Friends of Historic Belltown Advocates for Fairness in Protecting Historic Heritage

Friends of Historic Belltown Advocates for Fairness in Protecting Historic Heritage

Seattle, WA – May 31, 2024 – Friends of Historic Belltown (FHB) is urging the Seattle City Council to reconsider the proposed “dangerous buildings” ordinance. While public safety is a priority, the ordinance, which allows for the immediate demolition of buildings deemed “dangerous” by the Seattle Fire Department, could result in the loss of Belltown’s treasured historic landmarks – including Mama’s Mexican Kitchen and the Franklin Apartments – two buildings the community fought for to have landmarked and protected. 

A Plea for Fairness and Community Integrity

The ordinance, as it stands, does not address the need to protect historic buildings, many of which are at risk due to the neglect of absentee landowners. These out-of-state owners have allowed their properties to fall into disrepair, relying on the city’s leniency while their investments appreciate. This situation places an undue burden on the community, which has worked hard to preserve its historical assets.

Standing Up for Belltown’s Heritage

The Belltown community has a proud history of rallying to save its historic buildings. After successfully landmarking Mama’s Mexican Kitchen and the Franklin Apartments, following the loss of the Wayne Apartments to fire, the community stands united in its efforts to protect these vital links to our past. The proposed ordinance’s broad-brush approach risks undermining these efforts by allowing the demolition of landmarks under the guise of public safety.

Quotes from the Community

“We’re just asking for fairness,” said Steve Hall, Designated Representative of FHB. “These buildings are more than structures; they are part of our community’s soul. We need the city to stand with us and protect these treasures, not let them be destroyed because it’s the easier path.”

“The city has a responsibility to enforce its own regulations and protect our history,” Hall continued. “We’re here to ensure that our community’s hard work in preserving these landmarks isn’t undone by neglect and short-sighted decisions.”

Community Pride and Strength

Historic landmarks like Mama’s Mexican Kitchen and the Franklin Apartments represent Belltown’s resilience and pride. They are symbols of our shared history and collective achievements. The preservation of these buildings showcases the community’s dedication to maintaining its unique character amidst rapid urban change.

A Call for Balanced Solutions

FHB proposes a more balanced approach to the ordinance, advocating for key revisions to ensure fairness and the protection of historic buildings:

  1. Exempt Historic Landmarks from Demolition: Amend the ordinance to exclude buildings designated as landmarks or those under consideration, ensuring consistency with the LPO.
  2. Develop an Expedited Review Process for Historic Buildings: Implement a streamlined, expedited process for reviewing vacant buildings of potential historic value, funded by property owners. This process should include clear guidelines and standardized documentation.
  3. Enforce Owner Responsibilities and Penalties: Increase penalties for non-compliance and offer incentives for adaptive reuse, compelling property owners to secure and maintain their properties responsibly.


“Friends of Historic Belltown is committed to a fair and just approach that respects our community’s history while addressing public safety concerns,” added Hall. “The city must uphold its duty to protect these historic assets and ensure that negligent property owners are held accountable. With thoughtful revisions, we believe the emergency ordinance can effectively balance public safety with the preservation of our valued community heritage.”

See comment letter here: FHB Dangerous Building Ord Comments

For more information on the proposed ordinance, visit the Seattle Fire Department’s announcement.