Still Time to Impact King County Plans for West Hill’s Future

  Community Interest

by Devin Chicras

Originally adopted in 1993 and incorporated into King County’s Comprehensive Plan a year later, the West Hill Community Plan has yet to be updated. But that all might change in June 28, 2019, when a new proposed plan is set to appear before the King County Council.

From September through November 2018, King County attracted 89 responses to an online survey seeking input on topics related to the plan. Results showed strong support for multi-family housing, affordable housing, and pedestrian-oriented development. With the many beautiful views from our more than 400 feet of elevation above sea level, it’s no surprise that a majority of respondents were concerned with protecting scenic vistas. Additional support was shown for adding more mixed-use buildings and improving walkability.

Many of these responses were gathered on October 30, 2018 at a community forum was held at Albert Talley High School to solicit community feedback and outline next steps.

West Hill Community Association live streamed the King County Forum regarding the West Hill Subarea Plan on October 30th, 2018.

Several questions were submitted along with the survey responses that King County has now provided answers to. Responses detail King County’s developer incentives for affordable housing, how subarea plans would be impacted upon future annexation, and the process of adding a roundabout in an intersection. It’s also noted that the new King County Department of Local Services (of which subarea planning falls under the newly renamed “Permitting Division” – previously “Department of Permitting and Environmental Review”) will be presenting an equity impact analysis report covering services for youth, transit, and economic development to the King County Council at the same time the new plan is set to come before them.

Map showing current zoning classifications in West Hill

King County also clarifies the distinct change in direction and purpose for the plan since the last community-led effort in 2014 (spearheaded by Skyway Solutions with technical assistance from the county) culminated in rejection by the council in 2016. According to the county, the projects included in the 2016 plan required “different responsible parties and potential funders”, and the county will only consider including feasible projects that the county will solely be responsible for.

A preliminary outline of the new plan has been released that “reflects King County’s new emphasis in its subarea plans on land use and development”. The county is interested in your thoughts on this outline, and input can be sent to [email protected].

King County Subarea Planner Bradley Clark at a West Hill Community Association Quarterly Meeting at Skyway VFW in 2018

Currently, the county is “organizing several focus groups that will be held in February to explore the map and zoning amendments in more detail”. Subscribe to email updates on their website to learn more about participating.

Folks are also welcome to drop in and visit Subarea Planner Bradley Clark during the next “field office day” at Skyway Water & Sewer District (6723 South 124th Street) on Tuesday, January 29th between 8am and 4pm.

King County Department of Local Services Director John Taylor Speaking At West Hill Community Association’s Coffee Hour at Skyway Library – November 10th, 2018

King County Department of Local Services (DLS) Director John Taylor also delivered a presentation that included discussion of the plan at our Winter 2019 Community Quarterly Meeting on January 15th at Skyway VFW Post #9430 (00:54:45 mark in video). We’ve also posted a recap, including links to a new land use survey, right here.

UPDATE, 02/16/19:

King County Department of Local Services is looking for volunteers to participate in two upcoming two-hour focus groups discussing the Skyway-West Hill subarea plan and land use in the Skyway-West Hill area.

One group will meet on Wednesday, February 20th in the evening, and the other will meet in the morning on Friday, February 22nd.

To learn more or volunteer: [email protected]
or call 206-477-3800.