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Appeal Stops Phinney Flats Project

Seattle Deputy Hearing Examiner Ryan Vancil has reversed and remanded the City’s approval of the controversial “Phinney Flats” project, which would have brought a 57-unit building with no onsite parking to the southeast corner of Greenwood Avenue North and North 68th Street.

The city’s initial approval was challenged by a neighborhood group called Livable Phinney. The city held a five-day hearing in May.

“This Decision is a game-changer for making the City accountable for applying the Land Use Code properly,” Livable Phinney board member Irene Wall said in a press release.

The Examiner agreed with Livable Phinney that: 1) the building was too close to the rear property line and violated the required setbacks, and; 2) the building had an illegal rooftop structure that did not meet the definition of a clerestory, and that this structure was placed improperly on the rooftop. A revised building design will be required.

And, in a ruling with city-wide ramifications, the Examiner also agreed with Livable Phinney that the City was required to look at actual bus frequency, not just bus schedules, when allowing an exemption from onsite parking requirements. The Land Use Code allows a multi-use project in an Urban Village to proceed without any onsite parking, regardless of parking impacts, if the site is located within a specified distance of “Frequent Transit Service,” which requires 15-minute intervals between buses. The City insisted that a bus schedule showing 15-minute intervals was sufficient.