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.