HALA UPZONING: Last major public-comment hearing Thursday. Will the plan change before final vote?

(West Seattle section of map featured on City Council’s MHA committee page)

Out of the snowstorm, into the fire. Just as we emerge from the all-consuming wintry weather, major projects and policies are approaching big decisionmaking points. Here’s another one: The city’s proposal for HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability upzoning. Thursday night at City Hall, it’s the final big public hearing before the City Council votes on the proposal, which has been more than three years in the making. Before the vote, councilmembers will consider possible amendments to the plan. Among them are amendments proposed by West Seattle/South Park (District 1) Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who explained them in her most-recent weekly update:

… I have been working with community members in each of the Urban Villages in District 1, specifically South Park, Admiral, West Seattle Junction, Westwood-Highland Park, and the Morgan Junction. They have helped me to develop a number of amendments that will, if passed, make changes to the current proposal to reflect the goals held by the community organizations representing those communities, while still implementing MHA in all areas proposed from MHA implementation.

Specifically, I am proposing five amendments with the Junction urban village that would upzone those five areas currently zoned as Single Family to Residential Small Lot (RSL), as opposed to the Executive’s proposal for Low Rise 1, 2, and 3 zoning. The reasoning for this is that the Junction has been identified as the location of a future light rail station; however, the specific alignment and location of the station have not yet been determined. Once that is determined, it will become more clear which properties Sound Transit will need to acquire. This is important because increasing development capacity in these locations may increase the value of the land, and Sound Transit is required to pay for the highest and best use of the land. Sound Transit is already needing third party funding for the development of these lines, and I do not want to see that problem exacerbated. The Community has expressed a desire for additional zoning capacity, but in accordance with the light rail station. To that end, the Office of Planning and Community has committed to beginning a neighborhood planning process in 2019 and 2020.

Additionally, three other amendments I have proposed, one in the Morgan Junction and two in the Westwood-Highland Park urban village, would provide better stair-stepping and avoid harsh transitions from one zone to the next.

At the last meeting of the Council’s Select Committee on Mandatory Housing Affordability, I presented these amendments and some of my colleagues expressed concern. I am proud of District 1, for the most part, embracing the conversion of Single Family Zoning in Urban Villages to RSL. This is significant progress from a year ago when there was fierce opposition in some corners to any changes to Single Family Zoning in Urban Villages. I believe it’s my responsibility, in governing to collaborate with my constituents, and in that spirit, I will continue to champion these amendments. I encourage you to come to the public hearing on Thursday the 21, to share your thoughts about these amendments, because I could use your help. …

Herbold also talked about HALA MHA and her proposed amendments at last Thursday’s West Seattle Chamber of Commerce lunch meeting:

If you can’t make it to Thursday’s hearing (5:30 pm in Council chambers, 600 4th Ave.) you can also voice your opinion to councilmembers by emailing council@seattle.gov.

TIMELINE: After Thursday’s hearing, the council expects to vote on amendments and other related bills next Monday afternoon (February 25th), after their regular weekly afternoon meeting, around 2:30 pm. The final vote on HALA MHA, amended or not, is expected during the 2 pm council meeting on March 18th.

NOT SURE WHAT HALA IS? Herbold’s aforementioned weekly update includes a short primer/recap. The city’s interactive maps will show you how any particular property will or won’t be affected by the upzoning proposals, as they stand now.

4 Replies to "HALA UPZONING: Last major public-comment hearing Thursday. Will the plan change before final vote?"

  • Kyle February 19, 2019 (9:53 am)

    I’m curious if Metro gets increased funding to support these upzones? Busses already are packed during peak hours and increasing housing will increase congestion. I’m imagining Delridge becoming more of a slog than it is currently, and something should be done about the Highland Park Way & Holden intersection (It’s dangerous now), if they’re going to increase density in that location. 

  • Julio Lopez February 19, 2019 (10:07 am)

    Hello, I’m curious about the language being used for the reduction of zoning from LR* to RSL. Is the downzone only for the proposed amendments (as an example 1-3 shows 41st ave at Oregon to the south and Genesee to the north and stepped from 38th ave to 37th 1/2) Does that mean that only that section is getting amended or does it mean all areas except that area are getting amended.  Sorry, super confused here.Great work as always.

  • K to the F February 19, 2019 (10:54 am)

    Wait, where did map amendment 1-7 go? That was one of the best amendments since it offset out-of-scale upzones in our neighborhoods with a Triangle area upzone going from 75′ to 95′. This was my favorite because it focuses density in an area ripe for development with great access to services, transit, and other amenities.

    • Matt Hutchins February 20, 2019 (4:48 pm)

      If it wasn’t studied as part of the Environmental Impact Statement, then Council is not seriously considering it. 95’ heights there weren’t studied, so ithe amendment is dead on arrival.  Critics would pounce on any overstep of the EIS as grounds to  challenge the legislation.  

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