It’s not exactly a preview of what is coming when the Seattle City Council’s select committee on affordable housing meets for the first time on Monday to begin the road to implementing the mayor’s HALA plan. But the plan to upzone three key areas along 23rd Ave and require the inclusion of affordable housing in the Central District fits right into the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda puzzle but with almost none of the buzz.
Monday is the deadline for public comment on the Department of Planning and Development’s approval of the early environmental review phase for three proposed upzones in the city’s 23rd Avenue Action Plan:
- 23rd and Union: Increase height limits from 40 to 65 feet in the immediate blocks around 23rd and Union. Increase height limits from 30 to 65 feet on the block of Union between 21st and 22nd. Increase limit from 30 to 40 feet between 20th and 21st. Info
- 23rd and Cherry: Standardize on 40-foot heigh limits on blocks near Garfield Community Center and the high school. Info
- 23rd and Jackson: Increase height limits from 65 to 85 feet around 23rd and Jackson. Info
You can learn more about the DPD process, Monday’s public comment deadline, and how to comment at the “Info” links above. And, remember, public comment doesn’t have to be a NIMBY-fest — you can comment with your support, vocal young urbanist.
To develop in the areas, the plans include a proposal to require the creation of affordable housing as part of the projects or at a separate site in the Central District:
The City Council must still approve the changes.
One effort has already aligned to push back on the plans for the “Union node” —
We accept and support the NC2P-65 building zone around the 23rd and Union intersection. This is one of the busy commercial cores of the Central District, and the increase in density and scale of larger buildings can be supported by the energy of the intersection. However, we believe that such huge buildings would destroy the quirky, mellow feel of the hill from 22nd to 21st Avenues by the intensity of their mass and scale. The Floor Area Ratio (FAR) limitation and setback requirements will not compensate for the fact that buildings could be built that are drastically out of scale with the surrounding neighborhood.
You can learn more about the neighbor-driven petition here — Change.org: Integrate new development by limiting building heights on Union between 22nd and 21st to 40 feet
The mayor’s HALA plan calls for the city to create 20,000 new units of affordable housing by 2025. The 65 recommendations include requiring affordable housing in new development along with linkage fee taxes on commercial development that would fund affordable housing. Developers that choose not to include affordable housing in their multi-family developments would be required to pay a fee to the city’s Office of Housing, which will be used to create more affordable units. Single-family zoning close to transit and public resources — “within Urban Villages” — and along major arterials will be converted to low-rise residential zones.
While HALA looks forward, the 23rd Ave action plan process has played out over the past three years to create a community framework for developing core areas of the Central District. It is similar to the process that lead to the development plan for Broadway’s Capitol Hill Station. You can read more about it on the city’s 23rd Ave action plan site. Other planning processes like this pedestrian zone initiative at 23rd and Jackson will also help make sure the coming development meshes with community goals.
In the meantime, real estate and development investors are already making plans with acquisitions and preparations for the coming changes. The largest example is the Midtown Center block which stands poised to finally be in line for 65-foot height limits just as “one of the last remaining large developable sites” in Seattle hits market.