Seattle Displacement Coalition: Why we oppose and urge you to oppose the Grand Bargain, and HALA upzone plan and why we would never sign the petition some groups are circulating supporting it.
by John Fox, Seattle Displacement Coalition
The HALA "Grand Bargain"
A Blueprint for more displacement and gentrification and loss of low income housing in our city.
The petition some groups are asking people to sign has been put forward by "Seattle for Everyone" (SFE). Except for two or three of its participant groups, it is little more than a front group made up primarily of development interests and groups affiliated with development interests. It's purpose is to lay the groundwork, convey the appearance of broad public support for across-the-board upzoning of our neighborhoods.
The trade-off that brought some 'advocacy' groups into this "unholy" alliance, was the promise that these massive displacement inducing upzones would be accompanied by an inclusionary housing requirement requiring developers to set aside a handful of low income housing units. This was dubbed the "Grand Bargain" but it is little more than a grand sell out for the cause of economic and social justice in our city.
There currently is a shortfall of 30,000 very low income units in Seattle affordable to those at 30% of median or less. The number of very low income units that will be produced by the Mayor's HALA Grand Bargain and inclusionary requirement by city's estimates totals 6000 over the next ten years. (Buried in the fine print, even the Mayor however has said the inclusionary and mandatory housing incentive programs won't produce enough units even to meet this goal)
But if these HALA upzones are approved - a windfall of tens of millions of dollars for developers - our city will lose to demolition, speculation, increased rents, conservatively 3-4 times that number of existing very low cost units. The Grand Bargain is a Grand Sellout for low income and working people.
Paul Allen's Vulcan Inc. and other developer and related interests finance a large chunk of the cost for Seattle for Everyone's website, and it's their Petition Seattle for Everone is asking you to sign and the cost of tables, fliers, and other material they set out at public events now to promote HALA and the Grand Bargain.
HALA and the Grand Bargain
HALA is a blueprint for displacement and gentrification of Seattle neighborhoods and a huge developer giveaway, not withstanding the relatively small linkage fee or inclusionary "affordable" housing developers will be required to provide.
In Dec, our City Council passed an ordinance and resolution with Iinks below committing the city to upzones across the city. They'll be reviewed over the next 18 months and voted on. Only if an area is upzoned - only then will the inclusionary housing requirement, in-lieu fee, or commercial linkage fee be applied to that area. The value of the fee requirement is not that great. And the performance or on/off site inclusionary housing requirement is not that great, especially when compared to housing fee or inclusionary requirements other cities around the country have adopted.
The material in links below we'll spell out specifically the amounts. It's a small price that developers will pay for a huge amount of additional development capacity given to them. And the amount of "affordable" housing created all the way up to 60 percent of median (well above what low income and very low income people can afford) by the fee or onsite offsite obligation is relatively small in relation to amounts of existing truly low income housing that will be lost due to the upzoning.
Below I've provided links to the ordinance and resolution the Council adopted last December committing itself to review and adoption of HALA recommendations. The key component of this plan is not the linkage fees or inclusionary housing, but massive upzoning across Seattle.
Go to this link and click on Directors Report. You'll see a summary and report of how the requirements work and how a commercial developer can seek waiver of the requirements page 15 I think. And knowing our planning department that would be given authority to grant waivers, many developers probably will be given relief of their full obligation. Also this link will give you access to other doc's and the ordinance itself. You'll see none of this will go into effect unless and until an area is upzoned.
When they approved the above ordinance, the Council also approved the following resolution committing the city also to adoption of a "mandatory" inclusionary housing requirement. At this link you'll get all the details on how this will work. Again this too would not go into affect until an area is upzoned. https://seattle.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2471381&GUID=0D4B5E43-AFB5-451C-9D2B-E72D486A0167&Options=&Search=
Here are the Displacement Coalitions commentaries on HALA and the Mayor's Committee (18 of 28 of the Mayor's appointees to this committee had ties to development interests). There was only two housing advocates and on neighborhood advocate appointed. Its recommendations are now the Mayor's recommendations. See the links below.
The Council with passage of the measures linked above last Dec. is committed to reviewing and voting on the package over the next 18 months or so. The HALA plan is little more than a giveaway to development interests. The key ingredient calls for upzones for every part of the city - the effect of which will be to cause massive displacement and loss of existing affordable housing. We'll lose 3-4 times the number of affordable units that will be created due to the upzones and other inducements/tax breaks in the plan aimed at promoting more market rate development. our take -
and here: http://citylivingseattle.com/Content/News/Opinion/Article/OUTSIDE-CITY-HALL-A-grand-bargain-for-developers-/22/207/91182
And here's our alternative recommendations from the Community Housing Caucus that if implemented would address Seattle's housing crisis (see link below). From that report, see especially sections identifying new funding sources, increased tenant protections, and new housing preservation strategies. We presented them to the Mayor in meetings with him and at a large public forum last Spring but he largely ignored our key recommendations.
We're trying though to secure support now from councilmembers (and have some support for a number of our recommedations) especially those calling for added regulations to prevent displacement, expand tenant rights, and tapping of the city's bonding authority to enable the city to massive expand funding for expansion of our subsidized very low income stock.
And we're organizing opposition to the upzones while calling instead for measures to preserve our existing affordable housing stock) and working with neighborhood groups calling for measures NOW to mitigate the physical impacts of runaway growth we're already facing and must address under our existing land use code. Let's put first things first the Future of our city is at stake https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1687633-community-housing-caucus-report.html