Groups looking to limit Capitol Hill development pick fight over Broadway height


Untitled, originally uploaded by a_ahlstrom.

Concerns that the City of Seattle is using the transit oriented development process around the Capitol Hill light rail station as the first step to increasing zoning heights across the rest of the Hill have prompted two community groups to target a vote at Thursday’s Capitol Hill Community Council to make a stand against the process.

The vote on the confirmation of two representatives from the council to the Capitol Hill Champion group formed to jointly represent the council and the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce in the transit oriented development process with Sound Transit is scheduled to be part of the regular February meeting of the CHCC. You can view the agenda and meeting details here. It begins at 6:30 PM inside the rather snug Cal Anderson Shelterhouse.

“Please come and bring friends to vote in favor of our neighborhoods!,” an email sent out to community members by Reasonable Density Seattle member Carl Winter and forwarded to CHS directs Hill residents. “A NO Vote for the nominees is essentially a vote of no confidence in the ability of these nominees to act on the behalf of, and in the interest of, neighborhoods and residents.”


The appointees up for approval in Thursday’s vote are architect John Akamatsu, and writer Lisa Kothari. Both have been active with the community council. The group’s voting requirements are exceedingly liberal: “If you live within the boundaries of Capitol Hill; own property or own or operate a business or nonprofit organization within the boundaries of Capitol Hill; are employed within the boundaries of Capitol Hill; or volunteer for an agency which serves Capitol Hill, you are a member of the Capitol Hill Community Council.”

Catherine Hillenbrand, who chairs the Champion group’s steering committee that made the appointments, says the planned actions by the groups are part of months of tensions as members began to try to get involved with the Champion’s actions and question its motives. “It’s easy to conflate everything into one big puddle,” Hillenbrand said of the escalating concerns of the groups pushing back on Capitol Hill development.

Winter’s group and members of the Capitol Hill Coalition are planning to make a stand Thursday to delegitimize the council and chamber’s efforts to represent the community in the development process with Sound Transit and the City of Seattle. Late last year, CHS reported on the push for 85-foot height limits and affordable housing planned at the Broadway sites open for development around the light rail station project. The “coordinated development plan” for more than 100,000 square-feet of Broadway property includes a framework that will require bidders to develop nearly 40% of the apartments around the site as affordable housing.

Winter writes that the process is the first step in an effort to “upzone” most of Capitol HIll:

There is a committee called the Champion, which has been set up to be the voice of the community on all of the city’s transit related development plans for Capitol Hill indefinitely into the future.  Specifically, they are charged with input regarding the city’s desire to “upzone” all areas of the city within 10 minutes of a transit center in the future.  Since Capitol Hill has 3 transit centers by the city’s definition that would mean that all of Capitol Hill would be subject to upzoning.  They are starting with the light rail station area, which will soon be upzoned to 85 feet (from 65 feet), but their plans in the future will affect everyone in Capitol Hill.  

CHS has asked Winter for more details about what height limits his group would like to see around Capitol Hill Station development and how Reasonable Density Seattle would address affordable housing goals and lower height limits but we have not yet heard back from him.

The debate over Broadway zoning comes as rents on the Hill and apartment demand jumped significantly in 2012 and have shown no signs, yet, of slowing down despite new projects coming into the market. The battle also has some historical precedent — only the last time, the names were Steinbrueck and Nickels (OK, the name might be Steinbrueck again this time.)

Capitol Hill’s Station Area Overlay District was formed in the early 2000s “to take advantage of public investment in the area and enhance the “south anchor” of Broadway’s business district.” It set the stage for a partly curtailed upzoning of the Hill brining 65-foot height limits to Broadway which had been limited to 40-foot, four-story development prior to the push from City Hall. Later in 2009, the creation of the Pike/Pine Conservation Overlay lopped off a big chunk of the station overlay territory and brought preservation incentives for the developers into play within its section of the Hill. All this to show that, yes, Capitol Hill zoning can and will change over the years. And, in general, the direction has been up.

CHS reported on the new energy on Capitol Hill from groups like Reasonable Density Seattle and the Capitol Hill Coalition last fall. We called them a little bit NIMBY. We also noted their ability to make members heard and have an impact on the city’s growth. The successful fight to limit the city’s Regulatory Reform changes last summer was an early harbinger of things to come.

Now participants in the groups are being asked to show up Thursday night and  vote against the appointments to push back on the Broadway upzone process and put a stop to “local developers” that will “benefit greatly” from increased heights in the neighborhood.

We need as many people as possible to come to this meeting and vote against these two nominees.  This is especially important because we have gotten the news that local developers, who stand to benefit greatly from upzoning Capitol Hill, are organizing to bring out their troops to vote at this meeting!  We are also putting together a letter to City Council and the Dept. of Neighborhoods protesting the flagrant violations of the Champion and their non-democratic organization, since the city is going to view the Champion recommendations as being evidence of the community’s approval.

If the effort to vote against the appointees is successful, Hillenbrand says the process will be sidetracked. “I don’t really know what it means,” she said.

With or without Champion representation, Sound Transit will need to move forward with the station development process as it seeks bids on the projects from developers willing to meet the community framework already approved by the city. The goal is to have those multi-million dollar deals locked up by 2014. On that timeline, whatever gets built — no matter how high or not high it is — will have chance to be completed not too long after the first light rail trains run beneath Capitol Hill in 2016.

Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

42 thoughts on “Groups looking to limit Capitol Hill development pick fight over Broadway height

  1. As Executive Director of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, a partner in the collaboration known as the Champions, I must take execption to the way that Mr. Winter charecterized the work and mission of the Champion. The Champion has never been tasked with “input regarding the city’s desire to upzone all areas of the city within 10 minutes of a transit center in the future.” The Champions one and only mission is to advocate for the best development possible on the future Sound Transit site on Broadway. To that effect the Champion has spent years of hard work advocating for the Capitol Hill community with the City and Sound Transit. That work has included outreach to residents, small business members, arts groups, lgbt groups, childcare providers, affordable housing advocates and property owners. I would urge any interested parties to attend the Community Council meeting on Thursday evening and participate in a vigorous discussion of how we continue to do this important work. What will happen on the Sound Transit station site is too important to allow the work to be overtaken by misinformation and animosity. We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to create a great space on Capitol Hill. We must not squander that opportunity.

  2. “You ask me to give you an answer regarding appropriate building heights for this project. I say: why are you asking me hard questions that make my head hurt? I’m a reactionary NIMBY specializing in fuzzy thinking and blather, not a person who’s advocating anything that makes sense. Why don’t you bowl me the softball questions I want, about how big and mean and evil and greedy these developers are!!!!1”

  3. The folks in Roosevelt/Ravenna worked with the City on height limit for the Roosevelt Station. In the end, the City screwed the Roosevelt/Ravenna folks. The City sided with Hugh Sisley (developer) to allow him to build as high as 85 feet. There is a shortage housing in the U District. The City should require the University to build 85-100 feet buildings to house students, staff, and faculty.

    Ravenna blog: http://www.ravennablog.com/?s=hugh+sisley

    Best of luck!

  4. As one of appointees, I am very disappointed that Carl Winters forwarded this email without checking the facts (lifetime appointments?) and without reviewing my own history with his group, Reasonable Density. I have always been in full support of closing the loophole for the micro housing and calling for FULL design and environmental review of these buildings. I did not like the resolution they proposed as I thought it needed more work via wordsmithing and fact-checking if it was to be taken seriously by the DPD and the City Council, and by other neighborhood councils, however, I did support it in spirit.

    The resolution passed, but in no way have I impeded the committee that was to continue to address the issue. I have sent numerous articles, building updates, photographs, and even property sales records to either RDS or its members. I suggested many times that they stick to the request for design review, and to steer away from red-herring issues like the unit size, rent, character of occupants, obesity, etc. No other member of the Executive Council has posted as much information on this topic as I have.

    I have never been asked about upzoning, so I don’t know where this accusation or speculation comes from. While I once served as a de-facto member of the Capitol Hill Coalition Steering committee, I eventually removed myself when I saw how much energy was spent on speculation and assumptions.

    I told several of these people that if they have questions about my interests, they are free to ask me at any time. None has taken me up on it.

    If these groups would like to engage in real conversation, and to have long term influence, they should at least attempt to present real facts and not just character assassination.

  5. I worked alongside the Champion/Council efforts early on in Cap Hill, when I was employed at CHH. I can say this without hesitation: the only agenda that the Champion has ever had has been to get Capitol Hill constituents a seat at the table with Sound Transit. I think it is really easy to forget that in other neighborhoods, Sound Transit made absolutely no effort to collaborate with neighborhoods on what would happen on top of, or around, their stations. All one has to do is ride through the Rainier Valley to witness this. Only now, years later, are these neighborhoods trying to create investments around the station that benefit their communities. By asking to collaborate with Capitol Hill, the City and Sound Transit have had to step up their game and think about what “community benefits” would even look like. All anyone has to do is look back over time/materials/minutes and see that the Champion has clearly listed for Sound Transit A VARIETY of what these benefits might be (open space, affordable housing, affordable retail, space for farmer’s market, etc. etc. etc.) not HOW they might be achieved.

    Moreover, if the City were NOT to suggest 85 feet here as a means to achieve public benefit, I think it would be irresponsible. Cap Hill is one of the most dense neighborhoods in the City, close to downtown, with huge amenities. Essentially, this is where density works. But conflating the City’s desire to implement Growth Management through greater density with what the Champion has been advocating for, is a very very unfortunate. Let the City propose 85 feet and now let’s have a discussion about whether this is the right place for it. I hope these groups can come together and hold public meetings on this very topic.

  6. If not here, then where exactly can we build more density? I am a huge advocate of making the most of our transit investments and making this neighborhood great, but great for all of us not just the ones who are fortunate enough to already own homes here. Limiting new development and density will price most people out of this neighborhood. We will lose some beautiful homes and buildings on occasion. Certain ones will be worth the fight to preserve, but we must make fundamental changes to the way we live and density with transit is the best way to do that. This is the neighborhood to do it in!

    Fight the nimby bullshit and develop more housing and public uses around our developing transit system. Our future health as people and a city depend on it!

  7. There have been years of community input into the neighborhood desires for the Capitol Hill Station. Extensive summaries of that work can be found at http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/Planning/CapHillStationArea/Overv
    including all public comment received at last September’s public meeting at Lowell Elementary http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/cms/groups/pan/@pan/@plan/@capito
    The Champion’s scope of work is limited to the properties owned by Sound Transit at the Capitol Hill Station site. It is a complex site with many community desires being asked of it, including a high percentage of affordable housing, a community cultural/lgbt center, a permanent home for the Broadway Farmers Market on a mid-block plaza, a festival street, building setbacks and cross block passages for solar and pedestrian access, all called for in the 2011 Urban Design Framework for those sites. The City of Seattle and Sound Transit have come to an agreement to implement these priorities which involves building the sites up to 75/85 feet, around the open spaces and the transit station entries. There is an unprecedented commitment by the City and Sound Transit to a minimum of 33% of all housing on the site to be affordable, with incentives for greater affordability. Mr. Winter is greatly mischaracterizing the work and the process.

  8. Please, seattle is so pathetic with the constant nimby complaints about 65′ buildings “lording over their surroundings”. Capitol Hill should be up zoned to 185′-240′. This isn’t the 60s Seattle’s population is growing now. We need to make room for the new people. I’ve met so many people around Seattle that moved here from other places like Baltimore, Boston, Ny or Chicago in the 60s, 70s and 80s because seattle was a “small” town at the time. Now due to all these people replacing the locals that left seattle has more people than Boston or Baltimore, but these people are still trying to force this 1960’s way of life on Seattle. Before these people invaded Seattle was a booster town that had big dreams and built big things. Now a 4 story building is out of scale, now if your not surrounded by a 2,000 lbs automobile you don’t deserve any rights. Restricting growth won’t reduce housing costs.

  9. I have lived in cities as diverse as Milwaukee, London, LA, and Rotterdam. Show me a place where a difference in height of 2 or 3 stories has degraded the sidewalk/pedestrian experience! This is a false leverage issue used by NIMBYs. Bad design (and traffic) degrades neighborhoods. Bad design brought about by low-quality developers attracted by low-margin 4 story wood frame opportunities. Larger buildings attract a higher league developer willing to work with community toward quality. Larger developments bring better amenities; can subsidize lower rent space for galleries, a unique restaurant.
    Granted there are some crappy bigger developers, but hopefully community participation ensures best selection/performance. Cap Hill has some very good developers. Why not constructively jump in and make something cool and exceptional. Every developer is not out to steal your shorts (a peculiarly Seattle paranoia). A little trust and creativity go a long way.
    Punky 4/5 story structures over a prime light rail station will be crappier than something more ambitious.

  10. Taxpayers have spent a billion dollars on the Capitol Hill extension to the Link light rail system with the belief that city officials would facilitate transit oriented development around the station to maximize the number of Seattle citizens and small businesses who will actually use and benefit from the project. We need to increase height limits in downtown and Capitol Hill so that people who want to live within walking distance of the station can find an affordable place to live; more students can attend Seattle Central Community College for valuable job training skills; more employees can work within walking distance to the station; and more small businesses can reap the rewards of more walkers on the street. If a few NIMBY citizens want to limit growth and decrease the number of middle class taxpayers and small businesses who can benefit from this project, then they should contribute a much higher percentage of the costs for this project.

  11. Thanks Michael, I couldn’t agree more.
    The proactive outreach work by you, Cathy Hillenbrand, and the rest of the TOD Champion group over the last few years has been critical in navigating the bureaucracy to ensure our community’s voice carries weight with the City and Sound Transit. The group has been desperately receptive to community input and involvement since the beginning when they were called the TOD stakeholders group. Bogus claims to the contrary are a disservice to those who have volunteered countless hours to ensure the Champion is a grass roots success story. I salute the hard work of the Champion group and please keep it up.

  12. This is a shame. I understand Reasonable Density Seattle’s concerns about inappropriate height on the Hill, and sympathize with their evident panic and fear at the fast rate of development in the neighborhood. But turning on fellow neighborhood activists is no way to approach the issue. All it does is misdirect energy toward attacking potential allies, which should be directed toward developers and potentially fruitful conversations with the City. I sincerely hope that facts, reasoned arguments, and cooler heads will prevail and the panicked personal attacks will cease.

  13. Re:
    Affordable housing.
    Many good points in all these threads.
    However I must say the lasses faire development boosters need to bone up a bit. if you are just not a bit suspicious of the development oriented city policies, then I would respectfully suggest that you are embracing a naive position.
    Great cities like Chicago do NOT extend high rises into their residential neighborhoods.
    Cap hill is a neighborhood, it is not downtown.
    Increased height and accelerated development will not lower housing prices.
    If you believe that, then I have a bridge to sell you.

  14. Unfortunately, as is all to often the case in blog comments, there is an exaggerated “this or that” dualism.
    Is density needed? Yes. Is handing over the city to any development scheme wise? no.
    Is zoning a legitimate city purpose? Yes.
    Is it possible that the city is being unwise? Yes.
    A little nuance and analysis would be welcome.
    Also, and it’s rather funny, I would not assume that the two individuals who are currently the Capitol Hill Community Council’s rep to The Champion are in favor of unrestrained growth and slipshod city decisions.
    I wouldn’t assume anything. Educating oneself might be a desirable option here.

  15. Couldn’t the headline of this article just as easily read “Developers pick fight with community, seeking to change zoning of historic neighborhood?”

    Developers in Seattle can do whatever they want – as long as they call it in “affordable housing” or “urban density” everyone leaps to their defense. Here’s a great article on the subject. http://realchangenews.org/index.php/site/archives/7520

    Just don’t suggest they be required to invest anything in the infrastructure required to accomodate the added density. The minute you do, you’re a NIMBY who hates affordable housing.

  16. Actually erie, I’ve been to Chicago and cities all over America, canada and South Korea, and guess what they all had highrises in the residential neighborhoods, or even neighborhoods that were mostly highrises. Even in Seattle First Hill and Belltown are mostly highrises. Yesler terrace, SLU and the Denny Triangle are headed in that direction too

  17. Actually a lot of the developers do make contributions. Amazon andvulcan have helped pay for the mercer fix, the street car, SLU park sidewalk improvements a long terry ave and future improvements for pedestrians in SLU and Denny Triangle. What’s driving prices up is the people that insist they be the last person to move to Seattle.

  18. As an active member of the Champion, I have been working closely with Cathy and Michael for almost 4 years. I can think of no two people better qualified to guide us through the planning around the Sound Transit sites. They combine the highest integrity with a unbounded love of the Hill, as well as the leadership and communication skills necessary to effectively represent us all. We are incredibly fortunate to have them working so hard on our behalf. You will no one better. Thank you Cathy and Michael!

  19. It’s no coincidence that as soon as zoning heights were increased much of Broadway started to be torn down and made to look similar to downtown Bellevue’s residential area and as I recall that was only about a 20′ increase. We need to let our voices be heard rather than just the developers and the politicians they pay off in the form of campaign contributions.

  20. You mean all the junky buildings with marginal businesses are coming down replaced with better buildings providing more housing in the neighborhood and more customers for area businesses?

    Seriously, you cranks act like nothing should ever change.

  21. Wes, closer to our home neighborhood, please give an example of what the developer of the apodments (mainly Calhoun Properties….and, no, I am definitely NOT related!) has done for Capitol Hill infrastructure. I believe the answer is: zero.

  22. I am fully supportive and appreciative of the work that Carl Winter and his group have done to oppose the further development of the atrocities known as apodments. In the purely residential and low-rise areas of Capitol Hill, which compromise the majority of our neighborhood, such things should be banned completely, and any other changes in zoning opposed.

    However, in more commercial areas, such as along Broadway and at the Sound Transit site, a modest increase in height and more density makes sense and should be supported. I would hope that the folks with Reasonable Density Seattle will understand the difference between the residential and commercial areas of our neighborhood, and concentrate their efforts on the former.

  23. In my opinion Capitol Hill is much better than it was. The sidewalks are better around all the new buildings, the neighborhood is cleaner and feels safer. I’m sure the bellevue promenade will receive money from developers. One more thing, we’re not entitled to the developers money. It’s there money if they want to build a cycle track they can, but it’s not their job. The increased density is an improvement. Capitol Hill isn’t even close to being dense.

  24. What Calhoun and the apodments does for Capitol Hill is allow new construction residences to a segment of the population that otherwise wouldn’t be able to affor that. At least not in this neighborhood.

  25. As usual, the level of discussion and the absence of factual information, leave much to be desired in this discussion. Contrary to the headline of this story: building height is not the main issue.

    The real issue with the approval of John Akamatsu and Lisa Kothari as members of the Champion has to do with the fact that both feel they do not have to be approved as representatives of the Capitol Hill Community Council, despite the language of the Capitol Hill Champion agreement between the Capitol Hill Community Council and the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, which provides: “The Steering Committee will consist of seven or nine members and must include at least one Community Council officer and at least one Chamber board member. The Steering Committee will recruit and choose its own members, subject to approval by the two member organizations. ” Both are officers of the Capitol Hill Community Council. The Articles of Incorporation of the Capitol Hill Community Council state that one of its purposes is “Preserving and improving the neighborhood in accordance with the wishes of the community….” Other purposes also emphasize the representation on community interests.” Many members of the Capitol Hill Community do not feel that John and Lisa have or will represent community interests, and that is why we do not think they should be approved as representatives of the CHCC to the Champion. Their flagrant disregard of the requirements of the Champion agreement is a prime example of how much they care about the community interest. Despite John’s protestations, it does not appear he supports CHCC’s apodment resolution. An officer of an organization should actively support the policy initiatives of the organization he allegedly represents.

    I don’t know that John’s removal from the Capitol Hill Coalition’s Steering Committee was voluntary. My understanding is that he was removed because he was feeding information about the Steering Committee’s deliberations to City officials and the Champion.

    So, if you believe that individuals who ignore the governing agreements of the organizations they allege they represent, and that individuals who undermine the organizations they allegedly represent, make great candidates for community representatives, by all means, you should vote for Akamatsu and Kothari. They are your kind of people. If you believe that community representatives should represent the actual interests of the organization they allegedly represent, then you should vote NO on Akamatsu and Kothari.

    Akamatsu and Kothari are supported by the usual group of self-interested individuals who fail to state their interests in the TOD site: Michael Wells, whose Chamber would probably not be in existence, had it not received large cash infusions from Sound Transit and the City; John Feit, who works for Schemata, the organization hired to help develop the Urban Design Framework,and who have worked on a number of development proposals, not always well-received by the Capitol Hill Community, Jen Powers,aka Comrade Bunny, who has worked for Capitol Hill Housing in the past, Cathy Hillenbrand, member of the Capitol Hill Housing Board…the comfortable little clique that feels they know best and feel entitled to dictate to the rest of the neighborhood how Capitol Hill should be developed, according to their predetermined and overly determined plans, regardless of any alleged community input. Indeed, if this group of individuals are so favorable to and open to community input, why have they become so enraged that members of the community dare to contradict them on certain issues? They all seem to be intent on obtaining that ring to rule us all. Their recommendations should be evaluated with care.

  26. I was born and raised in Seattle and I am proud that so many new people from all over the world want to call Seattle home. Everyone who lives in this city -especially this neighborhood- has benefited from the fact that smart, creative people are moving here in record numbers and helping our small businesses thrive.

    I agree that Seattle needs to (literally) grow up and negotiate with developers for permanent affordable/workforce housing and other amenities in exchange for increased building heights. Otherwise, in 50 years, it will be even harder for middle class couples or families to find an affordable place to live on Capitol Hill, especially anywhere near the Link light rail station.

  27. “Many members of the Capitol Hill Community do not feel that John and Lisa have or will represent community interests, and that is why we do not think they should be approved as representatives of the CHCC to the Champion.”

    This is at the heart of the issue, Dennis. John and Lisa have been actively advocating for the Capitol Hill community in the Champion process in the last 6 months. The various factions within the Community Council are in turmoil over the future of our neighborhood and this dissaray has resulted in misinformation, recriminations and personal attacks (see above). This is not community activism at its finest. I would urge interested parties to attend tonights meeting and see & hear for themselves how these issues affects their neighborhood.

  28. Dennis,
    Once again you revert to speculation. I never once spoke to city official about the Coalition steering committee’s deliberations, not did I ever pass on any “privileged” information to the Champion. However, I did voice their concerns as private citizens to the Champion along with the the concerns of the other neighbors.
    I did remove myself from the CHC Steering Committee. No one told me to stop attending meetings, but I did so after the name calling, and speculation became unbearable. Others also stepped away when the “meetings”, which BTW were closed and invitation only as you should know.
    Please inform us how we do not represent community interests. The resolution was poorly written, but I have not stood in the way of seeking the loophole closed. The committee that was formed has never informed the council about its meetings until after the fact. So please provide at least two (2) examples of how I have not supported the loophole closure. If you can not, please be quiet and move on, and stop spreading these lies.
    Not one person has ever said that we do not need to be approved. As President, George Bakan approved us. We also tried to bring this to a vote two times before as the by-laws are not clear on this approval process, but Coalition members interfered on both occasions. So do not say we show “flagrant disregard of the requirements of the Champion agreement”. You, Dennis, know from personal discussions with me that I have been trying to clarify the language about approvals, and never once have I argued that my appointment does not need to be approved. Where you get that idea, I can only speculate–however, I hope that I have shown that speculation gets us nowhere and only consumes our productive energy.

  29. I got the information that you and Lisa didn’t have to be approved from you and Lisa. Have you forgotten our conversation at the Capitol Hill Council meeting, where you and Lisa announced, as the meeting was breaking up, chairs were being put away, and attendees were leaving, that you and she had been appointed to the Champion? I came over and told you that that is not how it worked – that you would have to be approved by the group – and you both denied that you had to be approved. I also am unaware of any authority by which George Bakan could presume to approve or appoint you.

  30. The original rationale for increased height at the Capitol Hill Light Rail Station was that this would be necessary to get prospective developers to provide the amenities desired by the community. But, it turns out that developers were not very interested in additional height at the Station site. Kidder Matthews interviewed 10 developers and concluded that: (1)as to Broadway facing parcels: “What is less clear
    is whether developers would like additional height and an additional floor of residential in the concrete
    base. Regardless of how they respond, the developers interviewed believed that the value of adding the
    additional floor of concrete is modest, when balanced against the increased construction cost”; (2) as to the 10th avenue facing parcels: As indicated by the developers
    interviewed, it is possible that some would like to increase the size of the concrete base-building to
    include an additional floor of residential. However, most believe that the economic benefits, when
    weighed against the increased construction cost, are not compelling.” Their summary states: “The developers interviewed believe that increasing the allowable height in 65 foot zones
    creates an opportunity to make better projects. In the non-core Seattle markets the benefits of increasing
    building height has limits. Projects that are over the fire code’s 75’ height limit are not financially feasible.
    Wood frame construction over a single story above-grade concrete base is the building configuration
    most often pursued because the project economics do not reward greater height. Some developers may
    choose to push building height by adding an additional residential floor to the concrete base. However
    the value created by doing so is situational to the individual project and its competitive marketplace.
    Further, most agree any increased value is not adequate to off-set the costs associated with affordable
    housing zoning incentives that go beyond the City of Seattle’s multi-family property tax exemption
    program.” The core referred to is downtown Seattle or Bellevue.

    So who is it that is really behind the push for the 85 foot height or beyond?

  31. yes Wes, they do – here and there, however they dont obliterate whole neighborhoods to do it.
    In Chicago, go down to Bronzeville, or down the Pink Line for example – you dont see severe upzoning swallowing the neighborhood.
    By the density = affordability reasoning, Manhattan should be one of the most affordable places in the U.S., as should San Francisco, etc.
    Econ 101 supply and demand does not work in a place like this.
    Even Schemata Workshop admits that.
    Where do you suggest drawing the line?
    Shall all smaller scale housing come down – Much of which right now IS affordable?
    There’s huge of amounts of money to be made here by powerful interests. You really trust them to make good long term decisions? I don’t. Yesler Terrace case in point. Can’t have poor (read “black”) people living in such prime real estate.
    Privatizing our waterfront by continuing to upzone South Lake Union?
    Currently the “affordable housing” at the Broadway site is slated for 9 years, maybe a bit more, then it goes striaght back to market rate. Boy, there’s a strong committment for you.

    We all need to be less naive and bone up some more.

  32. If they are banned, where should people who rent apodments look for housing? On the edge of suburbia where rent is much cheaper but transit is not a viable option? The reason Capitol Hill is densifying isn’t because of craven politicians or rapacious developers. It’s because there is a widespread movement back into central cities and neighborhoods that are dense, walkable, and provide good transit. It’s not just Seattle–it’s happening everywhere. Don’t believe me? Even downtown Detroit, of all places, is seeing a resurgence relative to the rest of the less-dense city: http://www.theatlanticcities.com/jobs-and-economy/2013/02/qu

    Apodments and higher buildings aren’t being built because developers are greedy and the city government are “in their pocket,” it’s because there is market demand for more housing in neighborhoods such as Capitol Hill. Ultimately, your fight isn’t against developers or the city, it’s against a society-wide trend for denser urban housing.

  33. Since October, we have been working to get the appointment/approval process complete as well as to smooth the way for other types of items that needs approval or appointing. I very much doubt that I would have made a comment as you suggest and it must have been a misunderstanding on either your part or mine. What I knew at the time–and as I have stated over and over–is that the by-laws do not address the procedure of approving. At no point have I ever attempted to impede the approval process, and again ask you to provide evidence otherwise.

  34. So Dennis – if no one is going to go to 85 feet, then what exactly is the harm in allowing for buildings to go to 85 feet in the off chance a developer out there decides to build to that height and the resources that makes available allow for additional community benefits? If the risk of anyone building to 85 feetl is so low, then why all the hullabaloo opposing it? Do you enjoy arguing about how many developers you can fit on the head of a pin?

    Or is this just another chance to pursue a failed, paranoia fueled fight? Are you still sore that your pointless 1,000 page appeal was summarily dismissed with a 3 page form all of which just resulted in wasting a lot of time?:

    http://crosscut.com/2008/07/28/seattle-city-hall/16273/You-i

  35. Pingback: With Capitol Hill Community Council election Thursday night, meet 7 candidates for 7 seats | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle