HALA REZONING: Morgan Community Association strategizes, 2 weeks before next city meeting

Two weeks from today – on Saturday, May 6th – the proposed Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) rezoning for Mandatory Housing Affordability will be spotlighted at another city “open house” in West Seattle.

This time, unlike the one back in December, it’s a big venue – Westside School (WSB sponsor) in Arbor Heights.

More on the open house later. First: Community groups are continuing to discuss HALA, too, particularly as they await the draft Environmental Impact Statement. If you need a refresher – Mandatory Housing Affordability is supposed to add more development capacity in exchange for requiring developers to either include “affordable” units in their projects, or pay a fee into a city fund that will be used to build it somewhere else. (If you haven’t already checked what might change near you, here’s the interactive citywide map showing that.)

At the Morgan Community Association‘s quarterly meeting this past Wednesday night, MoCA president Deb Barker said the EIS is expected to be out in mid-May, which would open a public-comment period through June – which happens to be what the city had listed at previous meetings (including the Morgan “Community Design Workshop” last month) as the expected drop-dead comments-closed period.

A representative from City Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s staff promised that comments would stay open as long as it took to ensure everyone is heard. (MONDAY UPDATE: Andra Kranzler, legislative assistant for Herbold, clarifies that the councilmember has re-verified the draft EIS timeline but will be checking to see if the draft EIS identifies and addresses what’s been pointed out in public comments, and whether additional time for commenting might be in order.)

MoCA attendees’ concerns include the city bypassing the long-in-place neighborhood plans with the HALA upzoning plans, which would affect all commercial/multi-family-zoned property in the city and all single-family zoning in urban villages (West Seattle has four urban villages – besides Morgan, they are Admiral, Westwood-Highland Park, and The Junction).

Some also wondered if legal action would be in order. MoCA leaders say they’re watching other groups in the city who already have action in progress. Morgan Junction businessperson Dan Austin of Peel & Press (WSB sponsor) wondered how businesses will be affected by the HALA proposals. The Herbold representative said that’ll be studied with the recently approved University District rezoning. Austin proposed including business concerns/questions in the next round of HALA-related communications with the city.

Speaking of which, the biggest action at the meeting is that the MoCA got support to pursue an amendment to the city comprehensive plan to “address … Morgan Junction Land Use Comprehensive Plan policies that are in conflict with (HALA) MHA.” In January, MoCA sent the city a letter pointing out discrepancies between the neighborhood plan and the HALA MHA proposals, and was told in response that the neighborhood plan was outdated so “new comprehensive plan policies would be followed instead.”

MoCA takes issue with the city’s suggestion that the neighborhood plan should be thrown out, just like that. The policies at odds with HALA MHA, from the Morgan neighborhood plan, address “maintain(ing) the character and integrity of the existing single-family designated areas by maintaining current single-family zoning both inside and outside the urban village,” “ensur(ing) that use and development regulations are the same for single-family zones within the Morgan Junction Urban Village as those in corresponding single-family zones in the remainder of the Morgan Junction Planning Area,” and “explor(ing) methods to discourage increasing height limits in the commercial and multifamily zones above the currently existing levels …”

The HALA rezoning proposals would eliminate single-family zoning in urban villages and would add an average of one floor to existing commercial/multi-family zoning, so that’s where the conflicts with the existing land-use policies come into play. MoCA has to officially propose the comprehensive-plan amendment by May 15th, and a background infosheet prepared for the meeting noted that “the process takes at least a year or longer.”

In the meantime, MoCA leadership urges people to attend, and comment at, the May 6th open house, which is scheduled for 10 am-noon at Westside School, 10404 34th SW. The city page for the event says that, as with the December open house, they’ll provide information on other city programs:

Age Friendly Seattle (HSD), Design Review (SDCI), Natural Drainage (SPU), Play Streets (SDOT), Open Space Plan (OPCD), Democracy Vouchers (EE), Neighborhoods Streets and Greenways Projects (SDOT)

As for what else happens next – the City Council has the final say, but that’s not expected to happen before next year. Early comments are vital, though, because by the time it gets to the council, further changes are less likely. Besides the upcoming open house, the city also continues to accept comments by e-mail – halainfo@seattle.gov – and phone: 206-743-6612.

ALSO AT MoCA’S MEETING: Plans are well under way for this year’s Morgan Junction Community Festival (Saturday, June 17th) – including music, food (carts instead of trucks this year), and entertainment including the ever-popular Bubbleman. … Peel & Press’s Austin is continuing to work on a project to restore the mural on the west side of the building that houses his business and others … The Lowman Beach seawall’s future is expected to be the subject of a community meeting on May 31st – details to come.

The Morgan Community Association meets quarterly, usually third Wednesdays in January, April, July, and October, 7 pm at The Kenney; watch morganjunction.org for community updates between meetings.

27 Replies to "HALA REZONING: Morgan Community Association strategizes, 2 weeks before next city meeting"

  • Morgan April 23, 2017 (9:12 am)

    Step backs…if the village is going to get height, one way to preserve neighborhood character is to insist tall buildings have step backs.

  • Mark Schletty April 23, 2017 (1:03 pm)

    There is nothing “outdated” about the Morgan Junction comprehensive plan.   What ” new comprehensive plan” policies are being followed instead? Unless i missed something the new comprehensive plan has not been adopted. This higher, denser crap being pushed by the city is nothing but a plan wanted and paid for by developers. As with the Fauntleroy redo, we are being told that all we can do is “negotiate” some minor modifications. That is only true if we allow it to be true. The whole HALA plan is a disaster for our neighborhoods. No meaningful amount of affordable housing is going to come to our neighborhoods.  Organizations like MoCA need to quit compromising and start demanding the plan be scrapped. And the demand must come with promises of direct persistent pressure and votes to oppose the reelection of our City Council and Mayor to be at all effective.

      • Mark Schletty April 23, 2017 (4:36 pm)

        Thanks for the link. It is a perfect description of what is actually going on. And why HALA is really going to cause a net loss of affordable housing, not an increase. Developers get rich, low income people get forced out of the city.

        • Rob April 23, 2017 (10:17 pm)

          This meme of lost affordable housing with HALA is false.  If new housing is not built for the wealth desiring to move into Seattle proper for their Tech job, they will just bid up the value of current housing.  This upbidding works like musically chairs with those on the lower income end left without a chair.  Adding new housing and accompanying low income housing required by HALA adds chairs at both economic ends and leeds to less lower and middle income people being priced out of Seattle.  This is basic supply and demands.  If we don’t build way more housing, the city will become only wealth folks and thoses that bought their homes a long time ago.  There are numerous articles that refuted Fox’s misinformation in the U-district upzone.  And the city council didn’t believe his unverified numbers.  The facts are not with Mr. Fox even though he appears sincere.  Those that care about the poor, need to encourage increased housing, not less.   The existing home owners are the one pooring water on the HALA.  They want to maintain there ‘rent seeking’ advantage.

          • Double Dub Resident April 24, 2017 (7:33 am)

            Rob : The existing home owners are the one pooring water on the HALA.  They want to maintain there ‘rent seeking’ advantage.


            DDR: Wow, talk about a false narrative. After living IN THE CITY, in various places such as lower Queen Anne and Belltown, I moved to West Seattle BECAUSE it was a suburb and BECAUSE of the layout of the neighborhood. 


            My Latino, Filipino, Black, and Asian neighbors feel the same way, but I suppose they’re just rich white racist NIMBYS too. 

    • Rob April 23, 2017 (10:05 pm)

      I live in the Morgan Junction Village in a Single Family home.   I am very supportive of the HALA plan.  Tens of thousands of people are unable to find housing near their jobs and in safe walkable, low evironmental damaging neighborhoods.  Thoses that have arrived already in Seattle and have found “the good life”  just want to shut others out, lock things in amber and watch their house value climb due to a legislated scarity of housing.  The greed is not with the developers but with the home owners.  Aren’t you glad a developer build your home 50-80 years ago.  I am.  I want an inclusive city and one where my grown children could find a place to live if they choose. The Anti-Hala folks want a gated community-selfish and unwelcoming.  Cities are interesting because they grow and change.  Cities are by definition dense, transit focused and walkable.  There are large amounts of suburbia where people can have yards, single family homes, endless parking and be left alone.  This should not be the legislated future of neighborhoods so close to Downtown with good transit now (C-line) and great transit coming (Link to the Junction).

      • Canton April 24, 2017 (6:16 am)

        Rob, can you show 1 single example of a “affordable” complex built by hala? Can you explain why, for instance, the insignia towers downtown have yet to be charged the 3.4 million owed to the city for affordable housing?

        • Captin April 24, 2017 (6:49 am)

          Insignia was finished WAY before HALA and subsequently MHA for downtown was passed. It is MHA that requires affordable units or an in lieu fee. MHA is one of the recommendations that is in the HALA proposals.

          • Canton April 24, 2017 (8:25 am)

            The questions were separate. But, maybe you could explain. Why has the city failed to collect owed fees, as part of the incentive zoning program, to build affordable housing? 

      • Captin April 24, 2017 (7:06 am)

        I’m Alaska junction and with you Rob.

        I bet every single person railing against this is on this blog is an established homeowner like myself. Density in a city makes sense; after all this is a city. Adding housing stock near amenities and transportation makes sense. Supply side relief makes sense.

        It’s not like we need a crystal ball to see what will happen in the future. All we need to do is look at the past and present. More people move here, not enough housing, prices skyrocket.

        Also, what’s with all of the “greedy developer” stuff? Developers develop. That’s what they do. If I have plumbing business does that make me a “greedy plumber”? Is QFC a greedy grocer? I think that characterization is unfair and over generalizes too much.

        • KM April 24, 2017 (7:38 am)

          Just chiming in as another current homeowner who supports HALA. I wish we were upzoning more, and adding more affordable and market rate housing, to be honest.

        • Double Dub Resident April 24, 2017 (7:45 am)

          Also, what’s with all of the “greedy developer” stuff? Developers develop. That’s what they do. If I have plumbing business does that make me a “greedy plumber”? Is QFC a greedy grocer? I think that characterization is unfair and over generalizes too much.


          DDR: You’re over generalizing also because it’s not always about what one does, but the practices in HOW they do it. If a plumber cuts corners, uses the bottom of the line materials and then charges Caddilac pricing, then yes, they’re greedy. 


          It’s funny (and sad)  to see the over development that has happened in the junction with cookie cutter buildings offering almost no parking services to the people to cut costs and raise the already high profits and then charge ridiculous amounts for rent that wasn’t there previously to the building of these cookie cutter abodes, thus creating a chain reaction in the surrounding area where prices of other housing skyrocket which then creates a need for “affordable” housing in which a fraction of what is being built is set aside to be “affordable” but the term affordable being set within the new perimeters of the skyrocketed prices caused by the initial over development of the over priced hipster apartments. Thus affordable is not all that affordable, but it makes everyone feel warm and fuzzy as the dog eats its own tail.  

          • Captin April 24, 2017 (12:28 pm)

            Are these builders using substandard materials and work practices? I thought inspectors ensured they didn’t do that and were compliant with current building codes.

            “Affordable” is tied to a percentage of area median income.

            https://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/Housing/PropertyManagers/IncomeRentLimits/Income-Rent-Limits_Rental-Housing-HOME.pdf

            I personally think that all of these things move slowly and the idea of increasing density is not about today. Securing property, permit process, building, etc. I think the conversation should be about the fuure. The idea is make a step in the right direction to ensure renters and homeowners can afford to live here for generations in the future. I’m hoping to not totally hose my kids and those in the future.

          • Double Dub Resident April 24, 2017 (3:33 pm)

            1. I didn’t say that the developers were using substandard materials. Though I’m sure they’re using cheap materials. 

            2. Even if they were using substandard materials and work practices, it does not mean that inspectors would /could catch this as there is a history of developers /contractors building housing only to have lawsuits occur after the fact due to substandard materials /work practices. 

            3. Do you own a home? 

            4. This HALA deal is more about developers making concessions to give up a fraction of their development to so called “affordability” that is not truly qualified as the perimeters of what is defined as affordable is measured within the skyrocketing pricing that the developers helped create from previous over developing of over priced hipster abodes. 

          • Captin April 24, 2017 (12:48 pm)

            Are these builders using substandard materials and work practices? I thought inspectors ensured they didn’t do that and were compliant with current building codes. If not yes that is a problem.

            “Affordable” is tied to a percentage of area median income. Which unfortunately for many the median has risen due to the influx of highly paid tech workers while their pay has not.

            https://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/Housing/PropertyManagers/IncomeRentLimits/Income-Rent-Limits_Rental-Housing-HOME.pdf

            I personally think that all of these things move slowly and the idea of increasing density is not about today. Securing property, permit process, building, etc. take time. I think the conversation should be about the future. The idea is make a step in the right direction to ensure renters and homeowners can afford to live here for generations in the future. HALA or whatever. I’m hoping to not totally hose my kids and those in the future. If we don’t do something gentrification and the economic divide will worsen. They will both happen no matter what we do but we can do something to slow it down hopefully

        • LikeAGoodNeighbor April 24, 2017 (8:17 am)

          It is fair to question over generalizations. Developers are incentivized by profits the grand bargain was established without public input. I think it’s fair to question what type of bargain Mayor Murray and council member struck with those that are on record as their biggest campaign contributors.

          Also, our city’s affordability agenda has been co-opted by developers to make a profit. Our current plan doesn’t do our serious problem justice nor is it enough. This doesn’t mean that the execution of HALA is justified no matter how principled it is! The HALA committee made sweeping recommendations which the grand bargain and the mayor failed to honor!

          Please don’t tell me that something is better than nothing, this plan only goes so far as the developers let it, we need real leadership and the developer schills (Murray, Johnson, Gonzalez) are not it – Cary Moon? 

          • Captin April 24, 2017 (8:54 am)

            I agree that it is our duty as citizens to question. Another part though of not delivering on some things is politics. Look here how mad some people are. The mad ones on any subject are usually the loudest. It’s hard to get anything done in politics because it’s very hard to reach a compromise. I’m not saying that in support of HALA or Murray, it’s just politics. I think they should loosen zoning in the whole city. That is an equitable way to do it imho.

  • CeeBee April 23, 2017 (8:39 pm)

    The Seattle Comprehensive Plan 2035 was adopted by council back in October of 2016. 

  • sunnyday April 24, 2017 (9:53 am)

    Is there a chance that all/part of the upzoning, rezoning  etc., could change if Murray is no longer our mayor come November?

    • WSGuy April 24, 2017 (4:25 pm)

      The Council will have the vote.  Throw them out.  And throw out the Mayor anyway.

  • wsn00b April 24, 2017 (1:41 pm)

    The part I don’t get about HALA/MHA is the option for developers to put money into a fund instead of affordable units in the same property. From what I hear anecdotally and see from a the recent SeattleTimes breakdown of HALA funds, most developers tend to dump money into the fund. Doesn’t that automatically economically segregate folks? 

    I think somebody asked this previously too: How many affordable units have been built from the HALA fund? To add, where have those units been built – downtown/SLU or some cheaper area like Georgetown?

    • Double Dub Resident April 24, 2017 (3:37 pm)

      Because it’s a sham

    • Captin April 24, 2017 (3:49 pm)

      My understanding (which may be wrong) is that the MHA component has just recently been passed in a couple of places in the city. Prior to that it was only voluntary vs. mandatory. So there may not be an real data on it yet. I would guess most will pay the fee. I wish the fee wasn’t even on the table but the end goal of this is more affordable housing. If it’s not in the junction at least it is somewhere in the city. Because without the fee developers are going to build anyway. At least with a fee the city and its people are getting something back.

      I’m hoping that if that’s where this goes maybe there will be some housing built similar to what we see in the junction (walkable, near shops) in less wealthy areas and maybe they will be propped up. There are so many forces and opinions acting on something like this who knows what will actually happen in the end!

  • Jeannie April 24, 2017 (4:14 pm)

    More people = more traffic on the West Seattle Bridge. Not everyone can take the bus or ride a bike. The commute is getting worse and worse as we sit in our cars and wait…and wait. Even California Avenue is becoming very congested during commute hours. There are only a few ways to get in and out of West Seattle. 
    I think our mayor has HALA-tosis!

  • CMT April 24, 2017 (5:59 pm)

    The “vibrant, walkable neighborhood” utopia being sold by the HALA proponents is a fairy tale to cover what will be the ugly reality of an incoherent/piecemeal jumble of zoning in what were once inviting neighborhoods. I truly hope the City modifies its proposed course for West Seattle before it is irretrievably altered for the worse.  Cohesive planning please.

  • K8 April 27, 2017 (9:12 pm)

    Cary Moon is pro-HALA.  Making room for more people to move here is more important than the quality of life of people who already live here.

    I wish that there was a mayoral candidate that I felt actually cared about me as a homeowner, a small business owner and a Seattleite.

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