By Sally Clark, Seattle City Council
This column originally appeared in the December issue of Sally Clark's newsletter "City View."
At the end of my first two years chairing the Seattle City Council's Planning, Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee, I feel a little like I'm renovating a house with a limited set of plans. I mostly pick up a hammer and try to use common sense.
I hear from plenty of people who tell me they have the best house plan and that I should use their instructions.
For some people, no change is the right change. For others, the change can't be grand enough.
Re-zone, upzone, incentivize, landmark, retain, bulk up, slim down, reward, charge, bonus, demolish, protect . Everyone has a position and a stake in what happens across the street and across town.
As 2009 comes to a close, I can say I am proud of the work we've done over the past two years with neighborhoods, developers, affordability advocates, historic preservation advocates, greeners, smart city staffers and others to make at least a few smart decisions.
– Backyard cottages are a good and modest step for housing variety and affordability.
In September, the Seattle Department of Planning and Development proposed a rezone of three industrial areas in Ballard. The Ballard District Council voted Dec. 9 to ask the city to reconsider a zoning change that would allow residential buildings on a portion of Market Street.
The city plans to rezone Subarea 1, a section along the north side of Market Street from 25th Avenue Northwest to 30th Avenue Northwest, from an Industrial Buffer zone to a Neighborhood Commercial zone, which could include housing, office space and retail.
Catherine Weatbrook, an at-large member of the Ballard District Council, said putting residential that close to the working waterfront on the other side of Market Street could lead to conflicts over light and noise.
Weatbrook said a lot of residential development has already been built up in Ballard. The council's preference of an Industrial Commercial zone for Subarea 1 would bring in living-wage jobs, she said.
In a letter being sent by the Ballard District Council to Seattle City Council member Sally Clark, the district council states that they strongly oppose the change to Neighborhood Commercial zoning.
The Planning, Land Use, and Neighborhoods Committee of the City Council has reviewed the changes to the multifamily zoning provisions proposed by Mayor Greg Nickels in May 2009, and will hold a public hearing on the proposal Nov. 30 at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, 2nd floor, Seattle City Hall, 600 Fourth Ave.
The complex proposal has been split up into two pieces of legislation. The first piece of legislation (Multifamily Bill No. 1) would:
- Revise the standards for Midrise and Highrise zones.
- Change the parking requirements for all multifamily zones.
- Add rooftop height exceptions in all multifamily zones to encourage sustainable features, such as wind energy power generators.
- Simplify the code by combining the rules for small institutions (such as schools and child care centers) for single family and multifamily zones into one chapter, consolidating the use provisions in multifamily zones into a chart, and making similar improvements.
- Add incentive zoning options for Midrise and Highrise zones, including affordable housing, public open space, green street setbacks, and landmark preservation.
- Clarify the provisions for measurements.
The Southwest Design Review Board met Oct. 22 for a design doubleheader addressing two major West Seattle projects. The six-person board deliberated over a proposed expansion of the Safeway in the Admiral neighborhood and The Kenney property along Fauntleroy Way Southwest.
Board members gave the Kenney project the green light, but asked Safeway developers back for another round of design guidance meetings. Members of the board agreed that the designed storefront needs to be more open to sidewalks along California Ave. S.W.
The new Safeway expands the current store from 36,000 square feet to 58,000 square feet, while adding a four-story apartment complex, some small office space and a parking lot on the store’s roof. View the current designs here.
That rooftop parking also drew criticism from the board, which said it conflicted with the neighborhood’s sustainability goals.
“This building is saying in 15 years this building is going to be okay and then it's just going to be going backwards,” said Joseph Hurley, board member.
The following are applications or decisions made by the Seattle Department of Planning and Development, which can be appealed or commented on by the public.
4741 15th Ave. S.W.
An appeal that has been filed against a land use application to allow construction of 33 single family residences with accessory parking in an environmental critical area has been rescheduled.
The appeal hearing will now be held on Nov. 12, at 9 a.m. It was previously scheduled for Oct. 27 at 9 a.m.
The project includes 5,500 cubic yards of grading.
The appeal specifically challenges the city's decision not to conduct an environmental review on the project. There are some conditions placed on this project. The development site is in a fish and wildlife area.
View details of the project here.
Applicant: Benjamin Pariser, 360-289-7995
City planner: Shelley Bolser, 206-733-9067
The rezone of three industrial areas in Ballard could lead to more jobs and housing in the neighborhood. But, some fear it will also lead to an increase in noise complaints and conflict between residents and industries.
Andrea Petzel, spokesperson for the Seattle Department of Planning and Development, presented the plans for the rezone to the Ballard District Council Oct. 14.
As previously reported in the Ballard News-Tribune, the rezone will affect the north side of Market Street from 25th Avenue to 30th Avenue, the south side of Market Street from 26th Avenue to 30th Avenue, and Leary Avenue between 15th Avenue and 20th Avenue.
The area on the north side of Market will be rezoned into Neighborhood Commercial. The rezone will allow for a limited amount of residential development of up to 40 feet in that area, Petzel said.
The other two areas will become Industrial Commercial zones, which do not allow housing, and which are typically used for commercial and office space.
Legislation that would allow backyard cottages in Seattle could be voted on as early as Sept. 23.
During a public hearing on backyard cottages Sept. 15, council member Sally Clark said the legislation would come before the Planning, Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee and be eligible for a vote Sept. 23.
But, she said she had a feeling the committee would not be ready to vote on it that early. In which case, it would most likely be voted on Oct. 8, she said.
If passed by the committee, the legislation would go to a full council discussion and vote.
Mayor Greg Nickels has proposed legislation that would allow more homeowners the option to build backyard cottages, or "mother-in-law" units.
The city describes a backyard cottage as a small dwelling unit that is on the same lot as, but physically separate from, a single-family house.
Under the proposal, homeowners would be allowed to build backyard cottages under certain conditions. The owner must live on the premises and there would be an annual limit of 50 new such developments.
The Seattle City Council will hold a public hearing Oct. 8 on a proposal from the Department of Planning and Development to amend a section of the Seattle Municipal Code to allow issuance of a demolition permit of a residential use in a Single Family zone without first establishing a new use for a lot.
The council’s Planning, Land Use and Neighborhood Committee will hold a public hearing to take comments on the proposal during its Oct. 8 meeting. The meeting is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. and will be held in Council Chambers, 2nd floor, Seattle City Hall, 600 Fourth Ave.
The entrances to City Hall are located on the west side of Fifth Avenue, and the east side of Fourth Avenue, between James and Cherry streets. For those who wish to testify, a sign-up sheet will be available outside Council Chambers one-half hour before the public hearing.
Questions concerning the public hearing may be directed to David Yeaworth in Councilmember Clark’s office, by calling (206) 684-8802 or via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those unable to attend the public hearing, comments will be accepted through 2 p.m. Oct. 8. Please send comments to David Yeaworth at:
There may be an economic downturn generally, but recently released city data contradicts the common assumption that Seattle's housing market has taken a hit.
Since Jan of 2008, more than 6,500 housing units have been added to Seattle's housing stock with 2,800 of that total finished in the first three months of 2009. In fact, the rate of new housing development actually is up slightly from previous years.
What's even more interesting, the new numbers also directly conflict with the commonly held belief that Seattle and our neighborhoods somehow are not bearing their fair share of the region's growth.
From 2004 to 2024, Seattle must add 47,000 housing units to its stock - a number set by the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) and based on what the planners and regional leaders say should be our share of anticipated regional growth. That's about one-third of all of King County's growth expected over this period.