DEIS meeting recap

Posted on January 15th, 2018 by Sara

From our friend Lisa

We were unable to atted last week’s meeting, but here is a recap from our neighbor Lisa. She writes:

It was standing room only on Tuesday evening in Magnolia when the City, via the Office of Housing, hosted a community open house to present their Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS) for the 29 acre parcel at Ft. Lawton at the southeast edge of Discovery Park.   From the City those in attendance included Office of Housing Director, Steve Walker; Emily Alvarado, Manager of Policy and Equitable Development and Lindsay Masters, Project Manager, who directed the community engagement meetings late last spring.  Also in attendance were Council Members Sally Bagshaw, Teresa Mosqueda and Kashma Sawant.  Eden Mack, SPS Board Director and Dr. Flip Herndon, Associate Supt. Facilities and Operations were also present but did not speak.

The room was filled well before the 5:45 start time and many stood outside, in the entry-way and doors, in an attempt to hear the presentation and with hopes to testify. The audience differed greatly from the previous two community meetings with the majority of the audience being from outside of the immediate neighbourhood – representing potential stakeholders in the process inclusive of Habitat for Humanity (staff and residents of Habitat projects); Real Change (vendors and Board Members); housing and homeless advocacy groups; community members who identify as housing challenged and/or homeless; citywide congregational assembly leaders; and, other non-profit and citizen advocacy groups.  According to many, there was a concerted coordination effort from within the Homeless Services (City of Seattle – Human Services Dept.) to ensure representation and talking points for housing and homeless advocates; with that, the tone of this meeting differed greatly from the previous meetings in the spring.

Lindsay Masters began the meeting and, after brief introductions and explaining the format of the meeting (two minute testimonials provided by those on the sign-up list), gave a brief overview of the DEIS which includes three options and a fourth “No Action Alternative”:

Alternative 1 – Mixed Income Affordable Housing and Public Park Uses Onsite (Applicant’s Preferred Alternative) Under Alternative 1, assumed development would feature a mix of affordable housing on the Fort Lawton site, including affordable rental and ownership and formerly homeless housing. A portion of the site would be rezoned to lowrise residential zoning. Public park uses would also be created, including active park facilities, preserved existing natural areas and conversion of an existing structure to a park maintenance facility. More specifically, the project under Alternative 1 would include 238 total housing units with 85 senior supportive apartments (plus one manager unit), 100 affordable rental units and 52 affordable ownership units. The project would also provide 21.6 acres of parks and recreation area, including two multi-purpose fields, a park maintenance facility and 266 parking spaces. All existing buildings on the Fort Lawton site except OMS – Building 245 would be demolished and removed. OMS Building 245 would be preserved as a parks maintenance facility.

No development would occur on the Talaris site under Alternative 1.

Alternative 2 – Market-Rate Housing Onsite; Affordable and Homeless Housing Offsite Under Alternative 2, development of market-rate single-family housing under current zoning is assumed on the Fort Lawton site, and construction of affordable and formerly homeless housing would occur on the Talaris site. Alternative 2 would include 113 market- Fort Lawton Army Reserve Center DEIS Page 1-3 Chapter 1 December 2017 Summary rate residences with 254 parking spaces on the Fort Lawton site. The Talaris site would include 238 affordable housing units (with the same numbers of senior, rental and affordable ownership units as Alternative 1), approximately 30,621 sq. ft. of community facilities and 295 parking spaces. The project would not provide any active or passive public parks on either the Fort Lawton or Talaris sites. All existing buildings on the Fort Lawton site would be demolished and removed.

The buildings on the Talaris site would be retained and reused; new buildings would be constructed on the site as well.

Alternative 3 – Public Park Onsite; Affordable and Homeless Housing Offsite Under Alternative 3, the entire Fort Lawton site would be developed as a public park; construction of affordable and formerly homeless housing would occur at the Talaris site. Alternative 3 would include approximately 34 acres of park and recreation uses, including three multi-purpose fields and 90 parking spaces on the Fort Lawton site; and approximately 238 affordable housing units, 30,621 sq. ft. of community facilities and 295 parking spaces on the Talaris site (with the same numbers of senior, rental, and affordable ownership units as Alternative 1). All existing buildings on the Fort Lawton site except OMS – Building 245 would be demolished and removed. OMS Building 245 would be preserved as a parks maintenance facility.

All existing buildings on the Talaris site would be retained and reused; new buildings would be constructed on the site as well.

Alternative 4 – No Action Alternative Under the No Action Alternative, the Fort Lawton site would remain in its existing vacant condition. The property would not be conveyed by the U.S. Army to the City of Seattle per the BRAC process. The City would terminate its lease of the property and the Army would resume maintenance of the site and facilities. Buildings and infrastructure would likely continue to deteriorate. The site could be conveyed to the City or conveyed or sold to another entity in the future, and could be developed in accordance with the uses allowed by the site’s current SF 7200 zoning

In regards to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City and Seattle Public Schools and specifically the six acre parcel at the most southern end of the property noted in the MOU, Ms. Masters only provided a very brief statement that this site would not include a school and would be used for the purposes of sports and recreational fields.

Public testimony began shortly thereafter with the caveat that every attempt would be made to make it through the eight plus pages of registered speakers.  From the onset, the message was overwhelming, particularly from the NPO’s, advocacy groups and supporters, demanding:

  • that Alternative 1 was the overwhelming preferred option;
  • that Alternative 2 DOES NOT move forward & result in yet another development of unaffordable market-rate homes;
  • that this project move forward immediately and not be delayed;
  • that everyone deserves a home and that no one in the City of Seattle should ever be homeless;
  • that the parameters of this project were too small and that a project on 29 acres should not equate to 238 total housing units but should be maximized (and similar in scale and scope of projects such as Yesler Terrace) to have closer to 2000 housing units.

Furthermore, the speakers were consistent in demonstrating that:

  • that there is citywide and community wide support for this and projects like this;
  • that infrastructure (grocery stores, coffee shops, etc.) WERE accessible in Magnolia and to this site and that these would also follow development.

Testimony that did come from residents of Magnolia did speak to the fact that many in Magnolia do and have consistently and continue to support the need for subsidized housing at Fort Lawton and throughout greater Seattle.  Magnolia speakers tried to highlight their appreciation for the City’s and district’s MOU and now combined efforts to work together in the planning of projects, such as Fort Lawton, to ensure that the impact of such projects includes ample time and consideration for infrastructure, such as schools – particularly when developments are targeted or being built with families in mind.  They noted that Fort Lawton is a microcosm of a planning process that has not worked or been inclusive of other necessary considerations, and that moving forward infrastructure, which is inclusive of schools and capacity, has to be incorporated from the onset of planning.

The meeting ended at approximately 9:40 and with the instructions that a 45-day comment period extends through 5:00 PM January 29th, 2018 and comments may be submitted via email to  or via mail to:

Lindsay Masters, Office of Housing,

PO Box 94725,

Seattle, WA 98124-4725

These comments will help the City to improve the completeness, accuracy, and objectivity of the analysis.


City’s Fort Lawton Redevelopment Webpage

Fort Lawton DEIS Documents

Video of the meeting can be found here.

Thank you, Lisa!

4 responses to “DEIS meeting recap”

  1. Scott says:

    The meeting was a joke. Many came to voice opposition to the plan and were denied the opportunity. It was clearly a coordinated effort by a few special interests to pack the speaking schedule to prevent opposition from being heard and to give the appearance that everyone supports it. Got to give them credit for knowing how to game the system within the rules.

    The truth is that this housing project is a theft of public resources to benefit a few private interests. The land, with its beautiful views of Salmon Bay, the Salmon Bay Bridge, and the Ballard Locks, is used as a park by many now. This prime land will be stolen from public use to benefit a few developers and a few individual families. Once this land is private and title shifts to the homeowners, they will benefit with multi-million dollar lots. Just look at the property values of current homes overlooking Salmon Bay to see what is being taken from the public to give a windfall to a few public individuals.

    Seattle desperately needs housing, both homeless housing and affordable housing. This housing needs to go everywhere, including Magnolia. But the theft of public resources should not be the means by which these ends are sought.

    The benefit of adding a few temporarily affordable homes does not even come close to balancing the cost of depriving the residents of the city use of this public gem.

    To make things worse, this housing plan is terribly short sighted. Absolutely no thought has gone into where these additional families will go to school, drive their cars, etc. Schools, sports fields, and other public resources in the area are already over capacity with no solution to the upcoming projected growth (e.g., Expedia) that is to come. The city has already declared that the Magnolia bridge is “susceptible to catastrophic failure” and no plan for it’s replacement is in the works. Once the bridge falls, the additional housing is going to exacerbate these already substantial problems.

    People should make their voices heard to our city officials know that we want affordable housing and homeless shelters, but we don’t want to squander public resources with short sighted plans that benefit only a few developers and individuals.

  2. Pat Craft says:

    There was No reason to hold that meeting in Magnolia the other night. If you missed it, … It was a total Farce as a neighborhood focused meeting. But it was a brilliant display of democracy. Which means, to have your voice heard, use it.

    Several Social Services Organizations coordinated their efforts. They brilliantly arrived early, and in large numbers, and strategically signed up for nearly all of the time slots for Public comments. And they expressed their passions, and concerns, and perspectives directly to the City Officials in attendance. And they hoped to make an impact.

    In fact, Sally Bagshaw went to her very next Council Conference and told members she now believed 1000 units was an even better idea.

    That evening Magnolians were strategically shut out of the Public Comments, save for a few who could wait three hours. They were under represented.

    And unfortunately, many remarks also included directly disparaging the residents of Magnolia. And when that is recorded at the meeting, by the City stenographer for the Public record, there is no rebuttal, nor spot fact checking, nor context. Public comments are simply duly noted, and then marked as pro or con to building the development. For instance, the City officials sat silently and allowed the Public to repeatedly refer to it as Free land. And several individuals demanded, “the City must take advantage of this Free land.” In fact, only a small portion might be construed as free.

    It is disingenuous to pit Magnolians interest in supporting social services against the City efforts to steam role a poorly planned housing idea. No mater how many years they have fixated on it. Good Real Estate investments are based on Location, location, location. And taking an isolated section of an amazing City asset for a wistful idea is irresponsible. There can be No logical, empirical, nor anecdotal comparisons made between investing in Yesler Terrace and the back side of Discovery Park.

    Magnolia, Queen Anne and Interbay need schools. And at the same time, the City could expand the incredibly unique Discovery Park.

    Years of chasing a bad idea in life, does not make it a good idea.

    Geographically, Magnolia is surrounded by water on three sides, and it sits away from any major flow of city commerce or services. Magnolia has only three roadways out, and all three involve compromised bridges. Magnolia has limited City support in transit, police, fire, and social services and endures over capacity schools. Go online, and Examine what the City refers to as “Heat Maps” for City investment/Budget wide, for both current and future spending and you will see, Magnolia has long been left out of all of these discussions. This particular level of City investing should demand far better locations.

    If you have an Opinion or Concerns, for or against development of this area in Magnolia, or any variations thereof, I encourage you to take a very brief moment and email the City a simple comment, so that your voice is duly noted.

    And when the development goes in, you will know that you were indeed part of the process.

    Of course you are a part, … whether you use your voice or not.

  3. Lorraine says:

    This does not seem an accurate account of the meeting. In fact this account is stacked with the very same DEIS paid employees/staffers “SET UP” as the meeting it self!

    An adjacent room was reserved by these paid pro-groupies, who met to organize a complete takeover of the so called Public Hearing with an opportunity for the public to comment.

    Why was this tiny venue reserved when attendees at the previous meeting couldn’t fit into the much larger Day Break Center? Obviously to fill the seats with the pre-arranged Housing Development Consortium, who were “HAPPY TO GO OVER YOUR TESTIMONY IF YOU WERE FEELING NERVOUS”, OH YES! and completely fill the sign up sheet for “PUBLIC COMMENT LIMITED TO 3 MINS EACH ”

    Dear Fellow Magnolians

    Please join me in my opposition of the homeless housing in Discovery Park, while I support finding a sustainable and long term solution to the growing homeless population that is creating havoc in our city, I feel strongly that Discovery Park should remain a park. I have joined this group and invite you to join me:

    I attended the Public Hearing on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Fort Lawton Army Reserve Center Redevelopment in Magnolia on January 9th. The meeting was stacked with questionable arrangements. (Came across as VERY UNDEMOCRATIC to this third worlder !)

    1. The organizers pre-arranged to sign up and fill the agenda with pro project speakers, intentionally leaving little or not opportunity for “THE PUBLIC” to weigh in.

    2. I respectfully request a copy of the sign up sheet and track how many of these speakers and attendees at the meeting are actually residents of Magnolia. Does anyone know how to do this?

    3. The news media later reported that Magnolians were all in favour of the project. Where did they get that idea? It is not true.

    4. I resent the tone the meeting took , that “Magnolians are all rich folk with no diversity”. Anyone against the idea was publicly boo’d

    Please support any effort to fight this initiative.

  4. Mark says:

    The discussion is somewhat astonishing. Ignoring for the moment any bias of any party, Magnolia simply does not have the infrastructure to support 258, 1000, or 2000 units. Magnolia residents are already being asked to bus their children out of the area for school. Why are shortsighted people trying to make this problem worse? The most correct choice is to preserve and grow the limited park land in Magnolia (Discovery Park is an assets to all of Seattle, not just the so-called “Magnolians”). The second best choice would be to expand school infrastructure in this area and provide low-income and affordable housing closest to where people need it most – on or near Aurora avenue. This discussion is a manipulated farce brought by developers who wish to get rich at the expense of all Seattle-ites of all income levels and locales, and Talaris is no better. Let’s bring the voice of democracy and reason to this discussion, build affordable housing downtown near the jobs those people need, and do something in Magnolia that we won’t regret for the next 100 years.

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