West Seattle, Washington
Our area’s King County Councilmember Joe McDermott is the main sponsor of a one-tenth-of-one-percent sales-tax increase that the council approved today, first proposed in County Executive Dow Constantine‘s 2021-2022 budget plan. A council news release explains what it’s meant to pay for: “The legislation will provide permanent, supportive housing for those deemed ‘chronically homeless’ – people who reside in a place not meant for human habitation for at least a year, and with serious physical or behavioral health issues.” (That’s the type of housing provided in West Seattle by two nonprofits, Transitional Resources, with several buildings in the Luna Park area plus one under construction, and DESC, with Cottage Grove Commons in Delridge.)
The tax increase will not go to a public vote; the state Legislature voted earlier this year to allow local governments to increase sales taxes this way for affordable-housing. However, as The Seattle Times‘ report notes, cities have the option to levy their own 0.1% increase instead, and several King County cities have opted to do that, so they will have more of a say in how the housing dollars are spent. The council releass says that “King County plans to bond against future tax revenues and use the funds to buy existing hotels, motels and nursing homes around the county and convert them into affordable, supportive housing for people who have struggled to access and maintain housing.” The tax increase would take effect next January 1st; you can read the legislation starting on page 41 of today’s County Council meeting packet.
(2017 photo by Long Bach Nguyen)
If you’re a property owner, you should get information soon on your next valuation. In a news release today, the King County Assessor says median values in West Seattle dropped a bit. However, that’s NOT because of the bridge closure – as we learned earlier this year in a conversation with the department, all the info going into your valuation for taxes in a given year is compiled before the start of the previous year. In other words, your 2021 taxes are based on what your property was worth January 1, 2020 – before the bridge closure (and the pandemic, for that matter). Keeping that in mind, here’s the Assessor’s news release:
The King County Assessor’s office is wrapping up the annual process of mailing out re-valuation notices to taxpayers. Notices will be arriving in West Seattle soon. Median values fell 1% in West Seattle.
Each year, County Assessors appraise every commercial and residential parcel in the state. These values – set effective as of January 1 by state law – are then applied to the next year’s tax bill. Property values are being set on January 1, 2020, for taxes due in 2021.
Data indicates that home sale prices and overall home values have been relatively flat in the aggregate compared to last year. As always, values vary from city to city and neighborhood to neighborhood – some are up, and some are down. One significant factor in residential home values in King County is the increase in values in suburbs around Seattle, especially in the south end.
The Assessor has been monitoring the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. While housing values have remained relatively steady so far, some commercial sectors have had their values severely impacted. These changes in value will be reflected in the 2021 assessed value for taxes payable in 2022.
“While home values did not rise significantly countywide, some areas, such as Auburn and Kent are seeing a lot of demand and therefore increases in median value, as more and more buyers are being priced out of Seattle and the eastside,” said Wilson.
You can appeal your valuation – as explained here – but not your tax bill.
Two development notes:
4401 42ND SW APPROVAL: The city has given a key approval to the 5-story apartment building planned to replace the former Ginomai arts-studios building at 42nd/Genesee. It’s expected to include 72 “small efficiency dwelling units” – microapartments – and 5 live-work units, with 36 offstreet parking places. We first reported on the proposal in May of last year. The decision means appeals can be filed until October 5th; this notice explains how.
9038 21ST SW: South Delridge’s development boom continues. City files show an early-stage proposal for a 3-story (plus basement) building with 21 apartments, replacing a house on what’s now a Lowrise 1-zoned lot. The preliminary site plan shows Atelier Drome as the architecture firm.
As the COVID-19 economic crunch continues, the city has just announced a mayoral order extending the moratorium on residential, nonprofit, and small business evictions through year’s end. From the announcement:
… While the moratorium is in place in Seattle, property owners may not issue notices of termination or otherwise initiate an eviction action with the courts unless there is an imminent threat to the health and safety of the community. The order also prohibits late fees, and when paired with Governor Inslee’s proclamation, increases to rent and security deposits are prohibited through October 15. Tenants who receive any eviction notice during the moratorium should contact the Renting in Seattle hotline at 206‐684‐5700 or go online to submit a complaint.
The moratorium on nonprofit and small business evictions impacts independently-owned businesses with 50 employees or fewer per establishment, state nonprofits, and 501(c)(3) nonprofits. Along with halting evictions, the order also prevents eligible small businesses and nonprofits from incurring late fees, interest, or other charges due to late payment during the moratorium.
Residential, nonprofit, and small business tenants who must appear in court should use the moratorium as a defense. If a tenant does not appear in court, the court may grant a continuance to allow the matter to be heard at a later date after the moratorium has lifted. …
The full announcement is here.
Those old houses in the 2800 block of SW Yancy are about to be demolished so construction can start on Yancy Street Permanent Supportive Housing. We first told you about West Seattle nonprofit Transitional Resources‘ plan almost two and a half years ago. Now the project near TR’s headquarters and other buildings is ready to start.
As summarized by TR:
The project will provide 44 independent studio units on three levels for adults living with mental illness who are either coming from homelessness or institutional settings.
Transitional Resources will provide 24/7 staffing to enable residents to live independently in a supportive community. The site is within a block of TR’s main offices and other housing developments, where residents can access additional mental health and other supportive services. Onsite amenities include a secure access, a community room and outdoor recreation areas, a common laundry, covered bike parking, and an office for onsite supportive services.
Public and private sources are covering the project’s $16 million cost. The project team includes SMR Architects and Buchanan General Contracting. Construction is expected to take about a year, TR tells us; demolition will start as soon as their street-use permits are approved..
Two months after the bridge closed, and three months after the pandemic hit, prospective West Seattle home buyers and sellers just might have some questions. You might also be curious even if you’re not planning to buy/sell any time soon. So West Seattle Realty (WSB sponsor) has set up a chance to chat next Tuesday. Here’s the announcement:
We’ve all come to expect that the spring real-estate market is crazy. This year, COVID-19 and then the West Seattle Bridge have created a lot of uncertainty. But even with these setbacks, the market is building. Just like so many of us chomping at the opportunity to get back to work, the real-estate market is quite busy right now.
We want to make West Seattle Realty available to our community in a socially responsible way. Please join us on Tuesday, May 26th at 4:00 pm for our online Zoom discussion. The goal is to give everyone a chance to get their West Seattle real estate questions answered. We look forward to meeting you virtually! Please email us at email@example.com to be added to the invite list.
Here’s what we plan to cover:
Buyers are still very active. Despite restrictions on showings and stock-market volatility, in some ways the “Stay Home” order has made people want to have a place of their own, even more. Along with historically low interest rates, buyers, especially those who already have roots in our community, have been undaunted. Our advice to buyers has always been that real estate is a long-term investment, and that is unchanged. Market volatility is always something to consider, but even looking back on the Great Recession where home values dropped nationally almost 20%, prices recovered quickly. Time has shown us that residential real estate is a sound investment.
Sellers are anxious, but the market is still good. And this has led to yet another year where there are not enough homes to satisfy demand. It’s still a good time for sellers, but because buyers also need to be cautious, preparation, timing and of course pricing are as important as ever. It is likely that other areas in Seattle will see price growth that we will not, but thus far prices have held steady.
The West Seattle Bridge is a huge X factor that no one anticipated. West Seattle Realty has led the effort to let the City know this is an urgent problem with untold ramifications. We are rallying our neighbors around this issue by starting the online community “West Seattle Bridge Now.” We need a solution as quickly as possible. And the sooner we have a definitive answer to fixing or replacing the bridge, the sooner we can establish our new normal.
Again, to join in on next Tuesday’s real-estate discussion, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
That’s the final rendering for Yancy Street, the supportive-housing complex that West Seattle nonprofit Transitional Resources plans to build on the project’s namesake street, with 44 studio apartments for people living with behavioral-health challenges. It just got key city approvals, as announced in Monday’s Land Use Information Bulletin. We first reported on the project in February 2018; it’s replacing houses at 2811, 2821, and 2827 SW Yancy that TR has long used as shared housing. (Our past coverage also includes a design-feedback open house last year, plus news of partial city funding.) You can read the full decision here; its publication opens a 2-week appeal period, explained here. TR CEO Darcell Slovek-Walker tells WSB, “We anticipate that demolition/construction will start end of June/early July.” Her nonprofit, headquartered nearby, already provides housing for more than 80 people.
Announced by DNDA, an update on plans that were in the works pre-pandemic:
DNDA currently owns seven buildings in the Delridge area of West Seattle with a total of 144 units for rent. All of our buildings offer housing that is less expensive than for-profit buildings so that families with lower incomes can always live in Delridge. With these properties, DNDA’s goals are:
· To offer housing that is less expensive than for-profit buildings so that families with lower incomes can always live in Delridge
· To take good care of the properties that we own so that they are comfortable to live in, and assets to the community
DNDA had planned for the renovation of three multi-family buildings; Centerwood, Delridge Heights, and Holden Manor during the Spring of 2020. These plans are currently pending due to complexities presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Both Delridge Heights and Holden Manor were built in the 1960s. Centerwood was built in the 1980s. The planned work for each building will include the following;
· Roof replacement
· Plumbing replacement
· Fencing Replacement ·
Replace older toilets with low-flow toilets.
· No tenant relocation necessary
· Roof Replacement
· Replace existing fencing.
· Removal of unhealthy/dangerous trees and pruning of healthy trees, per arborist report.
· Parking lot repairs, seal-coat, and striping
· No tenant relocation necessary
· Roof replacement,
· Replace existing galvanized plumbing lines with new hot/cold plumbing lines
· Parking lot repairs and striping
. · No tenant relocation necessary
The week’s first announcement from Mayor Jenny Durkan heralded a nine-figure investment in “new, affordable rental homes.” The only West Seattle project on the list is one that’s been in the works a while, the Seattle Housing Authority‘s Lam Bow Apartments replacement project. The announcement and citywide list are here. The Lam Bow project (6955 Delridge Way SW) will replace both the building destroyed in a 2016 fire and the one left standing. The total 82 units to be built are up from 51 in the original complex. The cost of the project was estimated earlier this year at $35 million. Today’s announcement of citywide investments notes:
Funding sources for the Office of Housing investments include the 2016 voter-passed Seattle Housing Levy, incentive zoning and Mandatory Housing Affordability payments, $32 million in Real Estate Excise Taxes and over $13 million through retained sales taxes, made possible by changes in state law authorized by the 2019 Washington State Legislature and Seattle City Council.
A check of online files shows the Lam Bow project is still going through the city permit process.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Five years after becoming pastor of Admiral Congregational Church, Rev. Andrew Conley-Holcom has to shepherd it through a process with much at stake: The church and its neighborhood’s future.
That’s happening not through sermons, but through conversations like the one he led last week, standing before dozens of people in the church’s living-room-esque gathering space, wearing not a collar but a beanie.
“You’re here on the ground floor,” he explained, as a preface to the presentation on Tuesday night (October 8th).
If that was the ground floor, then you could say the foundation for the conversation was laid last December, when the church hosted an Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting, and the pastor told ANA the same thing: Not changing is not an option.
He began last week by putting it all in context, for those not familiar with the church’s operations and the role in the community. “Our goal is to be the neighborhood church of North Admiral.” And with the Jehovah’s Witnesses moving out, he said, “we kinda are.”
Three feedback opportunities involving planned development:
6320 & 6326 41ST SW: An Early Community Outreach for Design Review site tour is planned by the project team for these Morgan Junction sites with 15 townhouses proposed as first mentioned here back in June. Just show up at 11 am September 20th. (Flyers are here and here [PDF].)
2000 & 2050 SW ORCHARD: The application is in for two rowhouse-style townhouse buildings totaling 18 units on this greenbelt site east of Delridge. You have until September 23rd to comment; this notice (PDF) explains how.
2622 & 2624 SW GENESEE: The application is also in for these projects totaling 3 townhouses and 3 single-family homes in North Delridge. The comment deadline is also September 23rd; this notice (PDF) explains how.
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.
Today we welcome a new WSB sponsor, NODE. Here’s what they want you to know about what they do:
NODE is delivering sustainable homes through a process that focuses on customer delight and backing it up with a guaranteed price. People come to us because building is hard, and risky. We offer a one-stop shop for sustainable, well-designed backyard cottages. We make the process simple for folks by taking care of everything and guarantee the price. A lot of people don’t build because they are overwhelmed by the process, or they have built before and know that budget and schedule is a moving target.
Why should you consider adding a backyard cottage (formally known as a detached accessory dwelling unit, DADU)? In addition to adding resale value to your property, a DADU has many potential uses. For some folks, it’s so their parents to age in place in their own home, yet literally be in the backyard. For others it’s a way to secure extra income through long-term rentals or short-term, Airbnb-type rentals. And for others, they don’t want to move, but want extra space for guests or a home office. Seattle’s just liberalized the rules, making it easier than ever for folks to build DADUs. Our clients love the design and our commitment to sustainability and nature.
We thank NODE for sponsoring independent, community-collaborative neighborhood news via WSB; find our current sponsor team listed in directory format here, and find info on joining the team by going here.
From the King County Assessor’s Office:
King County Assessor John Wilson announced today that low-income senior citizens, individuals with disabilities, and disabled veterans, with 2019 annual incomes below $58,423 may be eligible for property tax relief in 2020 under guidelines published today by the state Department of Revenue. The previous threshold had been $40,000.
Applications for the expanded programs will be available in January 2020.
The change is the result of passage of ESSB 5160, sponsored by Senator Manka Dhingra (D-45th LD), during the 2019 legislative session. The bill significantly expands the number of people eligible for the existing property tax exemption and deferral programs by replacing the statewide $40,000 threshold with an income level equal to 65% of the county median income. In King County that threshold is $58,423.
“This legislation is literally going to help people stay in their homes,” said Assessor Wilson. “Beginning with next year’s taxes, tens of thousands of our neighbors will get the help they need.”
ESSB 5160 expands the qualifying income thresholds for the property tax exemption and deferral programs for low-income senior citizens, individuals with disabilities, and disabled veterans, beginning with taxes levied for collection in 2020. It also lowers the disability rating necessary to qualify as a disabled veteran for exemption program from a 100 percent rating to an 80 percent rating.
The Assessor’s website includes the latest information on implementation of these programs.
Should the West Seattle Junction Hub Urban Village boundary be extended to include Providence Mount St. Vincent (4831 35th SW)?
Tomorrow when the Seattle City Council’s Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee considers a stack of proposed amendments to the city’s Comprehensive Plan, that proposal will be among them.
(Text here in PDF.) The 9:30 am Wednesday committee meeting at City Hall includes a public hearing. This is only midway through a long process of deciding whether the proposed amendment will be approved, but it’s of interest (thanks to Diane for the tip!) because in the document explaining the proposal, it’s explained as a potential precursor to redevelopment on the site:
The requested changes would provide Providence Mount St. Vincent greater height (50’ versus 40’) and a greater FAR (2.3 versus 1.8), while keeping the current zoning designation of LR3(M). These increases would be beneficial to expanding the existing and potential future uses, which include assisted living apartments, P.A.C.E, children day care, physical and occupational therapy services, a chapel, and the Sisters of Providence retirement home.
Here’s the full document:
It also says that The Mount’s planning is in the early stages and they expect to have community meetings about their plans before year’s end. We have a message out to The Mount’s leadership in hopes of finding out a bit more about what they’re hoping to build.
Meantime, back to tomorrow morning’s council-committee agenda. Other possible Comprehensive Plan amendments proposed, of West Seattle interest:
*An amendment to change the zoning of 2938-2944 Alki Avenue SW from single family to multifamily (text here in PDF)
*An amendment to change the zoning of 4501-4509 SW Admiral Way from Lowrise 1 to Lowrise 3 (text here in PDF)
Neither of those is recommended for advancing (“docketing”). Tomorrow’s meeting also includes a briefing on the city permit backlog and suggestions of ways to ease it, such as simplifying the city code, described as now up to 867 pages.
Most of the Seattle Housing Authority‘s budget comes from government funding, which means it’s your money, so even if you don’t live at an SHA property or have any other direct relationship with the agency, they’re looking for your opinion on how it should be spent. SHA asked us to let you know about its 2020 Budget Survey, open to all. Its questions are wide-ranging, including this one:
Please tell us where you think SHA should focus investments in creating more affordable housing. You may select more than one option.
-Focus on affordable housing for very-low-income households below 50% Area Median Income.
(Examples: 1 person household earning less than $38,750; 2 person household earning less than $44,300; 4 person household earning less than $55,350.)
-Focus on affordable workforce housing for low-income households between 60% and 80% Area Median Income.
(Examples: 1 person household earning between $46,500 and $62,000; 2 person household earning between $53,160 and $70,880; 4 person household earning between $66,420 and $88,560.)
-Donate funds to non-profits to provide more affordable housing with intensive services for homeless households.
The survey is linked here, in English as well as in Amharic, Chinese (traditional/Cantonese), Oromo, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tigrinya, and Vietnamese. SHA is sending it to all of its residents and voucher holders but stresses “the general public’s input is welcome too.” It’s open for two more weeks (through July 15th).
… it’s not too late to comment, since nonprofit Transitional Resources‘ project is still in the “early design” phase. A few notes from our visit toward the end of last night’s community-feedback open house:
That’s the “preferred” configuration presented by design firm SMR Architects – they’re hoping that a three-section shape will help the 44-apartment complex fit in a little better with the townhouses that have been built in the neighborhood. They’ll be oriented toward interior courtyards, like many of TR’s other units nearby, for more of a “community” feeling. Also like the other properties, this will be “supportive housing,” as described by TR, “providing studio apartments for people with behavioral-health needs who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness.” If all goes well with the permit process, TR CEO Darcell Slovek-Walker told us at the open house, they hope to start construction in about a year. The building will replace three houses where TR has tenants, and Slovek-Walker says it’s expected that those tenants would move to units in the new complex when it’s done.
The project will go through the city’s Administrative Design Review process, which means no further community meetings are expected, but if you have comments and/or questions, you can contact Slovek-Walker at email@example.com. (We’ve been tracking this project since it first appeared in city files more than a year ago.)
As reported here multiple times last year, West Seattle-based Transitional Resources plans a new supportive-housing apartment complex in the 2800 block of SW Yancy. The next step: A community open house as part of the city Early Design Outreach program. Here’s the announcement from TR:
Transitional Resources (TR) has been delivering behavioral health services here in West Seattle since 1976. With our main office, small residential treatment facility, and two apartment developments located on SW Avalon Way, we have been a part of the local neighborhood for many years. TR is a licensed provider of behavioral health care services and supportive housing, offering a continuum of behavioral health treatment, housing, and vocational services to those who are most in need in our community. We are intentional in our small scale and high staff-to-client ratios. As a result, TR produces some of the best outcomes in King County.
Over the past year, we have been keeping the community apprised of our plans to redevelop three shared houses at 2811, 2821 and 2827/2829 SW Yancy St into small apartment buildings, providing studio apartments for people with behavioral-health needs who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness. We are pleased to report that we have secured the necessary funding from the City of Seattle, King County, the State of Washington, Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits, and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines, and are now proceeding with the next stage of design for the project.
As part of the City’s design review process, we are inviting interested stakeholders to an open house, where attendees can provide input to the design team from SMR Architects. Please join us:
Wednesday, June 5th from 6 pm – 7:30 pm
Avalon Place Community Room
2988 SW Avalon Way
All are welcome. No RSVP is necessary.
The Yancy Street project will be similar to our other permanent supportive-housing buildings on Avalon Way. Each of the 44 residents will have their own studio apartment facing an interior courtyard that includes a community living room and laundry room. Staff will be on site to offer support for the residents 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Additional support will be available at our drop-in center and behavioral health program offices ½ block away on Avalon Way.
We look forward to sharing more about our organization at our open house next week. We will continue to post project updates on our website at www.transitionalresources.org. I also invite you to contact me directly by phone at 206-883-2026 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ORIGINAL REPORT, THURSDAY: An early-stage proposal is in city files for what would be the third apartment building on the west side of one block of 42nd SW in The Junction, between Genesee and Oregon. A site plan and pre-application documents are in the system for 4401 42nd SW, the West Seattle Christian Church-owned ex-school building that has in past years had a variety of community uses including artists’ studios and the West Seattle Helpline‘s clothing bank Clothesline.
Proposed for the site, which was upzoned to 55′ by HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability, is a five-story building with 72 microapartments (Small Efficiency Dwelling Units) and five live-works, plus underground and surface parking. The documents filed online say parking would total 36 car spaces and 80 bicycle spaces. The church-owned house to the south is not part of this project; we reported last December that townhouses and live-work units are planned there (4411 42nd SW).
ADDED FRIDAY: WSCC pastor Worth Wheeler has responded to our question about the Clothesline’s future: “We have been working closely with West Seattle Helpline for a few months now on providing a seamless transition for their Clothesline operation to another building on our campus. The church is looking forward to a continuing partnership with the Helpline that provides ample space for their needs and keeps their vital work right here in the Junction, close to the transportation hub that is indispensable for so many of their clients. West Seattle Helpline will likely make an announcement in the coming weeks and months about this transition.” Helpline executive director Erin Dury Moore confirmed that, adding, “We look forward to continuing our partnership with West Seattle Christian Church, and their dedication to our Clothesline.”
Four months after the mostly-microapartments proposal resurfaced for 5952 California SW [map], it’s received key city approvals. The project description is the same as last December, when it went into a second round of Design Review, 2+ years after the first – “29 small efficiency dwelling units and 6 apartment units (35 units total). Parking for 5 vehicles proposed.” Today’s publication of the notice for this opens a two-week appeal period; the notice explains (PDF) how to file one. Meantime, the property was re-listed for sale a week and a half ago (PDF), with the notation “back on market,” asking price $1.8 million, a bit less than its August 2017 listing.
New in city files: An early-stage proposal for an apartment building at the southwest end of Harbor Avenue SW, just north of the West Seattle Bridge. The documents in city files say what’s being considered is a five-story, 75-apartment building that would have 38 offstreet parking spaces in a garage accessed off Harbor. The parcels are listed in documents as having the street numbers 3405, 3411, and 3417 Harbor; the latter, the address at which documents are filed, currently holds a small commercial building. The site’s current zoning is for 40 feet in height but under the HALA MHA upzoning that’s about to take effect, 55 feet will be allowed. The area is a mix of commercial and residential, across the street from Emerald City Pet Rescue and ActivSpace, with houses to the west and condos to the north.
Three more West Seattle projects have informal community meetings coming up as part of the city’s semi-new Early Community Outreach for Design Review process. All three of these projects are going through Administrative Design Review, which means no other meetings involved beyond these casual drop-in opportunities:
8415 DELRIDGE WAY: This 14-townhouse plan has a community meeting set for 4:30-5:30 pm next Monday (April 8th) at Southwest Library (9010 35th SW). There’s also a basic webpage set up for it, offering other ways to provide early feedback on the design, including this survey.
1606 CALIFORNIA SW: 12:45 pm Saturday, April 13th, is when you’ll be able to drop by the West Seattle (Admiral) Library for information on this 8-unit rowhouse project planned to replace a house and fourplex at 1600-1606 California SW. Here’s a webpage for the project, also with a link to a survey you can answer.
4800 ERSKINE WAY: The microapartment project planned to replace the Junction 7-11 will be discussed 5-6 pm April 15th at the Senior Center/Sisson Building (4217 SW Oregon), according to this poster:
Thanks to the reader who spotted it and sent the photo – since there’s no online mention yet in the city system. We have reported on the project before. The poster says construction is not expected before 2023 and notes that commercial space is planned as well as 65 microapartments, with no offstreet parking.
If you just looked at the unanimous final vote, you’d never guess that the Housing and Livability Agenda‘s Mandatory Housing Affordability upzoning had traveled a long and sometimes-bumpy path before final City Council approval late today. (The Seattle Channel video above shows the three-hour council meeting, including 46 minutes o public comment.)
It dates back to an advisory committee convened in 2014 that delivered its report to then-Mayor Ed Murray in 2015. What he announced at the time as Mandatory Inclusionary Housing with a promise of 20,000 “affordable homes” in 10 years morphed to Mandatory Housing Affordability with an expectation of 6,000 affordable units in 10 years. In exchange for the upzoning – which in most cases adds an extra floor – developers must create affordable units either as a specified percentage of what they build or by paying the city a fee to fund affordable-housing projects. Here’s how today’s post-vote city news release explains “affordability”:
People must income-qualify for affordable housing; for example, an individual earning less than $42,150 will pay no more than $1,128 for a one-bedroom unit, while a family of four earning less than $60,200 will pay no more than $1,353 for a two-bedroom unit.
The upzoning affects commercial and multifamily property citywide, and some single-family-zoned property in or adjacent to urban villages. You can look up how – or if – the changes would affect any specific part of the city by using this map (but be aware that it doesn’t reflect some changes that were made toward the end of the review).
Today’s votes followed speeches by most councilmembers; West Seattle/South Park’s Lisa Herbold said that while she supports MHA, she remains deeply concerned that it will cause displacement, and her separate proposal on that front is pending. Another who spoke at length was citywide Councilmember Lorena González, whose remarks included how much she enjoys living in The Junction as a dense neighborhood with good access to transit, businesses, and services.
Next step is for Mayor Jenny Durkan to sign the MHA legislation into law (the bills finalized today are linked in the council news release); she issued a statement late today saying she’ll do that before the week is out. The legislation would then become law a month later.
The citywide coalition of community groups (including five from West Seattle) that lost its appeal of MHA’s Final Environmental Impact Statement, SCALE, has issued a statement too. The group says it’s “considering appealing the inadequately considered impacts of the MHA legislation to the Growth Management Hearings Board.” (That state board is explained here.)