by Susanna Lin
The city has released draft MHA zones Click here to view the proposed zoning changes. Click on the pull down menu to view the map you are interested in viewing. Under this draft proposal, there would be no single family zoning left inside the urban village boundaries. The website includes instructions on how to interpret the map, which I recommend you read. In general, when you look at each zone on the map, our current zone is on the left and the new proposed zone is on the right (Example, LR1 | LR2 (M)).
In Wallingford, for example, the most dramatic changes, where the city wants to change some of the Single Family (SF) zones to Low Rise 3 (LR3), are mostly found west of Stone Way. Anyone remember that time when the city told us that zoning changes would just be “one more floor”? Well, this zoning change increases the height limit from 30’ to 50’ (and if you read further, the end product may be even higher). In general, 10’ is equal to one floor so a 50’ building is usually five stories high.
More common are blocks that are going from Single Family to Low Rise 2 (LR2), with a height “limit” of 40’. These zoning proposals can be a bit confusing to wrap your head around. The city is really changing the zoning twice. For example, the draft map shows a change from SF to LR2. But in addition, the defining characteristics of LR2 are also changing to allow for increased density, in the case of LR2 the heights will increase from 30’ to 40’. So first they change the zoning, then they also change the definition of the zone.
As if that was not enough, these specifics that define each zone in regards to height and setbacks are not as set in stone as you might think. Developers can request height “bonuses” for such things as being partially below grade, roof features, or green building components, although it is questionable how green these buildings really are in the end, but that’s another story (get it, “another story”?) And just so developers know how to take full advantage of these height bonuses, the city has kindly distributed instructions…
Notice that the height limit is 40’ but it says: Total perceived façade height from sidewalk level is about 57’. Nice job, city officials. Very transparent. Are you confused yet? Maybe that’s the point.
Last month the Mayor came to the U District to tout his upzone plan and the reception got chilly rather quickly. According to displacement activist John Fox, CM Rob Johnson and the Mayor don’t feel that upzoning the UDistrict from 240′-320′ highrises from current 45′ to 65′ heights would “stimulate any increase in the amount of new residential and commercial development over what we’re already getting under current zoning.” That’s when the bullshit meter spiked, the residents howled, and the Mayor took a quick exit stage left. Please read the entire article .
This attachment from the CNC Land Use Committee was sent to Rob Johnson the Land Use Chair on City Council prior to the Sept. 15 hearing on the 2035 comp plan. The 24 page document summarizes recommended changes in each section of the comp plan to be considered before passage of the 2035 comp plan at Full Council Monday, October 10.
You are encouraged to email your comments in support of proposed changes as selected from the attached document or just endorsement of the entire document before October 10. The recommendation is to vote no on the passage of the 2035 plan until more essential recommendations from the CNC document are incorporated into 2035 comp plan.
There will be opportunity to oppose passage at the Full Council meeting Oct. 10. Bonnie
by Sarajane Siegfriedt
As John Fox and the Seattle Displacement Coalition correctly said, in Comp Plan Land Use Appendix A-1 page three totals), the real number is 35%. The 65% comes from the City Dept. of Planning which is the mouthpiece of the developers. They've excluded rights-of-way from the total acreage to get "Net Acreage." What's that? Why would anyone include it? Then for some inexplicable reason, they include parks and even Green Lake in the single-family part. So both the numerator and the denominator have to be changed to get this "65% of Seattle is zoned SF" Big Lie. The culprit is the city planners, who are in the pockets of the developers.
The real question for [the author of a recent crosscut article] Eric is, what is the carrying capacity of the zoned land? For SF >4,000 s.f., it's two units, either a mother-in-law apartment or a backyard cottage. If the HALA is successful in upzoning all urban villages to low-rise or midrise, what is the zoned capacity of these areas? In my Lake City urban village, a 162-unit, 7-story (not 6) midrise (with 6 so-called live/work units on the ground floor) is replacing three SF homes and one 22-unit courtyard building. I figure that's an increase of 600% to 800%, or 15% affordable units displaced by 162 new market-rate units. (These 25 units were demolished in 2015.)
The HALA proposes to increase multifamily zoning from 10% of the city to 13% in urban villages, plus upzoning along transit corridors to midrise multifamily (NC-65) for another 3% of the city to make multifamily zoning 16% of the city. That's a 60% increase from current acreage, and an increase of capacity of at least 600%. It's hard to defend any more increases to SF density on the basis of need, unless you believe developers need to develop more SF mansions. Bingo!
by Jon Lisbin
The Seattle PI (remember them) takes a critical look at the timing of the City's proposed Mandatory Affordable Housing program (MHA). I was particularly dismayed at this contradiction in perception and reality, not to mention the trend lines:
"Johnson was also quick to point out that much of the current boom is in commercial development, with residential having stayed more consistent with historical figures. According to the Downtown Seattle Association’s midyear report, residential development is currently breaking records. Last year, 3,500 residential units were completed -- a new record -- and with 12,000 units added since 2010 and 7,500 still under construction, downtown alone has seen a 44 percent increase in housing stock since 2010, the report found. What’s more, 20,000 new units are scheduled for completion after 2017."
by Lisa Parriott
It all started with us trying to save our magnificent Silent Giant, a vibrant 100 foot ponderosa pine that reaches straight up to the sky…
George, our elderly neighbor, had told us for years that he would never sell his property to a developer; he loved his big beautiful pine tree and he never wanted it cut down. But in the end, he did sell his home to a developer. The day after his property hit the market last winter, he was offered $30,000 over the asking price; all he had to do was agree to the terms before the offer expired on Saturday – the day before Sunday’s open house. Acceptance meant he would receive a lump sum of $505,000, cash, a month before Christmas.
We do not believe George knew that the purchaser was a developer. Nor do we believe George knew that he had side yard that could be potentially split into a second lot (~3,100sf ) and developed. The price he was paid certainly did not reflect that.
From the Wallingford Community Council
Increased density and zoning changes are proposed in Seattle's urban villages under the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) framework. The City has determined that MHA will have a significant adverse impact on the environment, and therefore the City is required to complete an environmental impact statement (EIS). The EIS will consider potential impacts associated with land use, housing and socioeconomics, public services, transportation, utilities, open space and recreation, aesthetics and height/bulk/scale, and historic resources.
The City government needs to hear from you now regarding the impacts of the proposed zoning changes! Development without concurrent mitigation benefits no one, regardless of whether one resides inside or outside of an urban village, in an apartment, a condominium, or a house.
Comments are now being accepted on the scope of the EIS. You may comment on alternatives, mitigation measures, probable significant adverse impacts, and licenses or other approvals that may be required. Consider incorporating the concerns described below, and send your comments by 5:00 PM on September 9, 2016.
Please continue to read...
by Sarajane Siegfriedt
The purpose of Neighborhood councils and their representative District Councils is to build community and to bring the unique needs of each community to the attention of the city. For example, Maple Leaf would never have received its wildly successful park built on a reservoir lid without thousands of hours of volunteer community involvement. The North District Council was crucial in organizing a broad expression of community support for the 130th Street Station being included in the final version of the ST3 plan. The Mayor's plan for a Commission on Community Involvement doesn't in any way substitute for community organizing of for the volunteer hours required by neighborhood grants.
By: Jon Lisbin
Re: Danny Westneat's Seattle Times Article:
Yes, the city has already blown it's chance. Truth is, like the stock market, trying to time the housing market is a losing game. The city needs a steady consistent growth strategy, one that involves the community and builds into it factors that maintain livability and minimizes displacement. What we're seeing is reactionary and will bite us in the end. Yes, that end.
That's why I believe an effective inclusionary zoning plan makes sense in theory. The current MHA-R proposal however needs major improvements such as increased contribution from developers, incentives for building on site, 1 on 1 replacement of affordable housing, impact fees etc. If you have a moment, please sign Seattle Fair Growth’s petition for managed growth.
Martin Kaplan nails it! Don't allow bureaucrats to stifle citizen engagement, and ram top down policies down our throats, while degrading the city we love! Read the op ed
"There is not a war between urbanists and neighborhoods, only a rising storm from thousands of Seattleites who love their city, but very much dislike Murray’s and O’Brien’s new ideological foundation behind one-size-fits-all zoning, top-down proclamations that ignore public input, and a forced march toward controversial policies with little if any background study, with no reliable metrics and data, and without a serious and citywide commitment to listen to neighborhoods and invite their unbiased input."