Background

I. OVERVIEW

The Big Picture: The City’s Special Rules for Developers Are Financial Incentives to Create Angry N’hoods

Neighborhood by neighborhood, these loopholes are turning Seattle communities from kind and friendly neighborhoods into breeding grounds for greed, anger and resentment.

People who buy one of these big houses on a small loophole lot should not be surprised that they are moving into a neighborhood where neighbors are angry and resentful to these developers and their customers.

These developer exceptions are inequitable and divisive.  They are turning Seattle’s n’hoods into battlegrounds where developers extract maximum profit without regard to how it affects the neighborhood.  Developers say “it’s business,”  but the neighbors are not the developer’s competition.   Neighbors are people who are considerate to each other and build a community by helping each other out.   These loophole houses do the opposite – they breed anger and frustration, and erode the peace in our neighborhoods.  Buyers of these homes should be conscious of the fact that these problems would not exist if nobody bought these homes.

Consumers of fur, sweatshop clothing, ivory, etc., know that there are responsible for the  consequences of their purchases.  The same is true for consumers of these houses which degrade neighborhoods.  Increasingly, would-be consumers of these loophole houses are taking responsibility for the biggest purchase of their life, and buying a house that wasn’t built on developer exceptions and blatant disregard for their new neighborhood.

II. BRIEF TIMELINE

Sep. 29 :  30 Days with No Response from Mayor’s Office or DPD

We are still waiting for a real explanation why DPD couldn’t revoke the erroneous permit, instead of revising it for the developer.

What is going on at the Mayor’s Office and DPD?  Do you think a developer has to wait 30 or more days for an acknowledgement of their email?  Do you think a developer points out specific City laws which should help them, and DPD simply says ‘those laws don’t count in your case?’ without explaing why?

Aug. 30:  City Allowing 3 Houses

DPD is approving the dead permit, cramming 3 houses on 2 lots in a mockery of the land use laws and its web of exceptions.  Take a look.  More info here.

Aug. 27: City Plans to Allow 3 Houses

On Tues, Aug. 27, DPD claimed they don’t have a choice to revoke the erroneous permit.  DPD said they must review the developer’s proposal to revise their (dead) permit, and approve it if they can.  The n’hood sent yet another email to DPD which pointed out DPD is ignoring facts and which asked DPD to explain why they can’t revoke the permit under City law.

On Aug. 28, the Deputy Mayor promised the n’hood they would receive an explanation from DPD describing why DPD couldn’t use its power under City law to revoke the permit.  The n’hood put that promise in writing and emailed it to the Mayor’s Office and DPD.

Aug. 23:  Duffus is trying to get the City to STILL allow 3 houses, but NOW the City can CHOOSE to say there will only be 2 houses.

According to our lawyer, Duffus’ January Lot Boundary Adjustment (LBA) is nullified.  On top of that, the City has the legal power to revoke that LBA permit from Jan.  In either case, Duffus must submit a new LBA application.  But now there is a house under construction straddling two small lots that were still undeveloped in Jan.  Because of this, those two small lots don’t qualify for the historic lot loophole, so now the developer only has a total of 2 lots, not 3.

Duffus is trying to get DPD to adjust his dead LBA so he can still have 3 houses.  Here’s why it’s wrong for the City to modify that dead permit.

  1. JAN. LBA WAS NULLIFIED BY KING CO RULING.  KC Superior Ct. reversed the City’s approval of the set of lot lines in the Jan. LBA.  [The Judge reaffirmed her decision on 8/22.] The LBA was approved in error, so it’s clear to us that it’s dead.  Duffus must submit a new LBA, not modify a dead LBA through his permit request 3015897 to adjust the dead LBA.
  2. DPD HAS AUTHORITY TO REVOKE THE JAN. LBA. City law 23.76.034 says DPD can revoke a Master Use Permit if “the permit was issued in error.”  King Co said the Jan. LBA was issued in error, so DPD can CHOOSE to revoke the permit, making it crystal clear that a new LBA is needed.
  3. TWO LOTS ON THIS PROPERTY IS CONSISTENT WITH DPD’s PROPOSED UPDATE TO SMALL LOT DEVELOPMENT RULES  Requiring a new LBA (which can only have a total of two lots) is consistent with DPD’s recommendation of how a property like this should be developed.  DPD’s proposed update to small small lot development rules (see p. 4, #8) says that if two adjacent historic lots are less than 3,200 s.f. on average, they count as one lot, not two.   That rule would apply to this property.  In fact, this rule (expected to become law in 2013)  is the result of DPD learning from what Duffus tried to do in Benchview: separately develop two adjacent historic lots that were each about 2,520 s.f.  This plan is out of character with the n’hood.  DPD now has the opportunity to enforce this vision by stopping this plan in Benchview by revoking the LBA permit.

Look how Duffus gerrymandered a fake front yard for lot B, then fenced off that yard so only lot A can use it.  These manipulations of the code are an embarrassment to the City.

DPD has a CHOICE: allow this embarrassing plan or revoke the permit and protect the neighborhood.   The developer will still get to have one house per lot, just like everyone else.

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