WEST SEATTLE REZONING: ‘The city wants your input – do you know what’s going on?’

If you haven’t already taken a close look at the four maps below, now is the time. The city has yet to make a wide announcement about them, but this is the window for comments and questions. They are the West Seattle “draft maps” as part of the city’s plan to upzone properties for a component of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda called Mandatory Housing Affordability – focused on the areas known as “urban villages”; beneath the maps, a special event at which your neighbors are offering to help you find out more about “what’s going on”:

(Direct link to West Seattle Junction map)

(Direct link to Morgan Junction map)

(Direct link to Admiral map)

(Direct link to Westwood-Highland Park map)

We first published those maps when they were released by the city, virtually unannounced, almost three weeks ago. Comments are being taken right now at this city website; an official city open house in West Seattle is planned December 7th, but before then, two community advocates with deep knowledge of land-use issues are leading a West Seattle/South Park meeting to help you understand the maps and the process. They have just formally announced it:

The Morgan Community Association (MoCA) will host an informational session to help you understand Seattle’s Mandatory Housing Affordability rezones proposed for the five District 1 Urban Villages, in advance of a December city-sponsored Open House. This learning session will enable you to go the Open House knowing what is proposed and prepared to give input or ask questions of City staff.

For the past year, the City of Seattle has been developing plans to fund affordable housing. One of the proposals is the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) concept. Under MHA, new development in Seattle will contribute directly to affordable housing by either building affordable homes on site or making a payment to the City to fund affordable housing throughout Seattle. To put MHA requirements into effect, the City must make zoning changes that will allow more development within Urban Villages and other areas zoned for multifamily and commercial development. Proposed areas of rezoning are depicted in newly released maps, and City staff will want input on proposed District 1 rezones at their December 7 Open House.

It is a complicated issue, with lots of ‘moving parts.’ To help you figure out what is going on, we’re setting up a user-friendly informational session with goals of:

° To give enough background information so people understand the MHA proposed program;
° To understand how to read the proposed rezone maps;
° To remind people of their Urban Village Neighborhood Plan Goals and Policies and relationship to MHA principles;
° To give people tools so that they enter the City’s Open House able to give informed input and/or ask questions to get the information they need.

Please join us –

Rezoning for Affordability in District 1: The City Wants Your Input – Do You Know What’s Going On?
Tuesday, November 29, 2016, from 6:30 – 8:30pm
Highland Park Improvement Club
1116 SW Holden Street

o Street parking is available nearby
o Metro Routes 125 and 128 stop at 16th Ave. SW at Holden; walk east on Holden to 12th Street
o Light refreshments will be available
o There will be a coloring corner for kids.

Again, though MoCA is sponsoring it, it’s for everyone in West Seattle and South Park (whose “urban village” is to be upzoned as well).

42 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE REZONING: 'The city wants your input - do you know what's going on?'"

  • Kimmy November 7, 2016 (7:32 pm)

    Comments seem pointless. The pro-density anti-house era of Seattle has arrived. Any single family occupant who is being upzoned is immediately labeled a NIMBY regressive anti-progress schmuck. Anyone not upzoned this round will get theirs as soon as Ed is reelected. Single family zoning has been classified as excess wealth by the Urbanist/Communist Sawants running the city into the ground. God forbid a homeowner want to have a choice in where they live (say, not live next to giant multi-family housing that blocks their sunlit yard. God forbid a single family home renter not want their kids to play on a small concrete parking pad adjacent to a giant building instead of an actual yard. Urbanist.org and the developers have their sights set on ripping apart communities and nothing (short of another recession) will stop them.

    • WSB November 7, 2016 (8:35 pm)

      I get the cynicism but some have pointed out what seem to be obvious flaws here and there, against the principles (linked in the first line to the phrase Mandatory Housing Affordability) by which these were drafted, and while the process itself may be rolling forward, this is the time for a closer look and possible changes here and there. There is not going to be any big explanation meeting – the December open house is in a small venue and looks to be the standard “easels and dots” event, and apparently no direct notification to property owners, so it’s a DIY review. That’s why the MoCA folks are putting together the meeting announced beneath the maps. They are volunteers dedicated to education. No agenda of oppose X or support Y, just info. – TR

    • Seattlite November 7, 2016 (10:20 pm)

       Kimmy — You are correct on all of your points.  Seattle’s politicians are as corrupt as they come.  The “city” listens to no one with another view point because they are extremely intolerant of anyone who does not agree with their plans.  Seattle is not the great city it once was and will continue to go down the drain with the inept politicians that keep getting voted into office. West Seattle like other urban areas is over-developed with no roadways to support the density.  The mayor and city council don’t care about quality of life.

    • 56bricks November 8, 2016 (7:04 am)

      Anti house,anti car. We’re frigging lemmings! The cliff is near.

    • Fairmount Springs Mom November 8, 2016 (10:24 am)

      I agree with Kimmy.  She’s right about the single family occupants who don’t want to be upzoned being labeled NIMBYs–you just have to look at the HALA feedback site.  And the HALA website says that over 94% of single family properties will not be rezoned, so all of this burden for affordable housing, and the negativity, seems to be directed to 5-6% of single family property owners, in certain neighborhoods of the City.   As far as I can tell, there is little to no imposition on most property owners.

  • dsa November 7, 2016 (7:41 pm)

    The city makes it difficult to understand the proposed changes without providing clear existing maps.

  • natinstl November 7, 2016 (8:31 pm)

    I agree with DSA, I can’t make out the street names at all to even figure out where I am on this map. 

    • WSB November 7, 2016 (8:55 pm)

      Did you look at the PDF versions we have linked below each Scribd embedded version? That’s as high-res as we have but you also can try the zip file that is after the first paragraph on this page:


      You can also send halainfo@seattle.gov a note saying you want a more accessible version of your map.

  • Mike November 7, 2016 (8:55 pm)

    I’m putting my house up for sale, $1.5Trillion buy it now, I’ll gladly move away from this garbage camping dump council.

  • Rb November 7, 2016 (8:56 pm)

    I am perplexed on how affordability plays with this rezoning. If we increase the number of houses, will that lower prices? Are these areas going to host subsidized houses for the indigent? 

    • WSB November 7, 2016 (9:08 pm)

      Mandatory Housing Affordability is explained here: http://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/HALA/2016_1031_MHA_OnePager.pdf

      Very short summary … the upzoning means projects can be bigger/taller but developers have to either include a certain percentage of “affordable” housing (and some say the rules don’t require it to be “affordable” enough) or pay into a city fund that will pay for some.

    • AMD November 7, 2016 (9:21 pm)

      In theory it can, if enough houses are built to meet or even exceed demand. 

  • truthtelller November 7, 2016 (9:48 pm)

    I used to write letters and attend meetings regarding West Seattle building and zoning. I spent a lot of time and effort trying to get the building department to work with the traffic department and metro to create a flow to their urban density vision. A royal waste of my time. They will build it and we will live in it. That is that. Now when I see open comment period for projects or zoning I just  resign myself to the fact that no matter what is said, they will move forward with this and whatever else they want to. 

    • Pops November 7, 2016 (10:25 pm)

      Agreed.  Realized this in 2008.

      • Pops November 7, 2016 (10:27 pm)

        Or was it 2006-2007?

  • Thomas M. November 7, 2016 (9:54 pm)

    It means a sugar coated smoke and mirrors plan to turn the Ave into something resembling Hollywood California.  Miles and miles of four storey canyons.  Concrete, stucco and mortuary shrubbery.    Of course the density will create tax revenue for the city as they “stack the parcel numbers” onto what were single lots at West Seattle’s Expense.  Parking?  More of that 1 space per 7 units garbage?    All those people on the paltry bus service to North Admiral/44th and Atlantic?  That’s not even a bad joke.   Where is the tax revenue going to go?   Probably not into fixing the rutted rubble fields we call streets.  Thanks a lot to our vaunted boneheads the City Council.

  • canton November 7, 2016 (10:09 pm)

    Just call it “conditionary affordability housing”. Once they include the so called fee into the cost of building, it is not “mandatory”.

  • KokoPup November 7, 2016 (10:10 pm)

     Incredible amount of subsidy to large (billion dollar) developers courtesy of the middle class tax payer.

    I have worked in the MDU industry and the HALA reads like it was written by industry lobbyists.   The HALA is replete with the typical large developer arguments (lies).  Large developers and the likes of Amazon play while the middle class pay.  

    Effectively, large developers have hood winked city leadership and shifted the burden for the additional infrastructure costs from those that are profiting and creating those costs to the middle class and single family tax payer in the form of increased taxes and lower quality of life.

  • Seattlite November 7, 2016 (10:55 pm)

    DSA — If the city made their plans clear and transparent, they would all be fired for the crooks that they are.

    • dsa November 8, 2016 (12:50 am)

      They present just enough to make it appear that there was a public process.

  • captainDave November 7, 2016 (11:54 pm)

    There is a great book that explains exactly what is going on here called “Behind the Green Mask” by Rosa Koire.  You can look up her videos on YouTube as well.  This “Smart Growth/Sustainable development” urban density initiative is being driven by an international effort put forth by the United Nations through organizations like the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLIE) for which Seattle and King County are members.  We have no local control over our planning boards.  These efforts in soliciting public input are just exercises to make it look like this was your “collective” choice.  International investors and Wall Street financiers are making a killing flipping high-profit buildings packed like sardines.   This is why the designs  all look exactly like every other designated high density human habitation zone around the country. Why are our elected officials doing this? How are they getting paid? 

    • CE November 8, 2016 (9:27 am)

      Exactly, Agenda 21. Take a good look at it. It’s happening in all major cities, and people would do well to understand what’s behind it. Our “leaders” are bought and paid for.

  • Seattlite November 8, 2016 (12:47 am)

    CaptainDave…Indeed.  Of course, it’s all about the money.  Developers line the pockets of city officials and urban density continues without one thought given to the hard working, law abiding home owners  who have to contend with the consequences of city officials’ greed and corruption.  That’s why it’s so important to stop voting for the same ideological driven politicians.  Seattle has a history of ineptness when it comes to urban neighborhoods.  The people really need to stand up against these inept city officials/politicians.

  • Anonymous Coward November 8, 2016 (5:24 am)

    Affordable housing, growth “management”, unchanging neighborhood character.  Pick two.  

  • Nick November 8, 2016 (9:39 am)

    Any info on how being upzoned will effect property taxes many small businesses have been zoned out of business this is very concerning I don’t see this making anything more affordable. 

    • WSB November 8, 2016 (9:45 am)

      Nick – that is a major question and at one of the meetings I covered recently, it was somewhat brushed off.

      • captainDave November 8, 2016 (11:28 am)

        I tried to bring up this subject years ago but got trounced on for my “pro-capitalist” viewpoints.   Now we have lots of big expensive retail spaces that are not conducive to anything but deep-pocket national franchises and corporate expansions. We reap what we sow   It’s unfortunate that there was no effort to give incentives to developers for small affordable commercial spaces.  New York, Paris, and Tokyo for example, have tons of small 100sf commercial spaces that make neighborhoods vibrant.  But not here.  Seattle has become mostly a big generic corporate City.

  • John November 8, 2016 (10:20 am)

    I had to laugh when I saw the small amount of change in the rich admiral district…….

  • Peel & Press November 8, 2016 (12:02 pm)

    If I am reading the map right the building my restaurant is located would be in the crosshairs to be torn down and rebuilt into a multi-level commercial/mixed use.  Cool,  I will lose my small local business and not be able to reopen because the rent will double (at min).  I am sure Starbucks and Subway will be fine but what about the local pet store and eye doctor?  Who wants locally owned small businesses in the heart of neighborhoods.  Apparently not Seattle!

    • WSB November 8, 2016 (12:10 pm)

      That building is already zoned NC3-30 (three stories) … http://blue.kingcounty.com/Assessor/eRealProperty/Detail.aspx?ParcelNbr=7625704440

      Much of the heart of West Seattle is already zoned for (relatively) far more than what’s currently in place. Prime example, the center of The Junction, where so many of the one-/two-story business-district properties have been zoned for 65 or 85 feet for something like 20 years. This has led to some arguing that upzoning isn’t needed because there’s already a lot of unused capacity in current zoning. – TR

  • Evil Twin November 8, 2016 (12:40 pm)

    Cities grow. Seattle is growing like crazy. Do we not grow capacity and increase transportation? I’m not debating the individual merits of all principles here. I’m just saying that this kind of stuff is as simple as a yes or no but trying to implement it is a complete nightmare. Same thing with ST3. I don’t think many people would say expanding light rail, etc is a bad idea. But then trying to plan and execute it is extremely complicated because everyone nit picks it to death. City planning is never going to be perfect and someone will always be mad no matter what they do. That being said, this conversation is healthy and if they upzone me so be it.

  • My two cents ... November 8, 2016 (4:20 pm)

    Remember this  when election time comes around for our representative – Lisa Herbold.  Her plan advocates more buildings so that they can be taxed to pay off the bonds (aka increased debt for the citizens of Seattle) for more affordable housing.  She doesn’t care about at least making an attempt to try and preserve the neighborhood fabric that makes (or made?) Seattle what it is.  Hopefully we will get someone running that will represent our community.

  • Me November 8, 2016 (5:04 pm)

    Captain Dave,thanks for the book tip. I checked Seattle public library for “Behind the Green Mask” by Rosa Koire, but it’s not in the SPL  collection.

    But there are copies in King County Library system.   So I’m placing a hold there  

    I checked out a talk by the author speaking to a group in Redding CA   It’s on YouTube about 1.5 hrs length. She addresses exactly these issues that are drowning out our voices, and how private citizen voices are intentionally being eliminated from these conversations. It’s big corporate interests together with big NGOs, aided and abetted by our crony elected and appointed government officials.   We the little people are only useful when it comes to extracting more taxes for their pet projects   Our wishes and opinions are trash to them, even before we give them.  We are called selfish for wanting our individual rights. Totalitarianism is here now, she said. She also said there’s no real escape,  the  rural spots are being attacked as well, small towns with no population growth are being squeezed by this same bikeable-walkable density building “machine” churning out tax paid projects.  Small town citizens voices are also being erased.    The promotional materials all look the same, every county brochure looks like every other county’s  it’s all the same glossy “Smart Growth” speak, packaging, lengthy and complex verbiage, so that average people slip behind and can’t stay abreast of “developments”    It’s intentional. This stuff has all changed rapidly and is moving very fast  

    anyway thanks,  I’m passing along this book and info to my friends and relatives   

  • KokoPup November 8, 2016 (6:56 pm)

    The assumption is this:   Increase supply, reduce price making housing more affordable, after all, that’s is what we have all been  taught in econ 101.  It is the law of supply and demand.   However, a fundamental element of that principle is the “closed” system.   Reality is far different and the decision makers understand this.  

    This has nothing to do with affordability.  Fundamentally,  if it costs $100 per square foot to build even with all the subsidies, you need $20 per square foot to generate a return.   Those economics will not change, even with more units being permitted.  What happens is the unit size decreases, but the true cost of housing (per sq ft) etc continues to rise substantially, since the new units have replaced yards and garages with “common” areas, and the  infrastructure costs related to schools, roads, police, etc shifted from the developers to the public.

    We have all seen this scenario play out over and over.   Affordability will not improve, though the city “leadership” markets this as an ‘”affordable housing” to the gullible public, but housing prices will go up and up.   City leadership either knows this, or has been hood winded by large developers themselves.

  • Me November 8, 2016 (7:54 pm)


    thanks for the book recommendation  SPL collection doesn’t have that one, either.   hmmm,  I bet these books dont fit the “agenda”. Lol

    ill look for it elsewhere.  Thanks again!  

  • Wsres November 12, 2016 (9:15 am)

    Herbold and murray are two people I won’t be voting for in the next election…

    • gh November 20, 2016 (10:51 am)


  • Wsres November 12, 2016 (9:17 am)

    The schools and infrastructure of west seattle do not support these plans… 

  • tedward November 16, 2016 (11:56 am)

    I’d love to be able to take my existing home and divide it into 2 or three apartments, thereby providing more people with a place to live.  I’d like to change my garage into another living unit.  Seattle is growing fast so we need to be open to new ideas.  I am pro growth, pro density, pro transit and pro walkability.   Would love to see more local businesses.  One way to make local businesses more viable is to bring more residents into the neighborhood.  More density = more customers.  Also, let’s make the neighborhoods more walkable.  You want people walking by a local business or more cars zooming past?  People walking or biking by a store are far more likely to stop in and buy at that store.

Sorry, comment time is over.