TWO Important City Public Hearings – HALA & Seattle2035

There are TWO important city public hearings in the next two weeks related to HALA & Seattle2035.

Tuesday, June 21st, 9:30 AM, HALA – Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) – Upzone Framework Legislation – Public Hearing (City Hall)
Monday, June 27th, 6:00 PM, Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan – Public Hearing (City Hall)

This e-mail focuses on the June 21st Public Hearing for HALA – Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA).

ACTION: This Tuesday, June 21st, 9:30am, City Hall, 600 Fourth Avenue
Public Hearing on the HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability – Residential (MHA-R) program.
If you can attend and make public comment, please do so, get there early, and bring a neighbor!!  NOTE: Each person gets two minutes (about 260 words or half a page). Keep it clear & focused.

What is the MHA Upzone Framework Legislation public hearing about?
This is the framework legislation for the MHA-R program that would allowupzones for a parcel in exchange for (a) a percentage of affordable housing units built on site or (b) “in lieu” fees, where the developer contributes to a fund for the City to build affordable housing elsewhere.  The framework legislation that the City Council is considering does not yet implement the upzones, but this hearing is the first step.  The HALA upzones propose that inside the Urban Village boundaries, all Single-Family Zones would be upzoned to some version of Multi-Family.  In Wallingford, there are currently about 700 parcels zoned single-family that could be affected.  However, the gains from an upzone will not be as high as the City expects because many of these parcels are already multi-family via grandfathered duplexes or under-the-radar ADU/DADUs.  Click here for a map.

The schedule for the framework legislation is as follows – all allow opportunity for public comment:
June 21st: Public Hearing at 9:30 AM at City Council chambers in City Hall
July 8th: PLUZ discussion
July 19th: possible PLUZ vote
July 25th: possible Full Council vote
If the framework legislation passes, the City Council will be one step closer to implementing upzones of single-family parcels to multi-family zoning.

A Summary of Concerns regarding MHA-R (go to bottom of e-mail for suggested comment to council members)
1. The city does not need to incentivize development.  The City is experiencing the largest building boom in history with no change to current zoning. According to a report from Dupre + Scott, 36,000 units are already in the pipeline and planned to open in Seattle over the next four years.  That’s half of the city’s target of 70,000 new units by 2035. In testimony to the City Council, Dupre & Scott stated that they project a glut of rental units for the next four to six years.
2. The city is giving away more than it gains.
   – 2.8% – 7% affordable unit set asides are too low.  Cities with similar programs require 10% – 30%
   – The City will not require set aside units unless a neighborhood is first upzoned (The Grand Bargain)
   – There is no guarantee that the developer will build or pay, The legal means to require the building of affordable housing or the payment of the in-lieu fees have not been created.  Developers could sue to avoid having to build affordable housing or to pay in lieu fees, yet the upzones will have already been given away.
   – Replacement or Additional? There is currently no data available to indicate whether the 6,000 affordable units estimated to be created are in addition to those that are demolished to create the new units, or just a replacement.
3. Charge impact fees, just like neighboring cities do.  36,000 units are coming on-line before the MHA-R program is planned to go into effect.  The city should collect impact fees from developers, like most other cities, to fund both infrastructure improvements and additional affordable inclusionary housing.
4. Family-sized housing – where is it?  The City needs to ensure that the development capacity added through upzoning includes a greater supply of three-bedroom and larger family-sized units.
5. Inclusion vs. Affordable – what happened there? The Mayor originally said that we would be trading upzoning for mandatory inclusionary housing, so that we would see affordable units in our neighborhood and in every project. However, he has changed the language to eliminate the inclusionary requirement.
6. We have the development capacity under current zoning!  According to the Seattle Department of Planning & Development (DPD), Seattle has the capacity to add 224,000 housing units and the goal is 70,000 by 2035. Wallingford has already met its growth target through 2025 and has the capacity under existing zoning to meet the projected demand nearly three times over.
7. Maintaining the character of Seattle’s neighborhoods as they grow.  Each neighborhood in Seattle has a unique character and developed a neighborhood plan on how to best accommodate projected growth while maintaining the livability that makes it unique. The Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan appears to remove the requirements to follow the neighborhood plans, eliminating neighborhood input in planning for growth.

Whether you are able or unable to attend the Public Hearing, please send in a comment (suggested comment below).

Please comment by email to the City Council, and/or by phone (206) 684-8888:;;;;;;;;

And please submit your comments to Mayor Murray:

Feel free to send your version of this suggested comment:

Please DO NOT APPROVE the MHA-R legislation until:

  • The City demonstrates that upzones are required or will be effective at creating affordable housing
  • a Displacement Risk Analysis of how many current affordable units will be demolished has been completed
  • the legal framework to require and enforce inclusion of affordable housing or the payment of in-lieu fees has been created and put in place and tested.
  • a clause that reverses all upzones if the legal framework is challenged or reversed is included.
  • the percentages for MHA-R required set asides are in line with that of other cities (10% to 30%) and the in lieu fees are sufficiently high enough to promote the building of inclusionary affordable housing in our neighborhood (A Better Grand Bargain).

No upzones should occur until a neighborhood planning process has been completed to consider the impacts to neighborhood character and where to best apply upzones, if any, as in the current version of the Comprehensive Plan.  I cannot support the HALA upzones without allowing neighborhoods a meaningful voice in this conversation, especially since it is not clear that the City has the legal ability to require developers to participate in the MHA-R program.

Please consider other options for affordable housing that do not involve upzones, such as can be found in this document:

For additional information:
Mandatory Housing Affordability – Residential (MHA-R) City Presentation
Seattle 2035 Development Capacity Report
MHA Public Hearing Announcement

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