Editor's Note: This article has been updated with a corrected map of the Fort Lawton area, and corrected information. The original story stated there were 113 market-rate housing units planned, but the preferred alternative does not include market-rate housing.

The Seattle Hearing Examiner will hold a hearing for an appeal of the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Fort Lawton Redevelopment Project on Oct. 29.

Fort Lawton on Magnolia Bluff was originally established as an Army installation in the late 1890s. The Secretary of Defense declared 85 percent of the fort as surplus property in 1964. The City of Seattle created Discovery Park in 1972, after the federal government granted it the property through the Legacy of Parks program.

The city was charged with implementing a redevelopment plan for the 70th Regional Support Command headquarters at Fort Lawton after the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) shut the facility down in 2005.

An effort to create a mixed-income development at Fort Lawton that would provide market rate and homeless housing resulted in neighbors filing suit. The Court of Appeals sided with opponents, and the city was required to do a more thorough environmental review.

The case was resolved in 2010, but the City of Seattle put the project on hold due to its ongoing recovery from the Great Recession in 2008.

State Environmental Policy Act scoping began in June 2017, and a report was issued in August of that year. Seattle Public Schools joined the conversation that November, looking at potentially constructing a new school there, though that now seems less likely.

A preferred alternative was announced by the city last December were to develop 238 affordable housing units on 7.3 acres of the Fort Lawton site — 85 supportive housing units for homeless senior that Catholic Housing Services wants to create, as well as 100 affordable rental units, plus 52 units of affordable ownership housing that would be built by Habitat for Humanity.

Plans are to also provide 21.6 acres of park and recreation space, which includes preserving natural areas.

A Final Environmental Impact Statement was published on March 29, and Magnolia resident Elizabeth Campbell and her Discovery Park Community Alliance filed an appeal in April.

The Seattle Hearing Examiner was supposed to hear arguments from DPCA and the city in late September, but the hearing was moved to Monday, Oct. 29, because Campbell needed more time to find legal counsel.

“DPCA is an all volunteer organization of passionate citizens that includes many property owners adjacent to the Fort Lawton Army Reserve and community partners as its members — all dedicated to sustaining the Discovery Park legacy, land base, and expanding it to include the addition of the Fort Lawton property to Discovery Park,” reads a portion of the appeal written by Campbell.

Campbell founded DPCA, as well as the Magnolia Neighborhood Planning Council, which filed the lawsuit that delayed the project a decade ago.

The appellants want to use the Fort Lawton property to expand Discovery Park, and argue the added housing, potential 600 new residents and vehicle traffic would negatively impact the park’s natural environment.

“The appellants also believe that the FEIS is fatally flawed, that it does not adequately identify and examine the impacts of the preferred alternative, number one, or that of number two, that in either case they would be a fatal and irreversible departure from the goals of the Discovery Park Master Plan. None of which was addressed in the FEIS,” the appeal states.

DPCA argues the FEIS does not comply with SEPA requirements because it fails to propose reasonable alternatives to the preferred alternative and does not include enough information for the City of Seattle “to make a reasoned decision between the four alternatives.”

“The FEIS provides three alternatives to the preferred Alternative 1, none of which are ‘reasonable alternatives’ as required by SEPA for the reasons discussed below,” the appeal states. “Alternative 2 proposes development of 113 market-rate single-family units on the Fort Lawton site with no park space, and off-site affordable housing at the Talaris site. Alternative 3 proposes a public park on Fort Lawton, and off-site affordable housing at the Talaris site. Thus, Alternatives 2 and 3 rely entirely on the feasibility of developing 238 units of affordable housing at the Talaris site.”

The appeal later criticizes the City of Seattle for taking actions that have resulted in the loss of existing affordable housing and exacerbating the affordability crisis.

“In general, the City’s zoning actions and approvals of Major Institution expansions, causative agents for loss of affordable housing, are not recognized at all,” the appeal states. “Meanwhile, the FEIS improperly includes politically expedient, unfair and provocative accusations that any lack of affordable housing in the Magnolia or the Laurelhurst neighborhoods is the result of those communities’ biases and bigotry.”

The City of Seattle had its motion to dismiss the case denied, but was granted a motion to exclude exhibits and witnesses by successfully arguing Campbell failed to identify hers within the time required by a Hearing Examiner Order, which was Aug. 31. Campbell had requested an extension, but on Sept. 4, according to city documents.

Campbell was also unsuccessful in disqualifying the hearing examiner from handling the appeal, arguing on Sept. 19 that they were a member of Futurewise, which she claimed supports affordable housing at Fort Lawton, and also a member of the Seattle Displacement Coalition. The examiner has not been on the Futurwise board in two years, according to an Order on Motions, and “Ms. Campbell identified no specific interest in this appeal by either Futurwise, or the Seattle Displacement Coalition.”

The full appeal and FEIS can be viewed below.

DPCA OHE Notice of Appeal 4-11-2018 Final by branax2000 on Scribd

FtLawton Final EIS by branax2000 on Scribd