HALA UPZONING: Councilmembers hear ‘best-case scenario’ of potential-passage timeline

That’s Seattle Channel video of the City Council’s first meeting to discuss HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability upzoning since the pre-Thanksgiving ruling on a citywide coalition’s challenge to it.

The council met Monday morning as the Select Committee on Citywide MHA. They got a briefing on the ruling, plus this potential timeline for what happens next:

Council staff cautioned that the timeline is a “best-case scenario.” (Among other potential complications, the coalition hasn’t yet announced whether it will pursue a court challenge to the city Hearing Examiner’s ruling. Its leader said during the meeting’s public-comment period that the coalition remained open to talking with the city.)

West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold noted that she had asked for urban-village-specific resolutions regarding planning, and didn’t see that reflected in the timeline. Committee chair Councilmember Rob Johnson said he intends for that to happen and it was an “oversight” that it wasn’t shown on the timeline. Herbold said that she felt specific resolutions would address some of the concerns that led to the appeal. Later in the meeting, she repeatedly stressed concerns about displacement that could result from the upzoning, including that city staff has underestimated how much of it could happen.

26 Replies to "HALA UPZONING: Councilmembers hear 'best-case scenario' of potential-passage timeline"

  • WS Guy December 4, 2018 (3:25 am)

    Oh Lisa.  She tries to do the right thing sometimes, but the rest of the Council brushes her aside so easily.  She has no power. 

  • John December 4, 2018 (7:55 am)

    Please Read “The Myth of Gentrification” in Slate by John Butrum.

  • Victoria December 4, 2018 (8:18 am)

    WS Guy and all others – Each of us should write to the entire city council our support for her ideas.  Your voices matter and give her the power to push through reforms. VN

  • Peter December 4, 2018 (10:14 am)

    “Herbold said that she felt specific resolutions would address some of the concerns that led to the appeal.” I think that’s naive. No “urban-village-specific resolutions” will change the minds of those who just don’t want any more housing built.    

    • CMT December 4, 2018 (3:09 pm)

      I don’t know anyone that opposes MHA that “just don’t want anymore housing built.”  That is a simplistic attempt to dismiss the valid concerns raised about implementation of MHA in its current form.

      • HappyCamper December 4, 2018 (4:21 pm)

        Maybe a caveat at the project level? A granular analysis of changes to all “general” land use codes would equal pretty much zero change ever. That would leave too many catches and stipulations at a high level for any one person to hold things up. Then another, and another, etc, forever.I am personally in favor of generalized changes allowing increased density in urban villages and on arterials. It just makes sense. I also think there should be REAL chances at the project level to address concerns such as tree cover, aesthetics, or whatever.However this thing works out we certainly are not in 1994 Seattle anymore and need to accept that. I really want to keep Seattle cool but it won’t be cool if  no one can afford to live here!

  • HW December 4, 2018 (12:08 pm)

    Are there any provisions to make sure a % of the housing created via HALA are 2 bedroom units or bigger? All of the units going up in the urban village right now are studios and 1 bedrooms. That helps single people or couples, but does nothing to address affordable housing for families who likely need more than 500 sq ft as kids age.

  • Erithan December 4, 2018 (1:56 pm)

    Has there ever been an any word on the fact if this is based on median income it will still be highly unaffordable for senior/disabled who get max 11-12k a year?(still get rent increases, no food stamps) Please correct me if I’m wrong that median is the bases to calculate “affordable”.

  • jm18 December 4, 2018 (4:21 pm)

    I for one am glad this is all put to rest, for the time being anyway. I get really tired of people expressing their opinion or views and having someone from scale insult, tell them they are wrong or that they need to educate themselves, I’ve seen it all year. I know a lot of people who do not want more housing built. period. In fact they have been scale participants(?) and have used those exact words. 

    • CMT December 4, 2018 (9:23 pm)

      I would be shocked if you could provide a concrete example of a SCALE participant saying that they “do not want more housing built” as that has absolutely nothing to do with SCALE’s purpose.   SCALE’s concerns largely relate to displacement of vulnerable populations, further elimination of already scarce open space, tree canopy, and lack of sufficient infrastructure, including transportation, to support the upzones as proposed and an overall lack of sufficient planning for significant increase in population that MHA would occasion.   SCALE does make an effort to correct misstated facts and does encourage people to educate themselves to counter the massive amounts of misinformation about MHA.   I’m glad there is an organization looking out for the interests of the actual people in the neighborhoods to be impacted.  If Mayor Murray had not de-funded the neighborhood councils in preparation for ramming through his backroom deal MHA proposal, those councils could have been looking out for neighborhoods and keeping people informed with the actual facts.   As it is, organizations like SCALE have had to fill that void.

      • HappyCamper December 5, 2018 (6:42 am)

        Transportation and density has and possibly will always be a chicken or egg type problem. People say there’s not enough density to build it and others say don’t build it because there’s not enough density. IMHO build them. If it isn’t dense enough now it will be, if it doesn’t warrant transit it will later. Especially if growth is targeted through zoning changes to facilitate that growth in the future. Seems very logical to me. Sitting on our hands for decades is part of why we’re in this pickle. Planning way before MHA didn’t look forward enough so here we are.We’re also in this pickle from people being resistant to changes and fighting every single thing on every single level. Neighborhood councils are doing a decent job of delaying and road blocking the process now. Imagine if all 27 urban villages had their small group of “representatives” nitpicking every little item individually. It would take a generation for there to be any legislative movement.Also, I have attended some meetings and seen the shirts and signs and heard the chants. I honestly got the impression that they aren’t against more housing, just against it where they live. I’m not saying that to be combative but looking and listening I felt a visceral tone that wasn’t about tree cover. May have just been me but of course no one is going to come right out and say they don’t want more housing near them. I’m not accusing anyone I’m just saying that would be a terrible strategy if they did.

        • CMT December 5, 2018 (11:27 am)

          I know what you are saying about the strong feelings of those whose neighborhoods will be impacted, however, that is largely due to the underhanded way in which the City attempted to push through MHA.   That does not mean that people’s concerns do not extend beyond their personal circumstances.  Using myself as an example, my family and I sold our house and moved based entirely on the City’s mismanagement of growth as evidenced by its ham-handed MHA plan.  Notwithstanding that I am no longer directly impacted, now that I understand the true impacts of MHA, I will continue to advocate for the City to do its job for its constituents and actually seek a solution to growth that will actually provide a meaningful amount of affordable housing without destroying existing affordable housing and unnecessarily compromising the environment of the existing neighborhoods.

          • HappyCamper December 5, 2018 (4:56 pm)

            I try to be pretty objective and can understand the feelings people have. Some feel like it’s ruining their lives and some hope their property value goes up and some can’t wait for more coffee shops, etc.The city is ours as a people and as constituents. All too often in politics a vocal or powerful minority decides the rights and fate of others less vocal or less powerful which kinda sucks.That being said the city is a business and has to make business decisions as an entity. I’m sure Boeing would like to always be hiring because business is so good but sometimes they have to lay people off, shift production, etc. it’s part of doing business. It is absolutely impossible for the city to run its business without some people experiencing a real or perceived negative impact. Leaders in business and in government have to sometimes make tough decisions. The city has to change and adapt to current circumstances and prepare for the future. Everything they have done is public record and if it was fake statistics, bald faced lies or whatever they would be called out right away. I don’t think they can do anything more than meet the minimum by law and move on it because what maybe 100 people could hold up change in perpetuity?

      • Fiz December 5, 2018 (8:08 am)

        Thank you.

      • jm18 December 5, 2018 (8:14 am)

        I could provide several, but I understand your very committed to Scale and therefore protective of it as you should be with something one supports.  However, just because someone has different views than you, does not make them wrong.  I’ve seen insult after insult posted this last year just because people have different views. I know exactly what Scale is about, trust me, but neighborhood groups do not speak for the majority as they have claimed.   There are so many people in West Seattle who are in the soon to be rezoned area that actually welcome growth as it is presented and it sounds like Seattle will soon change all SF zoning.  

  • Mike December 5, 2018 (12:12 am)

    The notion that building more will lower costs always cracks me up.  Building more never lowers cost.  “If you build it, they will come” really is how this works in a strong economy in a given area.  Seattle’s house values dropped, just as they always do EVERY fall it’s cyclical, however, no matter how many new apodments or micro houses the council gives developers the freedom to build build build, there’s enough people moving to Seattle that the cost will not go down enough for those truly in need of housing, to live in them.  We spend over $40k for each homeless person in this state, every year.  You want to help people get housing, reallocate some of those funds to subsidize the cost of living, stop taxing the crap out of everything, reallocate the tax cuts for developers to go towards mental health treatment and job training for those that are not in an industry that’s in high demand.  Get people into good paying jobs that will allow them to afford housing.  Stop the stupidity of our council.

    • John December 5, 2018 (10:35 am)

      @Mike,You only need to open the real estate section to see the error of your claims.  FACT – Seattle has been building more, for-sale inventory is up,AND – Prices are going down.It is hard to defeat the market’s reaction to classic supply and demand curves.Additionally, Seattle prices have not dropped ‘EVERY’ fall as you falsely proclaim.

      • HappyCamper December 5, 2018 (5:07 pm)

        If population is going to continue to grow we’ll need more supply. And the old argument of “there’s plenty of existing development capacity” doesn’t work. Why isn’t all of that capacity built out? Feasibility. MHA is an attempt to make projects pencil out for a win-win. If Supply outruns demand rent will stabilize or drop and building will slow or stop. Right now people can’t build more dwellings in the places people want to live! Near cool stuff like the Alaska Junction.

  • jm18 December 5, 2018 (12:29 pm)

    https://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/seattle-must-say-yes-in-my-back-yard-to-housing/As long as we’re quoting the times….glad to hear scale members stirred the pot for a year then moved away from it all. 

    • CMT December 5, 2018 (1:38 pm)

      I would note that that is an opinion piece, to which the author is certainly entitled . . .

      • jm18 December 5, 2018 (4:27 pm)

        You are correct. My point is that nobody should use the Seattle times to support their position, they tend to flip flop on everything. But yes, you are right.

        • KM December 5, 2018 (5:17 pm)

          CMT, Westneat’s article is also an opinion piece, he’s just on staff at ST as opposed  Allison Bolgiano, who provided it as a “special to” the Times.

          • CMT December 5, 2018 (8:51 pm)

            In any event, Westneat’s article is not qualified/identified by the paper as an opinion piece as Bolgiami’s is.

          • HappyCamper December 5, 2018 (10:12 pm)

            Yeah that should be clear. His headline about baked in the cake is a little misleading too. Maybe that person should’ve chosen other wording but it sounds to me like making a zoning change without some sort of political backlash is like baking a cake with no flour. Not likely to happen.

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