From the DJC: “Another Example of Why We Can’t Build Enough Housing”

Last week I got an email from a supporter with the words “another example of why we can’t build enough housing” in the subject heading and the following clip from the Daily Journal of Commerce. I’ve put an emphasis on key points in the text.

New plan for Avalon site totals 40 units, not 102

Journal staff reporter

Plans for a seven-story apartment building at 3078 S.W. Avalon Way in West Seattle are dead, despite years of effort by different teams.

In July, that project had its fifth design review in five years. During that time, the potential developer changed twice, and the architect changed once.

A master use permit was issued during the process, then subject to a SEPA appeal to the city Hearing Examiner, which was later reversed.

Insufficient parking had been a major point of opposition from neighbors.

The design review board recommended in July that the project go through another round of review. In August, the owner of two of the site’s three parcels cancelled the project.

Now the same owner has filed two separate new plans for 3084 and 3078 Avalon. And Cone Architecture has replaced NK Architects.

The owner of the third parcel is apparently no longer involved.

The plan for 3078 Avalon is now eight townhouses with four parking spaces on a 4,800-square-foot lot. An existing rental triplex will be removed.

The plan for 3084 Avalon is now a midrise apartment building with 32 small efficiency dwelling units (SEDUs) and no parking. The number of floors isn’t specified, but project size is estimated at 18,000 square feet — which indicates six or seven stories. An existing rental triplex will be removed from the 4,800-square-foot lot.

Both properties have been owned by the same family for several decades.

Two different builders are listed for the projects.

Not only will there be fewer housing units available to the market when this project is finally done compared to what was originally proposed, but they are likely to be a lot more expensive. While nothing was happening and the process was grinding down the number of units here, money was being spent on holding costs, lawyers, and architects. All the money that has been spent to deal with this process will end up in the rents of the new tenants and the price of the new homes.

While the Mayor and Council and press keep gasping at “skyrocketing” housing prices they are presiding and standing by a system that produces this result: higher prices. It’s astonishing that elected officials react as if housing prices are some kind of freak of nature when in fact they are the result of bad policy. And they hate when I call it out. Too bad. That’s what I have to do. Someday, I hope, people will realize we have a say in housing prices. We can get rid of the excesses of regulation and process and let the market respond to the demand for housing. I guess that’s just too easy.

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