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.
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 – firstname.lastname@example.org – 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.