Letter: Design of Generations Place raises concerns for neighbors


A significant, and growing, number of neighbors and Langley residents have come together out of a shared concern about the design details Goosefoot is proposing for Generations Place as it appears to deviate substantially from their publicly promoted design intent.

We absolutely acknowledge the critical need for affordable housing and will support this project when it meets the design criteria and objectives as represented to the community by Goosefoot, and as required by city code. We have several concerns because, if built as submitted, there will be serious negative consequences for its residents, the surrounding neighborhood, and our community for years to come.

Goosefoot represented to the community that the project will:

• “Match the scale and historic village character of Langley buildings”

• “Blend in and enhance the eclectic small town feel of Langley”

• “Demonstrate appropriate feasibility and design processes for small-scale housing projects”

• Offer “dignity, beauty, community”

• Be “child-friendly” and incorporate “flexible spaces”

Regrettably, the plans submitted fall well short of fulfilling these promises. Instead, the proposed project would:

1) Construct three two-story apartment buildings that fail to match the scale and historic character of Langley buildings as promised. There is no effort to enhance the eclectic small town feel of Langley.

2) Build 14 two-and three-bedroom units (34 bedrooms) on two lots which equates to 36 units per acre. In most Puget Sound cities this is considered High Density. By way of example, Saratoga Terrace is 11 units per acre, Creekside Terrace is 12 units per acre, and Third Street Cottages is 12 units per acre. The proposed design is what you would expect to see in Lynnwood, not rural small-town Langley.

To make this possible, they are requesting an administrative waiver to increase the code maximum 60% lot coverage to 78% lot coverage. This should be denied as the waiver application does not meet the conditions required by the code and it is simply inappropriate for an established neighborhood in Langley.

3) Provide parking for 6 compact cars on site, including one handicapped space, and eight on the street — far less than the demand the project will generate. The overflow will create major parking problems and frustration for future Generations Place residents, the surrounding neighborhood, as well as local businesses. The problem will get even worse over time as other properties in the vicinity are developed.

4) Provide almost no child-friendly and flexible spaces. The so-called “shared open space” is a 12’-wide swath on the north side of a 2 ½ story building bordered by bedrooms and bathrooms which will get little to no direct sunlight. The narrow walkway between the buildings is another “shared open space” but will primarily be used for coming and going, not gathering. People using the walkway will be just a few feet from bedroom windows, impacting resident privacy. There is no dignity, beauty, or community in this design.

5) Neglect to filter polluted stormwater from the public street pavement as mandated by the city. Scaled renderings would clearly illustrate these issues for all to see but, unfortunately, none have been provided as should be expected for a project of this nature.

The project is being processed under a “new” 2021 Multifamily Infill Code. Compliance is determined solely by the Community Planning Director. Unfortunately, there is no provision for a public hearing unless the application is ultimately appealed to a Hearing Examiner. These concerns, among others, have been formally submitted to the city as public comments. While we await responses, we have engaged in informal and cordial discussions with Goosefoot to explore potential compromises. A group of local architects is meeting with the project architects next week to explore a true win-win scenario for the future residents, the neighborhood, Langley and Goosefoot.

We respectfully urge the City Council to carefully consider these issues and ensure that any approved project is code compliant and meets Goosefoot’s stated design intent to fit into the neighborhood while providing affordable homes to future residents with dignity and community. Let’s find a way for Generations Place to be a great place to call home, and a proud flagship for Goosefoot, the neighborhood, and Langley for many years to come.

John Saunders Nancy Rowan