Community group creates petition to stop over development in Ballard

photoA group of concerned Ballard residents who are alarmed by the “recent, drastic, and developer-led changes to our neighborhood” have banded together and created www.livableballard.org.

Within the last week, as you may have seen, the group has distributed hundreds of flyers (pictured) to homes in Ballard urging locals to sign a petition to make our representatives aware of residents’ concerns regarding development in our neighborhood.

Development has been a hot topic on My Ballard in recent times, with many readers expressing their concern about the future of Ballard and asking what they can do to prevent over development. Livableballard.org may be the answer for those who want to make their voice heard.

The team state on their website that they “seek to improve community engagement in growth and provide Ballard residents with tools and resources for planning and development that reflects our needs and values, not those of non-resident property developers.”

Check out the message on the livableballard.org website below:

Are you concerned that the rapid proliferation of new development throughout your residential neighborhood surpasses the rate at which community, environmental, and infrastructure impact can properly be assessed? Troubled by the potential loss of your privacy to towering new construction? Worried that you’ll no longer be able to grow your own food in the shadow cast by enormous out-of-scale development? Well you should be! Recent changes to Seattle’s lowrise multifamily land use code precipitated a development boom that has grossly exceeded our city government’s own growth targets for Ballard’s Urban Village.

These changes have also enabled developers to circumvent review processes intended to ensure that projects fit sensitively into neighborhoods. Dodging these review processes often results in buildings that are architecturally discordant and demonstrate disregard for the concerns of neighboring residents.

Increased density is inevitable and, to some extent, even desirable; theoretically, it should prevent urban sprawl, preserve green space, and give rise to affordable housing. We believe current growth in Ballard’s Urban Village residential areas dangerously outpaces expansion of infrastructure and services (metro/fire/police) while conferring few ecological or affordable housing advantages.

With numerous, large, apartment and condo buildings already built or under construction in Ballard’s midrise zones, we question an affordable housing justification put forward by developers and their mouthpieces for razing so many modest, lowrise zone structures. In fact, reasonably-priced duplex and triplex rentals as well as modest single family homes and historic structures in Ballard’s lowrise zones are often replaced with towering, out-of-scale, “formula design” developments that, when priced at market value, likely displace many of Ballard’s low to middle income residents.

The good news? If you’re frustrated by our representatives’ seeming inattention to residents’ concerns, developers’ clear indifference toward Ballard’s architectural history, and both parties’ inattention to community impact, you’re not alone!

We’ve drafted a petition addressing some of these concerns. It seeks corrections to Seattle’s current lowrise multifamily land use code while requesting a more transparent and resident-inclusive project vetting process. We hope this petition will encourage more community involvement in shaping Ballard’s future. While this document specifically cites Ballard concerns, we believe the changes we’re requesting would positively affect all Seattle’s lowrise multifamily zoned areas, as well as lowrise-adjacent areas; we strongly encourage all Seattle residents to sign the petition and join us in this effort to reasonably guide otherwise rampant growth so our neighborhoods can continue to be vibrant and livable.

The website includes helpful information for locals about what they can do to make their voice heard effectively and also provides guidelines for writing to council members about the issue of development.

The My Ballard team emailed livableballard.org today and we are waiting for a response to find out more about the organization.

144 comments on “Community group creates petition to stop over development in Ballard”

  1. Last note: demand is so high here right now that both private dev and gov affordable housing efforts are failing people who make 60-80% AMI for different reasons. I’m hoping that non profit REITs will help fill that gap. Raising the

  2. Kyle, part of my point is that people who will pay $2500 for 2-bedroom apartments won’t consider low-end apartments, but will instead go for a house or another neighborhood (e.g. Belltown) if only the low-end stuff is available. Thus, they won’t be competing for existing low-end apartments. Similarly, the availability of new high-end apartments might moderate the price of high-end apartments, but it won’t affect the price of low-end apartments.

    You’re essentially arguing that increasing production of Mercedes cars would put pressure on Yugo to lower prices.

  3. I do think you’re right about demolishing parking lots and low-rise offices/retail to build apartments, though. That should moderate prices of high-end apartments without affecting other housing.

  4. David @79

    Really my point is that this has absolutely nothing to do with affordability, from both sides. That’s just a way to get sympathy for each cause.

    There is only one way to address affordabiluty and that is rent control. We will see that or the elite will have no one left to serve them. The choice is up to the owners. I hope they make a wise one.

    In many ways Ballard is a better neighborhood than it was when I was a kid. In many ways not. Not everyone will lile each and every change. Change is part of life and without it we have stagnation.

  5. FYI everyone Sam (@93) does not live in Ballard. He lives on the Eastside, which is well documented on the Seattle Transit Blog.
    Most others here, however, do live in Ballard, and are having a lively discussion. This is good.

  6. @105 Unless there are two Sams in the world.

    Sorry, East Ballard, lived here 15 years.

  7. Urbanists are like the Puritans who showed up in America. They arrive, give you a blanket and demand you worship their god for your own good.

    Just replace ‘blankets’ and ‘god ‘ with ‘density’ and ‘green washing’. Time for some push back.

  8. Mondoman: I have to use your example back on you. Lock Vista is a case of low end apartments being upscaled to meet high end demand. Your car example is not a good one for this reason, Yugo’s never become Mercedes. Again: San Francisco. We have an excellent example available to us of what happens when you artificially constrict supply. Let’s use it and be wary of the thinking that led there.

    Briarrose: Re: Rent Control. SF, NYC. That is what happens when you constrict supply and apply rent control. Everyone who can’t get a rent control unit is stuck in a market that is made even more crazy by rent control.

  9. Before moving to Ballard in 2011, I managed an older 15-unit apartment building, two blocks west of north Broadway on Capitol Hill. All units were 1-bedroom, and ranged from $750 – $1200, depending on view and updates.

    Then in 2008, three massive apartment buildings were completed and began renting 1-bedroom at rates from $1500-$2500, depending on view and size.

    So we slapped some new paint colors on the walls and raised the rates of our older building to $1000-$1500. Many tenants moved out, and we filled the vacancies very quickly at the new rates.

    No reason why this won’t happpen in Ballard, too.

  10. @109 exactly. What the Urbanists want is for them and all their rich tech buddies to move into and take over someone else’s community.

    Now, they’ll say it’s because they want to be ‘green’, and they’re right: Dollar bill green.

  11. Mondoman is correct, and Kylek does not refute his point at all. That people continue to espouse that housing/rental prices are simple supply/demand equations is outrageous. It is a theory that doesn’t match observations. The simplistic Econ 101 model of supply/demand assumes all kinds of things like “all other things being equal”, fungibility of the good or service, perfect information, etc.

    Mondoman’s example fits perfectly: smashing up 100 Yugos and then building 300 Mercedes does NOT drive down the price of cars. Again, fungibility…

    Overall, I think the new group is a good thing. There will be more development in Ballard but I think many of us are concerned that 1) It is not visually appealing 2) it does not fit the character of the neighborhood and 3) it is not affordable. These deficiencies are the result of rules and zoning that is heavily influenced by developers. Residents should have a larger voice in the development process to ensure we get attractive, affordable housing.

    I recommend the New Urbanist model (https://www.cnu.org/) as something for Livable Ballard to advocate *for*, instead of just *against* development in general — essentially Aleks’s “form-based” code.

  12. “Sam doesn’t like brown people ”

    Disagree with green washing Urbanists and you’re a racist apparently.

    What would Edith do?

  13. (There may be two Sams in the world, but there are not two Sams in this thread. His trolling style and predilection toward logical distortions and strawmen are familiar and transparent.)

  14. Sam @106, are you a different person than the Sam who posts a lot at Seattle Transit Blog?

    My recollection is that Toby Thaler lives in Queen Anne, if that really matters to anyone.

  15. @113: Edith would tell you to stop misappropriating her name and abusing her image. She would ask you to please, kindly, leave her alone.

    On her abandoned street. In a zone that had been “industrial” as long as the zoning had been codified, and where she hadn’t had any neighbors in decades.

    Edith Macefield didn’t give a damn about “preserving character”, and she certainly never tried to dictate how anyone else should live. She never tried to deny change, even when it came to her block.

    She simply wished to remain in her familiar postage-stamp home, which she was therefore uninterested in selling at any price. This was her prerogative, as it would be yours, or anyone else’s.

    So stop sullying her name with your false impositions on others.

  16. Bob. Yeah, I totally did refute his point and we have tons of macro examples that support this view (it isn’t mine, its Econ 101.) The market doesn’t have to be 100% perfect (it isn’t) for supply and demand to exist. If you just don’t want to believe in economics, etc — then that’s your right, but at least add some meat if you are going to declare the existence of supply and demand in housing as invalid.

  17. Also, Sam’s racism is well documented in the other forums he trolls.

    The racial-exclusionist history of the “tight-knit neighborhoods” of North Seattle is also well documented, if you’re curious to do some research on the places you deem unassailable.

  18. As Toby Thaler stated earlier, he lives in Fremont (off 3rd NW). I’ve been to his house. He lives in District 6.

  19. In addition to raising the rent by avg. of $300 (see comment #109) we also doubled the cost of parking, from $50 p/month to $100. This was no doubt helped by the sudden increase in population from the new buildings, and the sudden decrease in available street parking.

    Again, these large new buildings allowed us to leverage higher rents, because our older building was still cheaper than the new buildings.

  20. Be careful Sam, Urbanists are like zombies, they like to attack and destroy in swarms. Go down to their urbanist fantasy land, South Lake Union, you can see what happens after they take over, soulless neighborhood filled with overpaid zombies.

    And yes, Edith would have hated you and your spandex, chai lattes and locally sourced green washing non sense.

  21. @116 I met Edith. She had no time for hucksters and shills for green washing developers like you.

  22. @Mondoman-#15,

    How many of the older single-family homes have a garage which has been converted to a shed or shop, with the owners depending on the street to store their cars?

    My guess is at least half. Now I understand that most of those old garages are pretty small, and most families now have two — or even more — cars rather than one.

    But anyone who has a re-purposed garage on her or his property is standing on quicksand when complaining about “developers” failing to provide proper parking for new buildings.

  23. @Ballard Mom,

    Wow; a little envy for successful young people leaking out, ma’am?

  24. @David #79

    You ask very good questions, but unfortunately economics — the dismal science — has only discouraging answers to them. In short, there is nothing that can be done which will affect the enormous pressures forcing housing prices upward everywhere in King County for more than a brief period.

    Puget Sound country is a world class beautiful environment, well supplied with water and abundant hydroelectric and wind power. Seattle has three companies which are powerful dominators in their respective industries. In a world of drought and searing summers, the winter rains in the Northwest will seem like a trivial bother.

    In the absence of global economic collapse, people will want to move to Seattle. Honestly, given the attractiveness of the place, nothing short of fairly massive boom-and-bust overbuilding will ameliorate housing prices, and that only for a little which.

    So, urbanists should not make claims that “affordable housing” can be created without massive public subsidy, which isn’t going to happen. On the other hand, the reactionaries who want lily-white 1950’s Ballard are living in a dream world. Neither group is going to be satisfied with the future.

    What we have here is a microcosm — and just one more battle — of the Red/Blue national divide.

  25. @122: I am no developer.

    I have lived for the better part of a decade in a central Ballard building that is older than your grandparents. My rent, which seemed high when I moved in, is now well below today’s constrained-supply Ballard norm.

    Edith Macefield merely wished to withstand and adapt to the change happening around her. That’s what many want, including myself. That may be what you want too — except that you seem to want to do so by restricting the number (and type?) of people who can live in this lovely neighborhood. Which won’t actually work.

    You seem spiteful and controlling. There’s a difference between trying to guide better-functioning urbanity (the aforementioned “form-based code” approach) in your surroundings, and clinging desperately to suburban closedmindedness and lashing out at your neighbors.

    If you thought Edith shared your spite then you didn’t understand her at all.

  26. Ballard Mom @ 110 said:

    “@109 exactly. What the Urbanists want is for them and all their rich tech buddies to move into and take over someone else’s community. ”

    Unfortunately for you, this isn’t just “your” community. Once someone moves in, it instantly becomes their community as well. If you don’t like that, you’ll need to move to a private gated community where you can keep those nasty rich Urbanists out!

  27. 117/121. Yes, Fremont (“East Ballard” if you’re territorial). Since Fall 1972 (with one year in Dillingham AK and one year or so in West Seattle). It’s really not hard to look me up; I’m in whatever passes for the phone book these days.*

    And note that Rondi and I are the only two posters who aren’t hiding behind an alias or nickname. Overall good dialogue.

    * I just looked, and I’m in the printed 2013 white pages, but it’s hard to find my address on line without paying. How about that!

  28. “Once someone moves in, it instantly becomes their community as well.”

    Not when they push in and price out the working class and people of color. Then they are parasites.

  29. 129 Sam, when were people of color “priced out” of Ballard; did it have anything to do with the signs on the Ballard bridge threatening them with violence if they stayed after dark? Why don’t you support building more housing to welcome them in?

  30. @139 yeah right. Why are all Urbanists rich white kids with college degrees working at tech companies? This is gentrification by force. Ballard will resist.

  31. @ Anandakos #125 and @ briarrose

    I agree that change or people moving into a neighborhood is not a bad thing. With all love to Dennys, there is no discussion that building an aparmtent block on that lot isn’t a positive development. And more to briarrise: I stil think that Ballard was more affordable than it is becoming. I mean a townhouse sells for more than the Singelfamily home on that lot with more space. The rentprices in all new apartment blocks are way more then I pay now (Thx to my nice landlord). Or look at the Lockhaven example: That’s pure gentrification and it seems like the neighborhood looses some of its heterogeneity by building high end apartments and townhouses. But maybe it is just my view. But for me the next question is: what is the city doing for affordability? Today was a workforce housing forum and some of the invited speakers talked about their cities buying land to reserve it for affordable housing development and I don’t see much of this in Seattle. By the way no one had a solution for affordable hosuing units for families (3 bedr.). So to conclude: Raising awareness against, from my point of view, gentrification as this group is doing is not a bad thing (disregarding if one agrs with all their opinoins or not).

  32. “Edith Macefield merely wished to withstand and adapt to the change happening around her”

    Which one was it? I met her. Working class Ballard like me. I know you think we’re stupid and racist but guess what? We’re neither because we know urbanism is green washing gentrification and we will fight it.

  33. Kick the old folks out of Lock haven and the Urbanists admit, “yeah, that’s gentrification. But it won’t happened elsewhere, we promise!”

    You know how you can tell these green washing Urbanists and developers are lying? Their lips are moving.

  34. ballard mom,
    I served with Edith Macefield.
    I knew Edith Macefield.
    Edith Macefield was a friend of mine.
    Ballard mom, you’re no Edith Macefield.

  35. Just so all of you know what kind of people we’re dealing with here with the pro-development lobby in evidence in this thread (Are you Apodment leasing Alex from Calhoun properties? Just wondering…Are you paid to make pro-Apodment comment all day?): These type of people, we believe, are behind an active harassment/intimidation campaign against Ballard citizens who are simply asking nothing more than CITIZEN INVOLVEMENT in land use reform. Someone is actively harassing/attempting to intimidate community members by posting their addresses online! One person they’re targeting did nothing more than donate a domain name that he purchased to http://www.livableballard.org. Now his kids are scared. Really classy tactics, you guys. It’s obvious you’re really civic-minded, ethical people **cynical laughter** Intimidation tactics like these show who they really are. Total. Scumbags. The good news. Most of you are too smart to be taken in by this nonsense and have signed the petition expressing your support. You might also consider writing a letter to your City Council member letting them know what the Growth Thugs are up to. We’ve found CITY LEADERS ARE NOT IMPRESSED BY YOUR INTIMIDATION TACTICS.

  36. And for those of you who have already written to Council Members and the Mayor in support of livableballard.org and in protest of the intimidation tactics, thankyouthankyouthankyou. Your support is working.

    Also, livableballard.org DID flyer LR1 rentals/condos they could get into and they actively recruit renters. Long term renters, especially those facing eviction due to development, are allies in the cause, which again is this simple: CITIZEN INVOLVEMENT IN LAND USE.

  37. I don’t agree with every idea spouted at Seattle Transit Blog (certainly not the ones Sam spouts, whether or not he is being facetious), but STB has a policy against sock puppetry (one poster using multiple names in order to make it look like others agree with him). I heartily recommend such a policy to MyBallard, so you don’t get one person pretending to be three, all spouting crazy stuff, just to scare off the sane conversers. It really does help keep the conversation civil.

  38. Wrong wrong wrong #42, BobJ. That guy just bought the domain name and is not an active member of livableballard.org. Looks like you’re enjoying being apart of the bullying. Are you also the guy, encouraging others to go to his house with the effect of frightening his kids? What’s your address, jerk?

  39. http://www.djc.com/news/re/12062320.html

    February 13, 2014

    Real Estate Buzz: Developer says Seattle ‘starved’ for condos so he’s building them; prices start at $250K
    By NAT LEVY
    Real Estate Reporter
    Whenever Dave deBruyn and his wife travel from their home in British Columbia to Seattle, Ballard is usually the first stop.

    DeBruyn has been a Ballard fan for more than 15 years, and he has watched it turn into a hip neighborhood with lots of popular restaurants and good transit options. DeBruyn is principal of a Vancouver, B.C., development company called InHaus Development. When he started looking for spots in Seattle to build condos, Ballard was at the top of the list.

  40. FWIW…

    From “Grow Seattle Daily Digest” (2.14.14):

    According to Dave deBruyn, the lack of condos being built in Seattle isn’t due to demand, it’s financing. Dave deBruyn is the principal of a Vancouver, B.C. development company, InHaus Development. He says, the “market has been starved for product for the last five years, the fact that there haven’t been condos being sold or built doesn’t reflect whether or not people want to buy them.” As a result, deBruyn has plans to start building multiple condo buildings in Ballard that will seek to supply the high demand for condos in the Seattle area.

  41. $250,000 for a studio. This must be what green washing urbanists consider as ‘affordable’ housing.

    Or maybe it’s just where they keep their gerbils.

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