The City of Seattle Hearing Examiner has posted the document submitted by Martin Henry Kaplan of Queen Anne, appealing the environmental Determination of Non-Significance attached to Mike O’Brien’s legislation about backyard cottages:
I am not a lawyer, and I’ve never been through the Hearing Examiner process. However, I will hazard a guess and say that the heart of this appeal lies in the following paragraphs (in Section C.2.d):
The SEPA [State Environmental Policy Act] Checklist asks over 100 questions about environmental impacts, including:
- pending government approvals,
- earth and stability concerns,
- air quality,
- surface water and drainage impacts,
- plants and open space impacts,
- energy and resource impacts,
- noise impacts,
- land use changes and impacts,
- comprehensive plan and density impacts,
- housing unit numbers and neighborhood impacts,
- aesthetics and height/bulk impacts,
- light and glare impacts,
- recreational impacts and displacement,
- historical and cultural preservation,
- transportation and volume impacts,
- public services,
- impacts upon utilities.
To every one of these significant impacts the city has claimed that Councilmember O’Brien’s proposed legislation has absolutely no environmental impact. And as a result of this checklist, the City of Seattle has issued the…DNS determination.
We suggest however that almost every one of the proposed changes in Councilmember O’Brien’s proposal will have significant environmental impacts and the city should be held to a much higher standard to prove otherwise in a full EIS [Environmental Impact Statement].
The City contends that O’Brien’s legislation is a “non-project action” that will not directly result in the construction of a building, so no environmental impacts can be foreseen. Kaplan counters:
[O]ne can easily associate scores of considerable and significant environmental impacts from the resultant construction activity, new buildings, increased densities and congestion, infrastructure pressures and demands, and reduced open space and tree canopy among many others that would result from Councilmember O’Brien’s proposal. …
It is dismissive and inaccurate to suggest that because this is a “non-project action,” there are no foreseeable and clearly identifiable environmental impacts from this proposed legislation, and to deny such frankly takes away the public’s right to review, share, and help identify the significant number of real and definable environmental impacts associated with advancing Councilmember O’Brien’s legislation.
Mr. Kaplan is overly busy, for the next several days, with his normal job as an architect, and can’t comment on the appeal process, as he informed the community when he filed the appeal. We look forward to learning his further thoughts when the opportunity arises.