Some non-election Fizz for your pre-election Monday afternoon...
1. Under pressure from Laurelhurst residents including Jeannie Hale, the head of the Laurelhurst Community Council, the Seattle City Council decided last week to put off a proposed amendment to the city's Comprehensive Plan—the primary planning document that determines how development happens in the city—that would have allowed a multi-family development in the single-family enclave of Laurelhurst, in Northeast Seattle.
At a council meeting last week, Hale told council members, "This proposed amendment is not ready for prime time."
Hale and other neighborhood activists argued for a "planned development" with 18 single-family houses instead of the multifamily building proposed by developers. The new multifamily development would have preserved 16 or 19 acres of open space while developing a small strip of the northern edge of the property.
2. Meanwhile, the city is looking at new regulations that could make it harder to build so-called "small-lot" houses (houses on "substandard" lots that are smaller than the current minimum size for single-family developments.
Instead of allowing new buildings on lots that are 80 percent of the average lot size for a particular block, as small-lot developers have proposed, the legislation would restrict development to lots at least 100 percent of the average lot size of a block—a substantially more restrictive standard that would make it much harder to develop houses on small lots.
"Hopefully, they'll come back and fix it with language that's understandable to the average person," says Roger Valdez, who represents the pro-small-lot group Smart Growth Seattle.
3. The city council has cancelled a hearing on the future of the PacMed building on Beacon Hill, and, according to council spokeswoman Dana Robinson Slote, does not plan to reschedule the discussion.
The debate over the building's future has become an issue in the mayor's race, with Peter Steinbreuck expressing disappointment at the news that the building (which served as Amazon's headquarters before the company moved to South Lake Union) might become market-rate apartments instead of a health-training and nursing facility.
State house speaker Frank Chopp, as head of the public authority that owns the building, has pushed for a lease deal with Seattle Central Community College at the facility.