Does the draft ‘One Seattle Plan’ envision enough housing? That question takes centerstage at West Seattle open house

(WSB photos. Above, One Seattle Plan project manager Michael Hubner addresses attendees)

By Sean Golonka
Reporting for West Seattle Blog

About 80 West Seattle residents and others came together at Chief Sealth International High School tonight for an open house on the draft One Seattle Plan — a wide-ranging update to the city’s Comprehensive Plan for growth and development that several attendees expressed concerns over as insufficient to address the city’s dire housing needs.

“I feel like it’s been underwhelming,” said John Doherty, a 28-year-old software engineer who lives in West Seattle. “We need more growth in the city.”

Doherty and others attending the open house, the fourth of eight the city has planned to gather feedback on the once-in-a-decade update to its Comprehensive Plan, echoed a concern shared throughout Seattle neighborhoods: that the city is in a housing crisis, and more must be built to meet the needs of its residents.

Michael Hubner, project manager for the One Seattle Plan with the Office of Planning and Community Development, highlighted the stakes of the plan as city officials embark on an effort to reshape Seattle’s growth over the next 20 years.

“This is a rare event, where the city takes stock of how we’ve been growing, the challenges facing the city, our hopes and visions for the future, and plans for the next 20 years, especially around how and where we can grow,” Hubner told the crowd. “We also know that we’re facing a lot of challenges providing the housing we need now, and maintaining Seattle as an inclusive, affordable place to live.”

Sanders Lauture, 29, a South Lake Union resident who was in attendance, said he believed the plan “doesn’t do enough to address the current realities of the cost of housing in Seattle [and] the rise of homelessness.”

Among the city officials at the event — who included staff from the Office of Planning and Community Development and from Mayor Bruce Harrell’s office, and representation from the city council, including citywide Councilmember Tanya Woo and District 1 Councilmember Rob Saka‘s chief of staff Elaine Ikoma Ko — some said similar concerns had been raised at past open houses, with other Seattle residents expressing a desire to see the city pursue more housing development than it plans to.

Under the draft plan, the city has an estimated growth target from 2024-2044 of 80,000 housing units.

While the plan also addresses other factors in the city’s development, such as transportation and the environment, the core of the plan — and the comments from attendees — places a heavy emphasis on housing and neighborhoods.

Iñaki Longa, 36, said he would like to see more mixed-use zoning, and took issue with the proposed plans to increase zoning density in the areas where housing has traditionally been more dense while avoiding “more desirable areas and affluent areas.”

The changes include rebranding Urban Villages as Urban Centers, which serve as the primary commercial and housing areas of Seattle’s neighborhoods. In West Seattle, these include Admiral, Morgan Junction, West Seattle Junction, and Westwood-Highland Park.

The plan also proposes designating six areas of West Seattle as Neighborhood Centers that allow for three- to six-story buildings to encourage the development of apartments and condominiums. The boundaries for these areas appear as fuzzy circles on the map, but will appear with properly set boundaries when the zoning proposal is released later this year, according to Hubner.

Another zoning change in the plan implements a 2023 state law allowing “middle” housing, such as duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes, to be built on land that has traditionally been limited to single-family homes. Continued growth, however, is likely to be focused in the Urban Centers and larger Regional Centers outside of West Seattle, such as in Downtown.

Amid concerns that these changes will not be enough to properly address the city’s housing crisis, some attendees offered ideas for enhancing development. Doherty, for example, suggested increasing height restrictions, which would allow for taller housing complexes.

While attendees said they received positive responses and helpful answers from city staff at the open house, they also raised concerns about local government’s follow through to address issues facing the city.

“I definitely have concerns about Seattle’s follow-through,” Doherty said, noting delays factoring into regional projects such as Sound Transit‘s light-rail line to Bellevue, and adding that it is difficult to have an effect on the city’s work as a resident. “But maybe I can help with giving comments on the One Seattle Plan.”

Read more about the proposal in our March report here.

If you missed tonight’s event, there will be other open houses throughout April, the closest of which will be at Garfield Community Center on Tuesday, April 16, as well as an online open house on Thursday, May 2. You can browse the full 198-page draft plan here, and provide comments online or via email here (5 p.m. on May 6 is the deadline).

The city is holding separate information sessions for the plan’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which evaluates different housing proposals for their environmental impacts. Find information about those events here.

23 Replies to "Does the draft 'One Seattle Plan' envision enough housing? That question takes centerstage at West Seattle open house"

  • Dan April 4, 2024 (8:03 am)

    Great to see everyone you asked agreed that the One Seattle Plan needs to do more to increase housing density, supply, and affordability.

  • Dan April 4, 2024 (8:36 am)

    Glad to see everyone you asked agrees that the plan needs to go further to increase housing supply, density, and affordability.  Look at Delridge/Andover St, getting a neighborhood center designation allowing 3-6 story buildings; there’s already 3-6 story buildings over there and its getting a light rail stop, the plan needs to focus and increase density. I’m not talking Pigeon Point, I’m not talking Alki, I’m talking much higher density in focused areas around transit, parks, and jobs/commerce. The plan would allow for less housing than the projected growth of the city over the same time, and allowing that growth doesn’t even guarantee it gets built. There also seemed to be a disconnect in transportation planning and housing. They’re increasing density around transit because they have to, but the mention of transit-oriented development and access to hubs were limited.

  • DC April 4, 2024 (8:41 am)

    Thank you for covering this event and our concerns with the plan. Continuing to shove all new residence into tiny apartments in “Urban Centers” is not going to work. We need much better options for building along transit corridors and workable plans for implementing state law encouraging 4plexes in all neighborhoods. The plan as it exists is a plan to increase property values for incumbent homeowners while making ownership impossible for everyone else and increasing homelessness throughout the region. But as long as the Mayor and his wealthy friends don’t have to live near poor people, his office seems fine with it. 

    • Kyle April 4, 2024 (11:25 am)

      Please read the plan. This makes 4 dwellings legal pretty much everywhere in the city. Some spots might be 3 if there are equity concerns.

      • DC April 4, 2024 (2:21 pm)

        I have. Just because they are ‘legal’ doesn’t mean they are buildable. The regulations they want to add (FAR, setbacks, parking, etc.) make it nearly impossible to build fourplexes. And the idea that carving out areas for low density *decreases* displacement is false. All evidence shows the opposite. (It is true that upzoning *only* high displacement risk areas can lead to gentrification, but the opposite is not true).

  • K April 4, 2024 (11:07 am)

    I want to see a plan where commercial space is allowed on ANY city block.  People should be able to walk to coffee shops and small grocers in their own neighborhoods, without having to take a bus or drive to “urban centers”.

    • foop April 4, 2024 (11:40 am)

      Not to mention the benefits to traffic in the region if people don’t always have to drive to a few locations for every little thing they need. Increase walkability and bikeability, not just with concrete infrastructure but by building neighborhoods around people and their needs so they have more immediate access to most of their needs.

    • CarDriver April 4, 2024 (12:12 pm)

      K. Used to be quite a few small grocery stores in WS-3 on Alki alone. People all went to the big box grocery stores as food prices were a lot lower. 

    • M April 4, 2024 (2:06 pm)

      Hear hear!

  • Ellisotrec April 4, 2024 (2:08 pm)

    Everyone in this city needs to realize Seattle cannot be like NYC.  Neighborhoods and many areas around the city have green belts, trees and established ecosystems.  Be aware that development ANYWHERE will down trees and harm the already precarious environment.  Consider this as it is very important to all of us.  Do you really want to pave paradise?More housing will not bring less traffic or affordable places to live.  The city always says it is in for affordable housing but is not.  Developers aren’t in it for accommodating poor people.  There is no rent control. There will be strains on electricity and infrastructure and prices will continue to soar.  Planning must take care of all the impacts to nature and people.Also consider population growth?  Is there a conscious thought for more people on the planet?  You can’t control people’s right to have children but shouldn’t people be more conscious of that?   Or consider what future there will be for children with the environmental crisis we already face.  If I move to a city, should I expect the city to build for me?Think people.  Be careful for what you wish for.

    • DC April 4, 2024 (4:09 pm)

      The reason to increase density is exactly so we don’t pave over greenbelts, parks and established ecosystems. Which do you think is better for the environment – taking a lot that has a single family home on it and replacing it with a condo with six homes, or taking an undeveloped plot of land and zoning it for five new single family homes? I’d say it’s pretty obviously the former. 

    • CarDriver April 4, 2024 (5:08 pm)

      Ellisotrec. Amen! My fear is all the people that have drunk the kool aid and don’t want the real world bursting their bubble. 

    • Foop April 4, 2024 (6:11 pm)

      Do you own or rent?

      • CarDriver April 5, 2024 (5:31 am)

        Foop. Lifelong renter-my choice, 

    • Bbron April 4, 2024 (7:27 pm)

      “if I move to a city, I want it to freeze in time” it’s wild your concerns for the environment start only after you’ve already gotten yours. no acknowledgement that the real environment destruction comes from sprawl not density; and that the status quo is actively harming the environment. your whole argument boils down to the tired “Seattle is full” obstructionist and a misanthropic take on population growth. it’s very American of you to live such a resource intensive lifestyle and then look down your nose at others as who is causing environmental harm…

      • CarDriver April 5, 2024 (5:38 am)

        Bbron. You must be a developer. Your nirvana of tear out all the houses to build multi story apartments everywhere isn’t the vision of West Seattle that the majority want. 

        • Bbron April 5, 2024 (11:38 pm)

          what would be the negative besides misanthropic people being upset?

    • K April 5, 2024 (7:37 am)

      Yes, you’re right, we definitely need rent control.  But one thing at a time.  Sale prices for housing is based on supply and demand, so building more will eventually make housing more affordable, once we’re actually building faster than people are moving here for work.  I disagree with your argument that Seattle can’t be like NYC, and find myself wondering if you’ve ever been there.  Neighborhoods have local playgrounds and small parks.  Everyone isn’t getting on the subway just to see a tree.  There are trees lining the streets in neighborhoods too.  Seattle is a city, not a suburb.  It’s supposed to be dense, and you’re supposed to be able to get things without needing to drive somewhere else to do so.  Right now Seattle is less affordable than NYC with less density than Providence, Rhode Island.  Electricity prices are not soaring here, and we can upgrade utility infrastructure.  In fact, if we weren’t spending billions on car infrastructure, we would have more than enough money to upgrade sewers, water supply, and the power grid throughout the city.  A better future is possible.  What we have now is the worst of all possible worlds.

      • Alki Seltzer April 5, 2024 (12:36 pm)

        K, New York City has lost 4.5% of their population in the past two years and San Francisco lost a whopping 7.5%. Those are the two U.S. cities with the highest density and that’s one reason people are fleeing for lower density areas. Seattle is already too dense and we’re losing our tree canopy at an alarming rate because of it. There’s LOTS of under-utilized urban space in SODO, the Central District, Queen Anne and other inner-city areas of Seattle where high-rise residences can be built. Seattle is a collection of suburbs surrounding a dense central core. That core can support a lot more construction while we protect our quiet, leafy neighborhoods like West Seattle.

        • Bbron April 5, 2024 (1:55 pm)

          You’re really cherry picking your data. You stake a claim that density is what is pushing folks out of cities, and ignore variables such as cost of living (especially important for SF) or that a large amount of folks died during the pandemic, particularly in metro areas. “losing our tree canopy at an alarming rate because [of density]” is an empirically false statement as we measure the tree canopy and the vast majority its loss has not been due to development, and, in fact, the majority of tree loss has been in areas of single family homes; which, by the way, contribute much less to the canopy per area used ( If you were concerned about the tree canopy, you would be in favor of density; advocating for the opposite would be because of ulterior motives like wanting to maintain the status quo.

        • yer a funny guy April 5, 2024 (2:11 pm)

          They’re so dense nobody wants to live there anymore!

        • 98126res April 6, 2024 (2:25 pm)

          Agree, and they would love adding needed value to their neighborhoods!  Look to White Center too. Leave West Seattle alone. Suspect  conglomerate developers are having a big influence, slick consultants and PR firms too. This project, and the unnecessary $1B light rail link forging ahead like a locomotive that can’t be stopped, will ultimately denigrate a nice Seattle neighborhood as well as others more than 100 years in the making.

          • Bbron April 6, 2024 (3:59 pm)

            “100 years in the making” maybe you should remember what was happening in the US over these past 100 years that would’ve shaped the neighborhood. Wild you’re saying that’s been a good thing 😂

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