by Esther “Little Dove”John
Note: Last week, the author of this Op-Ed learned via a letter that the small Beacon Hill apartment complex she called home for the last 12 years had been sold. It is scheduled to be torn down and replaced with a larger complex consisting of 44 tiny “pod” or small efficiency type living units.
The author has since joined with neighbors and friends in deciding to fight for a just housing transition. They are encouraging community members to write letters to the City of Seattle asking for more public input before additional permits are granted to the new development. The group has also joined forces with the Got Green Climate Justice committee to call on Mayoral Candidates and City Council members to flesh out the details on how they intend to support longtime residents being pushed from the city, and what they will do to stop displacement. The following is an open letter to the community.
I am a person who lives now at 1807-1813 13th Avenue South, Seattle, 98144-4113. A developer has purchased our 4-unit apartment complex and submitted an application to the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection to demolish our apartments and build a 44-unit structure consisting of so-called small efficiency dwelling units with no provision for parking on a street already quite congested with on-street parking.
This is predatory development.
I object to being displaced for such a development, which is not only out of character with the neighborhood but is hostile to the family-friendly housing so needed here in our beautiful, ethnically diverse low- to medium-income community.
I prefer to stay in my current residence. I love my neighborhood and have been active in public welfare activities for the 12 years I have lived here. Most recently, I have been a member of my neighborhood council board and was voted by my neighbors to be one of the two electors from the 9th Congressional District for the 2016 Presidential election.
I have seen too many of my neighbors pushed off Beacon Hill because of out-of-control development. The newcomers are okay, but the character of the neighborhood is changing and people who have lived here for years are not able to return after the developments are completed.
Our neighborhood Council is very concerned about the racial and economic justice issues raised by what is happening here. In fact, social justice activists involved in tenants rights, environmental justice, economic justice and homelessness see this project as a focus of concern, as do I.
I am told by reliable sources that the result of large-scale housing developments close to transit with no parking provided is greater parking pressure on the streets, not necessarily that the newcomers rely on public transportation instead of personal vehicles.
We are also concerned that Project #3023990 is not a family-friendly development. Located within a block of a popular public elementary school, such a construction makes it less possible for families to take advantage of a very fine school because of the size of units planned and the probable high cost of renting.
I would like to be able to stay in my neighborhood, but the cost of rental housing is prohibitive. I want a one- or two-bedroom apartment that I can stay in for years to come. I want to continue to serve the neighborhood.
I will continue to work for affordable (to the majority of current neighborhood residents), family-friendly housing on Beacon Hill. I hope that I will not be displaced; if displacement is necessary I hope that I will have an affordable place to stay while affordable, family-friendly housing is built where I now reside.
I hope that if my building is demolished and I do have to move temporarily, I will be able to return to family-friendly housing at a rent I can afford once the new building is completed.
Finally, I hope that the Department of Construction and Inspections will assure that the neighborhood will be involved in serious discussions of the type of development acceptable to us from now into the future and that neighbors will have meaningful, true partnerships with developers, assuring that we have a voice in the course of development in our beloved community.
Esther “Little Dove” John has been a resident of the Beacon Hill neighborhood
Featured image is a cc licensed photo attributed to AllRJD