75 feet up and down Broadway — Seattle ‘Preferred Alternative Zoning’ plan released

With reporting by Kelsey Hamlin

With Mayor Tim Burgess’s noon press event in a Capitol Hill park to kick off the next phase in the process, officials have released the first look at the “Preferred Alternative Zoning” proposal at the core of Mandatory Housing Affordability, citywide changes intended to help create some 6,000 units of “rent restricted homes” across Seattle by connecting affordability mandates to upzoning parts of around 6% of the city.

“Today we continue our push to address Seattle’s housing affordability crisis,” said Burgess in the city’s announcement (in full at the bottom of this post. “With this plan, we will extend our requirement that new developments contribute to Seattle’s affordable housing supply. We’ve already implemented this requirement in the University District, downtown, and elsewhere. Now it’s time to bring this requirement to other high-opportunity neighborhoods so that we can hasten our progress in building a more inclusive and equitable city.”

“The MHA is not just about affordable housing,” said Seattle City Council member Rob Johnson. “It’s about the terms of those units.”

The City Council will consider the proposal and hold public hearings before the plan is finalized. New affordable housing units created under the plan must maintain their rates for 75 years.

“It’s a very long piece of legislation,” Johnson said. “Each of these individual neighborhoods requires some TLC [Tender, Love, and Care].”

You can view the newly released map here and navigate to specific addresses. Hashed areas indicate proposed zoning changes. The proposal comes after months of public feedback after the framework for MHA was first set last fall.

Additional public feedback is expected to run over the first six months of 2018. Johnson predicted legislation for these changes wouldn’t actually happen until July or August 2018.

The proposal released Thursday morning includes transitioning Broadway from around Cal Anderson Park all the way north to beyond Roy to 75-foot height limits and “neighborhood commercial” zoning that would allow seven-story buildings with commercial use throughout. Some of the bigger changes would also come around the Miller Community Center where planners are now proposing a less aggressive upzone than one potential alternative had originally proposed. Moving toward the Central District, most proposed changes are focused on the area around Madison and 23rd with notable exceptions around 23rd and Union and 23rd and Jackson where surgical upzoning has already been approved.

Under the MHA framework, affordability requirements chained to the upzoning vary by “scale” and developers can choose to pay fees instead of including the rent-restricted units — Continue reading

City planning Broadway Hill Park rollout of Seattle Mandatory Housing Affordability proposal

Broadway Hill Park (Image: CHS)

A Capitol Hill neighborhood park born thanks to a failed multifamily housing project is the planned site for City of Seattle Mayor Tim Burgess’s rollout of the citywide Mandatory Housing Affordability proposal.

City Hall departments are planning for the Thursday announcement at Capitol Hill’s Broadway Hill Park but neither the mayor’s office nor the Office of Planning & Community Development have yet confirmed the event. In a city struggling with intense affordability issues and only a short time left on the clock before the new Durkan administration moves in, the announcement of rezoning proposals in neighborhoods across the city is a sensitive one.

UPDATE: Confirmed!
Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s turn for upzoning: HALA process to begin next month

Earlier this month, Mayor Tim Burgess signed off on the Uptown neighborhood’s rezoning but that was only one part of a 30-year plan. Seattle’s Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA), which sits under the larger Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) program, puts Capitol Hill and Central District up next in the Seattle City Council process.

The mayor’s office will hand Capitol Hill, Madison, Ballard, and the Central District over to City Hall next month for the start of the rezoning process. This is when the Council will work out the upzoning details and timeline. The majority of zoning slated for Capitol Hill will change to Low Rise 3 and Neighborhood Commercial 3 and 2 zones (or NC3 and NC2, at 75 feet or 55 feet height maximum). They mostly permit one more story. These categories have square footage limits codified in them as well.

The City Council will likely vote on Capitol Hill zoning changes in 2018, but Jesseca Brand with the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods said we’ll see housing built under the framework before 2021. Continue reading

Capitol Hill renters might be getting slightly better deal in 2017 — but new commission is about more than rents

Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 4.11.25 PM Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 4.11.31 PMFriday morning, the Seattle City Council is taking its first steps toward forming a first of its kind commission to represent renters at City Hall. Formation of the Seattle Renters’ Commission comes as rents for the first time in ages appear to possibly be softening on Capitol Hill — but immediately lower rents aren’t necessarily the goal. The city is going to need political help widening the new apartment pipeline to keep new construction in motion and new apartments coming into the Seattle market.

“Rising rents are pushing residents out of the city, and that’s unacceptable,” Seattle City Council member Mike O’Brien representing Northwest Seattle’s District 6 said. “Low-income renters are nearly twice as likely as homeowners to be displaced by gentrification. I believe that the Seattle Renters’ Commission will bring much needed perspective to our policy work about how we can grow equitably and inclusively.”

O’Brien is talking about lots of things — Source of Income Discrimination and Move In Fees legislation, enforcement of existing laws like the Just Cause Eviction Ordinance, Rental Housing Registration and Inspection Program, the Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance, and the Rental Agreement Regulation Ordinance — but he is also, of course talking about HALA. Continue reading

Neighborhood by neighborhood, Seattle working out HALA and Mandatory Housing Affordability changes

Some Miller Park residents are not happy with the proposed zoning changes for their neighborhood in the city’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda.

Those residents will get an opportunity to voice their thoughts in small group discussions following a presentation on HALA, Urban Villages, and the Mandatory Housing Affordability proposal at a Community Design Workshop at 6 PM on Tuesday at the Miller Community Center.

Spencer Williams, a legislative assistant to City Council member Rob Johnson, said the input collected from community members at the workshop as well as from open houses the city has hosted and online and elsewhere will be analyzed by the Office of Planning and Community Development.

Madison-Miller Urban Village Community Design Workshop

“The meeting is happening many months prior to there being a final proposal before the council,” Williams told CHS. “We are really trying to stay engaged early.” Continue reading

Miller Park Neighbors make call to ‘protect’ neighborhood from affordability proposals

screen-shot-2017-01-16-at-4-13-52-pmAs the city rolled out its Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda roadshow last month, CHS reported on a split on Capitol Hill — those living in already dense areas generally support the proposed upzones and changes, while those living in less dense areas generally, well, don’t. That fault line is especially apparent around the Miller Park neighborhood where the area around the Miller Community Center is slated for a boost to mostly 40-feet for townhouses, row houses, or apartments with 7 to 10% affordability. Near the southeast corner of the Miller Playfield a 50-foot zone and 11% affordability is proposed.

Other areas of Capitol Hill that sill have a strong presence of single family-style homes like North Capitol Hill are insulated from the HALA proposals. But many Miller Park residents, apparently, are feeling exposed. A longtime neighborhood group is being rejuvenated as the Miller Park Neighbors have organized a “critical meeting” on the HALA proposals next week:

Join Your Neighbors to Protect Miller Park Neighborhood!

CRITICAL MEETING Feb. 15, 2017 Continue reading

HALA Capitol Hill: The dense want it denser — the not so dense, not so much

While the young urbanists of Capitol Hill might be disappointed the city’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda zoning change proposals for Broadway probably won’t create three-hundred-foot apartment towers, Seattle officials are ready to face opposition in other parts of the neighborhood where even relatively modest height boosts are planned,

Generally speaking, Jesseca Brand with the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods said, residents in already dense areas, especially on Capitol Hill and First Hill are more accepting and see the proposed changes being pounded out through 2017 as a good thing. Areas on Eastern Capitol Hill, to the south, and in the Central District where single-family streets are more common are more apprehensive and are concerned about “cultural and economic displacement.”

“Our hope is that the community feels they can shape this program neighborhood by neighborhood,” Brand said at last week’s HALA open house organized by city planners in a more fun than you would expect for this kind of session venue — Capitol Hill’s Optimism Brewing. Sometimes a drink is required when discussing the future of Seattle’s central neighborhoods. Continue reading

Beer and upzoning: Brewery venue for Capitol Hill HALA Open House

City officials want your feedback on the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda and planned zoning changes  and they’re prepared to use snacks to get it.

Next Tuesday, January 10th, representatives from city departments will be on hand at Capitol Hill’s Optimism Brewing for a Central Seattle HALA Open House:

HALA Central Neighborhoods Community Meeting

HALA has produced proposals for upzoning areas across Seattle and Capitol Hill changes that would allow taller buildings in the neighborhoods around Capitol Hill Station and concentrate seven-story office towers just off Broadway. HALA changes in the Central District were set up to be even meatier.

Though there will NOT be free beer (“Beer is available for purchase but will not be provided by the City”), the invite sounds like a good time for you involved types who, ya know, care about the future of the city, and stuff:

We’ll be highlighting maps that show draft neighborhood affordable housing proposals (read more about those here). In addition, there will be opportunities to learn about transportation projects in your neighborhood, hear what’s going on at the Office of Sustainability and Environment, and give feedback on upcoming Parks investments.

The January 10th all-ages session with “casual conversation around proposed changes to your neighborhood” will be part of an ongoing process to shape and finalize the proposals over the year.

How the CD could be re-zoned to meet City Hall’s affordable housing goals

if you build it....

mha-cdWith even more competing interests than on Capitol Hill, the effort to forge a new pro-affordability zoning scheme for the Central District has resulted in quite a complex map.

Earlier, CHS looked at Capitol Hill’s portion of the 15% of Seattle slated to be re-zoned to allow for taller buildings as part of Mayor Ed Murray’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda.

The Central District is poised for even more transformation.

Most of the affected zones throughout the city (Central District included) would get the standard “HALA bump” — a one story increase in allowable building height along with new “mandatory housing affordability” requirements for all new residential construction. As part of Seattle’s “Grand Bargain,” MHA will link the creation of affordable housing with market-rate development by requiring all new multifamily buildings to make 5-11% of their units affordable or require developers to pay into an affordable housing fund. Continue reading

Six important things about the proposed affordability zoning changes on Capitol Hill

mha_draft_zoning_changes_first_hill_capitol_hill15% of Seattle is slated to be rezoned to allow for taller buildings as part of Mayor Ed Murray’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda. The largest concentration of rezones includes a swath of land covering downtown, Capitol Hill, and the Central District.

Most of the area’s multifamily housing zones would get the standard “HALA bump” — a one story increase in allowable building height along with new “mandatory housing affordability” requirements for all new residential construction. As part of Seattle’s “Grand Bargain,” MHA will link the creation of affordable housing with market-rate development by requiring all new multifamily buildings to make 5-11% of their units affordable or require developers to pay into an affordable housing fund. That part of the program has already been approved by City Council. Over the next year the city will hammer out how to handle the zoning.

Much of the First Hill-Capitol Hill urban center residential zones would receive the one-story bump along with a requirement that all new development include 5-7% of affordable units. Some would be required to meet higher affordability mandates. But the devil is in the details, and there are plenty of details to sift through when it comes to the zoning maps on Capitol Hill.

1. Auto-row incentives (probably) maintained

The Pike/Pine Conservation District is a unique incentive zoning program in Seattle responsible for most of the auto-row preservation projects on Capitol Hill. Changes proposed under the HALA map appear to undercut the program, but a upcoming tweak to the building code would likely keep those incentives in play.

Under the preservation program, developers get to build seven stories instead of six for preserving an old building facade in Pike/Pine. In the proposed HALA map, an up-zone in Pike/Pine would automatically allow for seven-story buildings. While preserving a facade would still get developers a one extra story, it seems unlikely they would take it. Building codes mandate that any building higher than seven stories must be entirely concrete or steel framed instead of wood, making an eight-story project vastly more expensive. Continue reading