Seattle passes Mandatory Housing Affordability plan to allow its densest neighborhoods to become even denser

A North Capitol Hill resident made his case against Eastlake upzoning prior to Monday’s vote

Four years and 40 Seattle City Council meetings later, the plan to surgically allow taller and more multifamily-packed development in the city’s densest neighborhoods including Capitol Hill has been approved.

“We’re embracing growth by embracing inclusion,” council member and Mandatory Housing Affordability committee chair Rob Johnson said Monday before the vote. “And we’re embracing inclusion by changing plans that were made 25 years ago.”

The vote Monday ran 9-0.

The MHA plan ties upzones in 27 of the city’s densest neighborhoods to the creation of affordable units and will transition a reported 6% of Seattle’s current single family-zoned property. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Community Post | Seattle’s ‘Libraries for All’ plan

From Mayor Jenny Durkan

From story time to summer learning programs to adult learning classes, The Seattle Public Libraryadvances equity, education, and opportunity for all who call Seattle home. We are lucky to have 27 safe, welcoming locations throughout Seattle for residents of all ages and backgrounds. And we know that when we invest in libraries, we invest in opening doors to opportunity and equity.

In 2018 alone, The Seattle Public Library locations:

  • Hosted more than five million visitors;
  • Circulated almost 12 million items;
  • Helped more than 13,000 people through adult learning programs like English as a Second Language, Adult Education Tutoring, and Ready to Work;

  • Helped more than 45,000 kids who participated in last year’s Summer of Learning; and,

  • Hosted more than 1,100 homework help sessions.

With the 2012 Library Levy set to expire at the end of this year, we must act to sustain and enhance our libraries. If we are going to build a city of the future, we need to build libraries of the future. Continue reading

Nguyen makes run for District 3 with focus beyond Capitol Hill

(Image: Elect Ami)

The boundaries of District 3, of course, extend well beyond Capitol Hill. And the candidates to represent the district also extend beyond the names you might think of first.

Ami Nguyen, a public defender who calls Yesler Terrace home, sees her role as running for the Seattle City Council to represent people across the entire district — the Central District and Capitol Hill, yes, but Yesler Terrace, Mt Baker, Madrona, Leschi, Madison Park, and Montlake, too.

“When I set out to do this campaign, I told myself that’s the definitely the neighborhood I want to reach out to.” Continue reading

Bowers steps up effort to unseat Sawant with ethics complaint over Socialist Alternative influence

Allegations from the new complaint

Reporting by CHS and SCC Insight has led to a Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission complaint against Kshama Sawant from a political opponent seeking to unseat the Socialist Alternative veteran from her seat on the Seattle City Council.

“Kshama is using her office to do work on behalf of the Socialist Alternative organization and she appears to be attempting to shield that work from public disclosure laws,” Logan Bowers tells CHS about the new complaint.

In it, Bowers alleges Sawant “permitted the use of city funds and personnel by the Socialist Alternative party” and that she and staff “have been using 3rd party communications services to conduct City of Seattle business,” a violation of state law.

“While I expect that these apparent violations of city and State law will ultimately be adjudicated at the ballot box, I believe for the health our democratic institutions the voters of District 3 and Seattle deserve to know definitively the extent and legality of council member Sawant’s actions during her tenure in office,” Bowers writes. Continue reading

Seattle’s fight over homelessness response flares up with vote on Human Services director appointment process — UPDATE

Debris from and encampment area along Pine above I-5

Monday afternoon’s meeting of the full Seattle City Council could be a doozy. Kshama Sawant’s resolution to send back Mayor Jenny Durkan’s nomination of Jason Johnson as Director of the Human Services Department will be a rare public flare-up in the debate by city leaders about how best to respond to Seattle’s ongoing, seemingly not improving homelessness crisis.

The resolution lays out two issues: 1) It declares that the council will not take action on an HSD Director nomination — Johnson or otherwise — until the Mayor’s Office completes “a formal search process that comports with the goals and priorities of the City’s Race and social Justice Initiative.” And 2), It lays down requirements for the search committee that the Mayor should convene, including representatives from non-profit human services providers, individuals experiencing homelessness, other clients of HSD, and HSD employees.

UPDATE 4:10 PM: In a 5-3 vote, the council rejected Sawant’s resolution. Mike O’Brien and Teresa Mosqueda, both saying they would like to see more transparency in the selection process, joined Sawant in support of the resolution. SCC Insight reports that the question now is how to move forward on the selection and says that Mosqueda has a plan that would “clarify expectations on the Mayor for the search process for department head nominations” that could be the compromise the situation needs. Continue reading

City officials say electric vehicle charging station won’t pit Teslas vs. bikes on Broadway

Leave it to Seattle City Hall to somehow pit proponents of electric vehicles against bicycling advocates. But a plan for a new charging station to be installed on Broadway near Capitol Hill Station has sparked a debate over the street and the city’s competing priorities for how to best put the right of way to use.

RESCHEDULED: Electric Vehicle Charging Open House

An open house originally scheduled for February but postponed by the snow will take place next week at Seattle Central to discuss a Seattle City Light plan to install two direct current (DC) fast chargers capable of powering most electric vehicles in front of the Capitol Hill Station mixed-use developments under construction at Broadway and E Denny Way.

While the city-owned chargers would power a typical car for “approximately 80+ miles of range in 30 minutes” at reasonable rate of 43 cents per kilowatt-hour, transit advocates who hope for future extension north of E Denny Way for the Broadway bikeway have noticed the station would be directly in the path. Seattle City Light says be flexible.

“In the absence of a bike lane currently, we believe this is a great location for an electric vehicle charging station,” Scott Thomsen, spokesperson for City Light tells CHS. “Should there come a time, we will be able to move our infrastructure.”

The Seattle Department of Transportation describes the situation a little differently. Continue reading

Sawant plays density ‘swing vote’ as Seattle’s Mandatory Housing Affordability plan finalized

District 3 rep Kshama Sawant played the swing vote Monday afternoon and into the evening as the Seattle City Council’s legislative tinkering on the city’s Mandatory Housing Affordability plan was finally completed.

The plan that ties upzones in 27 of the city’s densest neighborhoods to the creation of affordable units and will transition a reported 6% of Seattle’s current single family-zoned property will go to the full City Council for a final vote on March 18th. But that vote is mostly symbolic — all nine of the council’s members have been part of the MHA committee’s two years of meetings.

Sawant, Monday, took a swing at the overall legislation’s shortcoming despite joining her companions in unanimous committee approval of the plan.

“Those small affordable housing payments are the only part of this so called Grand Bargain that mitigates the rampant displacement and gentrification driven by the for profit real estate investment of big developers and other larger investors,” Sawant said. Continue reading

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.  Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s upzoning on track to stay intact as Mandatory Housing Affordability enters final stretch

The Miller Park neighborhood could see more projects like the Julia Place Apartments (Image: CHS)

Upzoning plans around Capitol HIll’s Miller Park neighborhood will not be removed from the city’s Mandatory Housing Affordability effort as the legislative process to shape the program enters a final phase with a public hearing this week.

Proposed amendments to the still-pending MHA legislation had been identified by council members, city staff, citizens and others. After the first set of proposals was released in January, each district council member had been left to decide what changes they’d like to see move forward within their own district boundaries.

Among the January proposals had been plans to remove some blocks near Miller Park from the program, but those didn’t make the cut. In District 3, which covers Capitol Hill and the Central District, council member Kshama Sawant’s office only advanced four proposed changes to areas in the Central District –- all of which add density.

Keeping all of Madison Miller area in the program is just what affordable housing advocates were hoping for.

“We are hopeful that Council will honor the existing plan for MHA without amendments to the Madison Miller Urban Village,” wrote Erin Fried of Capitol Hill Housing. Continue reading

Will Durkan’s ‘city of the future’ vision include a more affordable Seattle? — UPDATE

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan will make her second State of the City address Tuesday. Not a great deal has changed in her city since the first address of the Durkan administration in 2018 but the mayor appears to be primed for more action after a year of sorting out City Hall and reshaping the ranks of her department leaders.

This year’s address will share Durkan’s “vision to build a city of the future” and will take place Tuesday starting at 11:45 AM with a broadcast from North Seattle College. Continue reading