West Seattle, Washington
While some sites on the north/west side of Avalon Way that once were proposed for apartments have turned into townhouse projects instead, the south/east side seems to be a different story. In an early-stage proposal that just turned up in city files, the Golden Tee Apartments complex on the southeast corner of Avalon and Genesee is proposed for demolition and replacement by a building with ~160 units and ~100 offstreet-parking spaces. Golden Tee spans two buildings at 3201 and 3211 SW Avalon Way, with 28 units, according to King County Assessor’s Office records, which say they were built 50 years ago. The preliminary site plan on record is by the prolific multifamily-project specialists at NK Architects. NK also designed 3039 SW Avalon Way, a 71-unit project about a block away, still making its way through the permit system after passing Design Review earlier this year.
While townhouse-building along arterials is not unusual, the plan for 9238 35th SW [map] is: Instead of demolishing the 84-year-old single-family house on this multi-family-zoned (Lowrise 2) site, the early-stage proposal that’s just appeared in city files would move the house forward on its current lot, and build four townhouses behind it. The detached garage on the alley at the back of the site would be removed, replaced by surface parking spaces. A house two doors north of this one had two townhouses built behind it in the ’00s but as far as we can tell, the house remained in its original spot. We have a request out to the project team for comment.
West Seattle is getting one percent of the $100 million in affordable-housing investments announced today by Mayor Jenny Durkan.
The lone local recipient on the list is Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association. As explained in the full announcement, part of the $100 million goes to new construction and part goes to preservation, and the latter is where DNDA comes in. Though the specific amounts weren’t mentioned in the announcement, we followed up for the specifics, and Office of Housing spokesperson Robin Koskey tells us DNDA was awarded $1,000,394. That will be invested in 70 apartments that are part of DNDA’s portfolio:
So what will the money buy? We asked DNDA executive director David Bestock. He tells WSB, “Rehab at these 4 properties” — Centerwood, Delridge Heights, Holden Manor, and Cooper School – “will include site improvements, exterior systems, interior maintenance, and specific to Cooper, abatement of foundation settling. We are thrilled to have the support of (the Office of Housing) to improve and preserve our affordable housing properties for residents of Delridge. This is a huge win for our residents, for our organization, and for our neighborhood.”
The funding announced today, for DNDA and the other organizations, comes from several sources, including the Housing Levy approved by voters last year, incentive-zoning payments, the sale of surplus properties, and $29 million in bonds approved by the City Council (in a plan sponsored by West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold).
Two West Seattle development notes:
SOUTH DELRIDGE LOT PROPOSAL: That vacant lot at 9419 17th SW, long-ago home to a fire-damaged house that was demolished several years back, has an early-stage development proposal: “2 new mixed use buildings, consisting of 8 individual commercial/residential units.” The site is zoned for mixed-use development up to 40 feet; that would increase to 55 feet under the HALA MHA “preferred alternative.”
FIRST DESIGN REVIEW MEETING OF THE NEW YEAR: The Southwest Design Review Board‘s calendar has been empty for a while but the first meeting of 2018 has just been penciled in: 6:30 pm January 18th, the board will take its second and possibly final look at 4417 42nd SW, a 4-story, 62-unit (58 apartments plus 4 live-works), 26-underground-parking-space project. It got Early Design Guidance approval in May. (This too is zoned for 40 feet but proposed for 55′ under HALA MHA.)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
“I just want to thank you.”
Midway through our coffeehouse conversation with four local neighborhood-group reps about why they’re part of a citywide challenge to the city’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda upzoning plan, a woman walked up to the table and addressed that to them.
She admitted she had been eavesdropping and “figured out what you were talking about.” She says she lives in the Junction area – which is where we were talking – and doesn’t want the upzoning to happen.
But, she added, “I don’t know what I can do to help.” The four offered suggestions immediately. Earl Lee of the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Coalition said, “We need every soldier we can get.”
Amanda Sawyer, who has led the Junction Neighborhood Organization for half a year, mentioned JuNO’s Land Use Committee will be talking about HALA and the appeal at a meeting tomorrow (6:30 pm Thursday, December 7th, Senior Center of West Seattle).
Equipped with ideas, the woman moved on. The four were heartened by that unsolicited feedback. What their groups had joined is not universally popular – some supporters of the proposed upzoning accuse opponents of being elitist, wealthy, interested only in keeping their theoretical white-picket-fence gates slammed shut to newcomers.
Not at all, these four insist. But before we go further, introductions and backstory.
The Delridge development boom is apparently about to claim what might be our area’s most-infamous vacant house, the one at the far northeastern edge of Delridge Way itself, next to the bridge onramp, though its official address is 3804 23rd SW. After a tipster sent a photo of heavy equipment at the site, we went over for a look, and took the photo you see above. No one in view to ask, but county assessor records show it was sold again last spring (we had previously reported a tax-auction sale in 2015), and city records show that a site plan was filed in late summer for eight townhouse/rowhouses on the sloping site, 7,700 square feet, zoned Lowrise 1. The house has been the site of numerous complaints over the years, both formal and informal; it was spotlighted almost eight years ago in a “problem properties” tour organized by community leaders and attended by city councilmembers and department heads, described as a magnet for squatters. It’s also been mentioned over the years as councilmembers attempted to tweak the rules governing when owners can tear down derelict housing without having a redevelopment plan.
FIRST REPORT, 3:35 PM: This afternoon at City Hall, the City Council voted unanimously to approve the rezoning of land owned by the West Seattle Church of the Nazarene to Lowrise 1 from its current Single Family 5000, requested by the church so it can build and sell six townhouses to raise money for renovating its old building (5911 42nd SW). However, the council did not grant the church’s request to waive a requirement that it either devote part of the project to “affordable housing” or pay a fee, estimated at $200,000, to the city to fund affordable housing elsewhere.
This is the same Mandatory Housing Affordability requirement that is to be implemented with upzoning around the city, proposed as part of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda, but even though that is not in effect citywide yet, and this project has been in the pipeline for four years, a council decision last year called for applying MHA. Only the council had the power to waive it, and they declined; local Councilmember Lisa Herbold said that while the argument was that the church had agreed to set aside open space as part of the site, that wasn’t a reason to waive it. (In a side note, she had to read a disclosure statement before voting today, because she had responded to a social-media criticism after last week’s committee vote, from which she abstained, saying she wanted to read the Morgan Community Association‘s letter supporting a waiver before she voted.) We have a request for comment out to the church, to ask if they will proceed with the project despite the decision to not waive MHA.
ADDED 7:17 PM: We’ve heard back from the church’s pastor emeritus Terry Mattson, who’s been a spokesperson for the church during the years the project’s been in the works. He says it’s on:
West Seattle Church of the Nazarene was extremely pleased to see the Seattle City Council unanimously approve our project today. This decision ensures we’ll be able to make the necessary repairs to our church to continue to serve our members and neighbors. Although it would have been an ideal scenario to have the MHA fees waived, we want to assure the community we will be proceeding as planned and that you’ll still have access to the open space and the trees will be preserved.
We look forward to the development in the months ahead and will keep all of you up to date on progress. If you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to visit us any Sunday morning or Wednesday evening. We’d be happy to chat. We especially want to thank the Morgan Junction Community Association, Deb & Cindi Barker, our partners Paar Development and Neiman Tabor Architects and our council representative for West Seattle Lisa Herbold for her support in helping carry this through the PLUS committee.
We can’t wait for you to experience the upgrades to our park and facilities with us.
The West Seattle Church of the Nazarene‘s requested rezone for a six-townhouse project on its unofficial “park” space has moved up a week on the City Council‘s calendar. When the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee voted on it this past Monday, they said it would go to the full Council for a final vote on December 11th, but instead, it’s on the December 4th agenda that just arrived. This is the project with a complication – though it’s been in the works for four years, long before the HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program was launched, the city says the project should be subject to MHA, which means either a $200,000-ish fee or setting aside two of the townhouses as “affordable.” The church was hoping for a waiver but the councilmembers who voted last Monday did not grant one. The land in question at 5911 42nd SW currently is zoned for three single-family houses; the church had been offering to preserve part of the open space as part of an agreement accompanying the upzone request. Next Monday’s meeting is at 2 pm at City Hall downtown.
6:26 PM: Last Friday, we told you about a citywide coalition of neighborhood groups, including 3 from West Seattle, planning to challenge the city’s plan for HALA (Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda) upzoning, as released with its Final Environmental Impact Statement two weeks ago (this interactive map shows proposed zoning changes). Today, representatives of the more than 20 groups gathered in the City Hall lobby downtown to formally announce the appeal. Here’s our unedited video of the 20-plus-minute event:
The three West Seattle groups participating in the appeal are from three of West Seattle’s four urban villages: Morgan Community Association (Morgan Junction), Junction Neighborhood Organization (West Seattle Junction), and Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Coalition (Westwood-Highland Park). And we have just received the coalition’s official “notice of appeal” document – read it here, or embedded below:
We’ll be reading it in the hours ahead and adding notes; in addition, as mentioned today, several neighborhood groups are pursuing their own individual appeals – those include MoCA and JuNO, as well as some from elsewhere in the city; the city Hearing Examiner‘s files already show four appeals, from Beacon Hill, Wallingford, and Fremont groups, as well as an individual citizen from North Seattle.
From the city side, Councilmember Rob Johnson – whose office has a leadership role in the HALA process as he chairs the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee – has published his reaction to news of the appeals, concluding:
Though Council is prohibited from taking final action during the appeal process, we will continue our planned 8-month outreach and deliberation process so that when the appeal is resolved, we can act quickly to implement a critical strategy that will result in more income and rent-restricted housing and more housing options across our city for people of all incomes.
ADDED 11:20 PM: We’ve read through the coalition’s 17-page appeal document, and also received the notices of appeal by the two local groups that have also filed their own, JuNO and MoCA. Those documents are after the jump, along with toplines from the coalition appeal if you don’t have the time or inclination to read through the full document:
Two weeks after the city went public with its “preferred alternative” for HALA upzoning, as part of the final Environmental Impact Statement, a new citywide coalition has announced it will file an appeal. The community councils from three of West Seattle’s four “urban villages” are among the groups comprising the coalition: the Morgan Community Association, the Junction Neighborhood Organization, and Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Coalition. From today’s announcement of the new coalition and appeal plan:
… The coalition is called Seattle Coalition for Affordability, Livability and Equity.
Jon Lisbin, small business owner and president of Seattle Fair Growth, said, “We are worried about affordability and displacement. Our neighborhoods are so different that one-size-fits-all upzones don’t work well for residents or small businesses. The Final EIS completely neglects the differences between neighborhoods that are ripe for multifamily development such as Lake City and Northgate, and other racially diverse neighborhoods, such as South Park and Beacon Hill, that are mainly of older single-family homes owned or rented by lower-income families. The city is leaving low- and middle-income families with no place to go.”
Said David Ward, a Ravenna renter and president of the coalition, “It will make Seattle far more unaffordable and also make it more difficult to live here due to more traffic, not enough schools, more pollution, fewer trees, and a loss of the diversity of residents we currently have.”
“I’m worried about moving out from my parents’ home because I know it’ll be hard to find an apartment I can afford,” said Beacon Hill Council Member and UW student Cacima Lee. “And the idea of buying a home in Seattle is almost a joke.”
“Instead of invalidating all neighborhood plans, the city needs to support and celebrate differences while maintaining intact communities,” Christy Tobin-Presser of the West Seattle Junction Neighborhood Coalition added. “These upzones are not needed to accommodate the growth that’s planned. The city already has the more than twice the capacity in multi-family zoning to accommodate all the growth that’s coming, so who’s driving this land-grab?”
Wallingford resident Susanna Lin states: “We have a school capacity crisis and the City is planning upzones without coordinating with the School District on a plan to build more schools. In addition, trees are disappearing at an alarming rate. What kind of future is this for our children?”
The Grand Bargain, or Mandatory Housing Affordability-Residential (MHA-R), is a one-size-fits-all proposal by former Mayor Ed Murray and City planners that would give developers increased height limits and profitability in exchange for either building affordable units in their projects or contributing a fee in lieu of including them. In fact, according to the City, most developers have said they will decline to include rent-restricted units in their projects. They prefer to pay the fee.
According to Lake City homeowner and affordable housing advocate Sarajane Siegfriedt, the
City Office of Housing then leverages the fees 3:1 mostly with federal, state and city tax funds to
build low-income housing in other parts of Seattle. Most of the required affordable housing will
be built in locations with cheap land, not in the neighborhoods where builders maximize profits
by replacing older houses with costly new market-rate housing. Then there’s the delay. It takes
four or so years for a nonprofit to receive City and state grants, assemble the rest of the funding,
and construct a building, assuming they already have the land.”
“We share the City’s goal of affordable housing for those earning less than 60% of Area Median Income, but it is simply not achieved by these upzones,” Siegfriedt said. “That’s why we are filing an appeal. The real impacts that destroy and gentrify our low- and moderate-income neighborhoods are loss of affordability, community and livability.” …
The new coalition plans a media briefing/Q&A event downtown next Monday, which is when they also say they’ll file the appeal. Read today’s full announcement here (it includes the list of 24 participating groups).
P.S. If you haven’t already checked on what’s proposed for your neighborhood (or anywhere else that interests you) in the HALA MHA “preferred alternative” – you can use the city’s interactive map to look up specific locations. Before anything becomes final, the City Council has to consider forthcoming legislation, isn’t expected to come to a vote before next summer.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Four years after the West Seattle Church of the Nazarene initiated a project to build six townhouses on part of its open-space property, the requested rezone is finally coming to the City Council, with a committee vote expected next Monday night.
It aims to build more housing than original zoning would allow. But in a twist, the Mandatory Housing Affordability component of HALA – the city’s campaign to encourage exactly that – could put a hitch in the plan, though MHA hasn’t been imposed citywide yet, and wasn’t even proposed until long after this project started making its way through the system.
It is quite a sight – the century-plus-old “log house” at California/Findlay, now jacked up for its upcoming move – but that move is still two weeks away. We stopped by to check, after getting a few questions about its status.
We reported one week ago on the date and preparations for moving the house to its new location in The Admiral District. It originally was set to be demolished, as the site’s owners plan to build six live-work units there; the house-rescuing firm Nickel Bros stepped in to try to find a buyer to save and move it, and the Bauersfeld family answered the call. (The house’s previous tenant, Ventana Construction [WSB sponsor], had to move, and found another corner house with history at 5958 California SW.)
The move is set for two weeks from tomorrow – we’re currently clarifying whether it’s Friday night into Saturday morning or Saturday night into Sunday morning.
Four development-related notes:
FALCONRIDGE FARM PROPERTY: For those watching the fate of the Highland Park horse farm that’s for sale and could either be preserved or redeveloped into a housing subdivision (which is what the site is zoned for), we noticed over the weekend that an early-stage “preliminary site plan” has been filed with the city for the latter, showing 26 potential home sites. So we checked this morning with farm owner Dr. Jean Nokes, who states emphatically that she hasn’t signed a deal with anyone and is still talking with a multitude of potential buyers, including Pulte Homes, which is who filed the site plan (which is news to her, she told us), four other potential developers, and others who would preserve the farm.
3084 AVALON APARTMENTS: Another “preliminary site plan” in the city system proposes an apartment building at 3084 SW Avalon Way. Avalon of course is awash in apartments but this is notable because it’s just north/west of 3078 SW Avalon, where a long fight over a proposed 100+-unit building ended with the plan being traded for townhouses. This site has the same owner. Nothing publicly visible shows the proposed height or unit count, though it is mentioned that no parking is planned.
NEXT ROUND OF COMMENTS FOR DOWNSIZED 1250 ALKI: When we first reported on the plan for 1250 Alki SW in 2015, it was proposed for 125 apartments. Neighbors argued it was out of scale for the area. Now it’s a six-story, 40-unit project, with 74 offstreet parking spaces, and today’s Land Use Information Bulletin has the official notice of its “shoreline substantial development” permit. This opens a comment period until December 13th; here’s how to comment. The downsized project still is making its way through Design Review.
FAUNTLEROY COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION TO DISCUSS REZONE: Two weeks ago, we reported on an early-stage proposal to rezone 9250 45th SW – a somewhat triangular site in Fauntleroy’s Endolyne business district – for a 5-story mixed-use redevelopment. The Fauntleroy Community Association board will talk about it at its Tuesday meeting (7 pm, Fauntleroy Schoolhouse, public welcome). P.S. As pointed out in comments previously, this site would be upzoned from 30′ to 40′ under the new HALA MHA proposal.
That photo texted to the WSB 24/7 hotline earlier this week shows some of the prep work that’s getting under way for the move of the 108-year-old “log house” at 5458 California SW. The move itself is still three weeks away, we’ve learned, but getting the house ready for it is going to look fairly dramatic.
First, some backstory – we first reported a year and a half ago that the owners of the site (where Ventana Construction (WSB sponsor) was a longtime tenant, had decided to redevelop, originally planning to demolish the house. Then Nickel Bros, which specializes in moving buildings, got involved. As reported back in March, a local couple agreed to buy and move it. The six-live-work-unit project for the site proceeded through the city review and permit process. And now, it’s almost moving time. (Former tenant Ventana has since moved its offices a half-mile south to 5958 California SW.)
The executive director of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, Jeff McCord, was with Nickel Bros when the plan was made to rescue the house, and he answered our questions today about where things stand. He says the move is now set for overnight Saturday, December 2nd, into Sunday, December 3rd – a few weeks later than previously planned, because of the permit process. What’s imminent is removal of the roof, necessary so they’ll be able to get the house under power lines; it will get a new roof when it’s on its new site. Crews also will be removing two rooms (which were a long-ago addition) from the back of the house.
Then when moving night arrives, the house will be taken north on California SW to its destination, the Bauersfelds’ home near West Seattle High School. McCord says they just learned that there won’t even have to be parking restrictions on California that night, because it’s wide enough for the house to get through. It’ll still be something to see, as was the overnight move of a Junction house in 2010 (different company, though). We’ll update again as the move gets closer.
(UPDATED 10:13 AM with link to interactive map showing what’s proposed where)
FIRST REPORT, 12:41 AM: Today’s the day for the next milestone in the city plan to upzone for the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) Mandatory Housing Affordability component. The final Environmental Impact Statement is being published today, and with it, the city’s “preferred alternative” for upzoning around the city, adding development capacity and requiring either affordable housing as part of a project, or a fee to go into a fund to build it elsewhere. Mayor Tim Burgess and City Councilmember Rob Johnson are scheduled to formally announce the proposed plan in a Capitol Hill park at noon.
Though the media advisory for that announcement didn’t mention the EIS – just the release of an “affordability and growth plan” – the Daily Journal of Commerce‘s city notices published at midnight include this one, “Notice of Availability of Final Environmental Impact Statement, Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA).” The final EIS document is not online yet – should be within a few hours – but once it is, we’ll see the city’s “preferred alternative.” (and we’ll have a separate update). The “preferred alternative” will be a precursor to legislation that the notice says will be sent by the mayor to the City Council by year’s end (either by Burgess, who’s in office until November 28th, or Jenny Durkan, who takes office after that). Then, the notice says, “The City Council expects to take public comment and deliberate on the proposal for several months, and is expected to act on the proposal in summer of 2018.”
P.S. The EIS itself does not have a comment period – it’s the result of previous rounds of comment (including the one for the draft version, released five months ago) – but today’s publication does open a period in which it can be appealed, with November 27th as the deadline.
8:54 AM: Now that the city’s notice is out on its own website, the link it points to says the Final EIS will be available at noon (concurrent with the aforementioned mayoral event), although there are different links atop the notice (for PDFs that don’t seem to be downloading, thus far).
10:13 AM: Kevin from SCC Insight (who provides tireless, thorough City Council coverage) points out in comments that the interactive map that goes with the Final EIS is already live – if you are interested in a specific address, you can use the map to zoom in on it.
Today’s Land Use Information Bulletin from the city has notices for two West Seattle projects:
DESIGN REVIEW FOR 5242 & 5248 CALIFORNIA: When we reported two weeks ago that a Southwest Design Review Board meeting was set next month for the newest proposal at 5242 California – currently home to a partly vacant strip mall – it was in city files as a 9-townhouse project. Turns out that’s only half the site. The other half, now with the address 5248 California, also is proposed for 9 townhouses, and an underground garage is planned with 18 spaces – in the “preferred” massing (size/shape) option shown above, taken from the early version of the meeting packet, by Hybrid Architecture. As “The People’s Court,” the project is set to go to the SWDRB at 6:30 pm Thursday, November 16th – the official notices for its two halves are here and here. (Both explain how to comment now, or you can wait until the meeting, which will be at the Senior Center/Sisson Building, 4217 SW Oregon.)
COMMENT TIME FOR APARTMENTS @ 6016 CALIFORNIA: Back in August, we mentioned an apartment-building proposal for 6016 California SW, which is already bookended by teardowns, and has one business left last time we checked, the legendary Rick’s (Psychic) Barber Shop. The project is now at a stage where you have two weeks to comment. It’s also increased the unit count to 36 “small efficiency dwelling units” (microapartments) and two live-work units. Here’s the official notice; here’s how to comment.
Back in July, we told you about a proposal for the land holding that 109-year-old house at 7111 California – four townhouses, each with an accessory dwelling unit, for a total of eight units. Now that’s been revised to five townhouses – two facing California, one behind it, two behind that, with four offstreet parking spaces on the alley, according to the newest “site plan” on file with the city. The parcel is zoned Lowrise 2.
6:15 PM: Two issues related to the city’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) are being presented for your comments at an open-house-style meeting under way until 7:30 pm at High Point Community Center (6920 34th SW). We’ve already counted more than 60 people in the main room, checking out the easels set up for proposed changes to the city’s Comprehensive Plan – here’s our preview on that issue – and for potential rule changes regarding Accessory Dwelling Units (“backyard cottages” being the best-known type) – here’s our preview on that. We checked and they’re still planning on a presentation at 6:30 on a screen at the front of the room, although otherwise this is NOT a sit-and-listen type meeting.
6:25 PM: On the “comprehensive plan amendment” side, the Q&A/comment stations deal with specific urban villages where, as noted in our preview, the city is seeking to eliminate neighborhood-plan-related language that seeks to “protect” or “preserve” single-family zoning, which HALA’s Mandatory Housing Affordability upzoning would be removing from urban villages. Three West Seattle urban villages are potentially affected here – Morgan Junction, West Seattle Junction, and Westwood-Highland Park.
You’ll have opportunities to comment online – we’ll add those when the meeting’s over – but while here, you are also offered the chance to write yours on paper; one attendee from Morgan Junction showed us his. He’s worried about ongoing displacement of low-income renters in the older housing stock that already is being torn down and replaced by new for-sale residences.
6:50 PM: The presentation is over – about 10 minutes on the comprehensive plan component, five on the accessory-dwelling-unit component. (
We recorded it all on video and will add to this report when we have it uploaded and processed later at HQ. Full unedited video below:)
Both were basically primers; there was no Q&A, and the only bit of impromptu feedback came when, in the comp-plan section, city senior planner Geoff Wentlandt (opening by thanking people for turning out for “complex and wonky” topics) said amendments were needed because neighborhood plans shouldn’t be inconsistent with overarching city policy.
“Why not?” someone called out. No reply. Meantime, in one possible sign that the turnout exceeded expectations, the sparkling water bottles are all empty already. The sandwiches, however (chicken and tofu, described as “from a banh mi place on Delridge”), are still abundantly available.
7:08 PM: Still about 30 people talking in small groups, but the crowd definitely thinned after the presentation.
8:10 PM: Back at HQ. Had some signal trouble toward the end, so catching up on images now. First and most importantly, here’s how you can comment on both these issues, regardless of whether you were able to get to tonight’s meeting:
COMPREHENSIVE PLAN AMENDMENTS: Choose your urban village and comment via this site, by December 8th.
ADU/DADU ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT SCOPING: This phase of comments closes on November 1st; there’s an online comment form linked on the right side of this page (scroll down the left side for the full timeline).
While the next major step in citywide HALA (Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda) upzoning is not expected until the final Environmental Impact Statement comes out next month, you’re being asked at a West Seattle meeting this Tuesday night (October 17th) to weigh in on what ultimately is a proposal to override parts of three local neighborhood plans to pave the way for upzoning.
The city wants to put language in the Comprehensive Plan affecting parts of the West Seattle Junction, Morgan Junction, and Westwood-Highland Park Urban Villages, to remove language that calls for protection of current single-family zoning in those areas. The HALA upzoning proposals so far already had called for changing those areas in urban villages, but that raised a conflict with parts of the existing neighborhood plans which were included when the comprehensive plan was recently revised. So the proposed “comprehensive plan amendments” are an attempt to replace the existing language, and they are asking for opinions at Tuesday night’s meeting – 6-7:30 pm at High Point Community Center (6920 34th SW), “open house” format before and after what’s described as a short presentation at 6:30 pm.
The city’s materials for the meeting are now available online, and while they offer an option for writing your own language, they very specifically suggest not saying you want to preserve any particular kind of zoning, single-family or otherwise. From the last page of the document:
Policy Language to Avoid
Direct references to specific zones. New policies should avoid references to all specific zoning
designations in a neighborhood plan policy. General discussion of housing types, land uses, scale, and
character effectively communicate a neighborhood’s vision.
Protection. The Comprehensive Plan’s goals and policies focus on shaping and guiding change for the future. Policies that emphasize protecting or preserving existing conditions limit our ability to reach these goals.
Superiority of single-family housing or zoning. Policies that connote the superiority of single-family housing compared to other types of housing should be avoided. Terms calling for maintaining qualities such as “integrity” of single-family areas should be avoided.
Here’s what they do want you to focus on, if you want to suggest your own comprehensive-plan language:
Examples for Revised Policies
Focus: Character and scale. Modify the policy language to focus on maintaining compatibility with or complementing the character and scale of single-family housing areas, rather than calling for preservation of single-family zoning.
Focus: Location and development pattern. Modify the policy language to describe the preferred general pattern for land use or urban form. This can include identification of certain areas that are relatively more appropriate for certain kinds of development.
Focus: Housing choices. Modify the policy language to emphasize housing choices or opportunities, such as housing for families or ADA accessible units.
Since the meeting document includes pages for other neighborhoods outside West Seattle, with the current language and suggested replacements, we’ve broken out the local pages below, each one with three city-suggested options plus the possibility of crafting your own. First, for the West Seattle Junction:
Next, for Morgan Junction:
And for Westwood-Highland Park:
If you can’t get to Tuesday night’s meeting – which, as previously previewed, is also addressing “backyard cottages” (a citywide issue, not just urban villages) – here’s how you can still participate, with the city taking comments on this through December 8th – use seattle2035.consider.it.
P.S. Again, the urban-village-specific pages above are taken from the full city document prepared for upcoming meetings. You can see it, including an introductory page, in its entirety by going here.
The city is looking to change the rules regarding backyard cottages and in-law apartments, but is under orders to do an environmental review of the process first, as the result of a challenge by a community group in Queen Anne. The review process has just begun, according to a city announcement today requesting your comments – via e-mail as well as an upcoming West Seattle meeting. Here’s the announcement:
Today we announced the beginning of the environmental review process to study the potential effects of removing barriers to building accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in single-family zones. ADUs include backyard cottages, known as Detached Accessory Dwelling Units (DADUs), and in-law apartments, known as Attached Accessory Dwelling Units (AADUs).
The first phase of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process is to determine the scope of the study, and we want your input on what to consider and analyze as we explore allowing more ADUs in Seattle’s neighborhoods.
ADUs are small, secondary dwelling units inside, attached to, or in the rear yard of a single-family house. The City’s proposal involves allowing both an in-law apartment and a backyard cottage on the same lot, removing the existing off-street parking and owner-occupancy requirements, and changing some development standards that regulate the size and location of backyard cottages. Based on a decision from the City’s Hearing Examiner in December 2016, we’re preparing an EIS to review the potential environmental impacts of this proposal.
During the scoping phase, you can help us determine the alternatives we’ll study, potential environmental impacts to consider, and possible measures to avoid or reduce the effects of the proposal. Comments are due by 5:00 p.m. on November 1, 2017. You can give us your input in several ways:
by email: ADUEIS@seattle.gov
by mail to Aly Pennucci, Council Central Staff, PO Box 34025, Seattle, WA 98124-4025
in person at our two public scoping meetings.
One of those meetings is in West Seattle: Tuesday, October 17, 6:00-7:30 pm. at High Point Community Center, 6920 34th Ave SW.
An important thing to note: The meeting is NOT going to be a deep dive into the proposal – as noted here, it’s been added to the agenda for what was already an “open house”-style meeting about an even-more-complicated issue, whether to change the city’s Comprehensive Plan to remove language that, for some neighborhoods, conflicts with proposed HALA upzoning. That part of the meeting affects three specific “urban village” areas of West Seattle – The Junction, Morgan Junction, and Westwood-Highland Park – but the dwelling-unit part of the meeting involves neighborhoods citywide. We first wrote about the city’s plan in July.
That’s the view from the roof of the north tower at The Whittaker (4755 Fauntleroy Way SW; WSB sponsor), where a grand-opening celebration this afternoon marked the completion of both towers. Here’s what’s on the roof:
Another view looks down to the common area:
This time of year, the fire pit will get some use:
Someone who’s no stranger to the outdoors, mountaineering legend Jim Whittaker – the complex’s namesake – was at the party:
Inside the building, here’s a look at the kitchen of a studio unit:
Sun streamed into this 1-bedroom:
The Whittaker has 2-bedroom units as well, and property managers say they’ve already leased 70 percent of the complex’s almost 400 units. As for the commercial space, no news yet about the area originally intended for Whole Foods. Except for MOD Pizza (next June), the ground-floor business tenants are expected to be open within the next month or so. One more thing: the mural on the west side that’s a digital recreation of the one that used to be on the Huling Brothers building that sat along Fauntleroy where The Whittaker’s south tower is now:
You might have noticed some other features along Fauntleroy – the building was set back to make room for a bicycle lane, and there’s art all around, including a water feature by Fauntleroy/Alaska, where the developer-funded crosswalk was recently completed. Today’s celebration is almost ten months after last year’s ribboncutting party marked the south tower’s opening.
City records show another change in plans for 3078 SW Avalon Way [map], which has been through a lot of change – on paper, at least – in the last five years. We first reported in August 2012 that it had an early-stage development proposal for a “7-story building with 65 residential units and 77 underground parking spaces.” One month later, dozens of neighbors filled the room at its first Design Review meeting. When its second one was scheduled almost a year later, the plan had changed to what city files described as an “8-story, 108-apartment, 61-parking-space proposal.” After the Southwest Design Review Board gave its final approval in January 2014, neighbors appealed a subsequent city determination that the project would have no significant environmental impacts. The city Hearing Examiner’s ruling in December 2014 went their way. Then, this past July, after an architect change, the project returned to Design Review. The current board, entirely different from those who reviewed the project previously, felt they didn’t have enough information for a final decision and decided another meeting was in order.
And now – the apartment project’s been scrapped, with a new plan for the site, according to documents in online city files: 8 townhouses with four offstreet-parking spaces. A new preliminary site plan was filed less than a week ago. This would be the second apartments-to-townhouses plan change on the block – at one time 3062 SW Avalon Way also was proposed for a 100+-apartment building, but nine townhouses are now being built.
The Southwest Design Review Board calendar now has one project set for a fall meeting, just added – the second review for 2715 California SW [map], “a four-story, 48-unit apartment building with one live-work unit and retail to be located at street level” with 46 underground parking spaces. The project, called “Admiral Station,” passed the first phase of Design Review on its first try six months ago (WSB coverage here). Its second and potentially final review is penciled onto the SWDRB calendar for 6:30 pm Thursday, October 19th, at the Sisson Building/Senior Center (4217 SW Oregon).
P.S. If you’re interested in the proposed changes to the Design Review process, see our coverage of the citywide public hearing earlier this week by going here.