Sunday, February 24, 2013

January 2013 Minutes



October 27, 2012

Meeting called to order at 7:05pm; introductions. Minutes from October were held for completion of motion; to be approved at January meeting.

President’s report: Jeannie Hale asked attendees to forward any suggestions for future meetings. She directed attention to a website:
Speaker: Bill Mills, Senior Land Use Planner for DPD for 22 years. Bill said there were no regulations to speak of prior to the 50's. At that time, 5000 square foot lots were considered single-family home lots. There were some platted lots smaller than 5000 ft.; these exceptions were grandfathered in. In the early 80's, the current code was adopted and other exceptions were added. The City Council's policy at that time was to allow in-fill housing. More restrictions were added in 1988: cannot demolish a house and build two in its place.
There was an increase in researching these platted tax lots to legalize smaller lots. There was not much guidance under the regulations to determine what was a segregated tax lot. A standard front yard was 20 ft and a standard backyard should be 20 ft.
(See attachments of Land Use Code and Summary of exceptions to the land use code.)

Jeannie Hale asked why not have a registry for lots that could be developed? Right now, it is not transparent. She said that Hearing Examiners assume validity on the part of DPD.

Bill answered that there is no presumption of validity in a variance case and mentioned the criteria for variance, including steep slopes, neighborhood and character.

Chris Leman said that meeting family neighborhood needs should involve infill that doesn't clash. Seattle has been known for successful single-family neighborhoods and now developers are working against that. Twice in the last 25 years, there have been attempts to wipe out zoning regulations.

Concerns expressed about height, bulk and scale of new developments in single-family home neighborhoods.
Another concern brought up was that the Parks Opportunity Fund ratings were released with the highest rating for the Aquarium; this fund is supposed to be for neighborhoods.

No motion was made regarding the development concerns as Jeannie asked that we each take the issue back to our community councils and defer any action to January.