On eve of HALA MHA hearing, Councilmember Herbold proposes ‘anti-displacement ordinance’

“If you take away affordable housing, you have to replace it.” That’s how one community member at tonight’s Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting summarized their take on the goal of proposed city legislation announced earlier in the day by West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who wants to bundle it with consideration of HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability, the subject of a council public hearing tomorrow night. Here’s the announcement sent by Herbold’s office:

Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle, South Park) will introduce an anti-displacement ordinance that would authorize additional displacement mitigations for housing projects located in South Park, Rainier Beach, Othello, Bitter Lake, and Westwood-Highland Park. These neighborhoods have been identified as having a high risk of displacement and low access to opportunity, according to Growth and Equity: Analyzing Impacts on Displacement and Opportunity Related to Seattle’s Growth Strategy, in the Comprehensive Plan Seattle 2035, an analysis conducted by the Office of Planning and Community Development.

“I appreciate Mayor Durkan’s efforts to address the displacement impacts of development by proposing to introduce legislation that the Council requested in 2017 by Resolution 31754. As described in the March 2018 status report to the Council, a community preferences policy will be useful for our non-profit developers. Nevertheless, we also desperately need a tool to address the displacement that occurs when for-profit developers build. Displacement is a challenging issue and we need many tools to address it,” said Herbold.

Councilmember Herbold will this week send the proposed bill to the Council’s Introduction and Referral Calendar. Councilmember Herbold has requested that the Council hear this bill concurrently with the MHA Citywide legislation.

“This ordinance would use authority granted under the State Environmental Protection Act (SEPA) to create a requirement for developers to mitigate the impacts resulting from the loss of affordable housing in those areas of the city that, if we didn’t do so, the result would be a failure to fulfill our obligation to ‘affirmatively promote fair housing’ — in other words, in areas where disproportionate displacement of communities of color and other protected classes is likely to occur,” Herbold said. (See upper left-hand corner of this image.)

MHA Framework legislation, passed in 2016, Section 2.A.2.a, stated: The Council intends to consider whether to include higher performance and payment amounts, subject to statutory limits, for those areas where the increase in development capacity would be likely to increase displacement risk. Resolution 31733, passed in 2017, stated: The Council intends to consider a range of strategies to increase affordable units sufficient to offset the affordable units at risk of demolition due to new development.”

“I’m proud that the Council has a long legislative record of its commitment to address displacement. Now it’s time to act again,” Herbold continued.

“I have, over the years, expressed my great concern that the City describes MHA as ‘housing displacement mitigation tool,’ but has badly analyzed how development removes more affordable housing than the resources from MHA are sufficient to replace.

“For example, in the case of the University District MHA upzone in 2017, the City estimated that only 40-275 units of existing affordable units of housing would be demolished over 20 years. The EIS estimated likely demolition by identifying specific redevelopable parcels and quantifying their existing housing (zero, for parking lots and commercial buildings). The “full build out” scenario wherein construction occurs on all redevelopable parcels to the full capacity of the proposed rezone was estimated to result in the demolition of 275 homes over 20 years. In less than 2 years, based upon a Council Central Staff analysis of new development projects that are currently in some stage of having their Master Use Permit issued or Early Design Guidance reviewed and that are subject to the new zoning put in place in 2017, 96 units of affordable units are already planned for demolition.

“Using the same approach used in the University District in 2017, the City estimates that over 20 years 574 units of housing will be demolished in MHA rezone areas. My concerns about displacement today are heightened, especially considering how far afield the University District estimate has proven to be.”

This announcement comes on the eve of the council’s HALA MHA public hearing, 5:30 pm Thursday at City Hall downtown (600 4th Ave.), as previewed here Monday.

17 Replies to "On eve of HALA MHA hearing, Councilmember Herbold proposes 'anti-displacement ordinance'"

  • GWood February 20, 2019 (10:06 pm)

    This doesn’t go far enough!  They should have to do this in all areas they tear down “affordable” housing. I don’t care if you are white, brown, black, grean, young, old disabled or whatever.  If we trade added hight for developers to make more money then they need to replace at least the number of currently affordable units it destroyed.  I rarely agree with Lisa on anything but this is almost a good move. Be more agressive!

    • Gatewood February 21, 2019 (8:22 am)

      GWOOD, Please share with us where all of this “affordable housing” that is being torn down is and what you deem “affordable”?  Claiming any “affordable” housing currently exists anywhere in Seattle is a stretch, as are claims that adding housing inventory during a shortage of supply will only increase rents.  The markets have already spoken.  In fact, rents in Seattle have recently leveled off and slightly declined due precisely to the increase in inventory. 

  • Mike February 20, 2019 (10:24 pm)

    It’s almost like there’s an election on the way… hmmm, time for some headlines!

  • D February 20, 2019 (10:29 pm)

    I don’t agree with punishing developers or current business owners who own rental properties. All this does is make it more likely that business owners/developers wil rather just pay the extra fees to bypass HALA, rather than deal with extra complications.  Why not incentivize building affordable housing with benificial tax breaks? Instead of punishing the larger corporations we could just give the mom and pop businesses a competitive edge with tax breaks. It would make more sense. 

    • GWood February 20, 2019 (11:29 pm)

      As I read this, my understanding is that this is can not be bought off via fee.  Meaning they have to physically build this in the building.  They might be able to pay the fee for the additional affordable units under MHA but these must be put back in.  Am I wrong here?personally I think the “fee in lieu of” is bs in general. West seattle could very well have all of its affordable housing in the up-zone torn down withou a single affordable unit being put in WS.  That is a fact, we need to wake up and demand better!  I will be at City Hall tomorrow to fight! Who’s coming with me?

      • NH February 21, 2019 (5:48 am)

        You are right. The area of upzoning will result in affordable older homes being torn down and replaced with new construction that costs more. If anyone doubts this, just look at the Central District today. The affordable housing, if built, will not be in the upzoned area.

      • KM February 21, 2019 (7:40 am)

        Isn’t page 8, section a) saying it can just be a fee? I might be reading it incorrectly.

    • HappyCamper February 21, 2019 (8:39 am)

      I agree. Developers don’t “care” where they build. Incentives for business will pretty much always be better than penalties. I don’t know where all of these “affordable” places are. I see a lot of older places getting pergo flooring and pre cut quartz countertops and rent getting doubled. There are also tons of people flipping houses. There goes affordable. There’s an old building by my house that got remodeled and is charging North if $1600 for 500+ sqft.Maybe this will help if it isn’t too punitive though. I’m all for mitigating displacement but tons of restrictions  and intentionally disallowing certain building types in certain areas throughout history is a major contributor to the current problem. Shouldn’t we learn from the past and open things up more?

  • dsa February 20, 2019 (10:34 pm)

    City wide! I agree with GWOOD.

  • Steve February 20, 2019 (11:16 pm)

    The result will be more rent increases. Thanks Lisa!

  • Gwood February 20, 2019 (11:37 pm)

    Hala/MHA is supposed to create 6k “affordable units.  The new data shows to make that happen we will lose over 500 currently affordable units.  So we will permanently change the character of Seattle for 5500 units?  This is a freaking giveaway to developers, created by backroom deals with a man of high moral standards (Ed Murray), and our council is paid off.  Ditch the ability to pay the fee to guarantee it comes back into the neighborhood.  All of the fees are being given, thats right, given to LIHI and the like so the city will have no assets with the housing built with the fees.  This is freaking ludicrous!  

  • PigeonRidge Ben February 21, 2019 (4:59 am)

    One sign of a good piece of legislation, especially in this district where quite a few of us good and honest folks represent opposite sides of the spectrum on different issues, is when both sides are able to take issue with it. Representative democracy in effect. 

  • Fred February 21, 2019 (9:38 am)

    If people really care about mitigating displacement then we should upzone most of the single family areas. Today, it makes financial sense for a developer to tear down 12 affordable housing units to build 16 luxery housing units on a multi family parcel. If instead, they are allowed to tear down a single family house or two to build those 16 luxery units, then only 2 units of housing are lost, and they probably weren’t affordable to begin with. Odds are, the 12 units of more affordable housing won’t be touched.

    • HappyCamper February 21, 2019 (11:02 am)

      Right! Multiply that by 100’s or 1000’s of lots and you have an actual dent. A measurable change in supply and demand. The onesy twosy losses of older buildings would be offset 10 or 100 fold by increase in supply and mandatorily affordable units. The math makes sense when trying to look at this in a pragmatic fashion.Thats why it’s important to upzone some single family. One dwelling can be replaced by 4 or 9 or whatever. That’s a significant change. Also that takes one place that is theoretically off of the market and produces many that are on the market. Creating more options for tenants and buyers.We should upzone along major arterials too. Makes sense.

      • Rico February 21, 2019 (6:18 pm)

        Keep in mind, if rents decrease or stay flat, the investment markets dry up until prices and projections (is rent increase) are more favorable to funds, REITS, and developers 

  • Rico February 21, 2019 (2:45 pm)

    HALA / Up-zoning is probably the largest corporate welfare initiative Seattle has ever launched, far surpassing stadium deals, Boeing, etc    You may feel like we need to increase density, but understand under these initiatives, the direct beneficiary’s are Wall Street Investment Banks who fund large scale development corporations.I worked in the MDU industry for years, and HALA reads like it was written by a lobbyist for the industry.  IMO, city leadership has been duped, and infrastructure costs related to the increased density will be paid for by the middle class.     

  • HW February 21, 2019 (4:14 pm)

    I still struggle to understand why we aren’t also talking about the mix of units.  Affordable studios and 1 bedrooms are great and all but we need family housing too.

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