Members of the two community groups arguing against aspects of a development planned for the hillside below Ursula Judkins Viewpoint in Magnolia received a bit of good news last week after their arguments survived an initial challenge by the developer’s attorneys.

In May, the Magnolia Community Council and members of the Last 6000, a Seattle environmental group focused on saving Seattle’s urban forest, each filed appeals to a Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections decision to permit OceanStar, LLC’s proposed development on the hillside below Ursula Judkins Viewpoint and above the Admiral’s House near Pier 91 and the Elliot Bay Marina.

According to city documents, 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.

Last week, Seattle Deputy Hearing Examiner Susan Drummond agreed with OceanStar attorneys that some arguments presented by MCC and Friends of Last 6,000’s as basis for their appeals should be dismissed but ruled other arguments of MCC and Friends of the Last 6,000’s appeal considerations could move forward.

Of the arguments that are moving forward to the appeal hearings in August, Magnolia resident and retired attorney Ted Coulson, who is acting on behalf of Magnolia Community Council until a land-use attorney can be hired, said Drummond allowed arguments supporting each group’s main concerns to move forward.

While OceanStar attorneys are protecting the developer’s interests for the proposed project, MCC and Friends of the Last 6,000 are motivated by different factors. MCC is acting on the concerns of residents and the community’s interest to preserve the view at Ursula Judkins View Point.

To provide sight barriers for the residences from the park above, the developer intends to plant Pacific serviceberries above the houses. Those grow to about 20 to 30 feet, and residents fear they could eventually block people’s views of the city at Ursula Judkins Viewpoint.

“[OceanStar attorneys] claim that the public has no right to a view,” Coulson said. “At least we got that past. In my own opinion, that was a pretty outrageous claim to be making.”

Meanwhile, Friends of the Last 6,000’s primary concern is saving some or all of the 36 trees slated to be chopped down in preparation for project construction.

With aspects of their appeal arguments allowed to move forward, residents can still do things to help MCC’s efforts.

Coulson said people should write letters to elected city officials in support of preserving Ursula Judkins Viewpoint and asking them to become involved. People can also advocate for Parks & Recreation to get involved because this impacts a designated city park. The Magnolia Community Council is still collecting donations to raise money to hire a land-use attorney who specializes in these cases, which Coulson said would improve the community’s likelihood of receiving a positive outcome.

Once the appeal hearings begin, the different parties will present evidence supporting their arguments, after which the deputy hearing examiner will consider everything presented and make a ruling.

Depending on her determinations, she could take any number of actions, including revising SDCI’s decision herself or even remanding the matter back to SDCI staff for them to factor in additional evidence and make revisions themselves.

“I am still hopeful that we might come to a resolution, but a lot of it depends on the willingness of the applicant to protect the view and do other things we think are necessary,” Coulson said.

The appeals hearings are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Aug. 19, Aug. 23, Aug. 25, Sept. 7 and Sept. 8.

People can review all the documents presented to the Hearing Examiner, including appeal arguments, rebuttals and the latest ruling at https://web6.seattle.gov/Examiner/case/MUP-21-017 and https://web6.seattle.gov/Examiner/case/MUP-21-016.

People can also donate to MCC’s fund to hire a land-use attorney at to https://www.facebook.com/MCCSEA/.