Photo courtesy of Livable Ballard

Livable Ballard petition gaining momentum; Ballard shows its support against ‘irresponsible development’

Livable Ballard is gaining support from community members in their fight for “clean up” amendments in the zoning code.

They have formed a petition that has residents up in arms against development.

“We have close to 700 signatures and counting, the vast majority from within our immediate neighborhood. These signatures have been collected in a matter of weeks, with limited canvassing by the original group,” wrote Livable Ballard.

The petition asks for changes in the code, include requiring reasonable side setbacks for rowhouses, revising front setbacks so they are the average of neighboring properties, reducing building heights in LR1 zoned areas, closing the loophole that allows developers to put more units on a lot than intended, adjusting the density limit in the former LDT zone of Ballard, requiring design review for all townhouse developments of three or more units, including rowhouses and inviting meaningful public comment before projects are underway.

Organizers of the group asked to not be named and to let the petition speak for itself.

The group was formed in response to City Council President Sally Clark asking the Seattle Department of Planning and Development (DPD) to review recent buildings constructed in low rise zoned areas. She asked the DPD to consider code changes that safeguard against new buildings not fitting into existing neighborhoods. Responding to Clark’s request, the DPD asked for feedback from neighborhood residents living in or near lowrise multifamily-zoned areas.

“The Livable Ballard petition consists of detailed comments originally submitted in response to this request. Recognizing the widespread support among our neighbors, we subsequently circulated those comments as an online petition to make sure that the DPD staff and City Council members are fully aware of the extent of the concern about the type of development we’re seeing in our neighborhood.”

Livable Ballard has reported community support for the petition and said they will continue gathering signatures to better reflect community interests.

“While we feel that 700 signatures demonstrates overwhelming support for the goals of our petition, more is always better, and we’d like to encourage people who have not yet signed to go ahead and do so. All city of Seattle residents are eligible to sign, so folks from other neighborhoods who share these concerns are also more than welcome to sign.”

“Others in the neighborhood are also encouraging their friends and neighbors to sign the petition. We know of several examples of people other than those in the original Livable Ballard group approaching people in the neighborhood and asking them to sign the petition.”

According to Livable Ballard the 2010 change in the land use code for low-rise multifamily zoned areas had a substantial impact to the residents in the Central Ballard area, especially in the LDT and LR1 zones. The area used to consist of single-family homes, some duplexes and multifamily buildings. Since the code change, those buildings are rapidly being replaced with “tall, expensive groups of three or four townhouses, which tower over the existing houses and sidewalks and are not at all compatible with the neighborhood.”

Moreover according to a DPD report, the Ballard Urban Village residential growth has already exceeded its 2024 growth target of 3000 dwelling unit permits issued. Up to date there have been 3167.

Livable Ballard provided comments they have received from local supporters.

"It is shameful the way communities, like Ballard, are being sold to the highest bidders. Affordable housing should be a much bigger part of the city-wide conversation. Residents should have a bigger say in their own communities, not absentee owners and landlords."

“I'm all for density, but there's a difference between responsible density that is sensitive to what makes people want to live there in the first place, and irresponsible density that destroys livable neighborhoods. It doesn't always have to be about maximizing profits. It should be about building better cities with reasonable profits."

For more information visit livableballard.org, and look to the Ballard News-Tribune for updates as the story develops

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