Letter to City Council on CB119600

The letter below from Downtown Resident George Danner, based on his review of over 60 MUPs, eloquently shows why City Council should vote to delay CB119600 at their meeting on Monday, October 7, at 2 PM. If you agree, please write your own letter to Councilmembers and/or attend Monday’s meeting.


Dear Mayor and Council-members,

I am writing today to urge you to please delay CB119600 for additional study. There is no reason to rush this legislation, especially if the reasons for the bill are unsubstantiated. More reasons to delay the bill are listed below.

1. CB119600 will further erode what little is left for public participation

In the last 6 + years the City Council has allowed developers to influence and change municipal codes to: -reduce public participation prior to Early Design Guideline Review (EDG)

- - limit topics during the actual Early Guideline meeting

- - and most recently limiting the number of Early Design Review meetings to 2.

This elimination of early public participation and input combined with hastily approved MUP applications is one of the main reasons that lead to hearing appeals.

2. SDCI is attempting to validate past oversights

Appeals arise because the current Design Review/MUP/SEPA process limits public engagement, this combined with the overlooking of existing guidelines and codes contribute to appeals because they are incomplete and inconsistently applied. When the system fails, the Hearing Examiner is the only designated outlet for mitigation. As we all agree, this isn't desirable from anyone's perspective.

3. SEPA was written/created with a specific schedule to give all of us better projects.

The proposed rushed legislation, CB119600 is now trying to give almost all control of SEPA to SDCI, a move that will give validation to the fact that SDCI has for years oftentimes failed to follow:

SMC “25.05.055. - Timing of the SEPA process

A. Integrating SEPA and Agency Activities. The SEPA process shall be integrated with agency activities at the earliest possible time to ensure that planning and decisions reflect environmental values, to avoid delays later in the process, and to seek to resolve potential problems.”

B. Timing of Review of Proposals. The lead agency shall prepare its threshold determination and environmental impact statement (EIS), if required, at the earliest possible point in the planning and decision-making process, when the principal features of a proposal and its environmental impacts can be reasonably identified.

HAD SDCI followed this code, it could have reduced many of the hearing requests. But instead SDCI usually waits until the after the Recommendation Meeting part of a MUP application to consider SEPA, and most of the time adding a rubber stamped DNS to the the Directors Decisions, triggering further appeals to the Hearing officer.

4. SDCI’s ability to thoroughly process MUP applications has not kept up with MUP applications

The stated reason behind CB119600 is the council and special interest groups’ irritation with the number of projects appealed to the city’s hearing examiner is a Red Herring. Review of Hearing Examiner records (just 25 appeals since January 2015, around 6 a year) is a very small number of hearings per year compared to the record number of development projects in Seattle.

What is not mentioned here is that hearings are requested because SDCI routinely:

- - Ignores SEPA and its requirements(see No. 3 above)

- - Makes mistakes and omissions in Early Design Guidance & MUP applications

- - Interprets code requirements in favor of developers

- - Continues to use outdated codes that should have been revised long ago to reflect Seattle today

- - Rushes permitting applications

- - Allows waivers without documentation

- - Suffers from staff shortages and work load errors

- - Struggles with a new record keeping system

- - Faces continuous pressure from developers

So in reality, SDCI itself has created this so called “flood” of appeals and your approval of CB119600 will just validate their shortcuts and rushed approvals that have become the standard operating practice at SDCI.

5. Do not approve CB119600

If you approve CB119600 as written you are just further continue enabling SDCI’s campaign to eliminate public input into the MUP process, a result that will cost all of us in one form or another someday. Please have your staff take a very close look at this bill and ask “Does it make sense”? This bill removes the laws that allow the public to challenge projects with significant environmental impacts, further erodes our right to due process and our democracy! That development has captured the public’s attention should be a red flag to SDCI that the pendulum has swing to far relating to the developers greed over the public’s interest, it is time to put a stop to this kind of legislation. Please do the right thing here, stand up for America’s founding principals, protect the public process and do not allow CB119600 move forward without serious vetting and input from the public!

Thank you for your attention to this matter,

George Danner

1415 2nd Ave

Seattle, WA 98101