VIDEO: Here’s what happened at the Admiral edition of the HALA rezoning Community Design Workshop

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Though both were billed as “Community Design Workshops,” there were major differences in the meetings about Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda-related rezoning for Admiral, held this past Saturday, and for The Junction, held last month.

Turnout was different – about 50 people for Admiral, more than 200 for The Junction – though that’s proportionate to both the areas’ population differences and their respective scopes of change proposed by the rezoning for Mandatory Housing Affordability, in which developers/builders will get extra capacity and in exchange will have to include “affordable housing” in their projects or pay a fee into a city fund that will bankroll some. The changes are proposed in the city’s Urban Villages (West Seattle has four) and for all commercial/multifamily property citywide (check this map to see how/if you’re affected).

Also different: The meetings’ format.

At The Junction’s meeting on January 26th (WSB coverage here), the initial explanatory presentation by a city Office of Planning and Community Development staffer was followed by a Q/A period, with slips of paper having circulated at the start of the meeting for participants to write down questions.

That didn’t happen in Admiral; a few questions were addressed when people spoke out during the presentation, but at its end, facilitator John Owen of consulting firm Makers Architecture and Urban Design pushed to get everyone into small-group breakouts, despite one attendee requesting a chance for Q&A so everyone could hear.

At Admiral on Saturday (a morning meeting at West Seattle High School), small groups were not preassigned as they had been for pre-RSVP’d participants in The Junction (an evening meeting at the Senior Center). Their work did conclude with another difference: At Admiral, each group presented a summary to the entire room; in The Junction, that didn’t happen – tables just wrapped up, left their notes, and departed.

We recorded the Admiral summaries on video, and you’ll see those relatively short clips later in this story. But first, toplines from the opening presentation:

The city’s population will grow by 50,000 in the next 10 years, Owen declared – so, this is about, how that growth will happen. He also gave the ground rules for the small groups, and promised “your comments and ideas will be carefully reviewed by city staff and incorporated into the proposals as they move forward.” OPCD’s final proposals are due out in late spring, he said (a recent slide deck prepared for a City Council briefing set a date in June as the drop-dead end of public commenting).

OPCD’s Sara Maxana gave the presentation. (Added at 1:17 pm – just obtained the full slide deck from the city:)

Much of it was the same as the one given at the Junction version of this event, with a lot of backstory, beginning with a mention of other city initiatives including transportation, park, and preschool investments.

Unlike the Junction event, there was no amplification, despite the larger, more cavernous room. Someone stood up to say that without a microphone, the meeting was inaccessible to those with hearing impairment; they were invited to come sit up front, and Maxana tried to project as best she could. She identified herself as the citywide coordinator for the Mandatory Housing Affordability component of HALA, which is what the rezoning proposals are about.

“We’re about 1 year into a 2-plus-year process” to develop the proposals, and she reiterated that “we’re at least a year away from a vote … that would put any of these proposals in place.”

She recapped the growth in population – 50,000 over the past five years – and rise in unaffordability (more than 45,000 households paying more than half their income for housing, and average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment increasing 35 percent in the past five years, to $1,641).. The 2035 population, predicted by the Comprehensive Plan, expects “at least 70,000 new households in the next 20 years … from 608,000 people in 2010 up to about 725,000 in 2025 … in jobs, from about 462,000 to about 685,000.” She promised that anyone who had signed in could get a copy of the slide deck she was using.

50,000 new homes in Seattle in the next 10 years is the goal, 30,000 “market rate,” 20,000 “affordable (rent- and income-restricted).” That requires “tripling the production” of housing, Maxana said.

Getting to the specifics of MHA (the specifics of which will have to be approved by the City Council, which means it won’t kick in, as repeated by city reps, for at least a year).

What specifically does “affordable” mean? Someone making 60 percent of the “area median income” would pay about half the price of a current new market-rate apartment, Maxana’s slide said:

The city contends that MHA will be a “strong anti-displacement tool” and says it’s “not anticipated to significantly change the total amount of displacement.

Then the Admiral specifics (shown at the top of this story) – in the Residential Urban Village area, there are 1,131 units now; the area would currently be looking at 300 new homes (apartment, condo, house, any type of residential unit) over 20 years, and with HA, 418 homes over 20 years, with 47-51 of them “affordable” and at least $1,35 million in MHA payments (again, developers would have the choice of providing affordable housing in their projects or paying the fee, and Maxana said the city expects a 50-50 split between “on site” and “paying into fund.”

(One attendee who spoke with us later wondered about those calculations, given how many units have been added in the Admiral area recently – between projects such as Springline [WSB sponsor] and Element 42 – and those on the drawing board, including the mixed-use project on the PCC Natural Markets [WSB sponsor] site.]

One attendee asked about how this would be enforced. The city would track the “affordable” units and they would have to be “affordable” for at least 75 years … “it’s a different mechanism than rent control, completely legal … today.” Maxana noted that she lives in a single-family home in east Ballard that is proposed to upzone to multi-family, where three units would be possible under the current proposal.

She also recapped what the “urban village strategy” is and was all about, with the city always intending those areas are where most of the growth would happen. And in a brief explanation of zoning, she stressed that you’re not required to have your property conform to it. (We’d add – that means you don’t have to build as much as you’re zoned for, but you can’t build more than you’re zoned for.)

Single-family zoning can go to 35′, she said, in response to a question. Residential small lot – which single-family property within the Urban Village boundaries is proposed for – is limited to 30′, Maxana said. “In most neighborhood commercial zones, you will see one additional story” with the currently proposed upzones, she noted.

The zoning maps were guided by principles developed in “community outreach,” she said, mentioning the focus-group process 2015-2016. (That city webpage for the focus groups, by the way, includes many resource links related to the rezoning proposals.)

Maxana reiterated that Admiral is not among the dozen-plus Urban Villages with proposed boundary expansion. And she explained the “equity lens” through which they’re reviewing MHA. She said the city considers Seattle to be currently split 50-50 between renters and owners. This included addressing the frequent request that single-family zoning be left alone and all the growth be put on arterials, and wondering “what the unintended consequences” would be. And she said that the current apartment development doesn’t include much family-size housing, something the city would like to change, so the “residential small lot” development is one way to help with that.

The transition issue had a slide of its own – “planning for transitions between higher- and lower-scale zones as additional development capacity is accommodated.” Since Admiral is a “fairly narrow urban village,” it won’t have a “perfect wedding-cake” transition, she said. One person asked for an explanation of ADU/DADU, which appeared on this slide – former, mother-in-law-type apartment, latter, backyard cottage.

And then – how to read the MHA maps.

(Direct link to draft Admiral Urban Village rezoning map)

Maxana acknowledged that “they could give you a headache if you look at them for too long” and said that she had the same problem. Basic points if you don’t know this already – areas with no shading = no zoning changes proposed. Doesn’t mean no changes in those areas (teardowns and replacements will continue, she said), of course. She also reminded people that outside urban-village areas, multifamily and commercial property still is proposed for upzoning too.

A shaded area will show what’s there now, and a slash, then what it’s being proposed to change to. “You’ll also see a suffix – M, M1, M2 – that corresponds to the affordable housing (requirement) there,” aligned with the “value of the new development capacity that we’re giving.” If an area is “hatched,” it’s changing the types of zoning, such as, single famlly to Lowrise 1.

The city is trying to “calibrate” the changes so that they won’t either accelerate or decelerate development, Maxana said.

One slide addressed the frequently asked question about property taxes: “Assessed value will change only if there is increase in value demonstrated through land sales and development on comparable sites.” MHA, she added, would in its current form affect 11,000 single-family homes in the city. She contended that assessed value would be going up “over time … in the areas where you see change happening.”

Someone brought up the Edith Macefield case in Ballard and how taxes went up – “when the assessor sees change around you,” Maxana recapped. “The assessed value and property tax didn’t change until development started happening in the area.”

Asked why Admiral’s boundary was not proposed for changing, Maxana said the decisions around the city were based on a “10-minute walkshed … to frequent and high-quality transit … Admiral did not meet that threshold.”

And she provided feedback guidelines, pleading for “constructive feedback” – “show us where we got it right, show us where we got it wrong,” not just saying you hate it all or love it all.

At this point, they provided a few minutes for clarifying questions (in addition to the few that had emerged during the briefing). That was the point in The Junction’s version of the meeting at which questions collected in writing from around the room were answered.

On Saturday, at this point, one man interjected from the audience, “It doesn’t do any good to come into a neighborhood and limit the questions people can ask – I don’t know who you are working for, but you’re working for us.”

Owen said they really wanted to get people to the small-group tables, and that’s why they weren’t going to have an extended Q/A period.

One “clarifying question” was about small-business displacement, Maxana says they are working on “design strategies” to try to minimize that, and mentions grant/loan funds to try to “encourage business retention.”

And at 10:40 am – after about an hour – people were sent to the small-group tables.

We roved to listen to some of the discussion. Admiral’s transit deficiencies came up multiple times; so did scrutiny of proposed zoning changes near Lafayette Elementary School (which, school board member Leslie Harris said at an unrelated December meeting, is under consideration for a rebuild). At one of the small-group tables, City Councilmember Lisa Herbold was explaining how the process will play out over the next year or so.

One thing Herbold stressed – if you have a question, concern, or comment right now, especially something you think might merit being changed from what’s shown in the draft rezoning maps, speak up now, so it will get studied; once the proposals get to the City Council, she said, they won’t be able to offer amendments for something that hasn’t been studied.

Now, the small-group summaries, an Admiral meeting feature that didn’t happen at the Junction meeting. One participant spoke for each table, while someone else held up the paper map on which comments had been written. We recorded each summary on video:

YOUR FEEDBACK: The city says it’ll be taking feedback through June (that includes the upcoming draft Environmental Impact Statement, now expected in May). But you can provide some right now via the online hala.consider.it page (here’s a guide to how to use it), and/or via e-mail, halainfo@seattle.gov, and/or via telephone on the “HALA Hotline,” 206-743-6612.

And if you live/work/etc. in the Morgan Junction area, its Community Design Workshop is set for Monday, March 6th, 6-9 pm at The Hall at Fauntleroy (9131 California SW).

34 Replies to "VIDEO: Here's what happened at the Admiral edition of the HALA rezoning Community Design Workshop"

  • Denis February 13, 2017 (1:44 pm)

    Hey Admiral folks,
    City Council Member Rob Johnson is the Grand Poobah of the HALA.  Johnson believes standing up for single-family homes is like supporting Donald Trump’s wall.  Check out his recent statements about SFR residents in Seattle.

    Citation:   https://thecisforcrank.com/2017/02/06/morning-crank-the-right-side-of-history/

    Huh?   

    Perhaps Johnson didn’t read the West Seattle JuNO Land Use Committee’s position paper?  Yes, that’s  the one that made clear they support density, open space, transit, and infrastructure. Maybe he doesn’t remember they also want the City to also preserve the character and integrity of single-family areas, as promised under the West Seattle Junction neighborhood plan and Seattle 2035 comprehensive plan. Or maybe he’s just never thought you can support two ideas at the same time.

    That’s why Seattle Residents have started the “Make Johnson Smart Again” campaign – and you can help.

    Just print out a copy of this post and pop it in the mail, and highlight any sections you think Council Member Johnson needs to read.  Or better yet, refer him to the JuNO Facebook site for further information at https://www.facebook.com/junolanduse/?hc_ref=PAGES_TIMELINE&fref=nf
     
    His address:   Make Johnson Smart Again, C/O Council Member Rob Johnson, PO Box  34025 Seattle, WA 98124-4025.

    His mind needs your brain more than ever – do it today!

    • Ron Swanson February 13, 2017 (4:41 pm)

      Just sent him an email noting how much I agree with his sentiment!  The cognitive dissonance of those denouncing Trump and bleating about an ‘inclusive Seattle’ while building a wall around Seattle’s single family zoned areas is astounding to me.

      • CMT February 13, 2017 (5:34 pm)

        That’s certainly your right, the City should take all of our neighborhood’s residents’ opinions into account. 

        Speaking of cognitive dissonance, the HALA proposal is much like the ridiculous wall idea, i.e., an expensive exercise that will cause unnecessary destruction and will not accomplish its stated goals.  HALA is being packaged as about affordability and livability but it is the developers that are funding and profiting from the effort.  The additional units of affordable housing that would be created could be created in another way. 

        Really derogatory to characterize people with different views as “bleating” but I guess that is becoming the culture.   It is actually possible to support inclusiveness and increased density and also to oppose a proposal that is designed to benefit developers to the unnecessary detriment of a few neighborhoods.

         

         

      • Double Dub Resident February 13, 2017 (6:45 pm)

        Being inclusive is NOT synonymous with welcoming over development,  over density  and over population.  So let’s stop with the pop psychology 101 terms.  

        Trying to guilt people into accepting this over development,  over density and over population in the name of political correctness,  while the developers are lining their pockets and laughing all the way to the bank  is asinine.  

        People moved to the sunburbs for a reason  and to equate this with the Trump wall designed to keep an entire race of people from (illegally)  coming into a country  is a shameless cheap ploy of hyperbole comparison . 

        • Dave February 13, 2017 (7:39 pm)

          Totally agree.

      • Ed Slope February 13, 2017 (7:06 pm)

        Trumpesque is the Mayor, council and developers who fear monger, fashion alternative facts and place blame on a minority, in this case the 5% of Seattles lower and middle income single family homes, as the cause for the problems of the majority.

        The politics of hate is alive and well among the Urbanuts!  

  • Raye February 13, 2017 (2:40 pm)

    Incredible! Here’s the exact quote: “It’s really disturbing for me when I hear somebody talking about how glad they were to see the neighborhood district councils stand up for single-family zoning and then in the next breath disparage the president for wanting to build a wall between the US and Mexico. I see those two things as actually linked.” – City Council member Rob Johnson

    His email: Rob.Johnson@seattle.gov

    • TheKing February 13, 2017 (8:48 pm)

      Thanks for posting this Raye. Glad to see citizens with their ears and eyes  open. 

  • gina February 13, 2017 (3:54 pm)

    All questions are clarifying questions.  There is something not understood, and an explanation is asked for. Clarification. Even a rhetorical question can be clarifying.  In my opinion, questions that did not respect the authority of HALA, or more than one person raising their hand at a time disturbed the presenters.

  • CMT February 13, 2017 (4:00 pm)

    I read that, along with an amazing response, in the attached:

     https://outsidecityhall.wordpress.com/2017/02/06/councilmember-rob-johnson-elevates-mudslinging-to-new-level-equating-neighborhood-opposition-to-hala-with-trumps-wall-a-neighborhood-leader-responds/ 

    If Rob Johnson, a privileged young white male, actually lives in a single family home in Ravenna that is blissfully free from any proposed upzones, he is an incredible hypocrite. 


    • CMT February 13, 2017 (4:11 pm)

      Thanks for the email and address Scarlett and Raye, I have sent an email.

  • Double Dub Resident February 13, 2017 (4:07 pm)

    People need to understand that we need to rezone our residential neighborhoods to make them more urban,  otherwise the city council won’t be able to move onto the next phase of being able to put safe spaces for Heroin addicts to do their dope  

    • Dave February 13, 2017 (7:43 pm)

      True, we’re headed towards houses being extinct in what was a neighborhood (West Seattle). Like I said here 10 years ago, if I wanted to live down, I would have bought a condo in Belltown.

  • Raye February 13, 2017 (4:44 pm)

    Thanks, CMT. His response was typically wishy-washy and did not really address the issue:

    We are a Welcoming City

    February 13th, 2017

    At a recent Transit Talks meeting, I said “It’s really disturbing for me when I hear somebody talking about how glad they were to see the neighborhood district councils stand up for single-family zoning and then in the next breath disparage the president for wanting to build a wall between the US and Mexico. I see those two things as actually linked,” and I’d like to provide commentary about the spirit behind the sentiments. This remark reflects my passion for Seattle to be a welcoming city, and to me, being welcoming means making space – at the national, local, and neighborhood level.

    Every day, as many as 40 people choose to move to Seattle to call it home. Whether it is a new job opportunity, an education, or the desire to live in a place where one can be themselves without fear of violence or harassment, Seattle is their destination. Others have lived in this city for 40 years and the milestones experienced represent a very personal history here. For both those new to Seattle and for those who have lived here for many years, my goal is to ensure that Seattle’s growth is founded in welcoming and inclusive values.

    As a planner, I understand the challenges that can come alongside growth (added congestion on streets, a loss of neighborhood character, and increased demands on elements of neighborhood livability like parks and schools) may make many long-term residents of Seattle wary of growth. But it’s these hurdles that we work to address through land use policy. Here are a few examples of how we support and enhance the aspects that have for so long drawn people to our city while simultaneously welcome new neighbors and build pathways for everyone to prosper as a result of future growth:

    • Increase access to economic prosperity and more affordable housing for a wide variety of households and housing types all throughout the city;
    • Require new development to contribute to long-term subsidized units that allow low and moderate income people to stay in our city as housing costs rise;
    • Contribute to neighborhood character through better design quality and strategies to protect historic structures;
    • Make room for working families through new approaches to family-sized housing that allow for more families to occupy space that previously held one home and to encourage larger units to be built within higher-density areas;
    • Encourage more spaces for neighbors to come together in our schools, parks, cultural institutions, and commercial districts;
    • Establish new requirements for certain residential and commercial buildings to support multi modal transit for their occupants, and;
    • Support the character of neighborhood businesses districts to reflect the vitality of the neighborhoods that they serve as more people call the neighborhood home.

    To be able to extend more housing choices allows people to participate in and prosper from the opportunities presented by growth as well as increase the ability for established and emerging communities to be able to call this city home.

    I’ll reiterate that to be welcoming means a lot of things, but through my land use work, it means to make space. Here’s how you can get involved to help have a voice in how we make space at the city and neighborhood level:

    • Attend a workshop. To date we have supported 12 Urban Village Community Design Workshops, a number of neighborhood walks, and have 6 additional Workshops coming up between late February and March. Through this process to date, we have gotten feedback and questions from nearly 1,000 people throughout the city.
    • Stay tuned for the release of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. This document will identify potential impacts related to citywide zone changes and how those impacts might be mitigated.
    • Add your thoughts online. By using the city’s online engagement tool you can share concerns and opportunities as well as comment on your neighbors’ ideas.
    • Talk with your neighbors.  Attend one of your neighborhood meetings. Host a neighborhood or block meeting. Find ways to interact with more people who may have a different experience or lifestyle from you and meet new people in your neighborhood. In neighborhoods across the city, neighbors are talking about ways to both celebrate and improve the city; add your voice to the conversation.
    • Sign up to receive updates at Seattle.Gov/HALA.  
    • Call the HALA Hotline, (206) 743-6612. Call with your questions or comments M-F from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

     

    • CMT February 13, 2017 (5:18 pm)

      Awesome!  Then I expect to see Rob Johnson’s street proposed to be rezoned to “welcome” a 40 foot apartment next to his home.  Until then he can sit down.

  • Denis February 13, 2017 (5:02 pm)

    Actually all of council would be in the same boat.  None of them had SFR zoning designated to upzone.  Murray is a block outside the upzone,  Sawant is just a parcel away, Burgess is about a block outside, Juarez is about 2 blocks outside the upzone.  So the City clearly made sure that none of the council’s SFR zoned lots are subject to rezone.  Interesting, is it not?

    • Ron Swanson February 13, 2017 (5:39 pm)

      It IS interesting!  I look forward to your analysis of how this is inconsistent with the objective requirements laid out in the process for upzones related to transit accessibility and the like.

      • Ed Slope February 13, 2017 (7:00 pm)

        This plan isn’t about transit! It’s a developer class rezone.

        As referenced before Sound Transit celebrates that in 2015, 51% of Seattle residents lives within walking distance of 10 minute bus service.

        Furthermore the plan doesn’t actually account for the proposed west Seattle ST3 line or junction station!  

      • CMT February 13, 2017 (7:06 pm)

        I am so glad you asked that question.  

        With respect to transportation specifically, it is inconsistent with the principles, as well as short-sighted, to upzone areas where existing transit is insufficient and/or overburdened.  Perhaps you are aware that almost all routes aside from the already overcrowded C-line are slated to stop going downtown with the closing of the viaduct.  

        If the justification is that light rail is coming, it is ludicrous to do a major upzone before knowing where the stations and the route are going to be placed, as that is where the density should go.  Moreover, the development of the line will require new development to be condemned.  

        In short, the principles are being used to justify a heavy-handed upzone of areas that developers want to develop in a land grab, to the detriment of prudent neighborhood planning.

        Many neighborhoods designated as urban villages are no more suited to take on density than non urban villages as the City never followed through with the promised infrastructure which was the carrot for becoming an urban village.  West Seattle Junction has one tiny park (Junction Plaza), no library, no community center, etc. but tons of density.  

        That being the case, it is inconsistent to exempt certain neighborhoods that are suitable for development – including those in which council members just happen to live – while at the same time expecting other neighborhoods to bear all of the burdens.

    • Dave February 13, 2017 (7:45 pm)

      Out whole council is wacky.

  • flimflam February 13, 2017 (5:29 pm)

    this new style of meeting format is disquieting. in my eyes, they are breaking people into small groups with some “leader” to report back to the Big Shots. the info then gets molded into a form that the Big Shots consider in agreement, full steam ahead.

    • Dave February 13, 2017 (7:47 pm)

      The group leader is often there to steer the discussion to the end goal of the politician. 

  • SeattleCouncilWillBeVotedOut February 13, 2017 (9:26 pm)

    No to large rezone. People can move to other areas of King County.  HAS ANYBODY SEEN THE TRAFFIC ON THE WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE????  Maybe after the light rail is in. Maybe.

  • Raye February 13, 2017 (10:46 pm)

    Yes, they seem to have turned a blind eye to the traffic jams on the West Seattle Bridge.

  • West Seattle since 1979 February 14, 2017 (8:43 am)

    Tell businesses such as Amazon to quit hiring. That’ll solve the problem of people moving here for jobs and needing places to live. 

  • Rod Clark February 14, 2017 (9:58 am)

    The slide says that HALA will allow a total of 47-51 affordable units over 20 years, out of 418 units to be built. Is that right? If so, that’s 2.5 affordable homes per year. This sounds like a plan that’s almost entirely about shoveling in big unsightly blocks of building materials, with affordable housing as a minor footnote that is somehow transformed into a big bold headline.

  • Rod Clark February 14, 2017 (10:24 am)

    In other words, my guess is that a few homes will be built to be affordable in the first place without subsidy (that’s the 2.5 homes per year), and all the rest will be built to the developer’s preferred target price. Then, millions in subsidies will have to be paid to the developers to make them “more affordable.” My further guess is that those subsidies will somehow, possibly involving leprechauns, be non-renewed after some suitable period of years.

  • Rod Clark February 14, 2017 (2:06 pm)

    OK, I got the last part of that wrong. The subsidies (“fees”) will be paid by the developers. The formula is to either a) build an affordable unit, or b) build a market rate unit and pay a $622,000 fee. A $622k payment, over the 75 year time period mentioned, by simple arithmetic would give $691 per month rent reduction for that unit. The current average rent for new construction was given as $1,949 per month. The target is $1,009 for affordable rent for someone making 60% of the average income. That’s a difference of $940 per month. Maybe the difference between $940 and $691 will be made up by the magic of compound interest, or in some other way. Probably the market rate for the unsubsidized units will be bumped up a little, since there will be lots more of them than the subsidized units.

    So how many of these market-rate/affordable $622k fee units will be made available? It’s a bit unclear. It looks like developers will be expected to pay at least $1.35 million total in affordablity fees under this program. At $622,000 per unit, that would fund 2 units. The high end of the range mentioned, $2.27 million, would cover about 3.4 units. So it seems like we would have the 47-51 unsubsidized MHA units (about 2.5 affordable homes built per year), and then another 2.0 to 3.4 units of developer-fee subsidized units over a 20 year period (about 0.1 to 0.17 homes built per year).

    But on the other hand, Sara Maxana noted that the City thought there could be a 50-50 split between the unsubsidized and fee-subsidized affordable units. That would seem to mean an additional 47-51 fee-subsidized units. Those numbers times $622,000 per unit would appear to require developer fees of $29.23 to $31.72 million over a 20 year period, and would result in about 5 new affordable homes per year, instead of 2.5.

    From what I see in the slides and the accompanying quotes in the article, I can’t make this add up. Can someone explain these numbers better?

    • Ed Slope February 15, 2017 (7:11 am)

      And the developer will offset this whole MHA fee by passing the cost on to market rate renters/buyers in the form of increased rents/sale price  further raising prices of market rate rental and for sale homes.

  • Elevated Concerns February 14, 2017 (3:41 pm)

    Add the 10 year property tax abatement…no taxes for 10 years.  No deferred, free of tax.

  • House of Pug February 14, 2017 (4:42 pm)

    Flipflam, Admiral was clearly shortchanged by a group that didn’t want to be pressed on questions. At the WSJ meeting you could see why. They had garbled responses to the question of appraised values, deflected onto other agencies issues of when/how we would see infrastructure improvements such as new schools, and treated our neighborhood plan (which is part of the comprehensive plan) as an inconvenient truth. My favorite response was that of the planning representative who said in one breath that we need to build density near light rail stations…and then in another said the City didn’t know where the WSJ light rail stations were going to go. <insert of head banging on wall here>

    Rod, there’s one more very important aspect to your calculation about affordable housing units: there is no guarantee they will be put in your actual neighborhood. The only thing guaranteed to remain are market-rate units in taller, longer-shadow-casting buildings. It’s likely many of them will be built where land is cheaper, striking another blow against economic diversity.

    • Ed Slope February 15, 2017 (7:27 am)

      Great description of the event. I was at that meeting too and the city’s presentation and q&a was pathetic – the lack of preparedness and/or consideration of constituent perspective is insulting. The elected officials running this show should be ashamed and voted out.

  • Matt February 15, 2017 (4:51 am)

    MHA should be dead on arrival–the development community hates it because it adds hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees for every project, and neighborhood groups are leery of the upzones.  Most projects are limited by other land use challenges well before the extra building story could even start to financially offset the MHA fees.  Those fees end up passed on to buyers and renters in housing prices.The obvious end point: most everyone pays more for housing, but Seattle builds a minimal stockpile of rent controlled units for the very poor. 

    Here is an excellent rundown of the effects of the program as it is currently: http://www.sightline.org/2017/01/10/checking-seattle-mandatory-housing-affordability-math/

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