Neighbors fight back against high-density Fremont development

A proposal to build a high-density apartment building across from B.F. Day Elementary School in Fremont has sparked a particularly loud outcry from neighbors.

How loud? A petition with 155 signatures. 115 public comment letters. And an editorial with the headline, “Even as a newbie, I know tiny apartments don’t belong in Fremont,” that was linked on the home page of the Seattle Times.

The subject of the outcry is a proposal (.pdf) for a 3-story apartment building at 3959 Fremont Ave. N. with 29 units — 26 of those “small efficiency dwelling units” — in the space of two lots. It’s located on the northern edge of the Fremont Urban Village, which allows higher-density zoning.

“On Fremont Avenue, profits can still be made reasonably with a handful of high-density homes like my own instead of a maximum-density sardine can with six times the population on the same amount of land,” writes neighbor Angela Elson in the Times editorial. “(The project) sets a precedent for other venerable neighborhoods facing hatchet jobs to accommodate more and more people.”

Neighbors point out the building has no parking and the entrance is situated on a narrow alleyway, not on Fremont Ave. Complicating matters is all the kids from B.F. Day Elementary who frequent the area, and neighbors are worried that it’s unsafe.

While many proposed developments spark an outcry — we’ve witnessed many of them — these neighbors are particularly well organized. It will be interesting to see how the city responds.

Geeky Swedes

The founders of My Ballard

53 thoughts to “Neighbors fight back against high-density Fremont development”

  1. Not only NO, but HELL NO! Is this some monstrosity which is the result of the so called “Grand Bargain” negotiated by accused pedophile Mayor Ed, and bought off on by Mike O’Brien. Oh yes, O’Brien is in the pocket of developers and does not give one whit about District 6, which elected him to Council.

    There are limits to increasing density and this goes way beyond reasonableness. No parking, should be enough to kill it outright, and we are getting too large a supply of these micro units, which are essentially unlivable long term.

  2. That editorial from the smug writer is the worse.

    “I just moved here, you can shut the door now.”

    What a whining cry-baby. Yeah, let’s drive-up the cost of housing more by requiring parking. Loser

  3. I love how people think they get to decide what amount of money people get to make with their own property. The irony isn’t lost on me how much NIMBYs sound like “build the wall” Republicans.


  4. I’m guessing you young boys (maybe 23-30) live alone, or maybe share a bed with a partner in your 500 square foot efficiency unit. Wait to see what kind of housing stock you need in 10 years or sooner, when you get tired of going out for drinks Thursday night, and then try to figure out where you will go for dinner on the week-end. Perhaps by then Amazon or some other tech outfit will just decide they don’t need you anymore and hire some other 23 year old, or they just decide Seattle is just too expensive a place to have office space.
    They have no investment in infrastructure or tooling, so they can move in a heartbeat, leaving Seattle with housing stock maybe nobody wants. Yeah, you guys are great thinkers.

  5. This city is growing and Fremont = downtown Seattle. Those who want to dictate who their neighbors are and how much they make can move to Innis Arden and make room for those of us who can’t afford luxury apartments on our not-tech-career-but-none-the-less-downtown wages. We won’t even mention it as we serve you your burger the next time you come visit.

  6. No parking is crazy, this isn’t about affordable living it’s about developers maximizing their profits enabled by the political oligarchy of Seattle. Who ever said you had the right to live any neighborhood you wanted? All the discussions about this come off pretty entitled, we would all like to buy a better house in a prime location that’s not how markets work. You want something different move farther out or change cities, lots of people have to commute in this world.

  7. Also, the outrage about capitalism is awfully selective. Why is it an outrageous injustice that people who build homes might make some money? When someone opens a new restaurant or dry cleaner or whatever in the neighborhood, I never see anyone freaking out about how awful it is that they’ll be allowed to potentially make a profit. Why is making money by building homes for people uniquely evil, when most other forms of capitalism don’t seem to bother the same people? I’ve never heard a remotely explanation for this odd discrepancy.

  8. I am so sorry ,the way the city is growing without a plan or a place for our young people.This is not the dream we wanted for you,it’s one thing to put one person in to a tiny apt. and force them to live in a cubical. I’d rather see a 2br.apt for sm. Family or that people can be with people not in a box.

  9. Fremont is rapidly moving to a place where it not practical to live. Lanes are getting narrower and are being replaced with humongous bicycle lanes on already gridlocked streets. Traffic control is still in the early 20th Century with in-synchronized time clocks controlling signals that don’t even differentiate days of the week. Energy is wasted idling at time clocked controlled intersections. The city is still cutting it’s south end off from the rest of the city bye the Mission Blvd. Freeway connector, known as The Great Wall of Fremont. Much of the day travel is difficult at best and it’s getting worse with every new high density complex is opened. Planning? What planning?

    1. John, none of the problems you list effect people who choose to live in Fremont without a car. (And there are many of them, and plenty more would love to if they could afford it.) So this is a terrible reason to to ban housing well-suited for people without a car!

      In general, I think your attitude reflects a kind of bias many people have but don’t realize. The simple fact is that there are many locations in the city that, because of planning/infrastructure/transit choices governments have made, it’s inconvenient to live without a car. Most carless people accept this–if we choose to live here, it’ll be difficult and inconvenient. That’s just the way it is. Perhaps it’s time for car people to accept the same reality. The vast majority of the region caters to you, your lifestyle has been subsidized considerably in the long history of public resource investments, but maybe there are a few areas in the city where your car-centric lifestyle might not be practical.

  10. 3959 Fremont Ave is a short walk to a grocery store and at least 6 different bus lines (5, 28, 31, 32, 40, 62). There are few areas where the market would justify residences without parking. Local businesses would also likely appreciate knowing that the residents are more likely to shop there rather than just hop in their cars and go outside the neighborhood.

    I appreciate the concern from residents that many people who move to apartments without parking still have cars and wind up parking them on side streets, making it difficult for visitors to the area to find parking — a growing concern in Fremont. But I do think a balance can be struck. Frankly, I’ll often just take an Uber/Lyft to a neighborhood where parking is a challenge rather than waste time wondering around looking for parking. I lived in New York for 15 years so I got used to the idea that your own private parking place within the city was a a fantasy (unless you were exceptionally well off) and you got around on public transit or a cab. Seattle isn’t a small town anymore.

    1. Exactly, SER. If you think the government should force auto-centric development in this location, you’re basically saying you think it should be illegal for developers to build housing for people without cars pretty much anywhere. Even though nearly a third of apartment dwellers in Seattle don’t have cars, they should all be forced to pay for car storage (which, don’t kid yourself, parking requirements do that) just in case. It’s grotesque.

  11. I think a lot of youngsters who are on the side of developers fancy themselves to be libertarians. They aren’t old enough to remember what a lack of regulations looks like. I, for example, remember when the surface of lake Erie was a glittering sheen of dead fish. I also know what it is like to watch your employees look for housing in Seattle and wish you could pay a higher salary so that they could afford a 435 sq ft apt. where you have to climb into a pipe-like tunnel built into the wall to sleep for $1600/mo. More power to the Fremont neighbors!

  12. Not sure some folks here commenting realize that gridlock will affect them, regardless of whether they own a car; until we have transit that is not riding on roads, in traffic, the buses will also be just as stuck in traffic as well. That’s why adding many units/high density can be a problem; there is no real plan for mass transit+ population density increase until 20+ years from now, and what they’re building in 20+ years won’t meet the capacity of tomorrow, since they’re making it to meet today’s transit needs, not tomorrow’s. What an F-ing disaster waiting to happen; one day I’m buying a scooter to get around since 2 wheels will be the only way to move at all at this rate…

  13. One solution is that apartments without parking should only be rented to people who certify that don’t have a car (or that it’s parked in someone else’s garage). That would help. What would really help is to stop treating housing like any other free-market commodity.

  14. @Matt: If that ever comes to fruition (spoiler: it won’t), I foresee a group of hand-wringing NIMBYs going apartment door to apartment door (with pitchforks and torches of course), demanding to see papers for your car. If there are any discrepancies, they will drag your car out in the street and torch it.

    Also, nothing makes my morning like reading about someone blaming 5 feet of bike lane (humongous if you’re as naive as John) for Seattle’s traffic woes. You mean if we add 5 ft to every road width in the City, all congestion will just magically disappear? We’ve been so blind!

  15. I never understood the argument about how apartments without parking should only be rented to people without cars? So the argument is if someone owns a house with a garage they are entitled to street parking only?

  16. “I think your attitude reflects a kind of bias many people have but don’t realize. ”

    Darrel’s way if saying he’s sooooo much smarter than you. Which also explains why people hate college educated white urbanists so much.

  17. that’s pretty ironic Steve BJ, because “putting up a parking lot” would be progress to so many here that like to drive everywhere and have somewhere convenient to park.

    Ballard used to be full of parking lots! Driving up 24th (where the old QFC sat waaaay back on the same lot as the current store) you’d see nothing but seas of asphalt wherever you looked! There were parking lots all over the place– was that really paradise??

  18. Oh the humanity! Oh, the parking! FFS, don’t you people realize that requiring parking to be built actually PUTS MORE CARS ON THE ROAD! If you need a place to park your car then you should buy or rent a place with parking. If people are demanding parking, the developers will build it. Parking minimums just subsidize car ownership, forcing people who don’t need parking to pay for those that do.
    FFS, just hop on a bike.

  19. This is not “high-density.” Go to Belltown for high density. This project helps diversify our housing stock, which is great.
    Oh, and that Seattle Times op-ed writer was pretty darn smug.

  20. @Fred: Remember, this is Seattle Times op-ed section the blamed the traffic apocalypse back in March 2015 on 5 ft bike lanes. Never mind there was an overturned fish truck that blocked all southbound lanes on 1 of 2 freeways leading south out of downtown during rush hour. Granted, it’s generally a good newspaper/news site, but it’s op-ed section is filled with a special kind of stupid (both the writers and the echo chamber comment section).

  21. Probably will be young people here who are smart enough to figure out how to arrange delivery without leaving there packages exposed for hours and then shocked when they are taken.

    When will the baby boomers finally be priced out of the city!?

  22. No one is killing them, they are killing themselves. Not my fault the most insufferable generations decided to get addicted to pills. USA is the only industrialized country to see a decline in life expectancy other than post-Soviet Russia.

  23. @Commoner

    There are numerous *preventable* lifestyle choices that lead to disease and death, but for some reason the painkiller epidemic is the only one people cheer and joke about – the rest are turned into the cause of the day with parades, virtue signalling and the requisite lawsuits and accusations of bigotry and insensitivity.

  24. The following “lifestyle” choices are mocked in myballard

    1) Homelessness
    2) Living in magnolia
    3) Being a vegan
    4) Drinking craft beer
    5) Being a minority
    6) Owning a dog

  25. Less density = more sprawl.
    More sprawl = more commuting.
    More commuting = more vehicles.
    More vehicles = more traffic.

    More density = less traffic.

    If you don’t like traffic, you should be all about density. There seems to be a disconnect there for some folks.

  26. “Homelessness” in Seattle:
    90% hobo junkies refusing services and used to bilk and bludgeon taxpayers while naive techies and assorted snowflakes push money in their hands (veins). Sadly the other 10% never seems to get much of the hundreds of millions of dollars the city siphons off with various taxes and revenue schemes.

    “Owning a Dog” in Seattle:
    Forcing everyone (even the allergic) to deal with precious baby num-nums on the bus, in the grocery store, in the bar (woof woof can’t discipline nums nums that’s a hate crime) and many other inappropriate (that word has no meaning in Seattle now) places because “feelings” and postmodern alienation and attachment disorders.

    “Being a Vegan” in Seattle:
    Annoying everyone else at the party by braying loudly about your trendy L.A. diet, while continuing to buy/support/sell/market sweatshop products made in Asia. Meat is murder. Smartphones are nice though because you can Instagram your $50 vegan entree.

    “Being a Minority” in Seattle:
    You’re hired!

    “Craft Beer”:
    Paying 4 times what the beer is worth solely because its hop content its hops content is absurdly high. Less is more except in Beer-town, apparently. Nobody ever drinks the beer in Europe?

    “Living in Magnolia”
    I got nothing.

  27. @Commoner

    Can’t afford oxy spent it all on my $1000 basement apt rent that’s slated for demolition in a couple months. Thanks for the concern though. Please remember to curb your dog. Namaste.

  28. With regards to dogs, if a restaurant or bar doesn’t want dogs in there they’ll tell you to leave. Generally I’ve only seen them in places that lean more bar than restaurant. King County Metro allows dogs on buses with the discretion of the driver.

    Anybody who would bring a dog in a grocery store definitely has serious issues, I can’t argue with you on that one.

    Who is forcing you to drink beer you don’t like?

  29. @Dog Lover
    You got me on the beer, but funny thing though IPA has British Colonial roots. Ironic? I just wish they made more high end pilsners and lagers or offered Euro beers.

    The “dam has broken” so to speak with regards to stupid people doing stupid things with their poorly trained dogs. I like dogs, I really do – but this obsession with bringing them everywhere is an insult to the concept of shared indoor space and respect for hygiene in food environments. And of course, since nobody in Passive Land want to risk a bad yelp review or some insane dog parent freaking out – they often say nothing.

    And here we are, America:

  30. I’ve lived here 15 years and have never been anywhere where I saw someone with a dog that looked like it was bothering someone.

    Also not sure how the existence of a dog is not hygenic? I figured it would be way more hygenic than someone who brought a child.

  31. @Dog Lover
    Many other places, perhaps not as many now in the United States of Pets, would never allow dogs in restaurants or to block aisles during packed commuter hours on trains and buses. Junkie pitbulls in grocery stores? Yuck. Also, some people are skittish around dogs because they’re been bitten before and forcing them to encounter dogs in shared spaces is unbelievably self centered, especially for a huggy-huggy liberal “safe space trigger free zone” type of town.

    I’m sure you’re responsible and as I said before I like dogs – but they are resilient and trainable yet seem to be used as teddy bears for lonely urbanites. Also, uh, kind of selfish to keep a larger dog in the city but that’s just crazy old me. They seem to prefer room to roam. Oh, and they are illegal in wildlife sanctuary areas (beach at Golden Gardens, etc) but nobody seems to care about that law even while they fume (heh sorry) about someone smoking too near a bar entrance. Save the planet? Not when num-nums wants to run on the beach and chase nesting birds or wildlife.

    It’s the micro-selection of certain rules and the gross flouting of other standards of conduct that annoy me. Not so much the dogs.

    @Concerned Ballard Millenial
    Well if you consider the whopping (highest in nation?) alcohol taxes, we’re paying WAY too much for it all and it has nothing to do with the “market”. Thanks, Costco et al

  32. @Eyes: “Well if you consider the whopping (highest in nation?) alcohol taxes, we’re paying WAY too much for it all and it has nothing to do with the ‘market’.”

    Is it lizard people? I knew there was something fishy about the increase in alcohol prices. Those darn lizard people…

  33. I once kicked a ladie’s dog that tried to lick my 5 month old kid’s face in a coffee shop.

    She didn’t like that so I reminded her that she’s probably the only one who enjoys her dog licking his balls and a$$hole and then kissing her on the lips.

  34. I’ve said it a thousand times and I’ll say it again. Having lived in SF in the 90s I would never have thought of complaining about not being able to afford my own apartment and neither would anyone else. The solution always has been SHARED HOUSING not tiny individual apartments. It was good enough for Gen X and good enough for prior generations but nothing is ever good enough for Millennials. They’re “special.” Hey kid, when one day you do as I did and Save Money and move to a city that’s more affordable (that was Seattle for me!), you too will own your own home and then you’ll be singing the same song that all of the rest of are. No additional entitlements will come to you while the rest of us are still breathing and paying your tab (taxes- and yeah, we’re paying a HELL of a lot more than you are).

  35. Pretty damn disheartening–and ridiculous– to read the snarky remarks about “rich people” in Fremont not wanting to sully their neighborhoods with new apartment buildings. I don’t know any rich people who live in that neighborhood (where I lived in the 1970’s) although there are a fair number of McMansions (with 4 times more square footage than my 1906 house) cropping up in Wallingford, which has become too expensive for middle class home buyers and renters like me.

    Not wanting to have giant eyesore poorly built intimidating high-rent buildings in one’s neighborhood doesn’t make someone an elitist (No, I am not moving to wherever-it-is some ill-mannered jerk told me to go–couldn’t afford it anyway.) What it means it that–if you’re environmentally aware, interested in community, want to retain some of the flavor, landmarks and homes of old Seattle–you don’t want to live in a high-rent soul-less rabbit warren or have your neighborhood turned into one.

    Car parking is an absolute necessity, even for many people who use bikes, so arguing that parking raises rents is specious. Greedy land-developers want as many people crammed on to their properties as possible, don’t give a sh** about social amenities, and will keep on raising your rent no matter what, until you have to move away, anyway.

    The folks who defend this kind of development do it in the nastiest, most aggressive terms as if people who want to have a livable viable inclusive city are their enemies. The sad fact is, they’re digging their own metaphorical graves by buying into supporting crappy housing projects like this one. When this whole damn city looks like a giant airless box filled with more airless boxes, then maybe those short-sighted folks will get a clue. Until then, maybe they should do some actual research and realize how badly they’re getting ripped off.

Leave a Reply