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Community group creates petition to stop over development in Ballard

Posted by Danielle Anthony-Goodwin on February 11th, 2014

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.

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    If you let the free market rule, and if you deregulate the capitalists, you end up with a jungle. Only the strong survive. However, other cities (Paris, Sante Fe, Santa Barbara, Boulder, CO) have very strong zoning to control capitalist development of property.
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