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As Seattle ties up final Mandatory Housing Affordability loose ends, District 3 and Capitol Hill left out of ‘companion resolution’

As the final knots are being tied in any remaining loose ends for Seattle’s long-awaited Mandatory Housing Affordability legislation that will tie developer requirements to upzoning in the city’s densest neighborhoods, District 3 covering Capitol Hill and the Central District will be playing catch up on one key component meant to recognize “challenges and opportunities raised by the community” during last week’s public hearing and in years of similar meetings, online surveys, and constituent emails.

A RESOLUTION calling for additional measures by the City and its partners that complement mandatory housing affordability (MHA) implementation to promote livability and equitable development, mitigate displacement, and address challenges and opportunities raised by community members during the MHA public engagement process.

The MHA companion resolution documents commitments and “additional measures” meant to capture possible issues of livability, equitable development, and displacement raised in recent weeks and over the years leading up to Monday’s expected vote to finally move the legislation out of committee.

It’s a bit of a kitchen sink resolution with citywide recommendations and a set of commitments and efforts for each district in the city — except for District 3. 

At its essence, items in the resolution represent a “request to the Executive to conduct a planning process, including additional environmental review, to determine if those changes are appropriate.”

Lisa Herbold’s District 1, for example, covering West Seattle, includes requests for support for specific areas like the Admiral Residential Urban Village, and directs city departments to consider specific neighborhoods for future planning efforts. Sections for the city’s other districts include directives for departments to plan how to “integrate compatible infill” in certain areas, or how best to improve the pedestrian environment in area’s due for upzoning like around the U District’s Ave. There is also some nitty gritty elements like a request for city departments to prepare recommendations for “for providing off-street pickup locations for service providers to access solid waste, recycling, and compost containers.”

The MHA program will allow developers to add extra density to newly constructed buildings. In exchange, they will either have to set aside a percentage of the units as affordable housing, or pay into a fund that the city will use to build affordable housing. The city expects the program will generate $380 million in revenue from the payment option and 1,325 units over 20 years. That $380 million could build another 4,300 affordable units. The upzones under the MHA are confined to the Urban Villages dotted across Seattle – areas of generally higher density that surround commercial development and transit hubs.

The most significant changes to Capitol Hill zoning will come along Broadway from around Cal Anderson Park all the way north to Roy with plans to implement 75-foot height limits and “neighborhood commercial” zoning to allow seven-story buildings with commercial use throughout.

Upzoning plans around Capitol HIll’s Miller Park neighborhood had been some of the most controversial elements for MHA in District 3 but managed to survive a fleet of last minute amendments earlier this month. For now, at least, there are no requests related to neighborhood concerns about increased Miller Park density in the companion resolution.

CHS will check in with council member Kshama Sawant’s office to find out more about why D3 neighborhoods don’t appear in the resolution. Sawant advanced four proposed changes to areas in the Central District –- all of which added density — during the MHA legislative process’s final stages in recent weeks.

The companion resolution’s citywide commitments will address some of the issues raised in District 3 including displacement mitigation, a “community preference” program, expansion of the Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance, commercial rent control, and efforts to direct MHA fees into affordable housing options in the neighborhoods where the fees are generated.

The city council’s MHA committee — which includes all nine of the council’s members — is expected to vote the legislation forward Monday afternoon.

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Andrew Taylor
Andrew Taylor
2 years ago

Note that, in Monday’s Council documents (, all Districts (except District 7) are proposing some local amendments to the MHA rezoning. District 3’s proposals are all new upzones. All the other Districts are proposing multiple changes which make the proposed upzones more moderate.

2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Taylor

Could this potentially mean that if other neighborhoods push back on rapid density, developers will find an easier path in District 3? Not debating the pros/cons of density…just hoping for clarification.

Bob Knudson
Bob Knudson
2 years ago

“That $380 million could build another 4,300 affordable units.”

But where would those units be built? I suspect it will be in less desirable areas, and not in more expensive areas like Capitol Hill, where land costs are high. Maybe the estimate is based on building in areas which are less expensive?

The upshot will be that very few affordable units will be built on Capitol Hill, and so nothing will be gained as far as diversity is concerned. They will be built in areas that are already relatively diverse.