Images and background statistics from murray.seattle.gov/housing/
UPDATE: Murray and the gang at City Hall Monday morning (Image: CHS)
After months of painstaking negotiations, Mayor Ed Murray and members of his Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda Committee are set to officially unveil a long-awaited, comprehensive housing plan.
The 38-page draft report, leaked by the Seattle Times last week, included 67 recommendations to meet the mayor’s call to create 20,000 units of affordable housing in the next decade. UPDATE: The final plan includes 65 recommendations — nope, we haven’t sorted out what got cut.
The mayor and City Council chair of the planning and land use committee Mike O’Brien are set to unveil the final report on the HALA committee recommendations Monday morning at City Hall:
Mayor Ed Murray, Councilmember Mike O’Brien will announce an action plan to build more affordable housing in Seattle. Co-chairs David Wertheimer and Faith Li Pettis will deliver to the mayor and council the recommendations of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda advisory committee.
Meanwhile, the mayor will face immediate opposition to his committee’s recommendations as HALA member and City Council candidate Jon Grant has announced he will release “an alternate housing proposal.” The un-leaked counter-proposal reportedly has the support of Council members Kshama Sawant and Nick Licata:
UPDATE 12:30 PM: Grant’s proposal has been released. We’ve added the document at the bottom of this post. Although he supported many of the HALA committee’s recommendations, Grant said he abstained from voting on the final plan.
While officials said the draft HALA report leaked by the Seattle Times was incomplete, it was the eighth draft of a document that has been shaped for months and one committee member told CHS was being voted on to finalize early last week. The draft report was broken down into four policy categories:
- More Housing — upzones, expand urban villages, reduce off-street parking
- More Resources — create a new real estate tax, expand the city’s housing levy
- Acquisition — allow city to acquire multifamily properties for affordable housing
- Innovation — reform the city’s design review and environmental review process
Most of the major recommendations will at least require action by the City Council.
UPDATE 7/13/2015 11:12 AM: The final report — which Murray said he hoped would end the “two-decade war” in Seattle over affordable housing — has been posted. We’ve embedded it below.
As in the draft version, the set of
67 65 recommendations make their main thrust in pushing Seattle forward in requiring inclusion of 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. Details on how that system works and where that housing will be created are still getting ironed out, according to one Office of Housing official.
Calling the final plan a “grand bargain,” Murray said the proposed commercial linkage fee was not expanded to residential development because city attorneys said it would face legal challenges.
The plan is multi-year, at least, in making a dent in Seattle’s continuing to rise rents. None of the
67 65 recommendations appear poised to give tenants in the city any form of immediate relief.
The mayor’s office released this map showing where zoning changes would be made in the city — as you can see, a big chunk of Capitol Hill including Pike/Pine and the areas below Broadway are lined up for more change:
New buildings will have taller height restrictions in existing multifamily residential, mixed-use and commercial zones throughout the city. A substantial portion of the additional development will occur within the existing Urban Centers and Urban Villages, designated two decades ago as the preferred location for denser housing. Only single-family zoning within Urban Villages and along major arterials will be converted to low-rise residential.
The new recommendations will mean a much larger housing levy in Seattle’s future:
No one in Seattle should have to face homelessness, and our housing resources must be part of the solutions that make homelessness rare, brief and one-time. This means a much higher Housing Levy. A mandate that developers provide a share of the apartments in their new buildings to people who cannot compete in the market, i.e., people with annual incomes at 60% of the area median income or less.
The current $145 million Seattle Housing Levy runs through 2016. “The City should renew and double the size of the Seattle Housing Levy to provide more local resources to build and preserve housing for low-income people and to provide operating subsidies at the lowest income levels,” the report says.
The report also includes a recommendation to work with the state legislature to increase the tax on real estate transactions:
King County currently collects REET at the maximum rate allowed under state law: 1.78%. The state legislature should enact legislation that would allow cities, via Council action, to impose an additional REET, so long as it is specifically dedicated for affordable housing. This additional REET capacity, which the HALA recommends be 0.25% above and beyond the existing State cap, would allow local jurisdictions to capture a portion of the appreciation of real estate prices upon the transfer of property and reinvest it in affordable housing.
In his announcement of the final recommendations, Murray said the plan will meet goals to create 50,000 more housing units in Seattle, including 20,000 new affordable units over the next decade.
The mayor also attempted to quell fears that the recommendations will lead to the elimination of single-family home neighborhoods in Seattle. Under the recommendations, 94% of existing single family neighborhoods would see no upzones, Murray said. However, the committee did recommend easing regulations on backyard cottages and dwelling units in all single family home areas.
Council president Tim Burgess said a select committee on affordable housing to implement HALA plan will begin meeting next week.