We are a West Seattle neighborhood group based in 32nd Ave SW next to SW Avalon Way made up of people from 75+ homes and 3 condos. We’ve been working with the City of Seattle Department of Planning and Development (DPD)- to get reasonable development along SW Avalon Way. Our neighborhood, like yours I’m sure, is being buried in higher density projects and development than our neighborhood or the infrastructure can really bear.
In our case, the City of Seattle DPD is allowing and encouraging 7 story apartment buildings and Micro-housing structures to be built up against our single family homes and sustainable condos. Back yards will have 5-6 story apartments rising above them, burying them in shadows and suffer increased, dangerous and unlivable traffic and parking congestion beyond what the already maxed out infrastructure can handle or was planned for. It says a lot when condo owners are calling the density of the current proposed projects ridiculous.
If the mission of the DPD is this:
We partner with the community to build and preserve a great city – safe and sustainable, diverse and healthy, energizing and supportive.
Why are we, Neighbors Encouraging Reasonable Development, battling the City for reasonable development?
Surprisingly, and despite our appeals in following City processes to create compatible and livable development, the City planners and Design Review Boards refuse to “use Code as established by City policy, to meet neighborhood objectives, and to provide for effective mitigation of a proposed project’s impact and influence on a neighborhood, (SMC 23.41.002 Purpose and intent, Early Design Guidance- Design Review)” according to the Seattle Municipal Codes and design guidelines. By Seattle law, the Design Review Process is supposed to protect communities and neighborhoods from harmful development.
If DPD would actually follow Design Review rules they would work. The rules aren’t broken. They are just not being followed. They will not adhere to SMC 23.41.008 3. Ensure fair and consistent application of Citywide or neighborhood-specific design guidelines.
Instead, the Department of Planning Development has decided and taken actions that defy the codes and rules which results in creating harmful impacts to our neighborhoods. In fact, their decisions and actions help developers from outside the City who have no vesting of their lives in our neighborhood communities. The DPD leadership, instead of following their own rules and guidelines that would create balanced development that would fit with existing neighborhoods, chooses to pile on the density regardless of the negative effects to our neighborhoods.
Why? Because, as a Design Review Board Chair recently said at a Nov 21 2013 meeting, they believe this:
“Developers rightly control a great deal of this (Design Review) … they are taking all the risks”
Really? So the actual investment by all the families in the neighborhood that far surpasses the developer’s, yes the people who pay their mortgages, rent, raise their kids, invest their lives- people who are truly vested in the neighborhood, don’t count?
Just so you know, we’re really not just a bunch of City and DPD bashers. We’re actually just families and individuals who care about our neighborhood and want to keep it healthy and livable- we’ve invested our lives here.
And, we want to extend our appreciation to our public servants who exemplify goodness in their public service actions:
We want to thank City of Seattle Council Members Tom Rasmussen, Sally Clark, Mike Obrien for taking the time to exemplify public service and come see our situation, hear our pleas and do the right things for neighborhoods. (Ordinance 124307)
Mayor Murray, we look forward to working with you “to implement positive changes in the city’s relationship to neighborhoods to restore confidence, improve effectiveness, and strengthen purpose” (Murray and Neighbohoods)
We need more public servants like this!
peace, SeattleNERD Speak up neighbors, encourage reasonable development.