City will not use eminent domain to redevelop property around light rail stations

Saturday, September 27, 2014


From the City of Shoreline

Over the past several weeks, there has been a lot of confusion about whether the City plans on using eminent domain to force the sale of private property around the light rail station areas for redevelopment. Some individuals have said that the City is planning on buying up property to build multi-family housing. Others have claimed that the City has already issued "eviction notices" to some property owners around the 145th Street station subarea. Neither of these are true.

Redevelopment of the station areas will be determined entirely by private property owners and private developers responding to market forces. If no property owners in the subareas want to sell their property, no redevelopment will occur. If a private property owner wishes to sell his or her property and a private developer wishes to purchase it for redevelopment, then redevelopment of that property could occur. However, the City will not be using its eminent domain authority to purchase property around light rail stations for redevelopment. All redevelopment in the station areas will be market driven by private parties.

If the City isn't planning on redeveloping the property, what is it doing? The City is laying the groundwork for redevelopment to occur under the right market conditions. The City is currently studying different zoning scenarios around the light rail stations at 185th and 145th Streets. Based on the results of those studies, the City Council will create subarea plans and adopt zoning changes that concentrate more density around the stations to create walkable, bikeable communities around mass transit. Council isn't scheduled to make any final decisions on the subarea plan and zoning for the 185th Street subarea until February 2015. Final action on the 145th Street subarea won't occur until later in 2015. At this time, Council has not made any decisions on zoning beyond what to study. Residents still have a number of opportunities to provide input on potential zoning scenarios and development regulations. To find out more about station subarea planning and how to be involved, visit shorelinewa.gov/lightrail.

We know that more people will be coming to the Puget Sound region, and that some of this growth is coming to Shoreline. The City's Comprehensive Plan calls for growth to be concentrated around transit hubs, rather than occurring haphazardly throughout the city. Concentrating growth in this manner not only preserves existing single-family character in the majority of the city, but also supports transit, businesses, and housing choice in the station subareas.

Will Sound Transit use eminent domain? Yes. Sound Transit will be using its eminent domain authority to purchase, at fair market value, some private property for construction of the Lynnwood Link Light Rail itself, but any such purchase will be strictly for the construction of the line, the stations, and parking. The property owners of those properties impacted have already been notified. Sound Transit doesn't have any plans to purchase property for residential or commercial redevelopment.

Is there any instance where the City may use its eminent domain authority in relation to light rail and the station areas? Yes. It is possible that the City will need to use its eminent domain authority for infrastructure improvements in the subareas. For instance, in order to maximize light rail's potential, access to and from the stations may need to be improved as traffic, bicycle, and pedestrian volumes increase. The City may need to purchase, at fair market value, some private property where the current roadway or intersection width is insufficient to accommodate needed improvements, such as sidewalks, bicycle lanes, or traffic lanes.

What is happening now? The Council and the Planning Commission will hold a joint dinner meeting on Monday, September 29 to discuss phased zoning for the 185th subarea. At the regular Council meeting that same night, Council will select the three zoning alternatives for the 145th Street subarea to be included in the upcoming Design Workshop, Part II scheduled for Thursday, October 9, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm in the City Hall Council Chamber. At this workshop, residents will see and provide comments on how their ideas from the previous workshop are represented through computer models and the potential zoning scenarios to be analyzed in the draft Environmental Impact Statement. 


7 comments:

Anonymous,  September 27, 2014 at 6:55 AM  

Both the Joint Dinner Meeting between the Council and the Planning Commission and the regular Council meeting on September 29 are open to the public. For the benefit of those of us who are "confused," the City could have mentioned this.

Anonymous,  September 27, 2014 at 8:13 AM  

By definition, (re)zoning is intervention in the market economy. To maintain that redevelopment of the station areas (or anyplace else) under such coercive intervention can be "entirely determined by private property owners and private developers responding to market forces" is absurd. If the City Manager believes her own press release, it is she who is confused.

John Behrens September 27, 2014 at 4:51 PM  

government should have as its goal the protection of the interests of its citizens. When I elect a public official I entrust in them the responsibility of representing my interests. This means that government should direct market forces in a way that is beneficial. No one believes that Exxon had the right to pump oil into the gulf of Mexico. The protection of our resources is the responsibility of our government.
Likewise, the protection of the interests of its citizens should be the goal of our elected city council. No one wants haphazard growth. And we do have a share under the growth management act to provide for a portion of the growth coming to our area. My question is whether this plan actually addresses either goal. Turning a section of a city into an area where 3 new types of zoning replace close to 1500 single family lots and produces up to a 1/3 increase in the total population of the city serves other purposes. It will provide the basis for Sound Transit to garner financial support from the federal government to gain funding to build the station. It will produce a financial windfall to the city in increasing dramatically property tax revenues from the newly revalued properties upon the completion of new structures on these lots. These are business decisions of no small consequence. The growth in population predicted in this rezone area alone will meet the Growth Management Act requirements for 100 years. No eminent domain will be needed when conditions are created that are so uncomfortable to live in that people flee the area. Developers will purchase properties and lands because there owners will not want to live on them. The conversations I have repeatedly with my neighbors all indicate that everyone intends to sell and get away from this nightmare. People are rethinking long term plans to improve their properties because they are not planning on living here to enjoy the benefits.

The city needs to go back and think about what type of housing they wish to encourage, where it most appropriately can be located, and how it will benefit the citizens of the city rather than chasing dreams of redevelopment and leaving it to market forces to determine the type of housing available in my community. After all, Market Forces produce the slums of Mumbai in India. Some people grow extremely rich while the rest of the population suffers in substandard conditions. We need housing that meets the admirable goals our community has spelled out. Families and seniors don't live in 7 story buildings in neighborhoods choked with parked cars and traffic congestion.

Anonymous,  September 27, 2014 at 7:10 PM  

Thank you, City of Shoreline, for issuing this! You're helping out a lot of confused people who listen to fear mongering and don't understand how the economy works. :)

Anonymous,  October 1, 2014 at 1:18 PM  

And for those of us who are "confused", how would designating some or all of the subarea as a Community Renewal Area play into this? (If the required blight
standard can be met.)

Tom Wallace October 1, 2014 at 11:19 PM  

I hadn't heard anything about eminent domain and wasn't concerned about that. What's deeply concerning is the city's ill conceived rezoning plan, which will allow developers to build 4-7 story apartment buildings right next to people's houses. This is a terrible idea. It will lead to traffic and parking issues, especially since the proposed light rail parking will only accommodate 500 cars. It will also bring with it increased crime, to which anyone who's ever lived in an apartment can attest. I don't want to have a tall apartment building right next to my house, blotting out the sun and removing my privacy.

This should be put to a vote, not forced upon us by the city council in cahoots with developers and realtors. None of the neighbors I talked to had any idea that their neighborhood is about to be rezoned to accommodate tall apartment buildings.

Anonymous,  October 2, 2014 at 1:22 AM  

"The City's Comprehensive Plan calls for growth to be concentrated around transit hubs, rather than occurring haphazardly throughout the city. Concentrating growth in this manner not only preserves existing single-family character in the majority of the city, but also supports transit, businesses, and housing choice in the station subareas."

The vague, passive persuasive language just keeps on coming. What's haphazard, is this rezoning plan. If the intent is to preserve the existing single-family character in the majority of the city, is it safe to assume that the existing single-family character of the rezone-zones (185th and 145th) are of no concern at this point? You can stay for the next few decades, but you may not fit in one day. You may not fit in with what will be the future existing character of your neighborhood. You're in the way of progress, so get out of the way.

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