Could Wealthy Neighbors Kill Seattle's Plan to Build Affordable Housing in Magnolia (Again)?

Magnolia residents stopped Seattle's last attempt to develop Fort Lawton

Comments

1
Well I certainly hope wealthy neighborhoods can stop the building squalid housing projects in their neighborhoods.

Can't the wealthy be NIMBY"S like the middle class folks who don't want increased heights allowances in their sturdy little craftsman enclaves?

For pity sake, just build cheap, affordable housing outside the city near mass transit lines and let them commute. You'll get more, better and cheaper housing outside the city or outer ring.

2
There is excellent social science research that shows that low-income housing, particularly low-income housing with children in it, has better results in terms of helping the low-income residents be upwardly mobile, if it is dispersed into higher-income neighborhoods. When you concentrate poverty, people are less upwardly-mobile out of it. This seems like a great project to me, minus the concentration of the elderly in one spot and not including more income integration both within the project, and with the surrounding community. That said, I find the opposition to the project, even as it is, misplaced.
3
Great piece, Heidi. It never ceases to amaze me how effortlessly anti-housing NIMBYs switch sides on their class war rhetoric. One moment, it's wicked capitalist developers and the evils of "luxury" housing. The next minute it's this. No signs of any cognitive dissonance.
4
NIMBY Uber Alles
5
@ 2 So What of it!

There are also a myriad studies which show it does absolutely nothing....just like the discredited, massively wasteful school busing and affirmative action programs.

Maybe we should move the low income housing into the middle class communities. We could do a study on that next.
7
500 residents, in Magnolia which is about 17 thousand. Guys, I think neighbors' growth concerns may be a smokescreen.
8
I live on Magnolia. The traffic concern is legit. Magnolia only has 3 access points on/off the hill with zero room for expansion; Magnolia bridge, Dravus St and Emerson Pl. Magnolia Bridge really services the top of the hill and dumps directly onto residential roads. Dravus street feeds directly into Interbay and is flanked by several large apartment complexes with several more actively being built and frankly more to come for sure (its flat light industrial land, perfect for apartments). So when rush hour starts it gets backed up quickly. If the Ballard bridge goes up or other problems on 15th occur its a standstill (this goes for all three routes). Emerson Pl just lost some roadway space to a bike path last month and is now regularly backs up at the intersection regardless of the time of day. So yes there is traffic, yes it is noticeable and yes everyone on Magnolia complains about it and every new person just adds to the problem. The bus service on Magnolia is essentially a joke, 2 bus lines service "halfish" the hill and a 3rd just touches the bottom for a couple of stops before leaving the hill. None of them are RapidRide lines and of course service drops way, way off on the weekend.

While the location is a good spot to put new housing it's way the hell up there and way the hell away from everything else. If the city wants to put something in than they need a complete package not just a plop a few buildings in and be done plan. I'm talking reworking Government/Gilman Way to expand lanes because it is THE artery for Magnolia (this will requires the elimination of free street parking on it). Reworking the bus service to the hill (needs to be integrated with some sort of RapidRide line or at least a route that just circles the hill and stops at a RapidRide bus stop).

Also yes the grocery store problem is real to. Magnolia has to Metromart and Albertsons. Metromart is basically a Wholefoods wana-be. Albertsons is more affordable but is on the opposite side of the hill from the purposed build site. So ideally the build site should be more than just some apartments. It should be a full complex with stores on ground level, with hopefully some sort of lower cost grocery store as one of them. Given the neighborhood and the fact that you have to drive off it to shop for nearly everything it would be a good opportunity for retailers. Charging rent on the retail space will of course help offset the cost of the low-cost apartment units. It also should not be just low cost housing, that will be a death sentence for any proposal.

The city should instead make a proposal to just expand housing in general with the side benefit that some of the units will have below market rates for the needy. Given the location and the current housing market it would be easy for the city to finance, build and turn a profit which would fund the subsidized units with ease.
9
Yeah, this seems like a pretty reasonable and well-thought-out housing project. Why should the rest of Seattle pass up a federal subsidy — just to assuage anxious Met Market shoppers?
10
I cannot wait for The Big One, when these people get buried in their garish homes. Seriously, the best thing that could happen to Seattle is a massive natural disaster that clears out this surplus of selfish, pearl-clutching faux-progressives. You can cower in your NIMBY palaces, but don't pretend you have an honorable agenda or a single iota of compassion in the hollow space you call your souls.
11
Already done.

I rented a 1BR in Magnolia when I first arrived here over two decades ago. My landlord was the owner of the 60 yo building and he was fair and was more interested in keeping long term renters so he didn’t try to gouge us. It was surrounded by similar older, non descript buildings by the trainyard. Every time the train coupled, the building would shake. My neighbors weren’t rich. There were quite a few families who rented with section 8 vouchers. The building next to me housed people who worked in the seafood industry and boat maintenance. We also had the usual students and plenty of gig workers who cobbled jobs as needed. There were a mix of old time Seattle and cash-poor newcomers.

I moved, but still bike out to Discovery Park and wow, what a change. The last decade was a completely flip of the neighborhood. Old buildings razed and new ones built in place. Rent went up astronomically. It’s full of new Seattle with really nice cars too. My old landlord is still around and so is his building, but not for long from the looks of things.

This “affordable housing” project won’t make up for the many lost units and all those renters who left for someplace cheaper. But it’ll give some pleasure thinking it so.
12
People don’t buy multimillion dollar homes so the Mr. and Mrs. O’Leary can build a homeless encampment next door and burn the city down. Thus far as the homeless population explodes it seems that over the years, encampments are really what a progressive-Democrats idea is of “affordable housing” is - another “Nicklesville”.
13
"affordable housing affordable housing affordable housing"

what is the actual exact dollar number that is affordable? this progressive battle cry sounds, in essence, like a bunch of people that feel they DESERVE to live wherever they want, whether they can afford it or not, because....well, i don't know why.

if i stomp my feet a cry enough, will i get to live along Central Park in NYC?

so again, just exactly what does "affordable" mean in this city?
14
Heidi Groover is a developer shill. Please move back to wherever you moved from. Stop lying to yourself and us.
15
Open Volunteer Park now! It's an expensive area too and doesn't have the access problems that Magnolia has and more shopping!
16
Why on Earth would anyone currently living in Magnolia want the city to create a GHETTO in their neighborhood? Seriously.
17
It is kind of stupid to build below market housing in these premium park surrounded locations. Could build and sell high end units and open more affordable units around the city. It's also stupid to build large 'projects' again.

Imo figure out a way to sell this space to richer people and use that multiplied money to build twice as many units sprinkled around the city (certainly some of them could go on this land).
18
This all reminds me of the arguments the anti-gentrification folks used at the public meetings for Link. I remember one particularly shrill woman who demanded that the ST representative "personally guarantee" her safety "when standing on the Beacon Hill Platform at 3am", and a stupid email that went around saying that Link would "make the neighborhood safe for white people to drive to Starbucks"

Community input is all well and good, but we have district council people for a reason - namely to filter out the crazies and the bullies, and to at least mute the agendas.
19
@18 The problem is the district council people are equally wacky.

If you need more affordable housing, then adopt policies which will engender the building of it through the private sector....ergo raising height limits, reduce burdensome and costly regulations.

If you feel the affordable housing must be done by the city or government, then find cheap land which is near the multi-billion dollar transit system and go crazy building affordable homes with a efficient, easy commute into the city.

Holy Christmas on a Cracker....this isn't rocket science.
20
“Locate a homeless community inside Magnolia and watch the destruction of a beautiful neighborhood. We will be moving out and taking our tax dollars away from you. Watch out for the wealthy, because that's what you have underestimated, our power.” —Marilene Bysshe
What an arrogant fuck. I wished I lived next door to her so I could let my dog poop on her lawn. I'm wealthy too and am embarrassed to be in the same bracket as you.
21
@ 20-so according to the zillow page of the house that Bysse lives in she bought in 2012 for $925,000, the house is well over a million now. She should follow through with her threat and leave now. My dog's ass has more class than her. It's people like her, those who wear their inhumanity, and anti-American hate like a badge of honor upon their sleeves who are the real threat to our community.
22
Fort Lawton is far away from anything that could serve the homeless. Don't ruin another part of Seattle with the dregs that have washed up in other parts of town. Keep the filth where it already is.
23
Setting aside the wants and fears of the Magnolia community for the moment: Dumping a bunch of homeless seniors out in some suburban desert isn't going to be the best thing for them. They not only need services, they need access to activities and city facilities that stuffing them in a corner of Seattle just won't provide.

Likewise, the subsidized family housing part of this proposal locks poor families into a community more appropriate for wealthy residents who can commute by car to far off services and recreation.

@2 makes a point that the best approach to providing upward mobility has been to integrate poor families into wealthier neighborhoods. But this is by ones and twos. Not in their own self-supporting ghetto.



24
Another Republican pro development post from The Stranger. They have never seen a development they didn't support, because there is money to be made.
Take a long view of this situation Heidi. In 100 years, do you think future Seattle wants more buildings or more open spaces?
25
Sigh. Same old Stranger narrative. 1) Clearly push your editorial position and disguise as news, 2) Use quotes from the stupidest of your opponents to paint all who take counter positions with the same brush, 3) Paint this as a binary choice to further inflame tribalism around just two sides (you stole the Fox News playbook there). The reality is this is a choice that impacts our city for *generations*. Regardless of how you feel about the homeless issue, making this about emergency housing for the next few years doesn't talk at all about the impact in say 2030, 2040, etc. Consider: 1) There are very few open spaces in Seattle. Once developed, you don't get it back. Our decision making needs to be beyond the short term. 2) A key factor to ending homelessness is education. The cost of land makes building new schools very prohibitive and there is major space shortages in the school district. Using this for future school expansion is prudent, and again, in the long run may have a better impact on our population and quality of life than short term housing expansion. For the readers, I simply ask not think hyperbolically, that an opportunity like what to do with this land is once in a lifetime, and give rationale, thoughtful contemplation to the long-term impact on our city. Only choosing what is good for you now, or what is good for the city during a likely short-term bubble/housing crisis, is selfish and short-sighted. Also don't bite on the Stranger's NIMBY play - it's a red herring to reasoned dialogue.
26
@25, your absolutely right, they don't make Open Natural real estate any more.
27
Is Campbell related to Eyman?
28
Magnolia has had its share of homeless residents. Campers and buses on Government Way for many years. The infamous RV drug dealing in the light industrial area off Fisherman's Wharf. The park itself has been a magnet for derelict people and sex perverts for many years.

As for low income housing? There is already low income senior housing in Magnolia, in the Pleasant Valley Plaza complex right across the street from Metropolitan Market. Most new multi-apartment complexes have low income rentals.

The reality about setting up large amounts of housing in Ft Lawton is that there is no infrastructure for that many people. Limited bus lines. Limited capacity streets. The only three ways in or out of Magnolia are increasingly busy. Schools are packed and there is no high school in the neighborhood. Students arrive late to Ballard because buses are already full. Magnolia has about 1/2 a police officer assigned to the whole neighborhood. The last I heard the local overpriced medical clinic is not taking new patients due to overload.

Why put housing in Ft Lawton instead of on a major bus line like Elliott Ave or 15th?
29
It would take a lot to convince me that the idea of warehousing 80 to 85 seniors, vets or formerly homeless individuals in little rabbit warrens in a building tucked away at a site that is difficult to access is a great idea. If the bus that might come every half hour to take you to grocery store or a coffee shop doesn't quite work out, maybe a hop onto a bike from whatever bike share program may be the latest darling of the may be a alternative mode of transportation. Proposed client services consist of helping vulnerable people learn to access the meager public benefits they may be entitled to and maybe a case manager can arrange a ride to a medical appointment. No social amenities in the neighborhood, not even a coffee shop. Nearest grocery store is a mile away. After a challenging trip to a grocery store, the resident can come back home and disappear into their little unit and remain invisible. Where's the food bank, the library, a resemblance of a community center or meet up place? Did the author even read the EIS? This is another example of the usual name calling and the predictable immediate negative diatribe when people question another poor decision about to be made by the city. This inhumane plan is one step up from just putting someone on an ice floe and sending them off to the hinterlands.
30
Just even talking about this is nonsense. It isn't happening. How about more, lots more, low to no income housing on Capitol hill or Beacon? Isn't that where you probably live? You are so okay with it in other neighborhoods, why not take on more in your neighborhood? The rest of us are over it. We don't want it. When is it out turn? We are sick and tired of it. If you think that four walls will suddenly make these people fit in, then take it in your part of the woods, not ours.
31
@10 we could always arrange for the disaster to happen? Right? Nothing a little napalm can't solve...

I'm so tired of the NIMBY asshollery that this city is filled with... As they say, it just be time to Eat the Rich.
32
This is not about preventing homeless in the neighborhood. This is not about preventing new housing in the neighborhood. It's about taking prime public land and turning it into private residences, however good the intentions are. Magnolia has a shortage of schools and athletic fields for the children that currently live there. For example, I coach soccer and we were allocated one half of a small field for one hour per week for practice. There simply was not space anywhere else nearby. The land should be used for public purposes. A school with athletic fields would serve a current need for the public. Even keeping it as is, which is effectively a park, would be much better than the current plan. The housing plan is irresponsible and short sighted.
33
@32, the plan dedicates some of the space to park uses, with a portion allocated for Parks and Rec and another portion allocated to Public Schools. If you look at the site plan, you can see these portions are large. So your concerns have already been addressed. Do you have other objections?