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.