We reported briefly via Twitter this morning that citywide Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, a North Delridge resident, is proposing what could be seen as a step toward getting rid of single-family zoning, which she has long opposed – changing its name. From the news release we just received:
Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (Position 8, Citywide) announced legislation today that will change the name of single-family only zones, a recognition that the term “single family” as used in Seattle’s zoning code is a misnomer, inaccurately describes current uses, and has roots in exclusionary practices.
The legislation, co-sponsored by Councilmember Dan Strauss (District 6, Northwest Seattle), is in response to the Seattle Planning Commission’s repeated request since 2018 to change the name of single-family only to “Neighborhood Residential,” as laid out in their Neighborhoods for All report. The Planning Commission has reiterated this call in their recommendations for 2019/2020 Comprehensive Plan amendments and in their recommendations for analysis for the 2020/2021 Comprehensive Plan update.
“Seattle’s neighborhoods have always been more diverse than the single family only designation would have us believe—from some of the longest-standing and beloved neighborhood businesses, to brownstone apartment buildings built before tightening zoning restrictions, connected housing with shared courtyards, that all allow for residents to live near schools, parks, and services our communities rely on. Changing the zoning title can help reflect the diverse housing we need across our city to support community well-being, walkability and affordability in Seattle, and create a more equitable and inclusive Seattle to accurately reflect our diverse neighborhoods,” said Mosqueda.
“Language matters. ‘Single family’ zoning may seem to some as merely a planning term, but we know historically it has been used to further exclusionary practices and discriminatory policies of the past. If Seattle is going to be an equitable and just city, then we must also apply that same lens to our zoning code. After years of discussion, we are acting on what we know is right to undo the legacy of exclusion that exists within our planning documents — starting with how we talk about our neighborhoods,” Mosqueda concluded. …
The City Council requested this zoning name change be studied by the Executive every year since 2018 in the Comprehensive Plan Annual Docketing Resolution. This proposal would finally implement that recommendation by first amending the City’s Comprehensive Plan to make the change, and then follow with changes to the land use code.
This change will touch many elements of the Comprehensive Plan, including: (1) the Future Land Use Map; (2) the Land Use, Housing, and Parks and Open Space elements; (3) seventeen neighborhood plans; and (4) the Housing appendix.
These proposed changes can be seen on the Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee website at: seattle.gov/council/committees/land-use-and-neighborhoods. The City Council’s Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee will hold a public hearing to receive input on the preliminary proposal on Wednesday, July 28, 2021 at 9:30 AM. Councilmember Mosqueda intends to formally introduce legislation in August as part of the annual Comprehensive Plan update.
See the proposed legislation here. The announcement also notes this would change official neighborhood plans around the city, including, in West Seattle, those for Admiral, Morgan Junction, West Seattle Junction, and Westwood Highland Park.
While this is a proposal to change the zoning type’s name, not the zoning itself yet, it’s been a hot topic in this year’s mayoral and council races, with most candidates voicing support so far for ending “exclusionary zoning.” Mosqueda said during this morning’s council briefing meeting that potential future zoning changes could come in 2023 and 2024.