El Centro requests DNS appeal be dismissed

El Centro de la Raza has requested to the City of Seattle’s Hearing Examiner that the appeal of the Determination of Non-Significance filed by Frederica Merrell be dismissed, citing their own involvement in the neighborhood planning process, the impact on their property, and appeal issues said to be ‘not ripe’ for the premature involvement of the office of Hearing Examiner. If not dismissed, they have requested that the appeal be restricted solely to the legal issue of the proper execution of Washington Administrative Code sections 197-11-055 (Timing of the SEPA process), 197-11-060 (Content of environmental review), and 197-11-228 (Overall SEPA/GMA integration procedures).

The full letter as provided to us by Estela Ortega of El Centro de la Raza is after the jump, or available as a PDF here.

Sue Tanner
City of Seattle
Hearing Examiner
PO Box 94729
Seattle WA 98124-4729

RE: Appeal of DNS for North Beacon Hill Neighborhood Plan Update

Estimada Ms Examiner,

We write to you to request several things: 1) That El Centro de la Raza be allowed to intervene in this appeal pursuant to Hearing Examiner Rule 3.09; 2) That the appeal of the Determination of Non-Significance (DNS) for the North Beacon Hill Plan Update, filed by Frederica Merrell, be dismissed; 3) If the appeal is not dismissed, we request the Hearing Examiner determine that the appeal contains only legal issues, and that the balance of the issues raised by the Appellant be dismissed.

Motion to Intervene

El Centro de La Raza opposes this appeal because we have been involved in the Plan Update process from the beginning, and own property that is within the Plan Update area. We hereby make a motion to intervene in this appeal pursuant to Hearing Examiner Rule 3.09. As property owners involved in and affected by the matter being appealed, we have a substantial property interest that the Department of Planning and Development may not otherwise represent. Our involvement will not unduly delay the hearing process, expand the issues beyond those stated in the appeal, or prejudice the rights of the parties, as El Centro has been heavily involved in this process from the very beginning of the planning process.

Motion to Dismiss

El Centro de la Raza makes a motion to dismiss this appeal because Ms. Merrell appears to be raising issues related to the passage of the North Beacon Hill Plan, rather than the adequacy of the City’s environmental review. The North Beacon Hill Plan has not been adopted by the City Council yet. No changes to the Comprehensive Plan, nor to the zoning code, have yet
occurred. Therefore, any issues related to the North Beacon Hill Plan itself, or related to any potential future zoning change, are not ripe for the Hearing Examiner’s review. In addition, any issues related to the Growth Management Act are not properly before the Hearing Examiner and must be dismissed.

In the alternative, El Centro suggests to the Hearing Examiner that the appeal is essentially limited to a single legal issue: whether the City properly exercised its discretion under WAC 197-11-055, 197-11-060, and 197-11-228 to complete proper environmental review of comprehensive planning documents. We ask that the Hearing Examiner dismiss all other issues raised by Ms. Merrell, as such claims are related to the unadopted plan or possible future zone changes.

Additional Background Information

The City of Seattle has engaged in a very lengthy process to develop plans for North Beacon Hill.

In regards to community participation and input, the City Council, as outlined in Ordinance 122799, set out a step by step process for community participation led by the Department of Planning and Development. (See attached Ordinance 122799) This is independent of the SEPA notice required by SMC 25.05, which was properly issued.

There have been numerous meetings organized by the Department of Planning and Development where hundreds and hundreds of people participated in the process including communities of color with four community meetings organized by El Centro de la Raza. Additionally, Friends of El Centro de la Raza organized close to 300 comments from the Latino community that were sent to City Council Member Sally Clark and Lyle Bicknell of the Land Use Department.

The North Beacon Hill Plan (which has not yet been adopted by the City Council) calls for a partnership between El Centro, the Community and the City to further study the potential upzone to 65 feet that includes action pursuant to the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). (See Attachment: North Beacon Hill Plan Update: Shaping a Transit Oriented Towncenter, Goal 3, pg 13-14) The said upzone that Ms. Merrell argues against in her appeal in fact has yet to be granted, making her statements regarding a certain rezone or certain height or development false.

What the City Council Plans to do:

According to a January 26, 2010 memo from the City Council to the Seattle Public Utilities and Neighborhood Committee, (See attached memo)

  • “The City Council will be authorizing approximately $1.4 million in General Subfund (GSF) appropriations for neighborhood planning activities in 2010.
  • ‘Continue working on three neighborhood plan updates currently
  • underway in Southeast Seattle, including work needed to consider related Comprehensive Plan amendments, complete.

  • “Approval and Adoption matrices (or a similar tool) for each, develop implementing text amendments and rezones, and review proposed actions pursuant to the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA)

This clearly lays out the intentions on the part of the City to provide further resources towards answering many of the questions and concerns Ms. Merrell outlines in her appeal. As stated above, these processes have not yet been adopted, but will be undertaken this year.

We request that this appeal be dismissed on the grounds that it is without merit, frivolous and seeks to secure delay of an already extensive process.


Estela Ortega
Executive Director
El Centro de la Raza
2524 16th Ave. S.
Seattle, WA 98144

CC: Seattle City Council: Richard Conlin, Sally Bagshaw, Tim Burgess, Sally Clark, Jean Godden, Bruce Harrell, Nick Licata, Mike O’Brien, Tom Rasmussen, Diane Sugimura, Director, Dept. of Planning and Development

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