DEVELOPMENT: City survey asks what kind of housing you would like to see built

It’s a topic everyone’s got an opinion about – development, particularly housing. What should (or shouldn’t) we be building more of in Seattle? And longer-term – should zoning change to allow more, denser housing in more places? Here’s your chance to sound off in an official city survey. We found the Housing Choices Survey tucked into the middle of the Department of Neighborhoods’ newest newsletter. A related Office of Planning and Community Development webpage explains what it’s about:

Housing Choices is an initiative to create more market-rate housing options, in more places, for more people. Our Housing Choices Background Report provides information about the private housing market in order to start a conversation about this topic. We are now reaching out to hear your perspectives about housing choices, better understand the issues and opportunities, and explore potential responses. Your input, along with additional data and analysis, will inform future recommendations for addressing key issues.

Our Housing Choices survey will help inform near-term actions as well as longer-term recommendations that we hope to present in early 2020.

You can answer the survey’s questions (note that some are optional) by going here.

48 Replies to "DEVELOPMENT: City survey asks what kind of housing you would like to see built"

  • CMT September 4, 2019 (9:27 pm)

    Seriously?  All the City has done for the past 5 years is try to ram through legislation or, barring that, to sneak through legislation at the state level seeking to eliminate single family zoning in all of Seattle and wipe out swaths of single family neighborhoods.  Now they ask what people want?Enough with the double speak and supposed “community conversations”.  The City should be honest, state what it plans to do and quit wasting taxpayer time and money with its bogus surveys and phony outreach.  Most importantly, the City should stop pretending it has any intention of paying attention to any feedback other than that which supports what it has already decided to do. 

    • Erin98126 September 5, 2019 (4:40 am)

      That was my first thought when I read this, too. Regardless of the survey, they will do what they want.

    • Mike September 5, 2019 (6:11 am)

      Oh, you noticed that too?  That’s not totally uncommon but with our current socialists on the council they’ve really stepped it up another level of closed door meetings.  I suggest anyone who’d like to know more use the Public Records Act our state has, which is also required by law for our council to follow along with.  and

    • N.A. September 5, 2019 (7:36 am)

      I agree.

    • WS Guy September 5, 2019 (10:34 am)

      100% correct.

    • AMD September 5, 2019 (11:56 am)

      Well, I responded to the survey telling them to build as much as they can wherever they can and to let go of the ridiculous idea of “urban villages.”  Seattle is a city.  The whole city should be made more dense rather than forcing suburban sprawl.  I don’t understand people who move into a literal city and then don’t want it to be urban.  This may come as a surprise to you, but much of the city populace actually doesn’t think large swaths of area should be consumed by single-family homes.  It’s not environmentally-friendly.  Most of the SF zones were created via redlining and efforts to promote exclusivity at the cost of diversity.  It’s ridiculous that this is even a topic of discussion to me.  It seems pretty obvious that we need to build more housing, so I told the city to build, baby, build.

      • CMT September 5, 2019 (3:27 pm)

        I have no doubt the city will take note of that particular feedback.

    • Mark L Ufkes September 9, 2019 (7:39 pm)

      I used to a big supporter of maintaining the single family residence neighborhood.  Then two things happened;  the Seattle Times showed that many mostly single family neighborhoods were based on racist regulations that kept people-of-color and Jewish people out.  The current homeowners of these neighborhoods want to keep the single family emphasis, basically maintaining  and benefiting from the racial bases that gave them their high end homes, and;  my 90+ year old dad might need a home someday near me that will keep his semi-independence. We clearly need more affordable housing everywhere.  And what better way to create more affordable housing than by enlisting every homeowner to be part of the solution.  All cities and the county should allow every homeowner to have multiple options for creating inexpensive housing in their home or on their lot.   Add apartments to any home (there are more of these than most cities realize now, but make it easier), allow cottages everywhere in peoples yards, easily allow garages to be remodeled into an additional home too.  Homeowners who participate will make additional income, and the rents will be modest for most of these options.  We have ten thousand people a month moving here.  And there will be more moving here in the future, not less.  Create policies that encourage every homeowner to be part of the housing solution is smart governing.    

  • face less September 4, 2019 (10:00 pm)

    who received the survey and when was it sent out?

    • WSB September 4, 2019 (10:46 pm)

      As I wrote, it was in the Department of Neighborhoods’ email newsletter. Don’t know how else it was circulated but I suspect it hasn’t been … which is why I’m surfacing it here; I read agendas, newsletters, etc., looking for hidden tidbits. These things have a way of turning up later as proof that the community has been “engaged” … no matter how low a percentage of the city’s population participates … so however you feel about housing, more/less/etc., you might as well weigh in.

  • Cbj September 5, 2019 (12:09 am)

    What a joke,  of course everyone gets the news letter, ( thank you wsb for highlighting the surveys). It makes me so angry how the manipulation and game playing our local government engages in,  truly the only way to create a different path is new leadership.  Guess I’m getting cynical that nothing will change and we will be taxed out of homes and these folks will do what they want and not listen, honestly listen to the community they were to serve,  they see Seattle as their kingdom and feel they know best and give the illusion of engagement 

  • old timer September 5, 2019 (1:02 am)

    Should you want to submit a survey, I would suggest that you do not fill any demographic info on the survey.Clever data manipulators will be able to eliminate pathways contrary to their agenda by attaching your answer to a group that can be belittled or pushed to the “back of the room”.  IMO, age, income, race, etc., should have no bearing on the ideas being solicited.  Their comeback is to “assure all have had a voice”, but the very manner of the survey’s presentation proves that lie.

    • Nicole September 5, 2019 (6:40 am)

      You are totally right.  

  • Erithan September 5, 2019 (1:04 am)

    How about something elderly and disabled can afford?….

    • AlexCabot September 5, 2019 (6:51 am)

      Or something people who aren’t rich tech workers can afford. At $15 full time a single person still doesn’t make even close to enough to even buy a “handyman’s dream” condo in the suburbs. With prices still climbing you would have to make more than double minimum wage to own even a 1 bed 1 bath in West Seattle. And that’s assuming you can afford the HOA fee’s on top of the cost. Some monthly HOA fee’s are more than what I paid for the first place a rented here 8 years ago.

      • Ice September 5, 2019 (7:38 am)

        Yes, I agree. Because if the nature of the zoning laws in Seattle (and pretty much all other west coast cities), people who don’t make a huge salary are pretty much locked out of the housing market at this point. The way our current system is set up allows for only the two most expensive types of housing, either single family housing (not affordable) or high-rise apartments (not affordable). Housing styles which have traditionally been affordable such a duplexes, triplexes, cooperative condos, cottages, ETC cannot be built. Most of the duplexes and triplexes that are available were built before the zoning laws were changed to make it impossible to do so. I really wish Seattle would consider allowing these more affordable styles of housing to be built in areas zoned single family housing. Seattle does have a zoning type called Residential Small Lot (RSL) that is designed for these more affordable styles of housing, but the actual regulations around this zoning are a complete joke and RSL zoning ends up being less efficient than even SFH. Also the amount of land in Seattle that is designated RSL is comically small. I read one figure that something like only 7 acres are zoned RSL. This small amount makes sense given that the way the current regulations are set up, RSL ends up being a downzone rather than an upzone.

    • Peter September 5, 2019 (7:38 am)

      Step one: build more housing! As long as our severe housing shortage continues, prices for all types of housing will just go up and up.  

  • KM September 5, 2019 (7:39 am)

    Thanks for sharing, TR. I know that some are mad about the type of outreach the city does, including me who hates “community” or “neighborhood group” meetings, so diversity in feedback collection is welcome. 

  • John September 5, 2019 (7:48 am)

    Hey folks, relax! Of course we would all like free housing, but hat is not what the survey is about.  The survey is another display of the great Seattle Process.  Assign bureaucrats to gather info then assign other bureaucrats to process with public comment and anon. The civil servants gathering, processing and deliberating this info likely  earn enough to afford a home.

  • JB September 5, 2019 (8:25 am)

    Little late for the survey, damage has already been done.  Lets get some NEW people on the city council.  We need to go in another direction.

    • WSB September 5, 2019 (8:50 am)

      Several people have mentioned the council. This is NOT a council initiative. This is a city department initiative (Office of Planning and Community Development) and its head reports up to the mayor. Just to be clear.

      • John September 5, 2019 (9:10 am)

        Agreed.  But it is another example of the Seattle Process…layering on the bureaucracy to the extent that no one knows where the buck stops, ore even started.

        • WSB September 5, 2019 (9:20 am)

          Bottom line is that whether we like the process or not, it’s the current process, and surveys like this will be touted as reflecting public opinion, so if people cynically want to not fill them out, that’s less representation for their point of view, whether pro-density, anti-density, or somewhere inbetween. If you choose not to reply as a protest, maybe a quick note to the mayor so that’s on record?

          • john September 5, 2019 (10:04 am)

            Excellent suggestions WSB!I do enjoy sending  missives to the Mayor and Council People. I enjoy the the short standardized reply I receive from them and often attachments for info that leads down several other rabbit holes of Seattle Process.I believe this article started out as basically exposing (Yes!) the cynicism of a survey that apparently no one knew about until WSB uncovered it.

        • KM September 5, 2019 (9:48 am)

           Seattle Process does drag on forever, I agree. And we still have some residents who scream that their voices aren’t being heard. You can’t win!

          • CMT September 5, 2019 (12:45 pm)

            The length of the process has nothing to do with whether the City actually pays attention to any of the feedback –  the feedback that many people make a sincere effort to give, mistakenly believing it will make a difference. I think there should be opportunities for the community to be affected to weigh in AND that the City should actually shape its policies in accordance with that feedback, where possible.  Since they don’t do so, the so-called outreach and feedback opportunities are a waste of time, money and a misrepresentation to the community.Also, I  wonder if you would dislike community meetings and input opportunities if the City was seeking to implement policies that did not largely align with your own views. 

          • KM September 5, 2019 (3:31 pm)

            CMT, why do you think the city doesn’t listen to the feedback given? Because they moved forward with a small amount of upzones? Because they allow housing you don’t like? Not enough parking in new builds? Just simply didn’t do what you asked? Taking HALA for example, an upzoning of a whopping 6% of the city’s land, we’ve had since 2014 to make voices heard (and I bet we both did). The proposal morphed, amendments were proposed, some adopted. Herbold put forth amendments in February to scale back the proposed zoning in some urban villages. I’m assuming she did that because of feedback and not just a wild idea she had toward the end of the process, but maybe I’m wrong. To your point about community meetings, speaking as a white single-family homeowner with free time in the evenings and weekends, I’m not okay with “neighborhood” groups and “community” meetings that are largely full of…white single-family homeowners with free time on their hands. Our community is bigger than me, I’ll try my best to listen and impact change in a more inclusive environment. Peace.

          • CMT September 5, 2019 (4:26 pm)

            KM – I cannot even begin to describe in this forum how and why I know the City does not listen to the feedback given where it is overwhelmingly opposed to what they already planned to do behind closed doors in partnership with special interest groups.  Believe it or not, not everyone who does not embrace the City’s current course(s) of action with respect to housing is a homeowner dripping with privilege that fails to have an open-mind or to pursue inclusiveness.  Many oppose the current policies and proposals on the basis that they will lead to further exclusion.   Narrow-mindedness and incorrect judgments can be found in supporters of all sides of the issue and no side has a greater claim to the moral high ground.  Our community is bigger than any one of us.  Peace as well.    

  • Chris K September 5, 2019 (9:55 am)

    More boxy townhouses, please.

    • John September 5, 2019 (11:55 am)

      No let’s go back to more McMansions with fake gables and phony plastic “craftsman” details please.

  • Artsea September 5, 2019 (9:56 am)

    Maybe somebody can tell me why all cities seem to be obsessed with growing larger and larger.  All that seems to do to once wonderful small towns or cities is being problems.  More traffic, higher taxes, less community involvement, and much more government meddling and manipulating.

    • YES! September 5, 2019 (10:24 am)

      I guess we could build a wall?  I suppose my point is that I’m not so sure it’s “cities,” or whatever that’s a synecdoche for, are the driving force you think them to be.  People want to move some place, we kinda gotta let them, and then, yes, things change and we gotta figure out how to adapt.  That’s sorta life, yeah?

    • BlairJ September 5, 2019 (11:52 am)

      The population keeps increasing, and people have to live somewhere.  The choices seem to be denser cities or more urban sprawl.  I prefer the strategy of preserving existing rural and wilderness areas as they are now, and intelligently planning how the existing populated areas will accommodate the additional population.

      • Also John September 5, 2019 (8:28 pm)

        Perfect reason for population control.  It won’t happen in our lifetime, but hopefully soon.  Do you really need more than two children????

        • sam-c September 6, 2019 (9:26 am)

          And does everyone need to go to Hawaii every Spring Break?

    • John September 5, 2019 (12:00 pm)

      Cities are not obsessed with growing larger.  Cities like Seattle though, are highly attractive to people.   When cities are attractive both more of the original residents stay as well as more new ones are seeking a place to call home.  It is the city’s job to address these challenges, that they did not create.

  • WS Guy September 5, 2019 (10:46 am)

    I voted “not supportive” on every strategy, because the City has an undisclosed agenda behind each one and is just trolling for data to justify what they plan to do anyway. 

  • Jen September 5, 2019 (12:54 pm)

      Nobody asked me before four huge Townhouses were built feet away from my property line.    I believe you are suppose to get a notice  not sure exactly how that all works but I never received anything.  Now I can see my neighbors inside their home from my window and they me. The unnamed developer who also happened to be the infamous Admiral alleged tree cutter, cut my fence (or his workers did and then slapped planks on my posts.) They were retaliating for me reporting  they were breaking laws regarding building times. Unbelievable what contractors can get away. 

    • John September 5, 2019 (1:18 pm)

      Jen, I am sorry to hear about you experience.  I hope you have filed a complaint as I can attest to DCI taking  your complaint and establishing a written record.On my side of the fence —Unbelievable what people do to contactors also.  When  I was building I had my power lines cut repeatedly,  three large commercial style windows were shot out, my rough in sewer  and underground electrical conduit were  filled with rocks and  rebar,  people dumped their trash and debris on  the building site while others stole equipment , supplies and tools.  Add to those five figures worth of uninsured damage, the verbal harassment and baseless complaints to DPD  and of course I always suffer the foul indignity  of  having to right a tipped over Honeybucket.

  • Thetruth September 5, 2019 (3:54 pm)

    John. If you,and other contractor’s actually followed the law’s that the rest of us have to this stuff wouldn’t happen to you. Us “plain” citizen’s could fill the blog with stories of being denied permit’s only to see you people do what we couldn’t. Pretending you don’t get special treatment from the city and the ability to ignore or rewrite  code won’t work.

    • Ice September 5, 2019 (9:05 pm)

      This is victim blaming.

  • John September 5, 2019 (9:38 pm)

    Wow  THETRUTH,That is quite a statement about someone you don’t know  and someone who personally has followed the codes at great time and expense.  The DCI is open for all to see, what codes are followed, the corrections  required, the inspections performed and what costs are  incurred in the process. I sincerely wish that THETRUTH and I could sit down over a cup of coffee, and see the person I am.

  • HappyCamper September 6, 2019 (8:37 am)

    Just a few things that I feel like are pragmatic regarding these issues:On zoning – most things start with a problem or perceived problem or chance for improvement. Then comes an idea “I wonder if this will help!?”So if an idea (right or wrong) was to increase capacity to provide supply side relief and generate MHA fees for example that would have to be vetted. So for it to be vetted the city would need to talk to developers and banks and the like to find out what threshold of increase would typically need to be reached for a project to “pencil” for owners/developers and for the risk to be acceptable for lenders. If the changes wouldn’t meet that basic criteria the plan would not work.So I would imagine of course the city talked to developers when crafting this plan! That makes sense!On not listening to input – Following up on the above; it started with the idea of changing zoning so of course that was the initial direction of the idea. All ideas start with a general intent good or bad. I think generally in American politics at any level things are split relatively down the middle. And on either side the vast majority of that side either already has or will quickly decide where they stand and will not budge. Those groups will always feel like they are not being heard on issues they disagree with but move forward. It just happens.That being said the city could certainly do a better job of outreach. Especially to the underserved communities. However, it is not their responsibility to ensure we are informed citizens. All of these email lists and newsletters are a google away. If people REALLY want to stay engaged all of the information is readily available online, from the city, sound transit and everyone else.

    • CMT September 6, 2019 (2:02 pm)

      If the City wants to take a top down approach to decision making, by all means, it should do so. and prepare to answer to its constituents.   Alternatively, actually engage communities, gather information from all facets and use that to make the decisions in the first place.    Currently, neither happens.   The City makes a decision (fine), then seeks community input on elementary concepts such as “How do you feel about everyone having a place to live”  which 99% would be in favor of, in order to justify its decisions without plainly identifying the actual decision it has made (for example, a zoning change) and its implications (not fine).

  • Jen September 6, 2019 (11:02 am)

    Thank you John. I did not it file any complaint. It happened 2 years ago. We were told that they would put it in the sale agreement that those are our posts and we can remove them. I am sure the new owners know nothing about it.  He also said according to the land survey the posts were actually on his land that he had purchased from the abandoned condemned home.  That my fence was not secure  and he would make me replace it if I filed suit. (I am sure the cutting off of the top of the fence and posting planks on it had nothing to do with making it un-secure. (of course he denied the obvious that his workers sawed of portion of the top of the fence to hide the view of my older fence from prospective buyers.  No no idea who I could complain to without hiring a lawyer or my own surveyor. I am assuming it would be too late to file anything now since it happened July/August of 2016. Some people just refuse to follow the rules and they have more money and know how to get away with it. Was there any actual real consequences for illegal tree cutting to some of the most expensive homes to get a better view? If the city can’t stop him how could I. Any advice is much appreciated.  Thank you, John.

  • QE2 September 6, 2019 (3:30 pm)

    John. Re: thetruth. I’m sure you, and many other developers are honest and ethical-to which i say Thank you!. We do need good developers. The REALITY is that there are a WHOLE bunch of UNethical/take every advantage developers out there. A lot of people have been burned over the years!. My family has several stories about the city inspectors turning a blind eye and the developer saying “go ahead, sue me” Why is it that we NEVER hear the “good” developers call out the bad ones?   

    • john September 6, 2019 (7:06 pm)

      Thankyou QE2.  I do call out the bad developers as they do careless quick work that drives down the value of careful work.Quick buck developers are as common as Home Flipping amateurs that learned their trade watching “reality television “.  They both cut corners, but the flippers more often do work “themselves” without pulling any permits, while it is impossible, even for the sleaziest of developers,  to  build without permits.Your family anectdote about Seattle DCI Inspectors turning a blind eye perplexes me.   Unless you are referring to a century ago, their is nothing they can turn blind eye to.   Inspections are required at each stage of the process.  The results of the inspections are available to see on  line.  Reporting a blind-eye inspector or any other fraud is our civic duty. Reporting to the DCI would not involve being sued.   How did the situation with the  “go ahead, sue me” conversation occur?Thanks

  • QE2 September 7, 2019 (3:42 pm)

    This happened back in the mid 70’s. New house was being built next door-in a vacant lot. Homeowner worked for SFD in the downtown office. They used lot’s of off duty firemen to help build(i doubt any of them were involved in the scheme).  To make a larger yard on the “private” side they built right up to our property line.  There’s NO way they didn’t know where the property line was. They then proceded to build a walkway on OUR property for access to the door. The problem with the city is that when inspectors would show up-and yes we also called downtown they would say “we’ll check it out” but then we could hear them say “oh hi fireman Bill” and NOTHING would get done. Needless to say,nothing happened.  Money for a legal fight wasn’t in the bank.

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