Historic Seattle offers these public comments on House Bill 1782 (middle housing).
Established in 1973 as a Preservation Development Authority (PDA), Historic Seattle is the only
citywide nonprofit dedicated to saving meaningful places to foster lively communities. We are
keenly interested in future development and the role that older, historic buildings and
neighborhoods play in the shaping of Seattle. And by extension, we also care deeply about what
happens in the great state of Washington.
Historic Seattle is not opposed to change, growth, or increased density. We are developers
ourselves and own a portfolio of ten historic properties and have saved over 45 buildings.
For nearly 50 years, Historic Seattle has been bringing back to life threatened and neglected
historic properties throughout Seattle. Several of these projects provide a total of 48 units of
affordable housing, including Belmont/Boylston (“Bel-Boy”); Good Shepherd Center (artists’
live-work units); Victorian Row Apartments; and Phillips House.
Older buildings and neighborhoods are central to the retention of a diverse housing stock that
reduces income inequality and helps prevent displacement and gentrification. We share the
concern about the lack of affordable housing and housing options and support efforts to
address these important issues. Any statewide legislation should provide a more balanced
approach to achieving growth, taking into consideration the livability and quality of local
While the intent of providing more middle housing (particularly affordable housing) is good, we
do not support HB 1782 as written. It presents a statewide solution that does not consider the
diversity of local communities and how development impacts older neighborhoods (particularly
those with historic and cultural significance). We would like to see a more nuanced approach
than the legislation that is currently under consideration.
We feel strongly that preservation safeguards need to be added to the legislation to protect
historic resources—individual buildings/structures and districts placed on, or that have been
identified by a public agency as eligible for, inclusion on a national, state, or local historic
Rules that govern the types of housing to permit more options in our neighborhoods should
also follow new limits on size and scale so that new infill construction is compatible in existing
single-family neighborhoods. Good design and quality materials also benefit any development.
We acknowledge that historically, some older neighborhoods developed with a mix of housing
types and property types. We believe this contributes to the character of a neighborhood.
Older houses and other building types have been (and continue to be) rehabilitated and
adapted to create more housing, adding density within the structure or through expansion.
Historic preservation is part of the solution, not a hindrance.
Lastly, we would also like to see a historic preservation element be a requirement in
comprehensive planning at the local level. Presently, it’s an optional element under the Growth
Management Act. Historic preservation is often seen as an outlier in land use and development
regulation—it should be integrated and considered as an important piece of the whole.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment.
Director of Preservation Services
1117 Minor Ave
Seattle, WA 98101
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