The fight continues.
Upper Queen Anne residents will not submit to Aegis’ plans to build a facility on West Galer Street and Third Avenue West with a rezone permit.
For months, the assisted-living franchise butted heads with neighbors as it asked the City of Seattle’s various departments to grant a rezone permit. With a rezone, Aegis would add a fourth floor to the new facility, accommodating about 16 more residents.
The public hearing on Feb. 19 at the Office of the Hearing Examiner was heated, as usual.
“Let me tell you about what assisted living is,” said David Eskenazy, who testified on behalf of Aegis. “Our average resident is 85 years old or older when they come live with us. The majority suffers from some form of memory loss or dementia.
“By definition, most of our residents do not drive cars because they cannot drive cars,” he said, addressing the concern that the facility will invoke the need for more street parking. “If we all had the best interest of the long-term good of the neighborhood, we’d think about what’s most important for great neighborhoods: schools, housing, transportation and supporting infrastructure.”
He continued: “To talk about housing, who needs housing and how do we know this?”
Eskenazy then explained the repercussions of a large aging population.
He also said most residents come from within three miles of an Aegis facility, addressing the question of whether Queen Anne residents themselves will be served by the development.
The fourth floor “is not likely to require additional resident parking. Probably only one or two additional staff.”
Notably, three Queen Anne residents testified in favor of Aegis.
But opponents say Aegis’ use of Queen Anne-resident testimony was manipulative.
“Aegis tried to demonstrate lack of neighborhood consensus by presenting witnesses who, while they may live in Queen Anne, are actually real estate development associates of the Aegis attorney,” said one opponent, who requested anonymity for this story. “The undisclosed connections between the Aegis attorney and witnesses further raise the distrust neighbors feel about the rezone process and Aegis.”
Concerns about capacity
Aegis representative Matt Rowe gave a PowerPoint presentation depicting what the new facility would look like.
He said the current zoning for the proposed space is an anomaly in Queen Anne. Most buildings abide by more liberal zoning guidelines that allow for taller developments as high as 75 feet. The buildings in proximity to the site are taller than what the rezone requests, he said.
David Rosenblum, who testified in opposition to the development, fears the new facility will aggravate his current living situation. “The building I live in now…would be most affected by this going up in many ways,” he said. “I hear there are benches on Galer. I don’t need the noise, people hanging out on those benches at all hours, at all times. We get garbage from them.”
He continued, “Third Avenue West is a residential street. It’s used for school buses, limousines, deliveries, UPS. It’s a congested street, with parking on both sides. My car has personally been damaged twice.… I’ve had other neighbors have damage to their cars on Third Avenue West.”
Rosenblum said the high number of cars currently using the road already exhausts the narrow street’s capacity.
“I’m also worried that [Aegis residents] will come out of the building and pound on doors at different times, day and night.”
Romi Gordon testified about parking concerns: “The thing that no one is taking very seriously is that there are 20 parking spaces for 60 units — that seems insane that people don’t think that this is a problem. I understand that most of them won’t have cars, but there will be staff, nurses, people who go to retail on the bottom floor — I’m not sure where they are supposed to park. Not everybody takes buses; not everybody walks, especially in our climate in the rain.
“[Aegis] has all these computer models about how parking is going to work, but it doesn’t seem like this is viable,” Gordon said.
Resident Maria Vasilyadis reminded examiners about how she originally brought her concerns about the project to the Queen Anne Community Council in 2011, but that they were not adequately addressed. An opponent’s motion in 2012 was also muffled, she said.
“Over the past two years, we’ve lost privacy, light and views,” said Ann Reigl, regarding how her house suffered as a result of recent development. “But it was in current zoning so we accepted that, and we would accept this if it was in current zoning.”
“We have lived in that home since 1986,” testified Janet Hunter. “We’re four houses down and across the street from where the proposed development would occur. I walk up and down that street at least twice a day, I’ve been observing traffic, and I see a lot of things.
“Let’s face it: Third Avenue West will be most impacted by this development,” she said. “We cannot even back out of our driveway because of cars parked on this street. And if there’s a truck there, forget it.
“I understand why cars need to be parked on this street: We have an increasingly dense neighborhood. But right now, we’re saturated, and we don’t have room for more parking activity on Third Avenue West,” she said.
“I’m concerned about safety,” she further stated. “I see a lot of children walking to and from the Queen Anne school and daycare. It’s quite frightening. I’m surprised there hasn’t been more concern on this safety issue.”
An appeal hearing took place later in the day on Feb. 19; further meetings are likely.
To comment on this story, write to QAMagNews@nwlink.com.