23 November 2016 Update
wishing you and your family a peaceful and healthy holiday season
Good Afternoon Everyone;
We have concluded 4 days of hearings and one additional day added by the Hearing Examiner on November 1st to allow for our examination of 3600 emails that the City withheld from our public records request. She asked that closing arguments be submitted sequentially in writing beginning with ours on Nov 9th, the City’s rebuttal on Nov 16th, and our rebuttal due today on the 23rd. We are crossing our t’s as I write. The Hearing Examiner hopes to advance her decision within the next few weeks. I’ll let you know when she rules! These closing arguments, along with all hearing records can be reviewed on the Hearing Examiner’s webpage at: http://web6.seattle.gov/Examiner/case/W-16-004 (please read the closing arguments at the end of the list – our final rebuttal will be added as the website is updated in the next few days)
Many of you have asked me to address a very misleading article published this month in a local magazine that claimed that our Appeal was advanced in an attempt to limit and turn away growth in our city’s neighborhoods. The author has written similar drivel before. I reluctantly agreed to be interviewed only under the specific promise that he would set aside his history of snarky partisan marketing and personal twist and instead address the Appeal head on without manipulating the facts or spinning his personal agendas. Obviously I fell into a trap falsely believing in his word and his promise, and that of his editor as well.
Just to be clear…
I’m sure most of you have read the appeal and know it has nothing to do with limiting growth or density in our neighborhoods; it may make for a juicy magazine headline, but sadly it ignores and diminishes actual facts and discredited the author in the end. Our Appeal only focuses upon the legislative process and the City’s intentional lack of transparency and disregard for evaluating true impacts in their effort to advance an ideological agenda without foundation or once-typical independent study and public engagement. Mayor Murray and Councilmember O’Brien enthusiastically began advancing this legislation last year to convert every single family neighborhood into multi-family and attempted to do so quietly and without performing the usual environmental impact studies – not one in over 4,600 documents and emails reviewed!
The Appeal simply proposes that all citizens of Seattle have a right to review and comment, and the Mayor and City Council have a duty to produce and share the results of an unbiased, transparent, independent, and comprehensive analysis of every environmental impact associated with proposing the largest land use conversion, rezone change and impact in Seattle’s history. Keep in mind, the city requires such studies for every project of size, like the 25 unit apartment building on a small lot down the street – but for some reason, not 65% of Seattle land area, impacts to over 300,000 citizens, and their 124,000 properties?
Instead, two city planners who very much supported and drafted the legislation decided themselves that there were no environmental impacts and subsequently issued a “Declaration of Non-Significance” (DNS) as they together with Councilmember O’Brien and the Mayor decided themselves to forego any serious analysis of the true environmental impacts, relying instead upon personal opinions and ideological agendas, and included input from only advocates without dissenting voices, instead of seeking once traditional factual and independent analysis.
Absent our appeal, the Mayor and O’Brien’s goal was to advance the legislation thru our City Council last July. The legislation would allow your neighbor to build 3 units on their 3,200 sq ft or greater site, replacing that great backyard tree with a 23’ tall backyard house and a second unit within the exiting house, without evaluating any environmental impacts! These unstudied citywide impacts would include among other changes allowing 3 units and 3 households to reside on one single family property with no onsite parking requirements, only a 6 month owner-occupancy requirement spurring immediate citywide developer speculation, increased size, height and bulk of backyard houses, 50% greater backyard lot coverage with no tree preservation, and more. The Appeal simply seeks to require the city to respect every citizen by completing a typical Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which is a comprehensive, transparent, unbiased, independent and professional study of all environmental impacts, including public hearings and public documents that depict the actual proposals and seek to inform citizens and policy-makers alike of potential environmental impacts that would truly inform legislative decisions, together with our citizen rights to consider impacts and changes in our own neighborhoods. Instead, we are given top-down one-size-fits-all proclamations and told ‘trust us we know better.’
If City Hall believes that there are no environmental impacts, then they should prove it and involve us all; like everyone else has been required to do for many decades.
Thanks again for all your support,
Queen Anne Community Council
Land Use Review and Planning Committee (LURC)
Martin Henry Kaplan AIA, Chair