City Approves Lower Queen Anne Rezone to 65-Foot Buildings

The City Council unanimously agreed to pass the measure to rezone buildings between Roy Street and Denny Way to a cap of 85 feet on Monday, October 2nd. The existing buildings in that area are less than half that height.

Seattle Mayor Tim Burgess signed a slightly altered version of the rezone into law last week, on Wednesday, October 11th. The alteration reduced the cap to 65 feet.

The need for more housing and specifically, affordable housing has the City Council and many neighborhood residents cheering on the decision. According to a KUOW report, the rezone in the Lower Queen Anne area (also known as Uptown) is expected to result in a minimum of 600 new affordable homes by the year 2038 (20 years).

However, these affordable homes won’t necessarily be located in the Uptown neighborhood, since developers will have the option to either dedicate a portion (7-10 percent of residential buildings and 5-10 percent of commercial developments) to be priced for households with lower income, or they can instead pay into the city’s affordable housing fund.

“The actual affordable housing is not going to be built on site. The majority of it is going to be paid in lieu so a lot of people think they are going to get affordable housing but it’s not going to be in the areas these zoning changes are occurring,” said Jon Lisbin, president of Seattle Fair Growth.

Despite the Council’s unanimous vote, many neighbors are concerned. The CEO of the Bayview Nursing Home, Mary Cordts, expressed concerns that buildings of the new height could block daylight for members of her retirement community. Cordts did say that a reduction from the initially proposed 85-foot cap to 65 feet would be more manageable, so it appears her suggestion was applied when the legislation passed last week.

Another community member, Alexandra Moore-Wulsin, told KUOW News that her concerns were more about the more widespread effects on the community: “In fact, what it is doing is gentrifying this neighborhood, and it’s being replaced by shadowy, corrugated steel and brick canyons. Please don’t do this to our city,” she said.

White Nationalists Hosted a Secret Convention at Queen Anne Masonic Lodge, Causing Community Uproar

White nationalists recently hosted a secret convention in the Queen Anne neighborhood, an event that was infiltrated by a local historian attempting to gain more insight on regional racism. David Lewis published an article on The Stranger last week, sharing his experience as a Seattle historian getting behind the scenes of a racist event happening in the heart of a progressive city.

The Northwest Forum occurred on August 26th at the Queen Anne Masonic Lodge. Its nature was completely unbeknownst to the members or management of the Lodge, since the white nationalists had misled the rental management and claimed status as a ‘writer’s group’. According to Lewis, approximately 70 – 80 people attended the event.

After Lewis’ article was published on October 4th, the community went into a frenzy. How could this happen in this city? In this neighborhood? How could the members of the Queen Anne Masonic Lodge let this happen in their building? Do the freemasons support Neo-Nazism?

The Upper West Queen Anne Nextdoor community went into an uproar, and members of the Lodge replied to their neighbors there, as well as reaching out to The Stranger to provide their side of the story, along with a note from the Grand Lodge of Washington.

They stated that the Queen Anne Lodge and freemasons in general do not and have never supported ideas or groups of this nature. “For nearly 100 years this Lodge has stood for inclusion and fraternity and our membership is a very diverse group of races, ethnicities, religions, nationalities, and sexual orientations. We do not associate ourselves with hate groups nor will we ever.”

In complete contrast, they actively promote inclusion and protection of victims of hate. The lodge members and their third party rental management team had no idea that Neo-Nazis were meeting in their building, and if they had known, they never would have allowed them to enter the space.

In addition to lying to the Lodge’s rental management team about the real reason for the gathering and the nature of the group, the Neo-Nazis had broken into restricted, private rooms of the Lodge.

The Queen Anne Lodge has taken steps to refine their vetting process for rentals of the building, to protect against any similar future schemes to rent the space for use by nefarious groups. They will also be donating all of the funds they received from the white nationalist group to an anti-hate organization.

Uptown Residents Concerned Over Increased Zoning Heights

The City Council most recently hosted a public meeting to discuss the re-zoning of Uptown/Lower Queen Anne on September 11th, and now they are preparing to make zoning changes. Although preliminary approval has been granted, residents are concerned about a significant loss of natural light for homes and residential buildings in the rezone area.

In some parts of Uptown and Lower Queen Anne, the rezone allows for double the limit of current building heights. Currently, the limit on buildings around the Seattle Center is 40 feet, but that could more than double to 85 feet for new construction in some areas.

While some groups are strongly in favor of the plan, since it will create a greater opportunity for the additional low income housing that the city desperately needs, others are concerned about the negative effects.

CEO of the nearby Bayview Nursing Home, Mary Cordts, is worried about a loss of daylight for members of the retirement community. “The residents will not have sun in the winter. Please honor, not abandon, those nursing home residents and do not allow an 85 foot rezone,” she said in the review meeting. She followed up by mentioning that a 65 foot limit would be more acceptable.

The final vote on the rezoning will take place early this month, and Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien said they would discuss the daylight issue prior to that vote.

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Queen Anne Events: Things to Do in October

Happy Fall! Check out these exciting and fun Queen Anne events coming up in October…

October 1: Scandinavian Pancake Breakfast
8am – 1pm | Swedish Club NW
The Swedish Club NW’s monthly pancake breakfast features an authentic Swedish pancake breakfast complete with ham, lingonberries and all of the fixings. This month, it will take place on October 1st, with live music by Nordic Reflections, Nordic Spirit, and Bjarne Jacobsen. The price is $9 for adults, $7 for club members and $5 for children ages 5-12.

October 1: CroatiaFest
10am – 7pm | Seattle Center
Experience the vibrant culture of Croatia at the annual Seattle Center Festál celebration of CroatiaFest. On October 1st, the Seattle Center will host live performances, activities, a marketplace and food trucks/booths featuring aspects of Croatian culture and cuisine.

October 3: Fall Breakfast
8am – 9am | Seattle Children’s Museum
The Seattle Children’s Museum is hosting their annual Fall Breakfast fundraiser on Tuesday, October 3rd. There will be a presentation from King County Executive Dow Constantine and the future of STEM education. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m.

October 5 & 12: Last Two Queen Anne Farmers’ Market Days
3pm – 7:30pm | W Crockett St. and Queen Anne Ave N
The neighborhood farmers’ market is here through October 12th! Visit the Queen Anne Farmers Market at West Crockett Street and Queen Anne Avenue North on Thursdays each week for fresh produce, beautiful flower arrangements, locally made goods and your favorite food truck dining! Plus, market music and chef demos to enjoy.

October 14: TurkFest
11am – 7pm | Seattle Center
Seattle Center Festál puts on TurkFest on October 14th, as a free cultural event featuring Turkish foods, art, activities, programs and live cultural performances. Enjoy Turkish dancers and musicians, and engage in fun activities and workshops to learn more about Turkey and its people.

October 31: Costume Carnival
4pm – 8pm | Seattle Children’s Museum
Visit the Seattle Children’s Museum on October 31st for a Spooktacular Halloween! There will be safe, indoor trick-or-treating for kids ages 10 and under. Costumes are encouraged, but please ensure family-friendliness and no masks. Tickets are $5 per person (adult or child), but free for museum members.

October 31: Dia de Muertos
11am – 7pm | Seattle Center
Honor deceased loved ones at the annual Dia de Muertos celebration on October 31st at the Seattle Center. There will be live music, dance performances, arts and crafts, altar offerings, ornamental displays, and lots of fun at this cultural celebration from Mexico.