Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Newsflash: Hints of an emerging compromise on Lora Lake

Port Commissioners have begun hinting at a possible compromise in the Lora Lake controversy. Some of the hints are public.

After public testimony at this week's Port Commission meeting, Commissioner Pat Davis shared with tent city residents that they were working on finding a resolution.  Commissioner Alec Fisken piped up and said that the Port should consider the Tent City residents' request to live in Lora Lake in the meantime and Bob Edwards concurred.
Pat Davis, of course, had led the opposition to retaining Lora Lake.  Her comments and those of other commissioners in other settings suggest a positive resolution is in the offing.  I guess it sometimes takes a lawsuit to bring out the compassion in a person.


At 5:08 PM, Anonymous County&Port Watcher said...

Sandy: By your statement of lawsuits compelling compassion, it seems that you are insinuating that those Burien city councilmembers and port commissioners who voted to carry through with Burien's long-planned economic development plans ( in the works for seven years and agreed upon by the Housing Authority) somehow lack compassion for the plight of the homeless.

That is both a disappointing and an unfair insinuation. And while it is in keeping with your past statements on Lora Lake, it regrettably smacks of sanctimony.

All of the Burien city councilmembers and port commissioners expressed a concern about the affordable housing crisis in the region and a recognition that the region needs to do more. But that is not to say that they did not also recognize (1) the need to get people out of noise and health effects of the flight path of a major international airport (yes, despite the Housing Authority's self-serving, paid-for "study" dismissing any health effects) and (2) the need for Burien to create economic development and jobs for its residents.

I agree with South County Parishioner. It is most definitely morally hypocritical and inconsistent for the Housing Authority and the Church Council to make Burien the "symbol", or more appropriately, the scapegoat, for our region's affordable housing crisis.
Just today I drove by a beautiful old brick apartment building being torn down in downtown Seattle next to I-5, no doubt for luxury condos to go up in its place. Where was the Reverend Sandy Brown and his "service of lamentation" for the demolition of that nice, old brick apartment building in Seattle? Its great to be passionate about a cause Sandy, even self righteous and sanctimonious on occasion . . . but please, can we at least have some moral consistency here now?

At 9:45 PM, Blogger Rev. Sandy Brown said...

It's admirable that Burien's council "expressed a concern about the affordable housing crisis," C&PW. I'd think a good example of hypocrisy would be to "express concern" while actually working overtime to tear down decent housing.

I hope you'll investigate the Church Council's stand on displacement of people through the building of expensive condos and office towers (they're building offices on the space at 8th and Madison you mentioned). We began our advocacy against displacement nearly 25 years ago and helped establish the Seattle Displacement Coalition. We lobbied the State Legislature this year to regulate condo conversions. It'd be super to have Burien's help in this effort.

At 7:11 AM, Anonymous Burien Carol said...

I agree with the C&W watcher - How about the Lock Vista Apartments in Ballard, which the P-I reported are planned to be converted to condos? Seems like a perfect place to have another lamentation service!
If the Church Council is not consistent across the County, then you just look like a politically-motivated, hypocritical bully. I have come to expect that of church groups down in the Deep South, but thought our region could do better. Maybe I was wrong . . .

Shame on you Church Council! If you are going to call Burien out, you also need to call out Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Bothell, Renton, Kent, etc., etc. As well as our County Executive Sims, who does a lot of talking, but little of substance to help the poor better their condition in any systematic, permanent way.

At 11:09 AM, Anonymous South County Parishioner said...

NEWS FLASH: 66 Units of Government-owned Affordable Housing in a nice neighborhood close in to Downtown Seattle to be demolished, and the Church Council cannot be found for comment?!!

Sandy, Hopefully you were in a day long meeting or home sick because it would be truly disappointing if you really were morally and politically selective on the housing issue by avoiding to comment.

If we truly have an affordable housing crisis in this region as you, Executive Sims, Seattle Mayor Nickles and Housing Authority Director Norman contend, if every unit of housing is critical to save no matter whether it is underneath the flight path of massive 747s or other undesirable spot, does it not make sense to save these units in the Capehart Complex of Fort Lawton that the military is vacating?

Doesn't it make sense to save affordable housing for low income families in the nice neighborhoods of the region as well?

Seattle Mayor Nickles just announced a city initiative to spend over $3 MILLION on new construction of low income housing. What will we get for THREE MILLION DOLLARS? A measley 84 units, yet there are 1000 families on the waiting list!

Does it not make sense to save these 66 units? Where is the County Executive, the Housing Authority Director, the Mayor or Seattle and the Church Council with their plea to save every unit of affordable housing in the face of the current crisis? When is the Church Council going to hold a lamentation service in Discovery Park? Or do you think low income families should not live in nice neighborhoods and should be relegated to out of the way parts of the County such as underneath the runway of a major international airport?

At 8:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

South County Parisioner--The Lora Lake Apts. are NOT underneath the flightpath at SeaTac. They are west of the flightpath. The same night the Burien City Councilmembers voted to allow Lora Lake to be demolished (May 7th), they also unanimously approved a new subdivision of seven single family homes to be built to the north and east of Lora Lake. That means this new subdivision is actually closer to the flight path than the Lora Lake Apts.

County&Port Watcher—Given that they approved this subdivision that is closer the flightpath, don't you think that makes the Burien Councilmembers argument that no one should live at Lora Lake because of noise and health concerns a little disingenuous? Evidently, the Councilmembers think it is perfectly alright for people who can afford to purchase a home to live close to flightpath, but not OK for people who can only afford to rent.

At 10:27 AM, Blogger Noemie said...

C&PW says this demolition has long been planned. As I understand it, the demolition was originally planned years ago on the basis of an assessment that all 234 units of Lora Lake apartments would be within the buffer zone of Seatac Airport's proposed Third Runway.

But it turned out that most of these apartments -- 162 of them -- are not within this buffer. So the Port of Seattle and the City of Burien no longer have the legal justification for destroying them.

This case is outlined in a land use petition filed recently, ASSOCIATION TO DEFEND AFFORDABLE HOUSING, which I posted here.

On initially hearing about Lora Lake, I too was concerned about the habitability of these apartments due to noise and toxic dust. But I now believe that those who support tearing down Lora Lake on the basis of this concern either have not examined the health issue in depth -- or are using it as an excuse, knowing that it is not applicable here.

If noise and other health concerns were the real basis of the Burien Council's determination to tear down this housing, then why did its members suggest to have these 162 units moved to the Sunnydale School property, 5 blocks south -- a property that is actually closer to the third runway? See the letter from the Council suggesting this here.

The Council has also approved new housing recently that would be closer to the flight path than these 162 units at Lora Lake. See this comment.

As I noted above, it appears that there are no legal grounds for demolition based on these health concerns. These apartments are actually not within the buffer zone established by law to protect resident health.

I think about my own experience. I lived in Georgetown in housing that was noisier and dustier than I understand the Lora Lake apartments are. Housing that I could afford was very scarce at the time. Not only was I was grateful to have that housing -- but I enjoyed living there. A noisy toxic environment is not ideal. But it's worlds better than homelessness. In a county where so many have no place to sleep at night, the equation is simple. Destroy 162 units of affordable housing and 162 more families are homeless.

As for calling down shame on the Church Council and Rev. Brown -- that is certainly very easy to do when you remain nameless.

At 4:33 PM, Anonymous south county parishioner said...

I live in an old farmhouse outside of Enumclaw, so I don't know, maybe I don't have the same sophistication as big city types.

But it seems a little niave to me to claim that there are no health effects living next to a large industrial operation. I don't really care what the City of Burien has done regarding zoning for rich folks, they have the resources to live other places. What I'm concerned about are public officials and community leaders who say with a straight face that there are absolutely no health effects to the young development-aged children of low income families when living next to a major international airport and having the exhaust fumes of large commercial jet engines drifting by all day and part of the night.

Then, we have 66 units of affordable housing in the Capehart Complex in a nice neighborhood of Seattle - Magnolia - close in to downtown and close in to jobs, which are scheduled to be torn down by the City of Seattle. But what do our caring public officials and community leaders do? They clam up, that's what they do! These are the same public officials and community leaders who just last month were decrying the affordable housing crisis in the region and holding lamentation ceremonies in Burien.

What do these public officials and community leaders do?? They clam up, that's what they do! So much for our affordable housing crisis, so much for helping the homeless. When it comes to housing low income families in nice areas of town, all these public officials and community leaders who were brimming with moral outrage just last month, what do they do but clam up!
So much for moral outrage! I guess the all mighty dollar is king everywhere!

At 3:48 PM, Anonymous Burienite said...

Once the 3rd runway becomes operational, only 15.9 percent of all landings and 14.2 percent of all take-offs at SeaTac will be using the flight path closest to the Lora Lake Apartments.

Prior to and after she was on the Burien City Council, Rose Clark fought the 3rd runway being built for many, many years and is very familiar with all of the studies that have been done over the years to determine the health effects on people living close to SeaTac. In some instances, she led the fight to have these studies done. At the May 7th Burien Council meeting, she provided an overview of all these health studies and stated that, after years of research by different agencies, none of the studies showed that people living in areas surrounding SeaTac suffered a higher incident of any diseases or illness other than a slightly higher rate of asthma. She also mentioned that night that all of King County has a problem with dirty air.

At 9:26 AM, Anonymous Sparkie said...

I agree that it is really disappointing that the Church Council - who took such a strong and vocal stance highlighting the affordable housing crisis and advocating to save the Lora Lake apartments - has not pursued a similar effort with the Capehart housing units.

Capehart consists of 66 units of affordable housing in Discovery Park in Seattle, housing that should be saved, not razed. The county executive is supporting saving the housing, the Church Council should speak up as well.

The argument that more open space is needed for the Magnolia neighborhood, when there already is a rather large park and we have a housing crisis on our hands just does not hold water.


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