On February 8th, our attorney will present our arguments to Judge Ken Schubert in our appeal of the City Council’s decision to grant the contract rezone for the 7009 Greenwood (Shared Roof) project. Our most recent memorandum to the Court can be found here. In this document we respond to the developer’s arguments defending the city’s erroneous decision.
We proceed to court after we were unable to reach a compromise on the design of the project. We initiated an offer to find a reasonable settlement; however, our ideas for any change in the design of the building were rejected by the developer.
It is important to recall why we are sustaining this appeal despite the mounting legal costs.
Allowing this decision to go unchallenged would establish a precedent for other developers to purchase and raze homes on single family (SF) zoned lots that share property lines with commercial lots to create the required “buffer” between zones. This condition exists all along Phinney and Greenwood on both side of the arterial where the NC2-40 zone is one lot deep and shares a property boundary with lots zoned SF since 1957.
The pattern of modest commercial buildings and lowrise apartments is fast giving way to much taller, larger new mixed-use buildings. The economic incentive to build taller and larger buildings, especially if Mandatory Housing Affordability upzones legislation passes, will lead developers to seek the same deal that Shared Roof is demanding. The longstanding code requirements that call for gradual transitions in height between zones, and minimum setbacks from property lines between zones to preserve light, air, and privacy between residential and commercial zones, must be protected.
It appears the only way to do this is through the courts.
The Council made a mistake in approving the contract rezone; that mistake can be corrected without preventing construction of the Shared Roof project at this site if the legal setbacks are provided.
Please help us turn this around before a bad land use precedent is created that will have implications for the future of the Phinney-Greenwood neighborhood and every other place in Seattle where historic zoning boundaries provide no transition between zones. If this decision stands, homeowners can expect to see 5-plus-story buildings rising at their backyard fence.
Share this information with your neighbors and anyone concerned with transparency and fairness in the city’s application of the land use code.
Donations to defray legal costs can be made by clicking the “Donate” button below, or drop by the Homestreet Bank at 73rd and Greenwood and make a deposit to the Livable Phinney account. To date, donations total less than 7% of incurred and anticipated expenses.
–Irene Wall & Bob Morgan