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West Slope Conservation District Comment Opportunity
The idea of creating a conservation district overlay zone in the West Slope neighborhood in Tacoma’s West End is moving ahead.
We first heard about the proposal to protect the character of the Narrowmoor neighborhood in the West End about a year ago. Narrowmoor is a neighborhood made up of single-family homes built between the 1940s and 1960s on large lots on Tacoma's West Slope. Houses are generally one story plus a daylight basement, and situated on their lots to maximize views of the Narrows.
Having failed to get a historic district designation several years earlier, a group of homeowners from the neighborhood brought a proposal to the City for a "conservation district overlay" that would discourage unneccessary teardown of existing homes and subject any new construction or significant additions in the area to a set of criteria designed to maintain the character of the neighborhood.
- Restricting building height to that of existing rooflines, with no more than a main level and a daylight basement
- Limiting building design to "consistent and compatible" with existing structures
- Specifying roof pitch
- Limiting building footprint to 25% of lot size
- Requiring that lots be a minimum of 12,500 square feet
- Prohibiting view-obstructing vegetation
The Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Planning Commission have been reviewing the request to determine the West Slope Neighborhood's eligibility for a conservation district and whether the proposed regulations are suitable for a conservation district. Last fall the LPC found that the district appears to meet the basic criteria for a conservation district.
Some of the questions that have come up include whether the proposal, especially with regard to large minimum lot sizes, is consistent with the City’s housing policies on affordable housing, since the area already has high property values. The recommendation was to remove the 12,500 square foot minimum lot size requirement, and stick with the 7,500 square foot minimum already in City code for single-family residential districts. The thought from the LPC is that provisions for lot design and siting of new houses can serve the function of preserving character.
Another concern arose over whether the City could or should create legislation related to neighborhood covenants that historically were racially discriminatory, as were the covenants originally governing Narrowmoor. The West Slope Neighborhood Coalition submitted documents showing that the discriminatory language had been redacted, and is no longer in effect, replaced by an organizational mission statement emphasizing social and cultural diversity as one of its primary objectives.
The LPC also removed regulations on vegetation, and provided further guidance on design guidelines.
Next up is a briefing today for the City Council Neighborhoods and Housing Committee meeting, followed by an April 8 public hearing by the Landmarks Preservation Commission on the proposal.
So, what do you think of the idea?
Previously from Exit133: West Slope Neighborhood Conservation District? and A Conservation District to Protect Lack of Density?
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