So, this is the Grand Bargain. The Seattle City Council’s housing affordability committee Monday approved two pieces of legislation designed to put the city on track to create 20,000 affordable units in the next 10 years.
Seattle will likely need every one of those 3,650 or so days to reach the goal. Major impact from the linkage fee and mandatory inclusion bills approved Monday likely won’t be felt for years. First will come a 2016 process to rezone areas of the city to allow greater density, then years of permitting and construction.
The commercial linkage fee will require all new commercial development to pay into an affordable housing fund or create an equivalent amount of housing at another site. In exchange, developers that brave Seattle will be rewarded with additional floor area to help builders offset the costs.
Mandatory inclusionary housing will require all new multifamily buildings to make 5-8% of their units affordable to those making 60% of the area median income or require developers to pay into an affordable housing fund. In 2013, Seattle households at 60% AMI took in $40,487.
The full City Council is expected to vote on the bills in early November.
Mayor Ed Murray took to Twitter following the session to laud the votes.
— Ed Murray (@MayorEdMurray) October 12, 2015
Monday, the full Council also took up some affordability-related votes on legislation designed to change Seattle’s comprehensive planning to reflect the new affordability goals:
Clarify the City’s goals and policies related to affordable housing to strengthen the City’s policy direction and provide further policy support for addressing the need for affordable housing.
Broaden the range of affordable housing strategies the City should consider.
Make clear that both incentive-based and non-incentive-based strategies should be considered.
Make clear that the City may establish a program whereby impacts on affordable housing that are generated by total project area, not just area above a base height or density may be required to be at least partially mitigated.
The legislation also included some broad, high level goals for development in the Central District:
What’s the future for E Madison near 23rd? “A vibrant, revitalized pedestrian-oriented commercial district on East Madison from 16th to 24th Avenues that serves both local and destination shoppers with a variety of shops and services” and “a vibrant, revitalized pedestrian-oriented commercial node at Madison St. between 19th Avenue and 23rd Avenue that principally serves local residents,” if city planners have anything to say about it.
The full Council also approved a bill Monday that will “repeal the categorical exemption for SEPA review of proposed ‘infill’ development.” The new treatment of projects that previously qualified as “infill” will add more projects in the city requiring environmental review. Slow growth neighbors will like that. It will also mean more fees — estimated between $20,000 and $45,000 in 2016. DPD will like that.