City Magnolians Sue to Block Homeless Housing
posted by October 15 at 14:26 PMon
UPDATED: 3:30 P.M.
The Magnolia Neighborhood Planning Council is suing the city of Seattle to stop a housing development on the Fort Lawton Army Reserve Base in Discovery Park.
In 2005, the federal government decided to close the 55-acre base, and the Department of Defense had asked the city to redevelop the land and include homeless assistance. So the city council passed a resolution in September, proposing the city’s Office of Housing develop more than 150 new housing units, including 85 units for the homeless.
But the MNPC, which describes itself in the suit as seeking to “maintain the environmental quality and residential character in the Magnolia neighborhood,” alleges that the city is violating the Discovery Park Master Plan, established in the 1974, and that it has failed to follow proper procedures for approving new development there.
But the city says the plan was thoroughly vetted with neighbors. “We went through a really long process with the community to redevelop the plan, which is what they are complaining about,” says Julie Moore, a spokeswoman for Office of Housing. “We had around 20 public meetings in 2008 alone.”
Although the group is framing this as an issue about unwanted housing and density, calling for “No Housing Developments at Discovery Park,” the gripe seems to stem from the prospect of homeless people invading Magnolia. Discovery Park historically has included a housing development—for military families. But in September, KING-5 Television reported that a member of the MNPC, Elizabeth Campbell, said, “It called for homeless assistance as one element and also the homeless could be located at a substitute site.” The MNPC, since the council passed the resolution, has been gathering funds for this legal challenge.
“The city is committed to the plan to end homelessness [in King County],” says Moore. “When the army closed the base we saw it as opportunity to build a mixed-income community. Right now there are a lot of parking lots there.”
The MNPC’s attorney hasn’t returned calls to comment.