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Archive for the ‘Preservation Planning’ Category

Call to Action: Comment on Mandatory Housing Affordability

Share Your Thoughts on Affordability!
Comment Period Extended to August 7

Have you heard of HALA? MHA? What about DEIS? If these acronyms are not familiar to you, they should be! All will affect your life and your city’s future.

What can you do? We’re asking supporters of preservation to review the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) policy and submit your comments to the Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) by Monday, August 7. The DEIS evaluates MHA implementation in urban villages, proposed urban village expansion areas, and all other multifamily and commercial areas throughout the city.

A key component of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) strategy, MHA will require new development to either build affordable homes or contribute to a City fund for affordable housing. OPCD estimates MHA will deliver more than 6,000 rent-restricted housing units over the next 10 years. As proposed, MHA will expand housing choices by granting additional development capacity to allow for construction of more market-rate housing and commercial space.

The 460-page DEIS evaluates three alternatives (one of which is “No Action”) for implementing zoning changes proposed under MHA, and includes a section addressing historic resources (Section 3.5). The DEIS does not include Downtown, South Lake Union, or the University District, where MHA is already proposed or in effect.

Historic Seattle shares the City’s concern about the lack of affordable housing and supports a number of HALA’s recommendations. However, in our opinion, what’s being proposed for MHA is a “one-size fits-all” approach that will have a potentially significant adverse impact on the livability and quality of Seattle’s neighborhoods.

Here Are Some Ways Historic Preservation + Affordability + Livability Intersect:

Housing Diversity and “Naturally Occurring” Affordability  

Older buildings provide a diversity of housing types and tend to provide more units of affordable rental housing than taller, newer developments. Research shows that neighborhoods with a high concentration of historic buildings and mixed-scale development are more vibrant and perform better in terms of environmental, economic, and social metrics.

Hidden Density 

Older neighborhoods contain hidden density. It has been demonstrated that “human-scale neighborhoods with older fabric are the ‘missing middle’ of cities and can achieve surprisingly high population densities.”

Social Equity

Neighborhoods with a smaller-scaled mix of old and new buildings draw a higher proportion of non-chain shops, restaurants, and women and minority-owned businesses than new neighborhoods.

TAKE ACTION! Historic Seattle will submit public comments on the proposed alternatives and potential impacts on historic properties. We urge you to get engaged so that your voice is heard!

Feel like wonking out a bit more? Here are some more talking points related to the MHA DEIS:  

MHA should provide a more balanced approach to achieving growth

Historic Seattle believes City leadership needs to strike a balance to achieve density without demolition, and affordability without sacrificing livability in order to ensure that how we grow is sustainable and resilient – while retaining urban character and sense of place.

The Historic Resources section (3.5) is inadequate and lacks meaningful analysis. It is repetitive, imprecise, and non-specific

The section on Affected Environment (3.5.1) does not provide any real understanding of the study area’s history, context, and patterns of developments. It should include details on neighborhoods to adequately assess potential impacts to historic resources such as potentially-eligible individual properties and future historic districts. Added development pressure will result in increased demolition of potentially historic buildings and neighborhoods and adversely impact the character and scale of neighborhood blocks.

The analysis should reflect a better understanding of what exists that’s currently affordable, in order to determine the net gain or loss from the proposed MHA changes. What will the impact be in terms of tear-downs, net gain of housing, and how much is “affordable”?

The DEIS does not connect MHA to URM

Unreinforced Masonry (URM) buildings are mentioned in both Affected Environment (3.5.1) and Mitigation Measures (3.5.3), however, the DEIS does not reference the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection’s (SDCI) list of over 1,100 URM properties in the city. The analysis should include the number of URMs in each of the study area neighborhoods in order to understand how MHA might impact these properties.

Additionally, complying with a possible City mandate to seismically retrofit URMs to the “bolts plus” standard will present a substantial financial burden on many property owners. If preservation of existing affordable housing is truly a goal of HALA, it would then make sense to offer financial incentives to property owners who preserve and upgrade historic URMs and provide affordable housing.

The DEIS should provide substantive mitigation measures

Section 3.5.3 focus on two mitigation measures that are already in place–Comprehensive Plan policies and City Landmarks process, and proposes a third to continue funding of comprehensive survey/inventory efforts that have been inactive for years. A list of other potential mitigation measures follows in a separate paragraph but it is unclear whether any of these have any import or will be considered seriously. Mitigation should actually respond to the potential impacts and not rely only on existing policies, programs, and regulations without ways to implement through added funding and staff resources.

Please use your own words and include examples in your neighborhood that relate to the talking points above. Submit written comments by August 7 to

Or mail to:

City of Seattle Office of Planning and Community Development
PO Box 34019
Seattle, WA 98124-4019

Thank you in advance for taking the time to advocate for Seattle’s future development and places that matter! If you’d like more information about this advocacy effort, please contact Eugenia Woo, Director of Preservation Services, Historic Seattle, at or 206.622.6952, ext 245.


What is an EIS?
EIS Process
Preservation Green Lab (PGL) Older, Smaller, Better report
PGL Atlas of ReUrbanism
CityLab “Density Without Demolition”


Photo: Pike/Pine new construction adjacent to historic apartment building; source: Historic Seattle

King County Mid-century Modern

King County Mid-century Modern Residential Resources Context Statement

Consultants sought for preparation of a context statement for mid-century modern residential resources in King County

KC modern 2The King County Historic Preservation Program (HPP) is seeking proposals from qualified consultants to prepare a context statement for mid-century modern residential resources. The project is funded by a grant from the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (DAHP), using federal Historic Preservation Funds administered by Washington’s Certified Local Government (CLG) Program.

The statement will be used as a tool for evaluating potential National Register and local landmark properties throughout unincorporated King County and in the 20 cities that participate in the county’s Interlocal Historic Preservation Program. It will also provide a valuable tool for environmental review and compliance in King County, and serve as a model for other areas of the state. The period of study is approximately 1945 – 1975.

The consultant must demonstrate a range of skills and expertise including knowledge of regional and architectural history, specifically from the period of study; completion of context statements and survey/inventory projects in Washington State; and experience in project management.

The consultant will collaborate with the King County HPP to develop a coordinated approach to achieve project tasks. These include:

  • Identifying, documenting, and evaluating a comprehensive collection of mid-century modern single family residences that are representative of King County and its suburban cities;
  • Completing research on suburban development throughout the county during an established period of significance;
  • Completing a photo illustrated context statement that can be used to evaluate these residences for eligibility for National Register listing and county/city landmark designation, and that conforms to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Historical Documentation;
  • Conducting at least one public presentation to present project findings; and
  • Completing statements of significance for up to 12 representative intensive-level Historic Property Inventory (HPI) forms.

The project will begin in January 2016 and be completed by August 28, 2016. The grant award is $16,500.

Proposals should be submitted by end of business Friday, January 8, 2016. Proposals should include a brief summary of the contractor’s previous experience related to the scope of work and tasks described above; a breakdown of personnel responsible for each task along with associated costs; a bid quote for completing the project; and a statement confirming contractor’s ability to complete the tasks within the specified timeframe. For questions, contact Todd Scott at or (206) 477-4545.

Proposals can be mailed, hand-delivered, or emailed:
King County Historic Preservation Program
Attention: Todd Scott, Historic Preservation Architect
201 S Jackson, Suite 700
Seattle, WA 98104

Photos courtesy of King County Historic Preservation Program

Preservation News of Note: Newest Seattle Landmark

Ad for US Cor-ten steel roof featuring Battelle Memorial Institute Seattle Research Center buildings / Source: Collection of the Friends of Battelle/Talaris

Ad for US Cor-ten steel roof featuring Battelle Memorial Institute Seattle Research Center buildings / Source: Collection of the Friends of Battelle/Talaris

November has been a newsworthy month for historic preservation so far. Here’s some news of interest:

-Newest Seattle Landmark! The Battelle Memorial Institute Seattle Research Center / Talaris was designated a Seattle Landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Board at its November 6, 2013 meeting. The vote was unanimous. The property met four of the six designation standards (C, D, E and F):

C) It is associated in a significant way with a significant aspect of the cultural, political, or economic heritage of the community, City, state or nation;
D) It embodies the distinctive visible characteristics of an architectural style, or period, or a method of construction;
E) It is an outstanding work of a designer or builder;
F) Because of its prominence of spatial location, contrasts of siting, age, or scale, it is an easily identifiable visual feature of its neighborhood or the city and contributes to the distinctive quality or identity of such neighborhood or the City.

The Friends of Battelle/Talaris worked for over a year on this effort to prepare the nomination for the property, with assistance from Historic Seattle. Dozens of letters of support (mostly from the Laurelhurst community) were sent to the Board before the September 18 nomination meeting and November 6 designation hearing. At the November 6 meeting, public comments supporting designation were given by the Laurelhurst Community Club and Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. Original project architect for NBBJ, David Hoedemaker, was present for the meeting; he spoke about his experience with the project and design intent for the site. Rich Haag, landscape architect for the site, presented at the September 18 meeting. The Board appreciated hearing from the original designers.

Next steps in this process is the controls and incentives stage in which the City and property owner engage in negotiations. MAin2 will keep readers posted on that progress.

Comment on the Draft State Historic Preservation Plan, 2014-2019: Getting the Future Right. The Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation are seeking public comments on the draft plan. Comments are due by November 22. For details and to download a copy of the plan, go to DAHP’s website.

Must Read“Roots of Tomorrow: Urbanism in our Blood,” a series of articles by Knute Berger that have been appearing on Crosscut. He delves into lesser known topics in Seattle’s history that help inform how the city was shaped, exploring urbanism and deep roots.

Public Comments Sought for King County Historic Preservation Program Strategic Plan Update

Working with a  broadly representative 15-member Citizens Advisory Committee, four stakeholder focus groups, and the King County Landmarks Commission, the King County Historic Preservation Program (HPP) has prepared a review draft of the  King County Historic Preservation Program Strategic Plan 2013-2020 for review and comment.  The draft Plan provides background and a summary of challenges facing the HPP; a description of the planning process; and proposed goals, objectives and actions for the program for the next seven years.  The Plan also outlines how the HPP will track its progress in implementing the plan and contains recommendations for distribution of Historical Preservation and Historical Programs Fund (HPHP) revenues.

Comments on the plan are invited and may be submitted until July 14, 2013.  The draft will be revised following the review and comment period and finalized at the end of July. Download a pdf of the plan from the KCHPP website. Submit your comments online through the same website.

State Historic Preservaton Plan Update – Your Input is Needed!

WA Historic Preservation Plan

The Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (DAHP) is updating its Statewide Historic Preservation Plan. Stakeholders and interested parties throughout the state are encouraged to participate in this process that guides statewide preservation efforts.

What Can You Do?

  • Take the Stakeholder Survey online. The survey closes May 31, 2013.
  • Attend a community meeting and join the conservation about preservation. Seven meetings are being held throughout the state–details here. An upcoming meeting in Seattle is scheduled for Thursday, April 25 from 6 to 8 pm at Washington Hall (153 14th Ave, Central District), a designated landmark owned and operated by Historic Seattle (co-host of the meeting).
  • Learn more about the statewide plan on DAHP’s website.