Seven story buildings around the Shoreline Center? City Council approves study for 185th St Subarea

Sunday, September 14, 2014

By Diane Hettrick

In the council meeting on August 25, 2014 the Shoreline City Council approved a 185th Street Station subarea plan for study which includes 5 to 7 story buildings for half of the Echo Lake neighborhood, a sizable section of Meridian Park, and and a large section of North City from the freeway to 10th NE.

Members of the 185th St Citizens committee were caught off-guard by the aggressive scope of the zoning that the Planning Commission sent to the City Council for inclusion in the Environmental Impact Study. The zoning was amended slightly and approved by council.

The Citizen's Committee had been involved in many public meetings with the Planning Department where the growth area was identified as a section along the 185th Street Corridor, from the freeway to Aurora. The width of the planned growth area was about three lots to each side of the street. 8th NE south of 185th in North City had also been identified as a growth area.

However, the plans that the Planning Commission sent to the City Council allowed for seven story buildings all the way north to NE 195th, and five story buildings to NE 205th. This area is identified as a 100 year build-out, meaning that it would be 100 years before the area would be fully converted from single family to multi-story buildings.

The problem, one citizen told me, was that property that developers could acquire would be scattered throughout the neighborhoods, only as individual homeowners decided to sell, making an unattractive mix in what are now quiet residential streets.

Another citizen told me that the reason they were caught by surprise was that they understood that the Planning Commission would not be making radical changes to the plans, but would be cleaning it up and making minor changes.

The Planning Department was surprised that the citizens were unaware of the scope of the changes. The Planning Commission had held what they felt was a well-advertised public hearing about the subarea on July 10, as well as collecting public comments via email. Planning had a large display at Celebrate Shoreline on August 16 with the maps of the alternatives under consideration.

Of their four alternatives, they ranged from one which made no changes at all, to one with the 100 year build-out. The Commission was leaning toward plans which kept pockets of single-family homes among the multi-story buildings, which were planned for the higher traffic streets. To their surprise, at least one person from each of the pockets commented that if all the area around them was going to be rezoned, they might as well rezone the whole thing.

Part of the motivation for the aggressive planning was to give Sound Transit the ammunition to get government grants for the station. Denser zoning means more people means more potential riders.

Planners also wanted to move directly to multi-use buildings, not wanting a scenario where townhouses replaced single-family, with the whole process repeating itself in a decade as townhouses were replaced by multi-use buildings.

Another reason given was to allow maximum options to the School District should they wish to redevelop the Shoreline Center, which is currently a sprawling one-story building.

Planning staff also emphasized that the Environmental Impact Study is a study and could be changed. However, at the City Council meeting, Councilmember Chris Eggen, who was the only dissenting member of the city council, pointed out that inertia usually prevails, and plans once set in motion are rarely changed. His concern was that people were unaware of the proposed changes.

Meanwhile, residents in Echo Lake who live more than a block from 185th are indeed unaware of the zoning changes which might be coming around them.

There were indications that consideration might be given to adjustments to the plan, which would concentrate the growth and allow for a build-out that better matched the timelines of the station itself, which will not be operational for nine years. Even developers who were consulted thought that the plan was too aggressive, as it is not cost-effective for them to acquire one lot at a time.

There will be opportunities for residents to comment on the plans. See the article from the City.


Anonymous,  September 14, 2014 at 5:39 AM  

What a fiasco! And for once Chris Eggen stepped up and voted "No!" Good luck neighborhoods fighting this! How do you like your city now Echo Lake and Meridian Park? Your girl Mayor Winstead is all for maximum density! Do you think she'll stick around for this build out?

Sheila Long,  September 14, 2014 at 8:06 AM  

This raises huge concerns. Watching the homes of friends in Ballard being surrounded (and plunged into shadow) by 3 story buildings is bad enough. Even though those buildings (and the new apartments on Aurora around 202nd) all say they will have parking, the resulting parking for the areas has become a nightmare. I'd say 4 stories max, and a FREE parking spot for every single apartment unit (plus a rentable one for every 4 apartments). Otherwise scrape the whole deal.

Anonymous,  September 14, 2014 at 11:16 AM  

Inertia sets in... Do you mean like SPU and Ronald Wastewater Chris?

The City Hall is rezoning most of Shoreline - around the light rail stations, up and down Aurora, Ballinger, and 15th Ave NE, Fircrest, Crista, and soon to come Pt. Wells. And the plans were to acquire the water and wastewater utilities to put the infrastructure improvements on the back of the remaining single-family homeowners because City Hall provides gimmes to all developers who might want to come to Shoreline - no impact fees for utilities, schools, or parks and property tax exemptions.

Anonymous,  September 14, 2014 at 5:11 PM  

The mapping options for rezoning near 145th St. Station are just as disturbing as 185th. And the city council will vote tomorrow on one of 3 very agressive preferred options for 145th (as with 185th) before anyone who lives in the area knows about it or has even been to a workshop. Our wonderful neighborhoods are being rezoned for total distruction. If there's anyone out there who still thinks the City of Shoreline actually cares about its citizens and neighborhoods they're a fool. And Anonymous 11:16 AM is correct about where the revenue to build the infrastructure will come from. This is all so sickening.

Anonymous,  September 14, 2014 at 7:29 PM  

i live just outside the last ring of the map that was distributed a few months ago identifying the "impact areas" for a station at 185th. Did I believe it? the only question I think property owners now need to consider - will I make more if I sell now, or make more if I sell when it's built out?
And really, city some vision! Build up to 15 or more stories close to the freeway! Don't be a follower - lead for a change!

Anonymous,  September 14, 2014 at 8:12 PM  

@7:29 PM - City Manager Debbie Tarry's new construction home (she bought in April) is JUST INSIDE the study area for the 185th Street Station. Maybe you should ask her.

Anonymous,  September 15, 2014 at 8:20 AM  

I like that the article was written in a balanced manner sharing both perspectives. But time and time again I've seen people fight AGAINST things - without any real options for an alternative. It's the most logical choice that density would be near light rail. It's the most logical choice to anticipate changes over the long-term. 100 years is a long time. In fact, not many people who are complaining about this will be alive in 100 years. And 100 years ago there was not much around Echo Lake (

Anonymous,  September 15, 2014 at 9:02 AM  

This is absolutely ridiculous. I thjnk the light rail is a great idea and I think changing the zoning 1-3 lots back from the main thoroughfares is reasonable. The scope of this proposal is nuts!!! I live in the 'brown zone' and certainly don't want a 5 story building of condos with retail space right next door and looming over my backyard. Think of the traffic impact, the impact on parking, the existing trees and greenspaces that would be demolished to put in these montrosities. Don't believe for a second that "it's not cost effective" for developers to buy up one lot at a time.

Anonymous,  September 15, 2014 at 9:04 AM  

In a 100 years I will not be here to care, but in which year between year 1 and year 100 will my home be leveled? Or ALL of my neighbors? There is a lot of time to care over the next 50 or so years when most of the current home owners will be living in a "build out" zone. This map says to me, "if your home is worth less than $400K, you are not welcome to own property in Shoreline."

Anonymous,  September 15, 2014 at 9:18 AM  

Come to think of it, this proposal from the Planning Commission makes PERFECT SENSE according to the bios of a few individuals on the City of Shoreline website.

VICE CHAIR EASTON CRAFT: is currently a partner with a construction and Real Estate development firm based in Shoreline. His company is an active member of the Shoreline Chamber of Commerce and part of the Echo Lake Neighborhood Association.

COMMISSIONER JACK MALEK: Realtor with the Windermere Shoreline office.

COMMISSIONER DAVID MAUL: he received a Bachelors of Architecture from the University of Oregon and then moved to the Seattle area. He went to work for William Rutledge & Associates that fall and became a partner in 1991.

An architect, real estate agent, and real estate developer? Who do you think stands to line their pockets with all of the excessive opportunity that lies in this proposed re-zoning?

Anonymous,  September 15, 2014 at 10:37 AM  

"Councilmember Chris Eggen, who was the only dissenting member of the city council, pointed out that inertia usually prevails, and plans once set in motion are rarely changed. His concern was that people were unaware of the proposed changes."

He is correct. People in the neighborhoods that would be affected by the proposed rezoning are probably not aware at all. Isn't it interesting that this agressive rezoning proposal was conveniently slipped in during the middle of summer, when most people are busy with kids being out of school, summer vacations, etc? Are people less likely to attend a City Coucil meeting on a beautiful summer evening? According to the meeting notes on the City website from the 07/10/14, many of the voted on points were noted similiarly: "staff has no information about whether others in this area would
prefer to retain current zoning or increase development potential." So, do you think people in the potentially affected areas are unaware? Of course they are.

David Higgins,  September 15, 2014 at 11:09 AM  

I moved to Shoreline to escape the uban density problems of Capitol Hill in Seattle. I thought Shoreline represented the type of neighborhood where many generations could build and maintain single-family homes. Now the council seems bent on destroying every single family home within miles. The variety trees in my yard have a three to four-hundred year lifespan. I hope the city council can realize that the people who live here want trees and homes. I did not move to Shoreline to 'get rich quick' by turning my house into an apartment building.

Anonymous,  September 15, 2014 at 11:11 AM  

How did the Citizen's Committee recommendation of 3 lots on either side of 185th for proposed rezoning mutate into ONLY 3, 4, and 7 story mixed use residential for the ENORMOUS area shown on the map?

"The Citizen's Committee had been involved in many public meetings with the Planning Department where the growth area was identified as a section along the 185th Street Corridor, from the freeway to Aurora. The width of the planned growth area was about three lots to each side of the street. 8th NE south of 185th in North City had also been identified as a growth area."

"Members of the 185th St Citizens committee were caught off-guard by the aggressive scope of the zoning that the Planning Commission sent to the City Council for inclusion in the Environmental Impact Study. The zoning was amended slightly and approved by council."

Why wouldn't they be caught off guard? I'm sure they were so shocked that they didn't even know how to react.

Anonymous,  September 15, 2014 at 11:20 AM  

Well said, David Higgins!

Anonymous,  September 15, 2014 at 12:19 PM  

Dear Shoreline Area News Editor(s),

Would you be willing to reach out to the 185th Station Citizens Committee for their response to the Planning Commission's aggressive rezoning proposal? If they were indeed caught off guard, it would be informative to hear their rebuttal, especially if they were bowled over by the City Council and Planning Commission.

Anonymous,  September 15, 2014 at 12:57 PM  

Seriously, people, take a look at the maps for the proposed "four alternatives" on the City website:

Zoning maps and computer models were created for the 3 scenarios that will be analyzed in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS):

1. No Action Zoning Map ( )  / Existing Conditions Model - note that this does not mean “no change.” This scenario depicts current zoning, but will analyze what would happen if homeowners built to the maximum extent allowed under existing regulations, including building to the full height and lot coverage potential, and allowable uses like accessory dwelling units.

2. Some Growth Zoning Map ( )  / Some Growth Model - this scenario depicts a modest level of redevelopment.

3. Most Growth Zoning Map ( ) / Most Growth Model - this scenario depicts the highest level of growth supported by the Market Assessment

I think most people would agree that the "Some Growth" option is adequate and not exhorbitantly excessive.

It seems much more logical to plan for a shorter length of time for future development and reassess periodically, for example, every 25-30 years. Unless the city has a crystal ball that we don't know about, 100 years is incredibly foolish.

Honestly, I don't think we need to worry about a lack of population served by the 185th stop, what with 3000 housing units which will most likely, inevitably, be put into place with the arrival of Point Wells.

Anonymous,  September 15, 2014 at 2:07 PM  

Hey Meridian Park Neighborhood!

I hope you enjoy your "NEW STREETS" cutting through your quiet neighborhood. Do people even realize that their properties are most likely going to be forced to be sold to the city to create these new streets?

Anonymous,  September 15, 2014 at 2:51 PM  

From this Thursday's Planning Commission agenda (Page 6 of 7):

October 2 Upcoming Topics
Single-family Detached – In an effort to encourage station subarea redevelopment that reserves land near the station for future Transit-Oriented Development at higher heights and densities rather than development in the interim with townhouses and apartments, staff has proposed minimum density standards for MUR-85. Minimum density standards have also been proposed for MUR-35 and -45 to encourage transit supportive densities within a half-mile of the future station. To support this, poroposed use tables for MUR-45 and -85 do not include single-family detached as a permitted use. The City has general, cityside development code for nonconforming uses and structures in SMC 20.30.280, which currently allows legal, nonconforming uses to continue and even expand unless abandoned for more than a year.

Shold the City allow single-family to be a permitted use in MUR-85 and -45 zones? Should there be a definted date (for example, once light rail service is operational in 2023) at which point single-family uses become nonconforming? "

So basically, anyone living in a Single-family detached dwelling in the turquoise, purple, or brown zones will be considered a non-conforming structure in less than 10 years?

Anonymous,  September 15, 2014 at 11:36 PM  

Thanks for the article.

The flyers sent out before this were abysmal. Very much the general 'come chat train station' that we've been getting for years and not 'what do you think about living in a construction zone for a century?'.

Has anything been said about the effect on property tax for those living in the area? I can foresee some silly things happening with taxes before we're all eventually evicted.

Given the street planning, media push for timeline on new street development would be a good focus. Many will have to depart their houses, while others will have to get used to looking out the window in the morning at a construction site. Is the city going to be funding/doing this, or will it happen gradually and be a requirement of the developers as they slowly build up the area.

I definitely understand the value in preparing for a high population and catching more of Seattle's commuting traffic. I think the current solution is a wee bit silly (both in terms of the length of planning and aggression). Mostly though, I'm depressed that the home we've invested in is for the chopping block. Not really much point putting anymore love into the place now. Seems to be a case of waiting for the council's inevitable axe to fall and hope we can ride things out financially.

Anonymous,  September 16, 2014 at 11:04 AM  

I, for one, am not about to give up. If we keep silent, Shoreline will be forever changed.

City Council IS ELECTED BY US and WORKS FOR US!!! Email or call your City Council Members listed below. It doesn't even have to be anything long or drawn out. It could be something as simple as

Keith McGlashan (206) 801-2203
Jesse Salomon (206) 801-2202
Doris McConnell (206) 801-2204
Will Hall (206) 801-2207
Chris Roberts (206) 801-2205
Deputy Mayor Chris Eggen (206) 801-2206
Mayor Shari Winstead (206) 801-2201

The Planning and Community Development Department WORKS FOR US!!!
Rachael Markle, Director (206) 801-2531

The Planning Commission is supposed to represent US!
Vice Chair Easton Craft, Chair Keith Scully, Donna Moss, Terri Strandberg, William Montero, David Maul, Jack Malek.
Steve Szafran
Planning Commission Liaison
(206) 801-2512

People need to speak out against this if they disagree.

City Council needs to hear your opposition. You don't even have to attend a council meeing to make your voice heard. Submit your comments online to the City to be included in the public meeting record:

Tell your neighbors. Refer them to this article.

Tell people at your community groups, local churches, and schools. Refer them to this article.

Anonymous,  September 16, 2014 at 11:42 AM  

"The zoning was amended slightly and approved by council."

There's nothing "slight" about the agressive rezoning in the "preferred alternative".

Anonymous,  September 16, 2014 at 2:42 PM  

In response to the City’s aggressive rezoning proposal for the 185th St Light Rail Station. we've created Sound Off Shoreline. It’s an online gathering place with social media options for people of Shoreline, WA to affect change within City Government.

Please bookmark our website at and connect with Sound Off Shoreline via the following methods:

Stay up date on issues that affect you. Email to be added to the e-mailing list.

Follow Sound Off Shoreline on Twitter:

Follow Sound Off Shoreline on Facebook

Follow Sound Off Shoreline on Google+

Anonymous,  September 16, 2014 at 3:11 PM  

My heart is broken.

David Higgins,  September 16, 2014 at 4:34 PM  

Adoption of map 4B means I have planning to do regarding where to move. My wife and I took over aover two years to buy our first home, and we chose Shoreline, a dream home @ 180th and 12th. This plan (4B) will raze all of the single family homes in my neighborhood and replace them with tenement housing. While I understand the bonusses in grant money that the city gains by zoning for density comparable to urban areas, I am sad that the council is forcing me to move out. The argument that I am unfairly depriving other residents from access to the light rail rejects the priority I have in owning the home. Most disturbing is the establishment of minimum du in the zoning. This use of eminent domain to force me to move makes me sad because I was growing to love Shoreline. Part of my federally subsidized loan requires me to live in the home for ten years minimum or face fines. To assist me in my transition I would like the Council to provide my family of the date we need to sell our home to the developer to prevent losing a great deal of money.

Anonymous,  September 17, 2014 at 9:33 PM  

As if we weren't feeling enraged enough, be sure to read the email sent on 8/12/14 from the at Sound Transit Project Manager to the City of Shoreline.
If there is anything you take away from this, let it be that the "100 year build out" for the 185th St Station is a flat out lie.

Read the email for yourself and pay attention to the following keywords: Short term, over twenty years, expedite new development prior to and shortly after
station opening [2023 - less than 9 years away].

(Page 10)

Anonymous,  September 18, 2014 at 9:26 PM  

From the linked staff report: "Scale zoning changes to align seller and buyer pricing expectations." - Doesn't sound like that's happening. Property around 185th just became unsellable.

Anonymous,  September 21, 2014 at 9:10 PM  

We chose to buy in Shoreline because of the great life we hoped it would provide our infant son. I was so proud to buy our home after years of sacrifice and saving. It breaks my heart that it will be a tear down one day and not a home filled with our memories. I wanted to live in my new home till I was too old and gray to take care of it. This urban village concept is not why anyone moves to Shoreline. I hope the council will finally start listening to the citizens they are supposed to serve.

Anonymous,  September 25, 2014 at 5:27 PM  

I think these changes will be good, and appreciate the city planning ahead for the light rail service. And these plans absolutely did not get 'slip(ped) by' us residents - it really bothers me when people say this. All of these proposed changes, notices about public meetings, and everything in between are prominently featured in the Currents Newsletter, online, and you can subscribe to receive email notices about neighborhood topics. If you care about your city and neighborhood, take the time to read what is readily offered to you. Attend the meetings. I do and I have. In my opinion, the city is trying to encourage business and some nice amenities for us residents. I think this is much needed and look forward to seeing an infusion of more cafes, restaurants and small businesses to liven up our home town. And, yes, my property/new home is in a rezone area - so I am affected from any changes that may occur, and plan on staying in our home a long while. We are a young family and and I still support the proposed changes.

Anonymous,  September 26, 2014 at 8:29 AM  

At 11:04 am The citizens of this city have kept quiet, and have thus ruined the city. Can you say Detroit?

Tom Wallace September 28, 2014 at 10:30 AM  

How any resident in the affected area would be in favor of this is beyond me. I don't want my house to be surrounded by 4 story apartment buildings, blocking out the sun. The city council seems only interested in shoehorning as many people as they can into the area to increase tax revenue and appease Sound Transit's demands for increased ridership. This all seems to be done without any concern at all for the current residents.

Anonymous,  October 8, 2014 at 12:38 PM  

Another thing to consider - the social-economic impact of this abrupt development to Shoreline citizens. This is my biggest concern - People who are just squeaking by (like me), may end up forced out due to rising property taxes and the need to add sidewalks, etc. to support the new development. I love living in Shoreline, but I can't personally afford to buy sidewalks. I live in a corner lot too.
At a lesser extent, I wonder how parking, litter, crime will be impacted in the neighborhoods as well. With added development, do we get added infrasturcture?

Anonymous,  October 8, 2014 at 3:56 PM  

And for people who currently rent houses or apartments in the area, is this redevelopment plan going to drive up rents? Will anyone currently renting even be able to afford to live here 10 years from now? Just look at what's happened in the neighborhoods of Ballard, Wallingford, Capitol Hill, U-District, Fremont, and Roosevelt. Cranes everywhere, construction noise, and whole city blocks being built up. No Rent Control in Washington, but maybe that will change.

NorthCityNan October 14, 2014 at 6:44 PM  

I will appreciate if "anonymous" and SoundoffShoreline would identify themselves.

Anonymous,  November 5, 2014 at 2:13 AM  

If seven story buildings in the 185th St Station Area weren’t alarming enough, was anyone aware that 12 story buildings were even on the agenda back in August?

Anonymous,  November 5, 2014 at 2:14 AM  

If seven story buildings in the 185th St Station Area weren’t alarming enough, was anyone aware that 12 story buildings were even on the agenda back in August?

Anonymous,  November 9, 2014 at 9:14 PM  

Despicable! We are Shoreline, not Seattle. People who live here like it how it is OR THEY WOULDN'T LIVE HERE. Do we really need more businesses and housing? We are plenty big enough.

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