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

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 food+drink | Dad’s dedication and a new generation — 30+ years of El Gallito

Elizabeth Lopez didn’t have to think long about what’s kept El Gallito open for so long.

“My dad’s dedication,” she said.

That dedication has kept the restaurant open since the early 1980s. Refugio Lopez was born in Mexico, but spent most of his life in the United States, living in Texas and Chicago before coming to Seattle in 1978. Lopez thinks it was 1983 or 84, when he opened El Gallito (Spanish for the little rooster). Refugio retired 13 years ago.

He brought the recipes with him from Mexico, Lopez said, and most of them, including classics like the enchilada sauce, haven’t changed since the day the place opened.

Like many small business owners, he involved his children, and Elizabeth and her brother, Ole, have worked at El Gallito since they were in high school. She grew up in the neighborhood, and her mother still lives on Capitol Hill, though Elizabeth has moved to Leschi and her brother to Madison Valley. Lopez said that as she’s gotten older, she’s grown to appreciate the business more, particularly how it can be good to be the boss, and make her own hours.

“We grew up, pretty much, in the restaurant,” she said. “I enjoy it more as an adult than I did as a kid.” Continue reading

After a 21-month road diet, first phase of 23rd Ave work complete

DSC00851The new, post road-diet 23rd Ave is now open.

The Seattle Department of Transportation began construction on the first phase of the three-phase project in June 2015, closing the road to northbound traffic between Jackson and John streets.

The newly designed road has gone from two lanes in each direction to one lane in each direction, with a center turn lane. It’s also been widened near bus stops, to allow cars to get past buses as they load and unload passengers. Continue reading

Big act of goodness: New Miller Park little library pops up ‘overnight’

IMG_1541Thanks to Andrew Taylor for this picture of a little good news in the Miller Park neighborhood.

After a February arson destroyed its predecessor, there is a new Little Free Library on 20th Ave near the Miller Community Center. Taylor tells us the new library appeared “overnight.”

Thanks to the unknown little free librarian who created it and restored a community asset. Let us know how we can thank you!

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

A few sparks of hope for HALA proposals as Miller Park residents focus on affordability and density

The Miller Park Neighbors community group’s rallying cry encouraging residents to organize to address proposed increased building heights under the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda drew about 100 people to a Wednesday meeting.

Jonathan Swift, a member of Miller Park Neighbors, said the goals of the group include preserving the neighborhood, keeping it diverse and making it affordable.

But it was hard to find many examples of clear support for the city’s HALA proposals and with elements like a presentation from Wallingford anti-density advocate Greg Hill, it was hard not to see the proceedings under a “not in my backyard” light.

Jack Thompson, a leader in one of the small groups attendees broke into for discussion at the meeting, has lived in the neighborhood for 40 years. The diversity the group aims to keep applies both to the people living in the neighborhood and the housing options, he said. “We have a little bit of everything here,” Thompson explained. Continue reading

Puny act of evil: Little Free Library burns outside Miller Community Center

Someone’s weekend shenanigans included a destructive act of puny evil on 20th Ave E. The Miller Community Center’s Little Free Library went up in flames — likely sometime Saturday night, one neighbor tells CHS.

"RIP" :( Thanks to Andrew Taylor for the picture

“RIP” :( Thanks to Andrew Taylor for the picture

CHS wrote here about the book donation box’s World Book Night 2013 debut. “I think it’s a great way to connect the community and promote literacy and a love of reading,” a community center rep told CHS at the time. In the years since, the Little Free Library movement has taken off and you now find book boxes on many blocks across Seattle — and the world.

There aren’t many details on the fire that destroyed the box just north of the community center. From Seattle Fire records, it doesn’t appear than anybody saw the fire in time to call the department in. We’ll check with SPD to see if there were any calls to police. We’ve also asked Seattle Parks if there are any plans yet for their center to rebuild the small but popular community resource and how people might be able to help.

UPDATE: We get the feeling this crime might not ever be solved. SPD tells CHS the fire was reported well after the incident Sunday morning around 10 AM. Police didn’t find much to go on besides a lighter found near the scene. It was checked for fingerprints but nothing useful turned up.

UPDATE 2/14/2017: The parks department is taking a hands-off approach, it sounds like. The library was “a community-led initiative,” a spokesperson tells CHS. “We didn’t take the lead on building the box and don’t have information on how the community can replace the box.” Your move, community.

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

CHS Pics | Capitol Hill — and its living building — soak up chilly January sun

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

With highs in the 30s, Seattle’s La Nina January has started the year off with a chill. But the sharpest cold has also coincided with sunny, clear days. That’s good news for Capitol Hill living building the Bullitt Center where the solar arrays have been collecting about 43% of the office building’s energy needs from the sky.

The solar powered start to 2017 continues a trend. In 2016, the building generated more power than it used:

The Bullitt Center opened at 15th and Madison in 2013 and is still considered one of the greenest office buildings in the world. In October, CHS reported on efforts to kickstart the city’s Living Building incentive program to encourage more projects like the Bullitt. Capitol Hill is also home to 10th Ave E’s Bertschi School and its Living Science Building. Meanwhile, the next big green project on the horizon on Capitol Hill is slated to rise at 13th and Pike where plans are moving forward for Seattle’s first Passive House-certified mixed-use project.