Neighbors want 5-year delay in City Light’s plan to sell properties

Ballard neighbors who attended last night’s community meeting with Seattle City Light asked the city for a lengthy delay in plans to sell seven surplus properties.

More than 20 people commented at the meeting, and neighbors’ concerns mirrored earlier feedback from Groundswell NW and the Seattle Green Spaces Coalition: the neighborhood needs more time to evaluate potential options for community use.

Ballard writer Peggy Sturdivant commented at the meeting, and she sent us this account:

In perhaps the most straightforward comment of the evening, Dean Hoshizaki asked for a show of hands as to how many in the audience thought the substations should stay in public hands. Most raised the hands and he said, “Let the record show it’s unanimous.” With his follow-up as to whether the audience would choose between sale to a church, club, organization or non-profit, he said, “Let the record show it is about 70%.”

Many speakers called for Loyal Heights in particular to be retained for open space/potential park, especially in light of exceptional trees on-site and interest from the adjoining owners in “making it happen.”

The twelve-year tenant of the only commercially zoned parcel, the 14th & Leary site (Auto Connectors NW) and their supporters asked for the businesses there to be allowed to continue benefitting Ballard as employers and revenue providers.

Anne Brink O’Leary had created a diagram (above) showing how many trees could be planted, especially given an arborist’s comment that the City of Seattle has determined that we are not meeting tree canopy goals. The number was 405. Robert Drucker, who was involved with a former planning effort for the Sunset Substation commented on the fact that City Council changed the disposition rules, reducing notification area and need to align with neighborhood plans. The closing speaker identified herself as a Fremont renter with a two-year old who spoke to the necessity of having small nearby open spaces for the increasing number of rental families without vehicles.

No one made public comment in favor of selling the substations at the hearing. Consensus was that sale at this time would be short-sighted and not justified by the estimated revenue. Whether for continued tenancy, affordable housing, parks, P-Patches or green space, all of the public comments asked for a delay of five years on the sale of these properties and greater effort in community outreach during the process.

Today is the last day to file for public comment in writing. Comments can be sent to SCL_RealProperty@seattle.gov and council@seattle.gov.

Neighborhood groups want more time as City Light looks to sell properties

Seattle City Light is considering selling seven properties in the greater Ballard area that were once used for power substations. With the deadline rapidly approaching, Groundswell NW and the Seattle Green Spaces Coalition say they need more time to see if the land can be adapted into parks, P-patches or other community spaces.

The city says it’s required to price the properties at “fair market value” as determined by the assessor’s office, which ranges from $330,000 to $978,960 in Seattle’s red-hot real estate market. We’ve mapped the locations, names and price tags of each of the properties:

The city’s Office of Housing has expressed interest in two of the sites, Loyal Heights and Phinney, for possible affordable housing developments, according to City Light.

Groundswell NW board member Dave Boyd says the group has been tracking these properties for years. “By bundling seven of these sites for disposition, [City Light] has put the community at a disadvantage,” he told My Ballard. “After waiting for years to find out when the process will begin, we are faced with a tight timeline for several sites that have potential for community use.”

Boyd points to Pocket Park on 6th and 76th as an example of how an old City Light substation has been converted into a community space. “Groundswell acted as fiscal sponsor of the community group that got Neighborhood Matching Fund and other grants to develop a gem of a corner park,” he explains.

Seattle Green Spaces Coalition agrees the city is moving too quickly, arguing that the “need for the sale at this time as not been properly addressed.”


(Loyal Heights location on left, Ballard on right)

All this is shaping up for a lively public hearing, which is scheduled for this Thursday, Nov. 16th at 7 p.m. at the Ballard First Lutheran Church on NW 65th St. The deadline for public comment, in writing, is due a day later on the 17th.

Boyd says Groundswell NW anticipates making a formal request to the city council to delay the sale of several of the properties “to give the community time to further prioritize and develop support for community use of these sites.”

“As an all-volunteer organization, we have learned that these projects can be accomplished, but they take time,” he said.