Disturbing Development

We’ve heard a few neighbors concerned with development up around 55th and Kensington. Seeing changes to your neighborhood can be difficult, so we agreed to share both sides of what we’ve heard. Here’s what Shannon had to say:

The project gets more concerning by the day, and we’ve had dozens of neighbors come around asking about the project now that the structure is being built (see photos attached).

Background:  A house sold last fall at 5501 Kensington Place North and the owner has found a loophole to divide the lot and build a separate structure. We thought that SF5000 zoning meant that the lot would only have one house / one owner, but it turns out there’s a zoning exception, defined by the city’s Department of Planning & Development after inquiry:

“Although the general minimum lot area requirement in an SF5000 zone is 5000 square feet, the Land Use Code provides a number of exceptions. One of those exceptions applies to parcels recognized as separate lots in the public record prior to 1957. A portion of the property at 5501 Kensington Place North, adjacent to the alley, was held as a separate tax parcel for over 30 years, starting in 1939. Although this parcel was small [1,050 sf], we concluded that it did qualify for the lot area exception, based on the language of the code. A lot boundary adjustment has been applied for (Project No. 3012875), which would not increase the size of the parcel, but change its shape.”

Project:  Developer Dan Duffus and contractor Steele Granger have divided the lot, excavated the backyard orchard/garden and started construction on an ultra-modern style monolith that will tower like a treehouse over the alley and neighbors’ backyards (with no real street access aside from an odd narrow fenced walkway to Kensington). The existing house was sold to a contractor who is attempting to quickly “flip” it for 150% of the sales price of the full size lot, originally sold just six months ago.

Our take: Three things are especially troubling about the project:

  1. Dan and team have cut a tree that resides on a neighbor’s property nearly in half, with no notification to the neighbor.
  2. It seems the developer may be taking up more space than the alloted 1,050 sf to build the home, based on fence lines and expected size of the new home’s yard space,
  3. the developer negotiated a quit claim deed with a next door neighbor without making his intentions clear to build a new house in the back.

As concerned neighbors, we have filed complaints with the city (Department of Planning & Development), discussed with city officials, tried without success to contact Steele (who agreed to a meeting about the tree “hacking” but then didn’t show up) and consulted with an arborist and lawyer. We’re frustrated by what we see happening in our neighborhood with developers “bending the rules” to make a profit but impacting the quality of lives for those left with the impacts. Have you had similar projects on your block and/or do you have any suggestions on what we should do to impact the outcome?

See photos attached that show how lot was mowed down (including neighbor’s tree), odd fencing of the original house and the huge house being built.

We put in a call to Steele Granger, the developer of the property and related what we’d heard. Here’s what we had to say (transcribed and condensed from our hastily scrawled notes):

This is a really unfortunate situation, but everything I’ve done has been completely legal. There was a tree encroaching on my property. I had my tree guy there, we knocked on the door and nobody was home, so we cut it in half, back to the property line. We did eventually meet with the owner and worked out a compromise. He’s happy, we’re happy. [Ed Note: Steele indicated that that neighbor is out of the country at the moment, so we didn't seek confirmation.]

It’s a historic lot, that’s very small. It’s been an existant lot since the turn of the century, anyone can look in the files at the Seattle DPD. Nothing we did was bending the rules in any way.

People have to understand density in Seattle. It’s a built green home, under 1,400 sq ft. It uses hydronic, efficient heating, net-and-blow insultation, toto / dual flush toilets. It’s a very environmentally friendly home.

I’m moving into this, it’s my future residence, for me and and my future wife. Yes, it’s a small lot, but it’s all I can afford, and I do intend to move into it and I’m creating jobs in Seattle along the way. My family has building in Seattle for over 40 years.

The lot behind the existing house was a separate parcel. A co-worker bought the whole lot, sold the back parcel to another co-worker and sold the other parcel to me.

I’m nervous about moving there, because of reaction from the neighbors, but I want to live in Seattle, and this is a way I can do it that I can afford. It all turned out to be really sad.

That’s what the two sides have to say. Hopefully, by hearing it all, we can have a better understanding than we would just walking by.

  • coolio

    Marvelous AD” if you don’t like it LEAVE”

    Why not and what is wrong with gathering, checking building codes, restrictions, laws, regulations and asking fo rcompliance? Nothing. Positive group action to maintain code and compliance .. nto demanding everythhing be beige.. just comliance within already established LAW.

    There is nothing wrong with that.

  • peter

    you need to read the posts. I assure you that the city council will have no sympathy for persons who want to preserve a neighborhood’s character at the expense of the rights of individuals. So no worries. But please read the posts as to the issues that council members have already responded to, thanks to your neighbors.

    also, you have no idea what the people who write on this post do for a living or why they “take the time” to write, so saying that other people have better things to do is rude.

    I am out of here and this list serve. Getting a bit too vitriolic for my taste. Unless I hear from the council members or the Wally neighbors who have achieved something in response to these threads, I will be spending my endless time fighting the proposed running of 18 coal trains a day in front of my house. This is your federal government and Burlington Northern at work, but of course this is not something you have to worry about.

  • Nancy M

    Are you the peter in 71. ?

  • Kevin

    I have to admit to being a bit disgusted by recent posts, and this will be my last. Apparently, it’s just fine for some people in this neighborhood to accept a project I believe to be predicated on a developer deceiving a neighbor into authorizing a sale of a piece of property that resulted in the loss of her privacy and a significant amount of property value… losses shared by a group of surrounding neighbors. “It’s okay,” says AD, apparently clueless despite dozens of other comments that attempted to explain the specific nature and chronology of events. “If you don’t like it, leave.” As if anything that happens in this neighborhood should be accepted without question, simply because “the neighborhood is changing.” This is not about aesthetics, it’s about a small group of people losing privacy and property value because of the calculated selfishness of someone who couldn’t care less. Legal? Maybe. Acceptable? Not by me, and not by a majority of your neighbors, AD, when they know the whole story. A story you choose to flippantly dismiss as not a “real cause.” Too bad for you. I honestly hope that you’re not next…

  • Shannon

    Shannon here from the original story submission. There’s been good dialogue and ideas shared the last five days. Thank you for your interest/action.

    Many of us are working several angles to make an impact on future city decisions/codes with outreach to city officials and the media…keep it up. I’d like to find out about your potential interest in staying in contact after this thread grows cold.

    If you’re interested, send me at note at [email protected] with your name (and “nickname” in thread, if different), email address and characterize your interest as A) keep me informed of developments, B) call on me to take action (attend a meeting, write a letter, contact someone), and/or C) call on me to be interviewed or share further perspective. I will use your contact info only for this purpose and will continue to keep your information private unless you grant permission otherwise.

    This outreach doesn’t replace the discussion on this thread but could supplement it if things heat up with current outreach efforts.

    Who knows if there are other lots in Wallingford that fall under this historic context (the former owner of 5501 Kensington didn’t know anything about it and he lived there for over 30 years)…but I’d rather we do something about it ourselves before Duffus or another developer creates another Alley Skyscraper or Backyard Watchtower. I’ll be focusing my energy on that issue…making it difficult for developers with bad intentions to take advantage of land use loopholes like this one.

  • Sandy

    That builder knew exactly what he was doing. Nothing should be allowed to be built there but a tree house (in a tree) He looked long and hard for that “loop hole”
    Our neighborhood has turned into a traffic jam already, now here is another example of the crap we will have to continue to put up with.
    Noned of our beautiful houses should be allowed to be torn down and monster houses built.
    And as for an aged house, go to England, or anywhere in Europe, and you will probably stay in or buy a 1,600 year old house…that hasn’t fallen down, and will not be falling down any time soon…
    I agree, these people NEED to move somewhere else, ruin someone else’s neighborhood!

  • Lloyd

    Just a suggestion,perhaps a meeting with the mayor is needed to discuss a solution with him involved. I think he would attend.

  • http://www.dougsvotersguide.com/ DOUG.

    If anyone here would like to meet with Mayor McGinn, he’s holding a public forum in Laurelhurst on Saturday morning (information HERE).

  • Harrison

    I was happy to see a regular gable style structure going up. Density growth is unavoidable as time goes on but style is another factor. Putting a modern structure among older craftsman style homes would be a terrible site but the straight gable this builder used is a good fit even if it is tight.

  • Marley’s Ghost

    @Anne Droid, Mary & AD: The existing codes are cited in item 94. There are limits on lot coverage, which maxes out at 35% for a SF5000 lot. For lots smaller than 5000 sq ft, code says max lot coverage is 1000 sq ft plus 15% of the lot area – apparently not anticipating lots of 1050 sq ft. It appears only setbacks might apply, which still should be enough to void such a structure.

    Reference DPD CAM 220 for more information. I do not know the dimensions of the lot, nor its relationship to adjacent lots, but it does not seem that the building meets code, especially for height which appears to be limited to 25 feet base height.

    Read the code. Petition DPD with a thorough and rational argument citing the CAM and the underlying ordinance. Bug Director Sugimura and your council reps. Be relentless! Unfortunately at this point it will be an uphill battle because DPD is incredibly fearful of being sued by an army of developer lawyers for admitting to any errors that cost the developer money even though the developer likely knew he was trying to pull one over DPD.

  • Marley’s Ghost

    There also appears to be a clause that says any new building on the grandfathered lot cannot extend onto adjacent property, or even the adjacent lot that it used to be a part of.

  • Marc T. (Big T)

    And now, on to the lawsuit.

    Just discovered an ongoing King County Superior Court lawsuit against Dan Duffus and the city of Seattle. A couple in Interbay/Queen Anne is suing because Duffus did the exact same thing to them that he’s doing to our neighborhood. (They’ve included the city in the lawsuit, because the Department of Planning and Development allowed Duffus to do it.)

    For those who haven’t been following, Dan Duffus (and his company Soleil Development) is NOT the builder of the alley skyscraper (Steele Granger is the builder). Duffus is the doofus developer who finagled an exception to the building code that allowed this behemoth to be built on a tiny, 1,050 square-foot *backyard* lot.

    The lawsuit paperwork shows how Duffus works these deals (he finds long-forgotten, historic property divisions, then petitions the city to let him build on them without conforming to modern size-and-scale building codes). The paperwork also shows how willing the DPD (especially Andrew S. McKim of the DPD) is to grant these exceptions. Even better, the paperwork provides a roadmap for anyone interested in suing Duffus for doing this to our neighborhood (and all the other neighborhoods he’s preyed upon).

    How about it: Will you be the one to do Seattle-area homeowners a favor and finally take Duffus down?

    See the lawsuit paperwork here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/95494861

  • peter

    I think I am addicted to this site. It is very difficult to leave.

    I recall growing up in NYC and hearing many people use the term Duffus in a “not-too-flattering way”, so I just wanted to make sure that it was not an east coast thing.

    Urban Dictionary defines Duffus as a

    name for the worst people in existence, also name for XXXXX or something thats

    duffuswww.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=duffusCached –

    I realize this is just a coincidence.

  • Kevin

    #112 Big T

    Thanks for the reference to the current lawsuit against Dan Duffus. It appears this pattern of questionable acquisition has been this developer’s M.O. for years. The lawsuit describes a scenario that not only mirrors the case at 5501 Kensington, but also the property case described in Post #58 from 2009. Keep writing the city council and the mayor, people. The time has come for us to stop this predatory behavior once and for all.

  • Anne Droid

    #112 Big T

    Thank you for your research and sharing it here.

    #114 Kevin
    Will write.

  • abigail

    When i moved here in ’79, we had a yard next to our house full of fruit trees and magnificent cedars on the south side of the property. We grew herbs and vegetables. Ten years later a new, entrepreneurial owner bought, for $10,000, a variance so that he could sell the land as a buildable lot. He sold that land for $95,000.

    There is now a ‘skinny house”, architect designed, on this “lot” very close to our house. It blocks the south light from what used to be our gardens and its hard surfaces are our view now.The sounds from I-5 and the schoolyard echo off it into our windows.

    When we lose trees and gardens, we lose their beauty and we also lose their air purifying qualities and the sound barriers they provide. This is no small loss to the neighborhood. When the trees came down our neighbors gathered to mourn the loss.

    The upside is that we now have two of the finest neighbors one could wish for. I give thanks for them and i mourn for the yard that gave everyone who passed it such pleasure.

  • WHR

    Personally, I am disgusted by this development. Curious about Steele Granger, I looked up Steele on the internet. Coincidentally, it lists his residence as yet another home that was literally sandwiched between two homes and taking up the entire lot (in Kirkland this time). It appears his neighbors could literally knock on his window based on google earth. I am seeing a trend here. If you ask me, he is obviously just trying to make another quick buck with no regard for what really matters in many regards. That said, everyone involved in this transaction should be questioning their moral compass.

  • Tangletown.Is.Neighborly

    I could not disagree more with some of these above comments. I’m astounded. How can we talk about the friendly vibe of Wallingford/Tangletown that we all love while be so mean-hearted to our new neighbors. The article says the young couple building the home will be living there themselves and I am ashamed as a Tangletown resident of how, well, rude these comments are towards our new neighbors – you all know they must be reading this thread quite closely. I’m sure they would love to have a big lot like a lot like a lot of ours where they could build a craftsman style home, and I’m sure they would like less stairs in their house, but instead of the rude rich yuppies you all are painting them to be, from reading the article it sounds like they are actually just a young couple who could not afford a bigger lot. Don’t you think we should come down of our high horses and cut them a break. For all we know these might be the nicest, neighbors we could imagine as abigail said above, let’s give them a chance before you all accuse them of being the devil. I sure you’ve all made them a bit more reluctant to bring cookies around when they move in after someone accused them of being peeping toms, my goodness. I don’t see why everyone thinks they are some how entitled to the use of this property. You expect the owners of this lot to buy it and just plant trees for all of your enjoyment? I don’t see any of you doing that with your lots. No, we all have built homes to live in a wonderful neighborhood with great neighbors. Let’s set aside our own personal opinions about architecture and and BE KIND. After reading these comments I do not see how any of you are in any position to point fingers about unneighborly conduct.

  • SeattleAlan

    Tangletown.Neighborly person, please, plug yourself into reality.
    Many of us have worked hard to afford a nice house in the Wallingford neighborhood. This new construction, if you read the posting thoroughly, along with the links, is done through screwing around with the zoning regulations, etc. that the rest of us have followed closely. My own remodel was held to setbacks and limits that this weird construction project didn’t pay heed to at all. All to make a construction wank money by placing an ugly, obtrusive “house” in the middle of a nice neighborhood. I venture that you wouldn’t like having a tower built just outside your back yard any more than the rest of us would. If someone can’t “afford” a lot in Wallingford, perhaps they could afford a lot and a nice home in a neighborhood maybe a little further away. It is all a developer-builder greed equation, don’t pretend it isn’t anything else. And I am sure that whoever moves in will be welcomed, and brought cookies or donuts from Mighty-O. The point of many of these comments are to keep future vulture-developers from screwing with our neighborhood any further. Sorry, but I like the look of our neighborhood as it is. Not a jumbled mess if further “houses” like this are jammed in any available space.

  • Shannon

    Several of us spoke this week with owners of a house in Queen Anne that was similarly impacted by the work of Dan Duffus. They’re the ones with the lawsuit against Duffus, Soleil Development, and the City. The photos they sent are jarring, and their story is disappointingly similar to the Tangletown project. Here are a few points that we heard, condensed and summarized in our own words:

    - The three story house that went up and is looming over their backyard has been a living nightmare. It’s significantly impacted their property, their privacy, their community and their quality of life.
    - The issue started with a letter in their neighbor’s mailbox from a developer looking to buy their lot (with the real intention of subdividing it into a substandard lot using a loophole in the land use code.) Duffus’s team later told their neighbors that the house would become their new home and they would consider building something in the backyard also for family. However, it was all a ruse to get their neighbors to sell the property to them under market value. Duffus never had any intention of living on this property but instead was out to make as much money as he could at the community’s expense.
    - The Queen Anne family contacted Dan Duffus before his construction started to discuss other options for development, and he refused to meet with them. He claimed that his brother Andy Duffus owned the property (even though the public records did not show that), and that they needed to deal with him. Andy Duffus met with them, and in response to their plea for him to build a smaller scale home more in keeping with the 2200 sf substandard lot, he basically explained that he “felt bad” but he needed to make money on the property and was going to build as big a home as he could to return his “investment.” Andy Duffus then had the gall to email the QA family and tried to extort their predicament by asking them to “buy in” and pay him $100,000 to only build a 2 story house instead of the planned 35 foot 3 story structure.
    - The demolition started as Duffus bulldozed down hedges and trees (including a 30’ cedar evergreen, 20’ plum and 40’ ginkgo) and progressed with plans to build a monolith on a tiny lot that didn’t meet minimum lot size requirements (if not for this historical exception loophole).
    - They believe Duffus does these kinds of projects all the time. The neighborhoods and community he impacts mean nothing to him, and he hides under the promotion of “green” construction (how can tearing down 50 year old trees be green?) and belief in “density”. He works the system, knows the code and has relationships with people in the DPD who enable him to get these projects done and find the allowable configuration of his construction based on the existing loophole. In fact, his team of resources has an assembly line type process looking for properties where they can make big money. They contact the DPD (like code interpreter Andy McKim) who help them find the loophole in the tax records where they can apply the exception to the minimum lot size. Then they purchase, subdivide, and sell off the small properties to construction companies to build massive homes (up to 35 feet height) with all the exceptions to setbacks so there is little yard or green space surrounding.
    - The DPD’s role is to interpret the land use code. In their lawsuit against Duffus, Soleil Development, and the City, the couple argues that the land use interpretation of this loophole is wrong, inaccurate, does not represent the language of the code, and inappropriately allows construction of oversized houses that are completely disproportionate to their surroundings — to the benefit of the developer.

    Ironically, on the Soleil Development homepage they quote: “We are committed to sustainable practices, restoring and rehabbing existing properties and innovative designs that are in keeping with the character of a neighborhood.” There is nothing in character to the neighborhood about what and how they build.

    The work we do as a community to help change the code will reduce the chances of this happening in the future. This kind of development on lots too small to build on is not solving our density problem and is destroying the trees and beauty of our neighborhoods. This loophole has gone unchecked for too long and must change.

    The lawsuit document posted above at #112 tells more about their story.

    After the conversation, we feel even more passionate about the fact that we don’t want this to happen in our neighborhood again. Please write the mayor (http://www.seattle.gov/mayor/citizen_response.htm), head of the Dept of Planning and Development ([email protected]), Sally Clark ([email protected]) and other city council members (especially [email protected] and [email protected]). And email me at [email protected] if you’d like to be kept informed about the issue and want to hear additional ways we can make an impact.

  • Kevin

    Unreal, Shannon. I will write again today. The more we learn about this project, the worse it gets…

  • well,

    well A D and Ta ngletown IS Neighborly think differently.
    Write re Skanksa
    send photos

    find out where Dufus really lives and take photos… do you think its in a condensed unprivate lot?
    NO He does this tomake money to buy his own privacy. Nail him on this also

  • WHR

    Thank you, Shannon. Greatly appreciate your due diligence and information sharing. I will be sure to write the City and will encourage every resident on my block to do the same. We need to take action to prevent this from happening again.

  • Barb

    Speaking of bulldozing trees, If you want to help put some teeth in Seattle and King County regulations protecting trees and our tree canopy, attend the organizing meeting and fundraiser for the political action committee TreePAC, supported by Plant Amnesty. It’s Thursday, June 14, at 6:30 pm on Queen Anne. Look here for details: http://www.plantamnesty.org/EVENTS/events.aspx

  • SeriouslyDisappointed

    The bottomline with this project is the builder has the right to develop the property. Be thankful he is building green and creating jobs. He’s not looking to make money; rather, move his family into this (so-I-thought) charming Seattle neighborhood which DEFINITELY has it’s array of styles, sizes, shapes, colors and idea of upkeep. It may not be your favorite home on the block, or in all of Wallingford, and it’s your right to take action against it happening again, but no need to judge, assume, or personally attack the builder and his family. After all, it doesn’t sound like anyone knows him and, aside from the reporter, it seems no one has tried to personally get in touch with him. Every story has two sides and he seems to be taking the high road because I didn’t see any tacky signs on the construction site.
    My family is new to the area and our “hate it” is living among so much outrage and threat… people so quick to accuse and name call. We are Seattle natives, but finally understand the Seattle Freeze.

  • Trent

    Apparently the developer says he’s going to move his family in to all the Alley Skyscrapers he builds. Anyone who believe he’s going to move into this one is a fool. And no, he doesn’t have a right to develop this property in violation of zoning laws.

  • Kevin


    This problem began when this developer deceived a neighbor to acquire the necessary quit claim deed, just as he did in the Queen Anne case he is currently fighting in court (see post #120). In my humble opinion, everything that happened after that deception should be reversible. Although the contractor on the back lot purchased that parcel from the developer, your sympathies are misplaced. Please try to consider how this happened from the beginning, and compare it to the cases involved in posts #58 and #120 above. That’s why we are questioning his “right” to proceed.

  • SeattleAlan

    Dear Disappointed: Read the rest of the posts. How would you feel if you lived directly next door and this greedy developer whacked back your tree and built a 3 story tower next to your home? This is a developer that trolls through the books downtown, looking for places where he can exploit odd zoning layouts that should have been changed decades ago, all at the expense of people that made their homes in a neighborhood with a look and feel they wanted to live in – not a neighborhood with 3 story towers where a garage might be. There’s no problem judging or assuming what was done with bad intent, ’cause it probably was. Read the earlier posts and the lawsuit against him. Not a “good neighbor” by any stretch of the imagination.

  • Anne Droid

    This developer’s loophole pattern is to buy an ‘historic’ or odd-parcel lot and then build. We need to change/demand enforcement of whatever building codes and zoning laws that pertain to building on such sites.

    Sharon, thank you so much for your hard work in investigating this guy further. Perhaps now would be a good time to take this story to the main-stream media, if this has not already been done.

  • No Kidding

    well Alan, Seriously Disappointed is likely a troll, the developed himself, or the tree hacker, or likes 3 story towers adjacent to neighbors.. people slide along into info without reading, just to type comments disparaging others without thought.

  • SeriouslyDisappointed

    I thought the sign said “Love it or Hate It” BUT apparently this blog doesn’t welcome people to share unless one is willing to commiserate and support the “hate it” POV. Good to know. Good luck.

  • a

    Thanks for this report Wallyhood! I’ve written to the mayor and Diane Sugimura, and I am going to email some Seattle Times, Stranger and Weekly reporters in the hopes that the whole city can be made aware of the city bending the law in favor of developers and away from zoning restrictions. I think the city’s actions are the real story here, and keeping the focus there will be the most productive outlook. There will always be non-moral people out to make a buck any way they can. The job of government is to protect its citizens against them. If anyone closely affected (not me) is willing to talk to the press, I strongly encourage you to call the Times, KUOW, KOMO or where ever else you would like to see it reported. This is a good story.

  • Anne Rasmussen

    Again I’ll say Agenda21. It’s not just a Wallingford, Seattle, Wa. State, or USA issue, it’s a world issue. Duffus? Who does Duffus work for? I think a lot of well intended people may have been mislead. It’s OK to change your mind, (even if money was involved) after all you may not have been told all the facts. I hope everyone does a little research, it’ll all start making sense, as you look around you. YouTube has many good videos on the subject, weather you are Democrat or Republican. I personally believe, this no longer makes a difference. Also look up info. about Bilderberg Meeting held in Virginia, this past weekend. It’s all connected, six degrees, people and problems. Love&Peace,Anne

  • Neighbor2You

    The exchange of views here specific to the proposed development is extremely informative, so first, I want to say thanks for that.

    But I’ve been thinking lately that neighborhood blogs are a relatively new communication forum, invaluable in lots of ways, but also unknown turf in others. They’re not “journalism,” so one can post just about anything, whether fact or opinion. As a reader, I have to assign a large grain of salt sometimes, and do my own fact-checking on the side.

    I’m a bit worried about how blogs can approach what we might call slander in journalism, and I wonder if we might agree to avoid doing that here. If one really thinks a public employee is also on the payroll of a private company, I think it’s better to pursue that with the Ethics Commission rather than hinting at misconduct in a neighborhood blog. The latter doesn’t require taking any responsibility, nor does it lead to any resolution.

    Similarly, I’d ask that we not allege identity or intent, either directly, or by implying who other posters are or what their interests may be. “If you disagree with me, you’re likely employed by the opposition….”

    It’s damaging enough when this happens in a public meeting–and it certainly does–but at least that’s in the open and can be addressed to some degree.

    But in a blog, I can, theoretically, “allege” just about anything about another person’s posts, while also knowing there’s really nothing they can do in response. I don’t see how that helps our discussion or helps us live together as neighbors.

    I think we’re better than that. Yeah, sometimes I wish everyone agreed with me about an issue, but I live in this area because ultimately, I appreciate that they don’t. Let’s keep the discussion lively, truthful, factual (when possible), and civil.

    Thanks, everyone.

  • Donn

    Regarding possible misconduct of public employees, I hope we would NOT agree to keep quiet about that here. For sure, it’s a delicate matter, but if there’s anything particularly scurrilous directed at a public employee in the above 134 posts, I couldn’t find it. Meanwhile, as “a” says right above, the city’s disposition to act in the interests of its citizens is a major part of this discussion, and what I read in the discussion about that is a clear picture of the process that just happens to raise some doubts about certain DPD staff. This perspective is essential to raise our level of awareness about how things work down there, and what needs to change.

  • twisted ankles

    SETBACKS! When we built a 5 foot porch into the backyard off our house we had to have a legal survey done to assure that we didn’t encroach on the “backyard set-back” (20 feet if memory serves). I’ve seen this new “house”. It has neither a frontyard, backyard, or sideyard set back. Sure, it’s a legal lot, but it still has a setback requirment. Surprised (am I?) it got past the building permit phase. Maybe I’ll build something in our parking strip…

    I’ll bet the fire department’s having a hissy-fit also. It will make for interesting fire supression.

  • Ann S

    Duffus strikes again! Drive by 41st and 1st Ave NW to see more of his handiwork. And the developer will NOT live there. That’s what they told the family that sold them the house acrossed the street that they subdivived and squeezed into our nieghborhood.

  • Shannon

    This week, we heard from concerned neighbors in Laurelhurst who says Duffus is doing the same thing in their neighborhood that he’s doing here: Sneaking in a home based on a boundary lot adjustment and getting an approved permit before neighbors had an inkling of what was happening. They were shocked to see bulldozers show up and start ripping down trees, then a foundation poured for a three-story tower, on a lot that was never intended as a buildable lot.

    Write to [email protected] and [email protected] and ask that they expedite the process to close this historic loophole.

  • Anne Droid

    Thank you, Shannon for the info.

    Close the loophole.

    Contact mainstream media on Duffus operations: Kirkland, Interbay, Wallingford and Laurelhurst so far.

  • Nancy M

    Assuming this project is a done deal (and perhaps the last in the Duffus pattern), let’s find a buyer who wants to immediately renovate it back to neighborhood scale. Talk about heroic! Perks will include great grateful neighbors, great neighborhood, nearby bus and public school . . .

  • common sense

    has anyone considered wirting to I think its KOMo, Ask jesse? The tv show which goes into depth about an inappropriate or unfortunate situation?

  • Andrew E

    To the Kensington Neighborhood,

    We on Blaine Street and Boyer Ave are currently fighting off the next Duffus development. It was both encouraging and disappointing at the same time. In reading the comments, we appear to have tried many of the same things you have tried.
    1. The development we are concerned with is exactly the same MO as you have seen go up. They bought a house which in 1930 was two separate tax lots. Since that time – they were listed and considered one tax parcel
    2. Using the exact same exceptions – Duffus created two lots, called the front yard of the original house – the side yard, and used every trick in the book shoe horn this house in.
    3. We found out Mr. Andrew McKim wrote an opinion letter which supported this case – without any public review.
    4. We have had response from DPD, but it has taken a number of pleas and speaking in front of the Mayor
    5. Today – we got Komo to do a story on this development – so we did ask Jesse – but we did get a reporter out here and she spent a fair amount of time with us.

    If any of you could contact Michelle Esteban of KOMO and give her some back up of what you have gone through – that may help put more pressure on DPD/ Mayors office to stop this guy and his loop-holes. After this type of pressure – I believe our options may be legal in nature.

    Please see below and our Face Book page.

    Good luck and thank you for the blog


  • common sense

    right on right on way to go andrew!!!!!!

  • Laura in Fremont

    Welcome to our world, folks. Duffus did this to our street a year and a half ago, and nothing we did, nothing, helped or stopped him. We have lost light and privacy, and have a three-story structure towering over our block here in Fremont. The man really does have DPD in his pocket. Unless and until the underlying loopholes in the law are changed, he’s legal, the builder is legal. We get to grieve the loss of our neighborhoods’ distinctive looks.

  • Andrew E

    Hats off to Shannon and Peter of the Wallingford Neighborhood, as well as fellow Seattleites from Fremont, Queen Anne, Laurelhurst and Montlake. We were involved in a very productive meeting which introduced each other, shared experiences of the development pattern we are faced with, and developed action items.

    I was very pleased that we did not simply rant and rave, but came up with a list of strategies to combat the specific development – but most importantly agreed these loopholes and Tax Parcel Treasure Hunts MUST stop.

    We need to force change in a set of specific code revisions. Shannon will post notes for all and we encourage all of you to help out.

    Blaine Street is not giving up – though I believe the Dozers are here next week. I came away encouraged about closing this practice down

    Andrew Engel

  • Shannon

    Just when we thought the Alley Skyscraper couldn’t get any worse, we find today that they are jacking up the roof to make the darn thing even TALLER. It seems there were some problems with the original framing/construction that may have made the third floor ceilings too low to fit the standards for occupancy (an issue when you try to squeeze a three-story living space on a 1,050 sf lot and cut corners to save money on construction).

    Unfortunately for Steele, the building can only be 30′ tall so neighbors (and hopefully inspectors) will be watching closely to make sure the building conforms to the height limit. Come by and see the mess for yourself. Imagine the expense and impact to “quality construction” by having the roof jacked up after the building was framed, roofed, and wired.

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