by Jon Lisbin
The Seattle City Council is considering massive upzones in the University District as the first implementation of it's "Inclusionary Housing" strategies throughout the city.
Truth is, if I was Mayor, I may have taken the same approach. Put together a panel of experts and stakeholders to come up with strategies to address Seattle’s affordable housing crisis. Unfortunately, that’s where intelligence ended and corruption began. The composition of HALA (Housing and Livability Agenda) Committee was heavily weighted toward developers and their interests. The resulting skewed report was biased towards special interests.
I know, at this point you are saying “another conspiracy theorist”. However, the facts behind my assertion are quite compelling. Maybe I can speak in a language city officials are familiar with?
I know the train has left the station. I know it would take true courage to stop it now. I ask that our city leaders have that courage!
* Seattle's current plan calls for 3 - 8% Set Asides, significantly below other major cities, but not set yet.
by Linda Nash and Jim Hanford
2016 will be the hottest year on record. Atmospheric carbon levels are now higher than they have been in 4 million years. Seattle has admirably made the commitment to carbon neutrality by the year 2050. Locating new housing and businesses near transportation is an important step. But that alone is not enough. One-third of Seattle’s energy use comes from buildings.
In order to achieve carbon neutrality while continuing to grow, the City will have to transition the vast majority of its building stock away from the consumption of electricity and fossil fuels. Yet high-rise construction, as proposed here, is a high-carbon option. Seattle’s own data show that high-rise multi-family buildings currently consume 45% more energy per square foot than mid-rise multi-family and 64% more than low-rise multi-family. In the case of tall buildings, the emphasis on small efficiency improvements and “LEED” certification merely serves to make wasteful construction slightly less unsustainable.
There are significant obstacles to making tall buildings energy and carbon efficient: they require more elevators and air-conditioning; they have more exposure to wind and sun and have higher rates of heat gain and loss; they have a small roof-top area limits the potential to use solar and other renewables. To make matters worse, tall buildings exacerbate the effects of very high temperature days (which we are now experiencing in the summer) by raising surrounding air temperatures and decreasing air flow between buildings. Their long shadows also limit the potential for solar energy on adjacent sites. If Seattle truly wants to mitigate climate change, it will need to prioritize energy considerations in zoning and the design of buildings.
Modern, tower-dominated downtowns emerged in an era of cheap and abundant fossil fuels, and they do not obviously serve the needs of the twenty-first century. Buildings last for many decades and will shape the city’s design and energy needs far into the future. We can’t afford not to get it right.
Read more by Jim Hanford: High-rises are energy hogs, not climate solutions
A series of documents have been posted on the “What’s Happening” tab, and under the “Growth with Affordability” link. In the Citywide Implementation of MHA box on this page are the following three documents related to the EIS scoping.
by Shirley Nixon
Attached is a map for the U District rezone showing areas to be upzoned under the new ordinance. Dozens of MR and NC blocks zoom from a max of 65’ to 240’ or 320’. All of the rezone is north and west of the UW Campus “Institutional Overlay Zone”.
As if this increase in density (without concurrent infrastructure improvements) isn’t bad enough, a few weeks ago the UW released its draft Campus Master Plan that calls for adding – in the next ten years – 3 million net gsf of new space and 22 buildings on its West Campus alone; and 12 million net gsf campus-wide.
The U District simply cannot accommodate all of this new growth and retain affordable existing housing and livable neighborhoods. Special interests and the UW have been steadily working toward this skyscraper rezone of the U District and campus expansion for many years: long before the HALA Grand Bargain idea ever came to be. They now try to miscast opponents of this exponentially out-of-scale upzone as opponents of affordable housing. Not true. Not even close.