HALA UPZONING: What Tuesday’s city meeting in West Seattle is asking you to do

While the next major step in citywide HALA (Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda) upzoning is not expected until the final Environmental Impact Statement comes out next month, you’re being asked at a West Seattle meeting this Tuesday night (October 17th) to weigh in on what ultimately is a proposal to override parts of three local neighborhood plans to pave the way for upzoning.

The city wants to put language in the Comprehensive Plan affecting parts of the West Seattle Junction, Morgan Junction, and Westwood-Highland Park Urban Villages, to remove language that calls for protection of current single-family zoning in those areas. The HALA upzoning proposals so far already had called for changing those areas in urban villages, but that raised a conflict with parts of the existing neighborhood plans which were included when the comprehensive plan was recently revised. So the proposed “comprehensive plan amendments” are an attempt to replace the existing language, and they are asking for opinions at Tuesday night’s meeting – 6-7:30 pm at High Point Community Center (6920 34th SW), “open house” format before and after what’s described as a short presentation at 6:30 pm.

The city’s materials for the meeting are now available online, and while they offer an option for writing your own language, they very specifically suggest not saying you want to preserve any particular kind of zoning, single-family or otherwise. From the last page of the document:

Policy Language to Avoid

Direct references to specific zones. New policies should avoid references to all specific zoning
designations in a neighborhood plan policy. General discussion of housing types, land uses, scale, and
character effectively communicate a neighborhood’s vision.

Protection. The Comprehensive Plan’s goals and policies focus on shaping and guiding change for the future. Policies that emphasize protecting or preserving existing conditions limit our ability to reach these goals.

Superiority of single-family housing or zoning. Policies that connote the superiority of single-family housing compared to other types of housing should be avoided. Terms calling for maintaining qualities such as “integrity” of single-family areas should be avoided.

Here’s what they do want you to focus on, if you want to suggest your own comprehensive-plan language:

Examples for Revised Policies

Focus: Character and scale. Modify the policy language to focus on maintaining compatibility with or complementing the character and scale of single-family housing areas, rather than calling for preservation of single-family zoning.

Focus: Location and development pattern. Modify the policy language to describe the preferred general pattern for land use or urban form. This can include identification of certain areas that are relatively more appropriate for certain kinds of development.

Focus: Housing choices. Modify the policy language to emphasize housing choices or opportunities, such as housing for families or ADA accessible units.

Since the meeting document includes pages for other neighborhoods outside West Seattle, with the current language and suggested replacements, we’ve broken out the local pages below, each one with three city-suggested options plus the possibility of crafting your own. First, for the West Seattle Junction:

Next, for Morgan Junction:

And for Westwood-Highland Park:

If you can’t get to Tuesday night’s meeting – which, as previously previewed, is also addressing “backyard cottages” (a citywide issue, not just urban villages) – here’s how you can still participate, with the city taking comments on this through December 8th – use seattle2035.consider.it.

P.S. Again, the urban-village-specific pages above are taken from the full city document prepared for upcoming meetings. You can see it, including an introductory page, in its entirety by going here.

35 Replies to "HALA UPZONING: What Tuesday's city meeting in West Seattle is asking you to do"

  • TJ October 16, 2017 (7:15 am)

    Yep, all a part of their “comprehensive plan”. Get us out of cars and into apartments.  Be aware, this isn’t the end. They want to expand this out further and further into neighborhoods. All built around the false premise that the population will continue to grow at the rate it has the last few years. 

    • Peter October 16, 2017 (8:18 am)

      Nobody is trying to force you to sell your car and move into an apartment, that’s just knee-jerk fearmingering. Although you might consider some different lifestyle choices if you care about the earth and the wellbeing of humanity as a whole.

      Even if the city stopped growing right now, it would take years of construction just to meet current housing needs. But the fact is the city is growing and will continue to grow. Our ongoing failure to build enough housing is the primary reason housing is so expensive.

      We. Need. More. Housing. 

      • Hermano October 16, 2017 (2:03 pm)

        I agree, Peter.   I also have a problem with TJ’s “where does it end” argument.  It ends when the community wants it to end.   The city government does not have infinite power to expand zoning laws and regulations… it’s the same argument used by gun enthusiasts for banning semi-automatic weapons.

  • Artwit October 16, 2017 (7:51 am)

    Bureaucratese: don’t  propose what “would interfere with our goals.” The whole point is that *their* new “goals” are in conflict with what the community wanted and established in the neighborhood plan.  Translation: 


    • Peter October 16, 2017 (8:39 am)

      Who appointed you the arbiter of “what the community wanted?” I know that’s false because I live in “the community” and I support HALA. 

      • Also John October 16, 2017 (12:45 pm)

        Peter…. You’re the 1% I’ve heard about.

        • CommonSense October 16, 2017 (1:38 pm)

          Precisely, TJ. Love how they are DICTATING what they want to hear. Anything that the City doesn’t want to hear, shouldn’t be submitted, because the City REFUSES to hear anything other than what they want.

          Also John – You are correct also about Peter. 

          But it does NOT matter which “side” anyone is on, the fact is that the government is  REFUSING to receive information that they don’t want to receive from the people who elected them. The government is REFUSING to consider the input of the people who elected them. THAT is the larger problem. 

        • Hermano October 16, 2017 (2:06 pm)

          Consider me another part of the 1% then.  If you read the amendment proposal and look through the petition signatures, there is not a single address listed in the single family zoning change.. the people who would be impacted most. 

  • Mark Schletty October 16, 2017 (7:59 am)

    This is a unilateral attempt by the city to override all the work done by neighborhood people to develop an acceptable plan for the future of their neighborhood. It overturns the basic idea of community involvement in planning, instead dictating what citizens may even claim to want. While it currently purports to address only urban villages, its implications go way beyond that. It is the “foot in the door” that some city officials want for eliminating single family zoning. It is outrageous and should be totally rejected out of hand.

    • Peter October 16, 2017 (8:29 am)

      If they’re trying to overturn community involvement, then why are the doing all the outreach, surveys, and community meetings? Your implication that “neighborhood people” are all against this is false. I live in a neighborhood and my only criticism of HALA is that it doesn’t do enough. And also, “neighborhood activists” have never sought my input, and rejected it out of hand when I’ve offered opinions different from theirs; but the city actually seeks input from all points of view, not just one side of the issue. Your claim the city is trying to eliminate single family zoning is an untrue. 

      • MikeWHPACUV October 16, 2017 (9:44 am)

        They’re doing this to check a box then will ignore all comments . Then they claim that support is overall positive. I’ve been at all their meetings and it is definitely not overall positive. While you support it, it looks like enough people were motivated to come out and say how they didn’t like it. Which is pretty rare.

        While I support this I’m very displeased with the overall process, and the way the city has tried to portray all neighborhood groups with the same negative paintbrush.

        • Hermano October 16, 2017 (2:13 pm)

          I disagree with “enough people were motivated to come out and say how they didn’t like it – which is pretty rare”.  It is, in fact, more common for opposition voices to be loudest and most active.  I support HALA and have been very passive in my support.  I might have to attend tomorrow’s meeting, though, to prevent this false impression that HALA is not well received in the community.

          • KM October 16, 2017 (5:47 pm)

            You can also just write your council person and submit comment via email or online. I support HALA as well, and I have sent numerous comments and emails in, specifically pointing out the issues I have with visible opposition in may cases, and also pointing out what else I would like to see happen within HALA (it’s definitely not perfect). I will not attend any of these community meetings after seeing some footage from them months back and talking to some of those who attend.

      • Terri October 16, 2017 (11:03 am)

        Curious as to how long you have lived in WS, Peter? Your input is valid regardless, but you don’t seem to be aware of the many years of neighborhood planning and development that occurred PRIOR to or OUTSIDE of the HALA process. I think this is what commenters are referring to when they note that the city is overriding the community’s preferences. Yes, things have changed and will continue to change and need to change, but if you are honest you can certainly accept that this is difficult for people, especially those who have lived here for a long time or who have invested in building a life here; it is easier for those who do not have as much skin in the game. The city would do well to acknowledge this, since people are much more open to change if they feel that they have at least been heard. 

    • Nigel October 16, 2017 (3:44 pm)

      Well I did Neighborhood planning and it was wonderful. The plan was great and it improved my neighborhood but that was 1998. Things change, people change, context changes. To say that old neighborhood plan should not be re-evaluated to incorporate the perspectives and input of the new residents of the community in its current context is wrong. Is neighborhood planning easy? No! Is it worth lots of effort and engagement? Yes! I spent 2 years going to neighborhood meeting 3-4 times a week. I found it worth my time and I want all my new neighbors to be able to have a say in “our” neighborhood. 

  • Seattlite October 16, 2017 (8:14 am)

    The city wants this: “…to remove language that calls for protection of current single-family zoning in those areas.” Does the city need to do this? Key words “want” and “need.” No the city doesn’t need to do this. They want to do this. The urban village concept has totally ruined urban neighborhoods: West Seattle, Green Lake, Phinney Ridge, Ballard, Fremont that were at one time extremely family friendly, livable for humans and cars. From the inception of the urban village concept, urban neighborhoods have become ugly with overdevelopment and cold with families becoming more insulated. Kids don’t play outside anymore, crossing a street even with directional lights is taking your life in your own hands, driving down California Avenue is an obstacle course with people flinging their car doors open when cars are passing, people jaywalking which disrupts the flow of traffic…and on and on. Remember to do your research before you vote or not this year.

    • Kathy October 16, 2017 (11:51 am)

      Wait, Seattlite, you are bemoaning that we are no longer livable for cars, and people are disrupting the flow of traffic?  Why do you think kids and adults are taking their lives  in their hands crossing the streets? Mixed message. I’d say we have made it too livable for cars vs. people.

      • Seattlite October 16, 2017 (3:54 pm)

         Kathy — Not a mixed message at all.   Overdevelopment has caused an increase in cars but no increase or improvement in WS’s roadways.  Hence, everything I listed above regarding cars, safety is based on urban village overdevelopment.  WS is not what it used to be which was a safety first neighborhood.

  • 98126res October 16, 2017 (8:21 am)

    I would bet that discussions, communications, and direction of this whole deal and prior revamp of the Seattle’s comprehensive plan were planned on retreats, then driven by politicians  and pricey PR and communications consultants, who we probably pay for.

  • Jethro Marx October 16, 2017 (9:29 am)

    I understand that the city wants more density, and that’s going to happen one way or another, like it or not. It is a city, after all.

     This sorta reads like, “come give us your input, but don’t tell us how you feel if it goes against our plan.”

     Housing will never be cheap or even “affordable” no matter how much is built. New apartments aren’t cheap, rented or sold. Homeless people aren’t homeless because they can afford a 250,000 dollar house but not a 450,000 house.

     The environment and the climate and all the rest are kinda screwed, whether we drive cars or not. Maybe we should stop with the doublespeak and try being honest for a change.

     I’d like to see the city pull for the little guy/girl a bit more; it’s pretty clear their policies are aimed towards helping developers make them more money, even if they tell us some nonsense about how it’s going to lead to fewer wildfires or some $#*%

  • Orwell October 16, 2017 (9:59 am)

    Just a general Thank you to WSB for your work to help identify the exact relevant document portions and issues of discussion.  It saves me and I am sure other citizens hours of unfocused  work.

    • WSB October 16, 2017 (10:12 am)

      Thanks – in turn, we appreciate the community members who helped make it possible for us to pull these out, by keeping an even closer watch on city websites and mailing lists than we try to do, and pointing out, for example, that these documents were hidden in a city update (which we didn’t even receive) and linked behind the head-scratching label “Meeting in a Box.” Challenging enough that the city is stuffing two big issues – wherever you stand on them, or if you just want to learn more about them before figuring out where you stand! – in one “open house” meeting … TR

    • CommonSense October 16, 2017 (1:39 pm)

      I agree with you on this 100%, and we all should agree on this! 

  • Cindi Barker October 16, 2017 (10:19 am)

    Peter, you must have missed the Morgan Community Association meeting where we discussed this and voted to submit our own comprehensive plan Amendment wording. That wording requested a fuller more engaged neighborhood process to update the plan, because it’s more than just these two policies that are included in our vision of the Urban Village. Hopefully you will be able to attend the October 18th meeting, 7 at the Kenny community room

    • roddy3 October 16, 2017 (4:20 pm)

      @Cindi, how are you getting the word out about the 10/18 meeting (or the one that Peter missed, for that matter)? I knew nothing about them or of any of MoCA’s efforts that you mention in your post. The last event & post on MoCA’s Facebook page is from June! Is subscribing to an e-newsletter the only way to get updates directly from MoCA? 

      • Cindi Barker October 16, 2017 (4:48 pm)


        The Calendar is up to date and shows you the upcoming meeting, the agenda was posted on Saturday the 14, so I don’t understand why you say it hasn’t been updated since June.  The July minutes have been posted since June as well, you can read in all the minutes about our discussions on this topic. 

        In addition, we send notice to the WS Blog, who always puts the meeting into the daily  calendar and has on their calendar, and the WS Herald also publishes when they have room.  We also have the MoCA meetings listed on the City’s Community Pages webpage, and put a hard copy of the meeting dates and agendas in the kiosk in Morgan Park.  We send a monthly newsletter out, so you can sign up for that by going to our website and letting us know under “contact us” – send to either the board or to me as the PIO.  We’re not so great at Facebook, and your post reminded me that we didn’t get this onto Next Door yet (our normal poster is out of the country).  It takes many actions by multiple people to make community happen, I hope you can come to our meeting on Weds night and help as well.  

        • roddy3 October 16, 2017 (6:45 pm)

          Hi Cindi, I said your *Facebook* page hasn’t been updated since June, not the calendar on your site. And since you say your Facebook needs a little work, perhaps I can help. I’ve been running Facebook & Twitter accounts for Easy Street Records for many years now, so if you need someone to help out, just let me know and we can talk about it! Will do my best to come to Wednesday’s meeting!

          • Cindi Barker October 16, 2017 (7:23 pm)


            OMG that would be fantastic! If you can’t make it, please get hold of me after and let’s talk.

            And sorry that I didn’t catch you were talking Facebook, it’s clearly our weak spot.

  • TJ October 16, 2017 (11:12 am)

    I am fine with some zoning changes to allow more development, but the city is selling out current residents in the process by giving tax breaks to developers (and then passing tax increases on to us) and not upgrading infrastructure to handle the growth. And remember, that initial HALA committee came out against single family housing in the city as a whole. This isn’t the end. And “affordable housing” is a relative term. What many people envision affordable as will only happen with a big downturn in the economy. Meanwhile politicians will say anything to try and push this. I had the unpleasant pleasure of listening to ex-mayor Murray 2 years ago claim that the tech boom here attracting new people is the beginning, and that “climate change” will push more people here as they flee other parts of the country believe it or not. What would really make sense is absorbing growth in the general Puget Sound area overall. Not just building housing in Arlington for example, but actually having jobs there as well

    • Jon Wright October 16, 2017 (1:46 pm)

      While it might “really make sense” for there to be more jobs in Arlington or elsewhere in the general Puget Sound area, you do realize that is not happening and there is virtually nothing anybody or any governmental agency can do to magically make it happen, right? Employment generally clusters in cities for a reason.

      • Nigel October 16, 2017 (3:51 pm)

        Regional mass transit will help regional growth. 

  • TJ October 16, 2017 (3:06 pm)

    Yes, I understand the dynamics of centralized business economics. I also know that San Francisco for example has done the same things we are in the process of doing, and it has done nothing for for housing prices, or traffic for that matter. They have the BART transit system, and I believe their traffic is worse than ours. Giving developers tax breaks that are just passed on to existing residences, and not making them pay for infrastruture improvements, is selling us out. And how about also letting developers know they will not be bailed out or be able to file for bankruptcy protection if the economy dives in the future, which wouldn’t give them the peace of mind up front to build these mega developments. 

    • Seattlite October 16, 2017 (4:54 pm)

      TJ — Bingo!

  • CMT October 16, 2017 (4:50 pm)

    Regardless of your views, if you live in West Seattle and care about this issue you should either go to the open house or email the address given and tell the City exactly what you want for our neighborhood, regardless of the purported limitations they are trying to place on your feedback.  The City has zero interest in ensuring that the actual neighborhood’s voice is taken into account and will be thrilled if the only people that show up are representatives from developer-funded groups (e.g. “Seattle for Everyone”) purporting to speak for the “community.”  If our neighborhood wants to be involved in planning its future, it’s important to speak up.

  • Tim October 24, 2017 (3:55 pm)

    I’ve lived in Seattle my whole life and mostly in west Seattle. The rezoning is needed! As a landlord, I can help many more families with the new zoning. People who want there single family homes can still keep them.

Sorry, comment time is over.