Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Tonight City Hosting Open House Regarding Zoning Changes to NE Seattle

A neighbor would like to share with the community that tonight at 6pm, City Hall representatives are hosting a Community Open House regarding H.A.L.A. (Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda) for District 4, of which Laurelhurst is part of.

The event will be held at Hamilton International Middle School (1610 N 41st Street).

The City website says:
Come and review maps of proposed Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) zoning changes to your urban Village. 
MHA is a new policy to ensure that growth brings affordability. MHA will require new development to include affordable homes or contribute to a City fund for affordable housing. To put MHA into effect, the City of Seattle needs to make zoning changes that add development capacity and expand housing choices.
City Departments planning to attend: Office of Community Planning and Development (OPCD), Office of Housing (OH), Department of Neighborhoods (DON), Seattle Parks, Seattle City Light (SCL), Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI), Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), Human Services Department (HSD), and the Office of Sustainability and the Environment (OSE).

Alex Pedersen, a Northeast Seattle neighborhood advocate, who publishes a monthly newsletter recently posted this information regarding the issue:

photo of bulldozer at NE 50th Street & Brooklyn on March 7, 2017

Managing growth in Seattle was a key campaign issue this past November as we voted for a new Mayor and both city-wide Councilmembers. Despite some new leadership, City Hall is plowing ahead with the land use and housing policies hatched by disgraced Mayor Ed Murray -- his backroom deal with influential real estate developers called H.A.L.A. (Housing Affordability & Livability Agenda).  
As part of its plan to up-zone 27 Seattle neighborhoods, the city government released its Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS) on Nov 9, 2017 and is hosting "Open Houses" to tell us all what to expect regarding upzones in our neighborhoods. 

Unfortunately, the Final EIS fails to adequately address how the city will handle the increased pressures on bus service, school capacity, parks, trees, and other issues and falls short on both affordability and livability.  

While the upzones will financially benefit many real estate investors, the final EIS has no specifics, timeline, or decision on whether to have those profiting from the upzones forgo some of their Return on Investment by paying Impact Fees -- which could help to build schools like they do throughout Washington State and the nation.  
The final EIS also fails to address the economic displacement of existing residents. 
A coalition of community groups is protesting HALA by formally appealing the Final E.I.S. For information about coalition or to support it, CLICK HERE. For mainstream media coverage of their formal appeal, CLICK HERE
In addition to the concerns mentioned above, many are upset by the lack of true affordable housing in the "Mandatory Housing Affordability" (MHA) policy that accompanies the upzones. They feel our city government is "giving away the store" to for-profit developers who refuse to set-aside apartment units for low-income tenants.  

It's important to note that several real estate developers think HALA will not benefit them. Smaller real estate developers, in particular, often generate a smaller return on investment, depending on the project they are building. The blame/burden rests not with for-profit developers who naturally strive to build profitable projects while trying to influence an unpredictable City Hall, but rather with the City Hall officials and their inability or unwillingness to rigorously use math, business acumen, and best practices to negotiate a fair deal for the public they serve. 
Tonight find your neighbors and don't be shy about asking questions of city officials. It's complicated stuff, requiring overlapping maps.  Be persistent -- the city officials work for you and this is your community.

For more information go here. 

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