Queen Anne & Magnolia News file photo: The view at Ursula Judkins Viewpoint in Magnolia has been the subject of an appeal filed by the Magnolia Community Council.
Queen Anne & Magnolia News file photo: The view at Ursula Judkins Viewpoint in Magnolia has been the subject of an appeal filed by the Magnolia Community Council.

It turns out, residents do have a right to a view at Ursula Judkins Viewpoint in Magnolia.

The Magnolia Community Council and residents concerned about Ursula Judkins Viewpoint received good news last week when the city's deputy hearing examiner partially ruled in MCC's favor in their fight to preserve the view at the small park.

In May, the Magnolia Community Council filed an appeal to a Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections decision to permit OceanStar, LLC’s proposed development of two large houses on the hillside below Ursula Judkins Viewpoint and above the Admiral’s House near Pier 91 and the Elliot Bay Marina.

The project entails construction of two, three-story single-family residences, a swimming pool and parking for 12 or 13 vehicles at 2500 W. Marina Place.

Magnolia Community Council's concern stemmed from OceanStar's proposal included planting Pacific serviceberry bushesto provide a sight barrier between the park and the houses. Among MCC's appeals arguments was that the proposed plants grow to about 20 to 30 feet, and they would eventually block people’s views of the city at Ursula Judkins Viewpoint.

Retired attorney Ted Coulson, who acted on behalf of the Magnolia Community Council early in the process, said following two and a half days of appeals hearings in September, Deputy Hearing Examiner Susan Drummond agreed with MCC's argument that SDCI should have considered the impacts of the proposed OceanStar project on the viewpoint at Ursula Judkins park.

“And that was what we wanted when we first filed the appeal, so we're very happy with that,” Coulson said.

Coulson said, now SDCI officials must now figure out how best to address the issue of the viewpoint in the master use permit, taking into consideration the size or type of the bushes or trees used for sight barriers and possible fence features.

"But it's very clear [Drummond] ruled that the view should be protected," Coulson said.

Coulson said he was very gratified that the deputy hearing examiner agreed that residents had a right to a view at Ursula Judkins Viewpoint.

Among the arguments to dismiss the appeal, however, OceanStar attorneys stated that Ursula Judkins Viewpoint, which is listed as a city park, is not designated as a protected public view and that “there is no right to a view here” under City Code.

He said, throughout the process, he felt OceanStar was a "bully" and dismissive of MCC's arguments.

"I don't know I was surprised [by the ruling] because I always  felt I was right that the public did have a right to a view, but I was gratified that we got the result that we did," Coulson said.

He said Ursula Judkins, for whom the park is named, was a passionate advocate for parks in the city.

"She was all about standing up to bullies, so I think she'd be happy about this," Coulson said.

Coulson said SDCI will either amend the master use permit, add more details to the plan or do both.

He said while he is confident SDCI will follow Drummond's ruling, MCC will have 21 days to appeal the final mitigation efforts if members don't agree or don't feel enough protection was added. That said OceanStar also has 21 days to appeal, as well.

To read the final ruling and previous arguments, go to https://web6.seattle.gov/Examiner/case/MUP-21-016.

People can also still donate to MCC’s fund to compensate the land-use attorney it hired to represent the neighborhood in the appeals at https://www.facebook.com/MCCSEA/.