West Design Review Board Withholds Approval for 323 Homes Atop Queen Anne Safeway

34
A seven story building housing a new Safeway is proposed in place of the existing one-story Queen Anne Safeway. (Runberg Architecture Group)

In 1994, Councilmember Jim Street proudly predicted Queen Anne would be effectively off limits to new development thanks to the interventions of anti-housing activists in the neighborhood planning mandated by the 1990 Growth Management Act.

“I’m prepared to predict, as we speak, that planning in Queen Anne will be as close to zero (in increasing density) as you can possibly get,” Street said, discussing the Queen Anne Urban Village designation, which was skinny enough on top of the hill to keep most of the tawny neighborhood off limits–especially when paired with the need for approval from groups infiltrated by homeowner activists.

Last night, Queen Anne took another step toward proving out Street’s prediction, as the local design review board yet again declined to approve a design for Queen Anne’s Safeway redevelopment in the works since the Obama administration. The project would bring 323 homes atop a brand new expanded Safeway grocery store along with streetscape improvements. At 474,000 gross square feet (minus exemptions for residential underground parking and ground-floor retail) in an “M1 intensity” 75-foot zone, the development would contribute about $10 million $6 million in Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) payments or set aside 29 homes on-site for low-income households (below 60% of area median income) due to 9% affordability requirements in the zone.

The West Design Review Board didn’t seem too concerned about housing affordability as it required the developer to come back yet again with revisions at another meeting to address their nit-picking about minor design features. In a marathon three-and-a-half-hour meeting, boardmembers quibbled with all manner of details from the proper size of planters, modulating storefronts, the number and caliber of businesses likely to call that frontage home, and whether the developer has really earned it.

Murals were promised on every blank wall, brick added in abundance, bocci light trees sprouted, festival lights strewn about, benches made arty, gates customized with metal latticework, and a pedestrian plaza promenading through the whole shebang, but still it wasn’t enough to impress the board.

The City planner tasked with the project, Joe Hurley, commended the board’s thoroughness and commented they should erect a statue of the developer and architect if they make it through this gauntlet, which seems a terrible way to run a city if it feels like winning the Super Bowl to get a simple apartment building built. “I’m glad the Board is doing a really good, thorough, deliberative review,” Hurley said, calling the project “legendary” as reported by Mark Ostrow of Queen Anne Greenways, who tweeted the meeting.

To some urbanists and pro-housing activists from the sidelines, the continued delay of this Queen Anne project was calling into question the very existence of the design review process in its current format. The design review boards consist of five volunteer members appointed by the Mayor and City Council. One seat is reserved for a design professional, two for community members, one for a development professional, and one for a business or landscape design professional. Meetings are staffed by one City planner from the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections–Hurley in this case.

The West Design Review Board is composed of Brian Walters as the design professional, Steven Porter as the development professional, Jen Montressor as the landscape design professional and business representative, and Patreese Martin and John Morefield as community representatives, though both are architects too. All five members are White, it would appear, which is true of most of the eight design review boards. (The Central Design Review Board is the only one with a Black member while no Latinos appear to be represented on any of the boards.)

Since semi-regular four-hour evening meetings are a requirement of participation in these unpaid positions, it’s no surprise design review board members skew White, wealthy, and toward industry professionals–who at least get a résumé and reputational boost out of it. While there’s no direct compensation, learning strategies to make it through design review can be a valuable skill, even if it’s a moving target.

The Queen Anne Safeway project is three structures with 323 homes in all. (Runberg Architecture Group)

The argument for the review boards is that the feedback and threat of not getting a recommendation improves designs and that a venue for volunteer professionals to vet designs and community members to vent their concerns can help avoid lawsuits. Critics counter that designing by committee actually weakens concepts and can compromise the architectural vision–and some board-delayed projects still get sued anyway. Skeptics argue the time-consuming process adds to project costs, prevents worthy projects from seeing the light of day, and exacerbates our housing affordability crisis.

The Seattle City Council has the authority to reform the design review board or jettison it, and it can raise State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) thresholds so fewer housing projects are subject to environmental appeals. It’s probably time again given the continued obstruction in the midst of a pandemic wrapped in a housing crisis sitting on the edge of a tidal wave of evictions once the state and city eviction bans are lifted. Design review reforms passed in 2017 don’t seem to have solved the fundamental problems with the program.

Barrientos Ryan is the developer behind the latest iteration of the Queen Anne Safeway project, and principal Maria Barrientos is well-respected and well-connected–a member of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda committee that negotiated 65 recommendations and cleared the way for the MHA program that paired upzones in all urban villages and centers with inclusionary zoning requirements boosting affordable housing production. But a developer with a strong track record could not melt the walls the West Design Review Board have put up around Upper Queen Anne in partnership with the Queen Anne Community Council and City leaders of yore.

While Jim Street opposed Queen Anne development, he was against the switch to district representation in the city council, preferring the old all at-large set-up. (Photo by Jennifer Wing)

The Queen Anne Community Council got a preview of the new design a few weeks ago, which was supposed to smooth things over. But the board still came out swinging. Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise given Queen Anne’s history–from the neighborhood’s inception Upper Queen Anne has been synonymous with Seattle’s upper crust. With former council leader Marty Kaplan leading the charge, Queen Anne Community Council spearheaded the legal challenge against backyard cottage reform and it joined the coalition that challenged the MHA rezones unsuccessfully, though did delay both more than a year.

Ostrow reports that Kaplan has recently moved into his second home in Idaho and sold his Queen Anne estate–though he still video conferenced into the meeting and talked like he owned the neighborhood. It’s pretty remarkable that modest efforts at expanding social housing and middle-income housing options have been blocked so extensively and repeatedly. It’s even more remarkable that policies aimed at helping struggling folks afford one home have been thwarted by a guy who had not one but two luxurious homes this whole time. The City of Seattle should really think on that as it contemplates what to do next and to whom to heed and empower with its structures.

Correction: This piece has been updated to note the MHA payment will likely be closer to $6 million when factoring in exemptions for resident parking and ground-floor retail. I had calculated that number to be nearly $10 million without those generous exemptions.

We hope you loved this article. If so, please consider subscribing or donating. The Urbanist is a non-profit that depends on donations from readers like you.

Doug Trumm is The Urbanist's Executive Director. An Urbanist writer since 2015, he dreams of pedestrianizing streets, blanketing the city in bus lanes, and unleashing a mass timber building spree to end the affordable housing shortage and avert our coming climate catastrophe. He graduated from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington. He lives in East Fremont and loves to explore the city on his bike.

34 COMMENTS

  1. I was already annoyed by the article, white wealthy people get to stop development in their neighborhood, and then I read the comments. Thank you Doug, Trevor, and especially ALUVer for getting into more details.

    I’m in white wealthy NE Seattle where apparently bike lanes are dangerous to capitalism and multi-housing in the old Talaris site (more money to B. McCaw) is dangerous to… white wealthy people? The gawd-awful townhouses that have gone up on 35th are absurd. One large apartment building in their place could have afforded far more housing and been far more comfortable. The uproar 15 years ago over a 3-story apartment building now provides an office for one of the biggest anti-bike lane voices, woops, I mean pro-parking space as no one wants to be anti-bike lane in progressive Seattle.

    Hope this article helps spur QA residents who do support housing to take an action.

  2. The reason cars are not needed in many large European and Asian cities is because these cities have a robust public transportation network including underground and bus. Seattle doesn’t. These cities also have smaller scale local grocery, bakery, pharmacist that are neighborhood based. Big box grocery and household stores are located in the suburbs. Housing in the city is usually apartments and not large single family houses, therfore little storage for bulk tp, water, and other items. Seattle also has a large lake and interstate in the middle of it which will forever deter mass underground transit.

    • I hear this argument a lot, but I don’t find it convincing. If we wait around for perfect transit, we’ll be waiting forever as you sort of allude to in your pessimism at the end that Seattle will ever have good subway system. Overall, Seattle’s transit is good and 70% of its population had access to frequent transit in 2019. The urban neighborhoods also tend to have a grocer, bakery and pharmacy. There are more apartments than single family homes in Seattle. Conditions here are more favorable for transit growth and car-free urban living that many think. And that’s why we’re leading the nation in adding car-free households. If we nurtured this trend with infrastructure investments, we could accomplish a lot. https://www.theurbanist.org/2019/11/04/seattleites-are-ditching-cars-for-bikes-and-transit/

  3. Just out of curiosity, what are the best and most affordable neighborhoods to live in if you are an Urbanist, and what do rents cost? I lived in many Seattle neighborhoods (always rental and shared) but that was a while ago.

    • Who cares? Stop talking about affordability. We already explained this to you. New *anything* costs more. New iPhones, new cars, new clothes, new computers. Why is housing different? The point for new housing isn’t about it being market rate affordable, it’s about building the supply so the people willing to pay the rent can live in a new building, while older buildings (renting well beyond their value) can relax their rates.

      Supply side housing has worked immensely already in Seattle. Even some of the new projects downtown are offering rents in new buildings at $1,500 for a studio. That is a steal for a brand new, downtown project.

      When there was ample supply for our population 8 years ago, I lived in Capitol Hill for $700 a month. I bet that room is renting for double that now. Because we don’t have E N O U G H housing.

      Also, this is about making the whole city more affordable with the concept outlined above. We don’t need to tell the affordable urbanists to go “live over there”. They should be able to live in your neighborhood.

      Stop fighting housing. Stop closing your neighborhood off. Stop telling people to “go live over there”. You couldn’t afford your neighborhood now, so quit acting sanctimonious.

  4. Thanks Doug, you are correct about the new Bellevue height limit. I accidently used the amount of new additional height the upzone allowed.

    We can agree to disagree on whether building new construction creates more affordable housing or mitigates housing costs in the region. So far I haven’t seen much mitigation but maybe it will come soon. Ironically during the pandemic housing costs — especially single family homes — have increased dramatically. It will be interesting to see how rentals pan out as leases expire after the pandemic. I will follow whether Bellevue’s new 60 story residential towers create affordable housing, or reduce housing costs on the eastside. Perhaps working from home will allow workers to move to more rural areas and free up housing.

    What I object to are folks demanding existing residents change the character of their neighborhood so presumably the new folks can afford to live there, and then claiming that is the more moral choice. That somehow if residents don’t approve a non-code compliant upzone that will create very expensive condos they are white, or boomers, or evil.

    I think these decisions should be up to those who live in these neighborhoods, and have made them what they are, which is why people are willing to pay a lot to live there. Seven story buildings don’t make me uncomfortable. I just think that height limit is dumb. Either go urban or don’t.

    The reason I bring up South Seattle is because the land is less expensive there, and the neighborhoods could really use new development. That is how it usually works, in cities from San Francisco to NY. New, young residents arrive and generally can only afford the edgier parts of the city, along with the artists, until those areas are gentrified, and so on.

    Not surprising many of these edgy neighborhoods are primarily Black. Someone in this thread mentions Georgetown and Columbia City, and those are two great examples (as was Belltown many years ago before it was upzoned). Georgetown was an edgy town to live in 20 years ago but now has gentrified, while Columbia City is just beginning its life cycle. When I was a kid in Seattle in the 1960’s Capitol Hill was edgy and mostly Black, until the gay crowd discovered it. People move to those up and coming neighborhoods because … drum roll … they are more affordable than the older gentrified neighborhoods (where apparently only white racist boomers live).

    • Oh please, half of Queen Anne has buildings on it that do not comply with land use or zoning codes currently. They have multiple units, they don’t set back from the street, they don’t modulate, etc. Literally, your “neighborhood character” is no longer code compliant. So please save that insufferable opinion.

    • I’m sorry Dan, your reasoning is still flawed. If Bellevue builds 5,000 new condos downtown, and average prices rise, then that doesn’t mean adding these buildings caused it. Demand from the thousands of tech workers moving here is driving up prices. They are coming for the jobs, and if new supply isn’t added then prices will rise even faster. Correlation is not causation.

      Incidentally, the height limit in downtown Bellevue increased from 450′ to 600′, an increase of 150′. 237′ is neither the height limit nor the increase to the previous limit, not sure what your source was.

      Let’s explore what you suggest, which is preventing all new development in an established neighborhood so that current residents can freeze its character exactly as it is now, forever. (1) It should be patently obvious that this supply constraint will drive prices higher and higher, and exclude more and more people from ever being able to live there. This is what San Francisco looks like: a beautiful museum to visit for the weekend, but out of reach as a home for 99.5% the population. (2) One after another, each neighborhood will eventually be driven to a level of gentrification where its residents lobby to freeze future development, and the only place left to add new development will be green field sites far from those neighborhoods. Perhaps without realizing it, you are advocating for massive new outer suburbs to be built as the solution to the high cost of housing.

      “Either go urban or don’t” – that’s a weird thing to say, as if there should be SFH on 5,000 sq ft lots and gleaming 600ft towers, and nothing in between. There is clearly room for other housing types and sizes, and a 7-story building on the top of QA adjacent to SFH makes more sense than a 600 footer.

      It’s a red herring to suggest that we are debating whether development increase or decreases affordability. The real argument is how much influence existing home owners should have over the type and quantity of new homes added to their neighborhood. There have been dozens of lot splits in upper Queen Anne in recent years, and residents didn’t protest those new multi-million dollar additions nearly as much as the specter of sharing the Safeway with apartment dwellers.

  5. The article didn’t mention that the Safeway was seeking a departure to the zoning requirement that the development contain space for 8 small neighborhood businesses. This is mandated by the size of the development. Safeway wants to double the size of their current store, to 50k sq. ft. When this project was first presented to the neighborhood a couple years ago, the developer said Safeway would accept no less than 50k sq ft, and asked for a departure to the code. After several iterations and meeting with the DRB, the developer presented what they felt was a compromise. The new plan provided for access to the Safeway’s floral, pharmacy, deli, and Starbucks from the sidewalk on the Queen Anne Ave. elevation. This didn’t satisfy the intent of the code, which is to foster small businesses in large developments.

    The article also failed to mention that within the next three years, there will be nearly 500 residential units added to the top of Queen Anne. The Safeway, three other new developments within a block of the
    Safeway site, and McGraw Square, Less then a mile from the Safeway site. None of these developments are being challenged because of their residential components.

    Safeway and its developer brought this project to the DRB without addressing the small business requirement because they thought they could bully their way to a permit.

    • Oh give me a break. Nearly every project proposal has a departure request. Look up the packets. They all request something, whether it’s modulation, facade length, open space, setbacks from the street, etc. If you want every project to comply with code without departure, they’ll all look worse than you could imagine. The code is only a starting point and these boards routinely depart from code and vote it through unanimously.

      You would know that since you’re clearly a keen design review expert.

  6. Seattle has lots of crappy neighborhoods that could be upgraded by putting new construction there. Instead of taking nice neighborhoods and ruining them, why not take neighborhoods that don’t have cafes and small businesses and good grocery stores, and focus on making them better? There are lots of areas in Seattle that could benefit from having a walkabout neighborhood retail core, that’s where the development should go. That’s where people would welcome new construction.

    The city should be responsive to the residents. If the people moved to a neighborhood becuase they like it, like the residents of Ballard did, they should not be forced to move because the modest little 2-bedroom duplex they live in and pay $1800/mo got torn down and replaced by a six-story 100 unit apartment complex with one-bedroom and studio apartments costing $3000/month. I fail to see how that is helping the “affordablility” issue.

    There are miles of roadway in south seattle with very little housing on it, that thousands of units could be built on. Up in north east Seattle, west of Lake City, you have to drive for miles to go to a grocery store. No neighborhood retail cores up there.

    It’s completely silly to say that Queen Anne has to accept what they don’t want.
    Get over yourselves.

    • The reality is that there is development pressure on this entire region to add more housing. People want to live in areas that have access to grocery stores, schools, public transit, and parks but rich people like you in wealthy neighborhoods fight these developments tooth and nail, that’s why Magnolia, Upper Ballard, Upper Queen Anne, Sand Point etc. have had barely any development while SE Seattle, Cap Hill, the CD, U District, Hiawatha, etc. are redeveloping rapidly. Every neighborhood needs to take on its fair share of redevelopment but that has not happened.

      The way you express sympathy for Queen Anne and Ballard residents while dismissing SE Seattle and NE Seattle (which there is a commercial corridor on NE 15th St btw!) as ‘miles of roadway’ makes me sick. There are communities there too.

    • What an insufferable opinion. No, the city shouldn’t be ‘responsive’ to ‘the residents’. Your neighborhood is not ‘yours’. The 500 people being denied the chance to live here by delaying this project should get a voice too. You are not in charge of the city.

  7. Does anyone even know why we have Design Review? In 1989, with 23% voter turnout–lowest in city history–voters approved the CAP program, which capped all downtown buildings at 85 feet, 7 stories, and created community filled design review boards. We upzoned the hell out of downtown 15 years ago, and again 4 years ago, so CAP is completely gutted. Design Review is all that remains.

    It’s pointless, and was created in sin by NIMBYs to prevent change in Seattle.

  8. “All five members are White, it would appear, which is true of most of the eight design review boards. (The Central Design Review Board is the only one with a Black member while no Latinos appear to be represented on any of the boards.)”

    Why are you disappearing Asian people? And for sure, Native American people whose stolen land these boards are “designing?”

    • The West Design Review Board is all White as are four other boards. I wasn’t trying to erase anybody by pointing our membership is mostly White. Of the four people of color members in the program, half are on the Central DRB.

  9. Seattle’s power struggle is old white comfort against Asian greed. The tech industry and developers purchased our city council, but they forgot about the volunteers.

  10. Thank you for this article, especially with regards to design review boards. They need to go, so much exciting and inspired design get’s watered down or flat out rejected; and worthwhile projects get delayed. It needs to stop.

  11. For the life of me I don’t understand why folks think upzoning and new construction in an expensive neighborhood will benefit the poor or create affordable housing, especially if it hasn’t yet. If I divided every lot in Medina in two would each lot be “affordable”, especially with a brand new house on it. Of course not.

    Look at Bellevue. Urbanists on this site rail on about three story multi-family housing in Seattle like that is urbanism, or would ever support the most critical part of Urbanism: RETAIL DENSITY. Who cares if there is housing density without retail density. Where are you going to walk to? The Korean grocer on the corner?

    Downtown Bellevue has a 237′ height limit. And guess what. Every single unit in that new 237′ building is beyond unaffordable. It is all Asian money. And the retail density, which is not that great by the way, depends on the car traffic from all the expensive surrounding single family neighborhoods. Hence all the parking at Lincoln Square, and Bellevue Square, and why the new Hines Project has 1500 parking stalls.

    A neighborhood like Ballard is trying desperately to hang on to its character. It is where families moved to. Ballard is so remote it has always been a little suburban oasis in Seattle, a “affordable” neighborhood. A major grocery store, whether you are in Ballard or Issaquah or Mercer Island, with a lot of parking because some folks actually have KIDS, is the heart of that community.

    Look, Ballard and Seattle in general (except south Seattle, except Urbanists are not keen on S. Seattle for some reason) have skyrocketed in cost. I am not really sure why, but why punish those who moved to Ballared when it was affordable by ruining why they moved there because you can’t afford to live there. When they moved to Ballard it was kind of the edge of the city. What makes you think the residents want a bunch of new, broke “urbanists”.

    My advice to young Urbanists is to find a new edge of the city, and that is South Seattle. Make it the new Ballard. Moving to Ballard once was risky, it was the outer edge. Create your own new outer edge, rather than wanting to tear town the older outer edges that have, well, aged.

    South Seattle is the new Ballard, if you are willing.

    • This is a very uninformed comment in an impressive variety of ways.

      1. Market rate construction still brings overall costs down as it increases the overall housing supply. In your Medina example yes the Medina lots themselves wouldn’t be ‘affordable’ to the average person but they would cost less AND bring more folks into that area likely clearing out lower end housing in other parts of the region, allowing that housing to become affordable.
      2. Retail is very much part of this – mixed-use zoning is huge key in zoning reform. Even the article you’re commenting on discusses…..a housing development over retail.
      3. Glad you like Ballard, so do others. No one is tearing it down, it’s growing. The opposite of being torn down. Getting torn down is what happens to an economically dead town that no one wants to live in where drug use and suicide rates skyrocket. If you want a town that never changes (unless you count decay as change) try Port Angeles or Aberdeen.
      4. South Seattle is already booming, have you seen Columbia City?

    • Daniel,

      I grew up on Mercer Island, class of 2010, and the single biggest factor in me becoming an ‘urbanist’ was moving to Barcelona’s Eixample district (pop. 92,000 per square mile) as a 12 year old, and then having to move back to suburban MI. Not having to rely on my parent’s to shuttle me between friend’s homes, to school, to practice, the mall, or movie theater, instead using the bus and subway, provided a quality of life unreplicable on MI. The idea that the presence of kids somehow necessitates vehicles and parking is backwards. The presence of kids should prioritize modes they can use safely. It’s contradictory to argue the suburbs and auto-dependency are pro-family when cars are the single greatest cause of death for those under 18, and dependency on them robs kids of any real autonomy. It tragic there aren’t any truly safe bike routes to any of the schools on the island.

      I’ve seen a number of your post regarding affordability/mobility etc. and they misrepresent what being an ‘urbanist’ is. While I can only speak for myself, most of us are arguing for polices tat based on those found in the consensus best places in the world to live. Most these cities achieve a sort of ‘Goldilocks density’ where there’s sufficient density for regular transit and to support local businesses, housing is affordable and ecologically efficient, with easy access to public goods (parks, social spaces, schools etc.). The ideal would be the Vauban neighborhood in Freiburg, Germany, which sets the standard globally and speaking from experience, will redefine what you imagine is possible for living in an urban context, if you ever visit.

      Mike Eliason did a great series on Freiburg and more specifically Baugruppen, a community based development approach, for the urbanist a while back that is worth a read: http://www.theurbanist.org/category/baugruppen/

      Then there’s the Vienna model where the state produces rent controlled public housing on a massive scale, and employs gender mainstreaming aka ‘Feminist urban planning’: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2019/may/14/city-with-a-female-face-how-modern-vienna-was-shaped-by-women
      https://cityobservatory.org/housing-policy-lessons-from-vienna-part-i/

      Or Singapore, where the state develops and sells housing en masse, achieving 90% home ownership rates: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2018-08-30/how-singapore-helped-90-of-households-to-own-their-homes-video

      Or Stockholm which on a whole has likely achieved the best planning citywide, a product of their ‘million homes plan’ in the postwar period: https://www.lse.ac.uk/cities/publications/research-reports/Stockholm-Green-Economy-Leader-Report

      A great book on Europe more generally and urbanism is: https://www.amazon.com/Good-Cities-Better-Lives-Environment/dp/0415840228

      Our current planning model gets little right and benefits few, why wouldn’t we want to copy those who do it better? Also, no one is claiming splitting lots in Medina or 40 story construction is a panacea. But building market rate, even high end, is proven to mitigate wider rent increases (https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/20190711_metro_Is-California-Apartment-Market-Broken-Schuetz-Murray.pdf).

      • Fab reading list Trevor, thanks for posting this. Transforming established neighborhoods is a slog, lot-by-lot, fight-after-fight. It would be great to see Bellevue’s Wilburton commercial area built with the quality of density I’ve seen in Barcelona. It’s a blank canvas in the process of rezoning, and if someone has both the vision and the influence then it’s possible.

        • Thanks, Tony,

          I managed to forget my favorite model, which gets to the “someone of vision and influence” issue. The public development corporation model that Copenhagen and Hamburg have used to great success.

          https://www.brookings.edu/research/copenhagen-port-development/

          HafenCity: https://www.hamburg.com/port/hafencity/

          Copenhagen has basically what the Fed is to monetary policy whereas the fed balances employment and inflation, their PDC’s objective is price stability in the housing market which it achieves via its powers to purchase land, issue bonds, develop directly, and I think the right to first refusal on strategic properties. Imagine instead of doing subarea plans, we had a subarea developer, too?

          It’s crazy the public captures so little of the value increase we create by investing in transit. A PDC is likely a pipe dream, but even shifting to land value taxes from property taxes (Georgism) would make a huge difference (https://www.brookings.edu/policy2020/bigideas/to-improve-housing-affordability-we-need-better-alignment-of-zoning-taxes-and-subsidies). Why should landowners like Northgate Mall or Safeway (the prior owner of the spring district) get to pocket hundreds of millions in increased value attributable to infrastructure they paid little towards? At some point Lowe’s and Darigold by the Mt. Baker station will cash out, pocketing unearned millions. It doesn’t get talked about enough the property value increase Link has provided to so many private landowners.

    • Yeah that’s not how it works. New anything costs more. New phones, new clothes, new cars. Why is housing the one thing that should be different?

      New housing isn’t supposed to be ‘affordable’. It’s about building the supply. If you divided those lots in Medina up, you could sell more expensive homes rather than having 1 of 2 buyers priced out, and forced to buy something else (like a home in Queen Anne).

      NIMBYs love to put impossibilities on housing projects like automatically making them affordable, or forcing on-site parking. Anything to kill the project and seem like they’re in good faith.

      Snap out of it man.

    • Did you not read about MHA contributions in the piece Daniel? Inclusionary zoning means every new multifamily project in Seattle literally contributes to affordable housing.

      By the way, you have some outdated information about Downtown Bellevue. The height limit is now 600 feet. And is Kemper Freeman Asian now? I thought he just stole his land from Japanese American farmers…

      You keep going on about this move to the Rainier Valley thing. Give it a rest. We’re not going to concentrate the entire region’s growth in one district because the idea of rich neighborhoods getting 7-story buildings makes you uncomfortable.

  12. Replacing the existing Safeway and surface parking lot with a new Safeway will destroy the character of the neighborhood! /s

Comments are closed.