Beach Drive short term rental properties under direct fire (opinion)

Representation of known short term rental units in Seattle

More like a scattered shot gun approach if you ask me. The Seattle Mayor & esteemed Council members are set to propose strict regs on ALL short term (under 30 days) rental properties in the entire city. That of course includes all of West Seattle and the handful of units on Beach Drive which yours truly just went live with in May. 

The purpose and intention of the proposed legislation is to discourage homeowners with non-owner occupied properties to choose housing out of town tourists over more permanent long term renters. If it all goes as planned, the Council predicts there will be 300 new long term rental units on the market.  They stop short on claiming they’ll be “affordable” but that’s what they really want, and frankly should want.

Councilmember Tim Burgess that chairs Affordable Housing prides himself on using “smart policies and evidence-based solutions”. Really?

From personal experience, the few guests we have hosted so far have either had family living in West Seattle, were referred by neighbors that don’t have enough space for out of town relatives, a family from Minnesota that drove up from Portland to hang out and see a Twins game at Safeco Field, and a local West Seattle resident celebrating a landmark birthday with her out of area friends as a stay-cation. What they all had in common is…

  • They did not want to rent a hotel downtown and fight traffic and parking.
  • They did not want to stay in the basement of someone’s primary residence.
  • They all wanted a private waterfront home all to themselves which is not available anywhere commercially in the city.
  • They all spent a majority of time & money hanging out in West Seattle.

Other than required licensing, the Council is not going to hinder homeowners that are using their primary residence for housing STR guests. The idea is that this segment of the market is merely trying to make ends meet and subjecting them to the proposed regs wouldn’t result in additional permanent units anyhow. Well, the only 2 homeowners I know around here using their primary residence as a STR have entire apartment units on their lower floor and choose short term rather than permanent renters. Not trying to pull them into the crab boil as well but it probably won’t be long before the City sics their proposed staff of STR inspector goons on them as well!

Now we need to make a decision what to do with our house next door if the legislation passes through as proposed. Rent it out on a permanent basis? No, we also like the flexibility of using it for ourselves, family & friends. Sell it? Maybe some years down the road. Bottom line is that the City of Seattle will miss out on any further taxes & licensing fees we generate and West Seattle establishments will lose some year around tourism dollars. It’s just too much work & expense to run a STR like ours for the proposed limit of 90 days a year when the break even point is more like around 160 days.

 

WShotel

West Seattle’s one and only hotel/motel

I’m not saying a problem doesn’t exist in other parts of the city. All of Burgess’s example’s of why short term rentals are cheating permanent locals from finding affordable housing border downtown Seattle. He claims extreme abuses of entire apartment/condo floors being held out for STR to tourists. We’ve recently learned that “entrepreneurs” are actually renting out permanent apartment space and then jacking the rent to STR guests all with 100% approval of the building’s management team (also receiving a cut, of course). I also wouldn’t be surprised if abuses are taking place with the recent high density rezoning and micro housing attended for gram & gramps or permanent local renters.

Seems to me that the Council and Mayor should be targeting those abuses rather than ma & pa on Beach Drive.

 

Scupper, reporting/ranting for Beach Drive Blog

Got family or friends coming to town?

Consider a vacation rental! You don’t have to send family and friends to trek to downtown Seattle for a hotel when there are so many vacation rentals in the Beach Drive neighborhood, including (shameless plug ahead) our Beach Drive vacation rental!

The selection of available properties is pretty amazing, including waterfront, view, condos, town homes, apartments over garages, studios, bedrooms and detached homes. Prices vary and are comparable or often better (in my opinion) than what you would pay in a hotel.

The next time you have friends or family coming to town for fun or business, check out one of the many vacation rental sights like VRBO, AirBnB or Trip Advisor/FlipKey so they can stay in West Seattle.

 

Bottom line: Plug your nose & talk to the State

In our continuing coverage regarding the foul Beach Drive bouquet, A small community meeting with representatives from King County Waste Water just adjourned from the sidewalk of 4700 Beach Drive SW. Armed with a color 4 page report regarding the soundness of their sewer, King County says it wasn’t them!

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Four leakage sensors were setup inside man-holes along the circa 1957 main line that runs along the drive…

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With no solid evidence supporting sewage runoff as our culprit, the meeting turned into a “now what” conversation. An ecologist from the county recommended that neighbors start a permit process asap with Washington Fish & Wildlife for dealing with the next round of rotting sea lettuce. The permits apparently last five years. If  NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is correct, we could be literally blown out of our houses next summer! An article issued by King 5 back in July reported NOAA’s prediction for Seattle’s chances of continued warming…

SEATTLE – There’s a 90 percent chance El Nino will continue through this coming winter and an 80 percent chance it will extend to early spring 2016, the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center reported Thursday.

The stench has been no stranger to the Fauntleroy Cove area where residents took action to remove the seaweed. The Seattle Times reported

When the problem last emerged in 1990, state officials attacked it by corralling the seaweed in nets and hauling it out into the sound, where it was dumped. They did this for three years at a cost of about $10,000 a year, then stopped. The problem abated until this summer, when average temperatures were three to four degrees above normal and the Puget Sound area saw more sunshine than usual.

A few residents present at the meeting showed interest in moving forward to find a solution. Maybe consulting with other neighborhoods that have or are currently dealing with this issue would be a good start. We did learn that Dumas Bay click here for their study & Shilshole Pt. were also plugging their collective noses and working on solutions.

 

Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

 

 

A small historic Beach Drive cottage connects to nauture

Editor’s Note: This post was submitted by Beach Drive neighbor, Janice Nyman.

At Douglas and Chilberg, right off of Beach Drive, Janice Nyman Architect of archiflora.com, and clients Kathy and Kevin Meyers, recently converted a historic old shop above a single-car garage into a 450 square foot cottage. The conversion included raising the shop’s roof, and adding a trapezoidal bay window to the existing structure.

Views are focused to the neighboring western red cedars.   Thanks go to Kevin Meyer’s who retained the original historic signage displayed in front of the cottage: “Lee’s Shop-The difficult I do now, the impossible takes longer.” “Built by Robert Hoffman brother of Lee 1920.”   These are certainly words of wisdom!

Floor plans show the original 1st floor garage, and 2nd floor conversion to a studio apartment.

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Interiors after the remodel of Lee’s shop

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Historic Photo of Beach Drive

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This was sent in by one of our Beach Drive neighbors:

House from the 30s torn down in the 60s with lot subdivided into three lots with middle lot now at 4731 Beach Drive. Note roof of current existing house in right side of photo with tile roof. Photo obtained from Puget Sound Regional Branch archivist.

Thanks for sharing!

Spectacular Wind and Waves off Beach Drive Shores

About a half hour ago (4:06 pm), we had a high tide of 10.32 which combined with the wind gusts up to around 38 mph from the south/southwest, has caused some Beach Drive shores to be hammered by some waves and spray.

I took these photos from the comforts of INSIDE my home…so I apologize for the window reflection.

This is about a 2 – 3 story tall splash of salt water spraying our neighbors home.

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Although this is breathtaking to watch, I’m glad that the tides are heading lower!

Official News Release regarding popular Beach Drive seawall project

Hot off the press from the Seattle Division of US Army Corp of Engineers:

SEATTLE – The U.S Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District, has partnered with the Seattle Parks and Recreation to design and implement a coastal storm damage reduction project under Section 103 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1962, as amended. The public comment period for this project runs through Dec. 31.

Emma Schmitz Overlook is located at 4503 Beach Drive SW, south of Alki Point in Seattle. The site includes a seawall built around 1927 that has deteriorated over time. Currently coastal storms and erosion threaten public infrastructure located in and around the seawall, including a 54-inch King County sewer main, a major public arterial, city park property and other underground utilities. The recommended plan includes construction of a soldier pile seawall parallel to the shoreline throughout the study area. The new seawall would be a few feet higher and seaward of the existing seawall. This would provide protection against damages caused by coastal storm events that occur in Puget Sound.

In 1998, the City of Seattle was prompted to take emergency action to stabilize the shoreline to the north of the proposed federal project when storm waves resulted in the failure of a similar section of existing seawall and subsequent erosion of shoreline protection that threatened utilities, roadways, and public lands. The city completed permanent emergency repairs on this adjacent site, which is not included in the scope of the proposed Federal project.

The recommended plan was chosen because it has the least environmental impacts, cost the least cost and meets all project purposes. Coordination with resource agencies and federal tribes is ongoing and preliminary indications expect a concurrence with the project.

The implementation cost of the recommended plan is estimated to be $2.29 million and will be cost-shared 65 percent federal ($1,488,000) and 35 percent non-federal ($801,000). The non-federal sponsor, Seattle Parks and Recreation, is responsible for all lands, easements, right-of-ways, relocations, and/or disposal areas which are controlled by the sponsor. Economic analysis suggests the project could prevent millions of dollars of physical and non-physical damages, resulting in a favorable benefit-cost ratio.

Submit comments to this office, Attn: Environmental and Cultural Resources Branch, no later than December 31, 2014 to ensure consideration. In addition to sending comments via mail, comments may be e-mailed to Melissa.L.Leslie@usace.army.mil. The Notice of Availability and Draft DPR/EA can be found at the following website: http://www.nws.usace.army.mil/Missions/Environmental/EnvironmentalDocuments/2014EnvironmentalDocuments.aspx. Requests for additional information should be directed to Ms. Melissa Leslie at 206-764-6587, or the above e-mail address.
###

Tanya M. King
Public Affairs Specialist
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District
206-764-6958 (office)
206-422-2679 (cell)
206-764-3769 (fax)
http://www.nws.usace.army.mil

I would like to think that this project could grease the skids of King County in favor of Beach Drive residents considering to raise their own seawalls from events caused by global warming.

Historic1968 Emma Schmitz Park seawall circa 1968. Photo credit to City of Seattle archives

Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

Wind Storm: AFTERMATH!

Well, it appears we may have gotten away with one as long as a hill doesn’t slide away in the next day or so. The timing of the tides vs wind spared many a basements on the west side of the street.

Don’t tell this to Rudolph and Santa though. They were pretty blown away at the 50 knot gusts!

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Asked Mr. Menashe about how the Christmas village faired last night, blessed at just a few knock-downs and the toppling of the ornamental arch over the walk way. Not bad at all!

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Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

Apartment Fire at 3800 block of Beach Drive

You can smell the smoke in the air. Several fire vehicles are there or en route to what appears to be an apartment building or condo off Beach Drive. Scupper is in route. We hope everyone is okay. More to follow – including a video towards the end of this post (scroll down).

Update 3:27 pm. Here are some photos from Scupper who is on the scene at the fire at 3855 Beach Drive. Beach Drive is currently blocked from all of the fire rescue vehicles. Scupper counts at least 9 firetrucks plus at least a couple paramedics with more on the way.

The hoses ran from Carrol Street near LaRustica for a couple blocks. Scupper counted as many as 20 different types of rescue vehicles at one point.

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Via Twitter, a lower unit is engulfed in flames.

  IMG_3621 SDP offering to bring in a Metro bus for residents of the apartmentment and checking to see if they have shelter. IMG_3616 Photos from the beach show the burned lower apartment. IMG_3625 IMG_3624 IMG_3626 IMG_3632

Scupper reports that some of the fire trucks are leaving now. According to neighbors, it looks like no residents were seriously injured.

4:15 Update: West Seattle Blog reports that a fireman was hurt and was taken to the hospital.

7:30 pm update: One firetruck with crew remains and the fire investigators have recently left the scene of the apartment that caught fire off Beach Drive this afternoon. More information will follow as to the cause of this incident.

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Here’s additional coverage from West Seattle Herald.

Sirens and Smoke at 4800 Beach Drive

Sirens screamed down Beach Drive in the wee hours this morning to the call of a fire in a home at 4800 Beach Drive.

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Scupper was on the scene and learned that the fire was put out by quick thinking and a garden house before the fire trucks arrived. You can still smell smoke in the air.

Thank goodness nobody was hurt. Back to bed!