Walking the newly closed Beach Drive for Stay Healthy Streets

This morning, after writing about a portion of Beach Drive being closed, my hubby (aka our intrepid reporter, Scupper) and I decided to check out the newly closed road along Constellation Park. I actually did not expect the closure to include Alki Avenue to 63rd (the intersection by Cactus).


Vehicle traffic was definitely reduced. Gone are the cruisers and car clubs hanging out along the sidewalk.


64th was the only side street that I noticed was blocked.


This stretch of Beach Drive is no stranger to cars peeling out. The City has tried passing noise ordinances for this area but I doubt it’s been successful. Neighbors we talked to are pretty pleased with this stretch being closed.


I don’t know if I’ve ever seen open parking on a warm sunny day along Alki Avenue.
The closure stretches all the way from Alki Avenue at 62nd to Beach Drive and 62nd. There were still a handful of cars (possibly residents), driving along with bicyclists, skateboards (some motorized) and all sorts of wheeled contraptions mixed with people walking or jogging in the street.

It’s a new experience to walk down the street…it’s a bit liberating. It’s also a lot easier to keep the “safe six” feet away from others.  There are a lot of cars from residents along Alki Avenue to Beach Drive where there are condos, apartments and street parking for houses. This stretch is still very popular (and may become even more so) with bicyclist and joggers. If you’re wearing ear-buds, you may need a shoulder-mounted-rear-view-mirror!

It will be interesting to see how this evolves as bicyclist and resident cars, service/delivery vehicles and rule-avoiders are now dealing with people walking in the Mayor’s new “Stay Healthy Street”.

Please stay safe and be kind! This is a new experience for all of us.

Send us your Beach Drive Halloween Pics!

This neighbor’s scary yard captured our dog’s attention on our walk today.

Hitch losing a scary stare down with three black cats!

If you have a spooktacular yard, kiddo or pets (or you!) in costume or a favorite Halloween recipe that you would like to share with your Beach Drive neighbors, give us a howl!

Big Changes for Short Term Rentals along Beach Drive and Alki

If you or someone you know owns or operates a vacation rental along Beach Drive or along Alki, you may want to let them know about regulations that are going into effect January 1, 2019 that will prohibit short term vacation rentals on waterfront homes and potentially including homes within 200 feet of Puget Sound.

We believe this is an unintended consequence from the City of Seattle labeling short term vacation rentals as “commercial lodging” which is not permitted per the shoreline code. This includes detached single family residences, condos, apartments and homes that are within 200 feet of the high water mark of Puget Sound (homes across the street from Puget Sound could be included). Other areas may be included as well if they are within the shoreline management restricted areas.

From the City of Seattle – one of their many pages regarding Short Term Rentals (aka “STR”s):

“Floating on-water residences, waterfront residences, and other areas where lodging activities are prohibited by the Shoreline Code

We have owned and operated a short term vacation rental on Beach Drive for a couple of years. We are saddened that it looks like we will no longer be able to offer Beach Drive Bungalow as a vacation rental. Many of our guests over the years have been from neighbors and other Seattle-ites with visiting families.

Many who have owned and operated vacation rentals near the shoreline in Seattle may not know about this snafu. To our knowledge, there has been no notifications from the vacation rental platforms, like VRBO/Homeaway or AirbNb nor from the City of Seattle (unless you visit their website and try to make sense of the shoreline code).

I reached out weeks ago to our City Council. Today, I received my first response from a representative for O’Brien who stated:

“Thanks so much for reaching out to Councilmember O’Brien on this issue.  I am sorry for the complicated and confusing nature of our code and that your property is no longer eligible as a STR.  After looking into it a bit, my understanding is that this is due to the shoreline code – lodging activities are prohibited in Floating on-water residences, waterfront residences, and in specific shoreline environments.  This was not a policy choice about waterfront locations specifically but rather just making it explicit that defining short-term rentals as a lodging use (and not a residential use) means prohibiting STRs where lodging uses are prohibited by the shoreline code.   To modify this would require amending the shoreline code which typically requires working with and approval by the Department of Ecology.

Sorry to not have a more hopeful response for you.  Have you considered renting the property as a long-term rental?”

No response yet from our West Seattle rep, Lisa Herbold.

We do plan on reaching out to the Department of Ecology.

If you have questions, you can email: str@seattle.gov.

Seawall project starting sooner than expected

Construction of the Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook Seawall Project was projected to begin this Fall according to BDB sources from the Army Corp of Engineers. Yet, it appears that construction, ahem, “design” work will commence within a week. This info sign was just installed at the park….


Anticipated impact to neighbors and the public will include drilling/boring equipment taking soil samples from numerous locations along the 450′ stretch of seawall. Constructing the actual wall has been updated to “TBD”.

Sooner the better is my opinion for getting this done. Fall might be too late for the tattered original structure.

From the City of Seattle’s press release:

Soil borings and sampling at Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), the City of Seattle, and Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) are collaborating on the Emma Schmitz seawall repair. Together we are ensuring a successful cost-sharing program to restore shoreline protection at Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook in West Seattle. SPR entered into a Project Partnership Agreement with the Corps for the replacement of the seawall. The Corps is responsible for the design of the seawall, and one of the steps in the design process is to take soil borings to inform the final design. Drill equipment will be on site for several days starting the week of June 4.

Built circa 1927, the 450-foot stretch of seawall supports important City and County infrastructure, including a 54-inch sewer main, various Seattle Public Utilities drainage and wastewater lines, and Beach Drive Southwest road. The seawall is badly deteriorated, with a 30 percent chance of failure in the event of severe storm or tidal conditions. The new seawall will be built approximately 2 feet seaward and 2 feet higher than the existing wall, thus significantly improving the grade of this scenic viewpoint for the enjoyment of park users as well as ensuring long-term stability.

The implementation cost of the recommended plan is estimated to be more than $2 million, and will be cost-shared with 65 percent federal funds and 35 percent non-federal funds. The non-federal sponsor, SPR, is responsible for all lands, easements, right-of-ways, relocations, and/or disposal areas which are controlled by the sponsor.

The Corps is designing the seawall, and SPR will be designing the park amenities on top of the wall area. SPR will be holding a public meeting to provide information and gather input on these park amenities.

For more information on the boring and soil collection please visit http://www.nws.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Programs-and-Projects/Projects/Alki-Erosion-Control-Project-Seattle-WA/  or SPR Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook page: http://www.seattle.gov/parks/find/parks/emma-schmitz-memorial-overlook

 

Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

And now a word from our Sponsor

At this time, Beach Drive Blog is fully supported by my husband, aka Scupper and me. Unlike other neighborhood blogs and news media in West Seattle, we do not rely on Beach Drive Blog as a source of income. I actually have a full time “day job” to help support our household and therefore, this blog. 🙂 I think it’s appropriate if every once in a while, we take a short commercial break to hear from our sponsor beyond the graphic on the sidebar.  I’ll try to keep this short and sweet.

I have been in the mortgage industry since 2000 at Mortgage Master Service Corporation. MMSC was actually started by my in-laws back in 1976. In this photo, I’m with Marilyn Porter, President of Mortgage Master (and my sister-in-law) when we received an award from the Washington Association of Mortgage Professionals. Prior to my mortgage career, I worked in the title and escrow industry for 14 years and managed an escrow branch.

I love working here. My underwriting manager’s office is about 25 steps from mine and we have worked together for 18 years! I share my office with my sister, who also cares for my client’s transactions.

We are a correspondent lender, which basically means that we’re like a combination between a bank and a broker. Like a bank, we underwrite, process and fund mortgage transactions from our credit lines. Like a broker (and unlike a bank), we have several lenders to chose from to shop interest rates and mortgage programs. Unlike a bank or broker, this all takes place at our local office by Southcenter (most banks have large processing centers out of state). It’s nice to have more control over a mortgage transaction and to be able to work directly with our underwriter and the president of the company. 🙂

We offer conventional, FHA, VA and Jumbo mortgages for home purchases and refinances. I can help you with your primary home in West Seattle, second home in Bellingham, investment property in Bellevue or anywhere located in Washington state. We lend on 1-4 unit homes, including homes that could use a little tlc/rehab work, condos and select manufactured homes.

I would love to help you with your next mortgage. Please feel free to check out my other blog at www.mortgageporter.com and my reviews on Yelp.

Thanks for reading Beach Drive Blog!  And now… back to our regular programming.

Rhonda Porter MLO-121324

Mortgage Master Service Corporation NMLS ID#40445

 

 

Good Bye, Bart!

It was brought to our attention that the “Bart Simpson” house on Alki Point has been listed for sale.

The home has a fresh coat of exterior paint which covered up the fun painting of Bart doing some graffiti on the home.

If you look real close, you can barely see where Bart entertained passers by for years.

Hopefully the new owners of this Alki home will be fans of The Simpsons so that Bart can return!

Ay carumba!

 

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!

2015-09-30 16.13.00

 

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

2015-09-30_1715

 

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.

cottage_plans_1

Interiors after the remodel of Lee’s shop

cottage 1 cottage 2