LUTC Meeting Minutes 2018-01-08

Eliot Land Use and Transportation Committee
Minutes from January 8, 2018 Meeting

Meeting was called to order by the Chair.

LUCT members present: Allan, Phil, Mike, and Clint
Eliot neighbors present: Brad Barker and Jonathan Konkol

First order of business was a presentation by an Eliot property owner for a 6-unit project on two lots at 126 and 136 NE Stanton.  The individual has owned these two lots for many years.  Each lot is 45 feet wide by 145 deep.  One has a small, older building used as a studio the other an small 1950s ranch.  The owner proposes to combine the two lots into one and develop a 6-unit townhome condo project from front to back of the new lot.  Each unit will be its own tax lot.  The design includes an alley on one side to access garages that will be located on the first floor of each unit.  The units are oriented towards the driveway/alley.  The suggestion was make to orient the front unit towards Stanton as much as possible to provide continue street presence.  There was discussion of eliminating the alley and garages, or at least those for the first two units to improve street appearance; however, parking is standard for condos, so that wasn’t considered to be a practical option.

The controversial micro-unit development on N. Williams (between Monroe and Fargo) on the Solterra site was next on the agenda.  The project is controversial because it will include 205 units of roughly 200 SF each.  Although each unit will have a micro-fridge and microwave, every 6 units will have access to a common kitchen.  In that way, each cluster of 6 units can be treated as one “dwelling unit” under City code.  There will be two clusters per floor and each kitchen pod will include 3 facilities for food storage and cooking; essentially 18 units/per individual kitchen.  The building will also have 10, real one bedroom apartments.  The building is being promoted as “affordable” market-rate living because rents are expected to be just over $1,000/unit.  The building will be 77 feet tall.

The project is also controversial because Eliot asked for, and received, a reduction in building height and density for this block.  Unfortunately, Solterra proposed a larger “real” apartment development on the site and filed permits, which allow this project to proceed under the old zoning as a “project redesign,” despite being a wholly new project.  Solterra is a Seattle developer and has built a few of these projects up there.  The oldest is 3 years old.  The LUTC expected a representative of the company to appear before the committee; however, the individual expected left the company and a new project manager was only able to call into the meeting.  Nevertheless, he was very forthcoming in responding to questions and the meeting ended with him promising to look for answers to questions he could not answer.  He also committed to appear in person at a future meeting as appropriate.

Despite the controversy surrounding the project and the flurry of comments on email chains about it from neighbors, none of those neighbors attended the meeting.  This prompted a discussion of how to better engage with the community and to encourage affected neighbors to participate in LUTC meetings.  It was noted during the discussion that there have been two recent projects with very engaged and enraged residents (The Russell on 7th and the Kaiser Tower) but neither produced much interest in LUTC meetings, except for the meetings with Bill Kaiser (one he hosted and one or two others when he sent an associate).  The Russell developer never came to a meeting.  Phil and Jonathan indicated they will try to encourage better turn out if the micro-unit developer is scheduled again.

Allan noted that we are behind schedule confirming LUTC membership and election of officers.  Based on discussions Allan had with some members and discussion at the meeting, Mike moved to send the following members to the Board for its endorsement: Allan, Clint, Phil, Mike, Montse and Laurie.  He noted that the last three have missed a lot of meetings and he intends to enforce the By-law rule on meeting attendance in the future.  Two new members were also included: Brad and Jonathan.

Although Allan is reluctant to serve as Chair for a fourth year, which the By-laws discourage, there were no volunteers.  He acceded to the nomination with the warning that he may step down when his third child arrives in May.  Allan recommended the current Vice Chair not continue in that role.  After some debate, Jonathon agreed to step into the position.  Brad will represent the LUTC on the Board, as the By-laws require.

Brad provided a brief update on his research on establishment of a Parking Permit program in Eliot.  He indicated the current program’s rules are outdated and being revised.  Under those, door-to-door surveys are required for a fairly large area with high participation rates required.  A district would be established only after an overwhelming vote once a majority of surveys are returned.  The proposed new procedures, yet to be adopted by Council, allow for smaller areas and more flexibility is designating the area.

Meeting was adjourned at 9 PM.

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