Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Valor Apartments Meeting

Tomorrow ( Wednesday, January 9th ) from 6pm to 9pm at the Lake City Community Center, DPD will be holding an open house meeting  for public comment / review of the Valor Apartments permit application. Below is an open letter that was sent to Council Member Richard Conlin ( the chair of the Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee. ) The Mayor's office and all Council Members were copied. 

Council Member Conlin-

I apologize for the late notice on this meeting. I also apologize for the length of this email, but there is an important point to be made regarding inaccuracies from the Office of Housing that may affect HUD funding as well as SEPA review. 
( This email will be posted also as an open letter on the DPC website. )

On Wednesday, January 9th at the Lake City Community Center from 6 to 9 pm  DPD will be hosting a meeting to get public input on the Valor Apartment project. The permit has not yet been issued and the meeting was scheduled in response to a petition signed by over 100 residents in Lake City. 

I am attaching a photograph of the notice board that went up last year. Most people took this at face value, only to learn much later in the review process what was really intended. 

The community has very serious concerns about the siting of this project:

1. The language on the Notice board is deceptive.

The Notice board at the site reads “To construct a 4 story residential structure with 21 units above a 1,500 sf community center at ground level. Existing structures to be demolished.”

The 21 “residential” units are intended to house individuals / veterans with a dual diagnosis of mental illness and drug addiction. They will require staff supervision.

The “community center” on the first floor is intended to be a Psychiatric Clinic for residents and a Homeless Drop In Center - a continuation of the Mennonite's God's lil Acre which appears to be an unregistered non profit operating as a pseudo clinic on a harm reduction model with no governmental oversight. 

2. The proposed project may not comply with City Council’s ELI threshold

The limit for Extremely Low Income housing is 20% of all the housing in the area ( the Census Block Group ).

The adjacent block group  is currently at 30% ELI housing ( per OH data ). 33rd from 125th to 130th is at 43.5% ELI,  and the north half of the HUV is at 21% ELI . ( see maps )

This project continues a trend toward poor siting decisions for ELI housing that is increasing the concentration of poverty in our Hub Urban Village - against the Department of Housing and Urban Development's  guiding principle of reducing poverty by by creating mixed income neighborhoods. 

3. There is a 75 unit building for homeless individuals and veterans on the same block.

Some of the residents at McDermott place have addiction issues. Residency there does not require they be clean and sober. 

4. There is a children’s playground, immigrant family housing,  and a new park space directly across the street.

For your reference, I am also attaching two maps. The first is a map that shows Census Block Group 1.3 in the project area at 30% ELI. This map is from the Office of Housing. This number has been revised increasingly upward since I first started investigating it on June 20th of 2012. It started at 9.9% and I am concerned that land use and HUD funding decisions are being made with incorrect data. I want to make sure that yourself and your fellow council members have the most recently corrected map and data and are aware of these changes in relationship to the HUD funding earmarked for this project. 
The last attachment is a map I composed of the Hub Urban Village. The numbers are from the King County Tax Assessor site as well as data from OH. Please note that if you isolate the north half of the Lake City Hub Urban Village, we are at 21% ELI. Although the consolidated plan's siting policy uses Census Block Groups as the bounds for determining the 20% threshold, we believe that the HUV bounds are more pertinent. Also note that the ELI concentration jumps to 43.5% when looking at just 33rd Ave from 125th to 130th - the street the project is proposed for.   

If you made it this far, then thank you for your time. I appreciate it and hope to see you tomorrow. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

KOMO News: Rotating winter shelter for homeless coming to Lake City, Shoreline

On Sunday KOMO News published a story about a temporary, rotating winter homeless shelter run by Union Gospel Mission coming to churches in Lake City and Shoreline.

And according to the KOMO story the coming shelter is a surprise to some in the Lake City community —even after previous shelter plans that surprised the community prompted vows of more transparency with future shelter plans. People contacted for the story learned of the plan from the KOMO reporter.

The plan, according to the KOMO report, is part of a request by the Lake City Task Force on Homelessness to bring the rotating shelter to three area churches, beginning on Monday, January 7th.

The schedule for the shelter is below:
  • Jan 7 – Jan 27, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 14514 20th Avenue Northeast, Shoreline
  • Jan 28 – Feb 17, Seattle Mennonite Church, 3120 NE 125th St., Seattle
  • Feb 17 – Mar 15, Lake City Baptist Church, 2441 Northeast 125th Street, Seattle
From the KOMO story:

According to [Paul] LaRose [of Union Gospel Mission], shelter organizers took concerns made by neighbors and business owners last year and came up with a different way to run the temporary shelter this time around.
"We are only offering an overnight shelter, from 7:00p.m. to 7:00a.m., primarily for people of Lake City. Last year that's what we tried to do but people were being referred by hospitals, like Harborview, and clinics when they were released. Someone would send them to Lake City, or the eastside Bellevue shelter, this year we don't expect it to be like that," said LaRose.
Mike Duke, owner of the Grocery Outlet in Lake City, says he understands people need help, and initially he allowed those staying at the shelter last year to use his store’s restroom. But he says his business ended up losing so much inventory they were forced to put locks on the bathroom doors. 
"We had a terrible problem with panhandlers in the parking lot being really aggressive. Shoplifting was our biggest problem. We lost $28,000 in inventory during the quarter the shelter was open which was way over our normal amount and as soon as it shut down our loses went back to normal levels," said Duke.

You can read the entire KOMO report here.