by Lisa Parriott
In 2012, Dianna McLeod, a senior citizen, called the City of Seattle’s DPD and asked if her side yard was a buildable lot. She was told no. Immediately following, developer Dan Duffus bought her property, split the lot in 2, built and sold a towering toaster box house on the new lot for a large profit.
Our neighbor, a senior citizen, contracted with a professional real estate agent to sell his home with a large side yard. His north Admiral (West Seattle) property sold for $505,000 less than 14 months ago to developer Cliff Low. He now lives in a trailer park in Puyallup. On January 12, 2017, 9AM @ Seattle Municipal Tower in Parriott vs. City of Seattle, the neighbors will make the case to the City’s Hearing Examiner that the side yard is not a separate building site, based on a 1957 City LU Code loophole – Historic Lot Exception. If unsuccessful, Cliff Low will have secured a vacant lot in Seattle for little to no money. He will be allowed to squeeze a towering toaster box home onto the side yard and walk away with over $400,000 profit.
by Jon Lisbin
The Seattle City Council is considering massive upzones in the University District as the first implementation of it's "Inclusionary Housing" strategies throughout the city.
Truth is, if I was Mayor, I may have taken the same approach. Put together a panel of experts and stakeholders to come up with strategies to address Seattle’s affordable housing crisis. Unfortunately, that’s where intelligence ended and corruption began. The composition of HALA (Housing and Livability Agenda) Committee was heavily weighted toward developers and their interests. The resulting skewed report was biased towards special interests.
I know, at this point you are saying “another conspiracy theorist”. However, the facts behind my assertion are quite compelling. Maybe I can speak in a language city officials are familiar with?
I know the train has left the station. I know it would take true courage to stop it now. I ask that our city leaders have that courage!
* Seattle's current plan calls for 3 - 8% Set Asides, significantly below other major cities, but not set yet.
by Lisa Parriott
It all started with us trying to save our magnificent Silent Giant, a vibrant 100 foot ponderosa pine that reaches straight up to the sky…
George, our elderly neighbor, had told us for years that he would never sell his property to a developer; he loved his big beautiful pine tree and he never wanted it cut down. But in the end, he did sell his home to a developer. The day after his property hit the market last winter, he was offered $30,000 over the asking price; all he had to do was agree to the terms before the offer expired on Saturday – the day before Sunday’s open house. Acceptance meant he would receive a lump sum of $505,000, cash, a month before Christmas.
We do not believe George knew that the purchaser was a developer. Nor do we believe George knew that he had side yard that could be potentially split into a second lot (~3,100sf ) and developed. The price he was paid certainly did not reflect that.
By: Jon Lisbin
Re: Danny Westneat's Seattle Times Article:
Yes, the city has already blown it's chance. Truth is, like the stock market, trying to time the housing market is a losing game. The city needs a steady consistent growth strategy, one that involves the community and builds into it factors that maintain livability and minimizes displacement. What we're seeing is reactionary and will bite us in the end. Yes, that end.
That's why I believe an effective inclusionary zoning plan makes sense in theory. The current MHA-R proposal however needs major improvements such as increased contribution from developers, incentives for building on site, 1 on 1 replacement of affordable housing, impact fees etc. If you have a moment, please sign Seattle Fair Growth’s petition for managed growth.
by Susanna Lin
There has been a lot of discussion about HALA, but a far broader change to Seattle land use policy is coming up in the form of a new version of the Comprehensive Plan. The City is required to draft a Comprehensive Plan which acts as a roadmap for urban planning over a 20 year period. We have reached the end of that 20 year period for our first Comprehensive Plan, so Mayor Ed Murray has undertaken to write another one, which will be the Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan. The Mayor’s office has released the final draft, and a public hearing was held on the Comprehensive Plan on June 27th at 6:00 PM at City Hall.
Which tree is better for the environment?
The Comprehensive Plan is a massive document. It is 575 pages and its details could never be covered in one blog post. You may read through it here, or if you prefer there is a hard copy at the Wallingford Public Library.
The Comprehensive Plan includes a set of Neighborhood Plans. According to people involved in the initial drafting 20 years ago, it was a four year operation in which residents were really given a chance to shape the policy and it included an extensive vetting process with neighborhoods. It served as a lovely example of true neighborhood engagement.
The Neighborhood Plan lays out a fairly specific vision of how and where development should occur within the neighborhood, and the Comprehensive Plan made a binding commitment to that vision. In particular, areas zoned Single Family Residential could be upzoned (for example to Multifamily Residential) only where the Neighborhood Plan provides for it.
by John Fox and Carolee Colter, Seattle Displacement Coalition reprinted from Pacific Publishing newspapers April 2016
The Seattle Displacement Coalition has deep roots in Seattle’s neighborhood movement. We’ve written this “Outside City Hall” column, featuring important neighborhood issues, for 13 years. We personally know most of the leaders of Seattle’s active community councils, and our views are nearly always in synch with theirs.
For example, the Laurelhurst Community Council, representing one of Seattle’s toniest neighborhoods, was among the first to back a tough demolition-control law barring developers from tearing down our city’s affordable housing stock unless units were replaced one-for-one at comparable price.
City Hall NOT YET responsive to neighborhood livability concerns
Last Tuesday (4/19/16), Mayor Murray hosted a Livability Night Out between 6:30 and 8:30PM at the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) at the south tip of Lake Union. The first section of the evening program (6:30-7:15PM) encouraged participants to “mix and mingle” with various City departments that had set up tables and white boards surrounding the MOHAI lobby. The thirty City departments included among others: Parks, Sustainability & Environment, Transportation, Codes & Inspections (formerly DPD), Planning & Community Development (also formerly DPD), HALA, Neighborhoods, Housing, and Arts & Culture.