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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I Have No Way To Make This Post About Land Use Interesting to Those Uninterested In Land Use

posted by on February 27 at 15:30 PM

… So please accept, as my humble offering, this photo of Javier Bardem. (Note: I looked for a more beefcakey shot, but Bardem’s chest is strangely hairless, and thus looks weird without a shirt.)


Council member Sally Clark’s land use committee meeting this morning started, as land use meetings typically do, with an outraged comment from a disgruntled citizen. The proposal in question: Legislation from the mayor’s office that would raise the threshold for environmental review, effectively exempting some smaller developments (about 30 a year) from review under the State Environmental Policy Act. The change, Dennis Ross of the Admiral Community Council argued, would “drastically decrease citizen oversight of our building codes … result in shoddy construction and turn our neighborhood commercial zones… into urban slums.”

In reality, that’s not what the changes would do at all. Instead, they’d essentially exempt smaller developments (the size depends on the zoning for the area) from SEPA review, a process that adds time and expense to land-use permitting. SEPA has also become “less relevant” in recent years, council central staffer Michael Jenkins said, because so many new rules have been put in place since the passage of the Growth Management Act in 1990. Clark said she also wants to look at expanding the design review process by lowering the size of new developments that have to go through design review—a change that would actually address the design-related issues residents tend to complain about. Many of the development-related complaints council members receive have to do with unattractive, out-of-scale townhouse developments that are currently too small to trigger design review.

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This exemption for smaller developments will just be used to game the system - they'll set up say five limited partnerships to develop 20 lots, and pretend they're not all basically the same development.

Zoning for 40 to 100 story inexpensive mixed-income residential rental apartment buildings would make a lot more sense, especially near transit hubs.

Posted by Will in Seattle | February 27, 2008 3:33 PM

I tried to read this, really I did. But all I came away with is the thought, "How can I make my eyes look sleepy and sexy like Javier?" Land-use policy just doesn't enter into it...

Posted by Uncle Vinny | February 27, 2008 3:47 PM

I hate it when men shave their chests.


Oh, yeah. Land use. Rama rama ding dong.

Posted by Mr. Poe | February 27, 2008 3:54 PM

Bardem looks nuttsy regardless. Some chest hair isn't going to make him attractive.

Posted by Wolf | February 27, 2008 4:02 PM

he was so physically unappealing in "no country for old men" i'm rather shocked to find myself attracted to him now. i think the spoiler was the johnny ramone-lookin' bowl cut.

Posted by brandon | February 27, 2008 4:06 PM

He looks like Luis Figo to me, and despite myself I love Luis Figo. So by extension I have goodwill towards Bardem.

Also, he was a rugby player in Spain. (Bardem, not Figo.) Which he compares to being a bullfighter in Japan.

Posted by Abby | February 27, 2008 4:17 PM

ECB finally GETS it; if you want to make a point on SLOG and get people to listen to you, post a picture of a hot man.

Javier Bardem is insanely sexy, but I would have to agree that shirtless is NOT his best look. He has a barrel chest and scraggly chest hair which is disappointing in a Spaniard. You expect them to have acres of luscious chest hair...

Posted by michael strangeways | February 27, 2008 4:18 PM

Five limited partnerships to develop 20 lots is probably a GOOD thing. I'm a little confused by the sentence that ends this post, which describes developments that are "out-of-scale" but "too small".

It is just completely untrue to say that the kind of development that's going in now is aesthetically inferior to the similar developments that went in during the 1970s, 1980s, or 1990s. Seriously, look around you. The only reason people get bent out of shape about the new developments is because they're new. They don't even SEE the horrible beige boxes that went up in the 80s and 90s, or the dingbats that carpet huge swathes of Ballard from the 70s, because they're accustomed to them. This will happen with these new units too.

The thing that's really changed since the 70s is the willingness of meddlesome neighbors to stick their noses in other people's business. I guess that comes with rising valuations.

It is also completely false to suggest that development that is design-reviewed by any kind of citizen or city board is likely to be more attractive than development that hasn't. Quite the opposite, I would say; design boards have a terrible aesthetic track record. They might work in a city where a very specific design criteria needs to be defended, like oriel windows in San Francisco, but in a city like Seattle were the style that's being designed doesn't exist yet, design review is likely to create uglier buildings.

Posted by Fnarf | February 27, 2008 4:24 PM

Check out Javier doing 19 year old Penelope Cruz in Jamon, Jamon.

His character was named el Chorizo and Penelope's la hija de la puta.

Its one of his best "performances."

Posted by SeMe | February 27, 2008 4:26 PM

(psst, Erica)

look at this in terms of how it affects historic preservation. Part of the SEPA checklist is going through landmarking designation. Most property owners do not want their buildings to go through Landmarks. Check it out.

If we care about historic preservation, we shouldn't change the SEPA threhold.

Posted by Little Bird | February 27, 2008 5:11 PM

After we've historically designated the Market and a few nice churches and other good and beautiful things, and now that the Landmarks Board has indicated it will make things landmarks precisely because they are so ugly and crappy looking they are, um, landmarks of ugliness and crappiness, no, we don't care about historic preservation.
Next we'll hear they're preserving the entire set of Northgate Mall parking lots (very historic, as is sprawl generally, and used to give directions, etc.) and the sinking ship garage (a historic display that is meaningful architectural language (to wit, "we show our contempt for beauty and desire to uglify a historic block and neighborhood").

Posted by unPC | February 27, 2008 5:45 PM

...aesthetically less appealing, agreed, but a hairless chest is much nicer to lick.

Posted by pretentious | February 27, 2008 6:08 PM

Funny you should mention the sinking ship garage, unPC, since it is in fact the locus of the beginning of the historical preservation movement in this city -- the movement that saved Pioneer Square and the Market. They knocked down the Seattle Hotel to build it in 1961. Nice of you to advocate for more of that.

Posted by Fnarf | February 27, 2008 6:09 PM

How disgustingly sexist to use this man as a cheap decoration and make disparaging comments on the state of his chest...

Posted by banjoboy | February 27, 2008 6:40 PM

Yum. Land use.

Posted by Miss Poppy Dixon | February 28, 2008 5:18 AM

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