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Residents worry taller buildings in Queen Anne may block out the sun

Houses in Queen Anne
Flickr Photo/Harold Hollingsworth (CC BY-SA 2.0)/
Houses in Queen Anne

Seattle officials are preparing zoning changes for lower Queen Anne to make the area denser. The legislation gained preliminary approval from the city council this month.

It's similar to recent rezones in the University District, South Lake Union, and other urban neighborhoods.

In the proposed legislation, building height limits would double in parts of lower Queen Anne. The maximum building height would be 85 feet in much of the neighborhood, a big jump from the limits of 40 feet that around Seattle Center now.

At a city council meeting last week, many residents lauded that plan, including Angela Compton with the pro-density group Futurewise.

Compton: "I've seen how difficult it can be for low income and working class families to find housing they can afford. More and more of our neighbors are experiencing this. The only way we're going to change this reality is by building more housing, and ensuring that a portion of new development is reserved for our low income and working class neighbors."

The city estimates the rezone will bring 600 more affordable homes to lower Queen Anne by 2035.

But some residents are concerned 85 feet is too high, especially near a retirement community in the neighborhood. Bayview Nursing Home CEO Mary Cordts said daylight would be blocked for much of the building.

Cordts: "The residents will not have sun in the winter. Please honor, not abandon, those nursing home residents and do not allow an 85 foot rezone."

She said she would be okay with a 65 foot cap instead.

City council member Mike O’Brien says he wants to speak with his colleagues about the daylight issue before the final vote. The council could amend the proposal before the vote takes place. 

The city council is expected to take a final vote in early October.