News Feb 25, 2010 at 4:00 am

Neighbors Delay Improvements Around Light Rail for a Year or More

Wants to expand on Beacon Hill. Can’t now. Kelly O


Thank you very much for this article. As a resident of Beacon Hill and a staffperson at El Centro de la Raza, I was disheartened to hear of the appeal.

El Centro de la Raza organized hundreds of community members about the development, and while there were countless divergent opinions on how exactly development should occur, claims that there simply wasn't enough community input, or that enough study of the impact of development didn't occur (study that this appeal actually delays!) are groundless.

I am of the personal opinion that much of the resistance to El Centro de la Raza's ideas for development centers around some of our neighbor's conscious or unconscious NIMBYism - we want to build more affordable housing (necessary, in my opinion, to stem the gentrification that has already begun and will increase in Beacon Hill especially as a result of the light rail station), and I think many oppose this (read: don't want more poor people in our neighborhood).
Why are we surprised by this behavior?

I mean, if the city council and county council are showing they're not serious about having light rail on SR-520 and choosing a zero-transit SR-99 Billionaires Tunnel, why should it be surprising if everyone takes a cue from Their Behavior and gets all NIMBY about transit-oriented development (TOD)?

People follow the cues of civic leaders - if most of those cues are all NIMBY and the rich people pay attention to their views and not society as a whole, why can't people down there follow their lead?
How is it these fucking NIMBY fuckers get away with calling themselves neighborhood representatives? Who exactly do they represent? Can I get a list of names?

I live next to the Columbia City station and say big big or go home. Does that make me a community representative?

Nothing like delaying the inevitable.
Wow, so six NIMBYists are able to thwart a plan for smart, sustainable development in Seattle?

These people are nothing but greedy, myopic, selfish idiots who lack even the slightest concept of the common good.
Thanks for covering this--and for getting one of the Othello petitioners to speak. Frederica is a productive, passionate activist on Beacon Hill and was an important voice in the earlier draft of the Neighborhood Plan. She has been singled out in the coverage because of the Beacon Blog broke the story. It's important to follow up with the other appellants--who are these folks and what are their goals?

Those filing the appeals want the best of both worlds: to be seen as standing up as individuals AND to be representatives. They are neither.

The Beacon Blog, Publicola, and Seattle Transit Blog have also been bringing attention to these appeals. Would be great to add some links. The comments threads add a lot to the conversation.

First mention of the appeals:…

Great summary of the three appeals & the overall process:…


Seattle Transit Blog…
Crap--sorry, didn't see the first set of links post. My bad.
Interesting, Cienna. I notice that you are NOT a property owner, so your article leaves out the major impact this development would have on property values. I am 2 blocks from the Capitol Hill station in a brand new townhome that has lost $120K in value in the last 2 years, I'm on the verge of foreclosure and the only value I can cleave to at this point is the fact that my townhome has a view, which will certainly be lost if this development proceeds.
I'm really happy for all the developers who get to run amuck and make tons of profits because they give a few bucks to low-income housing programs in exchange for getting to do whatever they want -- per usual, the middle class is getting fucked!!!
Great article.
First rule of home ownership - you have no rights to a view or breathable space, other than over your own property, unless you first purchase the air rights or an easement from the properties that exist between your property and the view itself.

Zoning codes change in cities that have growth.

Always have.

Always will.
I am a property owner - two blocks from the Beacon Hill station, and I can say most assuredly that Frederica Merrell does not speak for the community. Beacon Hill is an incredibly diverse n'hood; culturally, socio-economically, and on just about every other possible level. One thing we have in common is a desire to see the community move forward with smart development, with a growing social consciousness (such as would be embodied in the efforts of El Centro) and without the greedy, backwards, and self-serving tactics of someone who might be better of in a 'hood like Laurelhurst where blocking progress is a common practice. Don't like living in a city 'hood that's changing for the better? Move.
"where the nonprofit wants to build low-income-housing units and street-level retail next to a vast public plaza."

These NIMBY activists pretend to represent their neighborhoods the same way Displacement Coaltion fraud John Fox pretends to represent "low income" folks. The reality is that the small "we hate change" contingent represents only elitist NIMBYs.

A reminder for the appeal-happy clowns: you live in a CITY. If you want to live out your anti-social dreams, move to Duvall.

@9 What the fuck does your buying an overpriced town home at the height of the bubble have anything to do with this? How are these two things even connected?
"How is it that one individual can stop the process when hundreds of people participated?"

Welcome to Seattle, where the nuts and the crazy people get all the attention and sane people doing good work on behalf of progress get ignored.

I swear, one kook like John Fox will get all the air time he wants on KUOW's Weakday program.
Bill LaBorde is a pimp for the light rail industry.

David Goldberg (and DPD) is a pimp for the developers.

La Raza moves as slow as siesta time. This in no way should stop them from moving forward with building plans. It would stop them from selling the property though.
Cienna - totally lame reporting. Did you read the appeals? Do you even understand the issues raised? You meatheads through "NIMBY" around and don't realize that these folks are working to ensure the interests of the neighborhood are met.

You say "Merrell and her cohorts appear to be more concerned with winning than pursuing the best interests of their neighborhoods and the city" when in fact what they are arguing for is more protections and documented plans related to the growth proposed.

You say "planners who say developing around light rail increases transit ridership, decreases dependence on cars". Yet these same folks will allow thousands of condos to be built there with parking.

Its sad to see The Stranger be a mouthpiece for the developers and the City and not do any serious journalism.
They represent their neighborhoods as much if not more than you do, and have been doing so for a lot longer.

That Matt Fox is such a character. He has been a dedicated member of the hardcore NIMBY club for years, and has made a point to try and freeze the city in time. Ala 1974.

Check out the classic NIMBY approach, where short term construction impacts are constantly used as scare tactics. And the long term benefits are ignored.

In 2005, Mr. X Fox wanted to push the light rail station as far away from his transient neighborhood as possible (I hear the U District Community Club attracts about 5 people to their monthly meetings - you can tell they are representative of the 'hood)

And check out this b.s. Fox slung in a 2005 pi article; it's a perfect example of how NIMBYS pretend to know what they are talking about, and pretend to represent the community...but fail on all counts:

*(Fox) believes it's just another case where the university wants to "push their problems into the community and let us bear the costs."*
(PI Aug. 15, 2005)

Typical. Fox got it bassackwards. The Mayor received pressure from University District businesses who believed a rail station on or next to campus would do great harm to the Ave and side street businesses. As in, students would walk across campus, skip the U District, and get directly on the train if Fox's NIMBY concept was put into effect.

The Mayor wasn't "succumbing to the UW" as Matt Fox pretends. He was listening to the community Fox pretends to represent.

Fox was either completely removed from the community discussion on the siting of that light rail station, or he was purposefully distorting the facts, spreading typical NIMBY mythology. Either way, it's a classic lesson on how self-appointed "activists" rely on heresay and urban myth to sway the discussion.

NIMBYS are always looking backwards in time to satisfy their ideology; as such, they think backwards, too.
"Moreover, NYC - which is about as world class as it gets - actually has rent control so longtime residents don't get forced out by gentrification. Oh, the horror!"

And we have property tax exemptions and deferrals. And an exemption on sales tax for food. Comparing NYC to a neighborhood where 85% of the population spends less than 4 years of their life is kind of pointless.
@18 and the Bronx used to be farms, so what exactly is your point?
I am 16 years 3 blocks from the Centro.

Never has Centro done anything with this neighborhood and I guess that is their prerogative. To wit: Chain link fence surrounding property? Check. Empty child care facility? Check. Wilted "community" garden? Check. Empty playground and basketball courts? Check. Twelve NO DOG ON PREMISES on six entrances? Check. It will take more than an Acupuncture Clinic and a Travel Agency to inject "Culture" into this community, and, when you flame me, let me know when the last time YOU were there.
I live three blocks from the station and am in favor of upzoning - I actually chose NC-85 during the planning process. However I think there is some legitimate opposition to the plan update as it exists because it seems solely focused on the zoning.

If you read the plan itself there is a lot of vague language about creating a pedestrian friendly environment and many other great goals, but no concrete plan of action to make them happen. It's lacking defined projects to implement or anything that will actually hold SDOT accountable for achieving the goals.

I think the fear is that the upzone will go through and then the city will forget about us again. Meanwhile other neighborhoods will use their Plan updates to lobby for city-funded improvements.

In short upzone yes, but update the entire Neighborhood Plan.

The community garden rocks. The Master Gardener there was an incredible help when we were creating our planting strip garden beds.
@18, you must not be from New York, or if you are, you must not know why the South Bronx is such a hell hole. Fuck rent control.

btw @23, the Lower East Side used to be farms too, sort of trippy huh?

also @22

Comparing NYC to a neighborhood where 85% of the population spends less than 4 years of their life is kind of pointless.

hahahahha that is exactly what NYC is like, at least lower Manhattan.
thank goodness there are still a few people left in Seattle that aren't fancy people/hipsters who just want to see more vinyl-siding and Starbucks. I hope these few excellent people are able to shut down the ruin of B Hill forever. The light rail scam was bad enough, but now is the time to really cut the whole scam off at the knees! I mean, at this point, let's just admit it, Seattle is really a dead zone, but any little resistance to yuppification is one small signal that not everyone is a dunderhead.

My family and I have lived in Beacon Hill for over 13 years and have been involved with El Centro for many of those years...
El Centro has dedicated 40 years to community service and in their support for the under-priviliged they have often taken stances that put them at odds with panicky NIMBY's. I still remember the uproar when the first Tent City pitched up in that now-empty lot. Instead, as I walked my daughter to daycare in the mornings past the tents filled with homeless families, we learned a few things about empathy and being grateful..
Beacon Hill would benefit of additional development around the Light Rail station, more street level businesses are much needed to revitalize the area and mixed income housing is part of the cultural make-up of this neighborhood. Eventually, Frederica will have to realize that her personal objections can't hold progress for a whole neighborhood.

People are free to disagree, the problem is that electeds, the one’s responsible, are afraid to make a decision and our legal system profits from deliberately drug out meaningless conflict.

The issue of upzoning on the South Link **was** fine, but the powers that be went to far – into single family zones and into insulting those that stood up for them. This Beacon Hill proposal might well have been a good idea, but that train may have already crashed, as it left the station.

We do have an alternative to this sort of process, we could give corporations priority over individuals. Ooops, excuse me, we already do. Perhaps this is just another small effort to make it **cheaper** to exercise that traitorous conspiracy.

What we need is public servants in all branches of government to do their jobs and make a decision respecting every individuals right to express their opinion.

Anyone who thinks any individual does not have the right does nothing but to sacrifice their own status as US citizen, if they can even be considered human.

Tbere is one place for such corporate welfare/bonus sucking harrassing f ups, that’s panhandling in front of the light rail stations. And if they can’t be civil about it, proceed accordingly…..
What is unsaid is that El Centro de La Rasa didn't pay for their property that they occupy but all other ethnic groups in Seattle who have former school district property paid market rate - such as the Leschi Center in the former Gatzert School or the African American Museum in the former Coleman School.

El Centro has always broke the law when it wasn't convenient, now that someone is using SEPA in a lawful way for an appeal, they are complaining? That takes cojones.
@13 et al,

Isn't the "if you don't like it, you should move to another city" meme the DEFINITION of NIMBYism?

City policy hatorade memetic Evolution:

"If you don't like this neighborhood, you should move to Laurelhurst/Duvall/NYC!" NIMBH =Not in my Beacon Hill-ism;
"don't like my lawn, you should get the hell off!" GOMLYDK = GetOffMyLawnYouDamnKids-ism;
"Not in MY Beacon Hill!" = NIMBYism

that said, not all NIMBY's are selfish, myopic bitches. I'll generally get in line behind those NIMBY's protesting a Central District Freeway, or a prison next to a school, or an airport in a city.
But you're against dense residential next to a transit stop? Get a fucking grip. Go and try to show me the single family homes in walking distance of Grand Central... or Farms near Penn Station, first.

NIMPST = delusional old-school yasureyubetcha Seattle-ites who think "Not In My Presumed Small Town"
@17, @20, @24, @29, @34:

@17 I wonder what you mean by El Centro moves slow? In what way? And where does the idea of selling the property come from? There is a 0% chance that that could happen.

@20 The Beacon Hill plan called for an up-zone as El Centro is currently zoned single family. But the plan was drafted 10 years ago before anyone anticipated a light rail station across the street (it was gonna be a tunnel or something).

With the light rail here now, El Centro feels an increased sense of responsibility and opportunity and want the up-zone to go to 65' instead of 40'. The Beacon Hill plan always called for an up-zone and El Centro just wants to make it a bit higher.

@24 Hey. I live in Beacon Hill and work at El Centro, so... I'm there right now. You've been here longer than me so I'm not going to argue about what El Centro has done in terms of development in the neighborhood. But the idea that El Centro hasn't "done anything" with the neighborhood is absurd.

I don't get your other arguments either - El Centro has chain link around it much like other schools and child care centers - oh yeah, which are completely full (and the preschool has a huge waiting list, btw).

Re: the garden - it's winter. Check back in the Spring and summer... the garden is pretty nice. Guess what else the Master Gardener does besides grow the garden on our property - gets a bunch of volunteers and build garden boxes for local Seniors and teach them how to garden at home.

And hey, every day I go to and leave from work there are a bunch of kids playing on the playground, and El Centro doesn't have a basketball court so I have no idea what you're talking about there...

Also, PS) the acupuncture clinic and travel agency are not part of El Centro, they are tenants that rent space in the building.

In terms of "injecting culture," come to El Centro's annual Cinco de Mayo event on Sunday, May 2nd. El Centro expects around 500 people to come, just like last year, the year before, and... oh yeah, we've been doing cultural events on our property for 30 years.

@29 @31 Those of you complaining about "yuppification" and "vinyl siding" - do you even know what kind of an opportunity this is? When in the history of Seattle has a community-based non-profit organization owned vacant land across the street from a major transit stop and wanted to develop it?

Do you really think there's going to be a Starbucks there? El Centro sent out surveys to the Beacon Hill community asking what kind of retail space the community wants... So retail based on that and more community input... there's going to be an open, potentially Latino-style plaza, low-income housing, a large community performance space... really, guys, not all development is bad.

This isn't some random faceless developer selling space to the highest bidder, it's El Centro de la Raza. Have some faith. Know for a fact that the entire executive staff is reading these comments, and that the benefit of the community is El Centro's primary concern.

@34 Whoops, El Centro did pay for the building! For the first few years, they paid a super-cheap rate, yes. Guess what? The building was condemned and was going to be torn down! Regardless, a few years later El Centro raised something like a million dollars and bought it outright.

We aren't complaining that she filed an appeal. Appeals are a legal part of the process. We're complaining that she's filed the appeal on baseless grounds, with hidden motives.

@15 - you're an idiot and obviously not a property owner either if you don't know why blocking my water view with low-income housing crap construction would affect my property value.
Also, you're a couple years off the mark of the bubble - the main reason my value decreased was the relentless amount of new development, which quadrupled the inventory and killed my resale price, so bite me.
Good thing not every property owner is only in it for the resale value. Some of us actually see homes as, er, HOMES.
Before anyone makes any claims about El Centro and the neighborhood, its important that we first get some facts straight.

First of all; El Centro was paid for. In 1997 the organization bought and paid for the entire property. The reason why it isn't said about El Centro not having paid for the building is that isn't true...the organization very much did pay for the building! Where are you getting your information Mr. Seadog55?

Secondly, for those that would claim that El Centro has done nothing for the neighborhood...perhaps you haven't visited El Centro...been to events...met the people that go there for services. What do you mean El Centro hasn't done ANYTHING for the neighborhood? Do you really mean it hasn't done anything for your individual interest? That's probably because your are disconnected from it. You should come around more...involve yourself in the collective and abandon your own individual interest a little more.

It seems that when claims such as these are made what is really going on is that there are some people that aren't happy with things going their way and will resort to lying and avoiding the truth.

Cienna, excellent reporting. Thank you for being so open and for your extensive investigation. Contrary to what some folks might be saying, you did do a good job finding all the necessary documents, articles, and conducted the interviews to get all sides of the story. If some choose not to make themselves available for comment to get a better sense of the story, then that's not a knock on you as a reporter...its a squandered opportunity on their part. Perhaps those that take issue with your writing should take it up with those that claim to be the representatives of the community and yet hide when their positions and appeals are called into question.
Elliott @36, great response, you saved me the trouble of correcting @34 on the " for free" claim. I attended the meetings where the property sale for $1M was settled with the City, El Centro de la Raza owns the lot.
First, anybody that knows anything about El Centro knows that it is one of the most beneficial and productive organizations - and indeed pillars - in this community. El Centro is a terrific example of a social service agency that not only does not disrupt business and residential life, but enhances it (in stark contrast to the fears that surrounded the Casa Latina relocation political shit-storm).

Second, as someone who losses sleep at night over gentrification and is skeptical of "developing" the central and southend, we skeptics/supposed community allies must value that the particular case in question is being proposed by, for, and from those with due equitable right to do so. The plan is set out to AVOID the displacement of historic populations, to celebrate and encourage their prosperity. It is morally disenfranchising to the Latino community (and all people of color) to pigeonhole them by way of "keeping the neighborhood the same," as if decades of intentional divestment and redlining was something they wanted in the first place. Some people chose to be charmed by the grit wrought by poverty, other people have to survive despite it; if brown people want a little piece of vinyl for themselves, for their children, then who are we to keep them under our thumbs while waving the banner of "liberation?"
Much of the imposing fencing around El Centro surrounds the vacant lots owned by other property owners. It won't come down until the owners have a reason to take it down. There have been some great ideas about how to use the empty space while the zoning issues are sorted--taco trucks, blood mobiles, etc.

The fencing around El Centro's childcare area is required for the protection of the kids who attend programs there.

We bought our house on Beacon Hill in 2003 in because of the diversity of the neighborhood, the potential of Light Rail, the overall location--and because it was more affordable than the Central District or anywhere else we were looking. El Centro was a big draw; I hope our kid will attend preschool there someday.

El Centro offers a HUGE variety of services open to the public: tax preparation, a community food bank, senior meal program, childcare, parenting classes, and so much more. These programs are PACKED and incredibly diverse. There are also several small businesses and community groups that rely on El Centro.

Then we have the community celebrations: Cinco de Mayo, Day of the Dead, etc.

It's a logical next step for El Centro to integrate on-site housing with their existing programs. Affordable housing (including units priced for working families as well as subsidized low income housing) needs to be built near services and transit.

Do you really believe well-built and nicely designed affordable housing = increased crime and/or lower property values? Why? Show me data.
The opening of Link led me to pop out of the subway tunnel and check out Beacon Hill for the first time ever.

Cute little hilltop. Too bad there's NOTHING WHATSOEVER THERE! Nice job, Frederica Merrell!
"Its sad to see The Stranger be a mouthpiece for the developers and the City and not do any serious journalism."

doyourhomeworkcienna @19: the Stranger has now sold out to "the developers?" I almost fell out of my chair laughing at that. Do you get out much?
"The light rail scam was bad enough, but now is the time to really cut the whole scam off at the knees! I mean, at this point, let's just admit it, Seattle is really a dead zone, but any little resistance to yuppification is one small signal that not everyone is a dunderhead."

Yesler Hill @29, can you really be that stupid? Since when was low income housing "yuppification?"
"Perhaps this is just another small effort to make it **cheaper** to exercise that traitorous conspiracy."

D Tooley: please adjust the tinfoil on your helmet.

When you bought a poorly constructed Seattle townhome of cookie-cutter design, you must have been aware of all of the other townhomes under concurrent construction. You must have been aware that they, too, would be poorly constructed and of cookie-cutter design, indistinguishable from yours except that they would be newer and more pristine.

In short, you believed the property-ladder mantra that all such homes would perpetually inflate in value. You were not worried, at the time, about the rise in "inventory."

Were you not an idiot, you would realize that the Capitol Hill light rail station opening 2 blocks from you will do wonders for you property value, as decent rapid transit will become the ONLY thing setting your poorly constructed Seattle townhome of cookie-cutter design apart from all the others.
I agree wholeheartedly with SIDC above and say ditto. I live at Othello Station--and purchased a house there because of the lightrail/Othello Station. Thankfully there is one project in process now at the MLK/Othello intersection. But looking around one sees only an urban wasteland. A real shame. The imbeciles making the (silly, silly) claim they are neighborhood representatives need to leave the neighborhood. They're having the negative affect on the whole of the community. Look at Portland, OR. For its size, there is much more happening there--on a variety of levels...transit, TOD, liveability. Seattle has something to gain my modeling what Portland has created.
Holy frijoles Batman! Who needs to travel over the Pass to Yakima anymore? It's all here now! Centro de Blanco, Raza e Masa, mucho ninos, ninos, ninos...
48: What does that mean? Are we still living in 1972? I thought folks were more mature than that. Is this about neighborhood development or are folks just airing out their racism? If so, lets be frank about it, but also respectful.


I live 3 blocks from the North Beacon Hill Light Rail station, and Frederica Merrill does NOT speak for me. Her selfish motives are affecting the lives of many of those who live and work here.
"the main reason my value decreased was the relentless amount of new development, which quadrupled the inventory and killed my resale price, so bite me."

Feral Dog Sweater @37: classic Teabagger comments about the middle class getting screwed, etc.

And classic Teabagger victim complex, too. You aren't going into foreclosure because of other people and "developers." You are going into foreclosure because of YOU.

The idea your situation was caused by developers who "over-built" is a joke, too. Giving lots of free money to people like you, and then allowing them to pay off their irresponsible credit cards with inflated equity assessments is the cause of the bubble bursting. Developers were simply trying to keep up with the demand your Mortgage Broke(r) buddy was artificially creating.

Dog Sweater, you will continue to make stupid financial mistakes if you don't understand the basics of the system. And don't try to blame the rest of the world for your stupidity.
I also live near the Beacon Hill light rail station and I am upset by this appeal. She does not speak for me. Is there anything as Beacon Hill residents that we can do to stop this appeal from going forward?
"against dense residential next to a transit stop?"
"selfish motives"
"hide when their positions and appeals are called into question"

a lot of ranting by ill-informed distant observers.

have any of you chatty folks read the appeal (…) and the relief requested? there is no attempt to prevent density or growth. but there is the demand that the City document impacts and mitigations per City and State law.

starting with la Raza through Cienna and now most commenters we have a complete misrepresentation of what the real story is about...
Yes, I have read the appeal. I think it's nonsense and I see it only as an attempt to delay the process from moving forward. Ms. Merrell's silence on the matter only confirms my suspicions.
I've read the appeal...and that's what I'm commenting about. This isn't ranting. We've been dealing with this every day. We're well informed. You've read the appeal. What else are you reading?
Great title Ciena, "Plotting Against Progress". It clearly frames the story that there is a conspiracy and that conspiracy is to stop progress. As if progress is totally stopped and not happening at all. What total blatant horseshit! You think this appeal is stopping anything? It's the recession, stupid!

If you wanted this article to be more intellectually genuine, then you could have asked, "what is the definition of progress"? Who believes in this definition that I am bringing to the table; that progress is about increasing density and that's it? The residents? Current occupants of condos?

Progress to the people calling the six individuals motherfuckers and selfish bitches obviously means upzone everything, build to 85' tall and requiring steel construction and therefore balloon construction costs which make things less affordable. Under current zoning, property owners can build up to 65', which is the tallest you can build with wood stud frame construction, making it more affordable.

So you can build tall, dense buildings NOW around light rail stations. The reason why it isn't happening now isn't because of the appeal; it's because of the recession. Because money has dried up and absorption of existing commercial and residential has not created the demand needed to start planning for more pipeline yet. Because ex. property owners can't find sellers that will buy at the value they are claiming. Because the City has a HUGE budget deficit and can't spend the money to plan for this stuff. Because DPD staff was slashed because of budget cuts and so was the Neighborhood Planning process.

Wow, Ciena. If you approached this topic with the understanding of the real issues, we might have a real conversation about how "progress" is defined differently by the people who live here.

In Othello, 3 out of 4 corners sit empty. One corner's owner is an absentee owner who is not interested in selling at this time (probably waiting for the big upzone so she can yank up her price per sf when she is ready) and leases one-story commercial buildings that are a huge eyesore. Another corner's owner is trying to split up his parcel and sell it off to non-profit affordable housing developers, who don't have the funds to do it so he hasn't closed any deals yet. The other corner's owner, Seattle Housing Authority, is sitting empty and has been been for the last 4 years. The buyer they had fell out of contract because of the recession, and now there are no takers to payoff SHA for what it needs.

In the meantime, Safeway on Othello, behind a corner is going to remodel, but not take advantage of its upzone. Even with an existing operation that produces cashflow and revenue, it won't build out a mixed use complex because it doesn't pencil and the city zoning requirements are onerous and the project is not worth it. They think in about 15-20 years it will happen. This is straight from their real estate dept.

Instead you paint the victim as "El Centro", and the perps as six volunteers living in the neighborhoods that DPD desperately wants to change on behalf of a future that is feasible in 20 years. Not now.

You have no idea how development works, Ciena. And if you did, you wouldn't write such a perception that myopically associates progress with height and density. Progress is so much more than that. It is about making neighborhoods work, and work within the context of its time. It's about supporting a project that adds value to the community through affordability, economic development, curb appeal, amenities and character, or helping abate problems with public safety issues.

Maybe in a neighborhood that still suffers from social justice; where jobs are scarce and public safety is an issue, maybe we want city resources to focus there first, before handing us more density that doesn't improve the quality of life for our neighborhoods. In SE Seattle, density doesn't create cute little boutique retail and coffee shops. In SE Seattle, means more low income housing projects w/ social service storefronts. Yay us.

None of your bitching above addresses the progress neighborhoods want; only the progress ideologues want. Sad piece of journalism indeed.

Under current zoning, the area around the Beacon Hill station can only be built to 40ft. Around all the stations, land value is going to stay stagnant until final zoning is decided. No one is going to sell or develop land that is under-zoned, especially during a recession.

To me, progress is only possible when there's potential for things to happen. Leaving the current zoning in place stops (or at least severely limits) progress.

These appeals are supposed to be about the lack of adequate environmental review around these three sites. Clearly, they carry more meaning to those who wrote and those who support them.

I don't support them. The people who filed those appeals don't speak for me as a Beacon Hill resident--or for many of my neighbors. Cienna's piece presented some facts, and comments are being made regarding those facts.

Your interpretation of the facts does not represent my view--so please stop saying you speak for the neighborhood. You don't. You speak for yourself.

After the zoning is finalized (at whatever heights), residents and businesses in the neighborhoods will have more opportunities to review the design, environmental impact, and overall desirability of each individual project.

Nothing can happen until the zoning issues are resolved. No progress can be made because these appeals were filed.
Everyone who lives in the affected neighborhoods needs to figure out where and when their local neighborhood council meets. Get out there to a meeting and share your voice. City Council members might read blogs, but they listen to the neighborhood councils.

N. Beacon Hill Council
Meets the first Thursday of every month, Beacon Hill library, 7pm. That's next Thursday, 3/4.
And NIMBYism of the filthy stinking rich and obnoxious once again rears its ugly head.

On maybe a brighter side in the future: here's hoping the "Not in OUR backyard!" snobs get stuck on their private "$2,000-a-plate-luncheon" islands--with no way off.
Welcome to the Eastside Zoo!!
@57 zoning in Othello and Mt. Baker is 65' and is proposed by DPD to be raised to 85'.
This article is about 3 station areas, yet most of the comments are regarding the injustice inflicted upon El Centro de la Raza. Reading Briktru's comment (56), I'm pretty sure its referencing Othello, which is WAY different than BH.
As for El Centro, they have been paid well by Sound Transit for the duration of the construction for use of the south part of their property, where the basketball courts used to be. They have known a light rail station would be built across the street (Cienna, its a street, not a huge plaza) for a long, long time. If they had ideas about expanding and capitalizing on their location, which will require a rezone, they could have gotten to work on a contract rezone proposal, as many developers do. This would likely include some kind of rendering of what the project would look like and what functions it would serve. El Centro has talked about what they'd like to do, and I believe support on BH is strong for those stated functions, but there have been no visuals to go with it. El Centro is trying to get the rezone without the time and money commitment that most developers looking to change a land use have to make.
Using the public Neighborhood Plan process to obtain land use change leaves you open to the public process, and appeals to the Hearing Examiner are part of that.
Appeals to the Hearing Examiner can also be an effective tool to bring conclusion to negotiation, just ask Children's Hospital.
Finally, the appeal to the Hearing Examiner is about Neighborhood Planning and holding the city accountable to the citizens to provide the infrastructure that makes a city a livable, vibrant and sustainable place.
Contract rezones suck. Developers may use them, but ultimately a neighborhood's zoning should be devised through an open public process, so the ground rules are the same for everyone. Whether or not you as a property owner choose to redevelop to maximum height, it shouldn't be that one corner of an intersection is 85' and the others are 40'.
Seems the article missed the point of the appeal, and doesn't understand the point of the neighborhood meetings. It was then that the city should have proposed the density changes. they knew they were building a station. Instead, they slipped in the new stuff AFTER the planning process was over. Basically a big F U to everyone who participated. This was a hit piece on behalf of developers. The El Centro stuff is a red herring.
Soggydan is right, throughout the Neighborhood Plan Update process(started about a year ago), DPD was repeatedly asked for upzone proposals so that the neighborhood could have this discussion. Instead, they published the proposals (including one with 85' towers in BH Town Center) around September or October, then held the public open house outside of the neighborhood, without a validation process in place, and expected to get an OK. Or maybe the strategy was to run out the clock and push through some pre-determined upzones.
Let me get this straight, everyone is complaining about these individuals using a legal and legitimate process to voice their concerns? How dare they! As someone who lives near the Mt Baker station I have seen the utter lack of respect for anyone voicing concerns over the redevelopment of light rail stations, from both private citizens and city reps. It wasn't long ago that we had to fight with the city to remove their ability to use eminent domain as one of their "tools" for redevelopment. That's right, our city leaders were going to force people to sell their land if the city wanted it. Now that seems more like a fascist/totalitarian tactic than the liberal mind set that most of these people claim to harbor.

Another big issue with the redevelopment is parking. Just because something is built next to a light rail station doesn't mean people will just sell their cars. Now it might mean they will use them less, but they won't completely eliminate them. Not requiring parking would lead to a similar parking scenario that is a reality in Capitol Hill, which sucks everyday all day.
I read the Othello Station appeal. It is ludicrous - the environmental impacts of changing a few parcels from 65' to 85' will be hard even to measure.

Of course the big difference between most residents and this faction, is that we see well-designed transit oriented development as having very positive impacts, both human and environmental. To us, it's a win-win situation: we get a great town center and stronger and safer neighborhood, while helping to slow suburb an sprawl, climate change, and oil-dependency.
Working family housing? Walkable retail and services catering to the community? Are you kidding?
What North Beacon Hill needs are more of those Dwell style $500K each four pack townhouses that never sell, with developers waiting out the real estate market crash!
I too am a resident of Beacon Hill and live just a couple of blocks from the BH Light Rail Station. This Frederica Merrell person most assuredly does not speak for me and left me fuming when I read the article this morning. I have lived on Beacon Hill for about 11 years now and have impatiently waited for development to come. To see an obstructionist move like this makes me livid. Aaaaaargh!
Can someone clairfy something for me -- So from my understanding the rezoning for BH has been studied and discussed and numerous community meetings, but that neighborhood plan had height limits of 40 feet. Now that the height limits have been raised to 65 feet, this group of neighbors is saying that we need to throw they neighborhood plan out and start over with the studies. Do I have this right?
I haven't kept in touch w/Freddie Merrell over the last few years, but I've known her for a long time. I have NO IDEA what she's really up to here (and I'm not sure I agree with her), but neither do any of you.

She is not a NIMBY'er. She has supported El Centro de la Raza for years. She wrote a freakin' book about Beacon Hill's history (check Amazon). She's a very nice, if opinionated, woman who has contributed more to that community and this city than the vast majority of the name-callers on this comment board combined.

My point, people, is that you don't know anything about her, so stop acting like you do. Stick to the facts. Don't make assumptions. All of your characterizations of her are way off base from the reality of the person.
@ 65: You are absolutely right...people should be able to voice their concerns about redevelopment. That's exactly what's been happening. The problem is that this appeal isn't be used as a way to excersize one or a neighborhoods right...its being used as a way to delay and stall a process. Just because something is legal doesn't mean its fair or correct. Merrell has used this process to delay...not enhance or better such process.

It would be nice if folks like these would stop hidding behind process and express why they are really anti-development.

The city has been sabotaging all of us. The Light Rail, our neighborhood business all of us that believed in the hope VI mixed income.
The EXTREME idea of NO parking close to the stations. NOT even payed!!
Yes we need development big time.
I recommend the city get professional assistance on the types of Transit-oriented development that will truly decongestant I-5 and bring mixed income families to the neighborhood.
When GreenwoodSam says about Freddie M. "I have NO IDEA what she's really up to here (and I'm not sure I agree with her), but neither do any of you." he's pretty much hit the nail on the head.

Many Beacon Hill residents on this thread, and I add myself to them (15 yrs. on BH, 12 yrs. homeowner, 1 blk from El Centro), have stated that she does not represent them. I agree. Whether or not she has stated that she represents Beacon Hill she is, primarily, representing herself. This, if you've ever had the dis/pleasure of working with her, should come as no surprise all her 'community' rhetoric notwithstanding.

I appreciate paulgeorge's and soggydan's comments for having added valuable information to this discussion. We need more information, more facts (and less uninformed knee jerk grandstanding) on this thread (and in general). Frederica, with her handful of cards, is not helping the matter. She probably has her own reasons for fostering confusion.

As does the DPD. As does El Centro.

It seems confusion reigns. It would be really great to see some clarity on this issue so that the community can actually be involved, rather than just guessing at what the cards are by those holding them.

Don't just TALK about community, BE community.
Well, letting people have a voice (democracy)really sucks when it doesn't go your way. Buck up motherfuckers! Grow a thicker skin and deal with it. There will always be someone who doesn't agree with your 'progress'-get used to it. And you should cast away your delusion that only YOU hold a monopoly on truth.
d.p. @46 - my townhouse is a 5-star green super modern, nothing else like it, and built by a fantastic, reputable builder with great warranties.

Markus @51 - I put 30% down, don't own a credit card, I have impecable credit, and I was fully aware of the station and other construction in the area. As far as my supposed financial irresponsibility, I left my job to finish my masters, but was then told I would have to pay international student rates, so now I am out of work, can't get unemployment and I'm spending everyday looking for a job. My boyfriend also lost his job and had to move out to take a job in another city.
The appeal is about the neighborhood plan, not just El Centro's development. Anyone who believes it's simply about stopping El Centro has been reading the rather poor reporting in the Stranger. El Centro will still get NC65. It might take another year, but perhaps in that time they could share with neighbors what exactly they're proposing to build, and clarify what the community benefits would actually be (for example, how public and open would any open space actually be?) Perhaps in that extra time, there can be some reconciliation to repair the damage from flamethrowing journalists like Ciena and a few other misinformed types on the Beacon Hill Blog. Perhaps El Centro can use that time to refine and improve their plans. Probably the extra time will make a better project--and probably won't delay them that much anyway. But of course, for all you build-it-at-all-cost types, it's all Merrell's fault. She's why there's no hipster bars and coffee shops up here, why rents go up, why the entire Sound Transit block remains undeveloped. It's so much easier to have a scapegoat!
This Beacon Hill resident hopes that El Centro uses the extra time for better outreach, better design, and a better project overall.
However, Bill LaBorde, policy director of Transportation Choices Coalition, condemns the tactics as simply obstruction. "They're not about how to develop better neighborhoods; [the petitioners are] saying we don't want to develop, we don't want change."

Priceless in light of the 520 debate. Go (to hell) TCC!
El Centro doesn't have the funds and will have trouble raising the funds to do any outreach or develop any plans until the zoning is finalized.

The appeals--all three of them--are written specifically as concerns re: lack of environmental review. Of course, there will be multiple environmental reviews for each individual proposed project at each site...but that doesn't seem to be the point.

The appellants and supporters use the supposed environmental concern as a springboard to bemoan every other possible consequence of development. There was no way to slow or delay things by participating in further discussion about the neighborhood plan, so they appealed the DNS.
@37 what @46 said. You are so fucking stupid it almost saddens me. You own a property at an urban hub whose value will skyrocket over the next twenty years as density and urbanization continue. And you are blaming the construction for the decrease in value, when every else can plainly see you bought a townhouse at the top of the bubble and now are suffering for your stupidity.

By the way, I bought a house after the bubble burst, right next to the Columbia city station.

Have fun renting loser.
@66 Dick - "we get a great town center"

where exactly is this great town center documented? where is the capital investment plan for it? who is building it and when? how open space and other public amenities is there (as great TOD is supposed to have)? can you show the specifics behind your rhetoric?

kool-aid drinkers and dispensers all...
I'm really tired of self described environmentalists who are opposed to environmental review. If we want people to live in the city its environment needs to be protected too. Thanks to everyone who filed the appeals.

I would like to see mixed use development around all the stations. The idea that "Seattle" would transform from a hub and spoke city into a Puget Sound "Linear City" where people can live and work at any point on a track or highway.

Some articles about Linear Cities:…

Where I live, at the Mt. Baker station, the desolate area around the station belongs to the UW. That property is never spoken of. What the developers want is our homes, because they can get the land cheaply. We saw what happened to our neighbors when Sound Transit came through. Saving the earth through Density is just another real estate scam, and your awkward article reads like just another bourgeois bohemian shill.
Rather than acting on their own, why didn't these individuals go to their neighborhood councils, raise their concerns, and then proceed if there was consensus from the community? I'm sure these individuals proably moved forward becuause they thought what they were doing was in the best interest of the neighborhood. But that seems pretty presumptious. It seems there were better channels they could have taken.
The comments about NIMBYism are at least partly uninformed. I can speak for Jenna and her organization in the Othello neighborhood directly. If someone who bothers to organize, advertise, show up to, and run community meetings can't say she "represents the community," then I don't know who can. Maybe the people here who find time to comment on the internets, but skip the walk to the local library to actually participate in the community group meetings.

Fact is, neighborhood groups in SE Seattle are suffering. People don't show up to meetings, they're undermined by competing organizations, and the city shows little interest in formally recognizing any particular one/group of them. The few that are recognized have executive committees made up of people who don't even live in the neighborhood, but instead run non-profits in the area, or simply own property (but live elsewhere).

That is painting THEM with a broad, possibly unfair brush, but turnabout is fair play.

Look, development is a good thing, and El Centro is a good organization. But SE Seattle's been the city's dumping ground for large public housing projects and social service organizations forever. Where's the 80-plus unit public housing development in Ravenna? Wedgwood? Crown Hill? Admiral? Magnolia?

Look at the stats. When the rest of this city starts pulling its weight when it comes to large social services developments, low-income housing and the like, then maybe it makes sense to concentrate even more of these services in SE Seattle.

Otherwise, we're just turning the clock back to the failed policy of concentrating low-income residents into isolated ghettos, away from where the rich folk have to look at them.
NIMBY Nazis run it!
The idea that someone who goes to meetings somehow "represents the community" is insane. No one represents neighborhoods in Seattle because we have an at-large council. Instead, some people appoint themselves as representatives by going to meetings, but they have zero accountability to anyone. It's highly undemocratic.
In Denver, Colorado, El Cento De La Raza was viewed by the established power structure as a "militant radical disorganization attempting to destroy our precious American values"(City's words) whereas my 'honky' experiences with them only were mutually co-operative and highly productive to me and my Chicano neighbors. The things the power structure did to these people were unforgivable but they struggled on with success and a lot of help from the 'counter-culture' of the time. So I was shocked and amazed and happy to see El Centro get their building in Seattle when they pulled it off and I thought much more highly of the municipality of Seattle for the way they behaved and let it proceed, even helping it along, and I have faith in El Cento's motives here. As far as their low income housing and other planned buildings go, it would be ideal if solar siting and PASSIVE solar heating was built into the new structures to make them truly useful and appropriate. (Passive works when your power is out too) Active may be needed in some situations they will encounter, but any way you can avoid a "consumer" building and create a self-sufficent one is a step in the right direction. And it helps the low income people the most. All these developer$ continue to miss out on this. Hope this is considered in El Centro's plans along with living roofs, photo-voltaics, water heating, etc. Can u do this El Centro? (I'm no fan of over-density--I can live fine in forest, but both need to be done right.) Non-Irish Honkey
You can't get a damned sand castle built in this city without going through hell with someone.
Heaven forbid we do a thoughtful legal project!Everyones rights should be squashed in the name progress.
Heaven forbid we do a thoughtful LEGAL construction project. Personal rights be dammed! Any foolish feel good project must be railroaded through by the Jackboots. We haven't had enough personal rights taken by the city and county yet, lets get this done. All must exist for the good of the stoner dreams of a few.
Just another example of NIMBYs pursuing what is worst for the neighbourhood and best for THEMSELVES. Don't put dense housing near mass transit stations--it might actually serve the community and make your neighbourhood more vibrant and viable. And then you wouldn't feel as isolated from the rest of the world. That would be horrible.
What a pissy article! It completely misses the point.

I am a hill resident of over 20 years and a property owner in the central strip and I even spent a bundle improving that crappy property (yeah, i know - BFD).

If seattle is about anything, it is about "process". We may not like it sometimes, but it is there for a reason. "Process" in neighborhood planning means taking the time necessary to ensure that differing interests are heard and addressed (or at least answered) before making decisions that will dramatically alter the neighborhood and cityscape.

The appeal was a legitimate response to a process that was artifically accelerated because it is in one of the city's holy "station areas" and the city wanted to run a hurry-up-quick re-zoning approval process.

Yup, it will slow the pace of significant new development on the hill by a whole year, but in the world of major developments that isn't squat - and in case anyone haven't heard, there is still a recession going on, the banks aren't giving loans for property development, much less businesses that want to invest in themselves, and there is nobody chomping at the bit to build anything on Beacon Hill (much less Columbia City, Cap Hill...etc.

...a whole lot of huffing about nothing!
@94, A year's worth of meetings on top of ten years of building a light rail system hardly seems "artificially accelerated." In the real world, that's slow as molasses.

For anyone who owns property on the hill, and considers the future value and disposition of that property to be part of their retirement future, and is over the age of, say, 40, a year of nothing happening because of a frivolous appeal is a year of worry and anxiety.
Belltown and Lake Union don't even have any plans for a rapid transit line, but their hight limits are like 30-40 stories. ...and these folks in south end can't even get it up to 6 stories?... and they have the transit infrastructure in place already. What?! lmao! only in Seattle.
Most people who live Belltown, L Queen Anne, and Lake Union, have to drive to sustain their lives since transit in those neighborhoods doesn't go anywhere meaningful or safe, and is extremely slow. But the hight limit there goes higher and higher, way above 30 floors in some spots, while the roads there are getting narrower and more congested(i.e. Mercer st is going to shrink to 3 lanes for example). Many people wish they had a light rail there.

It looks like the light rail stations in rainier valley were actually designed for low density... None of them have any grade separated pedestrian connections... In Mt Baker, people have to cross like 5-6 lanes of Rainier Ave to get to the transit center, what a joke! All stations on MLK require passengers to cross traffic lanes in order to get to/from the train as well.

This city has a very awkward zoning and transportation planning that do not go together. Buildings are taller where regional transit doesn't exist, and smaller where it does. Bicycles are allowed to be in the same lane with buses and street-cars, which dramatically slows the transit down and is totally masochistic if you are bicyclist. The streets are getting narrower where regional transit is not even planned. Ughh... The list goes on and on...
@ 79 Rotten666 - living in your grandma's basement and being an adult who reverts back to a baby-like state where you have to pay people from the stranger ads to come change your diapers must make you really angry, but there's no need to take it out on everyone around you. Damn!

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