Friday, October 25, 2013

It Ain't Over Till It's Over

In my last post, I told you about the short notice we were given to file an appeal to challenge the city's decision to allow the Alki 11 row house project to go forward. I described mounting an appeal in just 9 days as a "nearly impossible task."

But not completely impossible, it turns out. Thanks to neighbor, Marty McQuaid, an appeal was filed yesterday, citing the city's failure to meet state SEPA guidelines, and irregularities in the city's granting of lot boundary adjustments (LBAs), among other issues.

Read the appeal document, filed by land use attorney, Cynthia Kennedy. And the declaration from Marty McQuaid. The appeal was filed on behalf of the Alki Neighborhoods for Sensible Growth, a newly formed association comprised of residents affected by the Alki 11 development. The filing was covered by the West Seattle Blog.

For those of us involved in the controversy, it was a great relief to hear from the land use attorney that we have grounds to challenge the LBAs. It was clear to us from the beginning that two sets of row houses back to back, as the Alki 11 is proposed, would be illegal. The city clearly states that row houses cannot have principal residences behind them. But by rearranging the lot lines and declaring each set of row houses to be on a separate piece of property, the developer was able to turn an illegal project into a legal one.

This, not surprisingly, infuriated the neighbors who saw these LBAs as sneaky and underhanded. We were further frustrated by the fact that the city told us we couldn't address the issue of boundary adjustments in the review process. We were told that the project wasn't under land use review, only a SEPA review. Our objections had to be limited to the environmental aspects of the project. Period. We were told that our comments regarding design or land use would be disregarded. I felt like we had been issued a gag order.

It is clear to everyone that if the LBAs were not granted, this project would not be a row house project. It would be a town house project. If it were a town house project, subject to the same guidelines and requirements as the other town house developments on our street, there would not have been a protest.

If nothing else, appealing the city's decision will give us the opportunity, at long last, to bring attention to the LBA issue and let our objections be known.

No date has been set for a hearing. When it is, I will let you know.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The City Has Reached A Decision on The Alki 11 Rowhouse Project

Three months after the public meeting requested by Alki neighbors, the city has handed down a decision on the SEPA review of the Alki 11 rowhouse project. They have approved the project, over numerous neighborhood objections, with "conditions." The conditions all relate to conduct during construction and have no bearing on the design.

The city published the decision on the DPD website on October 10, but neighbors did not receive notification of the decision until October 15. We were given a deadline of October 24 for an appeal - just 9 days in which to review the decision and decide what, if any, grounds there might be for appeal. A nearly impossible task.

Needless to day, neighbors are very disappointed with the city's decision. Moreover, late notification for some people, with many names misspelled, and no notification at all for others, gives the impression of lack of respect on the part of city officials. None of this sits well. And we are not alone. All over the city, citizens are organizing and protesting runaway development and lack of consideration from the city. It will be interesting to see what affect this will have on the upcoming election in which we choose a mayor and members of city council.

Coverage of the decision on the West Seattle Blog contains links to the relevant documents.