HALA REZONING: Community workshop Tuesday; early feedback made public tonight

As the city continues seeking feedback on its draft upzoning maps for the Mandatory Housing Affordability component of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda … two things to mention tonight:

First, one more reminder that TOMORROW is your chance to get briefed on everything from how to read these maps to how to effectively comment, via a community-organized workshop for all of West Seattle and South Park, 6:30 pm at Highland Park Improvement Club (12th SW/SW Holden). We previewed it here and here.

Second, the city has gone public with some of the feedback it’s received so far, from the “focus groups” whose members were recruited earlier this year. Rather than assemble the groups geographically, they were organized by types of “urban village” they lived in. The focus groups’ November meetings are being done online, and include slide decks with information including feedback from their previous meetings. Tonight, the group from “lower-density urban villages” including Morgan Junction, South Park, and Westwood-Highland Park met, including this slide deck with background information preceding the draft maps, each of which has short comment surveys on the side:

If the Scribd format doesn’t work for you, see the deck on the city website here.

Last week, the “hub urban village” focus group had its online meeting, and the slide deck from that one – including the West Seattle Junction map and preliminary group feedback – is below:

You can see that deck on the city website here.

The slide deck with feedback for the “medium-density urban village” group, including Admiral, isn’t available yet – that group has its online meeting Thursday.

While the focus has been on the urban villages, this also will affect multi-family zoning outside UVs, and you can take a look at this interactive map for a closer look at your neighborhood. (NOTE: That map ALSO will allow you to zoom in to street level, helpful if you’ve had trouble reading the draft maps so far.)

Again, tomorrow night’s workshop in Highland Park is an excellent chance to hear from, and talk with, local neighborhood leaders who have been immersed in this process. At any time, you can get feedback to the city via its special website for this – hala.consider.it – and/or via e-mail at halainfo@seattle.gov. And then there’s a city “open house” meeting about the rezoning maps, with other topics promised, next week – 5:30-7:30 pm December 7th at Shelby’s Bistro and Ice Creamery in The Junction (4752 California SW).

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER ALL THAT? A final set of maps will go to the City Council next year (June is the latest estimated timeframe) – councilmembers’ approval is needed before zoning can be changed. And the city also is working on an Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed zoning changes – environmental impacts aren’t just what you would traditionally think of as “environmental” but also aspects such as traffic and noise. The draft EIS is due in February-March, according to a timeline shown during tonight’s online meeting.

33 Replies to "HALA REZONING: Community workshop Tuesday; early feedback made public tonight"

  • MJ November 28, 2016 (9:51 pm)

     Our house looks to be in a new LR1 area.  Most of the lots on the street are less than 5000 ft^2.  From my read of the documents, which was not exhaustive, it looks like you need at least 5000 ft^2 to put one of these new structures on the parcel.  Is that a correct understanding or could you have a smaller parcel and still put one of the structures on it?

    • WSB November 28, 2016 (10:10 pm)

      MJ – thanks for asking. I see where they are using 5000 sf for some examples, but I don’t believe that’s the downward limit, because it’s not currently … in ongoing coverage of development projects, I’ve seen lots around 4K sf holding small apartment buildings, for example. – TR

    • Matt November 29, 2016 (5:36 pm)

      For LR1, the density limits for townhouses is currently 1 per 1600 sq. Ft of lot area. 

  • Free speech November 28, 2016 (10:50 pm)

    Gee I guess magnolia gets a pass, and north admiral gets limited development 

    im so surprised 

    • Mickymse November 29, 2016 (12:00 pm)

      Yes… HALA is about concentrating growth — and City investments — into “urban villages.” When the City previously asked for input from the public, this is what they heard overwhelmingly. In some of these places in West Seattle, there will be DRAMATIC growth and increased density in the next 10-15 years, so that the Junction and Westwood could start to look more like parts of Ballard. NOW is the time to share your thoughts on how that density should be accommodated.

      On a side note, HALA is also implementing the Mandatory Housing Affordability program which will mean height increases and mother-in-laws and backyard cottages in several areas OUTSIDE of the Urban Villages. Please take a careful look at the maps, as this might affect you…

      • CMT November 29, 2016 (12:39 pm)

        The programs through which this increased density are to be accomplished are called Housing Affordability and Livability (“HALA”) and Mandatory Housing Affordability (“MHA”) which gives the distinct impression that the proposed rezoning in West Seattle is designed to provide affordable housing in West Seattle.  But that is not the case.   None of the apartments, townhouses or condos that would be permissible under the proposed re-zone are required to be affordable housing.  The developers can simply pay a fee to the City and build overpriced housing, which West Seattle already has an abundance of.

         If this is about increasing density, why not call it that instead.  I guess it doesn’t have the same ring.

  • Michelle November 29, 2016 (8:39 am)

    Expensive and nicer neighborhoods get a pass because they don’t allow it in there areas.  They will fight against it hard.

     Its then all dumped into lesser voiced communities that except it! Sadly. I hope this doesn’t do to much damage to the Lincoln Park area. 

    • Fairmount Springs Mom November 29, 2016 (6:10 pm)

      I agree.  The Seattle2035 plan, almost 20 years from now, has no urban villages in Madison Park, Magnolia, Laurelhurst, Montlake, Madrona, I could go on… The Mayor talks about us all sharing a responsibility for affordable housing on the HALA site, but this is not true at all

      • Denise November 29, 2016 (9:56 pm)

        Good point.  These areas do have commercial nodes and are served by transit and may provide additional housing opportunities.

  • MJ November 29, 2016 (12:27 pm)

    Thanks, WSB.  I asked because I was chatting with a neighbor who thought the 5K limit would lessen the impact as the street is mostly <5K.  I am out of town so cannot attend the meeting, so I’d appreciate if that could get clarified.


  • CMT November 29, 2016 (12:32 pm)

     It would have been nice if the City had actually sent a direct communication to the residents of the affected neighborhoods, (1) stating that the City is planning to re-zone their current single family residential neighborhood so that developers can replace residences with apartments and condominiums that are not required to be affordable at all; and (2) providing an email address or other contact where one could respond. 

    Of course, that is what a city would do if it was trying to give any sort of real notice to affected parties so that they could voice a meaningful response.  Instead, the City apparently opted to have booths at farmer’s markets, etc.  about affordable housing, as if that would actually alert people that their property was going to be re-zoned.  As noted in a prior WSB article, the notice of the “open house” at Shelby’s doesn’t even refer to a re-zone.   And it is at the tail end of the City’s “process.” 

    It’s hard to believe that the City is even trying to pretend that this was a legitimate process designed to inform. 



  • Diane November 29, 2016 (1:34 pm)

    the mayor talks about equity, but one more example of the opposite; I am a focus group member, but cannot participate in this, due to lack of high speed internet: “The focus groups’ November meetings are being done online”

  • Diane November 29, 2016 (1:43 pm)

    and re lack of real communication between mayor’s office
    (& HALA) and the people of Seattle; I agree with CMT,  and that was my first thought when seeing
    Admiral map last month,  “residents
    of the affected neighborhoods” should have been notified by mail; the
    mayor’s office & HALA should not just be relying on community meetings/open
    houses and wsblog to get the word out to “residents of the affected

    • Junction Dood November 29, 2016 (2:38 pm)

      I was at a meeting recently about this. They said mailers will be going out soon.

      • WSB November 29, 2016 (2:59 pm)

        They already sent the mailers. If you didn’t get one, you’re not getting one, confirmed the folks who are leading tonight’s meeting. We had photos of the mailer in our story a week ago – scroll past the maps:


      • CMT November 29, 2016 (3:30 pm)

        The mailer pictured in the WSB’s earlier article illustrates the City’s failure to give basic, meaningful notice to affected parties. 

        The mailer has a heading  of “Our Livable Seattle Path” with cartoon drawings, using the following desirable words and phrases:  “Pre-K,”  “Economic Justice,” “Transportation,” “Parks,” and “Housing for All.”  Well of course, who wouldn’t want those things . . .

        What it fails to say is “the City is proposing to rezone your property” or that “the apartments and condominiums that developers can now build on your street are not required to be affordable” or that “there will not be sufficient parking for these structures.” 




        • Fairmount Springs Mom November 29, 2016 (4:16 pm)

          I agree.  The  mailer also fails to say that over 94% of single-family zoned property owners will not be impacted by this affordable housing agenda–that the City is choosing 5-6% of single family zoned property in certain middle-class and working-class neighborhoods of the City to put this “affordable housing” 

          • CMT November 29, 2016 (5:24 pm)

            Worse still, the apartments and condos that will now be allowed to be built in those 5-6% neighborhoods that have been singled out without any real notice are not even required to be affordable, despite the way this is being “marketed.”  

            Developers can build whatever overpriced apartments they want by paying a fee to the City who is then supposed to use it to build affordable housing somewhere else.  So West Seattle neighborhoods are essentially singled out to subsidize affordable housing in other areas. 

          • Junction dood November 29, 2016 (9:02 pm)

            I agree. Failure to supply info for sure which is SUPER lame. However, fast forward 20 years. Where are we then? No upzones? No more housing, blah blah blah. There’s a reason property gets upzoned. I bet there were single family homes in the middle of New York in ought 6. It makes sense to concentrate growth around walkable neighborhoods and near transit. Full disclosure: I’m in the upzone area. I bought a house where I could walk to bars, restaurants and transit. Why? Because its awesome! Apparently I’m not the only one that thinks that. Do I get to be one of the few to live here just because I was born and grew up in a time that it was more affordable? Desirable is desirable. It could be worse, I could live somewhere no one wants to be! Where do we pre-emptively accommodate growth? Some random residential area that has no shopping, etc?

          • CMT November 29, 2016 (9:28 pm)

            I agree that increased density needs to be planned for but the burden should be shared throughout the City.  If that’s happening great, then the City can affirmatively present those facts to the affected parties in a setting designed to both educate and seek real input.  That isn’t happening.  And it absolutely shouldn’t be slipped into neighborhoods in a way that’s designed to avoid any meaningful scrutiny by masking it as affordable housing.

  • Erithan November 29, 2016 (2:52 pm)

    Has anything been said about the fact 60 % of an income is not “affordable housing”? Such a disconnect! =(

    • Matt November 30, 2016 (12:19 am)

      To clarify,”affordable” is if you make 60% of the average wage and spend 30% of it on rent–about $1000 for a one bedroom.    

      • Erithan November 30, 2016 (9:03 am)

        Thanks Matt, so would the cost change for those of us who are on disability or are senior currently? With living costs in Seattle and ss money not reflecting, things are not good. Sorry half asleep.

  • wetone November 29, 2016 (6:51 pm)

     All home owners and renters will be impacted by this affordable housing agenda in so many ways. Traffic, transit issues, parking, noise, day light going away along with light pollution from tall builds, views and so much more. Add HALA’s push to open up ADU and DADU restrictions, basically making Seattle single family housing zoning a thing of the past. As most ALL Seattle property’s will be allowed to have up to 3 legal units with out providing any off street parking and be non owner occupied.  Makes you wonder why anyone would want to buy a home in this city knowing your neighbors could build out their property and rent all units out ……….. Thanks Mayor Patchwork , Constantine and city counsel, investors and builders sure love ya all……. I sure don’t

  • Morgan November 29, 2016 (8:12 pm)

    Step backs, please City planners….not just setbacks. Think carefully about public realm.

  • Anne November 29, 2016 (9:08 pm)

    CMT, this is just the latest example of the city council making significant changes while willfully failing to notify interested parties.  New requirements for landlords vetting applicants were approved without using the database of landlords the city already has in hand thanks to other legislation requiring them to register, and increases in business license fees that amount to a 1000% increase for some businesses were passed without notifying all currently registered businesses.  Apparently, we all need to make the council and its committees’ agendas required reading to be able to put in our two cents before they pull all the dollars out of all of our pockets. What I don’t don’t understand is how it’s legal/fair/in good conscience to pass these laws without making a good faith effort to notify interested parties. 

    • CMT November 29, 2016 (9:32 pm)

      Exactly.  The City can hardly claim they did not have our addresses.  The affected parties are right on their maps.  I have lost all respect for our City government.

  • TheKing November 29, 2016 (9:44 pm)

    What a plan. Jack property taxes with ST3 and then rezone residential areas. Gov’t capitalism at work. 

  • Fairmount resident November 29, 2016 (10:42 pm)

    To those who would suggest that the upcoming proposals should be seen as an economic boon to the property owners, I note a few points:

    My property value is made up of 50% land and 50% building.  If the rezone goes through my building is valued to a developer at zero.  No one looking to live in a single family zone will attempt to purchase into a known multifamily zone.

    94% of single family homeowners are essentially bought off from disputing the rezone as they are exempted from HALA.

    Developers, the only suitors for my property are discincentivized by what is essentially an affordability tax.  This tax will not be paid by others outside of this zone. Someone wishing to increase their own single family home would pay no such tax, for example.

    This makes me hopping mad.

    • T-REX November 30, 2016 (6:57 am)

      THIS.   So much!

    • John November 30, 2016 (8:41 am)

      The example of your land being 50% and your building being “valued to a developer at zero” is problematic and misleading.

      The value of your land alone exceeds the value of them both to a developer.

      Just look at what homeowners have sold their SFRs for in the urban villages.

      There would also be continued demand for you to sell your house and land to a single family, as the buyer would be able to get all of their money out of it when and if  development  actually occurs around them.

      Until then, the single family homeowner enjoys all the benefits of an urban village, restaurants, shops, services, transportation and your own parking off-street  in your garage or parking space.

  • WS since '66 November 30, 2016 (6:22 am)

    Back in the 1980s when Urban Villages (UV) were first
    implemented there was a backlash against them. Many in Seattle, and West
    Seattle, were upset because they believed the sky was falling. They were
    predicting the demise of our West Seattle peninsula. Fast forward to today’s
    reality of the UVs which were built up with coffee shops, restaurants, and a
    multitude of services. Those amenities within an easy walk from the homes in the
    immediate areas make it unnecessary to hop in a car. Due to the reality
    of our supply and demand society more people desired to live close to a UV. A
    simplistic way to look at it: if there are 100 homes available and 10 people
    wanting them the prices go down. If there are 10 homes and 100 people wanting
    them the price goes up. Not a difficult concept. Now, because the homes within easy
    walking distance to an UV are more desirable, thereby increasing the demand
    portion of the equation. Without more supply the prices will go up. Lots of people
    want to live near a UV. Who wouldn’t want to take a 5-10 minute walk from home
    to enjoy a cup of coffee, shop, go to the dentist, (ok maybe not the dentist)
    and catch up on the news or visit with the locals?

  • T-Rex November 30, 2016 (10:14 am)

    Anything within 3 blocks of a bus stop should be open to increased density. It should not just be all put upon one neighborhood in West Seattle.

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