VIDEO: Housing-affordability committee report goes public; mayor announces ‘action plan’ including ‘inclusionary housing’ and upzoning

(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.

81 Replies to "VIDEO: Housing-affordability committee report goes public; mayor announces 'action plan' including 'inclusionary housing' and upzoning"

  • heyalki July 13, 2015 (11:37 am)

    How the heck do they expect everyone to sqeeze out of West Seattle in the morning for work? It’s bad enough as it is now.

  • Wsparent July 13, 2015 (11:39 am)

    Is there a link to the map that shows the urban village growth areas?

    Also, just because I want to learn about others’ culture: what makes muslims unable to use regular mortgage products? (One of the goals to make it easier to obtain affordable,housing states that there is a barrier for them due to their beliefs and I didn’t realize that there was such a barrier– just curious and wanting to understand).

    • WSB July 13, 2015 (11:43 am)

      WSParent, I just hotlinked the “map” reference in the news release and also embedded the map via Scribd. That’s as detailed as it is, so far – TR

  • angelescrest July 13, 2015 (11:48 am)

    The bridge is a nightmare.
    I have a practical question, for those who might know. I f I were to build an ADU in my yard, what would it cost? How would I make it pencil out if I needed to keep it affordable? I’m not opposed–I’ve done it before in CA, but the dwelling was on the property when we bought it. How can this work out financially?

  • Wsparent July 13, 2015 (11:51 am)

    Thanks for the map. I too wonder how more people living in West Seattle will be able to commute across that bridge… Is it possible to link any WS specific maps if they are available? It be nice to know the actual streets/limits to their proposal as some of our home may be in the hatched zone for expansion. Thanks!

  • Pat July 13, 2015 (11:56 am)

    At some point I’ll read through all the details. But, TR, could you clarify whether this is a proposal or a confirmed new policy? Because it’s called an “unprecedented agreement,” it sounds like it’s a done deal, but perhaps an action “plan” means that further approval of some sort is needed before it’s set in stone.
    If this is a done deal, it sounds like duplexes and triplexes are now allowed in all formerly single-family neighborhoods — am I understanding this correctly? Is there any limitation to the number or proportion of duplexes and triplexes allowed in formerly single-family zones?

    • WSB July 13, 2015 (12:05 pm)

      Pat – this is a proposal. I don’t know how much of this could be enacted without going through the council but CM Burgess announced a new council committee to start working on these proposals ASAP. I’m still reading through all this too; we’ll add some sort of tag with “here’s what happens next” once that is very clear, including who to send your thoughts to. Also of note: Counterproposals are about to start flying fast and furious too; Councilmembers Sawant and Licata plan an announcement of their own counterproposal shortly, for one; at least one council candidate also announced a plan for a counterproposal, and I’m sure there will be more. – TR

  • Ex-Westwood Resident July 13, 2015 (12:12 pm)

    Looking at the map, it appears that 35th, from Fauntleroy to Roxbury, has been included in this “up-zoning” plan.
    Meanwhile, SDOT is planning to take the ONLY two lane, N/S arterial in and out of West Seattle, and turn in to a one lane N/S parking lot, giving 3% of commuters piece of road that is vital for the movement of people and goods in and out of West Seattle.
    I wonder what the parking space requirements will be for these new “multi-residential”buildings that will be built “up-zoned” areas???

  • Fourth July 13, 2015 (12:14 pm)

    What does it mean if your house is in a blue hatched area? Does being in a designated “urban village” automatically change the zoning?

  • LarryB July 13, 2015 (12:22 pm)

    There are more details at the link above.

    I’m in favor of making it easier to create more ADUs and DADUs, but I think the owner-occupancy requirement should be retained. We don’t want to create a city of absentee landlords – that way lies disaster. (I’m from Brooklyn, I know how that story ends.)

    For the same reason, I think adding duplexes to SF zones is a bad idea, unless there’s an owner-residence requirement. That would make a duplex essentially a house with an ADU, but with a different format.

    Yes, increase density, but don’t invite speculators into our neighborhoods.

    • WSB July 13, 2015 (12:31 pm)

      LarryB, please note, that is the **HALA committee report** – what the news conference, and the mayor’s news release, are about, is the mayor’s version. Not the same. What he is sending on to the council is this one, his “action plan” – … both are linked above but I did *not* put the HALA report in a Scribd viewer because this is all already very complicated. And of course nothing really matters much until we see it in proposed legislation going before the council …

  • m July 13, 2015 (12:30 pm)

    Does this mean more shopping carts will be abandoned throughout WS?

  • Debra July 13, 2015 (12:45 pm)

    So it looks like California is designated but how Far East or west would the new zoning go
    44th and 42nd run parallel would the upcoming stop there or how Far East and west

  • LarryB July 13, 2015 (12:47 pm)

    It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. We do need to figure out a way to increase density without destroying the things that make Seattle a great place to live.

    In order to make density work, we will need better transit. Having one without the other won’t work out well.

    For the person who asked, there are more details on the HALA propsal linked in the main article.

    I’m in favor of the changes to the ADU/DADU rules, except for the removal of the owner-occupancy requirement. If that is adopted, speculators and absentee landlords to chop single family homes into two apartments, with a DADU in back. I grew up in Brooklyn, and I know what absentee landlords can do to a neighborhood.

    The best way to keep multi-unit property owners in SF zones invested in the neighborhood is to require them or an immediate family member to live there.

    I can also see design requirements for duplexes that would be acceptable, again with an owner-occupancy requirement.

    Small-lot cottages aren’t a great idea outside of higher-density areas. I lived across from some of those in Ballard – the density just isn’t appropriate for any SF zone.

    I imagine there will be much wringing of hands and rending of garments, and we’ll land somewhere between what we have now – a recipe for turning into San Francisco, and uniform upzoning which could turn us into Queens. Neither would be a good thing.

  • CanDo July 13, 2015 (12:47 pm)

    What a map… No streets listed, so you kind of have to guess. I downloaded and enlarged it to 400% and still couldn’t find any actual streets listed.

  • LarryB July 13, 2015 (12:48 pm)

    One other thing – it would be great to see a more detailed map than that vague blue-and-green one. Those boundaries are important!

    • WSB July 13, 2015 (12:51 pm)

      Unfortunately, no other map is available at this point, but I’m asking the mayor’s office if one is forthcoming … or buried somewhere …

  • JVP July 13, 2015 (12:52 pm)

    I for one and happy to see a bold proposal come forward, even though I don’t support everything in it. Seattle is a city of political chickens, and Murray has the guts to go out on a limb. Good for him, it’s healthy for us!
    The devil will be in the details, but something HAS to be done unless we follow the fate of San Francisco with their protectionist zoning and $1million median home price.
    Concerns? Transportation! Like everyone says, the bridge is a major bottleneck. If this zoning change passes combined with light rail to West Seattle, then I’m all for it. The impact of upzoning takes a long time, just like it’ll take a long time for rail to be built. But it has to be done, we can’t just look at today, we have to consider tomorrow.
    Concerns? Be careful with linkage fees. Probably a good idea if not overdone, but if they’re too high they’ll cause developers to NOT build, which would actually drive prices higher. It’s gotta find a nice balance.
    I’m all for less restrictive zoning in single family areas, but once again, can’t go too far, too fast. ADU’s and allowing duplex rental houses (or renting out your MIL/basement) sounds like a really good thing that will modestly increase density. I’m all for that.
    And increasing the urban villages – this is spot on. Make our urban areas more urban, and drive growth there. The Junction is freaking fantastic, and keeps getting better, and the increased density with more business is why it’s so vibrant and keep improving. This way you let urban oriented people live in the urban villages, and the suburban oriented people live in our single family zones.
    Yes, there’s concerns, and council will certainly tweak it, but over all, I say it’s a good first step.

  • clulessinws July 13, 2015 (12:54 pm)

    We should let the market dictate prices since the US operates on a supply/demand model. Tinkering with it is just wrong as others have pointed out in CA and NY with rent control. I mean why work or try to be successful if the government is going to come in and say, you have too much land or you know, you make too much so give so and so a percentage. Scary stuff. Not very motivating. If you want socialism, find a country that practices it. And move there.

    • WSB July 13, 2015 (1:01 pm)

      Update, quick reply from the mayor’s office that they’ll try to get something better. Whenever that happens, we’ll add to the story and here in comments, possibly even a separate story depending on the time frame.

  • clulessinws July 13, 2015 (1:02 pm)

    As long as there is someone willing to pay more for something, why would a builder sell it for less? So called affordable housing. I’ve been hearing this is the reason for building out West Seattle since 2005 and people still want affordable housing. Not working out too well huh?

  • Fred Johnson July 13, 2015 (1:02 pm)

    There really should be a building moratorium put in place until the supporting infrastructure is available and working……

  • Ron Swanson July 13, 2015 (1:10 pm)

    Good proposal. Get light rail to Luna Park, the Triangle, and the Junction, and redeploy bus hours to serving Delridge, 35th, and California/Admiral every ten minutes or less all day to get people to the stations.

  • Kimmy July 13, 2015 (1:17 pm)

    Bummed they didn’t go with the sweeping zoning changes some of us read about in The Times. Upon first glance, this proposal seems like a politically-safe way to pretend to do something effective about our housing shortage while, of course, raising property taxes.

  • julie98106 July 13, 2015 (1:35 pm)

    ” Remove barriers to housing for renters with a criminal history that disproportionately impact people of color.”
    This whole proposal is insane. Are our civic leaders completely out of touch? How many freedoms do the normal folks have to sacrifice to avid noticing the huge socialist elephant in the room? Trotsky my ass.

    • WSB July 13, 2015 (1:53 pm)

      The full paragraph, from the mayor’s report: “Remove Barriers to Housing for People with Criminal Histories: The City will work with stakeholders to develop legislation that ensures fair access to housing for people with criminal records. Stable housing ensures people can engage with their communities and families and obtain stable employment. Deeprooted inequities in the criminal justice system have created lasting effects on communities of color that have created barriers to housing. Furthering fair housing for all our residents is an affirmation of the City’s longstanding commitment to race and social justice.”

  • Don Schei July 13, 2015 (1:56 pm)

    Still no plan for a viable transit system to support the proposed growth. The previous mayor’s plan was quite frankly silly or naïve so what is the current one thinking?

  • Sna July 13, 2015 (1:59 pm)

    Why is it “unfair” to not rent to those with criminal records?

  • T Rex July 13, 2015 (2:19 pm)

    Julie98106 – I fully support what you said.

    Why oh why do I want to rent a $3,000 apartment and live with a felon who only has to pay maybe half that? I do not and would not. Therefore, everyone stops renting the high end apartment and guess what happens?

    The apartments on the corner of California and Alaska? They are already accepting income restriction applications.

    Now I will be called a racist, a snob and probably some other things. But it is what it is at the end of the day. My two “love to hate” statements.

  • Brian July 13, 2015 (2:34 pm)

    Thank you for the article. Excellent in depth information. I do hope the Sound Transit 3 passes with a West Seattle Link expansion this year and Seattle’s transportation plan doesn’t leave out West Seattle and includes some realistic transportation improvements.

  • Rick July 13, 2015 (2:37 pm)

    That’s one of the MANY costs to live in utopia. How big does that damn elephant have to get before you can see or smell it?

  • JanS July 13, 2015 (2:41 pm)

    T Rex….I’m 68 and on a fixed income…income restrictions would apply to me…so…you don’t want me there? Just asking….and I’m not a felon, by the way. However, their income restriction rents begin at $1300/month…yeah…not that cheap – lol

  • JanS July 13, 2015 (2:45 pm)

    oh, and by the way, folks…those with criminal histories (the ones who arent continuing in the lifestyle) have paid the price, served their time. They are human beings, not trash, and they do deserve to have a roof over their heads, too…or maybe you like grousing about homeless in your neighborhood all the time…because that’s where they’ll be…think about it ! You can’t have it both ways:-\

  • Hannah July 13, 2015 (2:46 pm)

    I agree that until the infrastructure improves this will create a nightmare again on the backs of proptery owners, I predict the mayors transportation plan will not pass
    Hoping this mayor is a one term guy, we can all look forward to ugly boxy highrises. Noticed the wealthy areas don’t get hit with this stupid plan
    How about some high rises in north admiral let’s say sunset ave will have great views

  • I. Ponder July 13, 2015 (3:09 pm)

    Hey alki commented: “How the heck do they expect everyone to sqeeze out of West Seattle in the morning for work? It’s bad enough as it is now.”

    Mass transit. Single occupancy vehicles are gridlock.

  • Seattlite July 13, 2015 (3:20 pm)

    Neighborhood Engineering people…Federal and local governments want to control you. What better way than to dictate who you live next to and what structures are built in your neighborhood…yes the neighborhood you chose to raise your children. Seattle’s leaders are too PC and taking freedoms from home owners.

  • Wes C. Addle July 13, 2015 (3:26 pm)

    This sounds good to those on the lower end of the scale but it doesn’t move the needle for the middle class yet again. Most workers bees that work in the corporate high rises downtown make too much for the low income and not nearly enough to afford even a fixer-upper property in Seattle.

  • Sue July 13, 2015 (4:04 pm)

    Here’s the thing with the new construction going in as luxury rentals – the increase in rents is going up WAY faster than the increases in salary. I moved to the Seattle area in 2004. My salary since then has increased 20%. My rent has also increased approximately 20%. (This does not include utilities, medical, and anything else that has also risen at great speed.) Doesn’t sound too bad on paper. Except that the place I rented in 2004 was 2x the size of where I am now (and where I am now is 1/4 the size of the last place I was in). And the rent for the new luxury apartments 2 blocks away from me in the Junction is about 50% more than I pay now. I don’t know a lot of people who can weather that great of an increase in rent versus salary. And it’s not as if I was paying crazy low rents all these years and the market is correcting itself – my rent for the past year is what most people were paying in my area for that size apartment, before all the new “luxury” buildings started going up at significantly higher rents. I think there’s a place for those buildings. But nobody is building new places that aren’t “luxury.” I don’t need concierge services and community rooms and internet hubs and gyms – I want an apartment to live in that is basic and affordable. Hoping that when my lease is up in 15 months that my current building management doesn’t try to jack it up to match everyone else (especially since I’m not in a luxury building).

  • gh July 13, 2015 (4:33 pm)

    stupid…about what you’d expect from these social engineers.

  • JayDee July 13, 2015 (4:39 pm)


    Danny Westneat said it best: Put the infrastructure in *before* the hordes arrive. Saying Mass Transit and clicking one’s red ruby slippers twice only leads to Kansas. The 56 which ran all day when I arrived, now runs only on the weekdays, for 3 hours a day. The rest of the time the 50 runs to nowhere in particular, slowly and is often delayed. Ditto the rest of the West Seattle peninsula.

    Single occupancy vehicles are necessary for many commutes, or for times when one has to return home without waiting for the lone bus run to make it. I drive once-twice a week but I would rather take the bus because I have a bus pass but sometimes need the car.

    @Sue: Exactly. My salary raises have fluctuated from 1% to as high as 4% one memorable year. But my property taxes for feel good initiatives have gone up much faster than that. And that is real money leaving my pocket in return for? I bet if someone added all of the feel-good property tax increases they’d amount to more than 4% a year. Like the Families and Education Levy, the Parks Levy, The Lets Move Seattle Levy, the Free Pre-school Levy, Bridging the Gap…To varying degrees, the levies may be useful, but they always keep increasing, and the HALA process is threatening another one. This also causes rents to rise because the money has to come from somewhere even from developers and property owners of multifamily buildings.

  • Kadoo July 13, 2015 (4:48 pm)

    Forcing landlords to rent to convicted felons will bring about the loss of affordable housing. Who would put up with that requirement? There is a limit to what property owners will tolerate. Owners will just sell the property at a high price and pull it as a rental that people with modest income can afford.

  • Bill July 13, 2015 (5:07 pm)

    Congrats Seattle – you have been officially and thoroughly Californicated

  • unknown July 13, 2015 (5:44 pm)


    I lived in LA for years and years before coming home. West Seattle is a long way off from being Californicated. Whether you like it or not Seattle and West Seattle are national hot spots. Lots of growth and more NIMBYs to shake a stick at. Nothing unusual going on.

  • rob July 13, 2015 (5:50 pm)

    I looked into this HALA commitie every one on it is a developer or a large real estate firm they all have there hands on the strings controlling our mayor an CC. And guess what as our CC members leave city hall I bet they will end up on there pay rolls to help them cut through all the red tape to get what ever they need done and of course at a six figure pay

    • WSB July 13, 2015 (6:09 pm)

      Rob, that’s not true. For example, Cindi Barker of the City Neighborhood Council – and the Morgan Community Association – has no involvement with either. She is one of the local advocates who is knowledgeable enough about the land-use process as the result of her community involvement that she has presented mini-workshops at various neighborhood meetings. (She’s also a retired Boeing employee.) There certainly are development, construction, and architect representatives on the committee too – I recognize a few of the names from their involvement with West Seattle projects (Maria Barrientos was involved with the Youngstown Flats [WSB sponsor] apartment building in North Delridge, David Neiman has been the architect on a few local projects we’ve covered – such as the Church of the Nazarene townhouse project). Full list of committee members is here:

  • CE July 13, 2015 (6:47 pm)

    What is this all about, and why special considerations for Muslim buyers?

    “Develop new homeownership tools for Muslim buyers who cannot use conventional mortgage products due to their religious convictions”

  • Seattlite July 13, 2015 (6:59 pm)

    “In effect, AFFH, Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule, gives the federal government a lever to re-engineer nearly every American neighborhood — imposing a preferred racial and ethnic composition, densifying housing, transportation, and business development in suburb and city alike, and weakening or casting aside the authority of local governments over core responsibilities, from zoning to transportation to education. Not only the policy but the political implications are immense — at the presidential, congressional, state, and local levels.”

    Read more at: (in 5 minutes)

  • jetcitydude July 13, 2015 (8:10 pm)

    I’d like to say what’s on my mind, but I don’t think it will make it past the moderator because it will be to politically acerbic for most posters here to grasp, so, I’ll just keep it shut. If you don’t clearly see what’s happening to the city overall its too late for you.

  • CE July 13, 2015 (8:30 pm)

    Thanks for the link on the Muslim issue. Wonder how many of the rest of us would like to get housing without going into debt? Exactly what kind of handouts are the rest of us paying for? Has anyone taken a look at what is happening in Stockholm:

  • Kara July 13, 2015 (9:11 pm)

    Maybe it’s not many, but I work in West Seattle and live in West Seattle and I’m hoping these changes could keep it that way. I work for the library and still don’t make enough to be paying the rents in the city now, my boyfriend lives in Tacoma and I was almost thinking of moving cause I’m worried about what might happen to my rent increase next year…I’m a third gen West Seattleite, I’m not saying that means I should get special treatment, but I want to stay where my family lives, where our history is…I think this might be a step in the right direction.

  • B July 13, 2015 (10:16 pm)

    CE – there are no handouts for muslims on the interest issue. Come on, these are _banks_ we’re talking about here – do you think they’re in the business of losing money?

    They just change the terms of the loan – aka, the bank buys the property, fixes all rates at time of sale, owns the property until the end of the mortgage, etc, just so there’s no interest.

    No interest does not mean you get a much cheaper deal. There are no free lunches with banks.

  • B July 13, 2015 (10:19 pm)

    I feel for people who’ve lived here a long time and/or are now being priced out, but I’m not sure what can be done – if you are having property sell/rented for less than market rates, what happens to that difference? I’m guessing someone has to subsidize it; I’m not against that idea but I can see it being a tricky issue. Do you just pick a percentage of the total housing and create a cap, aka X% of housing? How do you pick where it goes?

  • julie98106 July 13, 2015 (10:33 pm)

    WTF -I hate this town. Nightmares every night.

  • JanS July 13, 2015 (10:44 pm)

    Julie98106….and you’re still here because?

    I’m not trying to be snarky. If you are truly that miserable, why not work towards being someplace that makes your heart sing? A valid question, I think…

  • JanS July 13, 2015 (11:19 pm)

    A question….is not it a conflict of interest to have developers, etc., on HALA? Why would they not choose a plan that would be in their favor, even if just a little? I’m just curious.

    JayDee…because of some fairly serious health issues, I have been having quite a few doc appts. at the Polyclinic at 7th and Madison. My car is out of commission at the moment, and luckily I have the Hyde Shuttle that hauls seniors and disabled around. I walk with a cane. I went to the Metro website to find the quickest way by Metro to get to the clinic form Calif. Ave. and Admiral. And guess what? It can’t be done. They want me to take the bus to Seneca and 3rd…and walk to 7th and Madison. That’s quite a hike…uphill for someone disabled. I sat for an hour last night trying different things, different places to connect downtown, that didn’t involve major hikes going uphill, which is difficult for me. Nothing. Yep…infrastructure. So, hopefully the car will be back in commission soon, and I will once again be a single occupancy car driver going over the bridge.

    Yes, the infrastructure sucks…and it will only get worse, because the city/county/state doesn’t have a clue how to deal with it, or just don’t give a damn.

    Hannah…I live due east of Admiral Safeway, and I have wondered for a long time why the highrise builds haven’t happened north of Admiral Way along Calif. Ave. It’s getting close, but it’s still south of that intersection. I also have wondered how all of this will affect Magnolia, Laurelhurst, SandPoint, Wedgewood, Wallingford, and on and on. I visit Wallingford and a friend often…not a highrise wihin at least a mile of her, unless you count over by Stone Way, and that’s not very high. Maybe the folks in those ‘hoods have more clout? I really don’t know whyit is that way.

  • Robinhood July 14, 2015 (7:36 am)

    Steal from the rich (and middle class) and give to the pour……..the equal sharing of poverty!
    Ditto clulessinws.

  • BMC July 14, 2015 (8:08 am)

    BTW – have you BEEN to Magnolia lately? not Interbay but further West to around 34th where the commercial area is and the main street that goes north to the Fort Lawton area. Its like time forgotten – no big apartment buildings, nothing. Couldn’t believe it.

  • BMC July 14, 2015 (8:21 am)

    Muslims apparently can’t tolerate paying interest – Allah doesn’t like it? Interesting SeaTimes article – thanks WSB. Fine ok – but the city doesn’t need to accommodate that! We should ALL have the opportunity to borrow interest-free OR pay lots of interest – like most of us do.

  • T Rex July 14, 2015 (8:30 am)


    Low income rent is EXACTLY for people like you and I support that 100%. I would welcome you as a neighbor and I would offer to help you in any way I could because of your situation. I have read many posts by you on this blog. But I think you know that people like you are put on the back burner in these situations. Personally I think our seniors should be TOP PRIORITY in this country and they are not.

  • ZippyThePinhead July 14, 2015 (11:36 am)

    Found a HALA map overlayed on google maps at

  • JSS July 14, 2015 (12:03 pm)

    Developing a housing plan is commendable, but not in a vacuum. Danny Westneat’s Sunday column was absolutely right: It needs to be in connection with roads, schools, parks and other infrastructure.

    And when will there be office/commercial development in the urban villages so jobs move to the people, not just people to the jobs? We need more than just retail and work-live lofts.

  • 33Pete July 14, 2015 (12:27 pm)

    In my view, the monies at issue would be better spent building a better Seattle for everyone, not just funding the residence for a private individual.

    One of our biggest issues here is transportation.

    I would much rather have developer monies (which I suspect ultimately means purchaser/renter monies) go toward funding better transportation for all of us than have that money go toward subsidizing low income housing, with nothing to show for the public.

    Come on people, this is not rocket science. Use the money to build infrastructure (and in the process enrich all of our lives, create jobs, and ultimately a stronger Seattle).

    I guess our elected officials feel that having a populist, short-sighted, feel good photo-op is more important than actually doing their job. Sad.

  • Ms. Sparkles July 14, 2015 (1:16 pm)

    In the first excerpt listed in the article they state that 60% of Area Median Income (AMI) is $37,680, which means AMI is $62,800. The 2nd excerpt states 30% of AMI is $18,850 – which makes AMI $62,833… that difference I can chalk up to rounding. But later in that same excerpt they list 80% of AMI as $46,100, which makes AMI $57,625. All 3 statements start with “In 2015” and I don’t see any qualifiers that say they’re talking about someplace other than Seattle- so what AMI are the using?!?
    Let’s go with an AMI of $62,800; So the largest number of people in Seattle earn around $62,800 and using the standard affordability notions people can “afford” to spend 1/3 of the gross income on housing. 1/3 of $62,800 equals $1,745 a month- but the new apartments in the junction I toured during the street fair were asking $1,900 for a studio…. so how does setting aside 5 – 7% of units for those making less than 60% of AMI, or offering property tax exclusions for developers who set aside 20% of the units for those making 65 -85% of AMI help? .
    How is this density “affordable” when the majority of the units are still renting for more than a 1/3 of AMI?

  • JanS July 14, 2015 (1:53 pm)

    lolol…Ms. Sparkles…many of us live on sooooo much less than $37,680…like 2/3 less. We do it with lots of donated smoke and mirrors. But it can’t continue forever.

    Maybe us seniors with fixed incomes should start a commune……sigh….I have joked about getting 4 other likeminded individuals, and we band together and rent a spectacular 5 bdr. home…would save money at this point…

  • Timing July 14, 2015 (2:51 pm)

    Cram in more people , get more tax money, don’t lose out to suburbs, shove more programs down our throats at tax payers expense, don’t build infrastructure. This is a hell of a leader, I would think he should change his party affiliation to socialist since his actions reflect his politics!

  • Ms. Sparkles July 14, 2015 (3:13 pm)

    Timing- I consider myself a socialist, and as my math demonstrated in my prior post, this isn’t really a socialist plan. A true socialist plan would divvy up all of the available apartments to be offered at rents set to 1/3 of the gross income, with the largest share set to $1,745/mo to match what is affordable to median income earners. I can’t quite tell who this plan is supposed to help.

  • julie98106 July 14, 2015 (6:56 pm)

    Interesting article-

  • Angrybird July 14, 2015 (7:18 pm)

    OMG This plan just destroys the character of WS. The height restrictions need to stay where they are! People like it here because it’s very egalitarian with the views. Everyone has a view because people build low! It keeps the quality of life up. Now we’ve got a bunch of sociopaths in here pitting neighbor against neighbor and destroying everyone’s property values that lived here previously. If the bottom ever drops out of this economy those apt bldgs will all be slums. And for heavens sake leave 35th alone. No one who lives south of Holden will ever be able to get home in a reasonable time. We have some of the most spineless city planners around. Why do ordinary people have to be constantly watching their backs now for the next city plan. This is not the character of this city! I’m for the duplexes smaller apt bldgs but raising the height restrictions is insane. You are destroying the quality of life here. I agree that absentee development landowners are the problem. If you have to live in the mess you make you might not be in such a hurry to make it. Developers aren’t ENTiTLED to massive land grabs. And you , the mayor and the city planners are just aiding and abetting them .

  • Captain Dave July 14, 2015 (10:51 pm)

    Can someone please explain how this “plan” is substantively different then what Detroit did fifty years ago? If Amazon were to crash (or move away), what would happen with all the tenement housing? How will these future slums affect property values of traditional family housing?

    I have a friend who sadly walked away from her family home of three generations in Detroit because it became surrounded by abandoned high density structures that were built in haste at the peak of the automotive industry. Now her old “Leave it to Beaver” neighborhood is a wasteland of crime and destitution. The property had lost virtually all of its value.

    Seattle is not San Francisco or New York because we do not have a diversified economy–nor do we have a political climate that will substantially inspire diversified growth. If you don’t believe me, try to start a business here.

    Every major City in America is using the same cookie-cutter playbook to force people into high-density corporate housing disguised as friendly”urban villages”. The playbook (published by the UN’s International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives) is a hideous central planning guide that destroys quality of life and freedom while making select developers and mega corporations extremely rich. ( This has nothing to do with affordable fair housing.

    Mr. Murray, You should be ashamed.

  • Mike July 14, 2015 (11:33 pm)

    Anyone want to buy my house for $2M now… or do you want to wait until I replace it with 3 units?

  • Timing July 15, 2015 (3:03 am)

    Sparkles, socialism is s proven failed political system as I imagine you are in capitalism!

  • Lara July 15, 2015 (8:26 am)

    According to Danny Westneat’s column in this morning’s Seattle Times, architect David Neiman (who was on the Housing Affordability and Livability committee) says ‘“The rules definitely would change in all the single-family zones in Seattle.” If approved, the new rules would cover the entire city and would, Neiman said, be an upzone to all single-family lots in Seattle.’ There’s even an example of the proposed changes using a West Seattle bungalow.

    That’s at odds with what I’m hearing from the mayor’s office, where he’s insisting that 94% of existing single-family neighborhoods will see no upzoning.

    Is there any way to tell which version of the story is the correct one? This is really frustrating.

    • WSB July 15, 2015 (8:47 am)

      Lara, the legislation isn’t out yet. I wouldn’t take full stock in anything anyone says until the actual legislation that the mayor is sending to the new “Select Committee” is published to the city website, usually in connection with the issuance of the agenda for the committee’s first meeting, or at least the “introduction and referral calendar” (we get all those by e-mail and always read through to look for news – you can sign up for all agendas via the city website, too). And then, it is a proposal – it has to go through the City Council, with nothing major likely to go up for a vote until after the new council – whomever’s elected in November – takes office.

  • Lara July 15, 2015 (9:34 am)

    WSB – Thank you so much for the clarification of the process. You’re such an amazing resource for our community, and I really appreciate all the work you do!

  • Kadoo July 15, 2015 (10:31 am)

    Jet City and others…write to the Mayor and City Council at least. They need to hear from more of us, and people need to be vocal. I just sent a one-page email with three points.

  • bill bradburd July 15, 2015 (12:44 pm)

    The HALA proposal doesn’t “upzone” single family, but it would introduce “text amendments” to the single family zoning code that would allow duplex, triplex, town house and rowhouse projects in the zone. The could be “condo” ownwerships. The building size would need to conform to the maximum size of a single family house (which can be pretty big).

    The proposal also relaxes micro-housing rules to allow them into the Lowrise zones, including LR1, and would also allow congregate projects into the lowrise zones as well. (the recent regulations that we put in place restricted congregate to NC3 and above). There are limited room size and number of unit restrictions in congregate housing.

  • LONG TIME WS RESIDENT July 15, 2015 (12:45 pm)


  • wb July 15, 2015 (1:17 pm)

    Yep Long Time, it’s a big wide and dynamic world.

    In the meantime you can read:

    Fed-Up Seattleites Are Moving to Bellingham

  • wetone July 15, 2015 (5:38 pm)

    Lets see HALA is not an upzone ? But it will allow more units on a property that is allowed only one single family now ? Might be some fancy wording but it sure seems like an upzone to most…….get ready for property taxes in Seattle to go through the roof on single family property’s if this plan goes through, forcing many families and home owners out of the city.

  • Angry bird July 15, 2015 (7:09 pm)

    To Mike. Jul 14. Why do you need 2 million for your house??? Is that how much you are in debt for it? Or are you just flipping them? Why do others have to be impacted by your dumb money management problems or greedy business strategies?

Sorry, comment time is over.