the appeals of the HALA MHA Final Environmental Impact Statement, filed by neighborhood advocates from around the city, is proceeding in parallel. Next step is a pre-hearing conference on February 14th.
WILL YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD BE AFFECTED? IF SO, HOW? Here’s the web map you can use to find out.
Still trying to grasp what the Housing Affordability and Livability Act (HALA)-related upzoning proposal is about? The slide deck above (also viewable here) might help – it is from the agenda for Monday morning’s meeting of the City Council “select committee” that is starting its official work on the citywide upzoning proposal for HALA’s Mandatory Housing Affordability. The proposal includes upzoning in “urban villages” (West Seattle has four – Junction, Admiral, Morgan, and Westwood-Highland Park) as well as all commercial/multifamily property. The document’s title dubs it the “megabriefing.” All councilmembers are on the “select committee,” which meets at 10:30 am Monday at City Hall, with a public-comment period scheduled as part of the meeting. They’re expected to work on the plan at least into late summer before a vote.
P.S. If you’re a big fan of the small print, the full ordinance, as first proposed, is among the links you’ll find here.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
At the southwest corner of 63rd SW and Alki Avenue SW, that small plaque notes what’s believed to be the site of the legendary Denny Party cabin – the one that wasn’t finished by the time the settlers arrived, at which time some of them were reported to have sat down and had a “big cry”:
The site was later home to the Stockade Hotel (below) and currently holds the 11-apartment Pioneer Homes-Alki complex, built in the 1940s by Robert S. Wise, and still held by his family.
What you might not know is that the family also owns a parcel right behind it that holds two wood-sided duplexes and a house, also dating back to the 1940s.
And they’re looking to redevelop that parcel – 3015 63rd SW – into a new 11-apartment building, replacing those three structures.
12:40 PM: Seven weeks after moving an old log house across West Seattle, the “house-rescuing” firm Nickel Bros is about to save another local house. The 55-year-old house in our photo, at 1262 Alki SW, will be trucked off the site around midnight tonight and taken to a barge that will be waiting at Don Armeni Boat Ramp. That means road and parking restrictions for a few early-morning hours – you might already have seen the signs. From here, Nickel Bros tells us, this house will be going to a new owner in British Columbia. It would otherwise have been demolished to make way for the new SolTerra development that’s planned for the site; Nickel Bros says the developer asked them to try to find new owners for other houses at the project site too (including the one in the background of our photo above) – you can see the other listings here.
8:09 PM: In comments, readers have pointed out that this is the former home of Fred and Marjorie Dau, best remembered for Admiralty House Antiques (which closed in 2013 in the North Admiral building that now holds the restaurant Mioposto). We will be on Alki Avenue later tonight to cover the move.
Two townhouse projects in development news this morning, both on corner lots along SW Brandon:
TOWNHOUSES FOR THAITAN CORNER? An early-stage site plan has appeared in city files for 5258 California SW, current home of The Thaitan. 9 rowhouse (townhouse) units are proposed, two facing California, seven facing Brandon, with nine underground parking spaces. What’s particularly interesting is that while the adjacent, recently vacated Papa John’s site has had the same ownership, there’s no proposal in the files for that site – yet – though the site north has an 18-townhouse plan. Meantime, since the corner site is an early-stage proposal, not yet to the formal application stage, there’s no official comment period open yet either, but if you have anything you want to tell the city, you can contact PRC@seattle.gov and refer to #3030600. As for the restaurant’s future, we’ll be checking on that. (Photo: County Assessor’s Office)
(1:19 PM UPDATE: As Scott points out in comments, since we published this, a similar plan has turned up in online files for the ex-Papa John’s site – 9 townhouses, in this case, 3 fronting California, and three rows of two each behind it.)
And about four blocks directly east …
TOWNHOUSES AT FAUNTLEROY/BRANDON: A project much further along in the pipeline has received a key approval, per this notice in the city-circulated Land Use Information Bulletin. Six rowhouse-style townhouses have been approved for the northwest corner of Fauntleroy/Brandon, at 3914 SW Brandon, with six offstreet-parking spaces; today’s notice is the determination of environmental non-significance, and opens a two-week period for anyone interested in filing an appeal.
(‘Conceptual’ rendering by Lemons Architecture, from April 2017 Design Review presentation)
The project passed the first phase of Design Review back in April (WSB coverage here), which meant the developer was cleared to go ahead and apply for land-use permits. They have now just done so, which is the reason for the notices published today, opening a new public-comment period until January 8th (each address above is linked to the notice that in turn includes a “how to comment” link).
NEXT STEP: The second round of Design Review – no meeting date yet.