Photo by Brandon Macz
The City of Seattle has been granted approval to move a land-use petition filed by prolific Fort Lawton redevelopment opponent Elizabeth Campbell challenging affordable housing plans to U.S. District Court.
Photo by Brandon Macz The City of Seattle has been granted approval to move a land-use petition filed by prolific Fort Lawton redevelopment opponent Elizabeth Campbell challenging affordable housing plans to U.S. District Court.
The City of Seattle has been granted approval to move a land-use petition filed by prolific Fort Lawton redevelopment opponent Elizabeth Campbell challenging affordable housing plans to U.S. District Court.

As first reported by SCC Insight, the City of Seattle successfully argued that most of the questions Campbell raises are related to Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act, and therefore the petition falls under federal jurisdiction.

Plans to create 237 affordable housing units for rent and homeownership on a portion of the decommissioned Fort Lawton Army Reserve Center were approved by a unanimous vote of the Seattle City Council on June 10, and Mayor Jenny Durkan signed the legislation during a ceremony at the site on Tuesday, June 18.

Campbell and her Discovery Park Community Alliance group successfully challenged a mixed-income housing redevelopment plan for the old Fort Lawton property on Magnolia Bluff in 2005, which required the city to complete an environmental impact statement. She challenged the EIS, which considered a 100 percent affordable housing plan, in April 2018. The Seattle Hearing Examiner sided with the city last November, affirming the environmental review was adequate.

Among the arguments in the June 28 land use petition is that the city did not adequately consider the group’s concerns and incorrectly carried out the administrative process leading up to approval of legislation that rezones a portion of the Fort Lawton property and advances its redevelopment plan to the federal government for clearance to proceed with the affordable housing project.

Going back to the beginning, Campbell and the Discovery Park Community Alliance, represented by the Dickson Frohlich legal firm, argue that the City of Seattle was more than a year late in submitting its original redevelopment plan to the United States Military Department and Housing and Urban Development. That plan was approved by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) in 2010, but redevelopment was stymied by the Great Recession.

Petitioners also challenge the council bill that provided a midrise rezone on a portion of the Fort Lawton site — from single-family — stating no land use application was filed with the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections. The SDCI director’s decision in the matter was never submitted to the Hearing Examiner, according to the petition, and therefore there was no public hearing conducted.

The Seattle City Council held a public hearing on the Fort Lawton Redevelopment Plan on May 21, and Office of Housing staff shared components of the plan during a community meeting on March 4.

Campbell’s petition also challenges plans by Seattle Public Schools to receive a public conveyance of a portion of the 34-acre site for athletic fields. Sixty percent of the entire property is slated for greenspace, including a 13-acre addition to Discovery Park, which is already 534 acres. The petition states SPS did not submit a notice of interest by July 19, 2007, so “it therefore is disqualified from seeking a public benefit conveyance as part of the LRA’s Fort Lawton Redevelopment Plan.

The petition also challenges a lease agreement with Catholic Housing Services, which is partnering with the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation to create 185 affordable housing units at Fort Lawton. There will be 85 supportive housing units for homeless seniors and veterans, at or below 31 percent of area median income, and 100 affordable rental units. One unit will house a site manager.

One argument is that the lease was approved by resolution, and that it should have been by ordinance.

Campbell’s petition argues the city lacks a community relations plan for its current redevelopment plan; one had been agreed to back in 2008. Not having such a plan is out of compliance with HUD requirements, according to the petition.

“As designed, the current redevelopment project is completely different from the prior redevelopment plan,” the petition states. “The current redevelopment plan includes no mediating, market rate, independently living residents planned for the FLARC property. Rather than homeless assistance and low-income housing being a fraction of the use proposed, it is 100% of the use proposed.”

According to a market study by the Greenfield Institute, nearly 83 percent of Magnolia is zoned for single-family residences, the neighborhood is home to just 3.5 percent of Seattleites, and accounts for only 0.31 percent of the city’s affordable housing stock.

The petition states the city also failed to make its homeless assistance submission available for public review prior to being sent to HUD.

“The City/LRA [Local Redevelopment Authority] has failed to complete all of its assorted components of its BRAC application package, provide them to the public in their entirety, in a manner that is accessible to all of the public, not just online, and provide for a public review and comment period, and public hearing as required pursuant to 32 CFR § 176.20 (c)(6),” the petition states.

Campbell also makes an attempt to again argue that the city did not follow the State Environmental Protection Act by considering the negative impacts the redevelopment will have on Discovery Park.

SEPA scoping began in June 2017, and a report was issued in August of that year. SPS joined the conversation that November, looking at potentially constructing a new school there, which Campbell believes is still likely, despite the district saying otherwise.

“Petitioner is prejudiced and harmed by the failure of the City/LRA to consider environmental impacts under SEPA,” the petition states, “because full compliance with SEPA would require that the City Council reconsider its decisions and adopt plans for the Fort Lawton area that would be consistent with environmental protection and City’s Comprehensive Plan.”

Campbell and her Discovery Park Community Alliance group want all 34 acres of the Fort Lawton site annexed into Discovery Park. There are currently empty military buildings and parking lots on the site.

The goal of the petition is to scrap the legislation that advanced the Fort Lawton Redevelopment Plan for federal review and void the final environmental impact statement.

Campbell failed to file an annual report for the Discovery Park Community Alliance by a June 30 deadline, according to a notice from the Washington Secretary of State’s Office, and the entity’s status was still inactive as of press time.