Letter to the Editor: The LFP City Council is planning to bring multi-family housing to your neighborhood

Monday, March 26, 2018

To the Editor:

The council is revising a Variance Ordinance entitled “Conservation Cluster Housing.” It would allow up to ten multi-family units to be built on single-family lots anywhere in LFP. This new ordinance, if allowed as written, will change the character of Lake Forest Park, decrease property values, invade privacy, increase traffic, create neighborhood parking problems and, most important, destroy the unique quality of life Lake Forest Park has provided to families for over 100 years. Look at your neighbors’ homes. How would you react to having them replaced with 3 or 10 two- story mini houses? Instead of living next door to one couple you would suddenly have 10 or 20 people next door. Is this density OK with you?

Why is the council creating this type of land use? For one thing, they state that it will allow multiple housing in exchange for 50% of the lot being set aside for permanent conservation, but the facts are that the setbacks currently in place do the exact same thing without allowing multiple housing. The current development setback requirements assure that conservation inside the setbacks is preserved. Increasing the density of people living on the same piece of ground increases the stress on the natural environment rather than preserving it.

The council also states that multiple houses will be affordable for first home families, for seniors wishing to downsize and will add diversity to the citizen base. The reality is that the estimated sale price will range between $450,000 to $650,000. Seniors wishing to downsize are not likely to buy a two-story home due to stairs, and we already enjoy a diverse, engaged citizen base of all ages, all ranges of incomes and good turnover of home sales for those wishing to live here.

The facts are that the neighboring property values will decline due to the high-density cluster housing dropped into the neighborhood. The conservation of critical areas is already in place and new regulations are redundant. Multiple housing can be achieved in the Town Center and in areas zoned (vs. a variance process) for multiple housing near transit lanes and community services.

A few key people on the council are promoting the push for multiple housing. There has been confusion and conflict on the council and the council chambers have been packed with citizens outraged over the imposition of this land use concept in their single-family neighborhoods.

For those citizens currently living in Lake Forest Park and those aspiring to move here to own a home in a nice community of neighborhoods where they can raise their family, it is important that their home investment and their purpose for residing here are not destroyed by the stroke of a pen in the hands of those who hold little understanding or regard for how beneficial it is to live here.

What makes Lake Forest Park unique is being a small community of single family neighborhoods nested in a park setting, close to needed services, protected by reliable police, fortunate in schools with talented teachers and citizens who appreciate the advantages created both by dedicated people serving as stewards of the land and by mother nature which gave us the terrain to enjoy.

The council, in its pursuit to increase density for new taxation purposes, has enacted legislation to meet its goals, not those of citizens. Sadly, their plan could change the character of community and quality of life for all of us. It is most important for LFP homeowners to address their concerns to the City Council. Unless we speak out we may lose what we enjoy most about living in Lake Forest Park.

Jack Tonkin, Don Fiene, Ned Lawson
Former LFP Council Members


Anonymous,  March 26, 2018 at 10:40 PM  

I haven't seen this language but this editorial smacks of fear mongering. Why haven't the authors of this piece (won reelection or) cited the aforementioned draft language? If density can be achieved while maintaining LFP's infamous conservation and canopy requirements, I'm all for it. The Chicken Little property value scare tactics are laughable in this market.

The City and citizens should work to what they can to remedy the region's housing shortages. There's enough LFP magic to go around while maintaining our quality of life. I would welcome more neighbors.

Anonymous,  March 27, 2018 at 8:49 AM  

Good luck, LFP. They told us in Shoreline that the zoning changes were just going to be a few cottage homes and attached townhouses within a block or so of the light rail station, and we ended up with an obscene rezone with 7-14 story apartment buidings which won't be contributing to the tax base for 12 years. When you don't comply with their plan, they'll spend half a million dollars and consultants and send out a cattle call for the transit bros and other rabid fanatical urbanists to stack the numbers in their favor.

Anonymous,  March 27, 2018 at 10:23 AM  

As a resident of nearby Shoreline that is feeling the impact of "short=platting" and multiple unit zoning - I totally support multi-family housing and increased density - and I want it on arterials, next to commercial development. Further from arterials, have duplexes, behind them single family residences. Win Win. Especially if the multi-unit doesn't have to provide TWO parking spaces for each unit. (When's the last time you knew a family with only one car? And no visitors arriving in vehicles?)

Anonymous,  March 27, 2018 at 3:01 PM  

The project that spurred on this concerns from some citizens came from a project that is slated to be on a single home lot in the 3000 block of NE 200th Street, smack dab in the middle of a single family residential area, on a residential street, almost two blocks from the nearest limited service bus stop and over a mile from any retail services such as grocery. It's placement is out of character for the neighborhood.

What's odd about the city's push for this is that the city and some NIMBY folks by the mall were highly resistant to vertical development for senior/multi-family housing at the mall years ago which was far more relevant than the project that initiated this letter.

Anonymous,  March 27, 2018 at 4:45 PM  

I live in the Shoreline rezone. So. True. It's been ruined at the expense of the surrounding homeowners who haven't been rezoned but have to suffer the brunt of it. Crazy development taking place. Including the biggest purchase, Ballinger Commons by King County Housing Authority for low income housing.

DKH March 28, 2018 at 1:11 AM  

Regarding KCHA, Ballinger Commons, and affordable housing - you might find this article informative: http://www.shorelineareanews.com/2018/03/affordable-housing-explained.html

Anonymous,  March 29, 2018 at 8:25 AM  

I am curious to know whether the people who wrote this even know anybody under 40 years of age? Have you talked to young families about their challenges finding housing in this area? Have you thought about who will pay the taxes that fund these excellent services you tout in your letter?

Lake Forest Park, as it exists, is a relic of the mid-20th century. It is car dependent due to its low density and restrictive zoning, and with its insistence on tree cover, is contributing to carbon emissions because residents here have to use fossil fuels like oil or gas to heat their homes.

I applaud the council thinking creatively about more sustainable models of housing. As a longtime LFP resident I am concerned about the reactionary and elderly "base" that gets in the way of progress. Being a community of angry old BANANAS (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything" (or "Anyone")) is not going to help our property values.

Anonymous,  March 29, 2018 at 9:59 PM  

@anon 8:25 - typical fanatical urbanist drivel. Lazy ageism and slurs. Anti-tree, anti-carbon-sequestering, anti-environment drivel. You people have an unquenchable thirst for concrete covered everything. Studies show millennials are discovering that this high-density lie they've been sold isn't that great. The demand is for detached single-family homes with yards for home gardens, basements for bands, and garages for start-ups. It's Seattle-esque, and if you don't like it, MOVE!

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