It's not over yet!

The Design Review Board met for the fourth time to hear about the City People’s
project Wednesday evening, and this time they moved the project the next step
forward.

If you weren’t able to attend the design meeting, you should know that your
neighbors spoke eloquently, thoughtfully, and presented hard data and heart-felt
messages. This project has helped our community grow closer and stronger in our
awareness of what it means to be a community, and why that’s worth defending.

The Design Board’s decision is disappointing, but not surprising. They are not
standing up for communities, and not standing up against irresponsible, profit-
driven development.

What’s next? The developer will be receiving the MUP (master use permit) some
time in the coming weeks or months. At that point we can appeal their MUP. Our
land use attorney will make our case before the Hearing Examiner.

Join us in the fight. All of us together can make a difference in our neighborhood.

 

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Pat Murakami visits Save Madison Valley meeting

Pat Murakami, who is running for position 9 on the City Council, participated in our community meeting this afternoon. We discussed the proposed development with her and gave her a tour of the neighborhood. She was an energetic and thoughtful participant and we were glad she took the time to join us. She is very interested in listening to what people have to say and would like to meet with other neighborhood groups. Thanks Pat!

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GOOD NEWS!

City People’s lease has been extended!

You may recall that City People’s was invited to stay through this year (December 31, 2017) while problems with the new project’s design have been addressed.  We’ve learned that City People’s lease has been extended another 6 months, through June of 2018!  At that point they will move to a month-to-month lease. This is great news for all of our gardens!  Great to have our good neighbors a bit longer.  And more time for us to work to positively impact the coming development.

P.S.  Also, remember:  
Design Review
September 13, 6:30 pm. 
Seattle University, 
965 – 12th Ave, 
Pigott Auditorium
Please put it on your calendar!  We hope to see you there.

City of Seattle hosts community meeting concerning the City Peoples Site

What an amazing community we have!  Speaker after speaker got up on Tuesday evening and shared their thoughts, wishes, concerns, anger, and frustrations about the development proposed for the City People’s site with city officials.
 
The City sent four representatives who listened carefully and took notes. Both SDCI and SDOT were represented.
 
People passionately highlighted the myriad difficulties with the project: the loss of tree canopy, the lack of buffers, the overwhelming size, and the dramatic traffic impact. People also offered suggestions and ideas to improve the project. A number of people repeated clearly that as a community we don't oppose development and would welcome an appropriate development for this site. 
 
The City Planner advised us that we could expect a decision about whether the permits are granted some time in the next months. 
 
Remember: there will be a final Design Review Meeting with the Design Review Board in the coming months.  Watch for notice about when and where.  That will be the next opportunity we have as a community to attend a public meeting and speak out about this project.  We made an impact last night – please plan to come and do it again.

Thank you for your continued support!

 

Build Baby Build!

I've been following a discussion on a Land Use Forum about why homes and rentals in Seattle are becoming more and more expensive despite the frenetic level of construction. I came across an interesting analysis written by a Seattle Times staff columnist Brer Dudley. Here is an excerpt.

"Seattle should reconsider policies based on the false assumption that this is a simple supply and demand problem. The supply of various types of in-city housing will always be limited and demand is practically unlimited, so supply and demand will never even out.

Yes, growth in apartment rents is expected to moderate and vacancies will increase as new units become available over the next few years. But the city will always be relatively unaffordable as long as it's economically strong. Yet we still cling to promises that it will get better "if only we build more, more, more!"

At what point will the city pause and assess whether its "build baby build" policies work as promised for renters and buyers (vs for developers and politicians they support ...) and their downsides?"
 

What's next for the proposed City People's development?

On Wednesday, January 25, the Design Review Board passed the proposed City People’s development on to the next phase, completing the early design guidance phase. Those of you who were there know that the community turned out and spoke up. People were eloquent, informed, and clear about their concerns and wishes for this project. With an extensive “to-do” list the Board gave the developer a green light for this step.

The most important thing to know at this point is that nothing is a done deal yet, and there’s still a place for community input. Lots of folks are wondering what’s next. Here are some of the big questions, and the answers we’ve found so far.

Q: If the Board gave a green light doesn’t that mean they’re satisfied and we can’t really expect much change now?

A: Nope. In fact, one Board member specifically said that she felt the community and the Board were responsible for most of the positive changes on the project so far, and issued a warning to the applicant (developer and architect) that ‘eyes will be watching.’

Q: Well, sure, that’s nice. But how can we expect any changes if the design review is over?

A: Some aspects of the design haven’t even been decided yet. For example, the Board passed on giving an opinion whether the entrance should be exclusively on Madison, or split between Madison and Dewey. They said they wanted more traffic data and they wanted to hear from SDOT (Department of Transportation). The Board can’t get that data and SDOT can’t weigh in until the project moves out of the early design guidance phase. That was one of the Board’s reasons for punting the project on. They wanted input from more sources.

Q: So what comes next?

A: In the coming weeks the applicant will file an application for a Master Use Permit (“MUP”). First they have to finish a check-list of things – completing early design guidance was just one of those things on their list. The City will let us know when the application is filed – one of those giant white boards you’ve seen around town on construction sites will suddenly show up in front of City People’s.

Q: What happens after the developer applies for a Master Use Permit ("MUP")?

A: That begins a two-week comment period for any interested parties (all of us!).

That’s when the community can make comments (by letter) about any concerns related to water, trees, slope, height, mass, code compliance, traffic… All the stuff we weren’t suppose to bring up in design review (e.g., traffic), but also some of the things that have been discussed in design review but are still relevant at this phase (e.g., height, bulk, and scale). The focus is no longer design of the building, but now aspects of the project that impact the environment.

Q: This sounds a lot like SEPA. Are MUP and SEPA related? And what’s SEPA anyway?

A: SEPA stands for State Environmental Policy Act. And yes, they have a relationship. Once the MUP comment period ends then the City begins a SEPA review – looking at all the potential environmental impacts a development will have.

The City can assert their authority and put limits on a project if they decide the potential environmental impact should be mitigated.

Q: You said that they’ll be looking at traffic now, but the design review already approved a garage for 150 cars and a six-story building! If the development process were really that backwards in Seattle – designing a building before evaluating the environmental impacts -- we’d end up with a lot of oversized buildings around town, and probably some terrible traffic messes, and – Oh…. Oh, I get it now… never mind.

A: In short: there’s still lots to do to help our community grow in a way that increases the beauty and vitality of Madison Valley.

Design Review Board approved proposal to move forward to MUP

The third Early Design Guidance meeting for the Velmeir development took place last night. The Board heard from the architect and the community. They praised the architect’s efforts, but had a laundry list of items that still need to be addressed with the building. Nonetheless, they said the proposal could move on to the MUP (Master Use Permit) phase. This didn’t seem to be as much about the achievements of the design, as that the Board wants more information about aspects of the project (e.g., traffic impacts to the neighborhood) which they can only get from the MUP phase and SEPA (State Environmental Protection Act) which now will follow. The Board also stated that they would like to see several options for the proposal to address the outstanding issues including massing, depth of modulation, and better relation to the neighborhood. 

What does that mean for Save Madison Valley and the greater community? Our work continues. It’s not over by a long shot. There’s room for community involvement and input during this very important time when issues like water and traffic are more closely studied and the developer’s reports will be evaluated. We’ll be consulting with our attorney and architect consultant and will let you know the next steps soon. 

What else? Our disappointment in the Board’s decision to pass this project on at this point is mitigated by our gratitude to the greater neighborhood for your involvement. It was a great turnout and a very impressive presentation from folks: you were thoughtful, informed, passionate, and creative in your feedback to the Board. What an amazing place to live – and we’re going to be working to keep it an amazing place to live. We look forward to continuing to work with you to Save Madison Valley.

The city needs your feedback!

The city is requesting your feedback about the proposed development on the current City People's site.

We’ve seen the latest design from the architect for the City People’s property.  While some improvements have been made, much of the feedback from the community has not yet been incorporated:

  • The height, bulk and scale of the building are still too big.
  • The setbacks are too small to grow full-sized trees to maturity.
  • The building is over 70 feet tall on Dewey (zoned 40') and is out-of-character with the neighborhood.
  • No exceptional trees are saved.
  • There is still a blank wall on Republican.
  • Please add a community space on Madison, as the public has repeatedly asked for.
  • The garage entrance on Dewey will ruin the pedestrian-friendly character of Dewey and the surrounding streets.

HOW YOU CAN HELP: Please take a few minutes to write a letter to the Design Review Board by clicking below:

The above link will open an email to the city referencing project number 3020338.  Feel free to write your own letter, or to submit this example letter written by Save Madison Valley.

JOIN US IN PERSON: The large community turnout for the previous two meetings with the city have shown the board how important this project is to Madison Valley.  Let’s show the city, the developer and the architect that we are invested in seeing our neighborhood grow in a way that that preserves and enhances its livability and vitality. 

We'll see you at EDG #3 on the 25th!

Wednesday, January 25th at 8:00pm
Seattle University: Pigott Auditorium
901 12th Ave
Seattle, WA 98122

Save Madison Valley met with the Developer and Architect on January 4

At the Second Design Review, the Board asked Velmeir and Meng-Strazzara to work with the community as they incorporate the Board’s guidance in preparation for the third Design Meeting. We reached out to Charles Strazzara and Geza De Gall and invited them to meet with some of us.

During our meeting on Jan 4th, we offered specifics based on the Board’s Report of how we hope they will incorporate the guidance the Design Review Board has offered at the last two meetings (July and October). We covered four priorities:

● If the current tree canopy can’t be saved, we asked that any replacement provide habitat for small animals and insects, intercept rainwater, have large and smaller native trees and plants, and provide understory for foraging. This language was provided by ecologist Matt Patterson of Steinbrueck Urban Strategies, who suggested that we move the discussion from numbers to function or service – he suggested we look for any replacement to be ecologically responsive and maintain the current link to the larger urban forest corridor.

● A minimum of a 20-foot setback. While one could argue the bigger the better, Patterson felt this is sufficient to create an ecologically responsive landscape that maintains urban ecological functions, and benefits the neighborhood. This is also the standard used in residential neighborhoods.

● The garage fully underground on all sides: no one should have to see it, smell it, or hear it.

● No entrance on Dewey. Traffic engineer Ross Tilghman strongly questioned the viability of putting traffic from 70+ residences on the small, oddly configured streets of Dewey, Republican, 29th, 32nd, and the surround.

Strazzara and De Gall listened, but repeatedly emphasized that while they are listening to the community, they will take their guidance from the Design Review Board. At the October meeting the Board asked that the developer offer an option that has residences on Dewey; Strazzara and De Gall said they will offer that as one option at the EDG on January 25. Their next design will be available on the City’s website ten days prior to the EDG meeting on the 25th. Strazzara and De Gall said this design is different from the first two in substantial ways. We’re waiting to see and will be looking closely.

Meet Neighbor - Amy

 

 

I moved here twenty years ago because my husband insisted upon living in the "core area". Well he was right. Love living here in Madison Valley. Love being so close to the Arboretum and having such easy access to downtown Seattle. Love having had a "reverse commute" for several years. Especially love the walkability of Mad Valley and surrounding areas. Love the wide variety of home styles and sizes and people styles and sizes too. All kinds of interesting people and no snobs! Hope it stays this way through all the growth and development.

Commercial Development process listens to the community; Residential does not

Guest post by James

First Appeared in Madison Park Times

Having participated in the proposed PCC Market building’s early design guidance process, I was impressed by how effective citizen’s voices could be in shaping neighborhood development.  On the other side of the coin, residential building is rapidly changing our community, largely without local review or input.  This is happening in my neighborhood, as it is in many neighborhoods across Seattle. 

One of our neighbors was displaced earlier this year and his home was sold. The developer who bought the home plans to demolish the small, quaint Craftsman and remove the 1,540 square-foot green canopy, which includes mature apple, cherry and plum trees.  He also plans to combine the storm and sanitary water outflows.  Combined sewers are strongly discouraged by the Environmental Protection Agency because overflow events—also known as combined sewer overflows, or CSOs –expose residents and the environment to raw sewage/pollution.  Our neighborhood is also prone to internal water backups.  Many of us in the area remember the tragic drowning of resident Kate Fleming, whose 10-year passing is remembered this month.

The proposed construction is very different from all other buildings on our block face.  The front wall will begin only 20 feet in from the property line and will rise 40 feet in elevation.  It will sit on a lot smaller than the average property size, yet will be taller and more massive than every other building. Compared to its northern neighbor that sits on a 50 percent bigger lot, the new building is two stories (20 feet) higher, more than twice the length (over 50 feet), and has three times the above ground living area (3,650 square feet).  The end result will present a 1,500 sqare foot, largely blank wall that will cast a deep shadow over its neighbor for most of the year.  

The design does not follow Seattle residential design principles of preserving qualities of the neighborhood (reinforcing open and green spaces), matching the height, volume and character of surrounding buildings (which are mostly in the American Craftsman and bungalow styles). What is the purpose of publishing these guidelines if they go unenforced, and are so misaligned with the profit-driven motives of developers?   If Seattle is serious about offering affordable housing, is it socially responsible to take a relatively affordable home off the market and replace it with a gargantuan box priced $1.5 million or more?

The building process is difficult for neighbors and little is done to mitigate that difficulty.  During the first eight months that the property was acquired by developer/Realtor Wilcynski, it was neglected to the point of being an overgrown eyesore that became a rat harborage.  Hundreds of falling apples and plums were left rotting throughout the summer and fall, providing an ample food source to rats that now have started spreading to neighboring lots and present a public health threat.  Soon demolition will commence, followed by many months of noisy and dirty construction.

For as long as anyone lives in my house, it will be in the shadow of a monstrous, rectangular box that diminishes the open and green qualities of our neighborhood.  The negative impact to public safety (flooding, slides, construction), health (rats, debris), environment (pollution, combined sewage overflows, destruction of trees), housing accessibility and quality of life should outweigh any profit-driven motive. Given the developer’s track record and the sensitivity and history of Madison Valley, it is a dangerous mistake to inflict this insensitive, big-box development upon our environment and our residents.

SMV and PCC: A Short History

Early this Spring Madison Valley learned that the property City People’s Garden Store sits on was being sold.  The first players we were introduced to were the developer, Velmeir, and the architect, Meng Strazzara.  We all waited in anticipation to learn who the anchor tenant would be.  And then the announcement came:  PCC was coming to Madison Valley.

Some people were happy: organic produce around the corner! PCC deli take-out for dinner every night!  Others were worried: what about Bert’s Red Apple? Essential Bakery? What about the traffic?  Many landed in the middle – neutral about the tenant, but very much focused on this new development coming to our neighborhood.

Save Madison Valley reached out to PCC on a number of occasions, wanting to respect their role as an anchor tenant—with both its strengths and limits-- and to engage them about the development that was ubiquitously being identified as “The PCC Project.” 

On May 23rd we sent a letter to the CEO, Cate Hardy, and to long-term Board member Carol Binder, explaining who we are and asking to meet with them to talk about our concerns and enlist their support in advocating for a more responsible and more conscientious design.

CEO Cate Hardy and Carol Binder agreed to meet with us June 17.  At that meeting Ms. Hardy told us that PCC was not involved in the design of the project, and that our concerns belonged with the Design Review process. Ms. Hardy also said she would pass our concerns on to the developer and architect.

On June 27 we sent an open letter to PCC addressed again to the CEO as well as all of the Board members individually. We wanted to be sure that the entire Board was apprised of the concerns that many in our community have, and some of the specific ideas we hoped they would help advocate for: a smaller footprint, reduced parking, affordable housing for families; preservation of the tree canopy.

There was no response to our open letter of June 27.

After the first Early Design Guidance meeting on July 13, we again reached out to PCC.  In a letter dated July 22 we sent a copy of our presentation to Ms. Hardy asking to meet.  We told her of the Design Board’s unanimous support, and conveyed that the Board had suggested PCC be involved as the developer and architect work to incorporate the changes that were recommended. 

Ms. Hardy declined to meet with us.

On July 30th Save Madison Valley wrote an open letter describing one vision of what responsible development for the City People’s site might look like.  We sent copies to PCC’s CEO, Board members, as well as the developer, architect, and still current owners of the property.

On August 7th we sent another email, again asking Ms. Hardy to meet with us.  We addressed the apparent contradiction between Ms. Hardy’s claim that PCC is not involved in the design, and that the first floor, entryway, and garage are designed to PCC’s specifications.

Again Ms. Hardy declined.

On September 26 we emailed PCC to say that three of us would be attending the Board meeting the following day.  (PCC’s website states that members are welcome, and asks that you email in advance to let them know you are coming.) 

The text of the comments we made at the PCC Board meeting on September 27 is available here

There was no reply from Ms. Hardy, or any of the members of the board, at that meeting, or in the time since.

We still hope we can engage PCC in a dialog about the unique qualities of this site and this neighborhood, and that they will use their influence as the anchor tenant to make this building one that aligns with PCC’s values of commitment to high quality, accountability, sustainability, and environmental conscientiousness.

If you have thoughts about this proposed development – do you want to preserve the mature urban tree canopy?  Put the exposed garage underground?  Do you want a smaller garage or a smaller store?  Are you concerned about the impact of traffic?  Please consider sharing your thoughts with PCC’s CEO Cate Hardy or the Board of Trustees, at:

catehardy@pccnaturalmarkets.com

board@pccnaturalmarkets.com

 

Traffic Flow

Guest post by Carla

Sitting here at essential bakery, looking out the window, I see a bus a FedEx truck and a Charlie's produce truck in a kind of gridlock at the intersection of MLK & Madison in front of Bailey Boushay.

It's stimulated me to think about the impact of the new development on traffic not only at that intersection, but at Madison and 29th and Madison and John rippling all the way to Madison and 23rd.

In other words, we shouldn't underestimate the impact of deliveries in and out of the neighborhood.

Be a light. Be a flame. Be a beacon.

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Over the last nine months, our Madison Valley community has joined together to try to shape the development being proposed to replace City People’s nursery.  Many people working hundreds of hours have reaped the unexpected benefit of coming to know our neighbors better.  It’s drawn us much closer as a community. 

Some of us have lived here a while.  Many in our community came together to help our neighbors a decade ago in the aftermath of the Hanukkah eve storm.  We remember a significant loss from that storm: on December 14, 2006, Kate Fleming died at the end of 30th Avenue East when a flood trapped Kate in her basement.

Kate was an extraordinary person.  She would light up wherever she was, and in her presence we all felt special.  We miss her still and will remember Kate on Sunday, December 11 at the memorial dedicated to her. 

Please join us at noon on December 11.  Madison Valley residents will gather at Kate’s memorial on the south side of Madison about 30 feet west of the bus shelter across from Pagliacci Pizza to pay our respects and help weed and clean up the area around her memorial.  Please join us for this important event honoring Kate.

Early Design Guidance #2 Summary

Early Design Guidance: Round 2, happened Wednesday evening, October 26th.  The outcome: We’ll all be returning for a third round.  Overall, the Design Review Board said they were pleased the developer had made some changes in the right direction, but the Board unanimously agreed that it wasn’t enough yet.  A big thank you to the East Design Review Board members for upholding standards of excellence in design for this important project coming to our neighborhood! 

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The Board seemed comfortable with the Madison frontage of the project, yet remained concerned about a number of aspects that affect the sides facing Dewey and Republican.  Specifically they asked the developer to address further the scale and bulk, the loss of the tree canopy and its replacement, the exposed garage, and questions about access (via Madison exclusively, or split onto Dewey also).

The Board got creative and offered some ideas of their own, too:  like housing on the Dewey frontage, rather than the two-story garage. 

If you missed the meeting you can read our summary of the Board comments that follow to get an idea of what happened.

Recap of Board comments & recommendations

Height, bulk & scale

  • Massing along Madison is ok.
  • Massing along Dewey is too much & does not respond appropriately to the residential part of the neighborhood.
  • Madison elevation has fair modulation, other side does not.
  • Board commented that there should be trade-offs (e.g. setback vs. height/bulk) and commented that 15’ setbacks are not needed with a smaller building.

 Residential frontage (Dewey)

  • Board had a strong (negative) response to the above ground parking garage on Dewey and tall walls.
  • The building frontage on Dewey should have more appropriate use, for example residential instead of parking. This needs more investigation.
  • Use should mirror use.

Parking garage access

  • Board is ambivalent about split access vs. single access. Board is ok with single access on Madison if it makes more sense.

Neighborhood impacts

  • Board had concerns about light spillage from the exposed garage and the street scape on Dewey.

Trees

  • Some board members expressed confusion about the changing status of exceptional trees and wondered if a circular argument was used to explain the status change (trees are no longer exceptional because they will not survive the development).
  • Board would like investigation into what can be done to preserve some of the existing trees.

Madison streetscape

  • Board would like to see a more generous sidewalk.
  • The vestibule is not a gathering space. It’s an entry and should be re-imagined as a proper vestibule.

Thank you for your support.  Please stay tuned for more about the next stages.  Visit our website, our face book group and page, and sign up for our email updates if you haven’t yet.

 We look forward to Saving – and growing – Madison Valley together.

You're Invited!

Save Madison Valley is throwing a party – a fundraiser – and we hope you’ll come! Bring a friend and join your fellow community members for an afternoon of food, drinks, and fun – and a chance to catch up on news about the development planned for the City People’s site.

We’re gathering Saturday October 1st, 3:00-6:30 pm, rain or shine, at the corner of E. Thomas St. and 31st Ave. E. in the horse’s corral.

At 4:30 Peter Steinbrueck, nationally recognized architect, design strategist, and community planner will talk about the development and be available to answer questions.

Save Madison Valley commissioned The Tilghman Group to provide an independent analysis of the developer’s traffic report. We will be sharing the results of that analysis. Come hear about the real impact the increase in traffic will have on our community.

Everyone is welcome. We are asking for a suggested donation of $10 to $100 per person. Cash or checks made out to Save Madison Valley, a non-profit organization.

This event has been generously underwritten so all proceeds go to support SMV’s advocacy efforts. Cash or checks only on the day of the event, please. If you prefer to use a credit card, you can do so before the 1st on our website by clicking donate.

Many thanks to neighbors Virginia Wyman, Dee Wyman, and Ann Wyman for planning and hosting this event.

 

Madison Valley has been my home for almost 40 years

Guest post by Yvonne

I moved to Madison Valley 38 years ago. I was young and single, and my neighbors were mostly older people who were raising their children. My neighbors became my family and they looked out for me.  My two sons grew up here, and now my granddaughter visits often. 

As the older people passed away, the make-up of the neighborhood began to change.  Even as new people have moved in, there’s still a neighborly and kind feel to our street. One thing that hasn't changed is we continue to look out for each other.  We still feel like family.

Yvonne

Madison Valley is a great place to live. I always felt that our street was the best kept secret of the neighborhood. It's quiet and I often feel a sense of peace and calm. I worry that the noise and congestion from an oversized development will negatively impact the reasons many of us moved here. 

Over the years I've enjoyed shopping at City People's.  I also used to be a regular at Hair by Boyce, when he was in the neighborhood.  Now I enjoy two of the newer additions, Pagliacci and Simply Soulful.

Madison Valley is a Treasure

Guest post by Shannon & Floyd

In search for the perfect place to raise our children, my husband and I found Madison Valley - a neighborhood filled with important intersections for us.  Madison Valley is where city and nature, people of different races and socioeconomic backgrounds, and old and new Seattle come together. 

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Our young children can ride their bikes and play basketball on our fairly protected street and we can walk to several lovely, quaint restaurants for a meal or to the arboretum for a play date.  In the over 5 years we have lived in Madison Valley, our lives have been enriched by the unique character of our neighborhood and the diversity of our neighbors.  Our children are exposed to the gifts a city brings through this diversity while getting to play in their backyard surrounded by trees and green space.  Madison Valley is a real treasure and we cannot imagine living anywhere else.