Two weeks after the city went public with its “preferred alternative” for HALA upzoning, as part of the final Environmental Impact Statement, a new citywide coalition has announced it will file an appeal. The community councils from three of West Seattle’s four “urban villages” are among the groups comprising the coalition: the Morgan Community Association, the Junction Neighborhood Organization, and Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Coalition. From today’s announcement of the new coalition and appeal plan:
… The coalition is called Seattle Coalition for Affordability, Livability and Equity.
Jon Lisbin, small business owner and president of Seattle Fair Growth, said, “We are worried about affordability and displacement. Our neighborhoods are so different that one-size-fits-all upzones don’t work well for residents or small businesses. The Final EIS completely neglects the differences between neighborhoods that are ripe for multifamily development such as Lake City and Northgate, and other racially diverse neighborhoods, such as South Park and Beacon Hill, that are mainly of older single-family homes owned or rented by lower-income families. The city is leaving low- and middle-income families with no place to go.”
Said David Ward, a Ravenna renter and president of the coalition, “It will make Seattle far more unaffordable and also make it more difficult to live here due to more traffic, not enough schools, more pollution, fewer trees, and a loss of the diversity of residents we currently have.”
“I’m worried about moving out from my parents’ home because I know it’ll be hard to find an apartment I can afford,” said Beacon Hill Council Member and UW student Cacima Lee. “And the idea of buying a home in Seattle is almost a joke.”
“Instead of invalidating all neighborhood plans, the city needs to support and celebrate differences while maintaining intact communities,” Christy Tobin-Presser of the West Seattle Junction Neighborhood Coalition added. “These upzones are not needed to accommodate the growth that’s planned. The city already has the more than twice the capacity in multi-family zoning to accommodate all the growth that’s coming, so who’s driving this land-grab?”
Wallingford resident Susanna Lin states: “We have a school capacity crisis and the City is planning upzones without coordinating with the School District on a plan to build more schools. In addition, trees are disappearing at an alarming rate. What kind of future is this for our children?”
The Grand Bargain, or Mandatory Housing Affordability-Residential (MHA-R), is a one-size-fits-all proposal by former Mayor Ed Murray and City planners that would give developers increased height limits and profitability in exchange for either building affordable units in their projects or contributing a fee in lieu of including them. In fact, according to the City, most developers have said they will decline to include rent-restricted units in their projects. They prefer to pay the fee.
According to Lake City homeowner and affordable housing advocate Sarajane Siegfriedt, the
City Office of Housing then leverages the fees 3:1 mostly with federal, state and city tax funds to
build low-income housing in other parts of Seattle. Most of the required affordable housing will
be built in locations with cheap land, not in the neighborhoods where builders maximize profits
by replacing older houses with costly new market-rate housing. Then there’s the delay. It takes
four or so years for a nonprofit to receive City and state grants, assemble the rest of the funding,
and construct a building, assuming they already have the land.”
“We share the City’s goal of affordable housing for those earning less than 60% of Area Median Income, but it is simply not achieved by these upzones,” Siegfriedt said. “That’s why we are filing an appeal. The real impacts that destroy and gentrify our low- and moderate-income neighborhoods are loss of affordability, community and livability.” …
The new coalition plans a media briefing/Q&A event downtown next Monday, which is when they also say they’ll file the appeal. Read today’s full announcement here (it includes the list of 24 participating groups).
P.S. If you haven’t already checked on what’s proposed for your neighborhood (or anywhere else that interests you) in the HALA MHA “preferred alternative” – you can use the city’s interactive map to look up specific locations. Before anything becomes final, the City Council has to consider forthcoming legislation, isn’t expected to come to a vote before next summer.