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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Not In Nickels’s Backyard

posted by on October 19 at 12:33 PM

Mayor Nickels, who is pushing for zoning changes to accommodate density, is actually against easing zoning restrictions when it would affect City Hall.

County Exec Ron Sims wants to replace the ugly 9-story County administration building that’s directly across the street from City Hall, just south at 4th and James, with a 40 plus-story building. Nine floors would be owned by the County and the rest would be apartments or condos and retail.

The County says it needs to go beyond the current 34-story limit there to make the project pencil out for developers… that is… to keep the taxpayers off the hook.

The building falls just one block outside zone 1—where 60-story buildings are now allowed, thanks, actually, to Nickels’s recent push to build taller downtown.

In fact, the county jail, across the street to the east, falls within the new taller zone district. So, Sims had a proposal: Since the County’s not going to revamp the jail, let the County transfer the right to build higher just across the street.

But Team Nickels—which likes to talk about the benefits of density by tweaking zoning citywide—has found its inner-NIMBY when it comes to Sims’s plan to increase desnity next door to City Hall. Indeed, Deputy Mayor Ceis hauled out the stalest Seattle argument in the book: It’ll cast shadows.

The Seattle Times reports:

The county plan “would have a shading effect on City Hall for sure, and the council has been very protective of the civic campus,” Ceis said.

Way to set an example, Ceis. You’re asking neighborhoods all over the city to accept zoning changes. Now, when they bitch about “shadows,” they’ll just be following your dumb example.

Ceis officially objected yesterday when Sims first announced his plan.

And today, in a rare instance, Council Member Peter Steinbrueck agreed with Ceis.

NIMBYism makes strange bed fellows.

RSS icon Comments


". . . found its inner-NIMBY . . .."


Posted by iPeed | October 19, 2006 1:05 PM

Where do you draw the line Josh? The County's property was just rezoned 6 MONTHS AGO. Now they want it rezoned again - to twice the capacity. The County's reason? At the current zoning the land isn't valuable enough to get a new building for free. They simply want to change the zoning to create more value for themselves.

Objecting to Sims plan isn't anti-density (you failed to note that they plan ZERO residential space), rather it is recognizing that the County has to play by the same rules as everyone else.

Those rules were the result of YEARS of public process and to expect to be exempted from the standards imposed on the rest of the City is both dangerous and insulting.

Posted by Downtowner | October 19, 2006 1:22 PM

So the site presently allows something like 15 floors but the county wants 40 for real estate speculation. NOT.

Why do we need the bloated county government again?

Posted by whatever | October 19, 2006 2:02 PM

The County would only own 9 floors...which is what they currently own. The rest of it, according to the county, would be residential and commercial mixed use. NOT owned by the county.
That's what's good about it: Adding bodies to downtown.

Posted by Josh Feit | October 19, 2006 2:05 PM

What the Stranger doesn't understand about zoning and land use would fill several books.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but combining it with the ability to buy ink by the barrel is a serious menace.

And if I were Ron Sims, I wouldn't snivel about how a perfectly functional government building is just too ugly to be allowed to stand when I had an important measure going before voters in a couple of weeks...

Posted by Mr. X | October 19, 2006 2:43 PM

What bullshit. The city did a process and drew a line. Why draw a line if 2 seconds after you finish you whip out an eraser and help out another elected official. If another builder wanted the exemption, you would be screaming like your nuts were in a blender about the Mayor not helping his cronies.

Posted by StrangerDanger | October 19, 2006 3:47 PM


While I have you here Mayor Nickels, what's up with the embarrassing flip flop on "letting the voters decide."

It's too complicated now?? Huh? Do mean: The price has gone up?

As for the issue at hand: You also drew a line to include Harbor Properties in the original up-zone, but then moved the line to accommodate your developer pal. You guys are so sloppy.

You may remember, you honor, that I broke that story last summer and it's never been the same between us since.

Posted by Josh Feit | October 19, 2006 4:22 PM

Not to worry, I'm gonna sue the big developers for blocking my view once that I-9xx passes ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 19, 2006 4:53 PM

This seems really unfair, after reading the Times article. Ceis's reason for not supporting the building is because they don't want to make an exception in their brand new zoning rules. He says it is the City Council that wouldn't want a tall building - not the Mayor. In fact, Ceis mentions that the Council rejected a plan to put a tall building on part of the parcel that is being turned into a park across from City Hall; do you recall who was behind the plan for that building? It was the Mayor. So this really has nothing to do with NIMBYism on the part of the Mayor. Feh

Posted by cite | October 19, 2006 7:04 PM

Welcome to Seattle, NIMBY capital of the world. Seems like a fitting response from City Hall to me.

Posted by Sean | October 19, 2006 9:59 PM

If the county can get a free building, then why make the tax payers pay for it? Give them an exception just to save public dollars.

Posted by Andrew | October 19, 2006 10:29 PM

Let's see. The Dems have the mayor's office, the city council, the King County Executive's Office, the King Council Council, the Governor's office, the State House, the State Senate, the State delegation for the U.S. House, both U.S. Senate seats, and arguably a majority of the state Supreme court, court of appeals and superior court and they still fuck around with bullshit politics.

If we can't figure out how to move a progressive agenda in this politcal environment then we're destined to a future of petty politics regardless of who is in charge.

It seems to be more about individual power and less about real change.

What will it take to convince even our "liberal" elected officials to forget about their own ambitions and start to build a real power base to implement a better agenda.

Posted by dmerkle | October 20, 2006 12:04 AM

Mayor Fat Bastard just doesn't want to deal with the noisy, intrusive and obstructive construction next door, a compulsory side effect of development. It's fine to him as long as he doesn't have to personally deal with it.

Posted by Gomez | October 20, 2006 9:42 AM

Why not put the residential tower on top of the jail?

Posted by him | October 20, 2006 1:14 PM

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