Mayor’s housing plan: First council discussion; plus, clarifying what’s proposed for single-family neighborhoodsJuly 21, 2015 at 11:16 pm | In West Seattle housing, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 55 Comments
The week after Mayor Murray went public with his housing proposals – concurrent with release of a report by the advisory committee appointed to examine the issue – the City Council got its first official briefing:
The Seattle Channel published video today of Monday’s first meeting of the council’s Select Committee on Housing Affordability – the creation of which was announced last week, at the same time as the mayor’s proposals and the Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory committee (HALA) report.
For this update on the plan, we also sat down with a West Seattleite from the HALA committee, Cindi Barker, to talk through a few of its more-confusing points. (She was not on the committee as a West Seattle representative, but as a member of the City Neighborhood Council.)
First – some toplines from Monday’s council meeting. Early on, a city staffer offered an understatement, saying it will be a “long conversation” because “some of the suggestions do step outside of the comfort zone.”
Much of the briefing focused on the backstory of how this all happened.
One major issue of interest brought up by Councilmember Tom Rasmussen was the oft-quoted contention that the city has enough “capacity” for all the new housing it needs, without any upzoning.
Following up on Monday’s much-discussed mayoral announcement (WSB coverage here) of proposals the city hopes will lead to more housing, particularly more affordable housing: Most if not all of the proposed changes have to go through the City Council. Its members now have a new set of hats to wear while considering those changes: The Select Committee on Housing Affordability. The agenda is now out for its first meeting, next Monday (July 20th) around 2:30 pm (after the regular afternoon council meeting). Linked in the agenda are several documents, most of which went public with Monday’s announcement; one you might want to take a close look at includes this list of proposed multifamily/commercial zoning changes:
While most of this has been widely described as “adding one floor” to current zoning, note what’s proposed for the zone currently known as NC-85 – much of the heart of The Junction is zoned that way, as is part of Avalon, and that generally allows up to 8 floors. If this part of the new proposals is approved, that zone would fold into NC-125 – meaning up to 12 floors, four more floors beyond what’s now allowed. (If you’re not familiar with the term FAR in the table, that is short for floor-to-area ratio, explained here.) This has NOT been written into proposed legislation yet, so public hearings, counterproposals, and votes are still some distance off.
Meantime, we’re working on a separate followup looking at some of the other proposals including (but not limited to!) all the confusion and conflicting statements regarding what’s proposed for single-family zoning.
VIDEO: Housing-affordability committee report goes public; mayor announces ‘action plan’ including ‘inclusionary housing’ and upzoningJuly 13, 2015 at 11:12 am | In West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 81 Comments
(What was the live-video window, then a placeholder screengrab, is now the archived video of Monday’s announcement)
11:12 AM: Click the “play” button to see the live Seattle Channel webcast that’s about to begin, with Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember Mike O’Brien leading the presentation of the long-awaited report from the Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee, created almost 10 months ago. The report is live here, and the “action plan” the mayor is announcing is here (and embedded below):
11:20 AM: The briefing has begun.
11:24 AM: Here’s the full text of the news release from the mayor’s office, hailing a “grand bargain” between developers and housing advocates, which includes a requirement for “affordable” units in all multi-family developments, and also increases allowable heights in certain zones:
Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember Mike O’Brien today hailed an unprecedented agreement that will lead to at least 50,000 new homes in Seattle, including 20,000 affordable homes, over the next 10 years. Affordable housing will be included in nearly every residential development across Seattle as the rate of construction of new affordable homes triples.
“As Seattle expands and experiences rapid economic growth, more people are chasing a limited supply of housing. We are facing our worst housing affordability crisis in decades,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “My vision is a city where people who work in Seattle can afford to live here. Housing affordability is just one building block to a more equitable city. It goes hand in hand with our efforts on raising the minimum wage, providing preschool education for low-income children, and increasing access to parks and transit. We all share a responsibility in making Seattle affordable. Together, this plan will take us there.”
“Since 2013, the City Council has called for a robust, citywide, mandatory affordable housing program to help ensure that the people who work in this city can afford to live here. The combination of Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and a Commercial Linkage Fee will ensure that as Seattle continues to grow, we are creating housing for all incomes,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien.
At the heart of the action plan to make Seattle affordable is Mandatory Inclusionary Housing, a requirement that developers reserve five to seven percent of units in every new multifamily building to be affordable for residents earning up to 60 percent of King County’s Area Median Income (AMI). Developers could opt to contribute to a fund for off-site construction of the units.
In 2015, 60 percent of AMI is $37,680 for an individual and $53,760 for a family of four. Current market-rate rents in new buildings on Seattle’s Capitol Hill currently average $1,887. In 2015, individuals with incomes of 60 percent of AMI pay $1,008 for income-restricted apartments.
New buildings will have taller height restrictions in existing multifamily residential, mixed-use and commercial zones throughout the city. A substantial portion of the additional development will occur within the existing Urban Centers and Urban Villages, designated two decades ago as the preferred location for denser housing. Only single-family zoning within Urban Villages and along major arterials will be converted to low-rise residential.
A map of the proposal, which was negotiated by Murray, O’Brien, developers and affordable housing advocates, shows where the growth could occur.
Here’s the aforementioned map – the mayor’s news release continues after it:
The action plan also includes a Commercial Linkage Fee on new commercial development, phased in over three years, to fund additional affordable housing for the lowest-income families. The linkage fee will range from $5 to $14 per square foot, based on the size and location of the commercial development.
When fully implemented, Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and the Commercial Linkage Fee will lead to the construction of at least 6,000 new affordable homes over 10 years.
The Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) advisory committee today delivered to the mayor 65 recommendations after 10 months of work. The consensus-driven proposal was crafted by a 28-member committee of affordable housing advocates, community voices, developers and housing experts appointed by the mayor and Seattle City Council last September.
“Many thanks to all the committee members and staff for an extraordinary amount of work over the past 10 months,” said HALA co-chairs David Wertheimer and Faith Li Pettis. “We were asked by the mayor and council to offer bold, new concepts in our approach to solving the affordable housing crisis. We think this plan fully delivers on that request. We were able to complete our task because we approached the challenge with a single, shared goal: to make Seattle affordable for all families. None of us got exactly the solution we may have envisioned at the outset, and every one of us had to give a little to reach this landmark agreement. In the end, we are confident that our collaboration will result in thousands of new affordable homes across our city.”
Murray immediately responded to the recommendations with his roadmap to make Seattle affordable, a path to reach his goal of 50,000 new homes, including 20,000 new homes for low- and moderate-income people, over the next decade. Some items in the action plan could be completed this year, while others will require at least two years to implement. In the coming weeks, the mayor will transmit to council a resolution to formalize the elements and framework of the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program.
Today, about 45,000 households in Seattle spend more than half their incomes on housing. An estimated 2,800 people sleep outside each night in Seattle. Currently, about 700 income-restricted homes are built in Seattle each year.
The increased development capacity across the city will ensure increase supply of housing to respond to growing demand, as Seattle is forecast to add 120,000 residents over the next 20 years.
Single-family zones currently represent 65 percent of all land in Seattle. After the proposed zoning changes, single-family zones will still cover 61 percent of Seattle. HALA proposes code changes that will make it easier to build accessory dwelling units and backyard cottages (only one percent of homeowners have done so), as well as allow duplexes and triplexes, while preserving the character of single-family neighborhoods.
Residential development continues to be excluded from industrial areas under the proposal.
The City is currently engaged in a community process to update its Comprehensive Plan, called Seattle 2035. Over the past two decades, the Comprehensive Plan has been successful in locating 75 percent of Seattle’s new housing in Urban Centers and Urban Villages. The update, to be completed in 2016, contemplates expansion of Urban Villages and denser housing around transit hubs and light rail stations. HALA’s recommendations will be implemented in conjunction with the updated Comprehensive Plan.
Doubling of Housing Levy in 2016
To meet the needs of the Seattle’s lowest-income residents, those earning less than 30 percent of AMI, HALA also proposes to double the existing $145 million Seattle Housing Levy scheduled to expire in 2016. Over the past 30 years, the levy has funded $400 million to build and preserve nearly 12,000 units of affordable housing.
In 2015, 30 percent of AMI is $18,850 for an individual or $26,900 for a family of four.
This year, the City will award a record $42 million from the Housing Levy and the existing Incentive Zoning program for the development and preservation of low-income housing. The Seattle Office of Housing will issue project guidelines and invite partner applications later this week.
The HALA report also urges the Washington State Legislature to allow Seattle to adopt a 0.25 percent real estate excise tax dedicated to affordable housing development, as well as an increase in the State Housing Trust Fund.
To support moderate-income families, HALA recommends expanding the Multifamily Property Tax Exemption Program (MFTE) that is set to expire at the end of the year. Under MFTE, developers receive a tax exemption when they dedicate 20 percent of units in new buildings for moderate-income people, typically between 65 percent and 85 percent of AMI. HALA proposes to expand the program to all areas where multifamily housing can be built and incorporate a new incentive for three-bedroom units to extend program benefits to larger moderate-income families.
In 2015, 80 percent AMI is $46,100 for an individual and $65,800 for a family of four.
HALA recommends a range of tenant protections to ensure better access to housing, prevent housing discrimination and minimize displacement as rental and ownership costs increase across the city:
· Prevent displacement as rents increase across the city through a Preservation Property Tax Exemption and other mechanisms.
· Remove barriers to housing for renters with a criminal history that disproportionately impact people of color.
· Strengthen the Tenant Relocation Assistance paid to low-income renters who are displaced by new development.
· Develop new homeownership tools for Muslim buyers who cannot use conventional mortgage products due to their religious convictions.
· Establish new protections to prevent discrimination against renters due to their source of income.
HALA also recommends that the City continue to review parking policies that contribute to the growth of housing costs or inhibit development in single- and multifamily residential zones.
11:47 AM: We’ve added embedded versions of the key documents/maps mentioned so far. Also of note, but not mentioned in the news release above – the mayor mentioned that, as part of the “bargain,” a lawsuit has been
settled. Council President Tim Burgess, meantime, mentioned he’s creating a new City Council committee on housing that will deal with this, starting later this month.
Today you can expect to hear a lot about housing, construction, and zoning, as the long-awaited Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee report is going public at City Hall at 11 am. We’ll have the details when available. In the meantime, new project proposals continue to surface in city files daily, and we have another one to mention today:
MICROHOUSING ON 36TH SW: A brand-new early-stage plan in the files would replace that 95-year-old triplex at 4122 36th SW (map) with what’s described as a “4-story apartment building” featuring “small efficiency dwelling units” (SEDU), the official name for the studios more commonly known as microhousing. The site is zoned Lowrise 3; the potential number of units is not mentioned in what’s been filed so far. No offstreet parking is planned; it’s not required because of its proximity to what’s considered “frequent transit.”
SIDE NOTE: Two SEDU buildings are under construction in West Seattle right now – 5949 California SW (approximately 40 units) and 3268 Avalon Way SW (62 units), which is next to one of the two already-open SEDU buildings, 3266 SW Avalon Way.
West Seattle redevelopment: Harbor project under way; new plans for California, Fauntleroy, Charlestown sitesJuly 9, 2015 at 2:02 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 9 Comments
Four residential-redevelopment notes this afternoon:
1201 HARBOR SW PROJECT UNDER WAY: Harbor Avenue has had many proposals but not much action for a while. This one at 1201-1205 Harbor Avenue SW is now under way after demolition of two old houses last week (WSB photo above) – city files show a 4-unit rowhouse on the way. (UPDATE: After publishing this, we received a rendering from the architects Allied 8:
REDEVELOPMENT @ 5440 CALIFORNIA SW: From the city files, a new proposal to demolish this 92-year=old single-family house and “accessory unit,” to be replaced by three live-work units, two townhouses, and two single-family homes.
5652 FAUNTLEROY WAY SW: Redevelopment also continues along Fauntleroy Way, where a 101-year-old single-family house and “accessory structure” are now planned for demolition and replacement with three single-family houses.
3026 SW CHARLESTOWN: In the Luna Park area, there’s an early-stage proposal on file for a 10-to-12-apartment building on this site that’s just uphill from Avalon.
Thanks to the many people who’ve sent us this link – if you haven’t already seen it, data reporter Gene Balk at The Seattle Times (WSB partner) says people interested in getting out of the Bay Area are zeroing in on West Seattle – in a BIG way, at least according to one real-estate website. Doesn’t surprise us – when we got here from San Diego in 1991, we found more than a few other ex-Californians in WS. But that was pre-consumer Internet, so, no data-crunching possible! Any recent Bay Area arrivals within sight of these pixels, would love to hear how you wound up here – comments or firstname.lastname@example.org.
4:49 PM: Twice nominated, and rejected, for city-landmark status, the Charlestown Court apartments across from the ex-Charlestown Café are coming down.
Townhouses will replace them, as we’ve reported previously.
5:40 PM: We’re adding images and backstory. Video:
And – thanks to Bryce for the tip that demolition was under way; unexpected at 4 pm on a Friday going into a long holiday weekend. This site has been on our watchlist for many weeks, and we’ve driven by daily to check for signs of impending teardown, but hadn’t been by today, until that tip.
Back in 2008, with a different demolition/development proposal pending for the site, the city Landmarks Preservation Board rejected a bid for landmark status, saying basically that it was nice-looking but not “special.” The proposal to replace it with a four-story apartments-over-retail building was scrapped later that year, and a new proposal emerged, one that would have preserved its distinctive facade:
(2008 NK Architects proposal incorporating Charlestown Court facade; eventually scrapped)
A land-use permit was granted in early 2009 but the project stalled in the economic downturn, and the apartments remained status-quo until early 2014, when we discovered a new teardown-to-townhouses proposal in the city files. Here’s the concept in the files, from architects S&H Works – 4 buildings, 2 townhouses in each one:
Last summer, as part of the process, Charlestown Court was again considered, and rejected, for landmark status. That cleared the way for the project getting under way now.
SIDE NOTE: Its block is about to have a whole lot of building going on – it’s across the street from the former Charlestown Café, with live-work and townhouses slated to fill that site, and a few doors down on the west side of California, demolition is expected soon at 3829 California, with a 29-unit apartment building to replace it. While demolition was under way to the north, we noticed firefighters training in the now-vacant building:
ADDED 9:54 PM: Sent by Jackie (who has also mentioned this in the comment section):
We saved the azalea, though! The kindest operator and my neighbor, who owns the truck, helped get it up and out of harm’s way. Thank you, Cajun Excavating! You made our day.
Meantime, we went back before sunset to see if the south side of the building had been taken down since we left; it had.
Today we’re welcoming 4730 California, new apartments in the heart of the West Seattle Junction, as a new WSB sponsor. Here’s what they’d like you to know:
(Copyright: The Wolff Company / Doug Scott Photography)
Experience 4730 California apartments. Next to amazing restaurants, bars, shops, transit connections, yet mostly undiscovered by outsiders. 4730 California is the quintessential West Seattle address. It’s right smack dab in the heart of West Seattle. Yet at just 88 apartments, it is boutique enough to allow individual passions and living tastes to come through.
What ‘best in West’ means:
*Best Seattle is the sunset over the Olympics from your loveseat
*Best Seattle is sleeping in and grabbing a Low Rider at Easy Street
*Best Seattle is a stroll through Lincoln Park with Fido in tow
*Best Seattle is a year-round farmers’ market darn near in your back yard
*Best Seattle is Talarico’s New York-style slice as big as your head
*Best Seattle is a fat burger and beer from Elliott Bay Brewing
4730 California is available by appointment for tours Mondays-Fridays, 10 am-5 pm. The building is “very pet-friendly” and has special events such as wine tastings hosted by Bin 41 every third Thursday. And they’ve signed on as a major sponsor of this year’s West Seattle Summer Fest. Find out more at 4730ca.com.
We thank 4730 California apartments for sponsoring independent, community-collaborative neighborhood news via WSB; find our current sponsor team listed in directory format here, and find info on joining the team by going here.
If you weren’t at the Senior Center of West Seattle last Thursday for the discussion forum that led to last week’s most-discussed WSB story, now you can watch the Seattle Channel‘s video. Thanks to Diane for the tip; it’s available online (here, or embedded above) and is being shown on SC’s cable channel (21), with upcoming schedule slots listed as 4 pm tomorrow (Thursday) as well as 1 am and 11 am on Friday (May 1st). Though the forum sought to address a multitude of housing issues, they primarily boiled down to affordability, as well as tenants’ rights.
‘Affordable housing’ forum starts with West Seattle tales of unaffordable housing, and what (little) you can do about itApril 23, 2015 at 7:11 pm | In West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 63 Comments
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Rather than starting with numbers and trends, this afternoon’s affordable-housing forum at the Senior Center of West Seattle cut directly to the heart of the crisis, with two women telling their stories.
They were introduced by the center’s social worker Holly McNeill: “I’ve had an incredible increase in the number of people coming to me each week telling me they’re homeless, or their apartments are being torn down, or they’re being priced out by the landlord or manager in order to upgrade the apartments and turn them around at twice the amount they’re currently being rented at … it’s just happening to so many people.”
Nancy got two months notice her studio was going up from 650 to 1590 a month. Had to leave. pic.twitter.com/4JdRIlLHF7
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) April 23, 2015
“I lived in a 9-unit mom-and-pop-type apartment complex.” She thought it would “be there forever.” They told her they were selling the building but “selling it to people just like us” – then, “the new owners who came in and bought the building raised the rents anywhere from 130 to 140 percent – “In a studio apartment, my rent went from $650 to $1500 a month” – the audience groans – “Each unit was going to be responsible for the common area utilities like electric and water,” which was another 93/month. They got two months’ notice. “My first reaction was to go into research mode – my kids always say, mom’s on a mission, get out of her way.” She worked to find out, “is this legal … what are our rights … to no avail, really.” She had had surgeries recently, ended up having to take early retirement. “I don’t really have wiggle room to go from $650 to $1590, that’s even more than I make per month.” So she started “an arduous process” to find someplace else to live – “day and night I was on the computer looking for a place to live.” She finally found somewhere, “not my ultimate, ‘isn’t this great,’ but I accomplished my goal. I had to be out on the 28th of February, or else pay $1590 on the first of March for rent. ”
They were going to make some changes, “lipstick on a pig,” she said, but not until the new rent kicked in. She found a two bedroom, one bath apartment with “some guy I don’t know” – she had “a pit in the bottom of my stomach … I took a leap of faith, and moved in, and I’ve been there two months and he decided this month not to pay his rent, and I just found that out two days ago, and I’m going to be homeless again …”
In case you missed our first mention – this is just two days away, 12:30 pm-2:30 pm Thursday (April 23rd) at the Senior Center of West Seattle:
Councilmember Tom Rasmussen will host a community forum regarding affordable-housing challenges for senior citizens and options for those on fixed incomes. Rasmussen is hosting the meeting in response to concerns he has heard regarding the increasing cost of housing, particularly from low-income seniors. Representatives for senior citizens, social workers, housing affordability advocates, Seattle Housing Authority, and from the Seattle Utility Discount Program will be part of the presentation.
Forum topics include:
· Increasing housing costs
· Landlord and renter rights in Seattle
· Affordable housing options for seniors
· Opportunities for participation in the Utility Discount Program
Everyone is invited to attend to learn more and ask questions.
The Senior Center’s entrance is on SW Oregon just east of California SW.
Will runaway rents chase (more) people out of the city? With heartbreaking tales like this one emerging, and discussions like this one ongoing, Mayor Murray has stepped up While his affordable-housing advisory committee continues to work on its recommendations, Mayor Murray has just given them a goal with a specific number:
Mayor Murray today directed the Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee to meet his new goal for both income-restricted affordable and market-rate units to be created over the coming decade.
Mayor Murray asked the committee to develop specific proposals that will allow the building and preservation of 50,000 housing units over in the next 10 years within the city limits. 20,000 of these must be income-restricted affordable units for individuals and families making 80 percent of the area median income (AMI) and below. 30,000 units would be market rate.
“Seattle is facing a serious lack of affordable housing options that displace families and people in this city,” said Murray. “Next week, Seattle’s minimum wage workers are getting a raise as a part of our broader affordability agenda. We need to make sure that those who work in Seattle can afford to live here.”
The increase in income-restricted affordable units is nearly a tripling of the current rate of units being built for those at 80 percent of AMI or less. Currently, income-restricted affordable housing is being built at a rate of around 700 units per year.
“As the HALA enters the last stretch of analysis and discussion of strategies, this target will sharpen our focus,” said Faith Le-Pettis, co-chair of the advisory committee. “No matter your perspective, the target we’ve been given by the Mayor is an enormous number. We’ll need determination, long-sightedness and civic commitment to meet the challenge.”
The Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee was formed by Mayor Murray and city councilmembers in the fall of 2014 to develop policy recommendations for the city. The committee is made up of 28 housing experts, activists and community leaders. They will issue their recommendations to the Mayor in May.
Right now, the Multi-Family Tax Exemption is one incentive the city has been offering developers for some years – if they agree to keep a certain number of units in their projects in certain areas (including West Seattle’s urban villages/centers) at a certain percentage of the area’s median income, they get a 12-year tax break, no property taxes on the residential portion of their buildings.
When we talked to Mayor Murray at his neighborhood-press availability last week, he mentioned he would be announcing an affordable-housing goal and that it would take “a series of tools – not just one tool” to make it reality. He said in that interview that it would be vital to build units for people who will “never qualify for subsidized housing” but are being priced out of the “market” nonetheless.
While Junction leaders were gathered at Husky Deli to launch a survey of the area’s historical character, another development project was ramping up just blocks away. Thanks to Sally and Carl for sending photos from 42nd SW in The Junction, just north of SW Oregon, where three houses are coming down at the Junction Flats site, weeks after the demolition equipment was brought in and parked in the houses’ front yards. This is right across the street from Hope Lutheran School, which has provided an audience of sorts:
It’s been more than a year since Junction Flats finished going through Design Review.
The 4-story building is planned for 80 units (all apartments except for two live-work units) and 52 off-street parking spaces.
(WSB photo from November 17, 2008)
At 4532 42nd SW in The Junction, that house with history – a long-ago hospital, WSB’ers told us – came down in fall of 2008. At the time, a 35-residential-unit, 54-parking-space development was in the works. As happened to some other projects right around that time, it got shelved. Now a brand-new proposal has emerged, a mixed-use building with 84 apartments and 70 underground parking spaces. The project would also include the site of the small brick house-turned-office at 4536 42nd SW, placing the building immediately north of Capco Plaza (QFC/Altamira).
(WSB photo, taken this morning)
According to the early-stage site plan that just turned up in city files, the building’s parking garage would have an entry on the same alley used for the Capco Plaza garage, and the residential entry on 42nd would be just north of the alley. This will require Design Review – no date yet. It’s an NK Architects project, as are the two noted below:
SIDE NOTE: This proposal’s emergence means three projects are now in the works for the two-block stretch of 42nd between Genesee and Alaska in the heart of The Junction. Construction equipment has been parked for a while outside two of the three houses scheduled to come down for 80-apartment Junction Flats on the west side of 42nd just north of Oregon; just south of Oregon, 4505 42nd SW, with 41 apartments and 9 “lodging” units, won Design Review approval earlier this year.
Another new rule regarding microhousing units is about to go before the City Council. With two micro buildings open here, two more under construction, and one in the pipeline, you might find it of interest.
BACKSTORY: Right now, if a microhousing building is eligible for the city’s Multi-Family Tax Exemption tax-break program, the maximum rent and income eligibility numbers are the same as for studio units in non-microhousing buildings. A proposed rule change going before a council committee this week would lower those numbers for microhousing – now formally known as SEDUs (small efficiency dwelling units) –
The MFTE program, explained in full here, currently involves more than 140 of all types around the city. Participating property owners must rent out at least 20 percent of their units at a city-set affordability level, and in exchange, they don’t have to pay property tax on the residential portions of their buildings for 12 years (they DO keep paying the tax on the land and on any non-residential parts of the structure, such as retail space).
The current list of participants of all types, citywide, includes both completed West Seattle microhousing buildings, Footprint Avalon I (3266 SW Avalon Way) and Footprint Delridge (4548 Delridge Way SW). (The exemption is only available in certain areas.)
WHAT WOULD CHANGE: It’s explained in a memo to the council – here’s an excerpt:
What prompted the need for this legislation?
* In 2014, the Council passed an ordinance establishing SEDUs as a new unit type, distinct from other unit types. Because existing Code does not set affordability requirements specifically for SEDUs in MFTE, the MFTE program would regard a SEDU as a studio, restricted at 65% of AMI. This translates to a maximum monthly housing cost of $1,004 and a maximum annual income for a one-person household of $40,170. However, typical SEDU market-rate rents are anticipated to be less than not only market-rate rents but also the restricted, affordable-rate rents for studios.
What would be the result of the lower affordability threshold in terms of affordable rent and annual income limits?
* The proposed legislation would reduce the maximum rent threshold for income-restricted SEDUs in MFTE projects to a level affordable to individuals earning 40% of AMI [area median income], resulting in a maximum monthly housing cost of $772 and a maximum annual income for a one-person household of $30,900.
Again, this wouldn’t cover ALL units in a microhousing building participating in the tax-break program – just the 20 percent required for eligibility. In some areas, this might not mean much of a change – doing a spot check online, for example, we note Footprint Avalon I is advertising rents $800-$899 right now.
Two more microhousing/SEDU buildings are under construction in West Seattle right now, 3268 SW Avalon and 5949 California SW, with another one planned at 3050 SW Avalon. Both of the latter have been approved for participation in the MFTE program, according to this report to the City Council last spring (which also includes data such as how much tax was *not* collected because of the exemption – scroll all the way down the document). The proposed changes will be discussed when the council’s Committee on Housing Affordability, Human Services, and Economic Resiliency, chaired by Councilmember Sally Clark, meets at 9:30 am this Thursday (February 5th) at City Hall.
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What do you think about growth? How can Seattle encourage affordable housing? These and other questions …December 16, 2014 at 2:32 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news, West Seattle online | 31 Comments
The city’s been running online surveys in abundance lately. This one, though, speaks to topics that we cover often here on WSB, and after going through its questions and open-comment spaces, we thought you might be interested, given its questions about everything from housing costs to your opinions of growth. It’s being presented as part of the mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda. It’s not the usual basic online-survey format; be forewarned, you’ll find some spots requiring scrolling, and some questions where you can check as many circles as you want, others where you have to settle on one. Start the survey here (and note the open-comment thread at the bottom of the start page, if you just want to say something without taking the survey at all).
Scouring the latest Department of Planning and Development data, we turned up another new apartment-building proposal for The Junction. The 1952-built 8-unit building at 4528 44th SW (map), shown above in a King County Assessor’s Office photo, is proposed for replacement with what the city website describes as a “new 60-unit apartment building, five stories plus basement, five enclosed parking spaces.” The 5,850-square-foot site is zoned for development up to 65′ and borders the alley behind several retailers. It’s also almost directly across 44th from the under-construction 38-unit Lofts at The Junction at 4535 44th SW. According to the DPD website, this proposal will have to go through the Design Review process; no date set yet – it’s in the relatively early stages, with its newest “site plan” filed just this past Monday.
West Seattle development: 3824 California’s new design; 4505 42nd back to Design Review; 7-lot Beach Drive site for sale; moreNovember 14, 2014 at 7:25 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 32 Comments
REVISED DESIGN FOR 3824 CALIFORNIA SW: The 14-townhouse/13-live-work-unit development on the ex-Charlestown Café site goes back to the Southwest Design Review Board next week (as noted here last week), at 6:30 pm Thursday (November 20th), Senior Center of West Seattle. And now, the “packet” showing the newest design proposal is online – see it here. This will be the fourth time the project goes before the board. It changed architects before the third meeting (WSB coverage here), and the new firm, Johnston Architects, remains at the helm.
ALSO GOING BACK TO DESIGN REVIEW, WITH A NEW COMPONENT: 4505 42nd SW, just across the alley from the Senior Center, now described as:
7-story structure containing 50 residential units, 6,900 sq. ft. of lodging use and 3,600 sq. ft. of ground floor retail use. Parking for 15 vehicles to be provided below grade.
No design packet yet; “lodging” was not part of the project in its previous reviews (most recently, seven months ago). It’s just been added to the schedule for the 8 pm December 4th SWDRB slot (following the 6:30 pm review of the assisted-living project at 4515 41st SW).
DELRIDGE SITE IN FOR ‘STREAMLINED DESIGN REVIEW’: 5206 Delridge Way is proposed for a “five-unit townhouse structure” that’s in for streamlined design review, which means no meeting.
7-LOT BEACH DRIVE SITE ON THE MARKET: Just spotted last night in an online listing, seven lots comprising 2 acres of potential homesites at 5606 Beach Drive, listed at $2,432,250.
TEARDOWNS: In the city permitting system, updated over the past week or so: Demolition permits issued or sought for 3810 California SW (aforementioned ex-café site that’s being developed as 3824 California); single-family house at 4035 36th SW (new house to be built); duplex and garage at 5003 Fauntleroy Way SW (7-unit rowhouse to be built); single-family house at 5269 California SW (West Seattle Nursery expansion site); 4500 40th SW (development plan reported here); single-family houses at 2835 and 2837 SW Adams (three-story, 6-unit rowhouse proposed to replace them).
P.S. – NEW WAY TO SEE WHAT’S HAPPENING WHERE: The city Department of Planning and Development home page has a map that will show you spots where projects are proposed. But someone outside city government has just come up with an even-better way to take a look at what’s happening where – at least, for now, the larger projects. It’s called Seattle In Progress. Ethan Phelps-Goodman explains it here.
Affordable, livable housing. Everybody needs it. Not everybody can find it. So the city’s trying to figure out what it can/should do, to fix that. To help shape its Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda, it’s working with an advisory committee. Among its members, West Seattle community advocate Cindi Barker, who says the committee met for the first time last week and is now looking ahead to three community meetings at which you can be heard.
Above is the slide deck with issues and data put before the committee, but you might already know in your heart and gut what it would take to deal with this issue. The key “starting points” for discussion are growth, affordability, recent development, and race/social justice. Back to the upcoming meetings: They’re all outside West Seattle, but the first two are not far:
South Seattle: Ethiopian Community Center (Map)
Wednesday, November 19, 2014, 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Central District: Garfield Community Center (Map)
Thursday, November 20, 2014, 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Northgate: Northgate Community Center (Map)
Thursday, December 04, 2014, 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
6:00 pm, doors open
6:30 – 6:45, introductions and remarks
6:45 – 7:30, Survey of meeting attendees (hand held survey devices so people can respond to presentation material and provide direct input)
7:30 – 8:00, display stations of information and interaction with staff and committee members present
The full committee roster, by the way, is listed on the right side of this city webpage. They are expected to get recommendations to the mayor and council by the end of May.
Updates tonight on three in-the-works West Seattle microhousing projects:
5949 CALIFORNIA: WORK EXPECTED TO BEGIN – The smallest of the three, at 5949 California SW in north Morgan Junction, has had its permits for a while, and now, Morgan Community Association president Deb Barker says she’s learned that construction is about to begin. The house in our photo above is to be replaced with a five-story micro-apartment building with ~38 “sleeping rooms” and no offstreet-parking spaces; we first reported on the project in May 2013.
The next two projects were considered to be more or less on hold because of a city letter sent in September, as reported here. That letter sent to these and other projects around the city referenced a court decision, saying that their current plans meant each room would have to be counted as a separate dwelling unit, so either those plans would have to change or the projects would need to go through Design Review.. But we’ve discovered new developments on both projects:
3268 SW AVALON WAY: Just before the city memo in late September, the start of work on this 50+-unit project (next door to an already-complete microhousing building) was considered to be imminent – a temporary power tower had gone up. But nothing happened until Friday, when we noticed toward day’s end that the old multiplex on the site next to the 35th/Avalon 7-11 had been torn down. The file shows that the construction and demolition permits were issued three weeks ago. But we haven’t yet found anything online indicating what might have changed, if anything, in relation to the city memo.
Different story down the street …
3050 SW AVALON WAY: This 100+-unit, no-offstreet-parking-spaces project also appears to be proceeding. After seeing the demolition work up the street, we checked the file for this project and found a memo from architect Jay Janette, dated Friday, responding directly to the September letter from the city, by saying:
So rooms are not counted as separate dwelling units, per the City of Seattle DPD letter dated September 22, 2014, all sinks, refrigeration equipment, built-in cabinet and counters outside the bathrooms have been removed from each room.
That’s followed by, “If there are any remaining issues that we need to resolve, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly to resolve over the phone or email in lieu of another review cycle.”
Future microhousing projects will be reviewed under the city’s new rules passed a month ago.
(Click the image to go to the full-size map on the city website)
Would a new type of development fee lead to more affordable housing in the city? The City Council’s Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee has just voted in favor of a proposal for a so-called “linkage fee” intended to make that happen. If it became law, it would affect commercial and multifamily development in certain parts of the city, shown on the map above – including parts of West Seattle:
A City Council committee today recommended approval of a plan to create an affordable housing linkage fee to preserve and create affordable housing in Seattle. The resolution directs City departments to develop legislation whereby new construction in multi-family and commercial zones would mitigate the cost of increasing rents by funding housing affordable to those households making $45,000 – $65,000 per year, which is 60% – 80% of area median income (AMI).
“If we want Seattle to be an inclusive city for people of all incomes, then we need to see more housing produced that’s affordable to more people. Up until this point, the market has clearly not given us the housing we need,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien, chair of the Planning, Land Use and Sustainability Committee and the legislation’s sponsor.
Developers could either pay a per-square-foot fee, which is variable based on project’s location in the city, or avoid the fee by dedicating at least 3% – 5% of the units in their project to households making less than 80% AMI. The money generated from fees would be invested in workforce housing.
“Our expert economic consultants suggest that at this fee level, development would absorb the fees without constricting new supply or significantly raising rents,” Councilmember O’Brien added.
The (above) map illustrates where the linkage fee would be applied in multi-family and commercial development in the city.
Full Council is expected to vote on the resolution on Monday, October 20. Draft legislation for Council consideration is expected by June 1, 2015. The final legislation is anticipated to gradually phase-in over a three year period and would not affect existing projects or new projects with permit applications already submitted.
Additional information about O’Brien’s proposal for an Affordable Housing Linkage Fee in Seattle is available online.
This is separate from the city’s Multi-Family Tax Exemption program, which enables a partial tax exemption on projects that commit to below-market rents for part of their units. The city’s current list of projects in that program includes nine buildings in West Seattle.
The latest plan for 3811 California SW is advancing, with a plan now in city files for “streamlined design review” (SDR) – which means public comments will be accepted, but there’s no Design Review Board meeting. The site is currently home to Charlestown Court, the brick fourplex that has been rejected twice for landmark status. The proposal, as first reported here in January, is to replace it with four 2-unit townhouse buildings and eight offstreet-parking spaces on the alley. Here’s what architect S+H Works has filed with the city for the SDR process:
West Seattle development: Abatement/demolition begins for The Whittaker; six other teardown/rebuild notesOctober 8, 2014 at 6:40 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 19 Comments
Seven West Seattle development notes:
ABATEMENT/DEMOLITION WORK BEGINS AT THE WHITTAKER: If you have driven past the site of The Whittaker (400 apartments plus retail including Whole Foods Market) at 4755 Fauntleroy Way SW, you might have noticed the heavy equipment beginning work. A project spokesperson confirms that they have “officially started abatement work,” adding that the “auto body shop on 40th is scheduled to be demolished sometime tomorrow.” Major demolition is about two weeks away, if all goes as planned, and construction is set to start next month.
Six smaller demolition/construction projects of note, with permits granted or applied for in the past week or so:
4101 SW OREGON: In The Junction, the demolition permit has just been granted for a project first mentioned here almost a year ago; an 87-year-old house will be demolished and replaced with a 4-unit rowhouse.
4316 SW THISTLE: The application is now in for a “lot boundary adjustment” at this corner parcel, on the books as two lots, as mentioned here in July, though holding one house for more than a century. That house is planned for teardown, and replacement with two single-family houses including “accessory dwelling units,” which means four residences in all. (For “accessory dwelling units” to be legal, the city rules say, the property owner has to live on site, either in the main house or ADU.)
9007 45TH SW: In Fauntleroy, this 71-year-old house is planned for demolition and replacement.
The city officially has rules for microhousing – or, if you prefer, SEDUs (small efficiency dwelling units). They’ve been in the works for months and, two weeks after the final committee discussion, won official, unanimous council approval this afternoon. Read the full bill here; here are the highlights from the city toplines featured our story about them last month:
*Creates a definition for small efficiency dwelling units (SEDU).
*Clarifies the definition of dwelling unit.
*Establishes required components of SEDUs, including a 150-square-foot minimum sleeping room area, a 220 square foot minimum total floor area, a food preparation area (sink, refrigerator, countertop, cooking appliance) and a bathroom (sink, toilet, shower or bathtub).
*Limits the issuance of Restricted Parking Zone permits to no more than one per SEDU or congregate residence sleeping room.
*Requires Streamlined Design Review to be applied, in all zones, to congregate residences and residential uses that are more than 50 percent comprised of SEDUs if they contain between 5,000 and 11,999 square feet of gross floor area.
*Limits the construction of congregate residences that do not meet certain ownership or operational requirements to higher density zones that are located within Urban Centers and Urban Villages
*Increases the minimum required area of communal space in a congregate residence from 10 percent of the total floor area of all sleeping rooms to 15 percent of the total floor area of all sleeping rooms.
*Creates a new vehicle parking requirement of one parking space for every two SEDUs for areas of the City where vehicle parking is required for multifamily residential uses.
*Increases bicycle parking requirements for SEDUs and congregate residences to 0.75 bicycle spaces per SEDU or congregate residence sleeping room.
*Requires the bicycle parking required for SEDUs and congregate residences to be covered for weather protection.
*Allows required, covered bicycle parking for SEDUs or congregate residence sleeping rooms to be exempt from Floor Area Ratio limits if the required parking is located inside the building that contains the SEDUs or congregate residence sleeping rooms.
*Calls on the Department of Planning and Development to complete an analysis of the City’s vehicle and bicycle parking requirements and present its recommendations for regulatory changes to the City Council by no later than March 31, 2015.
That last item, as we noted last month, goes beyond microhousing.
West Seattle has two microhousing buildings already open – Footprint Delridge and Footprint Avalon I – and three on the drawing board. As reported here two weeks ago, two of the not-yet-under-construction projects – at 3268 SW Avalon Way and 3050 SW Avalon Way – are on hold because of a court decision that would require them to go through Design Review, or undergo a significant redesign.
During this afternoon’s council meeting, discussion preceding the vote included a rebuke by West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen for city departments not catching “loopholes” he said developers exploited when first opening these projects here. (You can watch the discussion and vote in the archived Seattle Channel video atop this story; the vote is 71 minutes into the video.)
FIRST REPORT, 7:18 PM: We’re at High Point Community Center along with a crowd we’d estimate to number at least 200, at what was supposed to be an informational/Q-A meeting about the Seattle Housing Authority‘s controversial “Stepping Forward” rent-increase proposal.
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) September 30, 2014
SHA executive director Andrew Lofton barely got through the pre-planned slide deck, with chants and shouts between almost every line.
After a few attempts at Q/A – really, just Q, because SHA said it would not answer any of the questions – one man shouted that those in attendance were being insulted and should walk out.
Many did, and went into the gym, where they and protesters rallied, with City Councilmember Kshama Sawant on hand.
(Added 9:26 pm – here’s our video of what Sawant told them, amplified via “human mike”:)
Others, meantime, stayed behind, and some spoke about the “stepped” rent increase proposal, which could take a subsidized household now paying $50 in rent, up to $1,000 in the fifth year. Even those who said they supported the concept of encouraging self-sufficiency said unemployment is high and there’s no guarantee anyone can get work, no matter how hard they try.
This man says unemployment is high and he is worried about people find self-sufficiency pic.twitter.com/Ik9Ncq1Tar
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) September 30, 2014
There were declarations that while SHA is calling for tenant accountability, no one is calling for developer accountability to provide more low-income housing.
The meeting is now in an “open house” phase at which those with questions are seeking answers in one-on-one conversations.
9:26 PM: Above, we’ve added our video of what Councilmember Sawant said after “the other meeting” convened in the Community Center’s gym – we had one crew in each room.
Our full video of the meeting in the original room, including all of the protests and the presentation they punctuated, will be added after we get it uploaded later tonight. (Added: Here it is:)
Meantime, Sawant told those gathered in the gym that the SHA meeting was “a joke” and called for “a big action in City Hall” on October 15th.
Opponents of “Stepping Forward” have a petition, and details of their position and objections, online here.
Meantime, the “next steps” slide in the official presentation said a possible “workforce pilot” would begin late this year, and that the proposal would be revised, more public comment taken, a recommendation made to SHA’s Board of Commissioners, then a phase-in with about 4 years from Board approval to full implementation, “rent changes no earlier than 2016.”
“We don’t want it revised!” someone yelled. “We want it gone!”
Two development notes this afternoon:
REVISED PROPOSAL FOR HIGH-PROFILE HIGH POINT CORNER: The placement of that sign might make you think the big stretch of vacant land at 35th/Graham is the future site of more Polygon-built single-family homes. Not according to the newest proposal, with a “preliminary assessment report” added to city files just a week ago. It is now described as:
Develop the Block 9 High Point site, including utilities and infrastructure, 52 townhomes and a 4 story mixed use building containing approximately 80 apartment units, 8,500 square feet of office space, and 1,500 square feet of retail space located on the ground floor.
The mixed-use building is similar to something a Seattle Housing Authority spokesperson mentioned last October, when we reported on the previous plan. At the time, a mix of houses and townhouses was in the works, with an expectation of a “commercial building” at the corner, SHA said. In this plan, that is now a mixed-use building running along the entire 35th SW frontage of the land, according to a preliminary “site plan” filed this month, with the townhouses to the east. The new plan is in the name of High Point III, LLC, which traces to Polygon Northwest‘s Bellevue address. We’ll be following up on next steps for this plan.
2 WEEKS TO COMMENT ON 4849 21ST SW SUBDIVISION: Last week, we reported on an application to split one big lot at 4849 21st SW (map) into nine parcels for single-family houses. Today, the official notice is in the city’s Monday/Thursday Land Use Information Bulletin, which means you have two weeks to comment. Here’s how.
An acre and a third of land in eastern West Seattle is proposed to be split into nine single-family-house lots, according to documents accompanying a land-use application filed with the city this week. Its official address is 4849 21st SW (map), but you can barely glimpse the site from 21st – as shown in our photo, it looks like greenbelt behind a fence, but the site stretches westward to 23rd SW. Two lots would front on 21st, three on 23rd, and the other four inbetween; documents in the online file say a private drive would be built for access to the latter seven. An arborist’s report says the site has 99 “significant” trees, 20 of them “exceptional,” but assesses 35 of the trees as unhealthy and in need of removal. If the subdivision is approved, the lots would be mostly 5,000-7,000 square feet, in keeping with the site’s single-family 5,000 zoning, but one of the lots on 21st would be double-sized, at 10,000 square feet. A two-week comment period will open as soon as the proposal officially appears on the city’s Land Use Information Bulletin.
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