Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Still Time To Sign Petition To Stop Upzone At Talaris From Single-Family To Multi-Family As Requested To City Council By Property Owner

There is still time to sign Laurelhurst Community Club's petition to stop upzoning from happening at  the 18-acre Talaris (4000 NE 41st Streeet) when re-development starts, as another review will be held today to recommend if this issue should be moved forward on the docket for continued review.  
A public hearing was held July 11th and Jeannie Hale, Laurelhurst Community Club President, voiced her concerns as well as other neighbors. Here is a link to the video of the hearing.
The Laurelhurst Community Club recently sent out an email detailing the proposed upzone re-development of Talaris.  The Talaris property owner is asking the City of Seattle to approve a Comprehensive Plan amendment for 2014 consideration that would upzone the property from single-family to multi-family.
Laurelhurst Community Club is against including this proposed amendment on the policy docket, which will be reviewed today. 
LCC says that:
The current City of Seattle land-use code allows developers generous leeway to build environmentally sensitive single-family zoned developments, even with some clustering to create and preserve trees and open space. 
To date, Talaris owner's representatives only show a "cookie cutter" single-family scenario of 90 homes that is not thought to be buildable and would eliminate open green space and sensitive environmental areas.Please contact City Council with your concerns asap. The volume of email messages will make an impact.
Neighbors concerns about the proposal include:     
  • Massive density increase inconsistent with the surrounding community
  • Inadequate bus service for 800 potential new apartment dwellers (up to 333 apartment units)
  • Capacity of Laurelhurst Elementary School to absorb a large number of new children
  • Rental units rather than an opportunity for ownership through homes or condominiums
  • Increased parking and traffic congestion
LCC sent this email today to the Planning, Land Use and Sustainability Committee regarding the Proposed Comprehensive Plan Amendments to be discussed at today's meeting:
The Laurelhurst Community Club Board of Trustees (LCC) is again here to urge you not to include the proposed comprehensive plan amendment that would change the Future Land Use Map (FLUM) from single-family residential to multi-family for the 18-acre Battelle/Talaris property in Laurelhurst.   LCC remains disappointed that the eastside developer continues to refuse to work with our community to create a planned residential development (PRD) under the city’s single-family code provisions. 
LCC supports responsible redevelopment of the Battelle/Talaris site.  We have worked with the owner’s representatives for almost a year and a half to come up with a proposal that meets their needs and addresses the concerns of the neighborhood.  Clustered single-family residential housing under the PRD provisions would preserve open space and trees and protect the wetlands on the site.  Should you choose to approve the proposed comp plan amendment for the docket, there is no possibility that this option will be explored.   
The proposed comp plan amendment, which would lead to a rezone of the property from single-family to multi-family, is inconsistent with the Code and the Comp Plan.  The Code, SMC 23.34.010, states that the Council may ONLY approve a single-family 5,000 area to a more intense use IF it determines that the area does not meet the criteria for single-family designation.  Under the criteria, this could only occur if the change is part of a neighborhood plan, is located in an urban village or is part of the Northgate Overlay District.  In this case, the rezone requirements are not met. 
Under the Comp Plan, the goal (LUG8) is to “Preserve and protect low-density, single-family neighborhoods that provide opportunities for home-ownership, that are attractive to households with children and other residents, that provide residents with privacy and open spaces immediately accessible to residents, and where the amount of impervious surface can be limited.”  Regarding multi-family zones, the Comp Plan goes on to say (LU75) “Limit the multifamily zones to areas that do not meet the single-family zone criteria, except in circumstances where an adopted neighborhood plan indicates that a differ­ent zone is more appropriate.” 
The proposed Comp Plan amendment does not meet the requirements for further consideration under the resolution adopted by Council.  One of the criteria for consideration of Comp Plan amendments is that the proposal is not better addressed through another process.  In this case, redevelopment of the Battelle/Talaris property is better addressed through the yet to be explored PRD process. 
The bottom line is that the proposed Comprehensive Plan amendment docket item is not ready for prime time.  It is inconsistent with the Code and Comp Plan and the criteria in the Council resolution.  As the Planning Commission pointed out, there is no mechanism in the current proposal to guarantee the property owner would be contractually tied to follow through on the plans detailed in the proposal should the FLUM change move forward.  We urge you to listen to the 415 neighbors who signed LCC’s petition asking that you disallow this proposal to move any further.

     LCC has been involved with the site once known as Batelle, for over 30 years, in ensuring the property is well integrated with the neighborhood by closely monitoring any proposed development.
    To voice your opinion:
  • Send an email or letter to Sara Nelson, Richard Conlin, and other City Councilmembers
  • Sign the online petition
    A neighbor told us that the process is ongoing until December, when they will make final decisions about the Comprehensive Plan Amendments and change the Future Land Use Map.
    She wrote:
    Emails are still crucial so the city council knows the neighborhood's position. The Public hearing video shows the developers stance on developing the property and is useful when writing letters to the council members.  
    They are taking the position that the Multi-Family zoning is the best for preserving the landscape of Talaris but if they change the zoning, they could also sell the land to a developer who isn't interested in maintaining the landscape. 
    Once the zoning is changed, it will stay that way regardless of the owner.  Recommendations are made in December so it is still crucial for our neighborhood to continue to express our opinions to the city council.

    Here is an email the reader received from CouncilmemberTom Rasmussen:
    Thank you for your comments on the Talaris Redevelopment project. I recognize the challenge of accommodating growth and preserving the neighborhoods character.  As you know, the Council is in the process of evaluating all options.  
    There was a public hearing on Thursday, July 11, 2013, 5:30 p.m. The Policy Docket will be reviewed on July 24th. The City Council will request that Department of Planning and Development and the Seattle Planning Commission to commission a study of the area and in December 2013 recommendations will be made to City Council. 
    Please be assured that I will give great weight to the comments and recommendations of the community in making my decisions relating to all land use changes in the neighborhood. 
    Thank you again for your comments and please contact me if you have further questions concerning this matter.


    Here is contact information for City Council members:
    Legislative Department
    600 Fourth Avenue Floor 2
    PO Box 34025
    Seattle, WA 98124-4025

    Sara Nelson at 206-684-5337 or

    Copy your email to:

    For more information go here.  
    Here is a recent report on the Talaris re-development, including a short interview with Jeannie Hale, LCC President.

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