HALA upzoning appeal: More testimony starting today

The city’s HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability upzoning plan has yet to go before the City Council for a final vote because the neighborhood coalition appeal of its Environmental Impact Statement remains unresolved. Testimony was scheduled to resume this morning before city Hearing Examiner Ryan Vancil. This is the 11th day of testimony, but the 10 days so far have not been consecutive; it began with one week in late June (June 25-29) and continued with one week in late July (July 23-27). This entire week is also blocked for testimony, Monday-Friday, and four more days are on the HE calendar too – August 30th and 31st and September 4th and 7th. This week, the neighborhood coalition is scheduled to wrap up its case with witnesses today and Tuesday and in the first hour of Wednesday, before the city calls more of its witnesses. Those testifying this week, according to a document provided to the HE, will include West Seattleites Christy Tobin-Presser and Cindi Barker as part of the appeal case; city witnesses will include city employees and consultants including Geoff Wentlandt, the city Office of Planning and Community Development lead in preparing the EIS. The proceedings are in the Hearing Examiner’s chambers on the 40th floor of the city Municipal Tower downtown (700 5th Ave.), open to the public; audio of each day’s proceedings is posted in the online case file.

BACKSTORY: The proposal would upzone property in urban villages, as well as commercial/multifamily property everywhere in the city, while requiring developers to either build affordable housing in their projects or pay fees to fund it elsewhere. The appeal was announced in November, two weeks after the city released the EIS. Five West Seattle neighborhood groups are among the 31 organizations from around the city in the coalitionAlki Community Council, Fauntleroy Neighborhood Association, Morgan Community Association, West Seattle Junction Neighborhood Organization, and the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Coalition. An appeal is not a lawsuit, though it could be a precursor to one; once the HE rules – usually within a few weeks of the end of testimony – that will be the city’s final decision in the matter, but the decision could be challenged in court. In city appeals, the burden is on the appellants to prove that a city decision should be overturned or amended. The City Council has continued to review the legislation that would implement HALA MHA, though its Select Committee on MHA has yet to schedule its next meeting.

4 Replies to "HALA upzoning appeal: More testimony starting today"

  • Jim Luce August 20, 2018 (10:55 pm)

    Stand strong against HALA upzones and take judicial appeal if necessary.

  • House August 21, 2018 (1:22 am)

    Man people will do anything to keep their valuable single-family lots as exclusive as possible.  This appeal is ridiculous.  Stop wasting the council’s time already and let people build more housing!

  • jm18 August 21, 2018 (7:38 am)

    Thank you HOUSE! My sentiments exactly! One of the SCALE ‘powers that be’ happens to have a house in the soon to be rezone area and it was their ‘dream’ house so how can this possibly happen to them?!  Waste of time and money. I also hate that these neighborhood groups say that they are speaking for most of their community.https://www.planetizen.com/news/2018/01/96557-rise-nimby-movement-and-how-homeowners-came-own-whole-neighborhood

  • Bubba Fide August 21, 2018 (11:42 am)

    The MDU builder/REITS, etc lobby is very effective in selling HALA to the masses and city leadership. (I used to work in MDU industry)  IMO, the primary purpose of HALA is to generate tax parcels, and line the pockets of developers.  It works for that, but it has not made housing more affordable.    Please, educate yourselves.    On the contrary, on a price per square foot basis (the real measure of true affordability), HALA has increased costs, and shifts the infrastructure burden to the community –  infrastructure for parks, schools, parking, police,  roads, and more.  (Quality of life)  Sure,  developers make a lot of money, and the property tax revenues go up, and there are more units, but those units are not more affordable.      

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