Kevin Williams, right, speaks to SDCI planners Bruce Rips, left, and Wayne Farrens, right, about plans to build four single-family houses and a 7-unit row house on 13th Avenue West in Queen Anne.
Kevin Williams, right, speaks to SDCI planners Bruce Rips, left, and Wayne Farrens, right, about plans to build four single-family houses and a 7-unit row house on 13th Avenue West in Queen Anne.

A public meeting hosted by the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) at the Queen Anne Community Center on Tuesday, Nov. 27, nearly boiled over as frustrated neighbors came to publicly comment on a proposed development on 13th Avenue West.

Two city planners spent a couple of hours receiving comments, suggestions, questions and complaints about the development, which would place 11 units on three parcels on the narrow block of 3640 13th Ave. W. Plans are for two single-family residences with parking for two vehicles, two three-story single-family residences with parking for two, and a three-story, seven-unit rowhouse building with parking for seven vehicles. Two existing duplexes will be demolished.

Some community members confronted the two planners with frustrations, and a few sparse obscenities, about a perceived lack of transparency from the city and ability to speak with planners and city councilmembers.

SDCI senior planner Bruce Rips and planner Wayne Farrens led the meeting, which was strictly a way for the planners to receive public comment and was not a question and answering session. The meeting was a part of a new SDCI requirement to provide early community outreach while project designs are being reviewed and completed.

According to public records, the proposal includes three parcels which will be considered together but are technically separate applications.

Farrens said SDCI is preparing to do separate SEPA reviews and environmental impact studies for each parcel, but all the reviews will be considered together since the developer will be building on all three parcels at once.

Mark and M. Louise Von Walter sold the properties at 3646-3648 13th Ave. W. to 13th West Partners LLC for $1.29 million in March, according to public records.

The head of 13th West Partners LLC is Grey T. Lundberg, builder and president at Sheltercore, Inc. Lundberg did not speak at the meeting on Tuesday.

According to public records, Lundberg was charged with 13 counts of sales tax theft in 2010 for not paying around $640,000 in sales tax collected from his customers while owner of CMI Homes, according to the state Department of Revenue. He was sentenced to a year in jail in 2015 but was able to serve through a work release program.

More than 50 members of Queen Anne and Magnolia came to Tuesday’s meeting ready with a list of grievances about the proposed project. Many of the comments focused on the development’s adjacency to the alleyway between 12th and 13th avenues west, which will be the access point for the proposed row house.

“I have a big concern about the traffic in the alley,” said Andy Cheng, who lives on 13th Avenue West. “I live there with my wife and our chocolate lab. We already have a problem with cars speeding through the alley. Adding more people will make this alley dangerous for children and pets.”

Queen Anne resident Kevin Wilson went to the front of the room and spoke at length about issues with the proposal’s location. Wilson said the project will require three large trees to be removed from the property, which could cause soil erosion and put the property at risk for landslides.

“This property has a lot of unique challenges,” Wilson said. “Including no street access, it being a slide area, significant trees would have to be removed, there is no nearby fire hydrant, and where are we going to put all of these trash cans?”

Mary Sullivan, who lives near the proposed project, was concerned about the removal of multiple large trees, some of which fell less than an inch away from being considered “exceptional” by city code.

Exceptional trees are protected by the city code and are defined as “ trees that have significant

value due to their size and species as defined in Director’s Rule (DR) 16-2008 which have unique historical, ecological or aesthetic value.”

“We’re all the city, but your the government and we need to start thinking of what we are leaving for the next generation,” Sullivan said. “We are just going to have these slabs of gray concrete, big houses, and there’s not going to be any space. The summers are getting hotter, rain is getting heavier, so we need more vegetation.”

Queen Anne resident and past UW researcher Nicole Cedarblom said during her time at the university she worked with Seattle to become a safer city by providing better street access to the city’s fire departments. She said the proposal would block fire trucks from accessing the new homes since the large trucks can’t fit down the alleyway and there is no nearby fire hydrant.

“Who granted this variance?” Cedarblom asked. “There is no way a firetruck can make it through there. The fire department needs to review this plan.”

Magnolia resident and architect David Moehring spoke on the issue and handed out multiple maps of the project, highlighting the unique geographic aspects of the area and its current zoning. Moehring said the project does not comply with the city’s Residential, Multifamily, Lowrise 1 (RL1) zoning.

“None of us want to be here; you don’t want to be here,” Moehring said. “You want to build and occupy those buildings. Density is good for the city, but these are all market rate housing, not affordable. It’s all about profit for the developer and taking advantage of the neighborhood.”

Other complaints included adding houses to a neighborhood that is already facing water-pressure issues and the lack of street parking in the area.

Farrens and Rips took many comments suggesting SDCI is ignoring its own codes and helping developers like Lundberg build more units in tight spaces.

“The code is being followed,” Farrens said. “There may be misunderstanding about the code or disagreements about how the codes are written. But there is a belief that is inaccurate. We are doing nothing illegal.”

The crowd became agitated and started asking a lot of heated questions, demanding more questions on the project be answered at the meeting regarding zoning and land use codes.

“I would suggest you speak with your city councilmember,” Rips told the crowd.

A few voices in the crowd said their comments and questions to SDCI and to the city council have been ignored.

Farrens ended the meeting after an hour of commenting.

“We are still at the beginning of the review process,” Farrens said. “A review is pending, and it includes a site visit.”